Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Godfather pt II by Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola took cinema by storm in 1974 being nominated for 5 Oscars over the course of two films - The Conversation and the Best Picture winner (this one) The Godfather pt. II. This film continues the saga of Michael Corleone but it also goes back to the turn of the century and tells us the story of the young Vito Corleone, played stunningly by a very young Robert De Niro who also played in Martin Scorsese's break out film Mean Streets in 1974, but for his role as Vito Corleone he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (his first of two Oscars he won for impersonating the legandary Marlon Brando).

Casablanca by Michael Crutiz

In 1942 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded their top prize to a film that has gone down in history as not only one of the greatest American films ever made...but the most quotable. Think about it: Humphrey Bogart alone has secveral lines that will not ever be forgotten. This film is Casablanca and in 2007 the American Film Institute said that it was the third greatest film ever in American cinema. Humphrey is the greatest distant romantic lead of all time, and there are few women ever born onto this Earth who are more beautiful than Ingrid Bergman was in 1942. With its sense of Romance, Mystery, Intrigue and Tragic Sacrifice of self-intrest Casablanca has lived on long after the second World War and will continue to live on as a classic American piece of art for a long time into the future.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dr. Strangelove by Stanley Kubrick

Don't let the name fool you, Stanley Kubrick's 1964 romp has little to do with the infamous Dr. Strangelove. The film does have almost everything to do with the oft forgotten subtitle or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Originally slated to be released on November 22, 1963...but, the studio and Mr. Kubrick felt that it would be inapropriate to release a film that mocks the president the day that he was assassinated. Kubrick's masterpiece is notablly one of the funniest films ever made, and remains so despite not living in the cold war because the threat of nuclear holocaust still exists from time-to-time. When watching this picture, most people notice the brilliant triple performance of the master of comedy, Peter Sellers; however, next time you watch this film watch for the overexagerated facial acting of the wonderful George C. Scott. I promise you will not be disapointed in his performance or the film.

Mystic River by Clint Eastwood

The last time I saw Dave was 30 years ago, he got in a car
and it drove down this road

The ominous words of Jimmy (Sean Penn) resonate with us as Clint Eastwood's Boston based Mystery drama comes to a close. What we have just seen...expirienced goes beyond the conventions of the art of motion picture and pierces straigt to the heart. Captured from the first frame of the film, Eastwood proves that his 1992 masterpiece, Unforgiven, was no fluke (he'd repeat this proof twice more within the next three years). Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon lead what is probably the best single ensemble cast ever put together in a film.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Good Award Nominations

Best Actor
George Clooney - Michael Clayton*2
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will be Blood*
Johnny Depp - Sweeny Todd: Demon Barber or Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones - In the Valley of Ellah
Viggo Mortenson - Eastern Promises

Best Supporting Actor
Casey Afleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford*2
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men*
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie - Away From Her*
Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney - The Savages
Ellen Page - Juno*2

Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There*
Ruby Dee - American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan - Atonement
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone*2
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton

Best Animated Feature
Surf's Up

Art Direction
American Gangster
The Golden Compass
Sweeny Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street*
There WIll be Blood

Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford*
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men*2
There Will be Blood

Costume Design
Across the Universe
Elizabeth: The Golden Age*
La Vie en Rose*2
Sweeny Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will be Blood*2
Joel and Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men*
Tony Gilroy - Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman - Juno
Julian Schnabel - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Best Documentary
No End in Sight*
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Expirience
Taxi to the Darkside

Best Editing
Bourne Ultimatum
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men*
There Will be Blood*2

Foregin Language Picture
Beaufort - Israel*
The Counterfeiters - Austria
Katyn - Poland
Mongol - Kazakhstan
12 - Russia*2

Best Makeup
La Vie en Rose*
Pirates of Carribean: At the World's End

Original Score
The Kite Runner*2
Michael Clayton
3:10 to Yuma

Original Song
Falling Slowly - Once*
Happy Working Song - Enchanted
Raise it Up - August Rush
So Close - Enchanted
That's How You Know - Enchanted*2

Best Picture
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men*
There Will be Blood*2

Sound Editing
Bourne Ultimatum
No Country for Old Men*2
There Will be Blood

Sound Mixing
Bourne Ultimatum
No Country for Old Men*2
3:10 to Yuma

Best Visual Effects
The Golden Compass
Pirates of the Carribean: At the World's End

Best Adapted Screenplay
Away from Her
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men*
There Will be Blood*2

Best Original Screenplay
Lars and the Real Girl
Michael Clayton*2
The Savages

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Coming Soon...

Oscar Nominations - January 22nd

Citizen Kane by Orson Welles

Long held as not only the essential American film, but the greatest film ever made, Citizen Kane is nothing short of a stroke of genius from a master's brush. With the story coming straight from the American dream, Welles' performance is as big as the scope of the story in one of the truly brilliant performances of the 20th century. Aside from the beauty of the story about fleeting childhood, hopes and dreams the film shows us where cinema is headed - technically. With its camera angles that were far from conventional to the deep focus lense that allows us to see the foreground and the background in focus at the same time. In Roger Ebert's Citizen Kane essay out of his book: The Great Movies he talks about a master shot involving Kane walking to a window that looks normal sized before Kane walks to it and we see how large it really is. This is probably my favorite moment in the film for reasons that Mr. Ebert talks about in his essay. Citizen Kane was not the first great film, or American film and it certainly hasn't been the last; but, it is one of the landmarks and beyond that one of the benchmarks in the world of cinema since it was released in 1941 and shall remain that way until film history is forgotten, which I pray will never happen.

Monday, January 14, 2008

2007's Runners-Up

Paris, Je T'aime
A film about falling love, breaking hearts, falling in love again, dying, living, loving, screaming sometimes for no reason...sometimes for a reason, vampires, Oscar Wilde, Muslims, Christians, Comedy, Tragedy, Steve Buschemi and most of all...Paris, the city of love.
Away from Her
Have you ever just let yourself go and be fully consumed by the emotion that a film has layed upon you? If not, watch Away from Her and feel the power of not only Julie Christie's beautiful performance but also the understated and underrated performance of Gorden Pinsent. Watch them as they "redefine the limits of love - as they turn from lovers to strangers."
The touching raunch-fest leaves us with the feeling that we have been touched by true friendship for the first time. It is not often that a raunchy teen comedy can leave its male veiwers with the feeling that someone actually understands their relationships and feelings.
The Hoax
Richard Gere gives a vibrant performance as a man posing as Howard Hughes in the "autobiography" he is writing.
Beautiful, elegant, simple. This Irish musical is so lovely that it is hard to turn away from the grasp of its draw from the opening scene.
Other Notable mentions:
Across the Universe
Sweeny Todd
The Golden Compass
Borne Ultimatum

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese

You talkin' to me?
Has there ever been a more famous line in the history of American cinema? Sure, maybe "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." maybe a couple others. ut, Robert De Niro's line at the stark turning point of Travis Bickle's life in Martin Scorsese's masterpiece Taxi Driver echoes and resonates within the confines of pop culture amoung people who haven't even seen the film. The film is about Travis Bickle, a taxi driver who is sick of the evil in the world and decides to take care of it himself vigalanty style. The main story focuses on him and a 14-year old prostitute (Jodie Foster) he wants to save from a pimp (Harvey Keitel). The script was by Paul Schrader. He and Scorsese would go on to team up several times to make the wonderful: Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Bringing out the Dead.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Fargo by Joel and Ethan Coen

The Coen Brother's Fargo is one of the most exciting crime films ever made. The film cannot be called a drama or a comedy but it lands somewhere in the realm of the two. I have a feeling that with the exception of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (his favorite film) that if Quentin Tarantino could have made a film it would have been Fargo. The dialouge is quick and quirky and the characters are lovable even if you hate them. This may not be the Coen's best work anymore (it was recentally surpassed by the brillant No Country for Old Men) but it is, in a way, more accesable and it is more closely related to their other works.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Juno - Review

Jason Reitman's sophomore effort, Juno, is even better, funnier and more moving than his first effort Thank You for Smoking. Ellen Page gives an effortless performance as Juno MacGuff, the sixteen year old girl who finds herself pregnant after a one time deal with her best friend Paulie Bleaker. J.K. Simmons was also the best performance that he's given in a long time.

Juno was written by Diablo Cody, a first time screenwrite who shows that she has the chops to be around in the film industry for a good long time. The film is both hillarious and deeply moving. It is (tied) as the best film of the year, and if nothing else we'll see Diablo Cody on the stage at Kodak Theatre this February; but, I would not be surprised to see Ellen Page up there as well.

Top 10 Films of 2007

10. The Darjeeling Limited
9. Eastern Promises
8. I'm Not There
7. Knocked Up
6. Zodiac
5. Lars and the Real Girl
4. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
3. Gone Baby Gone

1. Juno
1. No Country for Old Men

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Encahanted - ***

Enchanted could have been disasterous had the wonderful and beautiful Amy Adams not believed so fully in the story. The film shows us that even in a broken world, when we find true love we can still find our happily ever after.

Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - ***

Helena Bohnman Carter steels the Burton/Depp show. She is marvelous in the role of Mrs. Lovett. The story was beautiful as was the filmmaking - I just couldn't help but feel that Depp's performance as the Demon Barber was a little...boring.

Juno tomorrow, top 10 to follow shortly