Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Awards Season Has Begun!!

This week it was announced that The Hurt Locker won Best Picture at the Gotham Independent Film Awards, and boy was I excited to hear film season has officially begun with a BANG! So many other films have been released- or their trailers have, at least- and I am sure this will be another exciting and provocative Oscar season.

Some films on my Must-See List are:

-Cold Souls
-The Road (McCarthy's other novel won Best Picture two years ago. Will this more stunning cast- Viggo Mortenson, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, and Guy Pearce- and even more chilling apocalyptic tale bring more awards?)
-Up In The Air (Will George Clooney bring this over-played movie trailer to life?)
-A Serious Man (The Coen Brothers brought us the largely nominated and hilarious Burn After Reading last year)

-The Last Station (impressive cast, intriguing storyline)
-Broken Embraces (when is Penelope Cruz not stunning in a performance? Maybe she'll upgrade to Best Actress this year)

-Nine (starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Fergie, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, and Sophia Loren. What more is there to say?)
-Invictus (Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon up for Best Actor, Clint Eastwood for Best Director)

Some Foreign Films:
The White Ribbon
Give Me Your Hand
The Stoning of Soraya M

More to come!!

Push on Precious!

Precious is the fairy tale you never saw coming, and I mean never! I have known about this movie ever since it starred at the Sundance Film Festival two years ago, and ever since then I have been dying to see this movie. It received outstanding awards at the Sundance, including the Grand Jury Prize, and won more awards this past year.
Precious showcases the harsh reality of Clareece 'Precious' Jones, an overweight, illiterate teenager that is pregnant with her father's second child.  She does not want to succumb to living off of welfare like her mother, and finds the path to her dreams ridden with hardships she is willing to face.  Her mother treats her terribly- she physically abuses Precious, forces her to eat grease-soaked homemade dinners, blames her for her father's absence, teaches Precious that school is worthless and will not get you any money, and throws her babies around like they are toys.  Precious fights back- hard!
A very prominent theme in Precious is hope. Precious always 'pushes' on, harder and harder, so that she does not become just another homeless Harlem citizen. Certain flashes during the movie show Precious achieving her dream and becoming a famous model and actress. The director uses subtle techniques to symbolize hope as well. For example, when Precious enters the 'alternate school' classroom for the first time, the door shines like a star and then the screen fades to white.
Precious, played by Gabourey Sidibe, has an outstanding performance along with the rest of the ensemble cast. Mariah Carey as a social worker, Mo'Nique as Precious's mother, Paula Patton as a schoolteacher, and Lenny Kravitz as a male nurse all have outstanding and noteworthy performances (who would expect Mariah Carey to be makeup-less?)  Sidibe is definitely a top breakthrough actress for 2009.

Did I know before I saw Precious that the movie would be up for Academy Awards? Yes.
Did I still think so after? Heck yes! Now that there will be 10 Best Picture nominations at the Academy Awards,  I can be sure Precious will be in the running.  Even though it is a most deserved heartwarming film, I do not think it will be a rightful winner for Best Picture; however, I can say it will be a forerunner- if not winner- for Best Adapted Screenplay.

This is definitely a film you should see as Oscar season is well underway!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

This movie has been eyeing me for awhile now. I saw previews for it when it was originally in theaters, and I thought it would be interesting. But with little advertising, could this star pumping (Denzel Washington and John Travolta, among other stars as: James Gandolfini and John Turturro) action film really be a movie worth seeing. Finally my instincts set in and I had to watch this movie.  It was truly worth it and I probably should have seen it in theaters, but the suspense and script writing were the most impressive.  The main premise is that a group of "train terrorists" (led by John Travolta) hijack the 123 train and hold the passengers hostage for $10 million.  Garber (Washington) is the lucky man on duty when the hijackers begin their control over the NY subway system.  Do they get the money to the hijackers in time? How many passengers will be sacrificed as a cause of ignorance of the officials running the investigation?
Points of Interest: I was surprised to find there was such vulgar language, mostly by John Travolta. Also, the premise behind the robbery is quite impressive. No secrets, but John Travolta is smarter than the Average Joe.  I would recommend you see it if you enjoy a thrill, some action, a fair amount of blood, and a little pick me up at the end of the day.

"The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" was released on DVD November 3, 2009.

The Man in the Mirror

This past weekend I had the great pleasure of seeing the musical-documentary "This Is It". I can say that I was not the biggest MJ fan before the movie, and I went because it got rave reviews from many sources (find the Time magazine article, written by Richard Corliss on November 9, 2009; his analogies are tremendous and he analyzes the film with such descriptive and stimulating truthfulness.) If you are hoping to hear tidbits about Michael's death or cause from inside sources, do not see this movie.  This movie only showcases the positive, intense and final moments MJ had on stage, living his dream.  His passion for the art of music is still very alive on stage, and through this power he showed me his special power with words.
There are many other phenomenal aspects of the film: the dancers and their routines, the technical aspects behind the concerts-to-be (or not to be), Michael's rockin' dance moves, revamped classic MJ songs, and Orianthi's jammin' guitar solos.  I would not be surprised if there was another movie released showcasing the dancers and their intense and short notice auditions (similar to the style of Every Little Step). For time's sake, only the dancers that made the final cuts were allowed to say their praises to be working with Michael and how their love for MJ could only grow from this experience.  The lights, camera work, fire action, forklift rising, (3-D) music video production, and sound enhancement were all remarkable qualities of this experience. The 1100-man video and 3-D "Thriller" video were enough to make my jaw drop right then and there.
One final word on this movie: "This Is It" shows Michael's potential of becoming an even greater music sensation, even after so many years in the business.  I was deeply saddened that his career had already ended, and I secretly hoped that the ending would show clips from his most successful concerts in London.  Wishing for an alternative ending, I know Michael will always influence music. This is NOT it for you, Michael. You will live on.

"This Is It" was released on October 28, 2009 (imdb.com)

The Last House on the Left

So the other night I watched the remake of the 1972 horror flick The Last House on the Left.  LHOL, with many interesting qualities, was pretty slow for the first hour. Most of the hour you watch the daughter stress about her swimming career and learn that the family has a home on a lake far away from civilization. On their way to the lake they pass a creepy sign that you know will play a role later on in the movie. Some disturbing moments follow when Mari, the protagonist, and her friend get abused and raped by a group of 3 crazy murderers.  I don't want to give the movie away, but once the action actually starts, the movie gets better and moves pretty fast.  You just want the moment to come when the parents find out that the people in their house are the ones that raped their daughter. After that, you know they'll be saying bye-bye one by one.
What made me want to watch this movie is that the plotline is a little different than most horror flicks.  The protagonist, the daughter, is actually violated early on in the movie, signaling the audience to fend for her immediately.  For gruesome fans out there, you will be very curious to find out the ways the parents kill the rapists.  The last is quite creative, but I'll leave it for you to decide how realistic it was.

The Last House on the Left was released August 18, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

A New Beginning

I'm a pretty big movie fanatic and I just recently got this idea to throw my ideas out there about the movies I've watched and the ones I want to.  I try to stay open-minded when I'm watching a movie, so over the years I have found to love every type of movie- indie, horror, foreign, animated, short films, classics.  You name it and I've either seen it or have it on my list of movies I must immediately watch. 

The classics are important because they set up the basis for all suceeding movies. Many classic lines and techniques were born from the very ideas of the first directors, screenwriters, or other movie production staff. (see Casablanca).
The indie films have messages just as important as those of blockbuster hits, but sometimes have a less appetizing cast America is not always willing to pay to see and a budget that satisfies the eyes of the crew but maybe not those of death-defying, action-packed, adrenaline-induced, romance-filled masterpieces.  (see For Your Consideration).
The horror genre is one of my favorite; not because I enjoy hearing every creak of the floorboards at night after rushing upstairs to avoid capture by the boogeyman, but because you feel a rush that rarely occurs. And when I find a good horror scene, I hold onto that and embrace every second that the protagonist (usually) is just inches from his imminent death or the antagonist (a killer, usually) has made his untimely entrance bashing through the door and giving the good guys milliseconds to get away. Now the outcome of the blood-pumping scene may not always be realistically enjoyable or enjoyably realistic, one of the two- the good guys live, happy ending- but just the fright is a time well spent (see The Shining).
Foreign films at the very sight may make people walk away either because they don't know what the title really even means or because they don't want to read their way through two hours of a French or German movie (see The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).  These films say everything and more despite the language barriers of the world and can even accomplish to say more than we ever could in English (now see Cinema Paradiso).
Short films tell so many stories in so little time. Not only can the score be a crucial element to the condensed plot, but the characters and every other detail in the film needs to be exceptional for the audience to stay in their seats and believe that time, no matter how short, is still money (see Peter and the Wolf).
Animated films are not only for the young and crafted by Disney, even though that's how many of our childhoods began (see The Lion King). But filmmakers have crafted the art of imagination animation and
reality to create worlds similar to and beyond ours (see Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away). And now with 3-D filming, it's A Whole New World.

Now that we have begun this journey, lets make it filled with great movies. So grab a seat, make some popcorn, and let the show begin!