Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oscar 2011: Winner Predictions

It's time, y'all. Three more days to go. My official write-up of predictions in every category is now posted over at It's a lot of the usual suspects, with three fingers-firmly-crossed predictions in "The Social Network's" favor. And just how up in the air is Supporting Actress? Though I'm not predicting her, I'd love to see an Amy Adams upset.

Anyways, if you want to be the big winner in your office Oscar pool, you should probably venture elsewhere (I haven't the most stellar track record). But if you want a fun and insightful read that'll lead you to most of the right picks, CLICK HERE.

'Vanishing on 7th Street' Review

Here's a movie you've probably never heard of and probably won't find in your local listings, which is just as well. Though born from a terribly high concept with potential for stylish suspense, it's a considerable failure, specifically on the part of director Brad Anderson ("The Machinist"). Plus, steeering the ship is Anakin Skywalker, who remains doggedly insistent upon reminding us:

Catch my full review of "Vanishing on 7th Street," now online at CLICK HERE.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

'Cedar Rapids' Review

A sweet surprise, this one, with the lovable fingerprints of co-exec. producer Alexander Payne all over it. Not that it was by any means a Eureka! discussion, but I was just chatting with someone about films that achieve success by applying sharp and endearing quirks to beaten-to-death frameworks. "Cedar Rapids" is a fine example of precisely that.

Anne Heche and Ed Helms. How is his career bigger than hers?
Catch my full review of this Middle-America-workplace indie, now online at CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Your Ads Have Been Adjusted: NYC Subway Movie Posters

Last week I spent three days in New York (yay!), and thankfully left town just as Maksim Gelman was in the midst of his very scary killing spree. Me, I wasn't stabbing people in the subway, but checking out the many landscape-format superposters that line the underground walls. These are the filmic images that thousands of folks gaze at every day, and they undoubtedly influence a whole lot of movie-ticket purchases. But how many people look closer? How many are content with the movie ads they're fed? I wasn't, and here's what I gathered (anger alert!). 

First we have the new one-sheets for "The Adjustment Bureau," which are waiting for you around just about every other corner in Midtown. This film has seemed pretty banal to me from the get-go, so I'm not about to be swayed by any new approach to its marketing; however, I will say I like the sleeked-out look, a sort of silver-nitrate-dipped update of a certain 2007 poster. These babies feature glossy, doctored shots of stars Emily Blunt, John Slattery and Matt Damon, the latter of whom looks the most striking -- not, mind you, because he's giving that inquisitive, action-hero stare, but because Matt Damon hasn't looked that good IN YEARS. Perhaps these pics were snapped at the start of this film's ages-ago shoot, but the more likely scenario is that somebody's taking some serious Photoshop liberties. The last time I saw Matt Damon in a magazine, he looked like my uncle (and he's OLD).

False. Advertising.

And speaking of obnoxiously. clipping. words. with. periods., the poster for "Take Me Home Tonight," with its "Best. Night. Ever." tagline, has made it unequivocally official: "Best/Worst. ___________. Ever." is no longer cool or acceptable by any means. In a very short amount of time, I've heard it in at least two Super Bowl ads, another commercial, seen it in magazines, and seen it on this poster. We've jumped the shark with this one, kids. It was hip for a hot minute when it was blowing up people's Facebook walls, but the marketing powers that be have now harnessed it and butchered it as per usual. I hereby declare that those who pull the "Best/Worst. ___________. Ever." card in my presence will get a wicked stink eye and a high sh*t-list placement. It's just. not. cool. anymore.

Oh My Gooood, and then there's "Just Go With It," a Hollywood project that's just so pathetically tragic. The title is fist-to-the-gut indicative of our pushover moviegoing public, who will totally heed the call and send this sure-to-be-nightmare to top of the charts.

Don't tempt me with those fists, Sandler

And what the hell is going on with Jennifer Aniston's career? The hubby and I have been watching "Friends" reruns lately, and all I keep thinking about is how low Rachel Green has plummeted. Does her agent actually hate her guts, or does she just have the worst taste of any major actress? The probable answer, at least to why she boarded this particular ship, is Adam Sandler offered her an enormous check, just as he did his fellow laugh- and life-syphoners in "Grown Ups." Which is pretty much where the conversation ends with me in terms of any future Sandler project. I will never forgive him for "Grown Ups." Ever. Not even if "Big Daddy 2" came out and starred puppies instead of blonde 8-year-olds. "What do you define as the lowest depth of misery?" Vanity Fair's Proust Questionaire asks each month. "Just Go With It" would probably be a good place to start.

Then, of course, we have...

...well, we'll just leave that one be.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

'The Eagle' Review

"The Eagle" surely isn't a movie you expect to suck, seeing as it at least has scenery on its side. But not even rocky Roman hills or the chiseled majesty of Jamie Bell's abs and Channing Tatum's jawline can better the jabbing irritation of this broadsword adventure.

My full review of the film is now online at It's my first one-star review of 2011. CLICK HERE to read  it.

*Perfectionist's Note:  In the body of the review, the first paragraph is supposed to end with "does not a fine performer make," not "does not make a  fine performer." I'm no stylistic slouch.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Linking Ben, Dakota and Elle

I've had the great pleasure of becoming a regular contributor at the newly-revamped The Film Experience, Nathaniel Rogers's singular cinematic haven.

Today I offered a post about Mr. Ben Affleck, the snubbing of "The Town" and where the actor-turned director is headed next. READ IT.

Also, last month I contributed a wee post about Dakota Fanning and her sister, Elle, and how the two even trumped their female directors with their 2010 performances.

I forgot to link it upon posting, but it can be found HERE.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Little Oscar Music

Call me lame, but I always get into the songs that get nominated for Oscar, even if they fall into genres I don't usually go for (in no other capacity would I ever groove to Three 6 Mafia's "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"). Music is just that much better when it's linked to the movies, is it not? Not to mention I have fine memories of great Oscarcast performances, namely Beyonce's trio of showstoppers in 2005. I re-watch those for fun.

Let's have a listen to this year's five nominated tunes, shall we? There's "I See the Light," from "Tangled," which brings us right back to one of 2010's most gorgeous moments in film:

Then we have "We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3," which marks the 20th (!) career Oscar nod for Randy Newman:

Next up is "Coming Home" from "Country Strong," which I'll admit I totally love. Please, please, please let Gwyneth perform this on Oscar night:

"Slumdog Millionaire's" A.R. Rahman has the next track, the "127 Hours" anthem, "If I Rise." This one's a bit of a snooze, and I really can't tell what Dido is saying, but I love that A.R. Rahman, especially when he has the Pussycat Dolls in the studio:

Finally there's...oh, I'm sorry, did I say five nominees? My mistake. I guess I was just still pretending that the music branch didn't actually snub everyone's favorite diva ballad of 2010. Silly me:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

'Biutiful' Review

Without even having seen "Biutiful," I was terribly pleased to hear Javier Bardem's name announced on Oscar morning. I'm all about worldly and qualitative thinking when it comes to awardage, and I'm all about Bardem, who, even if he is still riding the wave of his 2007 win, is hugely, naturally talented. Now I've seen the film, and he earned that nod.

And so, for that matter, did Alejandro González Iñárritu, whom I've greatly admired since his debut, "Amores Perros" (which, admittedly, he has yet to top). He's emotionally, narratively and environmentally ambitious -- he tells intimate stories but in big worlds with big, crushing feelings. Catch my full review of "Biutiful," now online at CLICK HERE.