Thursday, February 24, 2011

10 Days 10 Noms - Day Nine

Black Swan

This is a typical Colleenie move. After watching the trailer for Black Swan, I couldn’t wait to see the film. I even went as far as to go to San Francisco to see it two weeks before its wide release, but then did I rush home and write a review? No. Instead, I’ve sat on my butt and let this movie get old.

Forget Inception, The Social Network and all those other buzz films. Black Swan kicks all of their asses! A true movie-movie is rare and Black Swan fits the bill. What’s a true movie-movie? For me there are certain stories that only work 100% in Movieland. It’s the craft of movie making that takes you on a journey to somewhere you would otherwise never go. As much as I love independent, slice-of-life fare, sometimes, you want to be in a movie world with completely unrealistic people you would never meet in reality. Black Swan has an old movie feel. The acting is dramatic and the direction ominous. Something is constantly bubbling beneath the surface and the journey is a fantastic roller coaster ride.

Natalie Portman plays the overly competent ballerina, Nina. She knows all the moves and her technique is flawless. However, what holds Nina back is her lack of artistic raw energy that can only be achieved if she allows herself to let go. Early on, we see Nina wound so tight it’s easy to she is going to lose it big time! She works hard to be cast as the coveted Swan Queen in Swan Lake. However, the director is riding her ass the whole time because he’s worried she will not be able to pull off the sexy and free Black Swan portion of her role. Nina is furthered threatened by new ballerina Lily who has just flown in from San Francisco (oh, they’re always from San Francisco!) and embodies everything Nina lacks. Nina has her mother on her back, her director, now this Lily keeps popping up, how can Nina not crack?

I think everyone would be shocked if Portman does not bring home the Oscar on Sunday. No other performance comes close to what Portman has done here. The role was such a tight rope that could have easily fallen into camp if left in the wrong hands. Maybe it’s Portman’s lovely face that allows you to be taken in by anything she brings you. Her vulnerability is so intense that you want to jump into the screen and rescue her. The camera loves her face and there are so many close-ups and opportunities to simply gaze upon her loveliness.

This film had it all for me. It’s cool and edgy, yet it has a film noir feel. I can’t wait to buy this On DVD and watch it a million times. It’s truly one of those films that doesn’t come around all the time.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

10 Days 10 Noms - Day Eight

The King's Speech

I one hundred percent believe this film will take home the top prize on Sunday night. And you know what? I’m okay with that.

I honestly saw this film simply because it was nominated. I’m not one of those people who find The British Royal Family very interesting. This film however is great movie making because it engaged me in a subject matter that I thought I didn’t care about. By the end I felt deeply for these characters/real people and I was touched and uplifted. Of all the nominated films this does leave you feeling good. Maybe academy voters will feel we need that right now. Especially that you can invoke these feeling on a film that ends with the start of World War II!

In addition, I think Colin Firth will get Best Actor, but it’s really Geoffrey Rush’s fantastic performance that makes this film. It’s a shame he has to be nominated the same year as Christian Bale. Firth did a fine job, but he’s really getting a career Oscar and not a single performance award like Natalie Portman will.

It was to my benefit that I do not follow British history. I had no idea of the conflict between the future King George VI and his brother, so I was able to be on the edge of my seat wondering how this would all go down. I do have to point out a casting flaw though with Guy Pearce as Firth older brother. In real life, Pearce is seven years younger than Firth and he looks it. I don’t know in real life if this was the case, but it bugged me.

Seeing Helena Bonham-Carter have a nice role where she’s actually acting was also a refreshing change. It made me miss her. She should make it a point to not play scary, weird looking characters who scream all the time.

Sure, Black Swan or Toy Story 3 walking away with this would be awesome, but if we’re going to go with the sure thing (and they always do) at least this is a great solid film that can be enjoyed for years to come. It teaches and entertains and that’s enough in my book.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

10 Days 10 Noms - Day Seven

The Fighter

The Fighter was the other film I felt was a bit weak to receive a Best Picture nomination. This was a “good” film, but it never rose above that level for me. Story wise, there simply wasn’t enough there to catapult this into that greatness of films that will live on. Honestly, can you really say this film blew you away?

The true story of boxing brothers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund takes the audience into the world of professional boxing, drug addiction and family ties.

I did go to the theater to see this and I have to say, half way in I looked at my watch and contemplated if I could take another hour of all the damm screaming in yelling! Most of the film is your worst nightmare of family arguments and crap that keeps spewing over and over. These people keep yelling and everyone is constantly talking at once. Authentic? Maybe. Unbearably annoying? YES!

The film is getting attention because of the acting. Everyone brought their A game, not just Christian Bale. Sometimes quiet performances go unnoticed and I love that Bale has publicly reminded people how wonderful Mark Wallenberg is in this film. His understated performance anchors everyone else and is reminiscent of another performance that I feel was never appreciated enough. It also happens to be another boxing picture. Of course I’m talking about Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby. So, I’m not in any way bad mouthing this film. I appreciate everything it brought to the table, but it felt more like an original film for HBO, not a theatrical release.

I do believe Christian Bale will receive a much deserved Oscar simply for his complete emergence in this role.

Still, in at nutshell, it failed to move me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

10 Days 10 Noms - Day Six

Winter’s Bone
For me, this is the weakest Best Picture nominee. This wasn’t a bad film, it did manage to hold my interest, but it really did not live up to the hype. The little I knew about this film was that a girl had to search for her bail-jumping Father in the Ozarks. I was originally under the impression that this would be a film where the character must face physical and emotional obstacles while rough it in the Ozark Mountains.

Instead, this was scene after scene of this young girl showing up at this low-life’s house and then that one, asking the same question, “Do you know where my Dad is?” Everyone tells her to butt out and stop snooping around, but since she doesn’t, trouble comes a knocking.

I appreciate her desperate situation, but this girl is bright and good and it’s too depressing to watch her in this trapped existence.

In some ways, it was fascinating to get a glimpse into these people lives and this was the driving force in maintaining my interest. I’m happy I don’t know people like this, or know anyone living in this kind of situation. As a movie though, it was quite boring when you break it down. It basically stayed at the same medium pace throughout and never built to a satisfying level of excitement to get the situation solved.

The end also didn’t have much payoff in my opinion. It was interesting that I rented this DVD to see what the big deal was. When it was over I thought, “eh.” The very next day it received a Best Picture Nomination!

Jennifer Lawrence and Dale Dickey both turned out fine performances and it was nice to see Dickey with a meatier role. I remember her from My Name Is Earl and I’ve always enjoyed her. Lawrence is a young actress to watch. Hailee Steinfeld turned in the better performance, but at least Lawrence is nominated in the proper category.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

10 Noms 10 Days - Day Five

The Kids Are All RightI believe this film ties Toy Story 3 as one of the oldest films nominated. This was a smaller summer release and it took awhile for it to gain steam. While some people had issues with how this storyline was handled, I forgive its flaws and comfortably say it was one of my most enjoyed flicks of 2010. As fabulous as Benning and Moore were, I must give it up to Mark Ruffalo was his kick ass performance. If he wasn’t in the toughest category, Best Supporting Actor, he’d have this wrapped up. It’s sad that his wonderful performance has to be over shadowed in a year with Geoffrey Rush and Christian Bale. It’s almost unfair. If you missed this on in the theaters, please give it watch on DVD. Here’s my original glowing review. By the way, it had a great soundtrack too.

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four

Friday, February 18, 2011

10 Days 10 Noms - Day Four

The Social Network will not win Best Picture. I enjoyed this film and I thought it was well done for what could have been very boring subject matter. Admit it, when you first heard about the “Facebook movie” you thought it would be crap. It’s a thoughtful look at what defines ownership and how our society is more connected yet alone all at the same time. Like Catfish, I think it’s an important film to watch, it’s just not a fantastic as everyone is making it out to be. This was my original review.
Day One
Day Two
Day Three

Monday, February 14, 2011

10 Noms 10 Days - Day Three

True Grit was a worthy remake. I enjoyed some of the changes made to this John Wayne classic, others I question. While I’m sure this stayed more faithful to the original novel, I feel the original filmmakers made good choices. Read my original review here. I recommend watching both. Jeff Bridges doesn’t stand a chance after winning last year. Hailee Steinfeld has a good shot at winning Best Supporting Actress, but since she was clearly the main character of the film, a supporting win takes a bit of the shimmer off.

Day One
Day Two

Sunday, February 13, 2011

10 Noms 10 Days - Day Two

I was so excited to see Inception. I enjoy all the actors involved with this film and I love plot lines that make you think. I ended up being disappointed. Here’s my original review. This film is currently available on DVD and I do feel like I should give it another chance because honestly, I did sleep through a large portion of it. On the other hand, I feel if it was riveting enough, it should have kept me awake! I mean it’s not like I was drunk, or got of super early that day, or worked twelve hours. I never fall asleep in the theater. So I’m sorry Inception, you have to accept some of the responsibility for that!

Day One

Saturday, February 12, 2011

10 Noms 10 Days - Day One

Welcome to 10 Days 10 Nominated Films. I hope you’re as excited about the upcoming Academy Awards as I am. It’s basically my Superbowl. I will not cook dinner, I expect to be left alone and I don’t want any complaints about my screaming and yelling! Of course these could be happy cries or a screaming banshee who has been wronged. It can go either way.

I want to take the next 10 days to breakdown each nominated film. Some I’ve already reviewed here on the couch. Others I never got around to. Now though, I’ll cover them all and tell you what I think will win and what I wish would win.

Let’s start with the last film I saw, 127 Hours. This film stars James Franco, who also earned a Best Actor nomination and rightly so. This film is about 98% James Franco. Few films have to rely so much on one person, so they whole weight of the film is on his shoulders.

This is based on the true story of Aron Rolson and his autobiography Between a Rock and A Hard Place. It’s more than just a story of survival, but how important it is for us to truly connect with the people in our lives and to never take the life that has been given to you for granted.

Strictly as a movie, this rests on the shoulders of James Franco and he delivers. Most of this movie is him trapped and we see his ramblings, escape ideas, pain, regret, goofiness, you name it. Franco is called upon to go through the whole range of emotions with a camera right in his face. If it doesn’t seem like a huge acting challenge, I would say that’s the comfort and brilliance of Franco as an actor. This is a guy who always gives 100%. This is displayed in a prestigious performance like in Milk and what some might consider a throw away like Spiderman. Franco is always going to bring his A game.

This film was thankfully short, clocking in at 94 minutes, it was however, riveting. Even if you know the final outcome, it’s still impossible to not suffer right along with Aron Rolston and the decisions he must make to survive.

So do I think Franco deserves the Best Actor Oscar? Yes, actually I think he does. Will he get it? No. This is one where the Academy thinks we have some time to get more solid work from Franco. He’s still a bit all over the place and I don’t feel he’s taken seriously enough. I look forward to his hosting gig on awards night and his graciousness when Colin Firth wins over him. Hang in there James Franco. Your day will come.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This is why I love James Franco

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Intro - James Franco Is Stuck Under the Mini-Fridge
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

I can't wait till James Franco hosts The Academy Awards on February 27th. This guy is such a breath of fresh air. He loves life and wants to take in everything it has to offer. Going for a PhD in English at Yale may sound a bit high brow, but don't worry, this year Franco also gave a twist with a stint on General Hospital. Wow, that must have been a career killer. What was that kid thinking? Wrap it all up with an Academy Award nomination for a stunning performance in 127 Hours and I think we can safely step aside and just let Mr. Franco do whatever he wants. Enjoy this clip from The Daily Show, I was in hysterics!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Song of the Week - Light You Up

Light you Up - Shawn Mullins
This is the song I'm digging right now. Usually, I like to turn you on to some old favorites, but this new one is the tune that's in constant rotation for me at the moment. Man, that is one deep sexy voice on you Mr. Mullins!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I Did It!

I finally managed to see all 10 Oscar nominated films. Last Saturday I got in the last one...127 Hours. I missed it the first time around and luckily, it was re-released after the nominations. Join me as I count down the ten nominated films before the big day on February 27th. Some of these films I already reviewed, some I never got around to, and heck, some of them I just saw! Starting Saturday I'll review 10 movies in ten days. I hope you'll be here to chat about some of your favorites with me.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Greenberg - DVD Review

Luckily, I did not see this in the theater. My daughter and I caught this trailer when we saw The Kids Are All Right. We almost went back and to see this piece of crap.

Honestly, I did not like a single thing in this film. I love little indie films about people finding their way in life, reconnecting and maybe mending some fences along the way. This was not one of those films.

Ben Stiller plays Roger Greenburg, a 40-something slacker who comes from New York to Los Angeles to house sit for his brother. There’s more to the job than house sitting though. Roger wants to use the opportunity to re-connect with family and friends and maybe move back. He basically only has one friend who’s willing to hang out with him; everyone else in his past remembers him as an asshole and quickly sees that he hasn’t really made any large strides in changing that area of his life.

Roger’s brother also has a nanny/personal assistant, the young Florence played by Greta Gerwig. She is also around the house taking care of minor details while the family is away. She is finds Roger appealing but distant. The film centers are their interaction and possibly budding romance.

Ben Stiller, who is a good dramatic actor, comes off as such a jerk that you really have no sympathy or desire to see him turn his life around. If the point of this film is portray those friends you’ve clearly outgrown and they do nothing but bring you down and suck the life out of you, well mission accomplished. However, I fail to see why I would want to watch this drip of guy for almost two hours.

I keep hearing all these great things about Greta Gerwig who plays Florence. Maybe she is a good actress; I’ll have to wait to see her in something else. No, I’m not going to sit through No Strings Attached just see if she’s any better in that film. Here, she seems to have attended the Kristen Stewart School of Acting. She talks low and appears to have recently got up from a long nap. I really hate young female movie characters with this personality. They seem to meandered through the films and will fall for the male lead simply because he’s the male lead, even if he’s a jerk or treats them like crap. I’m much more inclined to root for a characters like Emma Stone in Easy A or Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer. These sleepy, go-with-the-flow-even-when-the-guy-is-a-jerk characters are a huge turn off for me. It gives the impression that guys don’t have to try that hard and they’ll still find a good women who will see the one tiny shred of redeeming quality he may inhabit.

Lastly, could this movie make sex look any less appealing? Geesh, I’m not expecting Cinemax, but the characters looked like they have sex when there’s nothing else left to do. Could we feel a little bit of heat between our main characters? Really, it was like, “Oh we should have sex now.” Sigh…“Let’s get to it.”

So I can’t recommend this one. If you disagree with me, I sure like to hear what made this film work for you.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Parks and Recreation - They're Back!

After a much too long hiatus, Parks and Recreation returned to the NBC lineup a couple of weeks ago. What a joy! I have loved this show since its premiere. It took awhile to gain its steam for some viewers, but I always new this show would be here for the long haul.

Frankly, NBC doesn’t get enough credit for airing some of the better sitcoms out there right now. Community, Parks and Rec and 30 Rock are all laugh-out-loud solid sitcoms. I know all the attention goes to The Office, but that show doesn’t really do it for me. I’m a forever snob for the original Ricky Gervais incarnation.

Parks and Rec has endearing characters, not to mention that last week’s episode with Leslie Knope had me laughing my ass off! It’s a show with heart, but it can bring the funny. One of the things I enjoy about this show is how much these people love their little town and the tireless work they do. In real time, we see so many negative things about our government and we’re often led to believe that government, city and state workers don’t really work at all. It’s refreshing to shed a light on people who work hard, none of them more than Leslie Knope herself.

I live in California and there have been lots of cutbacks and furloughs in my state, yet I constantly hear stories of workers coming in on those furlough days because it’s important to them that the work gets done. So sure, this show is played for laughs and the characters are over the top and quirky, but it warms my heart to watch Leslie “round up the troops.” They are all excited to get back to work.

Parks and Recreation is a show that accurately reflects our times in more ways then one. On one side, it shows the little guy who works hard amidst budget cuts and a struggling economy. As a television show, it also shows the network bigwigs that sitcoms do still have a place on our prime time lineup. After a hard day’s work, I don’t want to watch cops shooting people or crime scene investigators, man, I just want to laugh!

If you haven’t discovered this great show yet, do yourself a favor and get acquainted with the residents of Pawnee.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Despicable Me - DVD Review

Originally, this film was not on my list at all. Over the years I’ve become quite picky about my animated films. Now with computer technology, studios seem to churn out tons of crap. Round up some celebrity voices and create some characters that you can make toys from and gosh darn, we have a movie! I kept confusing the plot of Despicable Me with Megamind and frankly, those minions looked like they would annoy me as much as Jar Jar Binks. You know though, when you go to one of those Redboxes, it’s hard to get just one movie. They’re only a buck for crying out loud. So last Friday I walked away with The Town, Red and Despicable Me.

I popped in Despicable Me first. It took awhile for me to get into which is sort of the kiss of death for a kid’s movie. The plot line was a bit involved for young ones. I flipped through my new issue of Entertainment Weekly and almost turned it off. Then I got to this scene where Gru reads a bedtime story to the kids. I laughed my butt off! After that they had me. The minions actually made me laugh and I found myself tearing up at the end. I might have to watch it again because I may have been slightly unfair to the first half. The story line was creative and the animation was fantastic in many scenes. Sure it’s no Toy Story, but that’s not a fair comparison. If my kids were still little, I’d buy this movie for them and I would happily watch the bedtime story scene again and again.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Song of the Week - Fall on Me

Fall On Me – R.E.M.
It’s very interesting to me that R.E.M. gets so much radio play, yet I never hear this song. In 1986 this was my first taste of R.E.M. They would go on to have more popular songs, but for me, they never topped this one. Michael Stipe’s voice is haunting.