King Kong (AFI #41)

“I actually wanna start with some thoughts on the Golden Globe nominees that were announced today. Really happy with them in general. Im in favor of all the movies up for Best Picture and would be quite stoked if the Academy Awards list looks similar. The single nomination Im happiest about is Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for (500) Days of Summer. Not one I expected to see on there, and he’s been one of my faves for years. Also psyched about Tobey Maguire’s nod for Brothers and Woody Harrelson for The Messenger (although I woulda liked to see Ben Foster up there for The Messenger as well). Also amused that the animated film nominations match exactly with the stellar animated films I pointed out on Sun. I typically tend to agree more with what goes down at the Globes than the Oscars (and the Emmys for that matter) so very excited to see how it all turns out this time.

Quentin Tarantino gave his top ten for the year. Well, 8 actually cause he’s leaving room for tweaks and additions. While he and I agree on number one, I think the rest of our picks are a bit different. Im not gonna actually post my list until early Jan. For me, I define the year based on when I see movies not their actual release dates. Its all arbitrary anyways

I would also like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to whoever decided to start selling Funnel Cake Sticks at BK. Genius!

As far as King Kong (gonna likely keep this short cause Im sleepy and my tummy hurts) my biggest complaint is the very minimal plot. My biggest problem with the remake was that the action scenes went on for far too long. I had no idea that was the case with the original as well, although these were still significantly shorter. But with both I fell asleep during those scenes, and woke up feeling like I hadnt really missed anything. I was really excited as the movie started off, but from the point where Kong took

While I originally busted out laughing when I first saw Kong, the more screen time he got the more I liked him. I know that in the context of today’s technology he looks pretty silly, but back in the 30’s that was quite the acheivement, and in that context he’s brilliant. Was also amused by the dinosaurs.

Yeah I guess there really isnt much else to say there, huh?”

Invictus

“Couple quick things before we get started here. One is that I got ExpletiveDleted added to the list of Boston blogs on Boston.com I dont know that anyone actually goes thru the list reading blogs, but I know Im not the only Bostonian who spends a good chunk of the day punting on that site. Personally, the highlight of my day is when a new Love Letters gets posted. A bit out of character for me, I know, but the writer, Meredith, is pretty cool.

Next, AFI posted their top ten list for 2009. Particularly psyched to see The Hangover and The Messenger on the list. The former because I like that they’ll actually acknowledge that type of flick as quality (by some definitions of the word) entertainment. The latter makes me happy cause I dont think that movie’s gotten too much notice. And I really shoulda given it a full four \m/ instead of 3 1/2.

Right. Invictus. Almost didnt make it tonight. Work’s been insanely tough and all I wanted to do was veg out. As motivation, I decided I’d finally try those cupcakes that they’ve had at the theater for a few weeks now. I’d been regretting that I didnt get them when they woulda been free at my Cirque du Freak screening. Verdict on those? The red velvet one had killer cream cheese frosting, but otherwise not really worth three bucks a piece.

Okay I know, this blog is about movies, not cupcakes.

Im actually really glad I dragged myself over to the theater. I left there so happy. Although, it took a while to get to that point. The first half dragged on, and their accents were so bad (at least Im assuming they werent exactly accurate) that I couldnt understand half the dialogue. Im still not even sure what the rugby team was called. But the pace really quickened and the overall mood picked up just past the halfway mark. By the time the rugby team had that coaching session with some of the local kids, the history and tone had been set and we could just coast on the “”Mighty Ducks”” story.

There were some really beautiful images in the movie. That coaching session was a great one. Although, my favorite was the little kid at the end listening to the world cup game with the security officers. I also really liked how they used the work relationship between the black and white members of Mandela’s security staff to illustrate the relationship between the two halves of the country.

Fan-\m/-tastic acting from Morgan Freeman, as if we’d expect anything less. By now, we’ve seen him play a US president in Deep Impact (second best fictitious pres after Dennis Haysbert on 24), win an Oscar for Million Dollar Baby, and of course play God in Bruce and Evan Almighty. Apparently Nelson Mandela said that the only actor he thought could play him was Freeman. Now I know absolutely nothing about the man, but I definitely saw him, not Freeman on screen. And that’s saying something for such a recognizable and loveable actor. I also know nothing about his politics or character other than what we saw in the film, but at least here he was such an admirable and inspirational person. To have gone thru hell in prison, and then draw from that experience to try and unite a country could not have been easy. Ew, Im starting to get all gooey. I’ll stop

Love Matt Damon as always, but I dont know if it was the accent or the extra blonde hair that really threw me off. His character grew on me by the end, but it took some getting used to.

As far as the whole rugby thing, that’s a sport that’s intrigued me for a while. I never actually heard of it until high school maybe. Woulda been kinda nice if I knew the game a bit better since a lot of the time when they were playing I had no freakin’ clue what was going on. Makes me wish I woulda gone to see a game back at MIT when I had friends on the team, especially the girls’ team annual prom dress rugby. By the time we got to the final game in the film, I really was on the edge of my seat. Can’t really elaborate much more without getting spoilertastic.

Guess thats about it for now. Hoping to get an AFI movie in tomorrow, but I gots some errand running to do after work. Hopefully I’ll get outta there at a decent hour with an acceptable amount of brainpower left. Just gotta get thru this week and then Im off on Christmas vacay.

Invictus – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

The Princess and the Frog

“This year has been a good one for animation. I hear there’s even enough elligible films that there’ll be five nods for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Oscars. You’ve got Pixar kicking butt as always with computer animation with Up, and also Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs in the great computer ani. Then there was fantastic stop motion with Fantastic Mr Fox and Coraline. And now, Disney’s kicking it old school with hand drawn animation for Princess and The Frog, and Im so glad for that. I do remember when computer animation was such a big deal, and I’ve seen it get better and better over time (mostly with each Pixar movie) but I’ve also seen it more half assed over time when other studios just crank out these plastic looking hardly thought thru kiddie films. Having grown up during Disney’s second golden age (Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, etc) my poor little heart has been crying and aching for some good hand drawn animation, and so psyched that Disney finally delivered.

The storyline for Princess and the Frog was a really creative twist on the original Frog Prince fairy tale. And I loved the supporting characters, in particular Ray and Louis, although I gotta admit the main characters did annoy me a bit. I found Tiana a slight bit too one-track-minded, and Naveen was too arrogant. Most of my buds who I saw it with adored Charlotte. I did too, while I could stand her. She was a bit much at times. And seriously, what’s up with the Lost actor names for characters? Naveen? Evangeline? Thats the only other time I’ve ever heard those two names.

The music was good, but nothing too spectacular. I much prefer Menken over Randy Newman, and while Newman was better than usual I didnt exactly leave wanting to run to Limewire and download the soundtrack. The New Orleans jazz setting did lend itself to great sound and overall vibe for the movie, and having voodoo available for the required fairy tale magic was a nice bonus.

I liked that this time around, the whole wish upon a star thing was balanced with the idea of working hard to get what you want. You kinda got to see both of those ends of the spectrum and how you need both to make your dreams come true. And even though, as previously mentioned, I may not have entirely cared for Tiana, having a strongwilled independant woman character is always a plus over a fragile little princess. Disney’s usually pretty good about that, but Tiana definitely ranks closer to Mulan than Aurora on that scale.

There was also some great dialogue. A few jokes there for the adults. My favorite being a reference to an AFI movie we’ve already been thru. I wont give it away, but I thought it was quite epic. I was laughing uncontrollably for a minute, but I think I was the only person who was able to fully appreciate it. And of course there was the slapstick comedy that had the little kids to my left and my buddy Carlos to my right convulsing with giggle fits.

So overall, while this may not be a definitive sign of another golden age for Disney, its certainly a step in the right direction.

The Princess and the Frog – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Some Like it Hot (AFI #22)

“So this it was I was actually intending to watch last night, before being pleasantly sidetracked by Titanic. From the opening funeral home/speak easy scene I knew I was going to love it. I have a sorta love/hate thing with farce. I \m/ love them until they get to the point of awkward, at which point I hate them. Some Like It Hot went right to the edge of that line, and it was brilliant. The dialogue was snappy, the characters were great, the twists and turns were just absurd enough without getting too outta hand.

This movie was also my first real introduction to Marilyn Monroe. She’d had a small role in All About Eve, but I didnt find out that was her until after. She was so charming and captivating, I know absolutely understand Hollywood’s fascination with her. What I couldnt get over, however, was her curvy full figure. I’d heard that she was a size 14, but I figured that somewhere along the way the size scale changed. Kinda sad that kinda thing is rarely ever considered sexy nowadays. The majority of today’s Hollywood starlets disappear when they turn sideways. As someone who’s not exactly on that stick figure end of the spectrum, watching Monroe mesmerize the guys in the movie was a bit of a self esteem boost.

Back to the whole farce thing, I’ve heard that the quick way to summarize a farce is a movie/show with a lot of doors. In this case it was more a lot of disguises, although there was a fantastic chase scene that involved lots of doors.

I’ve heard rumors that Lindsay Lohan wants to remake this movie with her in the Monroe role. I hope to God that never \m/ happens. This movie is close to perfect as it is, and would lose so much of its charm if it were updated.”

Titanic (AFI #83)

“Didnt actually intend on watching Titanic tonight for two reasons 1) Im trying to space out the movies I’ve seen before and b) wasn’t exactly in the mood for a 3 hour epic. But when I came home from Up In The Air, the roomie wanted to order a pizza. Usually when we order food, she’ll eat in my room where there’s inevitably a movie on. As mentioned before, I had SNL going in the background, which she didnt approve of. I said I was still blogging so it didnt matter what was on, so I let her choose from my pile, thinking she’d go for something recent. Instead she got all giddy when she saw Titanic in the stack. I figured we’d watch a little bit of it, then I’d switch to something else when I was done. She ended up watching for an hour until the fact that the captain looks like her boss bothered her enough to go back to work. Finished my previous write ups another half hour later, and seeing as how I was already halfway thru, it made sense to just continue.

I was in junior high when Titanic came out, making me a prime demographical target for it. Yes, I did see it in the theater–once at the dollar theater at the mall with my mom. No, I didnt cry at the end. I was just laughing because Rose said “”I’ll never let go”” then promptly let go off and dropped Jack (oops spoiler). I think I watched it once more after that. With all the hype, I couldnt even stand Leonardo Dicaprio at the time. I liked him in Romeo & Juliet and thought he was fantastic in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, but I otherwise hated him for some unknown reason. Wasn’t until I saw Catch Me If You Can that he got back on my good side, and was cemented there with The Departed. But this time, the roomie and I were just sighing and swooning anytime he was on the nice big high def screen.

The two things distracting me this time around. One is during the opening stuff before we get to Rose telling her story, all I could think about was Hanson’s video for their song “”River””. I could only find the intro on YouTube. From there it cut to just concert footage, and then it ended by going back to Gloria Stuart (yes that was actually her…and that was Weird Al with her) dropping a Middle Of Nowhere cd into the ocean. The other thing throwing off my groove with the movie tonight is that every time the theme music played, I could picture Bob Saget vocalizing it. He was doing that constantly during his show last week.

Distractions aside, and previous judgement of the movie aside, this actually is a fantastic piece of cinema. Its one of those something for everyone types–romance, humor, action, suspense, drama, (sorta) history. Its no wonder virtually every person on the planet went out and saw it. And by the time the ship started sinking (oops spoiler again) I could feel my heart thumping so fast, totally panic attacking about what was going to happen, even though I knew \m/ well what was gonna go down (absolutely no pun intended). Even if the love story isnt the type of thing to pull at your heart strings, there’s so much more to get you teary by the end of the film. Two things that got me (well nearly got me since there werent any actual waterworks…again no pun). One was the montage of people who knew they were going to die and accepted it–the old couple in bed, the mother telling the kids a bedtime story, etc. The other was the Daddy saying goodbye to his little girls, saying there’d be another boat for the daddies and that they were only saying goodbye for a short little while.

On the cast side, as previously mentioned absolutely \m/ adore Leonardo DiCaprio. He is one of those actors who is as talented as he is gorgeous. Maybe not his greatest display of acting skill (that would be …Gilbert Grape or Blood Diamond, in my opinion without thinking about it too hard) but it was definitely a great display of charisma. No wonder the world fell in love with him. Kate Winslet is just stunning as the strongwilled and steadfast Rose. Points for Kathy Bates as well.

Going thru the IMDB trivia, post movie took a while, but I found a few interesting things worth sharing
-They only built one side of the boat set, so to film things on the other side, they’d reverse the image. In order to make that work, they had to create reverse image costumes and props and stuff.
-The Daddy scene I mentioned earlier was something that actually happened. One of the girls recounted the story after being rescued.
-James Cameron created the names for the main characters, but later found out that there was a J. Dawson on the Titanic although in this case J stood for Joseph. They were able to recover his body and it was buried at a cemetary with other survivors. His stone is apparently the most visited one at the site.
-The movie was shown so much in theaters that they had to keep replacing the reels because they were so worn out.

Guess that does it for tonight. Tomorrow’s plans include Princess and the Frog with MTG social. The goal is to bookend it with two more AFI’s. Here’s hoping I can get my total to 40 before going home for Xmas. Completely arbitrary deadline, but I do love the sound those make as they go whooshing past.”

Up in the Air

“Got another Oscar front runner out of the way, and really stoked about it. I hafta say, right off the bat, that from those front runners (in this case Im referring to Precious and The Hurt Locker as well) Up in the Air is my fave. Wasn’t exactly blown away by it, as is usually a good sign with Oscar pix and as was the case with Slumdog for me last year, but still thoroughly enjoyed it. Im actually glad that this type of quirky film is getting the good feedback and attention from award gurus. Gives me hope that we really have progressed past the point where the “”best”” movies of the year are boring art pieces that no one actually sees.

The premise is just so creative and original–guy who’s job it is to go around firing people. Turned out being so timely too, although apparently that was by accident. Reitman had originally started work on this in 2002, but it got pushed back. Except for the recognizable stars, namely J K Simmons and Zach Galifianakis, none of the people who were fired in the film were actors. They got actual people who’d been recently terminated and gave them their chance to say what they wished they had, which added such a sincere touch of realism.

Ultimately, its really a character piece, and one that was carried quite well by the always dashing and debonair George Clooney. However, this time, he had a rare vulnerability that was just so striking.

Clooney wasnt the only impressive cast member. Anna Kendrick is getting lots of supporting actress buzz, and I couldnt agree more. She was so tough and intense and quick (which always makes for an awesome kick ass chick), but she too had a vulnerable side. And I can now see Vera Farminga as more than just “”the chick from The Departed””. The only possible miscast, according to me, would be Danny McBride. Its just way too hard to take him seriously, and while his role was supposed to be somewhat comedic, I think he pushed that a bit over the edge. Not by anything specific he did, just by being Danny McBride.

Up In The Air can also boast that it has some epic dialogue, and a couple of great and out of nowhere “”oh no (s)he didnt!”” moments. I very enthusiastically recommend this one.

Up in the Air – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

The Deer Hunter (AFI #53)

“Yes, I am back, oh my readers (if you’re out there) after a Lost-watching hiatus. It kills me that Im the last person to ever find out what happens on that island, but I think its worth it to get it all at once. Okay getting distracted now by what is supposed to be my backgroud noise: NPH’s episode of SNL from last year–“”I turned to my girlfriend and said ‘what is this guy allergic to timing’ and she said ‘why wont you kiss me’ and I said ‘later. look at this guy’…””

I decided to jump in with a film I’d been curious about for a long while–The Deer Hunter. I guess it first landed on my radar when I saw Jarhead. One of the marines gets a video from his wife that’s labeled as The Deer Hunter, and all the guys gather around the tv really excited to watch it. And it turns out to be a tape of his wife banging the next door neighbor and then saying that she knows what he’s up to overseas. Yeah, not exactly what they were expecting. For some reason the movie title stuck with me and I just had to know hat it was about. Although, finding out it was a war film (Vietnam specifically) turned out to be a bit anticlimactic for me, but I guess it was a sensical choice to use in Jarhead.

Impressions once I finally got to see it? Love the cast (I say that a lot dont I?) But for real: Christopher Walken (in his Academy Award winning role), Meryl Streep, Robert DeNiro both of whom also scored Oscar nods. I think you’ll take my “”I heart the cast”” thing seriously this time with those big names on the list. I very much fell in love with 1978 Christopher Walken. Not used to seeing him in such a serious role, but he did a damn fine job of it. Although, I still prefer zany Chris Walken. He first landed on my radar in Fatboy Slim’s “”Weapon of Choice”” video. There were some goofball moments in this flick, though. His rendition of “”Cant Take My Eyes Off of You”” sure gives Heath Ledger’s performance of that song a run for its money as the best one. Heath still wins of course, but this scene was still classic.

The three hour movie basically went thru three stages: fun, effed, \m/ depressing. I ended up having to watch it in chunks too. Fell asleep right at the transition from fun to effed (I’d stayed up late wrapping X-mas pressies last night). Watched the next bit. New I was gonna cut it really close to the showing of Up In the Air I was aiming for, so I paused to shower. Watched more. Then still had about 10 minutes once it was time to run off to the theater.

The first third had me completing bonding with and falling in love with (thats another phrase I tend to overuse here) the characters. Just the camraderie they all had with each other, in particularly on their way to the wedding, I just wanted to be part of that group. And of course, when we first got to the Vietnam scenes (section 2 of the film) my first thoughts went to Tropic Thunder. That quickly changed when we got to the Russian Roulette stuff. Oh yeah, very edge of your seat. The last section was the one that was most broken up for me given my outside distractions, so I wasn’t quite as focused on it. I was mostly just waiting on edge to see what happened to Walken’s character.

Anyhoo, thats not all the blogging I gotsta to do tonight, so that should suffice on this one.”

Everybody

“Yep, not my usual flick, but I couldnt resist the cast. Sam Rockwell has been one of my absolute faves since Choke (also, I dare you to see The Green Mile and not think he’s awesome), pretty much to the point where I’ll see him in just about anything. Hell, I even saw G-Force this summer and all he did was voice a guinea pig. Dont know that I’d follow him to a rom-com but most everything else should be fair game. Have nothing but mad respect for Robert DeNiro. And like I said about Sandra Bullock yesterday, I also love Drew Barrymore but rarely get to see her because of her affinity for girly films.

I’d only caught the trailer once, but between that and the smiling happy poster with the X-mas tree in the background, I expected it to be your typical warm fuzzy family fodder. Boy was I wrong. About 90% of it was \m/ depressing. DeNiro’s character was such a sad little man, I just felt so bad for him as he kept on getting blown off by offspring after offspring. Also, while I’d never actually admit this to the ‘rents (even though there’s a non-zero chance my dad is reading this…Hi Daddy) Ive actually been getting a bit homesick lately, and this movie totally set me over the edge. If I wasnt less than two weeks away from going home for Christmas, I dont know if I coulda gotten thru that flick.

But yes, the cast was as good as I expected. DeNiro was totally sympathetic and carried the movie quite well (as if there was any doubt). Didnt like Kate Beckinsale, but moreso I think it was that I just didnt like her character. She was quite the bitch, and I think she treated her dad the worst outta the kids. Loved Sam Rockwell (duh) but coulda definitely used more of him. Really impressed with Drew Barrymore. She ended up being my fave from the kids, especially because her scenes were the lightest out of this blind sidingly heavy film.

Well I’ve got cats crying for dinner. As previously mentioned, Im taking most of the week (or however long it takes) off from movie watching so I can go thru Lost season 5 this week. Thats the only show thats made me be known to hurt people for giving away spoilers. Anything else, I dont so much care.

Everybody’s Fine – \m/ \m/ \m/

Treasure of the Sierra Madre (AFI #38)

“I’d hoped to get in two AFI movies tonight, but ended up crashing part way through this one, with a kitty on each side of me. As cute as that must’ve been, it really disrupted the flow of the flick. I took this opportunity to try out Amazon on Demand thru my Blu-Ray player instead of having to watch on my computer. Yay technology.

I was actually a bit spoilt for this one because of an episode of Bones I saw the other day. Bones and Booth were discussing something, and this movie came up, and Bones gives away the ending. Although, I think Booth actually meant to bring up Maltese Falcon, not Tresure… but thats beside the point.

The biggest thing that caught me off guard on this one, after having seen Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, is how evil he ends up getting. Apparently Bogie’s known for both villains and heroes, but for me that turn came outta nowhere. He played it quite well though. The other thing that was kinda off for me is that Walter Huston won an Oscar for his role as Howard. I found him very annoying.

Similarly to Falcon, the title, little bit of plot I knew, and movie poster made me think there would be much more adventure in this. I guess there kinda was eventually, but it wasnt the Indianna Jones-esque movie I’d expected.

Also, the Mexicans annoyed me. Little too much of an unfavorable reminder of home. Is there supposed to be that much Spanish without subtitles? Or was my digital rental flawed? Didnt really matter to me, cause I can understand Spanish. Just seemed odd.

Kinda cool to finally get the context for the infamous “”stinking badges”” line. And the bad movie it reminds me of? Meet The Deedles. When the boys get their park ranger badges, they (in unison) cheer “”Alright, stinkin’ badges””. It finally makes sense. Oh and dont bother with Meet The Deedles unless you’re done with all your brain cells.

Im jonesing for a pre-bedtime snack and Im sure the kitties are starved as well, so I suppose that does it for now. This is likely to be the last AFI movie until the weekend. Planning to go see Everybody’s Fine tomorrow (heart Sam Rockwell!) and then Lost season 5 is out on Tuesday, and i know I wont wanna watch anything else until I tear thru that.”

The Blind Side

“I have gotten waaaay too comfortable with going to the Fenway. I must seriously seem like a crazy person. Today I walked in wearing big black snowboots, blue pj’s with polar bears on them, a slightly too big brown (instead of my usual black) shirt that says “”I wish I knew how to quit you””, and oversize gray and pink sweatshirt that I sleep in but rarely wear outta the apt cause its ugly, and my big army green coat. Its one of those laundry day type outfits. And while yes, today is laundry day and I did wear that same ensemble to the laundromat around the corner, I woulda worn the same outfit if it was a non-laundry Sunday. Found my seat, pulled off the boots, yup my socks didnt match, put my feet on the seat in front me and then pulled out a lemon flavored Sour Patch Kids candy cane that I’d snuck in (Im a rebel, I know). Sometimes Im surprised they let me in that place.

I’d put The Blind Side a bit low on my priority list, as you can prolly guess by the fact that the movie’s been out a few weeks and Im just now getting to it. It seemed like that type of sappy, feel good family movie that always comes out around the holidays that I usually prefer to ignore. However, there was something about Sandra Bullock and her character Leigh Anne that just drew me to it. Leigh Anne is the type of person that if she wants you to do something, well goddammit you better \m/ do it, and Bullock as Leigh Anne wanted me to go see this movie. So I did.

I do love Sandra Bullock, but her tendancy to do chick flicks means that I dont often see her films. She was just such a strong woman and completely sure of herself. There’s talk that this may finally be Sandy’s chance at an Oscar nod, and I wholeheartedly agree with that.

But Leigh Anne was just one of many fantastic characters. The first I fell in love with was her (bio) son, SJ, played by Jae Head. That sweet little kid was just so energetic and full of life, and his joy was contageous. Not sure how I feel about Tim McGraw as an actor in principle, but he def held his own against that strong independant woman. Quinton Aaron was also mesmerizing as Michael Oher. He played the role with such heart, that you had to pull for him through the whole thing.

Story wise, it was a bit on the long side. Almost knocked off half a point for that, but it really did hold me through pretty much the whole thing. Though it kinda felt like two separate movies. First half is family accepting the outsider kid. Second half is kind of a Mighty Ducks story focusing on one player. But the whole thing was just so powerful, and there was something incredibly moving about the real family pictures that were shown during the credits.

Pop culture side note, I totally didnt realize whenever they were talking about Lawrence Taylor and the impact he had on the NFL that its the same LT that was on DWTS last season. Kinda glad I didnt catch that, cause I prolly woulda been giggling too much about it.

Hafta run and grab my laundry, but if you are the type that likes those sweet family movies this time of year, The Blind Side is a pretty good choice

The Blind Side – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/