Saturday, March 18, 2006

what a night...

Well, it was chaos to the nth degree at work tonight. Busy, busy, busy and then I paid the remainder of a late fee I had for Prime (which was a great movie, by the way). Robin took off the hold that always appears whenever an employee gets a late fee. But they recently changed the numerical codes for various items in the "edit" mode of accounts so instead of typing the new number to remove a "hold" she typed the old one and accidentally negated my employee status. So I called our AM, Jeff, and he called our manager, Cheryl. She was actually going to drive in from Hinesville but had him come in and rectify the situation. Suffice it to say my old employee #, with its history of 777 rentals, is no more. Factor in this with the maddening maelstrom of customer idiocy and general BS and voila - a rather crappy night. Then it took forever to leave as certain opening procedures had not been done this morning and that made our computers restart and think we were performing opening procedures. So Robin had to call computer support and shortly thereafter order was quickly restored. As the title states...WHAT A NIGHT! If tonight is not a much better evening, I'll be quite pissed.

I brought home Rodrigo Garcia's Nine Lives and Zombie Honeymoon from work. I also have Netflix and the massive collection of television TiVo has amassed, including the U.S. premiere of Doctor Who. I am a novice of all things Who so I can't wait to see it. I also have some free previously-viewed DVDs I won for being a top seller of Rewards memberships (titles I chose include Millions, Layer Cake, and Elizabethtown) I also get to pick another one this week as I was top seller by one Rewards membership last week.

Yes, V for Vendetta came out today (well, technically yesterday as it's past midnight now). No, I haven't seen it, although I did read the graphic novel. I will hopefully see the film Monday after work. I still want to see The Hills Have Eyes as well as Inside Man, which comes out next Friday. Alot of good movies are finally coming out and the remainder of my income tax (I had to file an amendment...and you *can't* e-file it...LAME!) is weeks away. Being broke sucks beyond the telling of it.


Clicking the link above will take you to AOL and Warner Brothers new venture, In2TV. It's totally free and allows you to watch episodes of series like Lois & Clark, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., the animated Beetlejuice, and many more. I'm most excited about Freddy's Nightmares, the long unavailable A Nightmare on Elm Street series that was syndicated back in the late '80s. I remember watching it late at night/early AM on our local ABC affiliate and it's great to be able to watch it again after so many years.

R.I.P. Peter & Kathleen Tomarken

While I was bit too young to watch Press Your Luck in its original airing, the summer of 1992 all I did was vegetate in front of USA's weekday afternoon game show block (of which Press Your Luck was a staple) and drink iced tea out of a McDonald's Batman Returns promo cup. Ah, memories.

Peter Tomarken was a legend. Some may think otherwise but in a total reversal of the superficial and phony on-air personalities we're faced with today, he projected an affable, witty, cool, and personable demeanor without a bit of pretension. He was simply marvelous. The world has lost a great television personality and a wonderful part of television history.

This comes out April 21st. It's the best movie poster, ever, in my opinion.

Here's the synopsis of American Dreamz.

On the morning of his re-election, the President (Quaid) decides to read the newspaper for the first time in four years. This starts him down a slippery slope. He begins reading obsessively, reexamining his black and white view of the world, holing up in his bedroom in his pajamas. Frightened by the President’s apparent nervous breakdown, his Chief of Staff (Dafoe) pushes him back into the spotlight, booking him as a guest judge on the television ratings juggernaut (and the President’s personal fave), the weekly talent show American Dreamz.

America can’t seem to get enough of American Dreamz, hosted by self-aggrandizing, self-loathing Martin Tweed (Grant), ever on the lookout for the next insta-celebrity. His latest crop of hopefuls includes Sally (Moore), a conniving steel magnolia with a devoted, dopey veteran boyfriend (Klein), and Omer, a recent Southern Californian immigrant (who just happens to be a bumbling, show tune singing, would-be terrorist awaiting activation). When both Sally and Omer make it to the final round of Dreamz – where the President will be judging along with Tweed – the stage is set for a show the nation will never forget.

Of course it won't be successful. It makes fun of the slack-jawed morons who love "Glorified Karaoke Contest". Satire is not something they'd understand. But the point of the movie isn't the singing show; it's the fact that people in this society blind themselves from the news in favor of being complacent in their ignorance. Our national past-time is celebrating mediocrity and this movie appears to address that notion. I look forward to seeing it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

"Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist." - Rene Magritte

The Telfair Museum of Art here in Savannah has its grand opening this weekend for its newest building, The Jepson Center for the Arts. It's the first expansion in the museum's 120 year history. Constructed at a cost of $25 million (after much hand-wringing and second guessing by the stuffed shirts at the Historic Board of Review) and designed by the same man who designed Jersualem's Holocaust Memorial Museum, this thing is a sight to behold, even if one's just looking at it from the outside as I did while running errands Friday afternoon. A guy accidentally drove into a parked car while looking at the Jepson Center the other day. The official grand opening was Friday and all weekend admission is free. I will be heading downtown to take in this wonderful new addition to our city. It is truly wonderful to have something artistic and creative added to our city, as it's been sorely lacking. This city lacks culture and creativity so often and the Jepson Center for the Arts is a wonderful blast of cool air in a city that far too often is content remaining in the past. I'll post a complete rundown of my visit later. Now, the shower is calling.

Jepson media coverage in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution follows...

And the Telfair's website for the Jepson...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

saw 2 movies tonight...

Both were really good (and really free, thanks to my connections). 16 Blocks was vintage Richard Donner, with Willis and Mos Def making a great pairing and connecting to their roles excellently. Some say that Mos Def's character was grating but I didn't think so. Great action and some really stellar work from the always reliable David Morse make this a cut above the average action flick.

But writer/director Wayne Kramer (The Cooler) really struck paydirt with his gritty and disturbing Running Scared. Paul Walker ascends to heights heretofore unseen. He is very believable in the role and you never doubt him for a second. But it's Vera Farmiga, as Walker's wife, who really commands and holds your attention. She is breathtaking in the role, as a harried Jersey housewife who summons strength when she needs to...and boy does she ever, especially in one scene.

I implore you to seek this film out. It's a damn shame that shit like the Pink Panther remake can make money hand over fist yet amazing gems like Running Scared get ignored and then they come out on DVD and people ask me, "Why didn't I hear about this awesome movie?" Well, dumb fuck, if you paid attention you'd have known.

Running Scared is brutal, intense, and doesn't let up from frame one. I can't wait to see what Wayne Kramer does next.

16 out of 21...

that's my Oscar prediction ratio, in the renowned categories. I *so* should have gone to Vegas or done some betting. I'd have made a decent cent or two.

Well, another Oscar night has come and gone. After what seemed like eons, all of the awards have been handed out and conservatives can sleep easy knowing that hordes of gay sheep herders aren't going to rampage through their town.

Bill O'Reilly, however, is somewhere with his blood boiling that the phrase "Academy Award Winner George Clooney" is now a truth. And Clooney's acceptance speech was a great "fuck you" to conservatives everywhere.

Onto the awards...the rest of my thoughts follow...

Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role

George Clooney, Syriana

Achievement In Visual Effects

King Kong

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Wallace & Gromit In The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit

Best Live Action Short Film

Six Shooter

Best Animated Short Film

The Moon and The Son: An Imagined Conversation

Achievement In Costume Design

Memoirs of a Geisha

Achievement In Makeup

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role

Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener

Best Documentary Short Subject

A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin

Best Documentary Feature

March of the Penguins

Achievement In Art Direction

Memoirs of a Geisha

Achievement In Music Written For Motion Pictures (Original Score)

Brokeback Mountain

Achievement In Sound Mixing

King Kong

Achievement In Music Written For Motion Pictures (Original Song)

"It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp" From Hustle & Flow

Achievement In Sound Editing

King Kong

Best Foreign Language Film Of The Year


Achievement In Film Editing


Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

Achievement In Cinematography

Memoirs of a Geisha

Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role

Reese Witherspoon, Walk The Line

Adapted Screenplay

Brokeback Mountain

Original Screenplay


Achievement In Directing

Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain

Best Motion Picture of the Year


Good for Hoffman, Weisz, Nick Park & the gang at Aardman Animation. Gustavo Santaolalla's work on Brokeback Moutain was richly deserving of an Oscar and I'm glad the Academy agreed. Robert Elswit's cinematography for good night, and good luck. was sadly overlooked. Applause and kudos also go to Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana for their wins for the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain. Ang Lee's award for Best Director was a lock and was also Oscar-worthy.

Reese Witherspoon = yawn times twelve. As usual the Academy loves it when actresses campaign and talk about their devotion to their role. So couple that with her new lease on life as the new title-holder "America's Sweetheart" and Reese Witherspoon was a lock to win Best Actress. This is much like when Horse Teeth - oh, I'm sorry, I meant Julia Roberts - won for the vastly overrated Erin Brockovich. Ellen Burstyn deserved that for Requiem for a Dream and we *all* know it. This year's Oscar in the category belonged to Keira Knightley but they never reward actresses who haven't had a lengthy career which is just stupid. So a big award goes to a mediocre actress for a mediocre role in a mediocre film...Jon Stewart *is* right...Walk The Line is just Ray with white people.

Jon Stewart was incredible as host. He managed to pull it off with aplomb and style. They'll never have him back of course, as he was too far over the heads of alot of clueless offal in the crowd. He also razzed the people in the theater in a dry, deprecating manner, which they never appreciate. Next year we'll be treated to the same staid mediocrity. Billy Crystal, Steve Martin - get those tuxes ready.

As I very accurately predicted, Crash was the dark horse here, pulling out the win for Best Picture. People thought I was crazy for joining those that saw the last minute push, the renewed interest, and the writing on the wall. But 9,000+ Crash DVDs (distributed by Lionsgate to Academy members between the nominations being announced & the voting deadline) later, here we are. The liver-spotted elder Academy members (and to be fair, some younger ones, presumably) decided not to reward a haunting, poetic film about love denied and instead gave the pinnacle award to a film that was not by any means the best of the year.

Unlike some, I am not anti-Crash. I saw the film in the theater upon its initial release last May. I liked it then, I like it now. But it just seems that Crash won after months of public surmising that the Academy was not looking for a fight by giving Brokeback Best Picture. Mark my words, had the Academy Awards been held a month ago, Brokeback would have won. But they weren't. To the victor go the spoils. Oh well. Despite it all, at least Brokeback can still be called "an Academy Award-winning film". And no matter what anyone says, Brokeback is still a better film than Crash.

So sleep well, conservatives. The boogeyman you so stupidly fear isn't coming to redecorate your house.

Brokeback Mountain is still a powerful love story, one whose story will resonate through time as a masterpiece of virtuoso filmmaking. And just looking at all of the films nominated in major categories brings a smile to one's face - they're all extremely well-made pieces of exemplary art that personify and encapsulate the very heart and essence that make movies a powerful and transformative medium.

I look forward to what's in store for us on this year's silver screen and I can't wait to see what will be honored at next year's Academy Awards.

Friday, March 03, 2006

my oscar picks...

As usual, I'll post what *will* win and what I think *should* win.

Best Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
David Strathairn, good night, and good luck.
Joaquin Phoenix, Walk The Line

I just saw Walk The Line last night and while technically proficient and *very* well done, it felt more like a condensed travelogue of Johnny Cash's life, with extended music videos throughout. That said, Phoenix was great as The Man In Black. Heath Ledger was masterful as the grizzled sheephand and Strathairn became Murrow. Sadly, this award is locked down for one man alone. I really wish Terrence Howard would get this, as until I saw Hustle & Flow I was rooting for Hoffman. But Howard's electrifying performance outshines all others in this category. Unfortunately that matters not to Oscar voters, so they'll stick with the status quo which is a damn shame.

WILL WIN: Philip Seymour Hoffman
SHOULD WIN: Terrence Howard

Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role

George Clooney, Syriana
Matt Dillon, Crash
Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
William Hurt, A History of Violence

This category has come down to two contenders: will Clooney's on-point performance as a grizzled, worn-out CIA agent pull a win here or will Dillon's racist cop get the nod? crash has recaptured alot of its buzz from earlier this year so Matt Dillon may have a chance. But I think Clooney's other nominations will be ignored in favor of this category.

WILL WIN: George Clooney
SHOULD WIN: George Clooney

Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role

Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents
Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice
Charlize Theron, North Country
Reese Witherspoon, Walk The Line

I've yet to see Transamerica (it *just* started playing here today...gotta love the superficial theaters here - only run them once they get the Oscar noms) but I hear Felicity Huffman is a revelation. I hate to say it but the others are slot-fillers as again the Oscar voters will gather around one young lady from Memphis and reward her for bringing to life a strong musician. While very well-done, I was not impressed with the performance as a whole and it just seemed like I've seen her play that role before. In a perfect world, Keira Knightley's wonderfully brilliant role would take the Oscar gold here but it's early yet in her career. Even though this will be much like when Horse Teeth (I'm sorry - Julia Roberts) won for the vastly overrated Erin Brockovich, Ryan Phillippe's wife needs to start clearing mantle space now.

WILL WIN: Reese Witherspoon
SHOULD WIN: Keira Knightley

Best Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role

Amy Adams, Junebug
Catherine Keener, Capote
Frances McDormand, North Country
Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

You want to know what's sad? I've had a screener VHS tape of Junebug for about two months now. But I just haven't had the time to watch it. I will do that before Sunday, mark my words. I was very happy to see Amy Adams get a nomination, as I love left-field nominations. The other three actresses were great. I simply think Rachel Weisz will get the win here, for her luminescent work as the passionate activist. It's much deserved. I would *love* to see Amy Adams get it, simply because I've enjoyed her work over the years and to see an acceptance speech by her would be wonderful.

WILL WIN: Rachel Weisz

Best Animated Feature Film Of The Year

Howl's Moving Castle
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Burton's macabre tale was gothic eye-candy but with more plot than this previous stop-motion effort and therefore alot more enjoyable, with a great score and songs by Danny Elfman. Miyazaki already won for Spirited Away a few years ago. Nick Park and the gang at Aardman Studios have already impressed Oscar enough with their wins for their shorts in the early '90s so Oscar will return the favor yet again.

WILL WIN: Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
SHOULD WIN: Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Achievement In Art Direction

good night, and good luck.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
King Kong
Memoirs of a Geisha
Pride & Prejudice

James Bissell's staggeringly devoted job recreating the 1950s-era CBS was nothing short of breathtaking. But I feel that loud, garish tones will sadly win the day here.

King Kong
SHOULD WIN: good night, and good luck.

Achievement In Cinematography

Batman Begins
Brokeback Mountain
good night, and good luck
Memoirs of a Geisha
The New World

This is the rare case in which conventional wisdom might win out, to which I would not mind in this instance. Wally Pfister's great work bringing to life the visual scope of Gotham City was done masterfully. But Robert Elswit really captured the essence of George Clooney's film, so much so you could practically smell the Pall Malls wafting through the air.

WILL WIN: good night, and good luck
SHOULD WIN: good night, and good luck

Achievement In Costume Design

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory
Memoirs of a Geisha
Mrs. Henderson Presents
Pride & Prejudice
Walk The Line

The melted gumdrop designs of Willy Wonka's world might squeak out a win here but we all know how much Oscar loves period pieces and the clothing of classic Britain will edge out an award all their own, every time. Jacqueline Durran managed to make the costumes moveable and true to the era of their making.

WILL WIN: Pride & Prejudice
SHOULD WIN: Pride & Prejudice

Achievement In Directing

Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Bennett Miller, Capote
Paul Haggis, Crash
George Clooney, good night, and good luck.
Steven Spielberg, Munich

If Clooney did not snag the supporting Oscar, he could be the dark horse here. Spielberg is always here, like a friend who crashes on your couch but refuses to leave. This is Ang Lee's all the way and deservedly so.


Best Documentary Feature

Darwin's Nightmare
Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room
March of the Penguins
Street Fight

With so much corporate and political wrong-doing going on these days (hell, when *isn't* it?), a win here for Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room would be great. I've also heard that Murderball is a stellar documentary and it could be the dark horse in this contest. But with a massive marketing push, a bigger-than-expected box office, and a family audience that came out in droves, expect the citizens of the North Pole to waddle away with an Oscar.

WILL WIN: March of the Penguins
SHOULD WIN: Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room

The award will go to Crash. It *should* go to The Constant Gardener for Claire Simpson did a masterful job with the non-linear storytelling this narrative provides, bringing it all into focus with remarkable clarity.

Best Foreign Language Film

Don't Tell
Joyeux Noel
Paradise Now
Sophie Scholl - The Final Days

Just three months ago, I would have said that Paradise Now with its tale of two suicide bombers in Palestine would have won. But significant praise and acclaim have slowly been buiding behind South Africa's Tsotsi

WILL WIN: Tsotsi

Achievement In Makeup

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe
Cinderella Man
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Seeing as how there's only one film in which makeup played an extensive part, you could pick this winner blindfolded.

WILL WIN: The Chronicles of Narnia
SHOULD WIN: The Chronicles of Narnia

Achievement In Music

Brokeback Mountain
The Constant Gardener
Memoirs of a Geisha
Pride & Prejudice

Staid complacency will ensure that John Williams will not cancel himself out. Gustavo Santaolalla's haunting score for Brokeback Mountain deserves this reward, however.

WILL WIN: Memoirs of a Geisha
SHOULD WIN: Brokeback Mountain

Original Song

"In The Deep" (crash)
"Travelin' Thru" (Transamerica)
"It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp" (Hustle & Flow)

Dolly will take the cake here.

WILL WIN:"Travelin' Thru"
SHOULD WIN: "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp"

Achievement In Sound Editing

King Kong
Memoirs of a Geisha
War of the Worlds

The loud roars of his acceptance speech via satellite from Skull Island can already be heard.

WILL WIN: King Kong

Sound Mixing - King Kong

Visual Effects - Some are guessing Narnia but this one will go to King Kong.

Adapted Screenplay

Brokeback Mountain
The Constant Gardener
A History of Violence

There is no contest here. Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry took Anniel Proulx's story and turned it into the most romantic and moving love story of the year.

WILL WIN: Brokeback Mountain
SHOULD WIN: Brokeback Mountain

Original Screenplay

good night, and good luck
Match Point
The Squid and the Whale

This is historically the consolation prize for whatever doesn't get Best Picture (witness Sofia Coppola's win for Lost in Translation). I'd love to see Noah Baumbach get recognized for his bitter divorce piece. Stephen Gaghan did a great job with Syriana. Clooney and Grant Heslov also were awesome with good night, and good luck. But this one's sewn up by Bobby Moresco and Paul Haggis. Match Point, IMHO, should win here. It deserved far more nominations.

SHOULD WIN: Match Point

Best Motion Picture Of The Year

Brokeback Mountain
good night, and good luck

And now we come to the top category. All were good films, yet Crash has lost some of its shine for me. I did not see Munich but that's not even remotely an option (see my Spielberg analogy earlier). Hoffman will get rewarded for Capote, and Clooney will pick up an Oscar elsewhere. Brokeback Mountain so richly deserves this award. But with deep, deep sadness I fear that Crash has managed to gain more steam as time has worn on and I think it's going to eke out a win here. I sincerely hope I'm wrong. I really want to see Brokeback Mountain producer James Schamus up on that stage with an Oscar in his hand when this envelope is opened.

SHOULD WIN: Brokeback Mountain

And with that, I'm going to get ready for work.