Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reservoir Dogs- March 28, 2010

Jane here. Finally sat down and watched Reservoir Dogs today. Had the pleasure of my son joining me. He surprised me by telling me he hadn't watched it since middle school. I knew we were liberal (my dear departed husband was against censorship of all kind) but I thought my son had waited until high school. My other surprise was that I am getting more hardened toward film violence. Though Kill Bill Vol. 1 beats this hands down.

I liked the movie. I'm still pondering the reasons why. Obviously, the dialogue, though sometimes it was hard to hear. Obviously, Harvey Keitel. Obviously, Michael Madsen. The movie left me wanting more at the end. Was this intentional on QT's part? I think it was. I think though, the best part was the sound track. I kept finding myself singing along.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

It's Oscar Night! Here are our Opinions, Not a moment too soon!

The Oscar Nominations! And Jane and Geri Pick their Favorites!

Best Picture
An Education
A Serious Man
District 9
Inglourious Basterds
The Blind Side
The Hurt Locker
Up in the Air

Jane’s Pick: The Hurt Locker. Best Picture of the year. Loved, absolutely loved District 9, Inglourious Basterds and An Education. A Serious Man is a worthy Coen Brothers entry. And Up is a wonderful film. I see Precious tomorrow and reserve judgment for my list. As for the others, it was nice to see Sandra as a blonde and in something “not a physical comedy”. George’s movie was a bit thought provoking but I really liked Men Who Stare at Goats better. Yeah, I have a weird sense of humor and like offbeat films. Avatar was a great experience with the 3D and marvelous colors and cool plants and the Na’avi people. But the story was not told as well as in other nominated films. If I’m watching a movie and I get antsy, it’s not a great film. Watching Avatar, I got antsy.
Geri’s Pick: The Oscar goes to The Hurt Locker. Hands down, it was the best picture of the year. I saw the movie last summer and made the prediction at that time. I appreciated the creativity of Avatar, although the acting was unremarkable. I loved Inglorious Basterds, even though I am not a big fan of Quentin Tarantino – as usual, Brad Pitt gave a solid performance, and Christoph Waltz’s performance reminded me of Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List. I did enjoy the rest of the nominated films, but did not see The Blind Side or Precious, so cannot comment on those films.

Best Director:
Kathyrn Bigelow: The Hurt Locker
James Cameron: Avatar
Lee Daniels Precious
Jason Reitman: Up In The Air
Quentin Tarantino Inglourious Basterds

Jane’s Pick
: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker. Best film of the year. Stayed with me. I saw it last spring. The most affecting and effective movie. Bravo Kathryn Bigelow.
Geri’s Pick: I agree with Jane – Kathryn Bigelow deserves the Oscar. Awarding the Best Director statue to a female director is long overdue…

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges: Crazy Heart
George Clooney: Up In The Air
Colin Firth: The Single Man
Morgan Freeman: Invictus
Jeremy Renner: The Hurt Locker

Best Actress:
Sandra Bullock: The Blind Side
Helen Mirren: The Last Station
Carey Mulligan: An Education
Gabourey Sidibe: Precious
Meryl Streep: Julie and Julia

Jane’s Pick: Best Actor: Torn between Colin Firth and Jeremy Renner. Colin Firth has had an opportunity to stretch and play a very different role and was very believable. Loved it. Jeremy Renner was also very believable. Didn’t doubt for a moment that the person on screen was a real person as opposed to an actor. I know Jeff Bridges is everyone’s favorite, but the movie was “The Wrestler” lite. Best Actress: I’m seeing Precious tomorrow. I didn’t have the chance to see The Last Station. Just too many movies. That said, my pick is Carey Mulligan. Wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Sorry Sandra, just because you went blonde wasn’t enough for me. Okay, it’s tomorrow. Smart money is on Sandra. But Gabourey Sidibe was absolutely marvelous in Precious. Truly wonderful.
Geri’s Pick: Best Actor: Jeff Bridges will take home the Oscar, allowing Hollywood to recognize his entire body of work. Hollywood tends to honor older actors who have been nominated several times but have never won (Paul Newman’s award for The Color of Money comes to mind, as does Henry Fonda’s performance in On Golden Pond). Jeremy Renner and Colin Firth were outstanding in their roles, but unfortunately for them, the year belongs to Mr. Bridges. Best Actress: I loved Carey Mulligan in An Education, but I do believe Sandra Bullock will take home the Oscar. I did not see her performance, but historically the actor who wins the SAG award takes home the Oscar, so……..

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz: Nine
Vera Farmiga: Up In The Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal: Crazy Hear
Anna Kendrick: Up In the Air
Mo’Nique: Precious
Best Supporting Actor:
Matt Damon: Invictus
Woody Harrelson: The Messenger
Christopher Plummer: The Last Station
Stanley Tucci: The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz: Inglourious Basterds

Jane’s Pick: Best Supporting Actress: Missed Nine and once again I cannot comment on Penelope Cruz. Once again, if she wins it, all bets are off. That said, I loved Anna Kendrick in Up in the Air. She was the best thing in that movie. Maggie Gyllenhaal was just about perfect as always. Smart money is on Mo’Nique. I’m hoping for Maggie. Best Supporting Actor: Didn’t see four of them. Christoph Waltz will win. Natch.

Geri’s Pick: These two categories contain several performances I did not see. I loved Maggie Gyllenhaal in Crazy Heart, but I’ve heard Mo’Nique was excellent, so I’ll pick her to take home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Christoph Waltz will win Best Supporting Actor, no discussion necessary. He was just that good.

How can we just talk briefly without giving you more? Jane’s family and friends know she can’t just give a short opinion. Unfortunately, for some movies, this was the wrong year. The competition is so great. So, I’ll give mine and Geri will give hers on the ten nominated films and then we’ll also comment on those we feel a need to of the others. To be fair, we’ll go alphabetically.
Jane: James Cameron took ten years and more money than I can imagine to make this movie. His gamble paid off as it has grossed incredibly more money than I can imagine. It is a technical marvel in three dimension that is a wonder to behold and should be seen in three dimension. That said, I see no reason to see it twice. The story and the writing just are not there. Neither is the acting. It’s all about the technology.

Geri: I agree with Jane’s comments about this movie. It obviously was a labor of love for Mr. Cameron, and the movie should win every technical award. I believe the recognition should end there. The Hurt Locker was a better film, told a better story, had better acting, and deserves the Best Picture Oscar.

An Education:
Jane: What a delightful movie. But I don’t want to gush. I don’t want to raise your expectations and then you find you expected a huge movie and saw a small, wonderful gem but didn’t realize it. It is a coming of age movie that I think will appeal to many. Carey Mulligan is also nominated for Best Actress and deserves the honor. Alfred Molina is her father in the movie and he is just great as well, as always.

Geri: I enjoyed this movie very much. I do take exception with one thing: how could the straight-laced parents allow their 16-year old daughter to cavort with an older man??? Carey Mulligan delivered an excellent performance and I hope to see more from her in the future.

A Serious Man:
Jane: The Coen Brothers entry for this year. I really like it. Many don’t. It is based on the Book of Job who is tested by God and Satan and pretty much driven to insanity by the tests to remain a good man. The ending is a little abrupt and one must remember the point of good and bad. I loved the movie. And that for the Coen Brothers, it was remarkably lacking in blood and violence.

Geri: Jane and I disagree on this movie. I don’t believe it should have been included in this category. I have seen all the Coen Brothers’ films, and I think this is the worst movie they’ve delivered. I understand the motive is a creative interpretation of the Bible, but I feel Messrs. Coen owed more to their diehard fans. If this was one’s first exposure to a Coen Brothers film, I don’t feel Messrs. Coen created new fans with this movie. If you’ve never seen a Coen Brothers film, take time and watch any of the following: Fargo, Raising Arizona, O Brother Where Art Thou, No Country for Old Men, Miller’s Crossing or Barton Fink.

District 9:
Jane: I absolutely loved this movie. I went with my friend Joanne. We knew nothing about the movie before we saw it. Early on, it looked a bit cheesy but it became quite interesting. It became my second most favorite movie of the year (The Hurt Locker being the first). It was interesting. It presented an age old dilemma (discrimination and segregation) in a new light. I loved the graphics and the Prawns. I was about to make another comment, but if you haven’t seen the movie, I don’t want to give anything away. Again, some people don’t like it. Keep an open mind. We had no expectations and really liked it.

Geri: I enjoyed this film far more than I expected to. I am a fan of science fiction, yet felt I was not watching a sci-fi movie – kudos to the director. I enjoyed the concept, the exploration of definitions of good and evil (the movie evoked memories of the Japanese concentration camps in the U.S. during World War II) and would recommend it.

Inglourious Basterds:
Jane: In an earlier post in the blog, I gushed about this movie. I still do. It is vintage QT. Every actor/actress is great. The music all fits. Christoph Waltz is sure to win the best supporting actor. He’s already won the Golden Globe and the Screen Actor’s Guild awards for that part. He plays the role perfectly. The various scenes are wonderful. There are so many moments of tension. Some are comedic. Mike Myers has a cameo. (Don’t get your hopes up over that.) Oh, and Brad Pitt is in it. He’s good too. It’s all about putting out fire with gasoline. And Nazis. And World War II.

Geri: My husband and son saw this movie and did not think I would like it, as I have never been a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed watching this movie. I think the movie told a cohesive story, (kind of a departure for QT) the screenplay was well written, the roles were well acted, loved the movie’s score. QT won me over with this movie.

Jane: As always, at Oscar time it’s a race to see them all. Finally found time to see this one today. It is very, very good. The acting is superb all around. Gabourey Sidibe, Monique, Paula Patton and Mariah Carrey all do an outstanding job (and so does Lenny Kravitz!). I have to admit I was a little skeptical before I saw it and thought it would tug the heartstrings too much but it didn’t. It was damn near perfect.
Geri: Did not see this film, so cannot comment.

The Blind Side:
Jane: Based on the true story of Michael Oher, a homeless African American boy taken in by a well-to do white family. Sandra Bullock plays the mother, the one who insists the family takes him in and oversees his schooling and care. It’s a very nice movie and for a change, Sandra Bullock is a blonde. Tim McGraw has crossed over from country music to acting and it’s nice to know he can learn lines.

Geri: Have not seen this movie. Will catch it when it comes out on DVD.

The Hurt Locker:
Jane: Wow, what a movie. I didn’t know what to think when I left the theatre. An intense, tight movie that was, for me, very emotional. It’s a very personal movie following the lives of three men on a bomb squad in Iraq. It is not meant to say this is what it is like for everybody. Here’s the thing, though, for me. This is what someone, or many men, go through on a daily basis, for us. These people have volunteered to do so. This is their job. It is beyond my understanding that anyone can do this, never mind volunteer to do this. The film goes beyond this and explores the psychology (to an extent) behind it from the viewpoint of the subjects. I think this is a must see film. This is important. This is why it beats Avatar hands down. The story is there. It has a story.

Geri: My favorite movie of 2009, and is my second favorite war movie, behind Platoon. It was an honest look at the lives of 3 bomb squad soldiers in Iraq, who risk their lives on a daily basis. I believe it illuminated the perils of this particular war without being preachy. I agree with all of Jane’s comments. What I loved most about this movie, though, was that a woman directed it. Kathryn Bigelow learned her craft well when she was married to James Cameron, and rightly deserves to be recognized for her sensitive yet gritty direction.

Jane: Up is animated. This is the first time an animated movie has been nominated that I can remember. And, no, I’m not going to look it up. It’s a lovely film that should appeal to all. It is not a saccharine movie in the least and there are some interesting moments. Personally, I really enjoyed the voice given to the Doberman. And, I really liked the movie. Well worth seeing. Just not best picture of the year. But, wouldn’t it be great if it was, Ellen?

Geri: The only other animated movie nominated for Best Picture was Beauty and the Beast. This is just another delightful movie from Pixar. It will win Best Animated Movie. I loved the story, the computer graphics. I’ve always been a Pixar fan, and am really looking forward to Toy Story III this summer!

Up in the Air:
Jane: George Clooney as a consultant who fires people. Personally, I would’ve preferred an Ocean’s 14, though I haven’t seen Ocean’s 13 yet. (Was it that bad? Is that why it hasn’t been on TV yet?) This is what I don’t understand: Why was this movie nominated? I saw this movie with my girlfriends: Ellen and Joanne. Carol has been missing in action a lot. We’ve been going to movies together on a regular basis since 1994. Brunch and the movies on Sundays. You should do it too. Any way, not only was the movie nominated at Best Picture, but young Reitman was nominated as Best Director, Vera Farmiga (remember her from The Departed?) and Anna Kendrick, both nominated Best Supporting Actress. Of all the nominations, here’s what I think: Papa Razzi does the best brunch and Anna Kendrick deserves the nomination. Okay, I slept on and changed my mind a bit. Papa Razzi still does the best brunch but the film does speak to our time: job loss, impersonality of the corporate culture, lack of connection to each other as humans. But the ending left me hanging.

Geri: While I am a fan of Mr. Clooney, I don’t really think this was “the best work of his career”. I would save that distinction for his work in Syriana. I thought the movie was good, but I personally would not have included it in the Best Picture category. I did not agree with the Academy’s decision to increase the number of Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10 was warranted, but I understand the decision was driven by economics and the need to tantalize people to go out to the movies more frequently. As a result, Up in the Air was included in the Best Picture category. I guess money speaks louder than words in Hollywood these days.

Jane: I would like to thank Geri, of course. Also, Joanne, Carol and Ellen for always being there to go to brunch and the movies, Amy and Larry for stepping in at the last moment, my mother, my sister Lizzy and her husband Frank for remembering the name of my favorite movie for me, my sister Kate who is in Theatre and teaches me stuff, to the rest of my family for being themselves and always, to my son, the person I love most in the world.

Geri: I would like to thank Jane for getting me involved in this movie blog. I have always adored the movies and getting to talk about them is a real thrill!

I want to send a special shout out to my all-time favorite movie buddy - my husband Ray. One of our first dates was dinner and a movie, and it is still our favorite type of date. I'm happy to report that our son, Tim, has inherited our love of movies. Thanks to Tim for recommending The Hurt Locker, my favorite movie of 2009. I might have missed it had it not been for your glowing review.

I've had many movie friends over the years, and thank them all for dragging me to movies outside my comfort zone.

Finally, I would like to thank Gene Kelly. I saw Singing in the Rain when I was a young girl, and fell in love with movies after watching him sing and dance his way through a comical spoof of the movies. He has always been an inspiration to me and I thank him for making movies that comfort me if I happen to be singing in the rain...

And thanks to all of you for reading this! Happy movies and popcorn!