Sunday, January 21, 2007

Movie thoughts going through my head today

1. How on earth did Wojciech Kilar's music for Bram Stoker's Dracula fail to receive an Oscar nomination for Original Score? Because it should have been acknowledged, and the composer should have won for it too (he currently stands at "zero" for nods overall.) This has been bothering me since I re-watched the film for Nathaniel's Vampire blog-a-thon and did research on its awards history. I only ask because the film itself was able to receive so much love in other categories, so it's not like no one had seen the film or outright snubbed it (you're telling me that Basic Instinct was more deserving of a nod that year?) The oversight is pretty mind-boggling, considering it's one of the greatest background scores ever written for a film, let alone a horror picture. On every listen, it succeeds in scaring the holy bejeesus out of me, and I get the ominous feeling that something horrible is about to happen. What a thrilling experience it is! And it's even disturbing in its quieter moments, like the "Lucy's Party" track, which sounds like a fairy tale gone horribly, horribly wrong. Just listen to the first track - "The Beginning" - before bedtime tonight and try not to get nightmares for the rest of the month. Just try.

2. I've been unhealthily obsessed with another film score lately, and that is Alexadre Desplat's marvelous, genius, Golden Globe winning, (and hopefully soon to be rightfully Oscared) work in The Painted Veil. It thankfully avoids the exotic and epic-like inclinations of similarly-themed scores (Europeans venturing out into foreign lands to "find" themselves) and instead delves itself deep into the mysterious, playful and melancholy highs and lows of the relationship between the film's main characters Kitty and Walter. What I love about Desplat's scores, and the thing I can't put my finger on, is how fantastical and dreamy they are while completely complimenting what is happening on-screen. I can't articulate it well obviously. I've been arguing on the merits of the film itself with Nick M. (I'm not really keen on how the Chinese characters are depicted in the film), but we both agree on Desplat's absolutely heavenly music. Go see the movie right now for a sharply-etched Naomi Watts performance (I'm not a fan usually, so that's a recommendation if there ever was one) and buy the soundtrack immediately thereafter. Trust me, guys. The best tracks: the title number, "Promenade", "Kitty's Journey", and "The Water Wheel". Amazing.

3. For two months, I forced myself to stay away because I wanted to watch the film (somewhat at least) outside of the insane media blitz and waves of public discussion. I'll also admit that my own snootiness prevented me from wanting to give the film a chance, since I am a little uptight about this kind of humour. I finally got around to seeing Borat: Cultural Learnings of America... (Larry Charles, 06) this weekend, and I now must admit that Sacha Baron Cohen has the biggest balls of any comedian in recent memory. I spent a lot of the film looking down at my feet because it was just too painful watching the character make a complete ass of himself, or - even worse - the everyday people around him taking him seriously and offering horrifying perspectives of their own. This is the scariest film of the year, in many ways more hard-hitting than the The Descent, because this is a reflection of actual prejudice, ignorance and hatred operating in our midst. Anyone who claims that "things are better now" should be pointed in Cohen's direction. That said, the film often goes too far beyond making its points, reveling in childish and toilet humour for no apparent reason (the bag of feces at the dinner table?) Even more problematic: I also think this kind of satire is dangerous, because as brilliant as it is at times, it can be abused for other reasons. Take my adolescent cousins for example - they think Borat the reporter is funny for his outlandish and disgusting behaviour, and regularly repeat quotes from the film with the "Kazakh" accent. Do they necessarily understand what Cohen is trying to do here? After asking them questions, I suspect not. I think to categorize the film as a comedy is a little misleading - where can you draw the line between laughing with or at a certain type of characterization? I'm still wondering myself. B

4. Holy crap, Sienna Miller can actually act! I saw Factory Girl (George Hickenlooper, 06), and it ended up much better than I thought it would be. Lesson to me (again) is to resist the urge in pre-judging a sketchy-looking biography, no matter how tempting it may be to do so. Certainly not biopic, but at the same time not free of some of the conventions of that genre, this study of Edie Sedgwick's life during the famous Andy Warhol years is consistently illuminating. It's certainly not boring to look at either, that's for sure - it kind of reminded me of Bailey and Barbato's Party Monster, a really underrated film in my opinion. It maintains a nice pace until hitting the Billy Quinn romantic track (a figure based on Bob Dylan, played unevenly by Hayden Christensen), which brings the film to a screeching halt. But as I said before, Sienna Miller is fantastic as Sedgwick, making us understand what was so alluring and hypnotic about the muse. Even in the scenes depicting Edie's spiral into hard drugs and depression are never overplayed on her part. It certainly helps that most of the time, she is a dead ringer for the fashion icon - the transformation holds up throughout. Perhaps even better is Guy Pearce as Warhol, who with his dry and deadpan delivery, makes the case for creating an entire film around his character. B-

5. PGA goes to Little Miss Sunshine, and the Best Picture race gets even more hazy. My prediction was with Dreamgirls since it's big and splashy, but the voters clearly went in the other direction this year. I love it. Even though I'm not a fan of the Dayton/Faris film, I'm really excited to see some variation in the winners being called out. Let's see how this affects the next few weeks in terms of speculation. Meanwhile, the Academy reveals its picks Tuesday morning - my predictions of the big eight categories will be up later tonight or tomorrow.

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