Month: January 2008

The Great Ape: Review for Peter Jackson’s "King Kong"

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Peter Jackson, famous for the Lord of the Rings films, makes films that are very faithful to, not only the original of what it is based on, but also to his vision of what it should be. King Kong is not exception to this band of greats. Naomi Watts plays Ann Darrow, a hopeful starlet for the new adventure film by Carl Denham. Jack Black plays Carl with surprising ease and skill, considering he is more of a comedic actor. Black not only plays Carl, who is somewhat of a wannabe film maker who’s denied every chance to film a film by those evil producers, with seriousness, he plays him as somewhat of a mad scientist and conniving con artist. Black’s charisma and comedic timing works with the character very well. While trying to film on location on a mysterious Skull Island, the crew of Carl’s film decides to explore the island, only to find carnivorous bugs, dinosaurs, and a giant gorilla. Carl’s screenwriter is the famous Jack Driscoll, who writes plays and begins to fall in love with Ann. Driscoll is played by Adrien Brody, who won an Oscar for The Pianist. He is fine, but he doesn’t really stand out. The real emotional relationship in the film is between Ann and Kong (Andy Serkis, who made the movements for Kong and LOTR‘s Gollumn). Kong finds Ann fascinating, considering he hasn’t seen a human before. During one of their first encounters, Ann bangs her fist against her chest as a sign for “beautiful” towards the end of the film, when the two are on top of the Empire State Building, bangs hiss chest. That is so beautiful and the way Jackson portrays this misbegotten love story is fantastic. This is probably the best remake I have ever seen in my life. The emotion of the original film lingers. The visual effects are excellent and the sets very well made, though I ponder why in many period films, they make the cars in such bright, fluorescent colors. Naomi Watts is absolutely ravishing and acts fantastically in this film. Her protests against the fighter pilots killing the already bullet riddled Kong are heart wrenching. This performance deserves a standing ovation, because it is the visual effects and Watts’s performance that make the story of the tragic love story. The facial expression is so real on Kong. My heart breaks every time when Carl says, “It was beauty that killed the beat.” The most romantic and the saddest films I’ve ever enjoyed watching. This is one of my favorite films of all time.
Grade: A+

The SAG Award Winners

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Here is the list of Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Male Actor in a Drama Series
James Gandolfini, The Sopranos
Female Actor in a Drama Series
Edie Falco, The Sopranos
Ensemble in a Drama Series
The Cast of The Sopranos
Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Ensemble in a Comedy Series
The Cast of The Office
Life Acheivement Award
Charles Durning
Male Actor in a TV Movie or Mini Series
Kevin Kline, As You Like It
Female Actor in a TV Movie or Mini Series
Queen Latifah, Life Support
Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Male Actor in a Leading Role
Daniel Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Female Actor in a Leading Role
Julie Christie, Away From Her
Cast in a Motion Picture
The Cast of No Country for Old Men

Miss Interpretation: Review for "Atonement"

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The long and somewhat confusing adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement, is a masterpiece to behold during the Oscar season. The story of a young girl, Briony Tallis (Oscar nominee, Saorise Ronan, for Best Supporting Actress), who reads a letter that was delivered to her sister, Cecilia (Keira Knightley, ravashing as always), by Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) that featured the C-word and blames him for not only being a pervert, but molesting her sister in the library and her friend Lola. What happens: Robbie is sent to prison, but then joins the army during WWII in 1940. Robbie and Cecilia had been very much in love, but have now been torn apart for what the little girl had done 5 years earlier. She becomes a nurse and then tries to talk with her sister. Robbie is stuck in France in the war, desperate to get home to his Cecilia. The ending is not only emotional, but also a bit shocking. Some may feel tired and restles during the film, but the end of the film will completely change your views, as it did mine. In some sequences, it shows what Briony had witnessed, and then what really happen, going with the point of view, though some may find it hard to make the transition, due to no actual notification of change of scene or fashback. The film is very intricately made and is a wonderful watch. Keira Knightley is beautiful, graceful, and brilliant, though she smokes some eleven or twelve cigarettes. Smokey and the Falsely Accused Bandit, I guess. Young Ronan plays her with great ease. McAvoy and Knightley have great chemistry, real spark on film. This is the kind of film, however, that you have to be in the mood to watch. Dario Marianelli wonderful score, which has been nominated for Best Original Score Academy Award, is wildly creative. When Briony is on screen, a piano and a typewriter start playing an intoxicating little tune that, I suppose, symbolizes that something might happen, typewriters are weapons, and/or a reminder of what happened in the beginning of the film. Joe Wright, who previously directed Ms. Knightley in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, has come back to make a masterpiece of 2007.

Grade: A-

Oscar Fight: The Academy Awards Nominations

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Here is the complete list of nominees for this year’s Oscars.

Best Actor

George Clooney, Michael Clayton

Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah

Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises

Best Supporting Actor

Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

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

Best Supporting Actress

Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There

Ruby Dee, American Gangster

Saoirse Ronan, Atonement

Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone

Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Best Animated Feature

Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud

Brad Bird

Surf’s Up
Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

Best Art Direction

American Gangster
Art Direction: Arthur Max
Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino

Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood
Set Decoration: Katie Spencer

The Golden Compass
Art Direction: Dennis Gassner
Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock

Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Art Direction: Dante Ferretti
Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo

There Will Be Blood
Art Direction: Jack Fisk
Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Best Cinematography

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Roger Deakins

Seamus McGarvey

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Janusz Kaminski

No Country for Old Men
Roger Deakins

There Will Be Blood
Robert Elswit

Best Costume Design

Across the Universe
Albert Wolsky

Jacqueline Durran

Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Alexandra Byrne

La Vie en Rose
Marit Allen

Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Colleen Atwood

Best Director

Julian Shnabel
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Jason Reitman

Tony Gilroy
Michael Clayton

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
No Country for Old Men

Paul Thomas Anderson
There Will Be Blood

Best Documentary Feature

No End in Sight
Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs

Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
Richard E. Robbins

Michael Moore and Meghan O’Hara

Taxi to the Dark Side
Alex Gibney and Eva Orner

Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine

Best Documentary Short Subject

Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth

La Corona (The Crown)
Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega

Salim Baba
Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello

Sari’s Mother
James Longley

Best Film Editing

The Bourne Ultimatum
Christopher Rouse

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Juliette Welfling

Into the Wild
Jay Cassidy

No Country for Old Men
Roderick Jaynes

There Will Be Blood
Dylan Tichenor

Best Foreign Film


The Counterfeiters




Best Makeup

La Vie en Rose
Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald

Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

Best Original Score

Dario Marianelli

The Kite Runner
Alberto Iglesias

Michael Clayton
James Newton Howard

Michael Giacchino

3:10 to Yuma
Marco Beltrami

Best Original Song

“Falling Slowly” from Once
Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

“Happy Working Song” from Enchanted
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

“Raise It Up” from August Rush
Nominees to be determined

“So Close” from Enchanted
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

“That’s How You Know” from Enchanted
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

Best Picture

Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers

Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers

Michael Clayton
Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers

No Country for Old Men
Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers

There Will Be Blood
JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers

Best Animated Short Film

I Met the Walrus
Josh Raskin

Madame Tutli-Putli
Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski

Même Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)
Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse

My Love (Moya Lyubov)
Alexander Petrov

Peter & the Wolf
Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman

Best Live Action Short Film

At Night
Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth

Il Supplente (The Substitute)
Andrea Jublin

Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)
Philippe Pollet-Villard

Tanghi Argentini
Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans

The Tonto Woman
Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown

Best Sound Editing

The Bourne Ultimatum
Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg

No Country for Old Men
Skip Lievsay

Randy Thom and Michael Silvers

There Will Be Blood
Matthew Wood

Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins

Best Sound Mixing

The Bourne Ultimatum
Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis

No Country for Old Men
Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland

Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane

3:10 to Yuma
Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe

Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

Best Visual Effects

The Golden Compass
Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier

Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier

Best Adapted Screenplay

Screenplay by Christopher Hampton

Away from Her
Written by Sarah Polley

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Screenplay by Ronald Harwood

No Country for Old Men
Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

There Will Be Blood
Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

Best Original Screenplay

Written by Diablo Cody

Lars and the Real Girl
Written by Nancy Oliver

Michael Clayton
Written by Tony Gilroy

Screenplay by Brad Bird
Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird

The Savages
Written by Tamara Jenkins

For more on Oscar, click here

Apocolypse Wow: Review for "Cloverfield"

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Somewhat of a homage to monster movies like King Kong, Godzilla, Them!, etc., Cloverfield brings back the old glory days for the monster film to the twenty-first century. The story is relatively simple, and a little boring and cliche: Some of Rob’s friends have held a going away party for him. He’s about to go off to Japan on a job. During this party, there is an “earthquake”. But when they look outside, Lady Liberty’s head comes flying down the street. When they look closely, it’s a giant monster, with little Mini-Monsters on its back, biting people. The army tries (unsuccessfully) to kill this monster. It seems that a giant monster, which resembles a scorpion, spider, and a human, knocking over buildings in NYC. He even takes out Lady Liberty! That scene, in which the Statue of Liberty’s head rolls down the alley brings chills to my bones, since this film is risky, dealing with a post 9/11 era. The poster alone, with Lady missing her head, is something that could have the tag line: “Could Lady Liberty be next?” if it were a political thriller. The amateur footage, I must admit, made me doubtful that this was a good movie when I saw the trailer. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone be filming? I would run the heck away!”. But further evidence from the film gives good reason to the constant filming and documenting. (Like I’m gonna spoil the ending!) The young ens are part of the typical formula, filled with melodramatic and mediocre performances like any other teen flick. But overall, it’s a great film.
Grade: B+