Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Reel News...Official Nominations for the 84th Oscars have been released

84th Academy Awards Nominees

The time for speculation is now over and we can rest assured or stare in disbelief at the Official Nominations for this years Academy Awards.  Depending on how you look at it, every year a certain discussion arises toward the notable films or acting performances that bet left off the list or as the article in U.S. Weekly put is- snubbed.
After comparing my own speculative list of this year's noms in a post written a few weeks ago, I came to the realization that, much like every other year in recent memory, the nominations offer few surprises as the rumors are never few and far.

Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir in "A Better Life"
George Clooney in "The Descendants"
Jean Dujardin in "The Artist"
Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Brad Pitt in "Moneyball"

Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh in "My Week with Marilyn"
Jonah Hill in "Moneyball"
Nick Nolte in "Warrior"
Christopher Plummer in "Beginners"
Max von Sydow in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

Monday, January 23, 2012

Why See This...Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol [2011]

      Ghost Protocol being the fourth addition to the Mission Impossible series that started way back in 1996 has an interesting history to it.  The four film series has had four different directors and four very different receptions.  The original Mission Impossible, directed by the movie violence master himself Brian De Palma, was well received as a standard Hollywood action film with spurring star Tom Cruise as its lead.  Audiences liked it for what it was while critics seemed to be in the same boat.  Unfortunately M:I 2 could not follow down the same path.  This time the series fell into the hands of notable Kung Foo director John Woo.  Continuing box office success, many people felt that the movie was too corny and over the top with its action sequences.  Ethan Hunt wasn’t just a highly specialized secret agent but apparently a macho superhero as well. The highly stylized action choreography seemed to be a better fit for a Bruce Lee flick, not Ethan Hunt.  In other words, M:I 2 could not compete with the original.  Likewise, the third Mission Impossible directed by JJ Abrams continued downward but for different reasons.  This third film again tried to fall back on the successes of the first film but could not match it.  Those who were looking for a similar type of action from the second film were thrown off by the sometimes too intense sequences, especially the death of Ethan’s wife.

Friday, January 20, 2012

One Long Look...Children of Men [2006]

      Today I want to begin a recurring segment on FILMclatter called “One Long Look...” where I feature spectacular examples of camera work in some of my favorite movies.  The only requirement then is that the shot must be really long.   A long take is hard to come by in movies these days.  And even when it does show up, most viewers don't expect the long take and fail to recognize the sot for what it's worth.  Not to get pretentious and say that film isn’t what it used to be, because that argument is long and boring, and rather useless.  Editing has its place in movies and without it we would have far less cool car chases at our hands.  On the other side of the spectrum, the long take has its own purpose and splendor in the movies.  A chase scene filmed entirely in one take would be a spectacular feat but it would be pretty boring to watch.  There are no cuts and generally no tricks; a long take is exactly what it sounds like.
      And that may sound boring, but in the first segment of “One Long Look...” I would like to feature a shot from the 2006 sci-fi film Children of Men.  The word 'boring' has never been associated with this movie.  Set in the year 2027 we are taken into a future filled with chaos where humans can no longer pro-create and the world's future looks bleak.  Known as one of the most spectacular feats in filmmaking history, this six minute single shot allows viewers to follows one man in and out of dilapidated buildings, dodging bullets, running for his own life as well as for the sake of humanity.  It is an unusual scene in that fast cuts and editing would normally heighten the unsettling and dramatic quality the director is trying to achieve.  But this is clearly not the case here. 


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Useless Clatter...[Hear This...]David Lynch Remixes Zola Jesus' "In Your Nature"

This is a post I wrote for my music blog TUNEclatter, and aside from it being a song, I fgured it carried some film relevance worth reposting.

       To give comparison, Zola Jesus sounds sort of like Adele.  They both have generally deep voices and have the ability to belt it out in their songs, screaming with the perfect pitch.  Adele maybe arguably the most popular female vocalist out right now, but Zola Jesus might not be too far behind.  Her song “In Your Nature” sounds like an avant Florence + the Machine track, only sung by Adele, not to say that Zola is just a copy of these two because she’s not. 
      More importantly, a remixed version has recently been created by legendary auteur David Lynch.  One of my favorite filmmakers, David Lynch is a true artist and one of the best of our time.  Mostly recognized as the creator of such cult favorites like ErasherheadBlue Velvet and the hit show Twin Peaks, David Lynch has also established himself as a paintermusician and even furniture designer.
      His remix of Zola Jesus’ song “In Your Nature” is really something.  I’m almost never a fan of remixes, but in this case I find myself preferring the remix over the original.  It was a close call but I got to hand it to David Lynch for creating this.  It’s not the kind of remix that is sped up and with a faster bass pedal where the chorus is just repeated 10 times or something.  This remix is nothing of that sort; Lynch actually slows the song down.  What really works for this song and gives it its success is the minimalist approach Lynch took while working with the song.  Combined with those Florence and Adele elements, Lynch’s small touch gives the song a mystical sort of dreamy feel to it.  I could see it as a perfect ending to one of his surrealist films from back in the 80s.  Like if Blue Velvet had some sort of warm, reassuring ending

Why See This...Most Anticipated Films of 2012

What many people look forward to in the New Year is the idea of a fresh start.  The physical act of swapping last year’s calendar, covered in ink and scribble marks of varying importance in exchange for a brand new, never been touched replacement can be both reassuring and gratifying.  Resolutions are made and become one’s priority for the next couple weeks (or days...) in an effort to begin the new year on the right foot.  Regardless, the new year always comes forth with its fair share of optimism.
      For me, the joy of a new year comes in the form of movies.  Its comes on many different levels too.  Whether its the long awaited witnessing of the next PTA or Quentin Tarantino film to childhood favorites returning in the form of sequels (Men In Black III), I often define a year by the movies that were released that year. Below is a list of the movies I am most looking forward to and hoping to see in the new year.  If there's one a missed, let me know.  Further details for each individual movie are forthcoming.
     + Because many of these movies do not have definitive release dates, I decided it would be easiest to order them alphabetically.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Reel News...First Trailer for Moonrise Kingdom

      From his quirky, satirical comedies in The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou to his last film, the stop-motion animated Fantastic Mr. Fox, complete with talking animals, anyone who is familiar with the work of Wes Anderson knows the age old phrase "expect the unexpected" thoroughly applies to this man almost more than anyone.  His latest film, Moonrise Kingdom, in which he resorts back to live animation, is no exception to this.
      Other than Fantasctic Mr. Fox, Anderson's films have generally been seen as comedies aimed at adult audiences.  Yes, they are sometimes crude but what adult comedy isn't these days?  In tune with the laughter, what Anderson does so marvelously in his films is create these "grown up comedies" with a charming and nostalgic hint to them.  His ensemble pieces tend to have more than their fare share of off-beat characters who can do nothing else but screw up and yell at each other.  One can feel no shame in laughing at these people but more so, in the case of The Royal Tenenbaums, a smile might arise when instinctively seeing your own family members on the screen.  Thus, more times than not, the laughter then comes from these engaging and seemingly personal moments.
      It appears no different in the case of Moonrise Kingdom.   Set amidst a children's summer camp in the 1960s, two young campers, Suzy and Sam, take on a relationship that provokes them to run away from their camp.  As a result, all hell breaks loose at the camp.  All of the adults in this film are completely inept and dysfunctional as superiors to these kids and Anderson has an elite cast of A-listers to go with in Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and Harvey Keital, who between the six of them have nine Oscar nominations (two wins).  With that bunch on had, its anyone's surprise that none of them take a lead role in the film.  Instead, Anderson leaves the top bills to the youngsters who play Suzy and Sam, both of which have never acted on the big screen before.  It looks terrific, but I expect nothing less from Anderson these days. It's certainly a top pick of mine for 2012.

Moonrise Kingdom is set for a May 25th  release in the United States

Friday, January 6, 2012

Reel News...Matt Damon Backs Out of Directing Debut, Picked Up By Gus van Sant

      News came out last October of Matt Damon sitting in the director's chair for the first time on an untitled project he co-authored with Dave Egger and The Office's John Krasinski.  This is the second time Eggers and Krasinski have collaborated on a script, as they collaborated on the writing of Away We Go, which also starred Krasinski.  
      At this time, no other news have been made of his acting commitment, as Damon is still on par to remain as the film's lead role; however, he is no longer its director.  As much as this may seem to be a disappointment, the vacancy has been picked up by prominent Portland director Gus van Sant, known for  Milk, My Own Private Idaho and Good Will Hunting, in which Damon also acts.  Damon also starred in van Sant's 2003 film Gerry.  The collaborative triangles of these men should keep this project top notch and on track with producers.  It's also reassuring seeing how quickly the void was picked up by van Sant too.  But while Matt Damon remains a more popular household Hollywood name than Gus van Sant, I  have high expectations that the two-time Academy award nominee will led the project in the right direction.  

Gus van Sant, while being a two-time Academy Award nominee for Best Director (Good Will Hunting, Milk), is also a winner of the Palme d'Or for his film Elephant.