Monday, February 26, 2007

RE: Now this is just too far...(NSFW)

Apparently the guys who made Hostel 2 are so desperate to get people to see their movie, that director Eli Roth unveiled the following exclusive poster at NY Comi-con.

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While journalists have been batting the word 'torture porn' for a while, it seems as though Roth & co. are the first to fully embrace this phrase intended as an insult.

When Mike saw the poster, we said, "Oh, looks like it's a good movie!" Mind you, there was sarcasm in his voice. Wonder how the Comi-con people felt knowing that they were the intended audience for this poster?

Marty wins! (The Oscars)

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Was "The Departed" the best picture of the year? Well, it was definitely one of the films that entertained me the most this year. That's probably why I didn't guess it would win at this year's awards.

Out of the twenty categories running in our Oscar pool (we excluded all categories with the word 'short' in them, I got fifteen right, including 'upset' win Alan Arkin, who won out over favorite Eddie Murphy.

"Little Miss Sunshine", my pick for Best Motion Picture, did rather well despite losing the big race. Sunshine won two out of its four nominations, one for Arkin's performance, and the other being Best Original Screenplay.

Martin Scorsese finally got his Best Director Award in what appeared to be a film brats reunion. The belated statuette was given to Scorsese by his fellow 1970's filmmaking crew, known as 'The Film Brats', Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and George Lucas.

Of the four directors on stage during Scorsese's win, Lucas is the only one who has not been rewarded for his directing.

"It's better to give than receive," Lucas said, only to be jokingly interrupted by Coppola and Spielberg who shouted, "No it's not!"

"The Departed" also won for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editor.

Jennifer Hudson, the only nominated performer from the film "Dreamgirls" who did not appear in "Norbit", won Best Supporting Actress, giving the night's most tearful acceptance speech.

Echoing his Golden Globes win, Forrest Whitaker was at a loss for words when he won Best Actor for playing Idi Amin in "Last King of Scotland"; and fellow obvious choice Helen Mirren calmly thanked the monarchy after winning best actress for "The Queen."

The awards show itself was a rather dull affair. While Jack Nicholson was on hand to sit near the front with his sunglasses and manic smile (albeit with a shaved head), host Ellen DeGeneres's humor was merely amusing. Also drawing out the show was an extended medley of songs from 'Dreamgirls' and a series of shadow puppets which created skillful but pointless recreations of famous movie posters.

Perhaps the biggest waste of time for the evening was a clips montage dedicated to editing. If one were to use the French word for editing, it wold roughly translate to a montage dedicated to montage. Film itself is a tribute to the work of editors, so the acknowledgement for such a technical category at a time when people on the East Coast want to see who got all the awards before they hit the hay was unneeded.

With four categories to go at midnight, the time when the show should have ended, Degeneres joked that the show was over with a little time to spare. The punchline came as she got a call on her headset telling her there were four major awards left to donate, but I wasn't laughing. The show could have been over had they cut down all the best song performances to a three-minute medley, removed all of the many montage tributes but one (seriously, those things lose their 'special' quality when they play two or three of them in one night), and told those amazing puppeteers to take a hike.

Seriously, the best whistler on earth might be amazing to watch, but he or she would have no place performing in the middle of an over-bloated awards show dedicated to film. The same could be said of shadow puppeteers as well.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

List of those who won this year's Independent Spirit Awards.

If the Oscars are supposed to be the Senior Prom, where all the big shots get together in fancy dresses and tuxedos to hand out superlatives, then I guess that makes the Independent Spirit Awards the 'NERD PROM' (i.e. that guy's house where all the dorks go to play D&D and watch Battlestar Gallactica while making fun of the soc's).

Guess this year's Nerd Prom went off without a hitch. Here are the winners as well as commentary by me, when necessary.

Best Feature: "Little Miss Sunshine"

Here we have it! I really think this film has a solid darkhorse chance of stealing the best picture Oscar away from 'Babel'. Here are three reasons why: 1) While all the movies nominated for Best Feature at the Oscars this year are awards whores - meaning movies whose sole purpose in life was to win awards - Little Miss Sunshine is the only film in the entire list of statue sluts that isn't entirely stuck-up. The stuffy awards whore vote has been split four ways between 'Babel', 'The Departed', 'Letters from Iwa Jima', and 'The Queen', so 'Little Miss Sunshine' could very well win by default. 2) LMS is a comedy, and I think the genre has been due for Oscar recognition for sometime. 3) LMS came out on DVD before any of the other films nominated this year, that's the only reason anyone could justify 'Crash's' win from last year, besides America's unyielding homophobia.

Best Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, "Little Miss Sunshine"

Best First Feature: "Sweet Land"

Too bad CFVF judge Ramin Bahrani didn't win for 'Man Push Cart'. I have not had a chance to see 'Sweet Land', but perhaps I should check it out.

Best Documentary: "The Road to Guantanamo"

Best Foreign Film:
"The Lives of Others"

Lady Vengeance totally owned this award, but wasn't even nominated. I guess Hollywood still wants to pretend that Korea doesn't exist.

Best Female Lead: Shareeka Epps, "Half Nelson"

I liked Shareeka Epps in 'Half Nelson' more than I did 'Ryan Gosling'. That's a strong compliment mind you, because Gosling did a very good job acting in that film as well. Epps had the natural power of a young Jodie Foster. I wonder what her next project will be? Hopefully she can hibernate during the time when she's likely to be casted in sex comedies and lousy horror films, and come out on top with a list of films that can really use her talents.

Best Male Lead: Ryan Gosling, "Half Nelson"

Does that mean he will win tonight? Hell no. This is the only time Gosling will get the nod over Forest Whitaker this year. Again, I hope he will continue to find work that makes use of his talents. When I saw 'The Notebook', I remember thinking that had he and Amy Adams not been so likable, the movie's absurd plot would have made me punch a pencil through my brain.

Best Supporting Female: Frances McDormand, "Friends With Money"

Best Supporting Male: Alan Arkin, "Little Miss Sunshine"

Why do I think Arkin will win the Oscar over Eddie Murphy? Simple, he's a reliable, working actor who's been in the business for a long time, and he didn't star in 'Norbit'.

Best Screenplay: Jason Reitman, "Thank You For Smoking"
Well deserved.

Best First Screenplay:
Michael Arndt, "Little Miss Sunshine"

Best Cinematography: Guillermo Navarro, "Pan's Labyrinth"

'Pan's Labrynth' is really more of a foreign film than an 'Indie'. The film had a tremendous budget, making Best Cinematography an easier win because they had expensive sets, lighting rigs, etc. 'Man Push Cart' totally deserved this award.

Someone to Watch Award: Julia Loktev, "Day Night Day Night"

And the award for 'Most Pointless Awards Title' goes to....

John Cassavetes Award: "Quinceañera"

I am amazed they made this film for under 500,000 bucks. Check it out, it's really good.

Truer Than Fiction Award: Adele Horne, "The Tailenders"

Producers Award: Howard Gertler and Tim Perell, "Shortbus," "Pizza"

Special Distinction: David Lynch, Laura Dern, "Inland Empire"

Remember, this one's coming to The Carolina Theatre in Greensboro on March 16!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Has director Cameron 'Terminated' the Resurection of Christ?

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Getting ready to start a piece on The Carolina Film and Video Festival (CFVF), but in the meantime, I thought I would share this story from Time Magazine's Middle East Blog .

Y'know how I said 20th Century Fox is paying James Cameron $200 million to make his upcoming 3-D sci-fi epic Avatar? Well, I am sure the studio might consider withholding the payment now if possible.

Apparently, the director of such mega-hits as T2, The Abyss, and Titanic claims he has found the remains of both Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. Apparently, the remains were chilling out in a coffin somewhere near of Jerusalem. Cameron will be holding a press conference Monday where he will display the bodies, most likely under the tightest security team you could imagine (who knows how many people will be sending him death threats because of this).

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(James Cameron:How many Oscar statues has Jesus ever won?)

I look forward to seeing what conservative fave Fox will do or say in response to this event. $200 million is a lot of money to spend on a man that a bunch of religious whack-jobs will want to snuff out for challenging a major belief of the Bible with supposed physical evidence. My fiance' said that James Cameron is one of the only people on earth who's rich enough to denounce the ressurection of Christ. Guess she's right; I remarked that at least Cameron had the courtesey to give believers tomorrow (Sunday) to have one final hurrah at their churches.

What's funny is that about 10 years ago, the oft-unfunny sketch comedy show, Mad TV, did a sketch that fits with this whole story nicely. Enjoy.

Update: The Time Magazine blog post has generated almost 1000 responses. So far, the most interesting response is from a fellow named 'believer', who says, "FUCK JAMES CAMERON HE LICKS HIS MOTHERS PROLAPSED ANUS" over and over and over again. Kinda bizarre that this fellow calls himself 'believer' only to write the most vile and disgusting of insults one could ever concieve. Not only does the person say Cameron licks his mother's anus, he has to add the fact that it's prolapsed. How depraved can another person be? I wonder what kind of porn 'believer' downloads when he isn't going to church?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Dammit! I wan't some butts!"

Guess there really was more to Top Gun than fighter planes....

This video assembly kicks off with QT's infamous Top Gun monologue from 'Sleep With Me', and then uses a series of well placed clips from the actual film to show what the Tom Cruise vehichle was really about.

My favorite part is when they play Kenny Loggins' 'Playin' with the Boys'. Too funny

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Audiences, money to be 'Saw'-ed apart from one another for the fourth time.

Forget that each film in the series sucked more than the last one, not to mention the fact that the both of the series' villains died at the very end of part III - Lionsgate plans to go ahead with "Saw IV." The assembly-line horror saga has made scads of green - more than a quarter of a BILLION world wide! - so this really isn't a shocker.

All that remains is to decide who will take on the guise of the Machiavelian maestro of death, the Jigsaw Killer, since Tobin Bell finally got whacked. I wouldn't be surprised if Angus Macfadyen will be the filmmakers' choice since he is the only survivor of the last film, and he seems to have the most motivation to set up a series of horrible boobie traps.

Darren Lynn Bousman, director of Saw 2 and 3 has been tapped to direct the newest installment, despite the fact that he had originally stated he would not be returning to the series. Odds are they will start shooting sometime in mid-to-late September with a release date scheduled no less than a month away.

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Bousman: Look, I know you always dreamed of being a serious actor and all, but could you please just jump into that vat of rotten pig guts? Hey, at least you're not making porno...well, sorta."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ghost Rider Review

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Make no mistake, “Ghost Rider” is a bad movie, but the comic book fans who are using the internet to complain about it need to shut up. As a former comic book fan myself, I can honestly say that it's not like anyone's childhood has been raped or pissed on here. Seriously, anyone who actually enjoyed reading comic books didn't like Ghost Rider anyway.

When writer-director Mark Stephen Johnson decided to make a film based on Ghost Rider, he had to have known what he was signing on for. Ghost Rider never had any definitive stories; he’s not a compelling character. The ‘superhero’, and I use that term lightly, was nothing more than an angry flaming skull dude with shoulder spikes, a swinging chain, and a badass motorcycle. The only people who dug him were those glue-huffing punks in my high school algebra classes. Those Beavis and Butthead types loved Ghost Rider because he represented their wet-dream: a fiery half-demon who belonged in the world of heavy metal album covers. And you know what, when Johnson created this film, I have the feeling maybe he created it just for them. Johnson’s Ghost Rider is a raging bad-ass, who has leathal death metal videos playing in his eye sockets 24-7, and his main bad guy is an Emo boy played by American Beauty’s Wes Bently. Sounds like every Slipnot fan I ever met.

If Ghost Rider had been a good film with clear character motivations and emotional gravity, it would have made for an inaccurate translation of the comic. None of that stuff was in the source material to begin with, so why would Johnson want to add it? Because he’s a filmmaker? Well, maybe, but then wouldn’t all the glue-huffing metal heads feel betrayed? After all, they stood by Ghost Rider when people who demanded silly things like 'good writing' and 'coherent panel sequencing' laughed at him behind their copies of "Watchmen" or "The Dark Knight Returns".

Johnston made a bad movie based on a bad comic book. No love loss here. What’s odd though is that the intro with star Nicolas Cage – before he turns into a butane-powered skull – seems like a screwball comedy a la "Anchorman" or "Taledega Nights". Busting out the same dialect he used to play Tiny Elvis on an episode of SNL, Cage’s alter-ego is a ridiculous stuntman who takes insane risks like jumping a motorcycle over six running black hawk helicopters. Also, instead of drinking beers, Cage’s character likes to binge on martini glasses filled with jelly beans. When he looks into the mirror, an evil-looking skull stares back at him, but neither Cage or his buddies hanging out with him seem to notice. As a matter of fact, the only things that seem to rile Cage’s friends are the facts that he writes in a diary, and reads ‘weird’ and ‘funny’ books like Christopher Marlowe’s “Faust”. Too bad that part of the movie was trapped in the body of an adaptation of a lousy comic book.

Perhaps if nothing else, “Ghost Rider” will serve as a reminder of how funny Cage used to be when he was in comedies like Raising Arizona. Perhaps he will make a move towards the genre once again before completely destroying his career with motr films like this. Comic book fans need to get their priorities straight; they have bigger fish to fry like films based on comic books that were actually enjoyable (i.e. 'Watchmen', 'FF2', etc.)