Monthly Archives: November 2010

2011 Independent Spirit Awards Nominations


BEST FEATURE (Award given to the Producer, Executive Producers are not listed)
127 Hours
Producers: Danny Boyle, Christian Colson, John Smithson
Black Swan
Producers: Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer, Brian Oliver
Producers: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Rudin
The Kids Are All Right
Producers: Gary Gilbert, Philippe Hellmann, Jordan Horowitz, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Celine Rattray, Daniela Taplin Lundberg
Winter’s Bone
Producers: Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Anne Rosellini

Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan
Danny Boyle – 127 Hours
Lisa Cholodenko – The Kids Are All Right
Debra Granik – Winter’s Bone
John Cameron Mitchell – Rabbit Hole

Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko – The Kids Are All Right
Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini – Winter’s Bone
Nicole Holofcener – Please Give
David Lindsay-Abaire – Rabbit Hole
Todd Solondz – Life During Wartime

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
Everything Strange and New – Director: Frazer Bradshaw, Producers: A.D. Liano, Laura Techera Francia
Get Low – Director: Aaron Schneider
, Producers: David Gundlach, Dean Zanuck
Night Catches Us – Director: Tanya Hamilton
, Producers: Sean Costello, Jason Orans, Ronald Simons
The Last Exorcism – Director: Daniel Stamm
, Producers: Marc Abraham, Tom Bliss, Eric Newman, Eli Roth
Tiny Furniture – Director: Lena Dunham
, Producers: Kyle Martin, Alicia Van Couvering

Diane Bell – Obselidia
Lena Dunham – Tiny Furniture
Nik Fackler – Lovely, Still
Bob Glaudini – Jack Goes Boating
Dana Adam Shapiro, Evan M. Wiener – Monogamy

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000.  Award given to the writer, director, and producer.  Executive Producers are not listed
Daddy Longlegs
Writer/Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
Producers: Casey Neistat, Tom Scott
Director: Matthew Bonifacio
Writer/Producers: Matthew Bonifacio, Carmine Famiglietti
Lovers of Hate
Writer/Director: Bryan Poyser
Producer: Megan Gilbride
Writer/Director: Diane Bell
Producers: Chris Byrne, Mathew Medlin
The Exploding Girl
Writer/Director: Bradley Rust Gray
Producers: Karin Chien, Ben Howe, So Yong Kim

Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right
Greta Gerwig – Greenberg
Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman – Black Swan
Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine

Ronald Bronstein – Daddy Longlegs
Aaron Eckhart – Rabbit Hole
James Franco – 127 Hours
John C. Reilly – Cyrus
Ben Stiller – Greenberg

Ashley Bell – The Last Exorcism
Dale Dickey – Winter’s Bone
Allison Janney – Life During Wartime
Daphne Rubin-Vega – Jack Goes Boating
Naomi Watts – Mother and Child
John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone
Samuel L. Jackson – Mother and Child
Bill Murray – Get Low
John Ortiz – Jack Goes Boating
Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are All Right

Adam Kimmel – Never Let Me Go
Matthew Libatique – Black Swan
Jody Lee Lipes – Tiny Furniture
Michael McDonough – Winter’s Bone
Harris Savides – Greenberg

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director)
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Director: Banksy
Director: Jeff Malmberg
Directors: Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger
Directors: Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Thunder Soul
Director: Mark Landsman

BEST FOREIGN FILM (Award given to the director)
Director: Lance Daly
Mademoiselle Chambon
Director: Stéphane Brizé
Of Gods and Men
Director: Xavier Beauvois
The King’s Speech
(United Kingdom)
Director: Tom Hooper
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

ACURA SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 17th annual Acura Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition.  The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Acura.
Hossein Keshavarz
Dog Sweat
Laurel Nakadate
The Wolf Knife
Mike Ott

PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – The 14th annual Piaget Producers Award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources demonstrate the creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce quality, independent films.  The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget.
In-Ah Lee
Au Revoir Taipei
Adele Romanski
The Myth of the American Sleepover
Anish Savjani
Meek’s Cutoff

AVEENO® TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 16th annual AVEENO® Truer Than Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition.  The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by AVEENO®.
Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor – Sweetgrass
Jeff Malmberg – Marwencol
Lynn True, Nelson Walker – Summer Pasture

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – (Given to one film’s director, casting director, and its ensemble cast)
Please Give
Director: Nicole Holofcener

Casting Director: Jeanne McCarthy

Ensemble Cast: Ann Guilbert, Rebecca Hall, Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Lois Smith, Sarah Steele

FB Rant: Oscar Producers, Wake Up!


The follow rant will contain some coarse language that is directed to the producers of the upcoming Academy Awards telecast. Don’t let the kiddies read any further.

Upon hearing the news that Oscar producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer chose James Franco and Anne Hathaway as the hosts for the  Academy Awards in February, I was thinking, “Are you serious?” Ladies and gentlemen, your hosts for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards… say what? I’m sorry. I love James and Anne in different ways, but I’m not sold on the concept.

The blogosphere is up in arms about the announcement of the younger hosts for this year’s telecast. Straying away from the established comedians like Jon Stewart, Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock or respected actors like Whoopi Goldberg and Bob Hope. I need to chime in with my two cents on the supposed “controversy”.

Everybody knows that the real reason the producers choose Franco and Hathaway because of publicity on both sides. The producers need viewers to watch this stuffy, chi-chi-frou-frou award ceremony.The Academy is an octogenarian now. It has an established history of thumbing their nose at other award shows. Now, the producers wants to make the show like Mtv Movie Awards. It’s not gonna fly. No matter how many configurations that you put through, it’s not gonna work. It has fallen off the rails for a long time now. The shows need a complete overhaul.

This hosting choice is great publicity for the new younger hosts, because Franco is trying desperately to promote his Oscar baity movie, 127 Hours which is barely playing anywhere and Hathaway has a movie that is tanking at the box office now, Love & Other Drugs. I also posed this question to the members of my Oscar Watchers group about if James Franco is nominated for 127 Hours would that be favoritism towards him. It reminds me of when Hugh Jackman hosted the 2004 Tonys when he was nominated for The Boy from Oz and he won. The same thing happened on the 2001 Tonys when Nathan Lane hosted and won the Tony at the end of the night. Hmm… I may be reaching, but it’s a thought.

Changing the rules every year is getting very tiring like with last year with expanding the Best Picture to ten yielded The Blind Side going up against District 9, Up and The Hurt Locker. It was a hot ass mess! What happened to the streamlining of the award show like in 2009? It made it worth watching. No really. What the hell happened?

The Oscars going for a younger audience is not gonna fly. The average 18-30 demographic will not watch the Oscars unless they are a cinephile or gay. That’s it. If the Oscars were like the The Spirit Awards, everybody and their mommas would watch it. That’s it! It needs to be looser, casual, less stuffy with lots of F bombs. Are you listening Oscar producers? I hope you are.

The Princess Bride (1987)

As you wish.

— Westley

The #186  Movie of All-Time on IMDb, The Princess Bride was a movie that I wanted to see for a long time, but I never got the chance to do it. I thought it was would a chick flick that would remind me a trashy romance novel. It turns out to not be the case. The movie was nominated for Oscar for Best Original Song for the Willy DeVille’s song, “Storybook Love”.

A boy (Fred Savage) that is sick in his room is visited by his grandfather (Peter Falk) with a book in his hands to cheer him up. The book happens to The Princess Bride. The grandson thinks that the book would be too girly for him with the romance aspect to it. The grandfather wanted him to give the book a chance.

As the grandfather reads the opening lines of the book, the audience is transported into book where we learn about the burgeoning romance between peasant girl curiously named Buttercup (Robin Wright) and the farm boy, Westley (Cary Elwes). Things quickly turn tragic when Westley leaves to go abroad and is killed by a pirate. Heartbroken, Buttercup mourns for her lost love.

Years later, Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) has chosen a girl to be his bride. It happens to be Buttercup. The trouble is that she does not love him. She is still in love with Westley. With her upcoming nuptials, she takes a stroll through the forest and is captured by a trio of bandits. The mastermind of the group, Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) wants to hold the princess bride to start a war between rival kingdoms.

Ensuring that the princess does not escape, Vizzini has the ogre, Fezzik (André the Giant) keeps a close eye on her and have Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) fight any intruders that will foil their plans. It seems that the trio are being followed by a mysterious man in black to the Cliffs of Insanity.

This is not your typical costume romance type movie. The romance between Westley and Buttercup was nice to see. I loved that his phrase, “as you wish” was a clever way of saying, “I love you” to her. Patinkin as Montoya was hilarious to watch him to try to get revenge of the Six Finger Man that killed his father and him uttering that manta of his.

Judgment: The movie was silly, harmless fun.

Rating: ***1/2

Turkey Month Trailers

I haven’t posted any new trailers in a long time. FilmIntel posed this question to me on Formspring  what is the best trailer?

Green Lantern


Cowboys & Aliens


Your Highness

or Red Riding Hood?

 I am learning towards the Your Highness trailer. Not because it was a red band trailer, but it was hilarious and different. Green Lantern has the Iron Man factor (The coolest thing I ever seen), Cowboys & Aliens has Harrison freakin’ Ford and Red Riding Hood has a dark tone to the tale like a Brothers Grimm version. What do you think is the best?

East of Eden (1955)

Man has a choice and it’s a choice that makes him a man.

— Cal Trask

East of Eden was a movie that I wanted to see for a long time, but I never get the chance to do until recently. I wasn’t familiar with James Dean’s work until this point. All I know what the legend behind the man. Dean was the first actor to be nominated for an Oscar posthumously. This film was nominated for four Oscars including a Best Actor nom for Dean, Best Director for Elia Kazan and Best Adapted Screenplay.  It won Best Supporting Actress for Jo Van Fleet. I’m surprised that this film got so much attention, because it’s not very good.

The only familiarity I have with John Steinbeck and his work was going to my former high school’s production of The Grapes of Wrath. This movie was adapted from another Steinbeck novel by Paul Osborn that deals with a young man named Cal Trask (James Dean) living in 1917 Salinas, California. First of all, I almost laughed out loud knowing this, because you don’t see many men wearing a cream sweater, dress shirt and slacks back then.

Cal is a troubled young man who does not get along with his farmer father, Adam (Raymond Massey) who treats his like a redheaded step-son. His relationship with his all-American type brother, Aron (Richard Davalos) is strained as well. Cal cannot stand that he is perfectly happy with Abra (Julie Harris) who he intends to marry.

Shaking things up, Cal hops a train to Monterrey where he is trying to find his mother that abandoned the family years before. He potentially finds her in Kate (Jo Van Fleet), a madam running a brothel at the edge of town. Cal tries to forge a relationship with her, but she doesn’t want to have anything to do with him or her old life.

She does have a change of heart when Adam’s investment in transporting his lettuce crop on rail car goes awry. Cal asks her for money to go into a business venture to repay the money that Adam had lost.

I was fully expecting to be swept away with the tale of a misunderstood youth trying to find his way through life. I did not get that. The opening was very awkward and creepy with Cal following Kate to her house. I don’t know. The movie was going on and on and I didn’t like it one bit.

I tried to latch on to the relationship between Cal and Kate forging a bond, not mother and son, but being cordial to each other. Then, I tried to go into the possible love triangle between Cal, Abra, and Aron. There was one part that I liked was the tension between the German immigrant, Gustav Albrecht (Harold Gordon) and the residents who wanted to get the German for what was happening during WWI.

Judgment: How could I recommend this movie? I can’t. Sorry.

Rating: **

Heathers (1989)

What is your damage, Heather?

— Veronica Sawyer

Heathers is the kind of movie that you would know a couple of lines of dialogue without watching a single frame of the movie. This was that time. I knew what the premise was all about. This movie makes Mean Girls seem like child’s play. It was so dark and twisted than I was expecting.

Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) is desperate to be part of the popular crowd that she aligns herself with the most powerful clique in Westerburg High School, the Heathers. Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) is the queen bee with her lackeys Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk) and Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty).

The problem is that Veronica despises the girls that she is associating with. She vents her frustrations against the Heathers in her diary. Her affluent life seems insignicant in comparsions to the other students in school when she meets a rebel named Jason Dean (Christian Slater) shows her the way to live life on the edge.

Heather Chandler invites Veronica to a college party at Remington University where things spiral out of control. Veronica drinks, vomits and wants to leave the party early. Heather C. is pissed at Veronica for embarrassing her that she vows to destroy her reputation at school.

Veronica doesn’t want that to happen. She confides in Jason about trying to get rid of Heather C. While Heather C. is sleeping off her alcohol induced stupor at her house, the toxic duo decides to mix drain cleaner with milk to give to her. When Heather C dies, she becomes even more popular than ever. Veronica realizes that who you associate with would change you forever.

I kinda knew that the movie was going to be dark in nature, but I didn’t know how dark it was going to get. It was jarring for me. I thought that I would end up hating it, but I didn’t. It was kind of a reminder that popularity is fleeting. People could be so consumed with it that they would kill for it. It’s really sad.

Judgment: If you don’t like this movie, what is your damage?

Rating: ****

Duck Soup (1933)

I danced before Napoleon. No, Napoleon danced before me. As a matter of fact, he danced 200 years before me.

— Rufus T. Firefly

Back in Houston for a couple of days, I was surprised that the movies that I have DVRed months prior are still there. I wanted to see the benchmark Marx Brothers’ film, Duck Soup. The #220 of the Top 250 of All Time on IMDb was first on my radar when it was discussed on The Last Five segment of one of my must-listen podcasts, Cinebanter. I wanted to see more classic movies than looking at the dreck coming out this year. The movie is almost eighty years old and I was laughing out loud with this flick.

The fictional country of Freedonia is on the verge of bankrupcy. In a last ditch effort to save the nation, Ms. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont) outs the leader of the country and appoints an absolute baffoon named Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx). The news does not sit well with Ambassador Trestino (Louis Calhern) of rival country Sylania wants to take over both countries. He conspires with the famous dancer, Vera Marcal (Raquel Torres) to find some sort of dirt on the new leader to oust him. Trestino’s master plan is to seduce Ms. Teasdale for her money and seize control of the country.

Firefly tries to shake up the way that the government has been run that put them into debt in the first place. A couple members of Firefly’s cabinet have resigned from the post. Feelings the pressure that run a country would get. Firefly randomly takes a peanut vendor off the street, Chicolini (Chico Marx) to make his new Secretary of War when Trestino tries to instigate a war between the two countries. What Firefly doesn’t know that Chicolini is working for the other side with Pinky (Harpo Marx) as spies. Hilarity ensues.

I was surprised how much that I laughed in this movie. I’m not saying that the movie is all good. I thought there was some gags that fell flat especially with Harpo doing his bits with the Lemonade Stand Guy (Edgar Kennedy). I was checking to see when the next scene would happen. I thought that Groucho’s witty quips was the best things about the movie. Lastly, the musical interludes were a bit jarring for me. Where the hell did they come from?

Judgment: If you want to see a solid slapstick comedy, check this out.

Rating: ***1/2

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