Holy Bat-Ramadan!

Quick, what’s the most anticipated film this summer? What’s that? No, besides The Avengers. Hmm? No, not Magic Mike. That’s right, The Freaking Dark Knight Freaking Rises!

Starring Freaking Batman

Batman and movie fans alike will get to enjoy what is more than likely going to be the best movie made by humans, all over the globe July 20th. Batman and movie fans all over the globe, except the United Arab Emirates or other countries in that area, such as, oh I dunno, the country where I’m spending the majority of my summer. It won’t find release over here until nearly a month later, and the main reason for this being that July 20th falls on the first day of Ramadan, or the first month of Islamic fasting. Basically Ramadan is a time where practicing Muslims don’t eat or drink during the daylight hours, pray more often than usual, and is a time for them to show patience, sacrifice, and submissiveness to God. During this time, Muslims are expected to avoid any irreligious and obscene sights and sounds, so I suppose any sort of film that isn’t about God, or in this case The Freaking Dark Knight Freaking Rises. 

The main decision behind this delay comes out of Shooting Stars, the film’s regional distributor. The claim is that it is delayed “Out of respect for the UAE and Islamic customs during the Holy Month of Ramadan”. So around this time of year, the movie theaters are treated with all sorts of re-release goodies instead. Just take a look at a couple of these A-List titles:

  • The Big Wedding 
  • Recoil
  • Dancing Ninja 

I actually had to look Dancing Ninja up. Apparently it’s about “An orphaned boy who dreams of being a ninja that arrives in Hollywood to try and find his birth parents, where he gets mixed up in a crime.” Not sure when the dancing comes in. Also it’s got David Hasselhoff and some kid from Halloweentown High. 

“But wait!” you shout, “if you can’t watch films during Ramadan, why are the movie theaters even open? This sounds more like a ploy from the movie distribution companies to not lose money on a big, mega-hit blockbuster, more than out of respect for religious worship!” Well said! And it appears you wouldn’t be the only person to think that way, there is apparently a pretty big uproar from fans in the area that have started several online petitions to bring Batman to the UAE July 20th. While it’s great to see multi-cultural bat-heads rally together to bring this gem to movie screens at a reasonable time, I don’t have very high hopes. The distribution companies, much like the non-geeks of the world, have the same “get the hell over it, you’ll see it in a month” mentality. They just don’t understand the injustice of the issue! They don’t care that we’ll all more than likely know how the movie ends before we even get a chance to see it (stupid blogs!) So keep up the online petitions, let your voice be heard, just know that despite your best efforts you’ll more than likely be watching this:

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The Bestest – Brick

Brick (2005)

Written and Directed by Rian Johnson. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, Lukas Haas, and Emilie de Ravin.

The second movie to make mah bestest list is Brick, the 1930s detective film set in a modern American high school starring a pre-500 Days of Summer Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The film opens on the hero, Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) discovering the dead body of his ex-girlfriend, Emily, in a ditch. Through a brief flashback we learn that Emily had called him earlier for help; he stands at a lonely payphone booth as a passing car (or rather the people in it) cause her to hang up and flee. A cigarette butt is sent flying from the passenger window, the first of many clues Brendan uses to piece together her murder.

From this point on Brendan transforms into a classic noir gumshoe, tracking down Emily’s movements through a seedy high school drug ring with the help of his mysterious brainiac ally, aptly dubbed The Brain. If any of this sounds remotely familiar, that’s because it absolutely is. The plot of Brick is nothing particularly different and special, but the way it is told is refreshingly unique.

The characters in this film are less that and more character types. For instance, Brain is a role typically seen as a newspaper reporter hanging around dark bars or dreary alleyways, which Rian Johnson adapts into a typical high school nerd leaning against the back wall of the school or hiding in his private nook in the library. These archetypes keep coming as Brendan ignores threats and strikes deals with the Principal (a role usually filled by police captains in the old detective films), fights the seductions of tough and sassy dames (in the form of the “queen” of the drama department and the popular girl on campus), battles a crippled crime kingpin, and loud-mouthed tough guys whose bark is bigger than their bite (the star of the high school football team, and dope head junky). These adaptations not only make the dissonance between the character’s actions and their modern portrayal all the more interesting, but allow the noir style to be more accessible to modern audiences.

I own that duck cane. Just sayin'.

This isn’t the first modern film that’s combined and adapted elements of noir, just look at Reservoir Dogs, but what sets it apart from the others is that it sets the attitudes and dialogues of classic detective fiction in a modern American High School. The characters all speak like they’re straight out of a Dashiell Hammett novel with lines like, “No, the bulls would gum it. They’d flash their dusty standards at the wide-eyes and probably find some yegg to pin, probably even the right one.”

None of the dialogue throughout is like anything seen in the countless other movies set in high schools, nor can it in any way be described as “modern”. Which is exactly what makes it so mesmerizing. The combination of a modern setting and updated character types with old detective dialogue creates such an interesting dynamic that is more and more entertaining each time you watch.

If you’re unfamiliar with the genre that Brick draws such heavy inspiration from, don’t worry. This film’s got just enough indie quirks in it to keep you interested and if none of that floats your boat then at least watch it for the stellar performances. JGL is flawless as the brooding Brendan, completely embodying the archetype both physically and emotionally, and the rest of the cast all step up to plate, delivering a set of engaging performances.

While the plot may not be anything different, it’s told in such a creative and unique way that you forgive it for that fault and enjoy the noir-iness (made that one up). Find this movie now and go watch it. Please? Thanks.

JIGGLE


Hesher Trailer

 

Hesher stars Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Devon Brochu. It had it’s debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010 and will be released in theaters sometime in April. I think Jiggles fits well into the social outcast role (just watch Brick) and this definitely takes that type to the extreme. I’d keep an eye out for this one, it looks pretty danged interesting.

Holy Cast List Batman!

The Dark Knight Rises is the third and supposed final film in the Nolan-Batman saga, and while the cast list was announced quite some time ago theres still a couple mysteries surrounding who’s gonna be who.

I’ll start with what has been confirmed and what many of you probably know: Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman are all back reprising their roles from the previous films. But all that’s boring. The fun stuff here is that the villains are going to be Bane played by Tom Hardy and Selina Kyle (or Catwoman as you might know her) played by Anne Hathaway. I find it interesting that Nolan chose these two villains as he has generally picked the baddies that don’t have super powers, Ra’s Al Ghul being the only exception as in the comics he is immortal. However, even with that Nolan was able to manipulate it in a way so that Ra’s was no longer a single, immortal entity but rather a  title that is inherited with the passing of the former so that there will always be a Ra’s Al Ghul. Crafty Bastard.

Lil' somethin like dis

I’m not sure what Nolan-y twists are going to be present for Bane and Catwoman, although since Tom Hardy is going to take on the role as the venomed up behemoth I’d have to assume that they’re going to portray him closer to the comic incarnation, wherein he is extremely intelligent and devious, as opposed to the Batman & Robin mind-less, wrecking ball adaptation. He was also the first villain to severely cripple the Bat by breaking his spine…over his knee. That better be in there.

Adding Catwoman into the mix should bring a great dynamic as I’m sure Nolan is going to play with the love/hate relationship she and Batsie have. Serving as a both a new love interest and enemy should make for a compelling plot. Hopefully.

The most recent news surrounding the bat-flick is the involvement of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL, Jiggle, Jigglets, what have you) and the possible inclusion of Marion Cotillard. Deadline reports that Jiggle will be in the film when Nolan starts production, although it is still unsure who he will be playing. There are rumors circulating around that he’ll take on Alberto Falcone, son of the mob boss Carmine Falcone from Batman Begins, although there have been no confirmations one way or another. There’s even been talk about him being some sort of Robin figure, although I’m not sure that’s necessarily the road this film would go down. Regardless,  I love me some Jigglin’ so I don’t particularly care who he’ll be playing.

The involvement of Marion Cotillard is a little bit suspect still, but it was reported last week by the French newspaper Le Fiargo that she will be joining the cast. This has yet to be confirmed or denied but there’s already rumor spreading that she’ll be playing Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Ra’s mentioned above. If we accept both this and Jiggle playing Carmine’s son, that means a whole crap-load of familial ties to deal with and sift through during the plot, which in turn can only mean a Batman film leaning on the lengthy side. But really, does anybody have a problem with that?

Rumors, rumors, rumors. All I know is this cast is looking more and more like Inception by the minute. Now all we have to do is wait for an announcement about Leo signing on for Calendar Man. If only. If only…

I'm the King of the World!

The Oscars are coming! The Oscars are coming!

Yay.

Sunday February 27th marks the 83rd Academy Awards, people! Are you excited?! Really? Are you really? You’re not just saying that are you? Ok good, me too!

Yeah that’s right, I’m actually looking forward to the Oscars this year. Shocking considering that I’m not the biggest fan of these award shows and I think that they’re generally full of crap and give out awards to the films that have the highest paying producers. But meh. This year I’ve actually seen the majority of films in the best motion picture category! (6 out of ten ain’t bad right?) And the best part? I liked em! Sure there were some that I felt were weaker than others (more on that in a second) but all in all it should make for an exciting awards ceremony.

So in case you live under a rock or something and don’t know the nominees this year, here’s the big five for ya:

Best Motion Picture:

  • 127 Hours
  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • The King’s Speech
  • The Social Network
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter’s Bone

Best Actor:

  • Javier Bardem for Biutiful
  • Jeff Bridges for True Grit
  • Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network
  • Colin Firth for The King’s Speech
  • James Franco for 127 Hours

Best Actress:

  • Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right
  • Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole
  • Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone
  • Natalie Portman for Black Swan
  • Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Christian Bale for The Fighter
  • John Hawkes for Winter’s Bone
  • Jeremy Renner for The Town
  • Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right
  • Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Amy Adams for The Fighter
  • Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech
  • Melissa Leo for The Fighter
  • Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit
  • Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom

Now what would be a list of nominees without my winner predictions? Personally I think it’s gonna go a little something like: The Social Network, Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, and Melissa Leo. These aren’t necessarily what I want to see win (with the exception of Natalie Portman of course) but rather just my predictions based off of the Golden Globes and SAG awards that recently happened. As I said above, while all the films in the best picture category were great, there are some that I thought were weaker than others, The Social Network being one of them. Yeah that’s right, I’m one of those people who didn’t really think it was as great as everyone was making it out to be. But considering that it friggin’ swept the Golden Globes, I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar happened Oscar night.

I will be updating during the Oscars to see how well I did with my predictions, and if you have any differences feel free to comment below.

The Bestest – Plan 9 Style

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

Directed by Ed Wood Jr. Starring Bela Lugosi, Vampira, Gregory Walcott, Dudley Manlove, and John Breckinridge

A lot of people ask me what my favorite movie is (not actually true) and after a long, drawn out, awkward silence where I stare into space, desperately raking my brain searching for the movie that stands out above them all, only to come up with images of Gary Oldman or Anchorman, I answer I don’t know. It’s impossible for me to pin down one movie as “the best ever” so I’m going to do something nigh impossible for someone as important lazy as I am and create a list of the best. The best of the best. The bestest. Yeah, there we go. And what better way to kick off my “bestest” list than with what is widely considered the worst science fiction film to ever, Ed Wood Jr.’s Plan 9 from Outer Space!

“Wait, wait, wait, you’re putting what is arguably the worst B movie ever made on your ‘best of’ list?” Yes I am strange voice inside my head. Yes I am. But don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that Plan 9 isn’t bad, that thing is God awful. I could go on for hours about the hub-cap flying saucers on visible wires, scenes unexplainably switching between night and day, the countless plot holes, hammy acting, the posthumous performance of Bela Lugosi, and the oh so ridiculous dialogue. Hell, the movie’s opening lines are “we think most about the future because that is where we’re going to spend the rest of our lives.” Suck on that prose Shakespeare.

But none of that matters, Plan 9 is so damn awful that it transcends criticism, you can’t help but smile and laugh when you watch the movie, immediately forgiving its countless flaws and instead taking in its creativity and wackiness. What is so fantastic about this movie isn’t so much the final product (although it certainly is something special in its own right) but rather the passion and determination that it represents. Plan 9 was nothing more than a brainchild of a man who loved movies and who would stop at nothing to make them. Absolutely nothing.

Ed Wood every Saturday night

Ed Wood is often criticized for this highly exploitative filmography, which technically is an accurate accusation since the guy did go on to make X rated movies in his final years (Plan 69 from Outer Space was not of his creation sadly). However he did take pride in his work and held a serious passion for cinema. While his films were cheesy, over-acted, and poorly produced, he put in his full heart and soul to each one, oftentimes holding multiple positions for each film such as director, writer, producer and sometimes even acting in them (much like his idol Orson Welles.)

Not even the untimely death of his good friend and film star Bela Lugosi would stop the production of Plan 9 as the ever crafty Ed Wood incorporated clips of an unfinished film starring Lugosi and had his chiropractor serve as a body double for the remainder of the scenes. Ingenuity at its finest. Let’s not forget too that Ed Wood’s ardor and spirit were the inspiration for Tim Burton’s 1994 film Ed Wood a “biopic” of the filmmaker’s life. A critically acclaimed film revolving entirely around someone considered one of the worst filmmakers of all time. That’s gotta be some kinda irony right?

Plan 9 from Outer Space is like the macaroni picture frame your kid brings home from arts and crafts. Yeah it looks like crap, but you hang it up anyway because it is full of creativity, hard work and love. The film is great for a laugh as well as a source of inspiration (if Ed Wood can make a film I can too!) So here you go Ed, I’m puttin it up on my fridge.

Golden Globe and SAG Nominations

Determining what is and isn’t a good movie is a slippery slope. Tastes vary from person to person and when it comes time to hand over an award to the “best” actor or film, there’s bound to be some people left disappointed. This week both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild nominations came out, and while I didn’t find too much of it surprising, I decided I should share the information anyways.

The Golden Globes are the second biggest industry of awards right behind the Oscars and, while they do sometimes give an idea of what you might expect to see come Oscar night, they generally reflect the constant bribing studios and network execs put out towards the HFPA (Hollywood Foreign Press Association) which leads to all sorts of snubs and surprises. This year’s awards were pretty well dominated by The King’s Speech and Glee (go figure), but I’ve gots a list of some of the more interesting nods:

Johnny Depp nominated for The Tourist. I can’t really talk much about this one as I haven’t seen the film itself, but the critics and reviewers out there have basically panned Depp’s performance in it. But he still snagged a nomination. Hmm.

Mila Kunis nominated for supporting actress in Black Swan. This isn’t a bad surprise, just interesting considering that she wasn’t talked about or expected to be nominated for anything. I think Mila is a fine actress (very, very fine) and hopefully this role will help her snag some more dramatic parts later on.

True Grit left OUT. Yeah, yeah so I haven’t seen the movie yet but come on. The Coen Brothers. Jeff Bridges. Hell, Matt Damon! This movie has been talked up as one of the best of the year, and yet it’s been left out of all the main categories. Even more surprising considering the Coen Brothers are usually a hit come award season.

These are just a few of the snubs and surprises that came with the Globes this year and you can feel free to check out the complete list from the Golden Globe website, I have at the bottom of this post a list of the main categories and their nominations for just a quick look.

The most recent on the award nomination lists is the Screen Actor Guild awards which came in today. SAG members vote for the nominations which leads to an interesting result, as it reflects what actors considered were the best performances. There really isn’t much of a surprise to the SAGs, the one I found most shocking would be Leonardo DiCaprio getting snubbed after his performances in Shutter Island and Inception (both of which are being pushed for nominations come Oscar time). I think Leo was outstanding in both of these films and it’s pretty surprising that he didn’t get any recognition for either.

If you want to check out the full list of SAG nominees, check it out at the Screen Actors Guild website or take a little look see at the quick list I have at the bottom of the post.

So yeah, not too much of an uproar with nominations this year, I’m just waiting for Oscar season when the awards are actually interesting.

Golden Globe Nominations – Best Picture, Actor and Actress

  1. BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
    1. BLACK SWANProtozoa Pictures & Cross Creek Pictures & Phoenix; Fox Searchlight Pictures
    2. THE FIGHTERParamount Pictures and Relativity Media; Paramount Pictures and Relativity Media
    3. INCEPTIONWarner Bros. Pictures UK LTD.; Warner Bros. Pictures
    4. THE KING’S SPEECHSee-Saw Films and Bedlam Productions; The Weinstein Company
    5. THE SOCIAL NETWORKColumbia Pictures; Sony Pictures Releasing
  2. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
    1. HALLE BERRY FRANKIE AND ALICE
    2. NICOLE KIDMAN RABBIT HOLE
    3. JENNIFER LAWRENCE WINTER’S BONE
    4. NATALIE PORTMAN BLACK SWAN
    5. MICHELLE WILLIAMS BLUE VALENTINE
  3. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
    1. JESSE EISENBERG THE SOCIAL NETWORK
    2. COLIN FIRTH THE KING’S SPEECH
    3. JAMES FRANCO 127 HOURS
    4. RYAN GOSLING BLUE VALENTINE
    5. MARK WAHLBERG THE FIGHTER
  4. BEST MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
    1. ALICE IN WONDERLANDWalt Disney Pictures; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
    2. BURLESQUEScreen Gems; Sony Pictures Releasing
    3. THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHTAntidote Films, Mandalay Vision, Gilbert Films; Focus Features
    4. REDdi Bonaventura Pictures; Summit Entertainment
    5. THE TOURISTGK Films; Sony Pictures Releasing
  5. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
    1. ANNETTE BENING THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
    2. ANNE HATHAWAY LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS
    3. ANGELINA JOLIE THE TOURIST
    4. JULIANNE MOORE THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
    5. EMMA STONE EASY A
  6. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
    1. JOHNNY DEPP ALICE IN WONDERLAND
    2. JOHNNY DEPP THE TOURIST
    3. PAUL GIAMATTI BARNEY’S VERSION
    4. JAKE GYLLENHAAL LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS
    5. KEVIN SPACEY CASINO JACK

 

SAG Nominations – Best Picture, Actor and Actress

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

JEFF BRIDGES / Rooster Cogburn – “TRUE GRIT” (Paramount Pictures)
ROBERT DUVALL / Felix Bush – “GET LOW” (Sony Pictures Classics)
JESSE EISENBERG / Mark Zuckerberg – “THE SOCIAL NETWORK” (Columbia Pictures)
COLIN FIRTH / King George VI – “THE KING’S SPEECH” (The Weinstein Company)
JAMES FRANCO / Aron Ralston – “127 HOURS” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

ANNETTE BENING / Nic – “THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT” (Focus Features)
NICOLE KIDMAN / Becca – “RABBIT HOLE” (Lionsgate)
JENNIFER LAWRENCE / Ree Dolly – “WINTER’S BONE” (Roadside Attractions)
NATALIE PORTMAN / Nina Sayers – “BLACK SWAN” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
HILARY SWANK / Betty Anne Waters – “CONVICTION” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

CHRISTIAN BALE / Dicky Eklund – “THE FIGHTER” (Paramount Pictures)
JOHN HAWKES / Teardrop – “WINTER’S BONE” (Roadside Attractions)
JEREMY RENNER / James Coughlin – “THE TOWN” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
MARK RUFFALO / Paul – “THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT” (Focus Features)
GEOFFREY RUSH / Lionel Logue – “THE KING’S SPEECH” (The Weinstein Company)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

AMY ADAMS / Charlene Fleming – “THE FIGHTER” (Paramount Pictures)
HELENA BONHAM CARTER / Queen Elizabeth – “THE KING’S SPEECH” (The Weinstein Company)
MILA KUNIS / Lily – “BLACK SWAN” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
MELISSA LEO / Alice Ward – “THE FIGHTER” (Paramount Pictures)
HAILEE STEINFELD / Mattie Ross – “TRUE GRIT” (Paramount Pictures)