Month: February 2009
The winners of the 81st Academy Awards:
Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona
Best Original Screenplay
Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Best Adapted Screenplay
Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Animated Feature
Best Animated Short
La Maison en Petit Cubes
Best Art Direction
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Costume Design
The Duchess, Michael O’Connor
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Greg Cannom
Best Live Action Short
Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Best Documentary Feature
Man on Wire, James Marsh and Simon Chinn
Best Documentary Short
Smile Pinki, Megan Mylan
Best Visual Effects
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Sound Editing
The Dark Knight, Richard King
Best Sound Mixing
Best Film Editing
Best Original Score
Slumdog Millionaire, A. R. Rahman
Best Original Song
“Jai-Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire, A. R. Rahman and Gulzar
Best Foreign Language Film
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Kate Winslet, The Reader
Sean Penn, Milk
They say there are three subjects you should never speak of in public or with strangers: religion, sex, or politics. Religulous, the new documentary from the director of Borat, is about the first of the three taboos, as you can tell by its almost-at-first-glance-unpronounceable title. Bill Maher, a self-proclaimed non-believer/atheist/comedian hails the documentary with quick wittedness. They go from place to place interviewing people on religion. Their religion, the religion of others, crazy religions, irrational terms that people use in religion, and even a marihuana religion. Luckily, our host isn’t some weirdo going out of his way to offend people without knowing what he’s talking about. At least he’s read his stuff. Not only do they talk about what may be assumed as the main target of Christianity, but he also has discussions with Muslims. He can be a little rough and make jokes that you will undoubtedly frown or wince at, but by the next interview you’re laughing too hard to remember why you were offended. It is enjoyable, albeit a little mean to watch people flabbergasted by the questions put for this by the guy. And sometimes, when they spot who Mr. Maher actually is, the people will throw him out. Why? Probably because they’re too afraid to defend their religion. It’s a very interesting and funny documentary. The one problem is that anyone who sees this and actually knows what it’s about is already, for lack of a better word, “converted”. I do wish that some of my overly zealous friends watch this documentary with an open mind. Do I agree with everything Bill Maher says in this feature? No, but what I believe is irrelovant. Bill Maher isn’t really telling us to leave our religion; he’s merely bringing up questions that could in turn inspire a very passionate conversation…if people were secure enough to discuss it without acting as rashly as some have. He’s also asking us to wise up and notice the flaws of man. The film, an enjoyable hour and forty minutes, ends on a low note. This is not a bad low note, but note as high and as light hearted as the film had been. But the end result is rather satisfying. It will offend you but if you’re smart enough, you’ll engage in a conversation with someone soon as to why they are so faithful to who ever they worship.
Tonight is the night many people have been waiting for. We’ve had to go through the slums of Mumbai to get here. It’s Oscar night. Who will win? What will be the biggest upset? I’ve got the predictions for all of the major categories.
Should Win: Milk has a very, pardon the pun, skim chance of winning. But it’s powerful political story serves up nice and fresh in this time of the unknown.
Will Win: Slumdog Millionairehas got it before you can say “Mumbai”. The critics have fawned over it, with its accolades building steadily higher and higher.
Upset?: Frost/Nixon is a fantastic film, but out of the five may be the weakest, unless it can pull a strong vote for Best Actor (which it won’t) or Director.
Should Win: Richard jenkins’ moving role in The Visitor is the most worthym though the least seen this year.
Will Win: It may be a hard choice for people to choose between Rourke and Sean Penn for Milk. But I think Rourke will win.
Upset?: A great actor and playing the role of a polarizing President, Frank Langella’s performance as Richard Nixon (for which he won a Tony award in 2007) may be an upset winner.
Should Win: Anne Hathaway’s Kym in Rachel Getting Married is a gem among the performances this year. Her dinner toast alone would make an entertaining short film.
Will Win: It’s either 15 time nominee Meryl Streep in John Patrick Shanley’s adaptation of his play Doubt or Kate Winslet’s Nazi in The Reader. I’m going with Streep, who won last for Kramer vs. Kramer.
Upset?: Though she’s young and has plenty of time, Anne Hathaway may be able to pull of an upset.
Best Supporting Actor
Should Win: Robert Downey Jr. should definitely win the Oscar for his hilarious Kirk Lazurus in Tropic Thunder. He pulled off freaking black face! C’mon!
Will Win: Who do you think, the Pope? Heath Ledger will win because of pity votes this year. He was a riveting Joker, though he doesn’t deserve it just because he’s dead.
Upset?: Surely, if there is an upset, which there won’t be, it would be Downey Jr. claiming the statue he deserves.
Best Supporting Actress
Should Win: Viola Davis may have only been on the screen for barely 20 minutes, but she’s made quite a something out of a small role in Doubt.
Will Win: Vicky Christina Barcelona‘s Penelope Cruz may take it or Viola Davis may win.
Upset?: Amy Adams is great actress and she deserves to win…just not this year. Will she? I Doubt it.
Best Animated Feature
Should Win: WALL-E is going to win and should win and if it doesn’t, I’ll sue!
Will Win: Is there any contest? At all? The heart warming Wall-E should take the prize.
Upset?: There won’t be, but if there were, Kung Fu Panda may end up winning.
Should Win: David Finscher pulled off a beautifully designed and wonderfully written adaptation of a ten page story, turning The Curious Case of Benjamin Button into a near masterpiece.
Will Win: There is no contest in this category. Danny Boyle will surely win for Slumdog Millionaire.
Upset?: David Fincher may pull the carpet under Doyle’s feet for the trophy.
Putting moral messages is a messy and dangerous job. You want to make your point but you don’t want to rub it in your audiences’ faces. Subtlety is an art. However just because your message is subtle doesn’t mean it ends being a good movie. Witness: The Most Violent Morality Tale! It’s Saw! The first Saw was actually a good movie with exceptional writing. And then they decided to make it a franchise and it all went downhill from there. Saw IIwas a disappointing film unsurprisingly. Saw III was actually pretty good. Not great but better. Then I lost all hope in humanity with Saw IV. What idiot executive let this film through the system? While at least the first one was actually a story, the rest were simply excuses for torture and voyeurism. And now we have Saw V. The story takes place right after the last film, (which really takes place during Saw III) bringing back Inspector Straum and Jigsaw’s OTHER protegé right from that dingy warehouse. Suspicions are thrown around, there are plenty of flashback scenes, and for some random reason, there are five sets of traps for these other people who don’t really have anything to do with the film. The movie is violent with brutal traps and unremorseful with its graphic agenda. It is certainly better than Saw IV, but still awful to watch. The films are simply becoming excuses to exhibit torture and voyeurism and that is not a good thing at all.
Old men are intelligent. Sometimes stubborn, but very intelligent. They have experienced things we cannot even imagine and sometimes freely discuss those events. But sometimes they are too stuck in the past. Too stuck in an age that, to us may seem irrelevant or old fashioned. They won’t catch up; they don’t want to catch up with the current time. They sometimes hate the idea of an iPod or a PlayStation. Clint Eastwood plays an old man who lives in a very ethnic, if somewhat lower class, neighborhood. He has fought in the Vietnam War and the tensions and grudges have not left him. There are gang wars often and his neighbors are Hmong immigrants, an obvious problem for him. But the neighbor’s kid, who is pressured into carrying out a dirty deed to join a gang, tries to steel Wallace’s (Clint Eastwood) 1972 Gran Torino. This car is his most prized possession. His wife is dead, with her funeral commencing the film. Hid sons are greedy little adult prats who feel sorry that their dad is having a hard time. Sorry for Wallace, you ask? No, sorry for themselves and for the stuff they have to put up with. But they have no idea. He eventually befriends the kid who tried to steel his car by means of repayment (the kid works for him for a week). He also befriends the kid’s sister, a quick witted and smart young woman. The film tackles many things, such as generational differences, racism, and peer pressure. Clint Eastwood is great as the aging old man and this is one of his greatest performances. He also directed the film. However, this isn’t one of his greatest films. It’s excellent, but not the enthralling work I had expected. It was actually quite funny. It certainly isn’t a comedy, nor a “dramedy”, but there are quite a few funny moments. And I wasn’t the only one who was laughing in the theater. The language of the film is amazing. Amazing in the sense that you don’t know when a brief silence from profanity will come. Oh, it’s not only the F-word, it is a plethora of racial slurs. In comparison, you seldom hear any “normal” swears. Many of the epithets I hadn’t even been aware of. This mars the film, but not greatly. The ending is extremely powerful and makes the experience enjoyable. The meaning of life is what makes this film. It’s personification of scars and friendship male a film to watch. A very good, if deafening project from a master.