Monday, February 28, 2011

The Feel Good Movie takes the Oscars!

Wow, some great cosmic shift has happened in Hollywood! Wholesome, inspiring feel good movies that people have actually seen have taken the Oscars and the films focused on the social taboos of our society, the "out there" films didn't do so well. What could this mean!

Of course I am doubly thrilled in the fact that I got to see the first public showing ever of this year's Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, THE KING's SPEECH at the Telluride Film Festival, with Firth, Rush and director Tom Hooper in attendance.
Colin Firth won for Best Actor and Tom Hooper won for Best Director.

INCEPTION, amazingly a movie that a lot of people had actually seen, took most of the technical awards ( Special Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Cinematography).

Actually in researching for this post, I have been reminded that there are a few other feel good movies taking the Oscar home and crowd pleasers too! Well not last year's winner...
2009- HURTS LOCKER- didn't see it and don't want to.

My attention and pretty much everyone else was on AVATAR in 2009...

 which only took three technical Oscars home including Best Cinematography. Apparently the movie did not impress the Academy as much as everybody else on the planet.


haven't seen it-too many people told me I should and after seeing the way Danny Boyle make a movie (127 Hours) am not motivated. My head hurts to think about it.


wish I hadn't seen it! Too much blood, too much violence and not that much story- in my opinion.


have not seen it, can't think what I was doing in 2006, but want to rent it!

2005 -CRASH...
an ensemble cast with a powerful look at how truly we see and treat others, another winner with a message, what was No Country For Old Men's message?

won't see it, I hate movies that take you on a ride to push a taboo- i.e. euthanasia- same reason I hated The English Patient.


A movie that both the public and the Academy loved, kind of like the Kingly winner this year!

2002- CHICAGO...
a Musical! What are the odds!

it is a tossup between this year's winner and ...

2000- GLADIATOR...
 as to which one is my favorite- I think I will have to go with this Roman Thriller that brought us the life and death of the General Maximus Decimus Meridius, played so powerfully by Russell Crowe...

Since I even named my dog after him. ( Max for Short) 

Friday, February 25, 2011

"One Degree" from Paul Walker

Often when I cook I like to have a movie playing, so last night getting ready to have friends over to dinner, I had IN TO THE BLUE playing on my laptop on the counter. Which probably wasn't the wisest thing, since I was frying chili rellenos, which take about three days to make and were really, really good, but that is another blog.

IN TO THE BLUE ( 2005) is just mindless fun about a sexy couple in the Bahamas searching for lost treasure ships who get intertwined with drug traffickers that have lost a "coke plane" in the ocean. Starring Jessica Alba ( Dark Angel TV series, Fantastic Four Franchise and Sin City) and one of my favorite actors, Paul Walker, who is just fun to watch, for one he is never still, reminds me somehow of the little boys I have taught who are brilliant, articulate but in constant motion.

Paul Walker is probably most know for the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise (starting in 2001) often starring Van Diesel.

But he has actually starred alongside many an actor who weren't so famous at the time, but now are huge.

I saw Paul Walker in TIMELINE (2003), about a group of archeologists who discover a way to go back in time to feudal England. It was one of those movies I humored my husband going to, although I knew I wouldn't like it and I could barely recognize Walker, yes that is him in the movie poster and he had already done the first Fast and Furious movie. Can you tell who the other guy is? He was pretty forgettable in this movie but a year later became famous due to his unforgettable performance...

in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA(2004)- Gerald Butler ( P.S. I Love You, The Bounty Hunter)

Before TIMELINE, Walker had some minor roles in movies, including PLEASENTVILLE (1998), a very interesting movie about two modern teenagers who fall into a black and white conservative 1950's world but bring a little color with them.

PLEASENTVILLE stars Reese Witherspoon ( Walk the Line and Legally Blonde) and a little know actor at the time, who now is known for one of the largest grossing film trilogies..

Tobey Maguire ( Spiderman movies and Seabiscuit)

Which brings us back or forwards to INTO THE BLUE (2005)

which stars another slow to gain fame actor who portrayed the very cool under pressure, but very bad guy....

Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men, W, and True Grit)

But in my favorite of his movie, Paul Walker stands on his own, well kind of wiggles on his own, cause he can't stand still, THE DEATH AND LIFE OF BOBBY Z.
 Laurence Fishburne does star as the bad guy but the focus is all on Walker, a three strikes convict working with the FBI and getting a second chance by assuming the ID of a successful drug dealer who happens to have a son he does not want, but Walker does, and also a former girlfriend. Shot around the Mexico/US border it is a fun mindless ride, like most of Walkers movies, but the interaction between Walker and J.R. Villarreal ( Akeelah and the Bee)...

 is worth watching it for. Well I am a sucker for "Dad" movies and this one is sweet, and funny and a lot of shoot'em ups all at the same time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Discovering the 9th Legion

Actually went and saw a good movie this last weekend, one I want to see again, which is the best endorsement I think I can give any flick.

THE EAGLE, staring Channing Tatum ( Stepping Up, GI Joe, Dear John) as a young gallant Roman officer

and Jamie Bell ( Defiance and Jumper)
 as his slave and guide into the wilds of Northern Britannia to retrieve the sacred golden eagle emblem lost by his farther and the infamous but now destroyed 9th Legion of the Roman army.

The Roman's invaded the great island of Britannia around AD 43, they only got so far and today the remnants of Hadrian's Wall,
named for the emperor who had it built to make it difficult for the pagan tribes of the north to invade the Roman controlled south, it was the end of the "known world".

THE EAGLE is not the only movie in recent times to flirt with the mysterious happening behind the wall dividing the "civilized" from "the wild".

CENTURION, a really good little film out of the UK, tells the story of a small group of Roman soldiers, led by Michael Fassbender, ( 300) running for their lives back to the South, after the 9th ultimate defeat, chased by Olga Kurylenko ( James Bond Quantum Solace)

THE LAST LEGION, my least favorite Colin Firth (The Kings Speech, Bridget Jones Diary) movie

 and confirms why I think high action is not his forte, covers the globe from the defeat of Roman to again a small band of soldiers with the responsibility of guarding the young Emperor, taking him to find sanctuary in Britannia. His tutor's name happens to be Merlin and he happens to be the future father of Arthur and there is a very important sword involved.

Which brings us to another mixing of lore, in KING ARTHUR, starring Clive Owen ( Children of Men)and Keira Knightley ( Atonement, Pirates Trilogy) about a distant Roman fortress held by less than motivated indentured soldiers and their interaction with the Pagan tribes around them.

THE EAGLE was also interesting in the development of the Britannia tribes, the most feared being the Seal People who looked a whole lot like the Native American tribes with mud smeared faces and Mohawks, but then why wouldn't they, people's culture is a reflection of the geography around them and why would a native tribe by the sea who hunts seals look similiar no matter what contintent they happen to be on.

All of these Lost Legion movies reminds me of my time in Europe, the summer I graduated from high school and how mostly traveling around France on the Metro, you could see the remnants of their roads, their aqueducts,  their temples and their arenas,

so intrigung to live amongst the ghosts of an ancient civilization, something I post often about on my writing and illustrating blog, Moonflower Musing.
click HERE for my post about the Castles we have. Also check out the official THE EAGLE website, for a lot of info on the making of the movie and the history of the vanishing 9th Legion.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I am probably the odd man (women) out on this, but though I liked some of the new True Grit movie, as a whole I didn't like it, exactly why I can't quite put my finger on...

Perhaps it is because the 1969 version with John Wayne, Glen Campbell , Robert Duvall and Kim Darby as the short haired , fiesty Mattie Ross, is so ingrained in my consciousness, I found it hard to, well, watch Jeff Bridges try to be John Wayne. I think maybe the old 1969 version is also ingrained in his consciousness. His constant squinting, nervous ticks and growly voice was just a little bit too much for me and well he...wasn't John Wayne.

I have often asked the question on this blog- "Is anything sacred in Hollywood? Is there anything that they will just leave alone, but apparently not- when the well runs dry, when they seem to be out of new ideas, which it seems to be the case in Tinseltown, lately- I haven't post much on this blog the last couple of months because frankly there hasn't been really anything interesting to post! My hope is that spring and summer will bring some better movies then the winter has. But I digress- I think if there is a movie that should of been left alone, for sheer nostalgia, it would True Grit.

It is an odd thing when a movie version of a novel, in this case written by Charles Portis, back in 1968, first as a serial story in the Saturday Evening Post is less known in the American conscious then the movie adaptation. Because for me, not only will Rooster Cogburn always be John Wayne, LaBoeuf is Glen Campbell not Matt Damon and I like Matt Damon, but I didn't like him in this role- yes the guy can adapt himself to about any role, transforming his whole body image, but I just didn't like him I guess as a "Dandy" Texas Ranger.

Plus, in the 1969 True Grit, LeBoeuf dies, hit in the head, he is just able to help pull the snake bit Mattie and Rooster from the pit, but then falls off his horse dead, somehow in my book adding a bit more tension to the end of a tension building story- "I'll send a horse back for you," just really didn't help hold the tension.

Plus I don't think John Wayne would have raced pass a perfectly good horse standing where the shoot out had happened in the valley below- seems like in the true West, you never race past a perfectly good horse just standing there, you lead it along with you.

Which brings up a gripe I have had with the few Westerns that have been made of late, like 3:10 to Yuma with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Rule on of writing fiction is that you have to stick to the rules of the Universe you have created.

Bullet actually kill people or render them incapacitated. Bullets make you bleed and are painful. One does not jump up from being shot and ride a horse, run like they ain't wounded and fight the bad guy with no visible effects.

When Mattie goes down to the stream to get water, with a very large thick wooden bucket that my husband said must of been high tech collapsible, so it could fit into their very small saddle bags, and she runs into Tom Chaney, played by Josh Brolin, shoots him at close range with a big pistol and well, he hardly have any effect from it, other than a lot of whining.

And what is with the pit, a pit filled with snakes isn't exciting enough there has to be a skeleton with hidden snakes in it - gosh I think just a deep pit with the sounds of rattles coming from the darkness is scary enough, the whole skeleton seemed contrived and unnecessary.

Again I think I am the odd one out, not putting this movie up there and wishing after the older version. Perhaps if John Wayne had this script..... no.... that would not work either. Usually we can't go back and shouldn't, though right now Hollywood doesn't seem to be able to go forward and find some more movies that forty plus years later will twist with our consciousness like True Grit has.

One thing that is certain is we will be seening more of the very talented Haliee Steinfeld