Friday, October 30, 2009

Fall Screening Log (Grades)

The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 09) B [2nd screening; Sept 2009: A-]
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 09) B
Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodovar, 09) C
The Lovely Bones (Peter Jackson, 09) F
It's Complicated (Nancy Meyers, 09) C+
Crazy Heart (Scott Cooper, 09) C
Nine (Rob Marshall, 09) C+
The Hangover (Todd Phillips, 09) C
A Single Man (Tom Ford, 09) C
Up in the Air
(Jason Reitman, 09) C-
Avatar (James Cameron, 09) B-
The Young Victoria (Jean-Marc Vallée, 09) C+
The Princess and the Frog (Ron Clements, John Musker, 09) C+
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" By Sapphire
(Daniels, 09) B
Amelia (Nair, 09) C-/D+
Good Hair (Stilson, 09) C-
This is It (Ortega, 09) C
Where the Wild Things Are (Jonze, 09) B
Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas, 08) B
The September Issue (R. J. Cutler, 09) B-
Cairo Time (Ruba Nadda, 09) B
Paranormal Activity (Oren Peli, 07) C+
A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 09) C
Bright Star (Jane Campion, 09) B
W. (Oliver Stone, 08) C+

Monday, September 14, 2009

TIFF 2009 Home

I've taken notes on all screenings so far. Reviews probably won't appear until after the festival, since I'm juggling work, school and the films themselves, but at least the note-taking is a step forward. :)

Thursday, September 10th
An Education (Lone Scherfig) C
Antichrist (Lars von Trier) B+

Friday, September 11th
Eyes Wide Open (Haim Tabakman) B
Face (Tsai Ming-liang) C+
Hotel Atlantico (Suzana Amaral) w/o [first 45 min: C-]
City of Life and Death (Chuan Lu) B

Saturday, September 12th
Ahead of Time (Robert Richman) B-
Women Without Men (Shirin Neshat) C
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke) A-
The Window (Buddhadev Dasgupta) B

Sunday, September 13th
Cleanflix (Andrew James, Joshua Ligairi) C+
A Shine of Rainbows (Vic Sarin) B-
Carmel (Amos Gitai) C

Tuesday, September 14th
The Day Will Come (Susanne Schneider) C
White Material (Claire Denis) B+
J'ai tue ma mere (Xavier Dolan) C

Wednesday, September 15th
Leslie, My Name is Evil (Reginald Harkema) C
Like You Know It All (Sang-soo Hong) C
Heiran (Shalizeh Arefpoor) B

Thursday, September 16th
The Damned United (Tom Hooper) B-
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (Rebecca Miller) B-
A Brand New Life (Ounie Lecomte) B-
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? (Werner Herzog) C-
Love and Other Impossible Pursuits (Don Roos) C+

Friday, September 17th
I am Love (Luca Guadagnino) A-
To Die Like a Man (Joao Pedro Rodrigues) C
Glorious 39 (Stephen Poliakoff) D+

Saturday, September 18th
Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu) B-
Soul Kitchen (Fatih Akin) B-

Monday, May 25, 2009

Desperate Times...

I 've caved (sigh).

Yes, follow me on Twitter. If I can't even write 140 words about a film, then I'm really in trouble.

Friday, February 20, 2009


+PICTURE: Slumdog Millionaire (Insert "it is written" tagline here. If it were up to me, I'd write down "Milk", but I can't fight with destiny - or bad taste - can I?)

+DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Sunshine (You know that looks better.)

+ACTRESS: Kate Winslet, The Reader (I don't think a Melissa Leo win is totally out of the question, and if there was another month of campaigning left, I feel like the actress - who's my favourite in this category - could have pulled it off. Still, Frozen River came out on DVD two seconds ago, and I'm thinking she's peaked too late. I know screeners have been floating around for a while, but I feel like more people have seen the Daldry film at this point. Along with the "Give it to Kate" issue, etc, etc.)

-ACTOR: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler (I don't know if anyone is itching for another uncomfortable, thorny Penn speech - not when Mickey can make them cringe and guffaw at the same time. Since Penn was due a SAG prize anyways, the combined forces of BAFTA + GG give Rourke the upper hand here.) [Penn wins his second Leading Actor Oscar.]

-SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Viola Davis, Doubt (Penélope Cruz may have won the BAFTA, but she wasn't up against Davis or Winslet. And I'm thinking that the "Doubt needs to win something for acting" argument actually might hold some water.) [Cruz pulls through.]

+SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight (To anyone who's predicting an upset in this category: if there was a backlash against him, it would have happened by now. A year of front-runner talk, and nothing's really changed.)

+ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire (I seriously doubt that he has any competition in this category, although David Hare should have a speech ready just in case.)

+ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Dustin Lance Black, Milk. (The only assured victory for Milk, and Wall-E has Animated Feature all locked up anyways.)

+ANIMATED FILM: Wall-E (Should just be called "The Pixar Appreciation" Category)

+DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Man on Wire (There's no reason to believe its winning streak throughout awards season will suddenly cease here.)

-FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM: A three-way race between Waltz with Bashir, Departures, and The Class, and I'm betting on the humanism of the latter to emerge the victor. [The late word on Departures proved to be more than just rumour.]

+CINEMATOGRAPHY: Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire (Going with the "flashiest = best" theory. Although a Dark Knight win wouldn't be surprising at all.)

+ART DIRECTION: Donald Graham Burt and Victor J. Zolfo, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Spoiler: The Duchess)

+COSTUME DESIGN: Michael O'Connor, The Duchess (Repeating my commentary from last year: bad reviews don't really matter in this category. See Marie Antoinette, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Elizabeth: The Golden Age.)

+EDITING: Chris Dickens, Slumdog Millionaire (Grrr, one of the most frustrating races of the night. I want to predict The Dark Knight here, since action films often score in this category, but this is the year of Slumdog after all.)

+MAKE-UP: Greg Cannom, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (But all the nominees are very much in the race.)

-ORIGINAL SCORE: Thomas Newman, Wall-E (I love Rahman, and I've worshipped him for years, but is there really a score to Slumdog Millionaire? My view is that there are more memorable songs in the film than actual instrumental pieces. Newman is way overdue, and animated films have a great track record here.)

+ORIGINAL SONG: A.R. Rahman and Gulzar for "Jai Ho", Slumdog Millionaire (Although "O Saya" is the clear standout here)

-SOUND MIXING: The Dark Knight [Oscar goes to Slumdog]
(Probably not the smartest move, but since The Bourne Ultimatum did it last year, why not the biggest blockbuster of last year?)

+VISUAL EFFECTS: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Should be an easy get, IMO, but it's hard to know how big the Button-backlash really is.)

Slumdog Millionaire - 6
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - 3
The Dark Knight - 3
Wall-E - 2
The Class - 1
Doubt - 1
The Duchess - 1
Man on Wire - 1
Milk - 1
The Reader - 1
The Wrestler -1

16/21 = 76%

Oscar's TALLY
Slumdog Millionaire - 8
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - 3
The Dark Knight - 2
Milk - 2
Departures - 1
The Duchess - 1
Man on Wire - 1
The Reader - 1
Vicky Cristina Barcelona - 1
Wall-E - 1

Friday, January 30, 2009

Stir in the Black Chicks

Is a pathetic gesture toward representation better than none at all? These seem to be the two options for women of colour in Michael Patrick King's limited, unfettered world view. Or at least, for Jennifer Hudson, who portrayed Carrie Bradshaw's assistant in that big-screen adaptation of Sex and the City last year.

In this article, King talks a little about his plans for the sequel (help us), and then touches on the issue of colour in the television show:
"It can't be called Sex and the City without a little color—it's just wrong. Women are very nice when they figure out who I am. And the only negative comment I ever got about the series was every now and then, some woman of color—whether it'd be Latina or an African-American—they'd stop and say, 'Where are the sisters?' in my ear, and I was like, 'Yeah, where are they?'
Playing assistants and enablers to spoiled egomaniacs, apparently. No thanks, Michael. If your lame inclusion of the Louise character is the best we can hope for, along with the same baggage of appalling power dynamics as in the first film, stop trying now. Your self-congratulatory pat on the back for choosing Hudson over Isla Fisher seems to be the extent of your progressiveness.

I'd rather you kept the universe of the series insular if this is what we have to look forward to ("a little color"). I'm happy that women find you "nice" and non-threatening once they meet you, but that doesn't mean they should celebrate the fact that a seemingly authoritative voice like yours finally decided to throw them a bone.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Last Minute Predix

Do I care? Should I care? Maybe I'm just grumpy. Barring a not-altogether-impossible-last-minute Wrestler shockeroo, I don't really care enough about the Best Picture frontrunners (my admiration for Milk and The Dark Knight aside). 

But I know I'll look back in a couple of months and kick myself for not having at least one set of predictions for the records. They're nice time capsules, and I always enjoy looking back on what was speculated versus what the Academy was actually feeling.

1. Slumdog Millionaire +
2. Slumdog Millionaire
3. Slumdog Millionaire
4. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button +
5. Slumdog Millionaire 
6. The Dark Knight - 
7. Frost/Nixon +
8. Milk +
9. Wall-E
10. The Wrestler

Missed: The Reader

Okay, cheekiness aside, I think those "familiar five" films recycled throughout awards season are defo. our nominees. At the time votes were due, these were the only titles on everyone's minds (see the boring guilds' choices). I suppose Wall-E's entirely possible too, and I'd be excited to see such a development (I'm not crazy about the Stanton picture, but I can understand the love). Either way, if it does make the shortlist, I'm guessing that Milk surrenders its spot to the animated feature, not Frost/Nixon.

1. Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire +
2. David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button +
3. Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight -
4. Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon +
5. Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler -
6. Gus Van Sant, Milk +
7. Jonathan Demme, Rachel Getting Married

Missed: Stephen Daldry, The Reader (now 3/3 in this category. Damn.)

Again, I think Frost/Nixon is more of a player in this race than people imagine, and Van Sant is the DGA-nominated director who's in most danger of getting lost in the shuffle, not Howard. Wish it was the other way around, but I'd be thrilled to see Aronofsky get in either way.

1. Meryl Streep, Doubt +
2. Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married +
3. Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky -
4. Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road -
5. Angelina Jolie, Changeling +
6. Kate Winslet, The Reader +
7. Melissa Leo, Frozen River +

If I do badly in the female acting categories, I blame it on Kate Winslet and her loony category fraud this year. Just like how Leonardo DiCaprio ('07) and Scarlett Johansson ('04) screwed me over in their double-bill years. Anyways, standard five here too - I can't imagine them leaving out Sally Hawkins after LAFCA and NYFCC.

1. Sean Penn, Milk +
2. Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler +
3. Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon +
4. Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button +
5. Richard Jenkins, The Visitor +
6. Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino
7. Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire

I just don't wanna see Gran Torino, kay?

1. Viola Davis, Doubt +
2. Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona +
3. Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler +
4. Kate Winslet, The Reader -
5. Amy Adams, Doubt +
6. Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button +
7. Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married

Go, go, go DeWitt!

1. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight +
2. Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire -
3. Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder +
4. Josh Brolin, Milk +
5. Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road +
6. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt +
7. James Franco, Milk

I may be (v. v.) stupid to exclude Hoffman, but I think Shannon's not entirely out of the race, and could surprise in manner of Djimon Hounsou in the year of In America. 

1. Woody Allen, Vicky Cristina Barcelona -
2. Dustin Lance Black, Milk +
3. Andrew Stanton, Wall-E +
4. Robert D. Siegel, The Wrestler -
5. Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky +
6. Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married
7. Martin McDonaugh, In Bruges +

Missed: Courtney Hunt, Frozen River

They're probably off of the Coen Brothers for a while, WGA nod be damned.

1. Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire +
2. Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon +
3. Eric Roth, Robin Swicord, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button +
4. Jonathan Nolan, David S. Goyer, The Dark Knight -
5. David Hare, The Reader +
6. John Patrick Shanley, Doubt +
7. Justin Haythe, Revolutionary Road -


I will leave the tech races to people who are actually good at that stuff. Good luck to you all, and I'll catch up with you after the announcement tomorrow.

Happy Nomination Day!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Not interested

"That is such crap. How dare you be so fraudulently flirtatious, cowardly and dysfunctional? I am not interested in emotional fuckwittage. Goodbye."

- Bridget Jones, "Bridget Jones's Diary" by Helen Fielding