Tag Archives: film

“We Need To Talk About Kevin”: a film review

This movie is scary and unforgettable. Top 10 of 2011. A rare instance where the film is more haunting and affecting than the novel (by Lionel Shriver).

Gripping, heavy, sad, anxious, horrifying film. Incredibly well-planned and executed. Not entertaining to watch — psychologically brutal involving a f***ed up kid and a school shooting — but a prodigy of making film into true, devestating art. The pacing, the soundtrack, the flashback tool, the imagery and metaphors, the layers slowly peeled away, what is shown and what is not shown. Amazing.

Again, I’m not saying I liked this film’s content, and will probably never watch it again, but it does what film does very, very well, and it will be with me for a long, long time. I hated the first few minutes, then understood something about it, and was trapped in the film for almost two hours. You could talk about this film or book with a friend or a group for hours.

I can say no more. If you want a deeply unsettling story with masterfully crafted writing and photography and flow, watch this now. You’ve never seen anything like this: a family and social drama that is almost part of the horror genre.

Freaking Disturbing.

9.5/10

MH

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Cabin in the Woods: a film review

You don’t know what this movie is and you will be happily surprised. Go see Cabin in the Woods:

The Spoiler-Free Set-up: By knowing the conventions of the genre, Joss Whedon, (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and some comics) wrote his own formula with director Drew Goddard to create the most entertaining and fun horror of 2012, and the past 12 years. You have no idea what this movie is gonna be until you watch it or read a spoiler. Do not do the latter.

Gush: Though a warm and lovely spring it has been, go see this immediately. The trailers to it no justice; it was remarkable and gushable; something to watch with friends; something worth the ticket price; bloody, funny, and so freakin’ original that my butt still hurts. It had its way with me, and, yes, I enjoyed it. It’s a genius, self-aware, teen horror that delivers, setting the bar for this decade pretty freakin’ high for me personally.

Fun fact: This was shot in 2009, but not released until this year. I don’t know why.

Categorize How?: This movie is a precise balance of action, humor, paranormal, and horror. This intelligently crafted sleeper hit will hopefully change the coming decade of horror. That’s a big statement, and while this film may not win any awards, its cult status like Evil Dead, Cabin Fever, Drag Me To Hell, and the Saw Franchise is pretty much in stone.

I can’t say anything else without spoiling it, but if you enjoy unique films, or if you’re a buff regarding the sub-genres of horror and international nods to cult-horror hits, prepare for something you’ve never seen before: a legendary stand-alone film that will have you smilin’ and laughing. Inventive twists, set-ups and reveals all work magically, including powers of ancient and global proportions. Who’s pulling the strings? I can say no more.

Best horror of 2012.

The past 12 years.

Maybe the coming decade.

While I have not seen every horror movie, I have seen a lot, and this is easily my top 10 supernatural horror for entertainment and originality alone.

It’s probably a 4/5 to most, maybe lower to non-horror lovers, but this fresh and entertaining gem has to get more than a 4 from me, and a 4.5 seems like I’m just lying to myself to avoid fallout from detractors.

This is a 5/5

Must Watch of 2012. The whole world depends on it.

MH

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Enter the Dragon: a movie review

stream rental for $2.99

Bruce Lee is a house hold name. Everyone knows him; the whooping, yelping, and shrieking Chinese martial artist. Thin, fast, and fierce. He was a force to be reckoned with in the martial arts community in the late 60s and early 70s, simply as a performer and combatant. His entry to the film world was more than welcomed since karate/kung fu had been inaccurately portrayed in most American films up until that point. (And later, the ninjas of the 80s… don’t get me started.) But the handsome, talented, charismatic Bruce Lee fused his art with the art of film to create the archetype “KUNG-FU” action film, which future films of all genres (karate films, action films, and thrillers, even comedies) would hearken back to for decades to come. The tragedy is that his biggest film would also be his last. He died the same year.

Lee: Teacher?
Shaolin Abbott: I see your talents have gone beyond the mere physical level. Your skills are now at the point of spiritual insight. I have several questions. What is the highest technique you hope to achieve ?
Lee: To have no technique.
Shaolin Abbott: Very good. What are your thoughts when facing an opponent ?
Lee: There is no opponent.
Shaolin Abbott: And why is that ?
Lee: Because the word “I” does not exist.
Shaolin Abbott: So, continue…
Lee: A good fight should be like a small play, but played seriously. A good martial artist does not become tense, but ready. Not thinking, yet not dreaming. Ready for whatever may come. When the opponent expands, I contract. When he contracts, I expand. And when there is an opportunity, I do not hit. It hits all by itself.

 

Like all films, it’s would be foolish to say that just because Bruce Lee starred in the film that it was good. That’s not true at all. Any well known star in Hollywood today has more than likely played their part in a poorly written or poorly directed film. Bruce Lee is no exception, having starred in several films taking place in different countries under several directors. However, most of his work was decent at worst. Enter the Dragon is one of the most prolific of his works. It is the “go to” title; the first film a buddy would probably recommend for the Bruce Lee new-comer.

The interesting thing about Enter the Dragon is its long-lasting success as a martial arts film, though the title hardly makes any sense when you think about it (but that’s neither here nor there). The truth is that much of the action comes in the last 20 minutes; and most of the movie is an underground/gang/espionage film that feels a bit more like a James Bond film than the kung fu most people think of when recalling wild, exploitative kung fu pictures that would come later in the 70s catering to ultra violence and geysers of blood. This film, unlike Sonny Chiba pictures, contains no shots of bones snapping – only the sound effects. And this only happens once or twice. There really is not that much gore.

It’s more about the story and the mystery of this island where a man named Han holds a fighting tournament every three years to recruit fighters to his personal protective entourage. The complication comes with the news that this “Han” was once part of Lee’s Shaolin temple, and has turned his back on the Philosophy and Spirituality which his teachers and community held so dear. Without fail, just to give Lee a solid reason to enter the tournament to help an undercover agent trying to bring Han’s illegal shit to an end, he is told by an elder the truth about how his sister died years ago – of course it was at the hands of Han’s gang. (She took her own life though. She’d rather die with her honor than be raped? I may have chosen differently, but that’s a cultural thing.) I suppose the elder didn’t tell Lee years ago because he was afraid Lee would have gone on some revenge trip, but it seems that with the first five minutes of the film having Lee spouting Buddhist and Taoist philosophies, Lee probably could have handled it. He is centered. He is one. There is no “I”. Blah, blah, blah.

“Don’t think… feel. It’s like a finger pointing to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all of that heavenly glory.”

I don’t know what all that means, and I’m not going to make some pretentious guess like I know more than you, but I’m glad this kind of writing—while interesting and not yet typical and clichéd—was kept in the beginning of this film and not woven throughout. Having Bruce Lee rattle off some “Confucius” phrases would have gravely diminished his believability as a character.

That slight criticism aside (which some say is one of its strengths); the topic of the characters in this film is up next. They are damn good. For a movie that is not loaded with action and fighting, it does a very good job of keeping the plot engaging and the pace rolling by exploring all of the characters. And I mean “all” of the characters. Most films of the time (and especially the Enter the Dragon copy cats in the 70s) never spent any time with the secondary characters or the villains. Very little gets established, and then the film asks you to “just go with it. You get it.” But this film explores Lee, played by Bruce Lee; Williams, the black afro dude; and Roper, a white man with prominent brows with a classic handsomeness typical of the early 70s. He could have easily been a Bond. These two characters are accompanying Lee to the island and were Vietnam buddies. Williams, as a character, has not aged well and almost could come off as a racist interpretation of a black man in the 70s. Afro, sideburns, bell bottom pants, huge collar, smooth talking. At the time it probably wasn’t funny. In 2011, it is.

Getting back on point, we follow these characters as they land on the island, have a party, have sex with women, and begin sparing. With very little action, I’m surprised at how intriguing and visual this second act of the movie is and how much you can enjoy the characters. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the other Bruce Lee films. Partly due to good casting choices, these actors gave real personalities to their roles and seemed to enjoy shooting the film.

Enter the Dragon (click for rotten tomatoes rating) is a “must watch” for martial arts fans because though the genre did not begin with this film, this movie solidified the decades of hommage to come: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Fight Club, James Bond, Kung Fu Hustle, Kill Bill, and countless other action/adventure/martial arts films have made references (or borrowed lines/character traits) from Bruce Lee’s iconic movies. Don’t forget about Lu Kang from the Mortal Kombat videogame franchise. I mean, yeah, that is a direct character lift in almost every way.

The first act shows the audience some interesting flashbacks, cross-faded through wavy film transitions that really show what decade this film was made in. That’s not bad; just an observation. Actually I really enjoyed these sections of back story because they are informative and welcomed. They may not be completely necessary, but they are not superfluous either. They add to the characters and don’t take up too much of the film’s run time, so I say leave them in and pay attention. Emotional investment and believability are not in all films of this genre, so enjoy it in this one.

The film did have its weak elements and some unintentional funny moments. I’ll leave the individual viewer to judge whether these take away from the movie or add to it. It’s all about taste.

The first thing is the ADR. The dialogue replaced after the film is shot, usually in a sound studio. It’s very bad, particularly in the beginning of the film as all the philosophy is begin discussed between Lee and his elder. Once the action kicks in at an hour and 20 minutes, some of the funniest moments pop up. The stomping neck break Lee performs is a medium shot from his hips and up at 1 hour, 21 minutes and 36 seconds. It is slow motion and priceless. His high-pitched howl is mighty. This began one of Bruce Lee’s iconic moves, soon to become a stereotype. Again at 1 hour, 23 minutes and 2 seconds, he swings his chucks around like Michelangelo from the original TMNT movie of the early 90s (in April O’Neil’s apartment before the floor collapses). At 1 hour, 29 minutes and 4 seconds, Lee is kicking a guy three times in the face before he drops out of frame. Once he does, and the line of men behind him watch in a serious awe, there is one extra, probably about 19 years old, that is smiling like a doofus, probably unsure of how he ended up on the set of a film where his idol was kicking someone’s teeth in. The juxtaposition of the serious faces with his goofy-ass gaping mouth made me laugh, rewind, and watch a second time!

Finally, there’s the dummy kick. At 1hour, 24 minutes and 32 seconds, Lee lands an earth-shattering round house kick to the side of the villain Han’s head. The kick initially rises off the ground from a medium wide shot, from the side (profile) and it’s a two-shot of both fighters. There’s a sudden medium-close cut from over Han’s shoulder, which is clearly a dummy replacement, and the kick lands, launching this dummy in just two frames completely out of view. The dummy, or Han, would have his neck snapped after such a blow. Guess they forgot to add weight to the mannequin, because Han seemingly weighs 20 lbs!

The mirror sequence at the end was superbly disorienting. Very well done, though perhaps a minute too long. Over all, Enter the Dragon was film about a plot first and the martial arts second. That is something to be respected. These actors had to be able to act to a moderate degree, not just fight. Most films would do the opposite. His iconic whoops and “yaws!” were unlike anything heard at the time, and when people do these impressions today—you know it’s goddamn-Bruce-mother-fucking-Lee!

This epic, undercover, action film is more than the sum of its parts. It has that international feel of a Bond film while being its own entity; melding and meshing beautiful sets, locations, costuming, caves, nudity, blood, and underground tunnels with scaffolding and radio centers. What more could you ask for? I’m glad they seemed to have a comfortable budget and avoided B-movie stigma.

Even then, Enter the Dragon does have its slow parts and is not for all audiences today. People and critics, especially over at rotten tomatoes, get a little to wound up about how awesome this is and gives them too much praise in my opinion. This film is not a 9/10. They are getting their pleasure of Bruce Lee and this specific film’s global popularity confused with actual quality. While greatly respected for what it would begin in the film industry (setting paths for films stars Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Tony Ja) as a 38-year-old film, the grade must come at 7.5/10. I enjoy it more than this, but this is the fair rating. Though I love the hyper-reality of massive punch-and-kick sound effects, perhaps with better dialogue quality and more action, this respected classic would be an eight. Even then—it must be owned by fanatics of the fighting/action genre.

MH

IMDB site for this movie HERE.

BuyDVD  movie on Amazon HERE.

On Netflix.

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Run! Bitch Run!: a film review

Great title, right? Though maybe the first exclaimation mark should be after “bitch.” (I digress.) This is THE exploitation film of the 2000s. I dare you to find a crazier film between 2000-2010 of violence, rape, and and twisted sadism than RUN! BITCH RUN! from 2009, directed by Joeseph Guzman and produced by Freakshow Entertainment. You will, indeed, be entertained… and repulsed by this film. You may laugh and cry simultaneously.

WATCH THE TRAILER. CLICK HERE.

IMDB’s plot description:

“Catherine and Rebecca are two Catholic School girls going door-to-door selling Religious paraphernalia in order to pay for their books and education. Things go horribly wrong when they knock on the wrong door in the wrong neighborhood. “Run! Bitch Run!” is a throw back to the classic rape and revenge films like The Last House on the Left and Ms. 45.”

Four minutes into this movie, we have a full frontal nun, black girl breasts, white girl breast, a fat guy gyrating his fat, hairy ass while having sex, pot smoking, and a whore murdering her latest “lay.”

Holy Hell. This is gonna be good.

The aesthetic of the film grain is great. Nothing is totally in focus. Ever. If this is not shot on real film, whatever kind of filter the editor or director is using is incredible. Shot in 2009, it could easily be 1975. The lighting is great. The blacks are nice and dark. And the soundtrack was well thought out. All the songs are like beautiful south western accompaniments that Tarantino never used but should have. Where the musical selections could have been too over the top or “on-the-nose”, this film finds a good homage to its throwback without being a blatant rip-off. I applaud.

By around the seven minute mark there is again a wide shot. Full frontal. A beautiful girl that is clearly shameless. Funny thing is, she is having a normal conversation with her friend in a shady motel room. They are both also from a Catholic School. Hey, sign me up. I’ll take another crack at Christianity if girls who look like a cross between Rose McGowan and Anne Hathaway are thumping the good ol’ bible.

When the first ten pages of your script has more blood and nudity then plot—bing—you gotta exploitation flick on your hands.

So these two girls are “100 miles from St. Mary’s”—the buzz kill girl with her blonde hair in a bun is trying to do everything by the book, including having humility, shame, and a clean path straight to God’s work. The naked one, Rebecca, with her raven hair down around her shoulders is talking about having a little fun and essentially not being a good girl falling in line. The issue I have with this scene: I find it hard to believe that these two girls, presumably having been in a Catholic school all of their lives, could be so different. One would think a lifetime of indoctrination would leave no room for promiscuity in their pretty little heads. But, hey, conflict is what makes a movie go ‘round, so rationality and reality be damned! The script must be written, I guess. I also quickly found it implausible that two girls would be going around in Texas Chainsaw Massacre-land just to sell some religious junk completely on their own. They seem to be in the middle of nowhere and aimless as hell.

On another note—and yes, I suppose I am just a man—the young lady they cast as Rebecca was a lucky find. Her name is Christina Derosa and was in playboy magazines at the time. Her smile is infectious, and even when fully clothed, she is cute and can actually act. When she is crying and bleeding and being forced to suck toes though, prepare to be truly uncomfortable. I cannot imagine shooting this scene. It is truly terrible. You need to have a stomach for this movie the same way you have to for Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left.

For no other reason than having another “tit shot”—in a montage of the girls driving around from door to door at about 12-minutes in, we have a cut inside of the house they are knocking on to a 40-year old woman rubbing her breasts in the shower. Hearing the knocking, she towels her hair, puts on a robe but doesn’t tie it, and opens the door with her D-Cups just hanging out. One of the girls begins to say what they are selling, and the woman in the robe just scoffs and closes the door. That’s the whole scene. A full minute dedicated to middle age fun bags. Go figure. But what did you expect?

Hopefully the movie will be actually starting soon.

Maybe it will start after the girl pleasures herself on the toilet with the right end of the plunger. No, I am not joking. Ew.

Right after that, my favorite part is the dead black girl who is still breathing. Good job, director. It’s called a re-take. Use it when basic biology makes no sense, like a girl still breathing after a bullet to the throat. Then again, they made this for $25,000 — and that’s for all the effects and renting locations and paying the crew. So, Kudos, I guess.

In  their defense; I’m sure they knew what they were making. This is grindhouse. I’m actually not criticizing too hard. I know the title of the freakin’ movie is Run! Bitch Run!  for god’s sake!

I do agree: Tarantino and Rob Zombie would be proud of this one. Here’s a sample or a sickly funny scene that quickly turns to rotten disease:

LOBO:  “We’re gonna play a little game. Clint and I like to call it Find ‘Em and Fuck ‘Em. It’s kinda like Hide ‘n Seek, but not. It’s better. It’s a lot better. You’re gonna go run somewhere and pray I don’t find you. Cause when I find you, I’m gonna fuck you. I’m gonna spray my whipped cream all over that sundae.”

Here, the female takes off but doesn’t get too far. This quote has the audience laughing for about a minute until there is a long, single take, no-cut aways rape scene that was directly inspired by Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left. The rape scenes in Run Bitch! and Last House are the only two rape scenes I have ever seen in films which are not tasteful and are hard-to-watch; successful in the sense that they are so disgustingly real. I can’t imagine taking multiple takes. It’s something you’ll only ever want to see once if you can fight turning away for a brief second of relief. I bet you can’t watch the screen the whole time. Like two girls one cup. The movie, at these parts anyway, stops being a funny, dark comedy and becomes a terrible exploitation film at a disturbing level. Maybe that was the intention; to show how disgusting rape really is and how most films soften it for their audiences. This film refuses to do that. You’re gonna watch like you were really there, so hold on tight… but, hey, you’ve been warned.

This rated R flick is almost NC-17, in my opinion. Probably why it was only released in theaters in Japan but came direct to DVD in the States!

There are tons of low-angle shots at about butt height. Wonder why. The cheesy shtick and sleazy residue will build up on your soul in this one. It is sex, revenge, and 2-dimensional characters you can’t help but love with. The good and the evil characters make you think “I wonder what lunch break was like on the set. Yikes.” It’s pure entertainment. If you like to laugh as much as be shocked, this one is for you. If you are easily offended or are made uncomfortable by rape scenes, even light ones, skip it. You can’t really put a rating system to this one with any “across-the-board” clarity, but I think most people would give this a 2-star out of 5: while that’s probably the proper rating giving the faults in pacing, editing, and some acting, the fun factor and ridiculousness feel like more than two-stars. It could have been an hour long film. It drags after 40-minutes.

Here’s a reason why you should watch this movie, but this is a huge SPOLIER ALERT: The man guy gets stabbed in the anus with a two foot machete. Repeatedly. That’s the ending. Blood is everywhere. I was laughing and clapping when I saw that because I have never seen anything like that. Good god!

I could go on and on telling you every scene and why it’s over-the-top, but if you just see this one for yourself with some friends, you’ll be finding you own favorite one-liners in no time flat.

“Lord, if I wasn’t such a righteous man, I’d pound them harder than the nails in the cross.”

RENT IT $2.99 — BUY IT for $9.99 — watch immediately on AMAZON’s INSTANT VIDEO service. Also on NETFLIX instant stream!

MH

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Captain America: The First Avenger Movie Review

Captain America: The First Avenger movie poster

Having waited to see Captain America: The First Avenger for three years, I was not let down in the slightest. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised that it went above my expectations. After the “average-at-best” Thor and Green Lantern (and I think that is putting it mildly) it was great to see a film that I put on par with this past Spring’s X-Men: First Class, 2008’s Iron Man, and 2009’s Watchmen. These have been among the best super hero films of the past five years, perhaps only topped by The Dark Knight.

What is so great about Captain America is that we’re given a protagonist and main character that we care about from the very beginning. We care about what happens to Steve Rogers and he is played perfectly by Chris Evans. If there are any doubters out there, don’t be. He shines.

This cast is also possibly the best ensemble cast of all the above films listed because it is balanced so well, and unconventional actors were given the chance to shine. Whenever a new face was on the screen or an old one came back, I was always entertained and enjoyed the characters. I was more than happy to see Stanley Tucci still performing magnificently into his old age, and Hugo Weaving never fails to disappoint, especially since he has been in two other movies I love (V for Vendetta and the Lord of the Rings Triliogy). The woman playing Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) was very good and extremely beautiful in that pin-up girl sort of way. I had never seen her before, but as a man, this brunette with dark red lipstick was more than welcome. She got plenty of face time too and was more than just eye-candy. Thanks, Marvel. Even Tommy Lee Jones was perfectly cast, and though I was hesitant at first to see the Men in Black and No Country for Old Men actor in a super hero film—guess what?—it was a great choice. Everybody played their parts straight and realistically. I felt depth in everyone, not hammy laughs and over-amped characters.

A brief word on sound design, editing, and action: Very good on all fronts, but not excellent. Pacing of editing and story development were perfect. Not rushed and also, never dragging. Some may feel that there was not enough action, but I felt that was not the case. Action was needed where it was needed and wasn’t super over the top. Just enough for it to be a superhero film. This isn’t supposed to be X-Men battlefront. It’s an origin story, and a damn good one at that. The only origin film I think I like more is Batman Begins (2004). I’m not even going to mention either of the HULK movies regarding butchered origin stories. Christ. What a shame.

The CGI was a little much for me however. I enjoyed the world that they created, as well as all of the colors template, the mis en scene, and costume design for the 1940s; however, the CGI was sometimes clearly a blue screen. I don’t know if this was because of too much budget or too little budget, but I wonder if some shots which tried to “flex muscle” could have been left out. Without the distraction of noticing overlayed backgrounds, the audience would have been kept in the “illusion” better. Some may not notice at all, of course. I wonder if some of the parts, (mainly Captain America chasing after the plane near the end and much earlier when he was talking with Red Skull in the fiery lab/hangar), could have been re-edited or given another camera angle so we didn’t have to see so much “fakeness” in the background.  This is a very “nit-picky” point I am making here, and I’m sure that if my ideas were implemented another viewer or critic would equally wonder why not enough was shown. They would say:

“Why can’t we see the background in this shot? It feels awkward. Did they run out of money?”

So, it is a lose-lose situation possibly, but again, it is a small thing. Hopefully it will age well and the scars of CGI here will smooth out, not become even more apparent (especially on Blu-Ray).

The last thing I’d like to mention is the time in which this film came out. Nearly ten years after 9/11. I am sure that Marvel Studios didn’t plan for this, but I am glad that if there were any plans to green-light this movie earlier—that they were pushed back. I don’t think that the public would have been in great support of a “Captain America movie” between 2005-2008 when Iraq and Iran were messes, Bush was still in office, and the housing bubble was popping its way into a long recession starting in 2009. It was wise to wait until somewhat better times, and arguably, it is now. Captain America, just that title comes with a pride for country and nationalism that is multi-faceted now, and unfortunately, complicated. In addition, while there isn’t a sparkling list of a thousand reasons to be proud of our country and it’s incompetence at present in both parties in Washington, the truth is this film came out at as good a time as it ever will. Many, many superhero films have been spilling through Hollywood these past eleven years with more on their way, and waiting to do Captain America and eventually, an Avengers film, was a good choice. We knew eventually they would do every comic franchise imaginable. For example, I never thought we’d get Ghost Rider or Daredevil – certainly not before the better known Iron Man and Captain America. How did they get made first? I don’t know.

A lot of the big, bad boys have been done an are out of the way (i.e. Spiderman and X-Men, and DC’s Batman almost done as of 2012) so with a new generation completely in love with comic book superheroes like never before, we can all learn about some of the lesser known ones without too much impediment. The problem recently, as in Thor and Green Lantern, is that they did not deliver. In fact, they were poor. Worth perhaps one viewing for free. In that regard, the very idea I’ve just put forward about lesser known heroes reaching out to new fans on the coat tails of the greats has failed us. Thor and Green Lantern and Fantastic Four’s Silver Surfer tragedy of a film were let downs. But I got to tell you, I had the lowest expectations for Iron Man years ago, and I suddenly became a huge Iron Man fan after I saw the film twice in theaters. Was not expecting that great origin story. Too bad Iron Man 2 was clearly more fun to make than watch.

Maybe there is opportunity for rectification. After all, with the Amazing Spiderman film set for next year already re-beginning Spiderman, who knows?—Maybe all of these films in the past ten years will get re-made in the next ten. Let’s freaking hope not.

In conclusion, Captain America is a surprisingly welcome dose of red, white and blue without shoving the flag down your throat. Bravo.

Grade: (A-)

God’s speed.

MH

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83rd Annual Academy Award Predictions

I love a good story. I love a good movie. And more movies than you may think are based off of novels. See how uninspired Hollywood grabs the good through another medium?

There are a few reasons for this: for one thing, the story is already written in a novel and usually is overflowing with content. With what is basically a huge “treatment,” a production company will then get a screenwriter (or team of them) to adapt the work for the screen. Characters can be lost, dialogue changed, and whole scenes deleted or added, but, one would hope, with such substantial source material a sweet screenplay would be written up with all the good stuff from the book, right? Not always.

To prove my point, simply look at the Harry Potter Series, Jurassic Park, No Country For Old men, and Never Let Me Go.  I use these examples because they are all different and aI have read these novels. Jurassic Park is way, way different. Whether these are good or bad adaptations will change depending on whose opinion you listen to. The point is that things change from the book, and that’s because it is in a different medium and a new way to tell the story is necessary while simultaneously making you feel what you felt while reading it. Not freakin’ easy. There is now sound to your story, a written score of music, cadence of lines delivered from actors, and cinematography which needs to convey an ambiance.

This year for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, set for Sunday, February 27th at (8pm East/5pm pacific), several movies (like every year) are adaptations. Most of the best films often are. 127 Hours, The Social Network, and True Grit are this years films which were written by others first then optioned for a film. As you may know, not only is True Grit an adaptation from a book, but it is also a remake from the 1969 version with John Wayne.

The best part, for me anyway, is comparing the two mediums for myself: book vs. film. Everyone has different expectations, and what I think is a flop, you might think is a home-run. And that’s the best part for me–that conversation and comparison. It’s fun!

Below are all the categories and all the nominees. I have “boldened” my predictions for each category. I really believe nearly all of these films deserve their recognition. Great year, 2010! Who are you rooting for? (Comment at the bottom.)

Best Picture

    * “Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
    * “The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
    * “Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
    * “The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
    * “The King’s Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
    * “127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
    * “The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
    * “Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
    * “True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
    * “Winter’s Bone” Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

Actor in a Leading Role

   * Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
    * Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
    * Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
    * Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”
    * James Franco in “127 Hours”

Actor in a Supporting Role

   * Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
    * John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone”
    * Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
    * Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
    * Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech”

Actress in a Leading Role

    * Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
    * Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
    * Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone”
    * Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
    * Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Actress in a Supporting Role

    * Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
    * Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech”
    * Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
    * Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
    * Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

Animated Feature Film

    * “How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
    * “The Illusionist” Sylvain Chomet
    * “Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich

Art Direction

    * “Alice in Wonderland”
      Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara
    * “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”
      Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
    * “Inception”
      Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
    * “The King’s Speech”
      Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Judy Farr
    * “True Grit”
      Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh

Cinematography (tough one! I’m picking two!)

    * “Black Swan” Matthew Libatique
    * “Inception” Wally Pfister
    * “The King’s Speech” Danny Cohen
    * “The Social Network” Jeff Cronenweth
    * “True Grit” Roger Deakins

Costume Design

    * “Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood
    * “I Am Love” Antonella Cannarozzi
    * “The King’s Speech” Jenny Beavan
    * “The Tempest” Sandy Powell
    * “True Grit” Mary Zophres

Directing

    * “Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky
    * “The Fighter” David O. Russell
    * “The King’s Speech” Tom Hooper
    * “The Social Network” David Fincher
    * “True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Documentary (Feature)

    * “Exit through the Gift Shop” Banksy and Jaimie D’Cruz
    * “Gasland” Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
    * “Inside Job” Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
    * “Restrepo” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
    * “Waste Land” Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

Documentary (Short Subject) (simply haven’t seen them)

    * “Killing in the Name” Nominees to be determined
    * “Poster Girl” Nominees to be determined
    * “Strangers No More” Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
    * “Sun Come Up” Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
    * “The Warriors of Qiugang” Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon

Film Editing

    * “Black Swan” Andrew Weisblum
    * “The Fighter” Pamela Martin
    * “The King’s Speech” Tariq Anwar
    * “127 Hours” Jon Harris
    * “The Social Network” Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

Foreign Language Film

    * “Biutiful” Mexico
    * “Dogtooth” Greece
    * “In a Better World” Denmark
    * “Incendies” Canada
    * “Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)” Algeria

Makeup

    * “Barney’s Version” Adrien Morot
    * “The Way Back” Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
    * “The Wolfman” Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

Music (Original Score)

    * “How to Train Your Dragon” John Powell
    * “Inception” Hans Zimmer
    * “The King’s Speech” Alexandre Desplat
    * “127 Hours” A.R. Rahman
    * “The Social Network” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Music (Original Song)

    * “Coming Home” from “Country Strong” Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
    * “I See the Light” from “Tangled” Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
    * “If I Rise” from “127 Hours” Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
    * “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3″ Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Short Film (Animated)

    * “Day & Night” Teddy Newton
    * “The Gruffalo” Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
    * “Let’s Pollute” Geefwee Boedoe
    * “The Lost Thing” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
    * “Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)” Bastien Dubois

Short Film (Live Action) (simply haven’t seen them)

    * “The Confession” Tanel Toom
    * “The Crush” Michael Creagh
    * “God of Love” Luke Matheny
    * “Na Wewe” Ivan Goldschmidt
    * “Wish 143” Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Sound Editing

    * “Inception” Richard King
    * “Toy Story 3” Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
    * “Tron: Legacy” Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
    * “True Grit” Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
    * “Unstoppable” Mark P. Stoeckinger

Sound Mixing

    * “Inception” Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
    * “The King’s Speech” Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
    * “Salt” Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
    * “The Social Network” Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
    * “True Grit” Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

Visual Effects

    * “Alice in Wonderland” Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
    * “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
    * “Hereafter” Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell
    * “Inception” Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
    * “Iron Man 2” Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

    * “127 Hours” Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
    * “The Social Network” Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
    * “Toy Story 3” Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
    * “True Grit” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
    * “Winter’s Bone” Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Writing (Original Screenplay) (Can’t pick one!)
 
    * “Another Year” Written by Mike Leigh
    * “The Fighter” Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson;
      Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
    * “Inception” Written by Christopher Nolan
    * “The Kids Are All Right” Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
    * “The King’s Speech” Screenplay by David Seidler

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