Friday, June 27, 2008

WALL-E: In Review

Pixar has done it again! From Andrew Stanton, the director of Finding Nemo, and co-written with Jim Reardon (another Simpsons' alumni) comes the story of a robot who may not know the meaning of the word persistency, but he sure embodies the spirit.
It is 700 years into the future. Our hero is the last of a series of robots powered by the sun who is charged with cleaning Earth of its pollution in order to eventually welcome back the human population which has left the planet. His daily routine is fairly simple: pick up garbage, place it in his belly compartment to form small cubes and place them in an orderly fashion (forming most of the skyscrapers on the planet). But after 700 years of solitude, WALL-E has become extremely curious, picking up simple objects and collecting them in his shelter where he protects himself from dusty storms. But one day, his life changes as an advanced verification robot by the name of EVE (as you've guessed, a "female" robot) to find out if the planet is habitable. Of course, their encounter causes WALL-E to fall head over heels for EVE, even though she doesn't understand his intentions. When EVE returns back to her spaceship with a perfect little green plant that WALL-E uncovered, he follows her to an orbiting spaceship on the border of our galaxy and together, they will try to convince their human counterparts to make their way back home.
This film is such a breath of fresh air. As opposed to Stanton's Nemo, much more colorful, alive and very talkative, this film presents a skillful color palette of the mood and settings needed for the scenes and also of Earth's destiny, how we've destroyed our planet by taking too much for granted and leaving our survival in the hands of machines (pay attention because this film pays tribute to one, if not The, greatest science-fiction film of all-time). The film has very little dialogue, and most of it is composed of electronic whizzes, squeaks and purrs (designed by Ben Burtt, who voices WALL-E and we must thank for the Star Wars films). The genius of the film though, is that dialogue is not necessary, as their emotions and the way they address each other show their emotions perfectly as their messages transcend through, so adults will enjoy this film as much as kids will. It is funny how humans are presented in the future, seen as they've lived for so long in an low-gravity environment, they're confined to electronic reclining chairs and grown so fat you can literally put any fast food label combined with Wal-Mart shopping.
It is joyful to see the world through the robots' eyes because it is much easier to read their emotions than humans, and they probably control them much better which is cheerful because it keeps with the spirit of Walt Disney. This is a great animated film and a fantastic science-fiction flick as well. Rumor has it that Disney might make a push for this film for the Best Picture award come Oscar season. If that would be the case, I'm not sure it would help or hurt it's chances in the Animated Film Feature category, but I can easily say that unless another animated film surprises us by year's end, WALL-E will win the category by a landslide. It might compete in the Sound categories, the music categories as well. I'm also predicting an Original Screenplay nomination for this film, seeing as how this is the most refreshing animated features of the year. I won't go as far as putting it up for Best Picture, because we still haven't seen most of the films which will compete in this category, but it will probably make my top 10.
Rating : 4/4
P.S.: Before the film was presented, there was a Pixar short called Presto that was presented. It gives a great laugh, and it will remind you that if you possess an animal, try to be nice to it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Happy Birthday PTA

I just wanted to mention that today is my favorite living director's birthday and although there is no way (and no reason why) he will see this, I just wanted to wish him happy birthday. Here's to many more fantastic films such as Sydney, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, and There Will Be Blood.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Brief Hiatus

Hey everyone, I'll be gone from tomorrow until the 27th because I am going to the L.A. Film Festival. I am so excited! I'll write reviews of everything I see when I get back.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Updated Personal Predictions

I figured it was about time for me to update my I'm doing just that. Just a reminder, my predictions are separate from the site's official predictions. Also, I hate to jump on the Curious Case bandwagon, but I can't help myself. Winners are bolded.

Best Picture
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Exchange
Revolutionary Road
The Road

Best Director
Clint Eastwood, The Exchange
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Hillcoat, The Road
Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York
Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road

Best Actor
Benicio Del Toro, Guerilla
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Viggo Mortensen, The Road
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Best Actress
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
Angelina Jolie, The Exchange
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road

Best Supporting Actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
John Malkovich, Burn After Reading
Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road
Brad Pitt, Burn After Reading

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Doubt
Cate Blanchett, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frances McDormand, Burn After Reading

Best Original Screenplay
Burn After Reading
The Exchange
Synecdoche, New York
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

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

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Original Song category

As of the 17th of June, it has been approved by the Academy that while any number of songs from a film can be considered for an Oscar nomination, only 2 songs can be nominated per film from now on, probably following the three-peat for 2 consecutive years.
I believe that's fair, but what are your thoughts?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

AFI's 10 Top 10 Results

I got:

8/10 on Animation
6/10 on Fantasy (why did I predict Ghost, again?)
5/10 on Gangster
7/10 on Science Fiction
7/10 on Western
6/10 on Sports
6/10 on Mystery
6/10 on Romantic Comedy
7/10 on Courtroom Drama
6/10 on Epic

...which adds up to a grand total of 64%

Not as good as I was hoping, but that's what happens when I let my heart vote instead of my brain.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

AFI's 10 Top 10 Predix

Following AFI's super-hyped redux of their Top 100 American Film countdown last year, the tradition continues tonight when they do their annual tribute to...well, good movies. This year's theme is 10 Top 10: ten top ten lists of the best (insert genre here)s of all time. I can't watch it tonight because I'm going to be with some friends, but I plan on taping it and watching it tomorrow. Anyways, here are my predix for the list, in alphabetical order only...

Beauty and the Beast
Finding Nemo
The Incredibles
The Lion King
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Toy Story

Groundhog Day
Heaven Can Wait (probably not, but I love this movie)
It's a Wonderful Life
King Kong
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Mary Poppins
The Princess Bride
The Wizard of Oz

Bonnie & Clyde
The Departed
The Godfather (I'm putting Part II in "Epic", because I doubt that one film will occupy two spots on the list, and the first is not listed in the "Epic" selection, while the second is)
On the Waterfront
Pulp Fiction
Some Like it Hot

Blade Runner
A Clockwork Orange
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial
The Matrix
Planet of the Apes
Star Wars
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
2001: A Space Odyssey

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
High Noon
The Last Picture Show
The Searchers
True Grit
The Wild Bunch

The Bad News Bears
Chariots of Fire
Field of Dreams (here or in Fantasy?)
The Hustler
Jerry Maguire
The Natural
Raging Bull

The Fugitive
The Maltese Falcon
Murder on the Orient Express
North by Northwest
Rear Window
The Third Man

Annie Hall
The Apartment
As Good as it Gets (probably not gonna happen, but I really really want it to)
Bringing Up Baby
City Lights
His Girl Friday
It Happened One Night
The Philadelphia Story
When Harry Met Sally... (see As Good as it Gets)

12 Angry Men
Anatomy of a Murder
The Caine Mutiny
A Few Good Men
In Cold Blood
Inherit the Wind
Kramer vs. Kramer
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Verdict

Apocalypse Now
Ben-Hur (1959 version)
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Forrest Gump
The Godfather Part II
Gone With the Wind
Lawrence of Arabia
Saving Private Ryan
Schindler's List

We'll test these out tonight!

Monday, June 16, 2008

David's 1st predictions

I always feel funny about offering predictions for the Oscars when they are several months away, especially since I'm sure there will be films in the top categories we haven't heard about yet, and some of the favorites right now probably won't end up nominated for the big prize (Into The Wild last year, Dreamgirls two years ago), but it's still fun to compare them once we make the final predictions before the official announcement, so here's my early predictions for the big 8 categories:
The Exchange
Revolutionary Road
The Road
Stephen Daldry - The Reader
Clint Eastwood - The Exchange
David Fincher - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Sam Mendes - Revolutionary Road
Steven Soderbergh - Che
Josh Brolin - W
Benicio Del Toro - Che
Leonardo DiCaprio - Revolutionary Road
Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn - Milk
Angelina Jolie - The Exchange
Laura Linney - The Other Man
Sophie Okonedo - Skin
Meryl Streep - Doubt
Kate Winslet - Revolutionary Road
Russell Crowe - Body Of Lies
Robert Downey, Jr. - The Soloist
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
Liev Schreiber - Defiance
Michael Sheen - Frost/Nixon
Amy Adams - Doubt
Kathy Bates - Revolutionary Road
Cate Blanchett - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Viola Davis - Doubt
Kate Winslet - The Reader
Burn After Reading
The Exchange
Synecdoche, New York
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Revolutionary Road
The Road
As I said, we'll see how it all pans out... To be continued!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Happening: In Review

The final film on my list is The Happening, the new thriller from M. Night Shyamalan starring Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel. In this film a weird occurence leads to unexplained deaths when people seem to stop moving and to proceed to kill themselves by any means. In what as viewed as a terrorist attack, people evacuate the large cities to go to smaller towns to avoid these attacks. In the film, we follow a professor, his wife and his friend's little daughter trying to avoid the attacks from running away and hiding as much as they can from the occurences which is then viewed as an attack brought on by plants (or trees or grass ?!?).
M. Night has a very good style of filmmaking, reminding me a little of Hitchcock. The Sixth Sense took the world by surprise (with, arguably, the best twist ending ever), Unbreakable and Signs were very good films dealing with human nature. Unfortunately, you have to wonder what happened. The Village was disappointing, Lady In The Water was long and carried no great suspense. In his newest project, the audience is left guessing all the way to the end. Indeed, we are offered with no real explanation as to how this 'thing' attacks the people, why it happens only in certain places and certain times and no possible way of stopping it. Maybe it's the way he intended the film to be, to let us figure out how to stop the obvious, since the only thing clear in this film is it's message. For those of you expecting a twist ending like M. Night delivers in each of his films, well let me just say, if you don't already know, you will probably be disappointed. Wahlberg tries to carry the film, but you can't do it all the time. Deschanel's performance seems inconsistent, and probably the worst thing ever happens in this film, when a father leaves his child going to his almost certain death instead of taking a chance and staying with her. Probably the luckiest thing we see in the film is the absence of M. Night physically in the film, as his role (apparently necessary in a Shyamalan film) is limited to a voice on the phone provoking a weird situation between the couple.
I still haven't given up on M. Night because I believe he is a good filmmaker, but I certainly hope he gets out of his bad streak.
Rating: 1.5/4

The Incredible Hulk: In Review

Next up was The Incredible Hulk. One cannot help but compare this film to Hulk, made by Ang Lee in 2003. That film was much more colorful, longer and concentrated on Bruce Banner's past, referring much to the comic book style. Eric Bana didn't convince me much, the film felt long and the storyline wasn't the best.
In this film, we see a much more darker, more real viewpoint of Bruce Banner's lifestyle, in hiding from General Ross after being exposed to the gamma radiation looking for a cure that will rid it from his system. Unfortunately, he is found and chased by Ross with the help of a merciless soldier named Emil Blonsky (played by Tim Roth, once again brilliant as a villain) so Bruce is forced to return to the States to seek out his former love Betty Ross but Blonsky is subject to a serum developed by the general and he turns into the Abomination, so it's up to the Hulk to stop him.
Edward Norton does a very good job playing Banner. He contributed a lot to Zak Penn's script to develop the characters in a real way focusing on their characteristics and abilities rather on what was past. Even if the direction is a little misguided at times, the film feels more real, more actual. The action sequences carry on a little too much though and are repetitive, which is upsetting. Another thing that bugs me, is that Banner in this film takes into account his heart rhythm to warn him to slow down otherwise he'll turn into the Hulk. Isn't he supposed to transform when he becomes too angry? (I didn't read the comics, so maybe I'm wrong here). William Hurt is disappointing as Ross, but the other actors do have some very nice moments in the film (Liv Tyler screaming at a cab driver) and although it doesn't offer much insight, the film is well presented and should break the 100 million $ mark.
I don't expect this film to compete in any of the categories. You would think that it'd have a shot at Visual Effects (maybe it will), but I expect other films to take that category this year.
Rating : 3/4

Kung Fu Panda: In Review

Yesterday, I did something I never did in my life: go see 3 movies at the movie theater... in a row! First, I offered myself the IMAX experience for the panda, then The Incredible Hulk was next, to finish with The Happening, both of which I'll review next.
In this film, Po, a very big but lovable panda, is stuck living a life of making noodle soups in a restaurant with his father, Mr. Ping (a stork, incredibly, but yet the relationships between all the animals in this film need no judgment, since the target audience is much younger) but in a twist of fate, is chosen by the temple master, a wise turtle named Oogway, as the Dragon warrior who will bring peace to the region and is destined to defeat the fearful Tai Lung, a leopard carrying vengeance in his heart. Dismayed by the kung fu contenders who trained mercilessly under the leadership of kung fu master Shifu, like every story of its kind, he fights through and meets with his destiny.
This is one of the most beautiful animated films I've seen in a long time. The colors are so beautifully painted and sets the mood for every scene, whether it's the lively, brighter colors while Po trains with the other contenders (a tigress, a monkey, a crane, a viper and, yes, a mantis) or the darker colors when Tai Lung escapes from prison. The jokes and quips are simple and doesn't refer to other films or adult situations, which is why children will enjoy this movie. I know, since they were the loudest in the room. Unfortunately, most of the dialogue is concentrated around Po, Shifu and a little of Tigress and Tai Lung, leaving very little room to develop the other characters. I was looking forward to listening to Jackie Chan and Seth Rogen in a film where they could have all the freedom they needed, but they probably have the least dialogue of all the main characters. Dustin Hoffman is great as Shifu, Jack Black does ok as Po, having his ups and downs, Ian McShane is fun as Tai Lung and Angelina Jolie could've been a little more convincing but she's still tough.
There are a lot of action sequences which present little originality, not much dialogue, but the film is short, it's sweet, and the kids will enjoy it and adults too. Expect it to compete in the Animated film category along with WALL-E.
Rating: 3/4

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Trailer

Finally, the english version is found... Enjoy one of this year's favorite upcoming films, one that I will undoubtely attend!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Green Card Contines its Reign...

So I was on YouTube the other day, and I found this clip. Watch it, and you'll know why I posted it.

Am I obliged to see this movie?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008