Sunday, January 30, 2011

SAG Awards

The King's Speech is winning all the important late awards and The Social Network is being shut out. This will make Oscar night a fast 30 minute DVR-fest. Christian Bale's speech was ruined by the real Dicky Eklund. Natalie Portman's speech improved on her awkward laughing from the Golden Globes. They gave the award to the wrong supporting actress from The Fighter. I couldn't sit through the last 2 speeches. I'm starting to hate Shine now for some reason. I need some therapy. Full list of "winners" after the jump.

Male Actor in a Leading Role: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
Female Actor in a Leading Role: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture: The King’s Speech

Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries: Al Pacino, You Don’t Know Jack
Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries: Claire Danes, Temple Grandin
Male Actor in a Drama Series: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Female Actor in a Drama Series: Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Male Actor in a Comedy Series: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Female Actor in a Comedy Series: Betty White, Hot in Cleveland
Ensemble in a Drama Series: Boardwalk Empire
Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Modern Family

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Weekend Box Office: 1/28/11-1/30/11


1. The Rite: 15 mil / NEW
2. No Strings Attached: 13.7 mil / -30% / 40 mil
3. Green Hornet: 11.5 mil / -35% / 79 mil
4. The Mechanic: 11.5 mil / NEW
5. King's Speech: 11 mil / +41% / 72 mil
6. True Grit: 7.6 mil / +4% / 148 mil
7. The Dilemma: 5.5 mil / -40% / 41 mil
8. Black Swan: 5.1 mil / -13% / 91 mil
9. The Fighter: 4 mil / -3% / 78 mil
10. Yogi Bear: 3.2 mil / -17% / 93 mil
11. Tron Legacy: 2.5 / -30% / 167 mil
12. Tangled: 2.5 mil / -18% / 190 mil
13. Little Fockers: 2.5 mil / -42% / 147 mil

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Tom Hooper wins DGA

My weapons-grade contempt for The King's Speech is completely unfair since I haven't seen the film yet. Since The Social Network had won every award for the past 3 months, I was reticent and cautiously optimistic. It looked like David Fincher would finally get his overdue Oscar, but it turns out he's the new Scorsese and will have to wait another 15 years. I plan to see The King's Speech this week, but unless it somehow tricks me, my review will probably end like this: "Well 70-80 million of people died in WWII, but at least that entitled, rich d- d- d- douche learned to t- t- t- talk."

My disdain for Harvey Weinstein is irrevocable given his inexplicable ability to get his mediocre films (The Reader, Chocolat) Oscar nominations and his OK films (Chicago, Shakespeare in Love) Oscar wins.

Mr. Hooper will win the Oscar over Fincher, the Coens, Darren Aronofsky, and David O. Russell. This looks eerily similar to 2001 when Ron Howard won over Ridley Scott, David Lynch, Robert Altman, and Peter Jackson. The frustrating thing is that after Crash won, the Oscars had actually gone to great directors - Martin Scorsese, the Coens, Danny Boyle, and Kathryn Bigelow. This year reverted to the 90s this year when a critical darling (like Pulp Fiction or Goodfellas or LA Confidential) ultimately loses in the last stage of the race.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Song of the Day - By Your Side

By Beachwood Sparks

Another one from Scott Pilgrim has an interesting fusion of Neil Young and The Flaming Lips - all from a Sade song.

You think I'd leave your side baby
You know me better than that
You think I'd leave you down when you're down on your knees
I wouldn't do that

I'll tell you you're right when you want
And if only you could see into me

Oh when you're cold, I'll be there
Hold you tight to me

When you're on the outside baby and you can't get in
I will show you, you're so much better than you know
When you're lost and you're alone and you cant get back again
I will find you darling and I will bring you home

And if you want to cry
I am here to dry your eyes
And in no time, you'll be fine

You think I'd leave your side baby
You know me better than that
You think id leave you down when you're down on your knees
I wouldn't do that

I'll tell you you're right when you want
And if only you could see into me

Oh when you're cold, I'll be there
Hold you tight to me
Oh when you're low
I'll be there by your side baby

Oh when you're cold, I'll be there
Hold you tight to me
Oh when you're low
I'll be there by your side baby

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 1/25/11

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer
Enter the Void - #
Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - #
Nowhere Boy - #
Open Season 3 - #
Red - #
Santa Sangre - #
Saw: The Final Chapter - #
Secretariat - #

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases

A Beautiful Mind
Broadcast News (Criterion) - *
The Color Purple
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - *

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2011 Oscar Nominations

Best Picture
"Black Swan," Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
"The Fighter" David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
"Inception," Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
"The Kids Are All Right," Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
"The King's Speech," Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
"127 Hours," Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
"The Social Network," Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceàn Chaffin, Producers "Toy Story 3" Darla K. Anderson, Producer
"True Grit" Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
"Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

[remaining categories after the jump]

Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem in "Biutiful"
Jeff Bridges in "True Grit"
Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network"
Colin Firth in "The King's Speech"
James Franco in "127 Hours"

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale in "The Fighter"
John Hawkes in "Winter's Bone"
Jeremy Renner in "The Town"
Mark Ruffalo in "The Kids Are All Right"
Geoffrey Rush in "The King's Speech"

Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening in "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole"
Jennifer Lawrence in "Winter's Bone"
Natalie Portman in "Black Swan"
Michelle Williams in "Blue Valentine"

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams in "The Fighter"
Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech"
Melissa Leo in "The Fighter"
Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit"
Jacki Weaver in "Animal Kingdom"

Animated Feature Film
"How to Train Your Dragon" Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
"The Illusionist" Sylvain Chomet
"Toy Story 3" Lee Unkrich

Art Direction
"Alice in Wonderland"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1"
"The King's Speech"
"True Grit"

"Black Swan," Matthew Libatique
"Inception," Wally Pfister
"The King's Speech," Danny Cohen
"The Social Network," Jeff Cronenweth
"True Grit," Roger Deakins

Costume Design
"Alice in Wonderland," Colleen Atwood
"I Am Love," Antonella Cannarozzi
"The King's Speech," Jenny Beavan
"The Tempest," Sandy Powell
"True Grit" Mary Zophres

"Black Swan," Darren Aronofsky
"The Fighter," David O. Russell
"The King's Speech," Tom Hooper
"The Social Network," David Fincher
"True Grit," Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Documentary (Feature)
"Exit through the Gift Shop," Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
"Gasland," Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
"Inside Job," Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"Restrepo," Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
"Waste Land," Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

Documentary (Short Subject)
"Killing in the Name"
"Poster Girl"
"Strangers No More"
"Sun Come Up"
"The Warriors of Qiugang"

Film Editing
"Black Swan"
"The Fighter"
"The King's Speech"
"127 Hours"
"The Social Network"

Foreign Language Film
"Biutiful," Mexico
"Dogtooth," Greece
"In a Better World," Denmark
"Incendies," Canada
"Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)," Algeria

"Barney's Version," Adrien Morot
"The Way Back," Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
"The Wolfman," Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

Music (Original Score)
"How to Train Your Dragon," John Powell
"Inception," Hans Zimmer
"The King's Speech," Alexandre Desplat
"127 Hours," A.R. Rahman
"The Social Network," Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Music (Original Song)

"Coming Home" from "Country Strong," Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
"I See the Light" from "Tangled," Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
"If I Rise" from "127 Hours," Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
"We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3," Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Short Film (Animated)

"Day & Night," Teddy Newton
"The Gruffalo," Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
"Let's Pollute," Geefwee Boedoe
"The Lost Thing," Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
"Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)" Bastien Dubois

Short Film (Live Action)
"The Confession," Tanel Toom
"The Crush," Michael Creagh
"God of Love," Luke Matheny
"Na Wewe," Ivan Goldschmidt
"Wish 143," Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Sound Editing
"Inception," Richard King
"Toy Story 3," Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
"Tron: Legacy," Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
"True Grit," Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
"Unstoppable," Mark P. Stoeckinger

Sound Mixing
"Inception," Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
"The King's Speech," Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
"Salt," Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
"The Social Network," Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
"True Grit," Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

Visual Effects
"Alice in Wonderland," Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1," Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
"Hereafter," Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell
"Inception," Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
"Iron Man 2," Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
"127 Hours," Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
"The Social Network," Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
"Toy Story 3," Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
"True Grit," Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
"Winter's Bone," Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Writing (Original Screenplay)
"Another Year," Written by Mike Leigh
"The Fighter," Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
"Inception," Written by Christopher Nolan
"The Kids Are All Right," Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
"The King's Speech," Screenplay by David Seidler

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Oscar Nominations Tomorrow

Hope they find room for both Mr. Garfield and Mr. Hawkes.

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Priest's Top Ten

1. Social Network
2. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
3. Inception
4. True Grit
5. The Fighter
6. Let Me In
7. Toy Story 3
8. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
9. The American
10. Exit Through the Gift Shop

2, 3, and 4 are pretty much interchangeable. I haven't seen Winter's Bone, 127 Hours, Blue Valentine, or The King's Speech. I did see Black Swan, but just can't get behind it. Maybe another viewing. It was an odd year for movies, to be sure, but I did really enjoy every film on this list, so the year was by no means bereft of good movies. Also, while I don't normally compose a list of favorite performances, Jon Malkovich in Red is my favorite of this year.
And here is the rest of it.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend Box Office: 1/21/11-1/23/11

Peter Weir's latest dies ignominiously. Natalie Portman risks her Oscar for Ashton Kutcher. Ron Howard directs Kevin James.


1. No Strings Attached: 20.3 mil / NEW
2. Green Hornet: 18 mil / -46% / 63 mil
3. Dilemma: 9.7 mil / -45% / 33 mil
4. King's Speech: 9.1 mil / -0% / 59 mil
5. True Grit: 8 mil / -27% / 139 mil
6. Black Swan: 6.2 mil / -26% / 84 mil
7. The Fighter: 4.5 mil / -12% / 73 mil
8. Little Fockers: 4.4 mil / -39% / 141 mil
9. Yogi Bear: 4 mil / -24% / 89 mil
10. Tron Legacy: 3.7 / -35% / 163 mil
11. Tangled: 3 mil / -25% / 186 mil
12. Country Strong: 2.2 mil / -40% / 17 mil
13. Season of Witch: 2.2 mil / -53% / 22 mil
14. The Way Back: 1.5 mil / NEW

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Company Men - B+

In theaters. Rated R, 113 minutes. Trailer.

Writer/Director John Wells brings us a straightforward story of corporate downsizing, focusing on 3 employees at 3 different levels. The film hit the demographic and lifestyle bullseye for me as it focused on a white-collar upper middle class father's burdens of providing for his family while his wife stays home and takes care of the kids. Ben Affleck is Bobby Walker, a 37 year old up and comer at GTX, a global transportation company struggling with a sliding stock price during the economic tsunami of 2008. In order to get a jump in the stock, they fire thousands, including Walker and upper manager Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper). Click below for more on Company Men:

Tommy Lee Jones is in the executive suite and is shown as the executive with a conscience. As Walker and Woodward work through the implications and psychological issues of losing their jobs, the director touches on male ego, responsibility, work ethic and self-worth. Jones shows the self-loathing and excess that can become necessity as things and lifestyle perks are acquired.

I haven't seen any other film that delves into the impact of a lost job on this segment of the population and its specific impact on the breadwinner. Cooper is the most tragic because of his age and obligations (tuition, mortgage, lifestyle), and Affleck shows the reaction with denial. Rosemary Dewitt provides a great, naturalistic performance as Affleck's practical and loving wife - this and her performance in Rachel Getting Married have solidified her as a great actress in my book.

The film could've been a classic but is a little to over simplified to achieve greatness. The scenes with Affleck's blue collar homebuilder brother-in-law Jack (Kevin Costner) have a great message and quality to them, but they verge into cliche too often. The Maria Bello storyline was useless and should've been cut in favor of more of Cooper.

Cinematographer Roger Deakins provides several interesting frames, most notably several silhouette shots and effective stratification shots of the levels of wealth of the 3 families.

One hole in the film is that Affleck's character is supposedly making $120,000 and they live in a $850,000 house and go skiing and vacationing all the time and he has a porsche - to do all that he'd need a salary of more like $250,000 minimum.

This was really, really good and an absolute must for any male breadwinner.

Roger Deakins

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Friday, January 21, 2011


Christopher Hitchens will be the guest on C-Span's Q&A show this Sunday from 7-10pm (central). Likely to be one of his last interviews. More information here.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Updated Best of 2010 List

1. Black Swan
1. The Social Network
3. The Fighter
4. Inception
5. The King's Speech
6. True Grit
7. Winter's Bone
8. Ghost Writer
9. Exit Through the Gift Shop
10. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
11. Blue Valentine
12. 127 Hours
13. The American
14. The Town
15. Shutter Island

Still to come: Restrepo, Inside Job, Let Me In, Biutiful, Conviction, and Carlos.

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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - B+

22 year old Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) has a new high school girlfriend, but he's still obsessed with his ex-girlfriend who's now in a successful rock band. Scott's own band (where he plays bass) constantly struggles to get a gig. He meets Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) at a party and becomes instantly smitten, but unfortunately, if he's to become her boyfriend, he has to physically fight her 7 evil exes video-game style . . .

The premise is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. The film turning into a video game (complete with wire-fu stunts) several times works better than you'd expect. In the extras on the Blu-ray, director Edgar Wright compares the "fights" to musicals where the emotion is so strong, people break into song without ever acknowledging it. The "fights" are made fun of while they're happening and benefit from Wright's knowing tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. The last fight with Jason Schwartmann goes on way too long and the first fight (with "Matthew Patel") gets entirely too wacky. But the Chris Evans and Brandon Routh fights were funny and inventive.

The stuff between the fights us consistently challenging and hilarious with Wright's strong, clear vision bursting through every performance. Cera's straight-faced, deadpan delivery is perfect; he's the best he's been since Arrested Development. Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza are terrific in small roles. Kieran Culkin steals every scene he's in as Pilgrim's gay roommate. All of the unknown actors are great which points back to the director. The film is fast with unique transitions and and an unrelenting jokey atmosphere.

But the film successfully navigates away from too smug and ironic with the character of Ramona. Amid all the silliness, Pilgrim's longing for her is so honest and sincere, you can't help but root for him. Winstead plays into Wright's style, but her eyes draw you in and gives the film much-needed depth. Beck's music perfectly captures what young love feels like. Indeed, the alt-indie soundtrack is perfectly chosen and placed throughout the film. As a bonus, the film wisely and subtly shows the effect people have on others (whether they know it or not).Based on Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novel, the film would have been disastrous in another man's hands, but Wright's sensibility aligns perfectly with the ridiculous plot by keeping a playful atmosphere. The effects go overboard from time to time, but as a whole, it works like gangbusters. B+

Updated 2010 Top Ten List

1. The Social Network
2. Inception
3. Black Swan
4. The Ghost Writer
5. The Fighter
5 1/2. The Secret in Their Eyes
6. Toy Story 3
7. Let Me In
8. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
9. True Grit
10. Shutter Island

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 1/18/11

Animal Kingdom - #
Army of Crime - #
Buried - #
Death Race 2 - #
Jack Goes Boating - #
Lebanon - #
Paper Man
Takers - #

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases

The Naked Kiss - (Criterion)
Shock Corridor - (Criterion)

# - also on Blu-ray

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Somewhere - C

In theaters. Rated R, 98 minutes. Trailer.

This one is really, and I mean really, boring. This is a "mood film" about a hollywood star named Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) and his vacuous celebrity existence and its interruption by a brief stint spending time with his 11 year old. Written and directed by the hit or miss Sofia Coppola, this one works every once in a while, but mostly is just an overly boring series of set pieces.

The film takes place almost exclusively at Chateau Marmont, the legendary Hollywood mansion that has served as the hotel to the stars for decades. Coppola herself is said to have spent much of her youth hanging out there. The film opens with 5 minutes worth of Marco driving in a loop in the desert, and then we get into a series of scenes showing Marco as a celebrity living as a recluse and bored with the decadence that comes with his station in life. These scenes (the erotic dancing twins) go on too long, although some (the party in his room) are somewhat effective. His daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) gets dropped off to stay with him for awhile because her mom "needs some time off". The positive experience of actually connecting with a human makes him realize that he "is nothing" and he has an existential realization/crisis.

That description and the trailer makes the film sound really good (at least to me). But this really is like watching paint dry, and I like moody movies without much plot. Coppola seems to be really pleased with the concept of an overly long linger on a marginally interesting shot. There are some decent visuals in the film, and some dry humor (constant "you're an asshole" texts on Johnny's phone). Oddly, Jackass star Chris Pontius is in the film and provides a little bit of much needed humor.

Decent soundtrack from Phoenix. Skip it.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Weekend Box Office: 1/14/11-1/16/11


1. The Green Hornet: 34 mil / NEW
2. The Dilemma: 17.4 mil / NEW
3. True Grit: 11.2 mil / -23% / 126 mil
4. King's Speech 9 mil / +41 % / 45 mil
5. Black Swan: 8.1 mil / +0% / 73 mil
6. Little Fockers: 7.1 mil / -47% / 134 mil
7. Tron Legacy: 5.7 / -44% / 157 mil
8. Yogi Bear: 5.3 / -20% / 82 mil
9. The Fighter: 5.1 mil / -27% / 66 mil
10. Season of Witch: 4.5 mil / -58% / 18 mil
11. Tangled: 3.9 mil / -23% / 181 mil
12. Country Strong: 3.7 mil / -50% / 13 mil
13. Narnia 3: 2.3 mil / -50% / 98 mil
14. Gulliver's Travels: 2 mil / -55% / 38 mil
15. The Tourist: 1.7 mil / -56% / 64 mil
16. Blue Valentine: 1.4 mil / +95% / 2.8 mil
17. Harry Potter 7: 1.3 mil / -45% / 290 mil

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Pee Wee on SNL

Worlds collided in a good way on last night's SNL when noted Lawyer fave Pee Wee Herman showed up in a digital short.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Cyrus - C-

A divorced, depressed John (John C. Reilly) hits it off with Molly (Marisa Tomei) at a party, but complications arise when he meets her jealous son Cyrus (Jonah Hill). Cyrus still lives at home and can easily manipulate his mom. The guys verbally, then physically fight behind Molly's back. John also has an ongoing relationship with his ex-wife (Catherine Keener) who is getting remarried. Their relationship is completely implausible (as are all of them in the film) . . .

Written and directed by Mark and Jay Duplass, the lack of a plot, senseless shaky camera, pointless zoom-ins, and cheap settings become tedious early on. The sparse music sounds like every other indie low budget film ever. The acting is OK, but the A- and B-listers can only do so much with the unlikable, unrealistic characters inherent in the script and the stilted dialogue. The Brothers Duplass are NYC "mumblecore" members and I think I've seen enough not to pursue any more of that movement's films.

The film works for about 5 minutes after Cyrus moves out and the couple tries to start a relationship. Their isolated loneliness and sadness is evoked well by Reilly and Tomei. But that ends abruptly when Cyrus reenters the film. Hill is funnier when he's very expressive (like in Superbad) or throwing in one-liners into a conversation (as in Judd Apatow's films). One of the best bits in The Other Guys is very hot women after Will Ferrell, played very well for laughs. Ferrell's Step Brothers co-star Reilly has 2 hot women after him here, but it's played straight and not acknowledged. There's no way either lady would choose this schlubby loser. Save for the aforementioned 5 minutes, there's not one honest moment in the film. C-

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

This Week's Home Viewings

Major spoilers for The Town start immediately. Lawyer's review is here.

The Town works well the majority of the running time but drops the ball big-time during the closing 20 minutes - where smart crooks (like Pete Postlethwaite) make dumb mistakes and smarter cops (including John Hamm) make even dumber mistakes. All of it forced to get to a pre-ordained unsatisfying conclusion rather than naturally and logically following the progression of the story and the characters. For all of its homages to Heat, it should have used one more and allowed Hamm to take Ben Affleck out . . .

When Val Kilmer is turned away by Ashley Judd in Heat, you can feel the weight of their marriage. When Rebecca Hall turns away Ben Affleck, it's done clumsily. First, the cops would stay away from the windows. Second, they would have picked up on the code words "sunny days" right away. The incredulous relationship just started and he's responsible for one of the worst days of her life - I didn't buy the couple for one second despite the good acting.

And why go all Andy Dufresne by leaving some buried money behind? This makes Hall an accomplice. In contrast, the great thing about Amy Brenneman in Heat is her purity and how it changes Robert De Niro. After killing a bunch of cops, are we really supposed to sympathize with Affleck just because his junkie mother killed herself?

The frustrating thing is that the first 90 minutes is the best crime drama in a long while which evokes an incredible sense of location. The acting is frequently superb and Affleck's direction creates terrific tension and suspense. B

Life's too short and hard not to enjoy films like The Other Guys. Since I like even lesser Will Ferrell outings like this and this, it shouldn't surprise that this one goes in my win column. I laughed a lot, frequently out loud - the biggest one being Rob Riggle talking about his weekend at a bar mitzvah. But the improvisations by Ferrell are genius and as Lawyer pointed out, there's just enough craft here (specifically the bar scene) to warrant a B+.

A second look at The Social Network confirms its status as my favorite film since 2007. Each scene is rich with humor, intelligence, and skill. Even scenes that seemed out of place initially worked better - most notably the Winkelvi's conversation with Harvard's president. This scene brilliantly shows the twins on the butt-end of the social hierarchy they rule everywhere else. Their losing of the rowing competition is a changing of the guard - the old hierarchy is about to be flattened by Zuckerberg's website.

Those comparing Zuckerberg to Ben Stiller's Greenberg are way off base. Zuckerberg is not sympathetic, but he's smart and witty and one of the hardest-working students at Harvard. Greenberg is a lazy, pathetic, whiny douche loser who bitches to the airlines about trivial events. In a film about connecting through computers and the loss of actual friendships and human touch, a touchy-feely main character wouldn't be genuine. A

The Town - B
The Other Guys - B+
The Social Network - A

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 1/11/11

Alpha and Omega - #
Piranha - #
The Social Network - #, *

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases

Army of Shadows (Criterion) - *
Dances with Wolves - *
The Endless Summer
The Great Debaters
Once Upon a Time in America
Raging Bull - *
Rob Roy
Robinson Crusoe on Mars (Criterion)

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Monday, January 10, 2011

No Country For Old Men

I always liked to hear about the oldtimers. Never missed a chance to do so. You can't help but compare yourself against the oldtimers. Can't help but wonder how theyd've operated these times.
There was this boy I sent to the 'lectric chair at Huntsville Hill here a while back. My arrest and my testimony. He killt a fourteen-year-old girl. Papers said it was a crime of passion but he told me there wasn't any passion to it. Told me that he'd been planning to kill somebody for about as long as he could remember. Said that if they turned him out he'd do it again. Said he knew he was going to hell. "Be there in about fifteen minutes". I don't know what to make of that. I sure don't. The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure. It's not that I'm afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don't want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don't understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He'd have to say, "O.K., I'll be part of this world."

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Blue Valentine - A-

In theaters. Rated R, 114 minutes. Trailer.

Alternating between funny and tragic, Blue Valentine tells the love story of Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) through a non-linear structure and earnest, raw performances and direction. We meet the couple on the downward side of their love, raising their daughter in a trailer home. Dean is a romantic but ambitionless working class painter (complete with Giving Tree and 'heart on sleeve' tattoos) and Cindy is a smart middle-class nurse with low self-esteem and a cold personality. The dynamics of their characters and their relationships are revealed in reverse chronological order in the film, though it feels natural, not gimmicky. Click below for more on BV:

Cindy can't fake it anymore and Dean's suffocating lack of drive makes her resent his goofy charm and over-the-top fathering and loving of her. Dean smokes in every scene of the film and wears sunglasses 90% of the time. Early in the film, as he talks with a co-worker (at a moving company), he says that guys fall in love with one woman and are really the romantics, while women are always able to choose and basically just make a choice when they are ready to get married. This theme plays out in the film, and along the way we are treated to great dialogue and acting.

The film is much less depressing or erotic than advertised. There are several laugh out loud lines delivered by Dean throughout the film, and the sex scenes are not "lap pillow" necessary at all. Essentially it is a portrait of a failed romance, with lots of commentary about class, fathers, family, self-esteem, ambition and gender roles along the way. It also explores the disconnect between the initial rush of new love and the realities of marriage, children and responsibilities. I really liked this film - it has a great handheld look with some of the most 'real' scenes and performances of the year.

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Weekend Box Office: 1/7/11-1/9/11


1. True Grit: 15 mil / -39% / 110 mil
2. Little Fockers: 13.8 mil / -47% / 128 mil
3. Season of the Witch: 10.7 mil / NEW
4. Tron Legacy: 9.8 mil / -48% / 148 mil
5. Black Swan: 8.4 mil / -6% / 61 mil
6. Country Strong: 7.3 mil / NEW
7. The Fighter: 7 mil / -30% / 58 mil
8. King's Speech: 6.8 mil / - 12% 33 mil
9. Yogi Bear: 6.8 mil / -45% / 76 mil
10. Tangled: 5.2 mil / -47% / 176 mil
11. Narnia 3: 4.8 mil / -54% / 95 mil
12. Gulliver's Travels: 4.7 mil / -50% / 35 mil
13. The Tourist: 4 mil / -40% / 61 mil
14. Harry Potter 7: 2.4 mil / -48% / 288 mil
15. How Do You Know: 1.9 mil / -58% / 29 mil

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Favorite Scenes - The Insider

Mike Wallace:[after watching a preview of the "60 Minutes" Wigand interview that has been edited] Where's the rest? Where the hell's the rest? [to Eric Kluster] You cut it! You cut the guts out of what I said!

Eric Kluster: It was a time consideration, Mike.
MW: Time? Bull$#!t! You corporate lackey. Who told you your incompetent little fingers have the requisite skills to edit me? I'm trying to band-aid a situation, here, and you're too dim to...

[Wallace is suddenly interrupted by Helen Caperelli, who walks up to Wallace and Kluster]
Helen Caperelli: Mike... Mike... Mike...

MW: [to Helen Caperelli] Mike? [pause] Mike!?! Try Mr. Wallace. We work in the same corporation doesn't mean we work in the same profession. What are you gonna do now? You gonna finesse me? Lawyer me some more?MW: [continues] I've been in this profession 50 f@*^ing years! You and the people you work for are destroying the most-respected, the highest-rated, the most-profitable show on this network!

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Song of the Day - Sound of Violence

By Dennis de Laat

Techno song as heard here:

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

5 Great Movie Speeches

"That's the real question, isn't it? Why? The “how” and the “who” is just scenery for the public. Oswald, Ruby, Cuba, the Mafia, keeps them guessing like some kind of parlor game. Prevents them from asking the most important question: Why? Why was Kennedy killed? Who benefitted? Who has the power to cover it up? Who?"

JFK - (1991)
Donald Sutherland as X
Screenplay by Oliver Stone and Zachary Sklar

“You know, so much of the time we're just lost. We say, 'Please, God, tell us what is right; tell us what is true.' And there is no justice: the rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time, we become dead - a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims, and we become victims. We become - we become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law. But today you are the law. You are the law. Not some book, not the lawyers, not the, a marble statue, or the trappings of the court. See those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are - they are, in fact, a prayer - a fervent and a frightened prayer. In my religion, they say, "Act as if ye had faith, and faith will be given to you." If - if we are to have faith in justice, we need only to believe in ourselves. And act with justice. See, I believe there is justice in our hearts.”

The Verdict - (1982)
Paul Newman as Frank Galvin
Screenplay by David Mamet

“We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering - these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life! Of the questions of these recurring; Of the endless trains of the faithless; Of cities filled with the foolish; What good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

Dead Poets Society - (1989)
Robin Williams as John Keating
Screenplay by Tom Schulman

“Hello? Hello. I'm lookin' for my wife. Wait. OK...OK...OK. If this is where it has to happen, then this is where it has to happen. I'm not letting you get rid of me. How about that? This used to be my specialty. You know, I was good in a living room. They'd send me in there, and I'd do it alone. And now I just . . . But tonight, our little project - our company had a very big night - a very, very big night. But it wasn't complete. It wasn't nearly close to being in the same vicinity as complete because I couldn't share it with you. I couldn't hear your voice or laugh about it with you. I missed my - I missed my wife. We live in a cynical world, a cynical world, and we work in a business of tough competitors. I love you. You - complete me.”

Jerry Maguire - (1996)
Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire
Screenplay by Cameron Crowe

"Oh, you got a murderous rage in you, and I like it. It's life, boiling up inside of you. It's good. The Priest and me, we lived by the same principles. It was only faith divided us. He gave me this (points at face), you know. That was the finest beating I ever took. My face was pulp, my guts was pierced, and my ribs was all mashed up. And when he came to finish me, I couldn't look him in the eye. He spared me because he wanted me to live in shame. This was a great man. A great man. So I cut out the eye that looked away. Sent it to him wrapped in blue paper. I would have cut 'em both out if I could have fought him blind. Then I rose back up again with a full heart and buried him in his own blood."

Gangs of New York - (2002)
Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill “The Butcher” Cutting
Screenplay by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 1/4/11

Case 39 - #
Catfish - #
Dinner for Schmucks - #
Gun - #
Howl - #
The Last Exorcism - #
Machete - #
Ticking Clock - #
Yellow Handkerchief

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Austin Powers in Goldmember
Backdraft - *
Dark Blue
El Mariachi/Desperado - *
Ever After: A Cinderella Story
Hope Floats
My Dog Skip
Navy Seals
Once Upon a Time in Mexico
A Walk in the Clouds

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Monday, January 3, 2011

How Do You Know? - C

In theaters. Rated PG-13, 116 minutes. Trailer.

Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson and Reese Witherspoon is a cast that is too good to fail. Except they did in How Do You Know. It's not their fault though, the blame for this bloated, boring, unfunny and out of touch abomination is respected writer/director James L. Brooks (Taxi, Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News, As Good As It Gets). The film follows 2 people through a difficult point of their life. Reese Witherspoon is Lisa, a 31 year old softball player on the US National team (?); she gets cut from the team and it sends her into a personal crisis. Paul Rudd is George, an investment banker working at his father's (Jack Nicholson) big time Washington DC firm when he becomes the target of an SEC investigation. Click below for more on HDYK:

After fits and starts, the two end up getting to talk and there are sparks of a relationship. He is distracted by his personal crisis and she is in a dumb relationship with Mattie (Owen Wilson), a shallow Major League baseball pitcher on the Washington Nationals. Nicholson plays his typical bombastic asshole with a heart and looks ridiculous in size 800 suits. The film follows the two principals as they lamely move through their crises and relationships with a happy ending.

The trailer looks funny enough, but the film lacks any sense of dynamism or realness. Each character is boring and wooden with basically no character development. The Lisa character is a hot softball player.......and that's all we know about her except that she is insecure and easy. We don't know anything about George except that he's honest and likeable. Is he good at his job or just a lucky son? Owen and Rudd do what they can with the shell of their characters, but they are just being themselves and that gets old after a while. Witherspoon is terrible due to Brooks constantly shooting closeups of her wistful, contemplative face.

Brooks' style doesn't work. Each shot is drained of life because of the perfect lighting and Hallmark Hall of Fame film stock. Combine that with a lack of any character worth rooting for or caring about and you have a really bad film. There are a few Rudd laughs (hard not to do), but mostly you'll just be looking at your watch.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Best Films of the 90s - 5-1

5. Fargo - (1996)

Joel and Ethan Coen grew up in Minnesota which no doubt helped their incredible specificity with both the characterizations and locations. The attention to detail with each person creates a rich experience - every character could have their own movie. Marge Gunderson doesn't even show up until the 32 minute mark and she's the most memorable (and culturally significant) female character of the decade. The trademark Coen dialogue - witty, unusual, unpredictable - is there, but compared to their prior efforts, they really upped the ante visually. The snowy landscapes are perfectly captured by Roger Deakins and it occasionally looks like a black and white film. Carter Burwell's minor chords are sometimes out of place in the Coens' lighter comedic films but they hit the bleak mood terrifically here.

4. Pulp Fiction - (1994)
The impact isn't fully appreciated by Generation Y, but Xers had never seen anything like this in 1994. Timeline-shifting, pop-culture references, and racial egalitarianism had never hit the mainstream before. Quentin Tarantino took classic subjects like gangsters, taxi drivers, and boxers from film's early days of the 1930s and gave them a spectacular update. Elements of every decade of American film are referenced - it's amazing how innovative and original it felt (and still feels) since QT borrowed from any- and everything. The performances are sublime as the actors realistically spill out the smart, cool dialogue. My favorite section has always been the first half of "The Bonnie Situation" - the most hilarious 15 minutes of the decade.

3. Schindler's List - (1993)

Detractors call it too sentimental and too manipulative. Kubrick famously claimed it wasn't really about the Holocaust since it was about the survival of 1000 Jews rather than the murder of 6 million. But there are still several brutal scenes of horrific violence. Steven Spielberg will always want to entertain and reach a mass audience. Only he could make a 3 hour, R-rated, black and white film about the Holocaust and make a huge profit. The technical achievement is indisputable; the acting is superb from top to bottom, especially Ralph Fiennes. And the end challenges you the way few films can.

2. Goodfellas - (1990)
Complicated, long, uninterrupted shots interspersed with quick cuts and whiplash camera moves, Martin Scorsese is in complete control of the medium. It's a director's movie, but he allows the actors (especially Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci) plenty of breathing room. The songs are perfectly cut with the images (especially Donovan's "Atlantis" and the piano part of "Layla"). And just when you think he's run out of things to do, he pulls out a whole new bag of tricks with the genius May 11th, 1980 sequence which puts the viewer in the head of a cocaine user. The major difference between this and Pulp Fiction is that Tarantino's message of providence and purpose felt tacked on and Scorsese's critique of materialism and his evaluation of morality levels is present throughout his gangster epic masterpiece. They both grew up on movies, but Scorsese seems to understand real life.

1. The Thin Red Line - (1998)

A couple of films (like The Social Network or Black Swan) hit the intellectual sweet spot every year; some (like The Fighter or Toy Story 3) even manage to find my atrophied heartstrings. But this Terrence Malick masterwork is the only one ever made that hits this unknown place - call it the soul, for lack of a better word. Watching this, you truly feel as if every person, regardless of location, creed, or age, is connected. But more than that, death cannot even stop the connection. Many have felt confused about the multiple narrators, but it's really all the same story - we're all in it together and part of the same tale. Certainly, the use of Melanesian missionary hymns help set the mood. But the poetic narration is frequently profound, and so abysmally deep, that it's easy to find something new even if you've seen it over a dozen times. The jaw-dropping shots of nature help with the immersive experience and strengthen the themes of universal bonding. Relationships - friendships and marriage are only part of the point. Coexistence with the natural world and your enemies is in your own best interest. The centerpiece scene is "The Mop-Up" chapter with Hans Zimmer's "Journey to the Line" playing and it's exciting and thrilling every time. But it's the observations and insights that make this such an unusually rewarding film.

125. Exotica
124. Much Ado About Nothing
123. The Piano
122. Crying Game
121. Boyz N the Hood
120. Crumb
119. A Bug's Life
118. The Freshman
117. Shine
116. Bringing Out the Dead
115. City Slickers
114. Secrets and Lies
113. Spanish Prisoner
112. Homicide
111. The Lion King
110. Jurassic Park
109. Shadowlands
108. Tremors
107. The Double Life of Veronique
106. The Grifters
105. Lost Highway
104. Before Sunrise
103. Sling Blade
102. The Game
101. Bullets over Broadway

100. Glengarry Glen Ross
99. Dead Again
98. Ed Wood
97. True Romance
96. The Commitments

95. Bound
94. Die Hard 2
93. In the Line of Fire
92. Affliction
91. Shakespeare in Love

90. In the Company of Men
89. Short Cuts
88. Copland
87. The Hudsucker Proxy
86. The Last Seduction

85. The Apostle
84. Burnt by the Sun
83. The Godfather Part III
82. Good Will Hunting
81. Speed

80. Reversal of Fortune
79. Forest Gump
78. American Beauty
77. Dazed and Confused
76. True Lies

75. Nixon
74. Malcolm X
73. Red Rock West
72. Hearts of Darkness
71. Wag the Dog

70. Thelma and Louise
69. Hoop Dreams
68. Quiz Show
67. Reservoir Dogs
66. Total Recall

65. The Hunt for Red October
64. Babe
63. Braveheart
62. Searching for Bobby Fischer
61. Bottle Rocket

60. Jerry Maguire
59. Terminator 2
58. Toy Story
57. Toy Story 2
56. Elizabeth

55. Apollo 13
54. Casino
53. Rushmore
52. Get Shorty
51. Barton Fink

50. Swingers
49. The Matrix
48. 12 Monkeys
47. Out of Sight
46. The Sixth Sense

45. The Limey
44. Hamlet
43. Dark City
42. Leaving Las Vegas
41. Hard Eight

40. The Fugitive
39. Three Kings
38. Waiting for Guffman
37. Beauty and the Beast
36. Hard-Boiled

35. In the Name of the Father
34. Lone Star
33. Three Colors: Blue, White, Red
32. A River Runs Through It
31. Dead Man Walking

30. The Usual Suspects
29. Dances with Wolves
28. The Player
27. Groundhog Day
26. Truman Show

25. The Sweet Hereafter
24. Last of the Mohicans
23. Heat
22. Trainspotting
21. The Big Lebowski

20. Fearless
19. The Shawshank Redemption
18. Seven
17. Being John Malkovich
16. Fight Club

15. Saving Private Ryan
14. Miller's Crossing
13. Magnolia
12. The Silence of the Lambs
11. Eyes Wide Shut

10. The Insider
9. JFK
8. Unforgiven
7. LA Confidential
6. Boogie Nights

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Weekend Box Office: 12/31/10-1/2/11

True Grit is already the Coens' biggest domestic hit, with plenty of steam left.


1. Little Fockers: 26 mil / -15% / 103 mil
2. True Grit: 24.5 mil / -1% / 86.8 mil
3. Tron Legacy: 18.3 mil / -4% / 131 mil
4. Yogi Bear: 12.6 mil / +62% / 66 mil
5. Narnia 3: 10.3 mil / +9% / 87 mil
6. The Fighter: 10 mil / +32% / 46 mil
7. Tangled: 9.9 mil / +53% / 168 mil
8. Gulliver's Travels: 9.0 mil /+42%/ 27 mil
9. Black Swan: 8.5 mil / +35% / 47 mil
10. King's Speech: 7.5 mil / +67% / 23 mil
11. The Tourist: 6.7 mil / +25% / 55 mil
12. How Do You Know: 4.5 mil / +28% / 25 mil
13. Harry Potter 7: 4.4 mil / +39% / 283 mil

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