Friday, February 12, 2016

My Oscar Ballot (and I'm sticking with it)

I guess there really is nothing left to change my opinion on these, so bet the whole farm on it folks. I submitted these to the IndieWire poll of film critics, it seems like the oddest kind of year - full of close categories, yet I am pretty confident that I will be right with 90% of these. The Best Picture race is the toughest to distinguish: The Big Short won the PGA, The Revenant won the DGA and Spotlight won the SAG. But, all honestly, I wouldn't take for granted the PGA winner in any given year, time and time again people make that mistake and lose out on the bet they made. If The Big Short does in fact win it will be the worst Best Picture winner since Crash.

All this to say that we're headed into what might be a very exciting Oscar Night, the air of unpredictability is at its highest, but given that they usually find a way to make the telecast as dull and slow as possible, I think the excitement might get sucked right out. It'll probably be more exciting to find out through twitter while you're watching the OJ mini-series. I had an Oscar party last year at my place and I really tried to make it as less boring as possible, but one can only do so much with such an event. The ubiquitous #Oscarssowhite controversy might bring a bit more in terms of Chris Rock's whole shtick/monologue, but don't expect political discourse as much as him just poking fun at the academy in a "haha they're making fun of us and our mistakes and we deserve it" kind of way. Good lord, in Hollywood it always works out in the oddest, most political-correct way imaginable. If only Ricky Gervais could host every show ...

Best Picture
Will Win: The Big Short
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Director
Will Win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Should Win: George Miller

Best Actress
Will Win: Brie Larson
Should Win: Cate Blanchett

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Rooney Mara
Should Win: Rooney Mara

Best Actor
Will Win: Dicaprio
Should Win: Fassbender

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Stallone
Should Win: Rylance

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: The Big Short
Should Win: Carol

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Spotlight
Should Win: Inside Out

Best Animated Feature
Will Win: Inside Out
Should Win: Inside Out

Best Cinematography
Will Win: The Revenant
Should Win: The Revenant

Best Documentary Feature
Will Win: Amy
Should Win: Amy

Best Foreign Film
Will Win: Son Of Saul
Should Win: Son Of Saul

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"Zoolander 2" looks like a loser

It looks like the 15 years in waiting didn't much help. The first Zoolander was "okay" nothing too funny about it, except for the "ants" scene and a few memorable moments here or there, but overall it was an acceptable if albeit slight satire on the fashion industry. I'm tempted to skip tonight's pre-screening of "Zoolander 2" and willing to watch it this weekend, but then again I find that watching a comedy is best with a large group of people ready to laugh their asses off - you see tonight's screening is half media and half moviegoers, that's usually always fun. However, just reading these reviews on RottenTomatoes, only enhances the doubts I already had when I first saw the trailer. Stiller is a somewhat formidable director, he's done a few "watchable" things, but I don't find his visual palette that interesting or exciting.The closest he's gotten to making a "statement" was probably Tropic Thunder back in 2008. That movie was of course enhanced by two truly great performances from Robert Downey Jr. and an almost unrecognizable Tom Cruise as Les Grossman, the epitome of greedy Hollywood. Ah good times.

Will probably update this post once I catch it.

EDIT: As suspected it's not a very good movie, in fact it turned out to be worse than I thought. What we're starting to see in Hollywood are once A-list celebrities whom had some kind of artistic credibility, and some still do, that would have refused making useless sequels just a decade ago, but with sequels being released left and right and the superhero genre booming, celebrities have less marketability (no more Jim Carrey, Will Smith or Tom Cruise making 20 million a movie) and there is a sense of desperation in their recent actions. Just look at Jim Carrey refusing to ever do a Dumb and Dumber sequel until finally getting suckered into one a few years ago because, well, those are just the times we live in. "Zoolander 2" is a product of its time and place, and has nothing whatsoever to do with actual artistic merit.

Bernie and Hilary

I'm pretty sick and tired of Hilary Clinton supporters still trying to blame Sanders and the supposed "SandersBros" for her unwitting downfall. Guess what? Sanders isn't responsible for it, his supporters aren't either. Hilary shot herself in the foot, fair and square. Would I vote for Hilary if she gets the nomination? of course, why wouldn't I? Any sensible "Democrat" person would as well. Yes, Bernie is getting the young vote and yes they might not vote for Hilary, but guess what? She's getting all the female votes and they might not Sanders it up as well just to spite. We live in an unfair world, one filled with a PC police that slowly but surely is starting to rattle the wrong crowds. Feminists are going crazy over the Hilary backlash,  the idiotic #Oscarssowhite movement is happening etc. Funny thing is, people are complaining about the Sanders camp taking jabs at Hilary, well guess what? I can remember her taking jabs at him at the very beginning and him not replying back. People were wondering why he wasn't, she was dissing the poor guy, and it took MONTHS before he finally answered back. Now that he is, the race has gotten tighter. I'm not a Hilary hater in the least bit, and I find she would be a great president, but seriously man up and face the consequences, if you start an argument, finish it. May the best person win and this is surely to be continued.


It is in fact worse than I thought it would be. Sometimes I'm glad that I don't need to review every film that I see.

Bruce in Albany 2016

There will always be those that naysay Bruce Springsteen, that he's overrated, can't sing, his song are too simple etc. Well all I can say is they are too ignorant to get it, they're the type of people that just hate without giving what they hate a shot, because if you look closer to the man and his passionately constructed music you'll have found one of the most astounding bodies of work imaginable in Rock and Roll history. Hell, You might not like Born In The USA's melodic catchiness or Born To Run's operatic bombast, but then you have so many other genres he has masterfully tackled over his illustrious 43 year career: intimate folk music in Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad, Full Band Jazzy Van Morrisson-inspired tunes in The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle, Soberingly contemplative punk rock in Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Celtic folky Irish inspired tunes in The Seeger Sessions, and, well, pretty much every possible genre -up until then- in 1980's The River.

Playing The River front to back is daunting task, it requires incredible focus and a voice that can bounce from genre to genre. That's exactly what Springsteen did on Monday night at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York. It was a tremendous show, lasting close to 3.5 hours, and proved just how incomparably devoted to his fan base Springsteen is. He could easily coast along, being a multi-millionaire, and resign to any physically arduous shows at his tender age of 66 years old, but no, he continues on, a soldier of rock and roll and all props to him for still giving us "The Greatest Show On Earth" night in and night out. Who knows how long he could continue doing this, he isn't getting any younger, but with the mighty help of his drummer Max Weinberg, who's also given a daunting task of drumming for almost four straight hours, and the rest of the E-Street band, we should be thankful and lucky we live at a time when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are part of this world and still giving us the same religious experience as they were giving millions of legions 3-4 decades ago.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Inarittu wins DGA

History was made last night when Inarittu won the Director's Guild of America award. Well merited? somewhat. This was still Lubezki's movie, he owned every frame. Inarittu was just complimenting the ownage. I'd have preferred George Miller, but, hell, why not Inarittu. Sure beats presumed favorite Adam McKay who basically shot The Big Short in the flashiest, most unexciting of ways. Plus, would you really want McKay winning the Best Director Oscar? The guy is know for Will Ferrell movies and came out of nowhere to become an Awards contender. All props to him for that, but watching The Big Short I never felt like I was being guided by a natural artist, many of the shots are pure plastic, plasticized plastic.


It's midnight and the embargo is thrown in the dust, might as well tell you what I thought about "Deadpool." Deadpool is is a whole different beast and a far sharper film than we could have expected. First of all it's rated R, a rare occurrence these days for a superhero film, and it sure does earn its rating, in fact just barely missing NC-17 territory. It's that violent. No complaints from me. I appreciated the meta vibe and it skillfully juggled the jokes and the action scenes in such a refreshing way.

This is by no means a great movie, but there's something to be said about a superhero movie that doesn't play by the rules, I really hope this becomes a hit because maybe we'll be getting more of these types of genre exercises and Reynolds is such a perfect fit, he embodies the spirit of the character he is playing. Some of the stuff here reminded me a lot of the underrated "Punisher" movie that came out in 2004, universally panned, but boy was it a thrilling no holds-barred product of some sick twisted imagination. Counter-programming to the claptrap we seem to be getting on a monthly basis. If anything, "Deadpool" and "The Punisher" are the kinds of rebellious antidotes to the repetitive numbing of cinema.

It's an auspicious feature length debut for director Tim Miller. He's known as an opening credits CGI whiz, and you can definitely see the flair he has for all these nifty little effects tricks he's learned from his past gig. The action in "Deadpool" is slick in a "how cruelly twisted and slick can we make this character die" kind of way.  Suffice to say that as far as February releases go, you could do a lot worse than this one. It entertains and I don't think the word boring should ever be applied to this film.

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