Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Oscar shorts

AUSREßER (THE RUNAWAY)

Directed by
Ulrike Grote

It’s a ghost story of sorts, where this kid shows up at our hero’s apartment claiming to be his son, an event that ruins his day, especially since he can’t find the mother.

One of those films which tugs at the heart but fails to bring forth any emotion whatsoever, how this actually managed to get a nomination is a quandary.

CASHBACK

Written and Directed
by Sean Ellis

Let’s talk about porn for a bit. How dirty does a film have to be in order to considered smut? Nowadays, you have to have close-ups of the sex act and a graphic depiction of the release of bodily fluids. But long ago, just having full frontal nudity, or even naked breasts was considered dirty. To some extent it still is for some reason, but not, I guess in Britain, where Ellis has made a film about them.

London art student Ben (Sean Biggerstaff) is working the night shift in a grocery store. His boss(Stuart Goodwin) is a bit of a jerk, who has a thing for the Sharon(Emilia Fox) the check out clerk and she doesn’t reciprocate the feelings. Meanwhile Barry(Michael Dixon) and Matt(Michael Lambourne) like to play with the products, like putting penis-shaped shampoo bottles in women’s carts without their knowing it, or simulating cocksucking using large sausages.

It’s all in good fun, even though the sausage scene looks like the real thing. This is before the flashback to our hero’s childhood where we see the full frontal nudity from the height of an eight year old, and we get to see the clitoris come close to fill the screen.

While there is no actual sex [the sausage scene, of course, is mere simulation], the final third of the film is, in fact nothing but a sea of naked breasts. In the ‘60s, this would have been considered porn. Very soft-core yes, but its still porn. Just what Oscar needs.


THE LAST FARM

Directed by Rúnar Rúnarsson
and Thor S. Sigurjónsson


An elderly man digs his wife’s grave while his family and neighbors demand he move into an old-age home. We know what’s going on from near the beginning and it’s depressing as hell.

The acting is fine, and the Icelandic countryside is always picturesque, and innocent people quietly suffering is always popular with some in the Academy. This isn’t going to get anything.

OUR TIME IS UP

Written and Directed by
Rob Pearlstein and Pia Clemente

An expensive and bored psychotherapist(Kevin Pollak) learns he has only six weeks to live and decides to continue his practice until the very end, changing his “bedside” manner quite a bit.

This film isn’t particularly great, but the shock of seeing Jorge Garcia [Hurley from “Lost”] gives one a tiny thrill. The chances of this winning anything are minimal.

SIX SHOOTER

Written and Directed
by Martin McDonagh

If there were any justice in the world, this would win it hands down. Six Shooter is one of the sickest black comedies I have ever seen and it’s, in a word, brilliant.

Mr. Donnelly(Brendan Gleeson) has just lost his wife. We see that at the very beginning as he weeps over the body. Little do we know what we’re in for, wow!

Cut to a train, sitting catty corner from our protagonist are a couple (David Wilmot and Aisling O'Sullivan) who’ve just lost a baby, and directly across is a strange youth(Rúaidhrí Conroy), who begins blabbering about all sorts of thing, mainly making fun of the woman’s loss of child. From here on out it gets more and more bizarre, climaxing in death, destruction and exploding cows. It’s hilarious!

Conroy’s performance is actually the better than any of the people nominated for the big acting awards, and I’m not sure why he’s not famous yet. This gets my vote for this year’s prize.

Cartoons

BADGERED

Directed by
Sharon Colman

A beleaguered badger tries to get some sleep while crows caw and the military industrial complex plants nuclear weapons under his burrow. This is a very cute cartoon, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The animation design isn’t the best, but the jokes work. What more do you want, an OSCAR? I don’t think so.

THE MOON AND THE SON: AN IMAGINED CONVERSATION

Written and Directed by
John Canemaker and Peggy Stern

John Canemaker (John Turturro) explores his difficult relationship with his dead father(Eli Wallach) through an imaginary conversation about the older man's past.

This is autobiography. Canemaker, hated his father’s guts, and uses his talents as an animator to basically try to explain and condemn his father and all he stood for.

While the animation isn’t all that good [Canemaker is a great teacher and a fine writer, but isn’t that great a draftsman], it’s the subject matter which is what grabs you here. There’s an attempt at sympathy and a quest for understanding, but it ends with accusation and rejection.

Because of Canemaker’s fame within the community, it was inevitable that he would get nominated for SOMETHING. I guess this is it.

THE MYSTERIOUS GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORATIONS OF JASPER MORELLO

Directed by
Anthony Lucas

Somewhere in a distant universe, a city is dying of a mysterious plague. Disgraced navigator Jasper Morello (Joel Edgerton) is called back into service to help Captain Grimwald (Tommy Dysart) chart a new trade route while Dr Claude Belgon(Helmut Bakaitis) of the national academy checks the crews health and tries to discover why airmen don’t fall sick. Then things go terribly wrong, although there is some hope for the world in question.

This is one of the more beautifully designed films in this year’s batch. A blend of Tim Burton and Hayao Miyazaki, this is a fully realized adventure story. While it won’t take your breath away, it’ll leave you satisfied.

9

Written and Directed
by Shane Acker

One of the things about animation is that it lets the hand realize what the mind can conceive. This is as alien a film as one can get. The story of an anthropormorphic robot fighting a mechanical monster in order to save himself and the souls of his bretheren is actually exiting at times.

It won’t win the Oscar because it already won one. As far as I know, this is one of the Student Oscar winners to get a promotion to the bit time. But it won’t win the grownup’s prize.

ONE MAN BAND

Written and Directed by
Andrew Jimenez and Mark Andrews

Two buskers battle for a little girl’s last coin. It once again proves that Pixar can do just about anything it wants and gets away with it.

This is a very funny film, and therefore is going to get the Oscar® whether it deserves to or not. The fact that it really doesn’t deserve an award is no reason why it won’t get one. It’s still extremely good.

The Oscar race: The mega blockbusters.

Of the top ten blockbusters of last year, not a single one managed to snag one of the big Oscar nominations. In fact, “Walk the Line,” by far the most successful of the “top tier” flicks, managed to actually crack the hundred million marks.

But that doesn’t mean that the blockbusters aren’t going to be represented this year. No. If you go down the list a bit you’ll find that many of the top ten moneymakers (worldwide) got at least some recognition:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire $888,733,970

This got a “best art direction” nom. As it’s a series, I guess the academy voters thought that previous efforts may have already had too much kudos but the nearly billion dollar worldwide gross needed some acknowledgement.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith $848,797,674

This got one for “best makeup.” That’s it. After all, Lucas and his series wore off their welcome long ago. This did not have the best makeup.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe $663,891,914

Now here we’ve got a possibility of winning something here although it’s doubtful. “Sound mixing” is a possibility, but “makeup” isn’t, As to “visual effects” the animated beavers were brilliant, but the battle scenes were merely really good.

War of the Worlds $591,413,301

Apparently Speilberg’s sound crew did a brilliant job here. Both “mixing” and “editing” got nominated. The special effects also got nominated, but they weren’t as good as WETA’s “King Kong.”

King Kong $543,007,743

Andy Serkis’ performance as the giant ape needs to be acknowledged, and WETA did better work for this than for CoN:LWW. If it doesn’t win for “visual effects, there’s no justice in the world. It may also get the “sound” awards too.

Madagascar $527,890,631

This made the semi-finals. Unfortunately they don’t give out a plaque for that .

Mr. & Mrs. Smith $477,671,954

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie already got nominated for other things. (Jolie actually won). This is too funny and too violent for an Oscar.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory $473,425,317

This thing got royally snubbed. While it may win the “best costume” award, Johnny Depp and Deep Roy got stiffed for acting. Two of the best performances of the year! This is partly why Tim Burton’s going to win for “Corpse Bride.”

Batman Begins $371,853,783

This has a real shot at winning the “cinematography” award.

Wedding Crashers $283,143,270

This film only made money. Thus it’s justly ignored.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Vice President shoots a lawyer

for real. Wow!!!! Now I have to watch some smut against my will.

The prediction:

It's going to be Guliani vs. former VA gov. Warner in 'O8. Don't attack me for two and a half years.

Friday, February 10, 2006

nifty rumor of the week

I just read on Wonkette that Scooter Libby told the prosecuter that it was Cheney's idea. I hope to God it's true.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The cartoon riots.

There are more riots in the Arab world against the Danes for not throwing the cartoonists in jail. Meanwhile some Iranian cartoonists are retaliating by attacking the jews. same as it ever was.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Miami Film festival.

To test if anyone is reading this, How about we do a poll as to whether I go to the Miami Film Festival at the end of the month? Please no SPAM.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The penultimate batch

This may be the ultimate one, I've been so very busy....


THE DARWIN AWARDS / U.S.A

Written and Directed
By Finn Taylor

Disappointment is all that can be said about this misbegotten comedy. It could have been sooooooooooo much better that it staggers the mind just to think about it. This film has the Mythbusters® in a cameo for crissakes!!! If they couldn’t figure out what the hell to do with them, then what’s the point?

The film has what’s called “high concept.” Michael Burrows (Joseph Fiennes) is a great detective working for the San Francisco PD. He has one problem that’s important: he can’t stand the sight of blood. So when the notorious North Beach Killer (Tim Blake Nelson) uses this fact to escape, then he’s immediately fired.

So, he goes to a major insurance firm with a proposition: He can save them literally tens of millions of dollars by coming up with a profile of what he calls “Darwin cases.” Now these are the eponymous winners of the Darwin awards, given annually to the people who are so incredibly dumb that they improve the gene pool by removing themselves from it. Like I said, “high concept.”

We actually begin the film with one intelligent fellow(David Arquette) putting a rocket in the trunk of his car and shooting himself off into the great beyond. Had they concentrated on this sort of stuff this might have worked, but no. They paired an ineptly cast Feinnes with Winona Ryder as insurance investigator Siri Taylor and Wilmer Valderrama as a completely useless documentarian, who actually detracts from anything interesting the filmmakers want to actually do.

Bit and pieces of the film actually work, but unlike other “defective detectives” like “The Zero Effect” or “Monk” Feinnes can’t pull it off. He and Ryder have absolutely no chemistry together, and the effect is boredom. Don’t waste your money.

THE NIGHT LISTENER / U.S.A.

Written and Directed
by Patrick Stettner

Gabriel Noone (Robin Williams) is really depressed. His gay lover
Jess (Bobby Cannavale) has been cured [sort of], of AIDS and is now going to leave him for someone else. He can’t do his evening short story show on NPR, and so is heading off to oblivion. That is until his editor Ashe (Joe Morton) gives him a manuscript from a teenager named Pete Logand (Rory Culkin), and asks him to give it a read. He does and is interested by the horrific tale it tells.

He’s given the phone number of the kid and a long-distance relationship develops. He asks Pete’s gardian and lawyer Donna D. Logant (Toni Collette) about a visit. Then Jess, who’s returned briefly, begins to sow doubts about the kid’s very existence. So our hero begins to investigate.

Novellist Armistead Maupin and collaborators Terry Anderson and Patrick Stettner have put together a taut thriller with excellent acting and direction which is sadly marred by a touch of misogyny.

Here you have the heroic gay literati fighting against an evil insane woman, who will do anything to get his love. In fact, with the exception of his accountant (Sandra Oh) all the women portrayed are either insane or doormats unworthy of the least bit of respect. Also, Williams plays Noone with a sourness which really stops us from caring a whit what he does. The use of Culkin is a cheap trick, especially during the third act when Noone is trying to ascertain his existence. If he’s a figment of her imagination, why have him as real and if he’s real, then why go through this whole exercise in the first place? The whole thing, despite the fact that it’s fiction, is dishonest.

Wait until it hits cable.

A break from Movies.

Okay, there's a problem with a Salmon Rushdie-like outcry about some inoffensive cartoons, thus here's a link to them.
href="http://www.di2.nu/files/Muhammed_Cartoons_Jyllands_Posten.html" That is if anybody's actually reading this.