Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar journal

Each year I torment myself by watching the ultimate display of Hollywood superficiality, publicity and "slap-ourselves-on-the-back" via the Oscars. Here is the minute by minute recap of my thoughts as it took place.

6:17 [central time zone] Let the phoniness begin!

6:27...The typical over-reacting TV weathermen are talking about a storm in Kansas. That's right, Kansas. I guess Kansas doesn't have fancy doppler to alert viewers that it's storming? So, I'm not watching the red-carpet festivities due to a ridiculous local TV station.

7:22...I guess the storm is farther into Kansas now since the broadcast is back on. Halle Berry--how can someone so hot keep attaching herself to "loser" guys? At some point, can we start blaming HB for her disastrous romantic choices?

7:38...Co-hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco--lame choices and a lame start. Why couldn't Alec Baldwin host again by himself? Or, anyone else. How can two people who have done as little as Hathaway and Franco get this job? Awh, they want to attract the young. We'll see, but it's not a good start when you've got a mom popping up from stands regarding Hathaway's posture. Cringe.

7:39...Hathaway is acting like she's hosting Saturday Night Live. It's going to be a long night if this is their style.

7:42...So let me understand this--producers wanted to attract a younger demographic for the telecast so right off the bat there's a Gone With the Wind reference? Fifteen minutes in and the show feels like watching paint dry.

7:57...Kirk Douglas is hitting on Hathaway and she's swooning. I just find it sad and exploitive he's out there like this. Melissa Leo wins for supporting actress and is fake, fake, fake. I used to like her, but now I'm not sure. She drops an f-bomb and then steals Douglas cane on the walk-off for some reason.

8:01...That's what Hathaway and Franco call a quip? They are a tag-team of horrible. Hathaway's idea of a quip is to squeal or whoop loudly. She's acting like a cheerleader at a pep-rally. SJ just commented that Franco isn't trying and Hathaway's trying to hard. It's not a good mix.

8:26...Why couldn't Russell Brand and Helen Mirren been the hosts? They have more chemistry than the two nitwits tormenting me at every opportunity. And Franco claimed Ricky Gervais bombed at the Golden Globes? Can someone get these two a mirror so they can see what it truly looks like to bomb?

8:30...Best foreign film Oscar doesn't go to Dogtooth, but rent this Greek film and be blown away.

8:33...I love John Hawkes, but I'm happy for Christian Bale winning for supporting actor. Good speech too. Off the cuff, not overly-scripted, that's how it's done.

8:41...Nicole Kidman's plasticine face on display. I won't mention it.

8:55...Marisa Tomei. Highlight of the evening so far. Let her host!

9:17...Luke Matheny's speech is best of the night so far. I need to see his short God of Love. Let him host!

9:21...The autotune montage is the best moment of the night and I actually laughed for the first time. Two hours in and I hadn't chuckled once, but that was so ridiculous and a jab at how you really need no talent to autotune a melody out.

10:03...Harvey Weinstein just bought Tom Hooper the award for best director. Astute readers know what I'm talking about here.

10:39...Weinstein strikes again! The King's Speech is a good movie, but the man knows how to buy Oscar wins like nobody's business.

Epilogue...One of the worst Oscars in memory. The choice of James Franco and Anne Hathaway was a complete and utter train wreck that supplied enough cringe-worthy moments it might damage their careers slightly. She was like an over-eager kid playing grown-up and he was like a surly kid who didn't want to be on the stage at all. I don't know who came off worse between the pair of them as they were both horrible for different reasons. I know I don't want to see either of them on TV or in a movie for awhile.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Stephanie Huettner's tops [part two]

As promised two days ago, here is the rest of guest blogger Stephanie Huettner's tops in 2010.

#6 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 -- Stick your nose up at this series and this film if you want, but you're the one who is missing out (I'm looking at you, Vern Snackwell). I was ecstatic when I heard that the final book in the series of The Boy Who Lived would be getting a two-movie treatment. After seeing David Yates' brilliant and edgy first installment, I can't wait for the second. I wish I could post the “Snatchers Chase” through the forest, my favorite scene, but it isn't to be found anywhere except in the film at this point. So, go see it!

#5 Waking Sleeping Beauty -- This wonderful documentary played at SXSW 2010 and I was sadly unable to see it there. The subject matter, the revival of Disney animated films between 1984 and 1994, would be interesting no matter what. However, this goes beyond interesting and becomes an engaging, well-crafted, fascinating story of the history of Walt Disney Studios, a character study of the major players behind the scenes, and the events surrounding this special period of rebirth at the magic kingdom. After giving a general overview of the tradition of animated movies at Disney, the film smoothly segues to the early 80s, when hand- drawn animation was considered a dead art form and the studio's latest animated work, The Black Cauldron, came in over-budget and underperformed at the box office. From that point on, the focus is on the business, personnel and creative choices which led to the resurgence of animation in pop culture and to the creation of many classic films (including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King) in such a short time span. The movie itself is so tightly knit and well constructed, taking advantage not only of the ample press footage from over the years, but also a treasure trove of behind- the-scenes material made by people who worked at the studio. These home videos include such gems as a young and very strange Tim Burton working at his animation table to the entire animation staff re-enacting Apocalypse Now as they waited to hear whether they'd all been laid off. The editing is some of the best I've seen in any film this year and certainly much better than the average documentary. Rather than constantly cutting back to talking heads, the films introduces the main characters, and then identifies their voice for the rest of the film with an on-screen talk bubble. It manages to cram in so much information about so many things without losing the thread that it's absolutely mind-boggling. Waking Sleeping Beauty is a tribute to artists and their belief in the potential greatness of animation when there is true talent and dedication involved.

#4 How to Train Your Dragon -- Speaking of the potential greatness of animation, I get to my #4 film of the year. One of many breathtakingly beautiful shots in this movie is a simple transition shot. A flyover view of some rocky hilltops near the Viking village where the film is set. The care and detail on display in this one shot is representative of the entire film. A fellow film buff friend, whose main forte is horror, said that this is easily his favorite 3D film ever. While the bar may have been set low for 3D recently, this is one of the very few who have used 3D as more than a gimmick. Rather than have one or two shots wherein a dragon claw lunges out at the viewer, the filmmakers gave the setting a gorgeous depth. They also took the time to do this with their characters. Like last year's brilliant Coraline, this film expands on, and improves on, the book upon which it's based. I've read one of the Dragon books (written by Cressida Cowell) and found it cute and fun. The film, however, is that plus a whole lot more. The story centers on Hiccup, a young Viking who is small in stature and doesn't quite fit in with the rest of his tribe, who spend most of their time thinking about how to kill things. Their main focus is dragons, who are prone to stealing the village sheep and destroying their huts. Hiccup uses his blacksmithing skills and intellect to create a long-range sling shot which he employs to down a dragon during one of their raids. He intends to kill it later and bring it back to the village, proving himself a true Viking. When he finds the injured dragon in the woods, he is unable to complete the kill. Instead, he feels overwhelming compassion for the creature he has wounded so severely that it is now unable to fly more than a few feet at a time. He eventually decides that he will find a way to restore the dragon's flight and live in harmony with the creature. This may sound trite, but in the context of the film, it's a boy who is choosing to reject his people and social identity in order to help someone he's been taught to hate. A particularly moving sequence is when Hiccup takes the dragon, named Toothless, flying for the first time since his injury. They are both completely dependent on one another to fly successfully and have chosen to trust the other with their life. This sequence also features one of the best pieces of music from John Powell's amazing and moving score, which is rightfully up for an Academy Award. How to Train Your Dragon is a story of empathy, sacrifice and the courage to change. Toy Story 3 will obviously get the Oscar, but this movie won my heart.

#3 The Social Network -- It isn't really necessary to pile even more praise on top of this film, but it's every bit as good as it's been hyped up to be. The first scene is rocky, as Aaron Sorkin's unnaturally-paced, eye roll inducing dialogue throws the audience head first in to a world full of people with brilliant minds but dim personalities. The central character in this web is Mark Zuckerberg. He made his name and fortune with the titular idea (dubbed Facebook, if you hadn't heard) but is, according to the film and the book on which it's based, a social retard. As played by Jesse Eisenberg, he's one hell of a fascinating character. Eisenberg has long gotten the short shrift as an actor, despite turning in brilliant performances in films like Rodger Dodger and The Squid and the Whale. He is finally getting his due with this film, making a seemingly unlikeable person sympathetic. The scope of the film is of an insular world on a grand scale. Some critics compared it to Citizen Kane, and I think that's accurate insofar as it concerns a small core group of people who, through their actions or just through social connections, cast a wide net throughout the world. At a panel at the 2010 Austin Film Festival, Kenneth Turan cited The Social Network as the antidote to the onslaught of ridiculous, low-brow silliness that has flowed through the Hollywood pipeline this year. He professed a hope that this is a sign that Hollywood can still produce great, adult, complex movies. If not, at least we got this one.

#2 Roger's Pass -- This one is another festival favorite of mine. At the 2010 Austin Film Festival, which included heavy hitters like Black Swan and 127 Hours, this was my clear favorite. The endless string of cutesy indie flicks which proclaim they have heart and sincerity could learn a lot from this film. The film opens with an animated sequence which outlines the main character's upbringing and his relationship with various members of his family. While it's cute and funny, is not a superfluous bit of fluff for cheap laughs. Every character shown in this sequence is an important member of the ensemble. The film's log line is “Roger's Pass is a dramatic comedy about a disjointed family forced to come together under tragic circumstances and discover what really matters most.” That's enough plot explanation, as it isn't really the plot that matters most. The film reminds me of David Gordon Green's All the Real Girls. The two are not alike in tone or storyline, but they are both filled to the brim with great characters who all have a distinct personality. They also take a theme that has been done to death and manage to infuse it with life and originality. Both are also incredibly funny in an organic and genuine way. It's worth mentioning that most of the film's cast also worked in some capacity on the crew and that a few people play themselves. The passion, hard work and love that went in to the film are clearly felt and I recommend it to everyone who truly loves movies.

#1 Winter's Bone -- This film has been the easy favorite for me since March, when I saw it at SXSW. I was immediately drawn in by the opening music: a downbeat, low hymn to Missouri played over shots of two children playing in a wooded yard. Toys litter the porch and ground around the house, which is well-kept but rundown. These images are enough to let us know where we are and what life is like around here. The creation of this kind of instant atmosphere is extremely rare impressive. I will forgive a lot in a film if it manages to create good atmosphere. Luckily, there's not much to forgive in this film. The rundown house belongs to the Dolly family. The de-facto head of the family is 17-year-old Ree. She is played with quiet force by Jennifer Lawrence, whose ability to command the screen seems effortless. I learned from the post-screening Q&A that many of the film's actors, including the two children at the beginning, are locals. Lawrence and her professional co-stars (including Deadwood veterans John Hawkes and Garret Dillahunt) all do an impeccable job of blending in with the Ozark crowd. Within the first five minutes of the film, Ree is informed by the local Sheriff (Dillahunt) that her father, a notorious ne'er do well, has failed to show up for a court date. This doesn't surprise Ree. In fact, she accepts the news as if it is the least of her worries. Unfortunately, her father posted the house as bail, and if he isn't found by the end of the week, she and her younger siblings will be homeless. From this point on, the film is equal parts thriller, family drama, sociocultural study and detective story as Ree sets off to find out what has become of the Dolly patriarch. This need for answers leads her on a Homeric quest through her county, which comprises the whole of her world. The audience is taken on a tour of a part of the country which is rich in natural beauty, history and culture, but is economically deflated. The social system is a complex puzzle, which the screenplay (based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell) artfully navigates. Friends, and even family, whom it seems should jump to Ree's aid, often respond to her questions and pleas for information with apathy or even violence.Winter's Bone is an intense, brilliantly crafted, straightforward film which casts a strange and wondrous enchantment on the viewer.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Stephanie Huettner's tops in 2010 [part one]

Sorry it took me so long between posts. I was trying to figure out how to imbed videos into our next guest blogger's "tops" in 2010. I wanted to get it how she wanted it since she spent so much time working on the copy. No video though as I'm giving up on that. Posters will have to do--Sorry Stephanie! Here's part one of her favorites from the year with part two coming in two days.

Stephanie Huettner (AKA Rumblefish on CineRobot) is from Tulsa, Okla. but has lived in Austin, tx
since 2002. She is an aspiring actress and has produced a number of independent short films, including
I Am Nick Robinson, The Peacemaker, Harvest Home, Mighty Mutant Mollusks, and the upcoming The 
Garden and the Wilderness. Stephanie is also a freelance writer. Her work includes a series for, entitled “She Wants Revenge,”  and the Austin Kung Fu Academy blog

Honorable Mentions: Red Riding 1983, Toy Story 3, The Tillman Story, The Fighter, Black Swan, 127 Hours, Micmacs, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, True Grit, Winnebago Man, The A-Team and The Stieg Larsson trilogy (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo/Who Played With Fire/Kicked the Hornet's Nest).

#12 Restrepo -- Since the beginning of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, there have been a great number of documentaries about the war and the soldiers who fight it. This one is the best I've seen. The log line is: “A year with one platoon in the deadliest valley in Afghanistan.” That pretty much sums it up. The interviews with those who survived are deft, intelligent and moving. The editing is tight and flawless and the film respectfully avoids trying to spoon-feed the audience a message. Bravo.

#11 The King's Speech -- I knew that this would be really good, even though the synopsis makes it sound hilariously silly. Vern Snackwell and I joked that it sounds like the fake art house movie made up for when an actor within a film is nominated for an Oscar and they need movies to fill out the other nominees (think the end of Tropic Thunder). Colin Firth as a stuttering king and the speech therapist who saved him. No? Just me and Vern who think like that? Oh well. It is really good, as all word of mouth led me to believe. It's also unexpectedly gorgeous (Danny Cohen has been given a deserved Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography), expectedly moving, charming, educational, perfectly paced and has the usual stellar British ensemble. When Timothy Spall showed up in his first scene as Winston Churchill, my friend next to me gave a chuckle of approval. When he came on for his last scene, the same friend leaned over and whispered: “Good Churchill. GOOD Churchill!” Good everything in this one.

#10 Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World -- And the award for most underrated, screwed-over film of the year goes to... So, this movie's stunning visuals don't earn it an Oscar nomination, but the TV movie-quality tsunami from Hereafter gets a nod? Whatever. This movie may have bombed at the box office, but it will surely pick itself up in a video release and become a cult favorite. I was pretty stoked to see this on opening night at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, a city where it was marketed heavily. I went with nine friends who are all huge fans of the books (I have not read them) and dressed up as characters. Edgar Wright also gave everyone in my theater a high five for being his first paying audience. Yup, he ran up and down the rows of 300 people and high fived every single one. With that kind of hype, you'd think I was destined to be disappointed, no matter how good the movie was. Instead, it exceeded expectations by a mile or two. There's no point in describing the plot, as it would basically take as much time as just watching the movie. Kieran Culkin makes a welcome return to film with his fantastic portrayal of Scott's roommate, Wallace, and Allison Pill continues to show her boundless range as an actress. Wright is gifted at taking material that would most certainly become sloppy and incoherent in lesser hands and elevating it to a level that few would imagine possible. He is able to give the impression that his movie is an inside joke between him and every member of the audience.

#9 Piranha 3D -- I saw this twice in theaters and had a ball both times. The first time I saw it was on a very sad day for me and my entire family and this managed to lift me right out of the doldrums and in to B-movie bliss. Adam Scott, Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O'Connell and Ving Rhames are thankfully all on the same page with this film's status as a B-movie and they all do an outstanding job of giving good, earnest performances whilst not taking themselves or the movie seriously. One of my favorite moments from any movie in 2011 is Adam Scott (a wildly underrated actor) riding a jet ski and cocking a shotgun repeatedly with one hand, blowing away mutant fish as he goes. Christopher Lloyd essentially plays Doc Brown and Richard Dreyfuss gives an appropriate cameo. I can actually leave you with two good quotes about this film from different people:

“If you haven't seen this movie, then you're not living your life the right way.” - Rob Huebel

“If you don't like this movie, then you just don't like movies, period.” - Vern Snackwell

I couldn't be more excited about the planned sequel: Piranha 3DD.

#8 Animal Kingdom -- Add Ben Mendelsohn to the long list of actors who deserve a Supporting Actor statue this year. As the sinister senior son in a family of four criminal brothers, he gives a calculated, searing performance that is truly terrifying in its realism. The film, in short, concerns 17-year-old Josh (James Frecheville) whose mother has died from a drug overdose. He calls the grandmother he hasn't seen for many years (Jacki Weaver, nominated for Best Supporting Actress for this amazing performance) and goes to live with her and the aforementioned brood of brothers, his uncles. Josh, also the film's narrator, is incredibly passive, but still can't avoid getting sucked in to the world of crime in which his extended family have embedded themselves. Even though he avoids trouble, it always finds him. The film is furiously fast-paced and economically written, but manages to develop more than a half-dozen characters. It cuts the fat of exposition and gets in all necessary plot points with a sentence or a glance. I don't know how to describe it, other than to say that it is gloriously brutal and straightforward in a way that only Aussie films seem to be.

#7 Exporting Raymond -- The 2010 Austin Film Festival's Opening Night Film is a real life fish-out-of-water story that sees Phil Rosenthal, the creator and head writer of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” travel to Moscow to oversee the recreation of the show as  Russian sitcom. While I love Ray Romano's stand-up, I was never a fan of the show. This film, however, knocks it out of the park. It is hysterically funny, honest and insightful. I hope it gets the wide release that it richly deserves.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Death Race 2000

Next weekend Circle Cinema is screening one of my favorite "drive-in" movies--Death Race 2000. My father, in an inspired bit of genius parenting, actually took me to see this movie in the late 1970s at the drive-in. I don't often say this but here goes: thank you Dad! How else was I going to witness the cross-country road race carnage and unclothed females if not on the screen of the drive-in in Muskogee, Oklahoma if not taken by my father? I'd never heard of this film before I saw it, but I've never forgotten it as it hit my young mind like a meteor.

This poster (which I also love! How could you not love this piece of 1970s pulp cinema artwork?) completely sums up the b-film aspirations of Death Race 2000. Produced by drive-in maestro Roger Corman, the film stars David Carradine as a leather clad race car driver competing against others (including Sylvester Stallone) in a contest that involves being the first to get across the country while ALSO running over as many people along the way. You actually get points based on who it is you kill--old people get certain points, harder to hit people are assigned a higher point value. Awesome. 

So if you are in the Tulsa area and want to see one of the best "carsploitation" films on the screen, next weekend you'll have your chance. If you have kids (the younger the better), bring them and scar their impressionable psyches like my dad did to mine. It seems I've turned out fairly respectable. Seeing it helped establish a childhood path for me grow into a film geek, which led to hundreds of films a year starting in my teenage years, which led to bad grades in my teenage years, which led to a delayed start to college post-teenage years, which led to a degree in film studies, which led me to writing about a film in various avenues over the past 15 years, which led me to start and write away in obscurity on CineRobot, which has led to me becoming an official member of the film critic fellowship and press at Urban Tulsa. Dad didn't make that bad of a decision on this one. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

UTW review of The Way Back

Go here if you want to read my review for the Peter Weir film The Way Back that was in Urban Tulsa a couple of weeks ago. I'm kind of behind on posting the links to my weekly film column. This is a survival epic where a group of escaped prisoners from a gulag who go on a massive trek to freedom of over 4,000 miles. They undergo a lot of trials and tribulations on their journey as you might expect.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Sarah Jesse's tops in 2010

Sarah Jesse watched 125 films in 2010 and set the new record for films watched with me in a year with the sparkling total of 96. She's director of education and public programs at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa and maintains the blog Twin Pique with her sister Amanda. These are her favorite releases from 2010 in alphabetical order.

Biutiful (Mexico): Javier Bardem blew me away in this intense, visceral, tour de force film that will stick with you for weeks. As much as I love Colin Firth in The King’s Speech, I will be disappointed if Bardem’s unforgettable performance is slighted for the Oscar.

Exit Through the Gift Shop (England): Taking his message from the street to the movie house, elusive graffiti artist Banksy proves once again how duped we all are by bad, derivative art.  In this “prankumentary,” the art world appears silly, gullible and impressionable—perhaps not totally off base!

Greenberg (USA): Sadly, it seems I’m in the minority for loving this movie. Though bleak, it’s honest, and the excellent, natural performances of Ben Stiller and Greta Gerwig often made me forget I was watching a movie.

Heartbreaker (French): One of the most charming, intoxicatingly sweet, funny movies I’ve ever seen.  American filmmakers take note: this is how romantic comedies are done! I have a new celebrity crush in the adorable Romain Duris who has a knack for lighting up every scene he is in.

Inside Job (USA): I’m with Dylan on this one, it’s one of the best "horror" films I’ve seen in a long time besides Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Gutsy filmmaker Charles Ferguson is particularly adept at embarrassing the crap out of these once-invincible men. Thank god these creeps are finally getting what they deserve—obliterated reputations and jail time.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (USA): Rivers has got to be one of the hardest-working women in Hollywood and I respect her for that. Seeing her card catalog of jokes and learning about some of the more painful aspects of her life will convert even her most staunch haters. Also, she has a great line from the film that I still remember: “Bad things can happen, even in a pretty house.”

Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (Canada): Before I saw this documentary I couldn’t identify a single Rush song. While I’m still not into their music, it’s impossible not to appreciate their musicianship, work ethic and their charming personalities. Unlike most rock docs, this one didn’t include any mention of drug addiction, rehab, sex with groupies, inter-band fighting and compromising standards for a record label. These Rush guys are class acts!

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (USA): Why don’t more people acknowledge the sheer creativity of this film? Everyone’s talking about James Cameron inventing a new kind of film, but what about director Edgar Wright’s unique perspective that throws all film conventions out the window? It’s cool, fast-paced and I love it.

Social Network (USA): Like everyone else on the planet, I loved this fast-talking, timely film. Eisenberg hits a home run.

The King’s Speech (England): Again, like everyone else on the planet, I loved this film and think Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush’s performances are impeccable. Its 12 Oscars nominations are well deserved.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Tron: Legacy

Your appreciation for Tron: Legacy (aka Tron 2) might hinge on just how much impact the 1982 film had on you. I was 13 when I encountered both the movie and the video game  by Bally that same year. I loved the original film, a cold trip inside the guts of a computer program in a time when I barely knew what a computer was. In 1982, computers weren't exactly everywhere. I thought Tron was possible the coolest thing I'd ever seen with a story that didn't make a lot of sense, but who cares? The sleek, ultra-futuristic world inside a video game made up for story weaknesses. Plus, I was 13, what did I care about plot?

I loved the film, but it was the video game that really stole my heart. It was wrapped in a bright box and blessed with a glowing blue joystick that looked magical before I even dropped a quarter in it to play. And the music it played was a precursor for my lifelong obsession with synthesizers. Kind of a simple arcade game firmly in the early '80s mode, I loved this video game! At my peak, I would play it hours on end while hopped up on sugar, my teenage self becoming transfixed by the audio and the low-tech graphics as I'd challenge various hi-scores in arcades, movie theatre lobbies, convenience stores or where ever the consul might be located. Sadly, too many years off have seriously eroded my skills, but I can still set hi-scores [note the photo of me playing "Tron" and re-writing the top 10; look for my handle "ACE" if you are ever at The Max in Tulsa].

Which brings us to the new version of Tron: Legacy, a film with a lot of the same elements as the 1982 movie: an incomprehensible story, a young Jeff Bridges (CGI concocted and acting with old Bridges at the same time!), the lit up identity disks that are as dangerous as they are needed, the high-tech world inside the machine ruled by the evil and power hungry that is frequently dazzling. The story in the new one is just as silly as it was in 1982 so think of Tron: Legacy as a ramped up, over-the-top digital extravaganza and have fun while it unfolds. If you want characters, dialogue that makes sense and draws you in, tension or suspense--look elsewhere.

This is one of the rare instances when the onslaught of visuals are enough for me. I'm not a fan of films that exist solely as creations of some team of CGI programmers who live and work nowhere near the cast, crew or director, but I love the idea and look of Tron circa 1982 so much I let all that slide. I saw it at IMAX and in 3D (another thing I hate!), but felt if I was going to see this, I should go all-in with the visuals. I also loved the soundtrack by French electronic band Daft Punk. It's a collections of minimal strings and analogue synthesizers that perfectly fit the artificial world of the movie. This isn't a good movie, but Tron: Legacy made the 13 year old in me very happy. Guilty pleasure.

Friday, February 04, 2011

UTW review of The Heart Specialist

If you like to read reviews of absolutely terrible movies then do I have a doozy for you. The Heart Specialist is one of the worst things I've seen in a theatre in years. That's right, years. This is so bad that it sat on the shelf for at least 4 years as no one had the audacity to attempt to swindle people of their money by charging admission for it. Go here if you want to read my attack on all the ways it gets it wrong.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

January movies

Tulsa is completely snowed in as we've been hit with a record setting blizzard for February. I doubt we leave the house for at least two days. Photo is of Mozi desperately trying to get back into the warm house after she was let out to do her business. You can see she only made it a few feet before rethinking the matter over. She then had to get courageous and leap her way to the back of the yard where she likes to go. So, I'll be watching movies, reading and updating the blogs [here and Blevins Fotografic]. Pretty good start to 2011 as I got in 25 films in this month. Unfortunately, I saw too many mediocre or below average ones with 6 getting below 3 stars. The Heart Specialist is one of the worst films I've seen in a theatre in years! Watch it if you want to see exactly how many ways to not make a movie! I saw five documentaries and was blown away by Javier Bardem's performance in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's latest Biutiful.

Calvin Marshall---2009---usa   ***
Street Fight---2005---usa   ****
Hannah Takes the Stairs---2007---usa   **
Shutter Island---2010---usa   **
In the Electric Mist---2008---usa   ***
Made in Dagenham---2010---england   ***
Samaritan Girl---2004---south korea   **
China Moon---1994---usa   **1/2
The Mackintosh Man---1973---usa   ***
A Perfect Getaway---2008---usa   ***1/2
Winning Time---2010---usa   ***1/2
Red Riding 1983---2009---england   ***
The Heart Specialist---2006 [released 2010]---usa   *!
Departures---2009---japan   ***1/2
Not Quite Hollywood---2008---australia   ****
Tokyo Sonata---2008---japan   ***1/2
La Strada---1954---italy   ****
All Good Things---2010---usa   ***
Old, New, Borrowed and Blue---2003---denmark   **1/2
Burden of Dreams---1982---usa   ***1/2
The Way Back---2010---usa   ***
The Secret of the Grain---2008---france   ***1/2
The Two Escobars---2010---usa   ***1/2
Another Year---2010---england   ***1/2
Biutiful---2010---mexico   ****1/2