Sunday, March 4, 2018

Oscars 2018 Academy Awards Best Picture OpEd

Spoilers: If you are new around here please realize there will be spoilers. So, buckle up as I run down my thoughts on the Best Picture Nominations, I even score them on my own 10 point scale. 

Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri- This deserves a win for screenplay. It was v interesting. It explored emotions better than any other nom by far. You not only get a story that is smart, you get characters who are carved out of a situation, who by the end, you got to know enough to know who they are no matter the situation. The final scene is so poetic. As a whole, it is heavy and dark, but I didn't mind. They weren't gross about it. The storytelling struck a good balance for me. Oh, also the music/score was number one for a reason. Who says it was number one? I did just now. It was. 8.8 out of 10

Shape of Water- I refuse to watch 2 minutes (let alone 2 hours) of a human woman falling in lust/love with a non-human, made-up, animal-monster-alien. 0/10. 

Lady Bird- Trying, like, so hella hard. I get to be extra judgy of things I know well, we all do. LB is a teen beyond her years in Northern California with a complicated relationship with her Mom, about to graduate High School in 2002. Well, I graduated in 1999; this movie is mostly just annoying. If you are looking for a movie that is like this one, but better, there are several others you can watch. My pick would be "Where the Heart Is" and I can't even stand Natalie Portman, so that says a lot. You can't make a quaint coming-of-age flick anymore because there's nothing quaint about something that has saturated the market for years. Try "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist", oh oh or "The Way, Way Back", or ffs read Catcher in the Rye (hated that book maybe more than any other I've ever bothered to read). Now, before my haters think or say "Mary, Mary, you're being quite contrary"! I offer you losers this: the movie didn't suck completely, if I had to grade it using a Film Making 101 matrix it would get high marks. The thing is: this movie should be swirling with angst and varied emotions... yet, it's actually stale and vapid. I felt nothing while being mildly entertained. It needed to be raw. Examples... she caught her 1st love making out with a boy: no big deal for Lady Bird or the movie apparently. Make parents refi their home: NBD. Almost fail class and not graduate: NBD. Have to bail on prom date: NBD. And so it went.  Anyway, the most annoying thing of this whole movie is how they never explain why she chooses her dumb self-appointed nickname. The greatest triumph of the film is how they never explain why her brother Miguel is another race. I'm not kidding. It doesn't matter if you assume he was adopted or a child from a previous relationship of either parent. It. Does. Not. Matter. and that's point. 4/10, maybe 5/10 if you are bored. 

The Post- The Snooze. Spielberg has only himself to blame. It's so him. Soft focus on Hanks being a good guy. The script itself isn't bad. The story is fine. I enjoyed that they stayed true to the history and it was so relevant today... but that has more to do with intrinsic truths than it does movie making. What happened was the whole thing got plugged into the Spielberg machine to crank out a blockbuster. Strong leads: check. Relevant political story: check. Progressive outcome: check. If this movie were visual art it would be a print (get it? a print, newspaper, omg). Spielberg is the Thomas Kinkade of filmmaking in so many ways. 7/10

Call Me By Your Name- Want to move to the Italian countryside for a summer? The cast of sophisticated characters charm their way through living their best lives. Comparing it to Lady Bird is easy since they are both centered around a year in the life of a graduating high schooler. However CMBYN is more of a romance and exploration of the human experience more than a coming of age.Take my disrespect for LB, quadruple it, then triple that, now convert it to appreciation and admiration, that is how I feel about CMBYN. It does lean a touch too sexual overall, taking away from the romance of the relationships and the romance of the film in general. That is my only criticism. It was real and beautiful. I learned it was shot in chronological order (v rare) which I believe gave the actors time to acquaint themselves more fully with their characters and with the story. Nuances like that are what takes things from "mildly entertaining" to deeply moving. One of the best monologues in movie history was delivered (Prof. Pearlman to Elio at the end in the library). This movie lets us in in a profound way. I loved it obviously, which is also easy to do.  9.5/10 

Darkest Hour(s)- This was a good movie. 7/10

Dunkirk- This was a bad movie. 2/10

Get Out- Should win. It was the best picture. Brilliant. You might not have gotten it. I say that with all the contempt in the world. If you don't love this movie or realize how many layers of genius is involved here, you might never get it (the movie or life). Like nothing else before it, it transcends genre. Intricately its own thing and it does everything I want a movie to do, told in a way only the magic of movies can. They accomplish all this while being a comedy, drama, horror movie and there is a plot and a twist! Come for the suspense but stay for the social commentary. Jordan Peele, will you marry me? OMG, you guys, while writing this, I just googled and he is married to Chelsea Peretti who I find intelligent, witty, and all-around likeable... she was also born and raised near me, so, she is basically me in a diff body... (I won't get into how funny saying "me in a diff body" was... watch the movie people)... fine, he can stay married to her. Bottom line is this movie is shockingly well made and undeniably fresh, relevant, smart, well acted, well written, captivating, funny, sad, artistic, and has the ability to incite thought enough to provoke change. 10 out of 10. 

Phantom Thread- Yes, thank you. Great movie. From top to bottom, quality... from start to finish about 20 minutes before the finish. I can't wait for the DVD to come out with an alternative ending. Please give us a different ending? And by that I mean I want the movie to end differently and I'd like Daniel Day Lewis to end his acting career differently. He claims this will be his final role. If he wins for best lead actor he will have been the only male with 4 wins. A woman already did this (Katherine Hepburn). Back to the movie... it was humming along nicely before it self-destructed. I thought the living room visiting teaching session with the doctor in flashbacks was a bit choppy, but other than that one tiny flaw, this thing was tight. Costumes being of particular note. Then, the ending came crashing down. Ugh. Lame. Besides the ending, I really like the movie. I didn't like the characters, but I liked the character development. The acting by everyone involved was a master class.  Bravo, bravo. 8/10

P.S. Anyone else wonder why The Promise didn't get nominated? Oh, that's right because there was a literal orchestrated campaign against the film by Armenian Genocide deniers. They flooded online ratings before it was released with down votes, zero scores, etc... and apparently the academy can't think for itself? Wouldn't want to nominate a worthy film because people (seemingly) didn't love it. Eye roll.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I'm Not Wrong- Oscars 2017

Fun Disclosure: I publish this article annually, and inevitably someone will kind of get annoyed/irritated/irate with me and say something like, "WRONG! xyz!" and carry on defending their favorite movie. This blog is my opinion. I am writing it. It is not wrong. It is 100% correct; it is exactly how I think, how I feel. I'm cool with you having your own view about the movies, duh, that is the thing about art, everyone sees it differently. I am not trying to fight you, but probably won't change my mind.

On to the shows (spoilers)...

La La Land- I'm starting with this one because it is heavily favored as the winner. I'd like to think I was the 1st person not to love this movie. There were parts of this thing that I loved. Truly. The parts that I didn't like were so distracting though. Foremost being the backmost (the end)... it's like pick a story to tell already and tell it. The "double-ending" was cheap. It was so everyone could walk away happy. That never works (not with movies, and not with most things.) When you give everyone partial satisfaction, you have no one actually happy. You have two half-happys out there. Moving on, have you ever bought the Crayola 8-pack Classic Colors markers? Apparently so has the director, because this thing was a long-form advert for them. Every single dress, car, building, couch, wall, etc was a saturated primary or secondary color. Until things started going sad, then they were not saturated and there was a lot of black and brown. This is no artistic flare, this is a cheaper gimmick than the double ending. If this trick was a pastry, it would be a store brand twinkie. I guess Hollywood hasn't had a twinkie before. Don't get me wrong, twinkies are good in that cheap gas station treat kind of way. I suppose if you are used to French pastries, when someone finally gives you a twinkie, you'll probably like it. But if you are me and you know what a twinkie is and you expect a warm croissant you'll want to swat the twinkie out of Damien Chazelle's hand. He wrote and directed this, as he did Whiplash. I wish I could mentor him. I really liked the story overall, and I really liked Ryan's performance. The music was on point. Even the way the song n' dance was seamless and not clunky at all. A hard feat.

Now the movies in order of my top favorite to shouldn't-even-be-here:

Lion- This was my favorite of the nominees. Overall, it was the best done. It told a universal story in a way that was: gripping, emotion-evoking, suspenseful, intriguing, caring, thoughtful, and entertaining. It was well acted from start to finish. It was well edited. The characters were on-point. Will watch again. Will think about again. Will recommend.

Arrival- You know I don't even believe in aliens. And Amy Adams generally bugs. Sci-fi is not my genre either. All that against this, and I loved it. That speaks volumes*, since this was my second favorite film of the group. The aliens in this story are actually literal, but think of them as metaphorical. This was the best story told on screen in 2016. It is an adapted screenplay, based off novella. This movie was a slow burn for me. While watching it, it was a little hard to cut through the noise of sci-fi and get down to business with what it was telling the audience (me). Once that happened and it finally got around to it, I was like "yes, yes yes" (the second half is 50000x better than the set-up of the first half). Not only did I love the story and what it was about, I appreciated the way the let me discover things right along side the characters, since they were learning too.
 *"Speaks volumes" was a fun little word-play since the whole crux of the thing is these aliens who don't speak nor communicate in a language humans know.

Hell or High Water- damn entertaining movie. I loved the characters, even though each was a villain in their own way. Jeff Bridges should (won't) win for best supporting actor. He nailed it. In fact, everyone who showed up on the screen did a fine job, down to the waitress who had minimal screen time. This is like a modern day western, so creative and so well done. I didn't want it to end.

Moonlight-  It did a good job telling the story of a man who had a hard life. It is the kind of movie that makes you wonder about strangers on the streets and what their story is. Manchester by the Sea just the same. They are quite similar in that regard. In a lot of regards actually. In comparing them though, I liked that Moonlight seemed more confidant in what it was. It told the story. It shared the life. Manchester had some things that were a bit bombastic in comparison. Anyway, back to Moonlight. It was the most relevant in today's culture and climate. It may not be studied in film school in 100 years, but I bet will be studied in American studies and Humanity classes. The main character of Moonlight was played by three different actors, and it was done phenomenally. He barely spoke, dialog was rare, and yet they each were able to really convey what he was all about, how he became who he was. I also thought there was value in this movie sharing a sub-culture with the viewers. I mean, one of the films hero was a mid level drug distributer. This story though is one of personal growth, pride, self acceptance, forgiveness and a giant dose of reality. Some lives are well lived even if illegal and in the throws of sadness. It is a hard watch, but worthy of watching. The cinematography is armature hour (was nominated, what?!)

Manchester by the Sea- Another film focusing on characters. It focuses on grief and familial bonds. It is a hard watch mostly, and for the most part a well crafted film. Though, there were some huge pitfalls that marred the movie for me. There was so much b-roll footage. Like I am talking at least 45 minutes of us watching out the window of the truck as Lee drives around Manchester. It added nothing. I get it was trying to pace itself, but at a certain point watching the movie I could tell you how many branches were on that one tree by road near the pier. Anyway, another thing I really did not like is that we were supposed to be exploring the grief of losing Joe (father to Patrick, brother to Lee, all around good guy). As we are watching this all of the sudden we learn of a more sensational, more devastating loss of Lee's children. Which I get it, grief can not be prescribed and comes in all doses. But come on, this is a fictional story and it was like "oh, I've got this good sad story, MORE SAD" - it was a bit full of itself and distracting at that point. That said, Casey Affleck should win Best Actor. And I wouldn't even be upset if Lucus Hedges does for supporting too.

Hacksaw Ridge- OMG. War movies should stop being made. Was Doss a hero? Yeah, he is real and really saved so many people and really stood up for what he believed in. Does his story deserve to be told? Yes. Am I one to shut down the first amendment? No. Do I blame Mel Gibson for somehow glorifying war? Yeah. And side rant- guys, war is so dumb. SO DUMB. I'm anti-war. Ok, back to the movie, no need to watch an hour of cinematic blow-em-up any more. It is not provocative. Any educated person understands how horrific battle is. There is no graphic image that will make me understand more, so what is the point anymore. I know the director is trying to get us to feel like we are there, to understand the conditions, to be immersed in the horror. But, when it is done we are still eating snacks sitting in our safe couch in our free land (because of the warriors, I get it). Anyway, stop making war movies with long battle scenes. Also, should Andrew Garfield even be nominated for best actor? No,not even close. He did not do a good job acting. He was over acting. Mel Gibson also does not deserve best director.

Hidden Figures- Shouldn't have been nominated. The story is worthy of a telling. But, it is such a bubble-gum, Barbie-doll situation. So surface. Almost offensive. The whole point is to share this story of black women working for NASA in the 60s. True pioneers. Breaking down stereo types by living their lives... and then Disney gets ahold of this and literally shows me a southern black church picnic scene with about every stereo type you could imagine in the span of 10 minutes (Sassy black mother hen telling a child to eat their greens as they pick up fried chicken, sigh). Also, we didn't need to watch Cookie Lion run to the bathroom 10 times. Segregated bathrooms were not only unfair, unequal and ridiculous, but they were a true barrier to this woman's work, yes, ok, fine, now in a well-made movie they'd be able to show us that with out literally annoying the audience with unrealistic depictions of  these bathroom runs. Get a grip Disney, the problems Katherine Johnson faced were far deeper than not being able to afford a pretty pearl necklace (even if because of income inequality).

Fences- Did not see.

Additional notes:

a.) The Lobster should win for original screenplay. It was so original. La La Land was also nominated for it, and should not win but might because people forget musicals have been around for ever, stop acting like it was so daring by being a musical.

b.) The Infiltrator and The Light Between the Oceans were totally deserving and got nothing. Not necessarily in need for Best Picture, but acting and even some sub-categories like cinematography and costume design were totally glaring omissions.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Christmas Gift Guide 2016

2016: dreadful year, brilliant Christmas.

Let's get right into this guide, shall we?

NASA vintage posters. Here is the deal, you download and print. So basically these are "free" if you have a printer that can handle it. Or a few bucks at your local Kinkos (which are now called FedEx Office if you are trying to find one for real).


Download these and many more options here: Visions of The Future NASA Posters


Speaking of posters and exploring... I firmly believe the National Parks are a gift to America. 

An  Annual Pass that provides access to more than 2,000 recreation areas managed by five Federal agencies, with up to 100% of the proceeds being used to improve and enhance visitor recreation services. Anyone 16 years or older may purchase the pass; children under 16 are always admitted free. Each Annual Pass can have up to two "owners". Now warning: DO NOT buy this for someone aged 62 or older. They can get a lifelong pass for $10 on their own.

$80 America The Beautiful - Annual National Park Pass

Bonus: the worst site in the world, maybe not updated since the 1990s, run by our fine government of course, sells some pretty nice posters - including one of a National Park map and various Dept. of Interior promo posters, from like $5 to $20. Government Bookstore - Posters & Prints

Another far out gift for gals is changing color lipstick. It is one color in the tube, but is another (pink) on the lips.


Everyone out there is in love with Ina Garten. Me too. She has a new cookbook out, Cooking for Jeffery, and while it makes a great gift that many will love, it is the go-to cookbook gift of 2016.

You know what one I can pretty much assure you won't find a duplicate under the tree?This cookbook by Chrissy Teigen. Yes, that Chrissy. The model, married to John Legend, who has a wild wardrobe and a wild twitter account. She has an actual good cookbook. Now, I have flipped through and I wouldn't suggest it for a conservative family member. I will give a visual example below... but if you know someone who can handle the heat, get them in the kitchen with this one.

Hardcover, $18 or Digital on Kindle for $16 at Amazon: Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat


For those who like to eat, but don't like to cook... there is this tiny book of cooks will take you all over the world.

From Amazon, $20: Where To Eat Pizza


Got a green thumb in your fam? Or a black thumb? Or a red, white, blue, yellow, purple, pink thumb?

Seed bombs are the bomb. You toss and grow. Wildflowers, herbs, or edible flowers.

Packs from $9 & up from Seedles: Grow The Rainbow Seed Bombs


Speaking of the garden... A life-long reader of mine, Gwen, told me the other day she was a butterfly. I asked her how she knew she wasn't a moth. Argument ensued.

Look how cute this art kit is?

$17 from Amazon online Butterfly Color Kit
$20 in store at Papyrus Papyrus to check for in store stock


Another kid gift are these kids sized headphones. I can't stand be assaulted with noise, and I can't imagine having some kid around with some device with some annoying game ping, or background music, or even having to watch AND listen to the same Disney movie a million times over. Enter these earphones.

$49 for Bluetooth from Amazon Untangled Kids Bluetooth Headphones
$22 for certain colors of the wired version from Target Wired Kids Headphones


Now, the next two you can give as a set, or break it up. Both from Target, I have both. I love both. They are both quite affordable, but well made. For someone who entertains, or just likes nice things in their kitchen. These pictures really don't do either the justice they deserve.

Pitcher, $13 from Target Libbey Impressions Glass Pitcher
Serving Board, $20 from Target Marble and Wood Board


And, finally, to end the list as always, please give the gift of baked goods.

Shortbread: hard to mess up, hard to stop eating. Recipe found here: Salted Chocolate Shortbread Cookies


PS- bonus life pro tip: don't vape. It is super gross.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


I watched most. I won't watch a few. Who was excited that Joy wasn't nominated? I was too. On to the ones who were nominated...

This movie was well executed, as we watched characters find a sliver of "success" amidst the housing market crash of 2008 the international recession and utter dismantling of banking worldwide. This movie took a raw, complex, thorny event and made it digestible, though a style of filmmaking could be a bit condescending at times and pandered to this superiority complex that the filmmaker had, but then again many of then men in the story have the same issue. I almost appreciated the accidental mirroring of the movie talking to the audience as if we were idiots and the bankers trying to explain their discoveries to others as if they were the same. This movie had another thing going for it: Big names. 

Underrated and long as hell. While wondering if the movie would ever end, I really did enjoy it. It was interesting and emotional. It told a story worth telling and did it in a way that only a movie can. 

It was cute. 

Won't see. It's too much. 

Longer than Bridge of Spies by three minutes, but it felt like three years longer. Casting was on point. Obviously Matt Damon was able to pull it off, and he did with humor and grit and grace. Supporting characters also fared well. Deserves the nomination, doesn't deserve a win. As everyone has noted: it is Castaway in space. Had Castaway not been made yet, I'd like this more (and I don't even like Castaway and I liked The Martian) but the magic of a single-man-isolation-show was lost (on Mars). 

Didn't see. Afraid it will be too violent, but I think we can all agree that Leo deserves Best Actor- and hopefully he will win for this, but really we know he is winning for What's Eating Gilbert Grape and they just are getting around to giving him his due finally in 2016. 

Gah. This was a good one. An excellent one. It was tourmenting and dark and funny and sad and happy. All the emotions. It was also well done; well timed, well balanced, and overall impressed me. It impressed me with the acting most of all. Though it is a "composite" of various captives/victims I did have a pang of guilt for using such tragic stories as my entertainment. I mean, how absurd is it that people are making movies and "enjoying" them. Though, it was eye opening and educational and I can't imagine anyone "enjoying" watching this movie, though it is still a movie. A full length one at that. Sometimes I save short films to explore and expose topics in a shorter format that seems almost more respectful.  It was more complex than any other nominated film this year. It took bigger risks and therefore it had bigger returns. 

It also was a topic that is so sad and draining, at every turn I was more and more upset... but they made a good movie with the story. It was over acted (Mark Ruffalo) and it was a bit ridiculous with the costumes (Rachel McAdams pants). There were flaws. It might win, and I don't think it deserves it. 

What should win: Room

What could win (no primaries, split top votes, 2nd or 3rd then default wins): The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, The Revenant 

What shouldn't win: Spotlight, The Martian, Brooklyn, Mad Max

WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Sicarco. It was my personal favorite movie of 2015. It did get some technical noms and I am over here, like, "the sum of the parts?". It really was good. It was a good movie. A good story. Good acting. Wasn't into itself. Made me think, really think. And didn't rest it's laurels on some hot topic or some hot story from the past. It was it's own. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Christmas Gift Guide 2015

Buy yourself something. Buy the people you love some things.

Here are some gifts to consider.  

Even the heartless still love summer, cute animals, and ice cream...

This print ($30) is for them: a child, a bathroom, a kitchen, a puppy room (you don't have a puppy room in your house?)...


Did we land on the moon? Probably not. Should your cold beverage land on the wooden table? Probably not. $38 set of four leather coasters, choice of colors. 

Moon Leather Coasters


Is soap on a rope still a thing? It is. 

For $15 you can give it to any man. They will laugh and then you know they will use it.


Keeping in theme with keeping things clean and dry, I was introduced to Turkish Towels this summer. The brilliance is they are thin (compact & pack-able), they dry super fast, and sand doesn't get all in the terry knit. Good for the beach, the sticky southern humid bathrooms, and vacation.

$11 to $25 depending on size and color. Amazon offers a million different color choices.


A $23 book of cool things. 


Speaking of rarely seen things, have you ever seen someone totally cool with their phone being at like a 1% or even a 9% charge. Complete panic sets in. I was with my cool friend Louise in Texas last winter and she whipped out a portable charge like everything was easy. 


This stamp can be YOUR FACE or someone else's face. I almost never want to sign my name to anything ever again. Stamp me, please. 


$90 and a two week turn around time is required.

[Hat tip to my housemate Kirstin for telling me about this life changing gift idea.]


I hope you have lots of moms, sisters, daughters, and self's to buy for because here is another female-leaning gift. 
Street Level Reversible Faux Leather Tote & Wristlet
It is reversible! It is faux leather. It is pretty. It is functional.  It is only $48 (& free shipping!). It comes in like 8 different colors from metallic to classics. 


I was conditioned  to think of this... Every time I am in nature, I want to reach or ask for the 'nocs... and no one ever has any. 

I know nothing of quality of binoculars, but I know Costco has the best buyers. So for a slight splurge of $150 an outdoor enthusiast can get something they wanted, or didn't know they wanted. 


And, as much as I am no outdoor enthusiast, I am a kitchen enthusiast. For any type of foodie (baker, griller, etc) you are bound to find a spice gift at Penzeys they will want. Bonus: spices take a while to expire, and they instantly inspire. 


Depending on the pack, $15 to over $100. Bonus idea: you can totally DIY with this to save money, I wouldnt recommend a grocery brand, but you can easily find some "high end" spices to put together in a cute gift box. 


Do I go to the movies enough to justify spending $40ish a month for a movie pass? I would if I had one. 

Go to the website to verify it is in the area. You can give a 3 month ($125), 6 month ($225), or 12 month ($400) membership. 


And last, but NOT least. Make some caramel sauce, jar it, and give it:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Oscar Best Pictures

After listening to all the noise I created by not watching every single movie nominated last year (regardless of film-worthiness or my actual desire), you will be happy to know: this year, I saw every single best-picture nominated movie

Spoiler Alert: I use the term "spoiler alert" because it is the common colloquialism. A more proper term would be "Informing Alert". Why wouldn't you want to know what you are getting into? Informing Alert: I don't like surprises much. Not only that, some of these movies are steeped in history. Things that actually happened (and some things that didn't exactly happen- I'm looking at you Selma). If you are concerned about not wanting to know something then reevaluate your stance and then read on... There will be "spoilers".

American Sniper - This hard-to-watch is now the highest grossing war movie ever. Some media acted all shocked that it had such a huge opening weekend at the box office, and I was like "Um, did you see the trailer?" It was the best trailer I have ever seen. It made me feel things: patriotic things, empathetic things. It made me consider my family, what I would do for my country, where the line should be drawn, where enemy lines should be erased. The movie was just as good as the trailer. It depicted a realness from the perspective of a warrior that was hard-to-ignore. Not only about while being deployed, but also about being home and the homeland he serves. From what I understand, it also stayed true to the story. Though tragic and tough, the story was beautifully told and taught audiences a lot. Bradley Cooper should win Best Actor for his performance. It is my Best Picture pick. It was the best overall and it was the best at what it was.

Birdman - I will say it: this movie is weird as hell. I consider myself pretty open to artistic stuff, but this was heavy handed even for me. They were able to pull it off. Crazy as it was weird. That was the point though, to take us into this world of a crazy man in a crazy back stage world. As far as the acting goes, Michael Keaton proved he was more than just Batman in the most meta way possible. He can act, but he wasn't the best. Ed Norton, who never disappoints, didn't. And if you are on my private fashion emails, you know I have an affinity for Naomi Watts. While Emma Stone somehow has tricked America into having a collective affinity for her, she seemed less annoying to me. In comparison to other films: it was the best of an art-house movie. A few years ago The Artist won, an that was weird and art-house, and terrible, and poorly done, and shouldn't have won anything. Birdman was good, and well made and maybe could win with out pissing me off. It makes me wonder if this year's dark horse Birdman (so many animals) will come out the victor? [Insert lesson on voting primaries here, and why this movie actually might win considering the others will split votes and this one could be universally liked enough to be 2nd Best with 1st Best being a 4-way tie, and Last Best being a 3-way tie.]

Boyhood - Look, this went were movies have never been. They created something really new. Well, kind of. It is like when produce came out with those cotton candy flavored grapes this summer, or when we got the grape flavored apple. Still fruit, but new. Still a movie, but new. Boyhood was a little boring, the plot wasn't wowing anybody. Though, it did give me curiosity to wonder if every persons personal tale is at least that interesting? If so, that is interesting: to consider that everyone might be mildly interesting if I cared enough to find out. Linklater will/should win for Director. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel - Here is the problem with this movie: it reeked of Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson smells good, but it is old hat. It was exceptionally entertaining. I loved it. Had this movie been the first WA movie ever made it could win. But it isn't, and it won't, and it shouldn't. 

The Imitation Game - USA won that war. Unrelated: This movie shouldn't win this Oscar. It was good, not great. Just like Britain's contributions to WW2. 

Selma - This movie was comprised of long scenes depicting MLK in private, quieter moments- with The President in the Oval Office, with his wife discussing an affair in the middle of the night, even showing his own contemplations leading to major decisions made on the front lines of the civil rights movement. Unless everyone that knew MLK kept meticulous and deeply personal journals, and/or cooperated with the filmmakers in an intimate way with the clarity of objectiveness and with out personal bias, let alone the shaded view of 50 full years in between then and now, we don't know what was actually said or thought. So, this movie is pretty much made up, around a framework of history. Selma is  wrong to voice history like this. The movie did a fine job emotionally investing the audience, it's really a shame they threw credibly to the way side. They had a responsibility to respect history and they did not. The Civil Rights movement is important to understand and telling the story of the Selma March was worthy of a film. I agree with the general sentiments of the movie. Agreeing with morals of the protagonist of a movie doesn't mean the movie was good. I did not like this movie much. When people say they really liked this movie, they might mean to say they really like civil rights or they really like MLK or the story is important. 

The Theory of Everything - It was semi-captivating, and it was semi-superbly acted by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. When I say semi-suberbly acted, what I mean by that is Eddie did a phenomenal job, but within external limits. He really transformed his body and his delivery was amazing. But he didn't speak for much of the film. Some say that makes it more difficult, since he can only rely on his body language/facial expressions. I say it makes it half as hard. Simplifies it and amplifies the performance he did give. Sorry, bro. This one goes to Bradley. Also, I couldn't tell if Felicity Jones is that good, or was just that well-cast. The personal story of Stephen Hawking is amazing. It is a story of genius (see below) that was able to connect to a broad audience, because really it is a story of struggle and love, and we can all relate to that. I also appreciated the cinematography, costumes, and lighting. The secondaries that help transport you to another time. Those details were spot on. 

Whiplash- I saved the worst for last. (And the list is alphabetical). In the worst of cases, people mistake abuse for love. This movie/story gets something very wrong. I've long said not all who are manic are geniuses, but all geniuses are a some degree of manic. Manic can be a symptom of genius. In Whiplash they make it seem like if you are manic the symptom could be (musical) genius. That if you really just let go of all sanity, something creative might be able to come out. No. Not how it works. This was unfortunately written by someone who is looking at genius from the outside in. Continually purporting that if the main character could just get to that level of instability, he might find this depth of drumming that he didn't even know he had! Sorry, again, no. 

True: You may have this gift of musical genius and when you tap it, sometimes the manic escapes. 

False: When you have this intense instability, sometimes the music escapes. 

When JK Simmons' character goes on a diatribe about why he is pushing his students so hard abusive, claiming it was just bred of love; he saw something in his student that he knew he had to force to come out, and that is how all successes come, from a push to be better and that if someone had said "that was nice" then nothing great would be... OMG while watching, I considered hunting down the writers phone number so I could CALL THE WRITER AND EXPLAIN GREATNESS and how it all actually works and how love really can conquer all. I am not claiming to be a genius, but I am claiming to know about behavior management. Sure, people have made strides out of spite, out of resentment turned into passion... that has happened. Every time it has happened, it is tragic. It sells the greatness short. This movie got it wrong in a major way. Which is why when I just now (after writing all I just wrote previous) looked up the writer/director... a few fun facts: his father is a writer, the teacher was inspired by his own experiences with a director, and he is a mere 30 years old. So, he might really benefit from a lesson on how greats are actually made. Maybe instead of me, his father should make that phone call. Heal some things. JK Simmons does a really good job and he or Edward Norton should win for supporting actor. At the end of this movie it seemed to start to redeem itself by showing the student in his own twisted behavior, but then threw it all away in the last five seconds. Stop glorifying this behavior, stop trying to get approval from a maniac, stop trying to explain and defend something you don't understand. This film is immature. This film did have good tempo though. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

State of the Joke

Typically I live blog during The State of the Union. Adding in my thoughts as the Presidents tells us what he wants us to hear. 

This year I was unable to watch live since it aired one hour into a three hour flight I was on... I figured I'd deplane and hear all about the highs and lows. It would be the chatter of DC. 

I am a person who reads the news daily. I watch the news most days. The only thing I have heard about the SOTU is some ad-lib joke that President Obama delivered. 

[In case you missed it, it went like this... Obama: "I have no more campaigns to run..." and then all the GOP interrupt with a roar of applause. Then O: "I know... Because I won both of them.]

Ok, mildly amusing. He was quick-thinking. 

The problem with all of this: No one seemed to care enough about ANYTHING else he had to say. The media kept replaying it. I read more than one article headline about it. 

The rest of his speech? Who knows. It isn't that the joke is soooo good that it overshadowed the rest of it. It is the rest of it didn't matter.  But it does! America has a lot going on these days. Mostly amazing things. A few things internally that we need to deal with. That we need a President to step in and speak to... 

I didn't hear or see anything up there but a joke.