Friday, May 30, 2008

Predix Revamp

After Cannes, additional trailers, etc., these predix are in dire need of updating. I know that three Cannes contenders in the BP lineup is a bit much, but keep in mind that the festival was a lot different this year, and had much more American/commercial films.

1. The Exchange (formerly known as Changeling)
2. Che
3. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
4. Revolutionary Road
5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

1. Stephen Soderbergh - Che
2. Clint Eastwood - The Exchange
3. David Fincher - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
4. Woody Allen - Vicky Cristina Barcelona
5. Charlie Kaufman - Synecdoche, New York

1. Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
2. Benicio del Toro - Che
3. Brad Pitt - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
4. Leonardo DiCaprio - Revolutionary Road
5. Viggo Mortensen - The Road

1. Meryl Streep - Doubt
2. Angelina Jolie - The Exchange
3. Kate Winslet - Revolutionary Road
4. Sally Hawkins - Happy-Go-Lucky
5. Cate Blanchett - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

1. Robert Downey, Jr. - The Soloist
2. Michael Sheen - Frost/Nixon
3. Liev Schrieber - Defiance
4. John Malkovich - Burn After Reading
5. Josh Brolin - Milk

1. Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona (if she wins, everyone in the cast of "Nine" so far will be Oscar winners. How amazing would that be?)
2. Viola Davis - Doubt
3. Taraji P. Henson - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
4. Samantha Morton - Synecdoche, New York
5. Renee Zellweger - Appaloosa

1. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
3. The Exchange
4. Burn After Reading
5. Synecdoche, New York

1. Doubt
2. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
3. The Reader
4. Revolutionary Road
5. The Road

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Burn After Reading - Redband Trailer

Here's the first trailer to the next project from last year's big winners, the Coens. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Movies that Stalk You

Every once in a while, I'll come across a movie that I know little to nothing about. And then, all of a sudden, I'll start seeing it everywhere. Everywhere. And it doesn't stop until I actually watch the movie.

For me, that movie (currently) is "Green Card", from 1990. In case you don't know, it's a romantic comedy about a Frenchman (Gerard Depardieu) who marries an American woman (Andie MacDowell) he doesn't know so as to legally remain in the U.S. The plotline has since been recycled and used for one or two episodes on just about every sitcom from the 90's. However, the film is probably better remembered as the movie that shockingly beat Best Picture Oscar nominee "Ghost" for the Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) award at the Golden Globes.

I became familiar with this film when it was the answer to one of IMDb's daily trivia questions. I hadn't heard of the film before, and I wasn't exactly interested in it, as the premise is no longer original, so I closed the page. A day later, I did a "Random Title" search on the site, and what else popped up but "Green Card." This time, I did a bit of research on it; looked at its award profile, cast, reviews, etc. I thought that perhaps it was a bit ominous, but I ultimately just closed the page again. But the tipping point was two days ago. I was at Blockbuster renting "City of God." I went to the Foreign Film section to find it, and--this is where it gets creepy--someone had mistakenly placed "Green Card" on top of "City of God." I decided against renting it, but now I regret doing so. I feel like Peter Weir is going to come and find me in my sleep now.

So, tell me, does this happen to you? If so, how?

Monday, May 26, 2008

R.I.P Sydney Pollack

Unbelievable. 2008 is such a tragic year for Hollywood. To me, Sydney Pollack will always be three things: the guy who directed Tootsie, a silent producer of so many now-classics and Will Truman's dad on the great sitcom "Will and Grace." Terrible, terrible news. My condolences to his family and friends.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: In Review

Last year, it was John McClane who came roaring back with a fourth film to the Die Hard franchise after a long absence (12 years after the film) and John Rambo earlier this year (20 years). Trilogies seem to be a thing of the past in Hollywood, as many of the franchises are turning into quadrologies (and perhaps even more) because people are drawn back into their favorite characters' worlds (Terminator, Spider-Man, Shrek, etc.) This time, Spielberg, Lucas & Ford reunite once again, 19 years after the Last Crusade to bring home the biggest film of the year for many box-office predictors to search for the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Without giving too much away, in this installment, Indy and his treasure hunting buddy Mac (Ray Winstone) are kidnapped by soviet soldiers led by the infamous Dr. Spalko (Cate Blanchett) in search of the Crystal Skull which will provide them with a new kind of weapon dealing with mind control. As Indy escapes narrowingly and seemingly in impossible ways (in good old Indiana fashion), he must team up with a young James Dean-John Travolta hybrid named Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) to find the professor (John Hurt) who holds the key to the whereabouts of the Skull and the legendary City of Gold, not without finding along the way his once great love Marion (Karen Allen) who has a few secrets of her own.
Many critics agree that this film takes the action sequences and the CGI too far in this film, creating over-the-top situations and tries to make us forget how old Harrison really is. Well, in a Indiana Jones film, what do you expect? You have to take a step back to try to enjoy the ride because that's what it's all about. Agreed, some sequences will look ridiculous (Indy surviving the impossible in the Nevada desert with the help of an everyday appliance or young Shia with his Jungle swing set, so to speak), but Indiana always finds a way to move forward. You hit him, he'll hit you back, that's just how he is. Cate is fun to watch because she can have a million henchmen with her, she'll do the ass-kicking today. Well, never send a man to do a woman's job, that must be her motto. Her accent is spot-on, and I loved that wig. It is a shame that John Hurt has very little to work with, because for a man who seems to have all the answers, his character acts more like Rain Man than an archealogist. But overall, I don't have many complaints about the film, except the idea of having a fifth film with Shia taking over the franchise as Lucas (money grubber) is advancing. That's why I adore the very last scene, where Steven (and Harrison) prove that there is only ONE Indiana Jones.
For the Oscars, I expect it to compete in the Sound categories, Visual Fx, maybe Art Direction, but this movie will serve more as one of the good entertainment films of the year for the whole family.
Rating : 3/4

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Australia (2008) - Trailer #1 Exclusive HD QUALITY

Since the first video was removed, I should hope this one will still be here for at least a day. Anyway, if it's still removed, check this link for it :

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Chronicles Of Narnia - Prince Caspian: In Review

The first film made almost 300 million $ domestically and 750 million $ worldwide. With two more films on the way, this promises to be one of the most successful franchises in recent movie history. Of course, the popularity of Iron Man and the close release of the fourth Indy film, probably one of the most expected films of the year (I hesitate between Indy and The Dark Knight) will provide a more difficult box-office result, since the first film was released in December 2005. One can't help but compare this film to the first chapter in the series, and the results can go either way.
Overall, the second film is better than the first because we don't need to spend much time in WWII Great Britain and lose much time over explaining what Narnia consists of. Suffice to say, 1300 years have passed in Narnia when the Penvensie kids are summoned back by a young prince forced in exile by his evil uncle, Miraz who is dreading to take the throne of Telmarine which has seemingly all but extinct the world of Narnia. With the help of the kids, Caspian seeks to regain his rightful heir to the throne in order to bring peace between Narnia and Telmarine.
Whilst the first film provided great but not spectacular CGI shots, the second film delivers much better in that department. We get dropped in the middle of some great battle scenes (even though we aren't offered great originality thanks to LOTR) and even though Aslan is still a big fluffy cat, the visual shots break through. Some people will argue that younger children should not be exposed to these battle scenes where yes, people are killed, but the filmmakers are smart enough to not create a gory environment but rather to establish the stronger characters in combat and focus on their faces. The storyline is easier to follow, but this is where it gets a bit murky. The kids are treated like royalty in the world of Narnia, but it seems odd that the older brother can challenge without fear the main villain, with a sizeable advantage, to a swordfight with passable skill and can fight his way through a battle without a scratch but, back in the real world, gets his butt kicked by a couple of boys his size in a fist fight. It also feels weird that the main villain of this film isn't really as menacing as you'd expect. He appears as a tiny replica of King Edward I from Braveheart, a conniving man but a man with no real superpower. I would've expected a much more menacing villain in a world like Narnia, but then again Narnia has really changed since the triumph over the White Witch.
It seems also unclear to me as to why a young Telmarine who looks more like a sissy than a swordfighter must lead the Narnians to victory (supposedly according to a prophecy), which also raises the question of what are Telmarines? How did they come to live in Narnia? If the Narnians were not extinct, why did they have to wait for the Penvensies and Caspian in order to perform a rebellion? Why couldn't they do it themselves? How did the dwarves (sorry I know, they're little people but that is their title in the film) come to fight side by side with Narnians when they were opposed in the first film? Are Narnians basically all non-Humans living in that world? And if that is the case, how is it that their kings and queens are Human?
It is unfortunate that we have to interpret these questions on our own, especially if we haven't read the books (maybe those answers lie there), but we move quickly through a good storyline, effective on its own and the young actors get much more breathing room here with better preparation. If you liked the first film, you'll enjoy the second, and down the line, I expect it to compete in Oscar categories later this year, most notably in Costume Design, Makeup, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Original Score, Cinematography and Original Song (don't worry, I said it would compete, not garner all these nominations).
Rating : 3/4

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Updated Predictions

I felt that it was time for some new ideas of my own after some new buzz has surfaced (not that it means anything this early in the race...). My W. nomination may or may not be released this year. Oliver Stone's producers seem to think it can be finished in time...

Best Picture
Revolutionary Road
The Road

Best Director
Clint Eastwood, Changeling
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road
Gus Van Sant, Milk
John Patrick Shanley, Doubt

Best Actor
Josh Brolin, W.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Viggo Mortensen, The Road
Sean Penn, Milk

Best Actress
Anne Hathaway, Dancing with Shiva
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Laura Linney, The Other Man
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road

Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey Jr., The Soloist
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Michael Sheen, Frost/Nixon

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Doubt
Cate Blanchett, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens

Best Original Screenplay
Burn After Reading
Pineapple Express (Too much to hope for? Yes, but it's early in the season so I'm having fun)
Synecdoche, New York

Best Adapted Screenplay
Body of Lies
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Revolutionary Road
The Road

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blindness Opens at Cannes decent to medicore reviews. Of course, everyone has something nice to say about Moore, but the film itself...nothing special, unfortunately. I hate to say this, but I'm not surprised. The trailer looked a little underwhelming. My prediction is that Moore gets maybe a Globe nod or something, and that's that. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Trailer

Much obliged to Awards Daily for the heads up that this has been released.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Speed Racer: In Review

The Wachowskis took Hollywood and the world by surprise with The Matrix, a visually stunning and wonderful film that allowed us to question our way of life. The sequels provided massive box-offices but poor reviews throughout. Even though they weren't behind the camera, V For Vendetta was a success for them. All these films brought us into a very dark universe where light tries to transcend to conquer evil. With Speed Racer, they bring us into a more colorful, bubble-gum world where their childhood heroes shine to bring evil to justice. Unfortunately, the result is a nightmare.
The film follows Speed, a young race car driver who is the hottest name in his sport. With his faithful family serving as his pit crew, they are drawn into the corporate world when a domineering conglomerate tries to recruit Speed by offering him the world, in a nutshell, or to pay the price. When Speed refuses, it's up to him, his family, his always dependable girlfriend Trixie and a mysterious fellow driver Racer X, to stop the corruption that has lived in race car driving for as long as we are allowed to remember.
In itself, the premise seems simple enough. Of course, since this film is based on a Japanese anime show, the Wachowskis tried to recreate that world by mixing all the colors of the world either with the scenery or the visual style of racing which is mind-blowing. The problem is, by creating this visual style, where colors fly all around all the time, it actually blows your mind that you don't feel like following the story, which can be troubling considering there are many players behind the scenes, and in the end you're not sure who is responsible for what. Emile Hirsch proved he was a good actor with Into the Wild. Susan Sarandon won an Oscar, Matthew Fox is the main man for Lost and Christina Ricci rarely disappoints. With a cast like this you could expect a well-acted film, but the Wachowskis clearly didn't have time to direct them because the performances are monotone, straightforward with no real surprises. Casting a monkey is a statistical no-no in films. Having an annoying younger brother hopped up on sugar won't be great either. Mix the two together = :-(
I saw a film earlier this year called Vantage Point. I expected to be disappointed because I wasn't crazy about the Rashomon rip-off style, but I found it surprisingly good throughout, even though I guessed the movie after the first 15 minutes. With this film, I wanted to like it because I loved the Matrix films and Vendetta, but I was upset with it. It tries too hard to harpoon us visually and it is easily predictable. Maybe next time, they'll spend a little more time with the script and the actors. For the Oscars, expect them to compete in the Visual category, but nothing more, I should expect.
Rating : 2/4
P.S.: 4/4 rating for Iron Man. Robert Downey, Jr. rules as an actor, Jon Favreau is a great actor's director, Gwyneth is sexier than ever (redhead) and I can't wait for the sequel. I would call this the second great film of the year (if you haven't seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, go right now!)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

X-Men: A P.T. Anderson Picture

For the Paul Thomas Anderson fans out there, you all might get a kick out of this. I saw this about a month ago and meant to post it but I forgot. Notice all the trademark PTA technicalities in this. Really funny, and really accurate. Here's the original Magnolia trailer for reference.

W. Press Coverage

In case anyone has not yet read this great and very informative article, here is Entertainment Weekly's coverage of W.. This looks to be one of the most controversial films of all time, but possible a great one too. They say it'll be done before elections...

Can Josh Brolin get two nominations this year in Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor (Milk)?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Iron Man Rakes in $104 Million

Well, definitely didn't see this coming.

I regret not seeing this on Friday or Saturday, and instead seeing Baby Mama (which I actually liked more than I thought I would). There are few things more fun than seeing a really good superhero movie, right before summer, on its opening weekend, in a sold-out theater.

This essentially means two things. One, we've got ourselves our first Oscar nominated film of 2008. I can see this picking up nods (possibly wins) in the Sound Categories and Visual Effects. Two, we can look forward to Iron Man 2 somewhere between 2010 and 2011.

Iron Man: In Review

Kicking off this year's summer movie schedule is Jon Favreau's Iron Man with Robert Downey Jr. as the eponymous hero with Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, and Gwyneth Paltrow finishing the cast. Iron Man currently owns the 159th position (at least for now) on IMDB's Top 250, and justifiably so.

Playboy Tony Stark, played with sarcastic zeal by RDJ, runs Stark Industries, a weapons company founded by his father. While in Afghanistan to release his newest project, the Jericho missile, Stark is kidnapped by terrorists who force him to build them their own Jericho missile. However, Stark is much too clever to go down without a fight. However, with the help of the Dr. Yinsen, the assistant provided for him by the terrorists, Stark creates a weapon for his own use: a suit of unbelievable strength. After escaping and returning home to Malibu, Stark builds a new suit based on his escape device and fights crime (!!), in particular the terrorists that captured him and the Iron Monger. There are other details in there involving shrapnel and generators but I won't give them all away.

To be perfectly blunt, Iron Man is a hell of a lot of fun. Robert Downey Jr., who has several more films coming out this year, is perfectly cast and plays Stark with such relish that he is easily the most fun cast member to watch. He will surely become a much more recognizable name in mainstream film before the year if up, and it's about time. The film, mostly due to RDJ's superb performance, does such a great job of achieving what so many other superhero movies fail at: making the hero more interesting than the villains. Terrence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow make nice supporting characters (for those of you who know the source material...Howard will have a much larger part in the future) and do great work with their roles. Rounding out the cast is Jeff Bridges, who will forever be The Dude to me, who is obviously having a lot of fun here and it shows, making his performance very entertaining.

Iron Man is action-packed, funny, well-acted, visually stunning, and a lot of fun. It's the ideal summer movie. I highly recommend it. B+

Iron Man = Oscar?: Yes. In any of the technical categories, especially the Sound categories and Visual Effects.