Wednesday, January 31, 2007
In one's relationship with one's blog, I s'pose everyone dips in and out of this particular rut. I've got nothing. Nothing except hairbrained Oscar thoughts, and I don't want this to turn into an Oscar quagmire three months out of every year. I've watched some movies lately, but have been uninspired by all of them. I've been thinking about my favorites of all time, but haven't had time to write cogently about them (hence the last post, which, through an image and a lyric, sought to bring you to my mental plane with the least possible amount of work).
There will be plenty to talk about in the second half of February: thoughts on 2006 and the requisite Oscar hoo-ha (including crazy-ass predictions and live-blogging the ceremony). But until then, what do you want, Blog? More futilely, what do you want, readers? Give me a topic -- an actor, a character, a moment in a movie. It can be wholly, partially, tangentially or tenuously related to film. It can be an obscure or ridiculous request. Make me relate and compare two totally different films to each other. Challenge me. I hate to resort to this kind of peddling, but as a friend of mine once said, "Rules? Of course there are rules. But I make them."
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Saturday, January 27, 2007
"The $1 entrance fee doesn't interfere with my alimony payments." Mickey Rooney
"If I had just f*cking picked myself, I would've won." Marcia Gay Harden, 2001
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to request a ballot for the 9th Annual DZ Oscar Pool.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Picture: The Departed / Letters from Iwo Jima
Director: Martin Scorsese, The Departed / Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima
Actor: Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness / Peter O'Toole, Venus
Actress: Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada / Kate Winslet, Little Children
Supporting Actor: Mark Wahlberg, The Departed / Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
Supporting Actress: J. Hudson, Dreamgirls / C. Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Original Screenplay: Little Miss Sunshine / Letters from Iwo Jima
Adapted Screenplay: Borat / Little Children
It's kind of a populist vs. non-populist perspective on the year's "acclaimed" work. Evident: The Departed rules, except when it's matched against Borat. And Iwo Jima and Little Children remain virtually unseen (which makes my crazy-ass prediction in the previous post seem all the more crazy-ass). For full figures, see Box Office Mojo.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
If you liked Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine, then you'll love her in Keane. No cat-clawing dance moves to hide behind here. In this 2004 movie about a man scrambling to find his kidnapped daughter, Breslin must play a spectrum of emotions without the maturity to exhibit them effectively. This role is, in many ways, more of a feat than Olive.
If you liked Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls, then you'll love him in The Nutty Professor. This was Murphy's true comeback, and one of the great comic performances of all time. He portrays six characters (five of which have dinner together, in the same scene, twice) and manages to run the gamut between ribald and heartwarming, regardless of how much latex is between him and the material.
If you liked Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, then you'll love her in Death Becomes Her. I've blogged effusively about this movie before, but this is a much better showcase of Meryl's comic talents. She's praised for her "understatement" in Prada (puh-leez), but it's her overstatement in DBH that resounds with true showmanship and sends the movie (and us) into orbit. As I have before, I simply offer this.
Other nominees who've done better work in previous films? This ain't limited to actors.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Monday, January 15, 2007
Picture (Comedy/Musical): Little Miss Sunshine
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel
Actor (Drama): Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
Actress (Drama): Helen Mirren, The Queen
Actor (Comedy): Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat
Actress (Comedy): Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Animated Film: Happy Feet
Foreign Language Film: Pan's Labyrinth
Original Score: The Fountain
Original Song: "Listen," Dreamgirls
In other words, a boring night (unless everyone is blotto). Babel gets three, Dreamgirls gets three and The Departed's power is called into question. We can at least expect some refreshing theatrics from Meryl (remember the last time she got a Globe, for Adaptation? This is how you accept an award). As I've said before, Meryl should accept all the awards for everyone. Sometimes I think she's a better awards-acceptor than actor. Also in that category: Liz Taylor ("Gladiator!") Any thoughts on predictions? The show is tonight.
Update 1.16.07. The link to Meryl's acceptance speech for Adaptation has been "removed at the request of copyright owner Dick Clark Productions." To this I say: Kiss my ass, Dick. With ever-dwindling ratings, your silly awards show needs all the exposure it can get. Try this one instead.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
The actor: A Canadian musician in a star-making turn.
The character: A spritely couples counselor in pursuit of an orgasm.
The moment: When her tension boils over during a session with the Jamies. This could've been a forced, ungainly scene, but Lee has charisma to spare. She spins her wheels throughout the scene -- groping, lurching, finally making an admission. It's some nice comedy, and a great entrée to a character's journey. And it does feel like a journey -- a great arc -- thanks to Lee's emotional nakedness.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
INLAND EMPIRE, INLAND EMPIRE. All caps. A great title -- epic and intimate. "A woman in trouble" is its tagline. Perfect. "It's a mystery," Lynch has said. He shot it on digital and swears he won't go back to film, which is a shame because Mulholland Dr. was gorgeous and INLAND EMPIRE is not. It looks like a student film. A bad student film.
I can only assess EMPIRE with regards to Mulholland. After all, both feature blonde actors vying for a role that puts the kibosh on their psyche. But where Mulholland was measured and profound (it was in my top 10 for 2001), Empire is cagey and unfeeling. The first was about heartbreak, the second about murder and guilt. I think. Both movies operate on their own logic and -- despite their what-the-f*ckness -- they follow the rules therein. Except Mulholland's logic makes sense. You dig? Neither do I.
And while I value Mulholland as a whole, I was only transported during one sequence of EMPIRE. Laura Dern's character is lost in the dim hallways of her soul (think John Malkovich in his own portal) and stumbles into an empty movie theater. She sees herself on the theater's screen as we see her on ours. Then a dark figure darts on her screen at the same time it moves in her reality (which is our screen), and I immediately wanted to look around my own theater (my own reality) for the intruder. Dern is unnerved, and we are unnerved. Who's watching us? Who's watching us watch ourselves? (I was half-expecting Dern and Lynch to jump in through the fire exit to pulverize the last bricks of the fourth wall. They didn't; if they did, this would've been the best movie of the year. Alas.)
This brief scene is a thesis, but the rest of the film doesn't support it. At least, not after one viewing. I took notes on every scene, knowing I'd have to piece it together. And even though I was riveted for EMPIRE's 172 minutes, it doesn't add up for me. Lynch has proven to be a careful artist, but this one feels like an amateur attempt to trick people into seeing a genius that just...isn't...there. If this sleight-of-hand was Lynch's intent all along, then good for him. But I feel sleighted rather than delivered.
"I'm not sure how many characters I'm playing, but I bet it'll look just fascinating."
Monday, January 08, 2007
Caryn James in The New York Times: In Babel Mr. Pitt delivers the most mature, complex performance of his career as a distraught husband whose wife has been shot on a tour bus near an isolated Moroccan village. With little more than half an hour on screen he restores seriousness to a career that started off like a dream combination of stardom and artistry, only to veer into the realm of the truly silly. (Jan. 7)
With whom do you agree? I'm more with Thomson. Of late, Pitt's been in the shitter (Mr. and Mrs. Smith was his last release). But his participation in Babel was well-intentioned, which is a step in the right direction, and he's one of the credited producers on The Departed. So even though he'll miss out on an acting Oscar nomination for Babel, I'd say he has a 90 percent chance to win a statuette for The Departed. What Academy voter wouldn't go for the chance to put both Pitt and Scorsese (for the second time in one night) up on the stage? Next post: Inland Empire. I swear.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
The actor: Heretofore unknown to me, save for her part as the aggressive battle axe Ms. Trunchbull in 1996's Matilda. Welsh by way of Kiwi. Also known for Aunt Marge in one of the Harry Potters and for her long career in British TV shows like "Rosemary & Thyme" and "Darling Buds of May."
The character: Miriam, a nurse-turned-rebel who can tangle with the best of 'em. Portly and dowdy: not your typical vision of an action heroine (save the dreadlocks), but she matches Clive Owen step for step. It's a true supporting performance. No flash, all texture. Cuaron could've cast a babe in this role, and the movie would've withered. Instead, we have this wonderful, mysterious, complete human being who quietly electrifies the movie's nervous system.
The moment: When she's describing her work on the frontline of extinction -- delivering humanity's last babies before our species goes inexplicably sterile. It could've been a theatrical monologue, but Ferris turns it into a profoundly understated bullet point on her war-torn resume. It makes her final scene all the more excruciating.
This post is part of StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Blogathon. What actor would you nominate in the category? My runner-ups to Pam Ferris: Laura Harring and Pell James in The King and Diane Lane in Hollywoodland.