Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Post Oscar Post

Well I got 14 out of 24 right in my Oscar predictions, which is about average for me. The one I'm really proud off is picking Alan Arkin over Eddie Murphy for best supporting actor, one of the big upsets of the night. Speaking of which, I guess having 3 songs from your movie nominated is the best way for your musical to have its vote split, and then lose the obvious award. Also, the minute I learned what West Bank Story was about, I instently wished I could have changed my vote in best live action short film. I'm also happy that The Lives of Others beat Pan's Labyrinth for best foreign language film. Though the fact that Letters From Iwo Jima is a foreign language film that was nominated for best picture, but not best foreign langauge film is a little odd.

Some other things I've been watching:

The Three Faces of Eve broke ground and won Joan Woodward an Oscar for playing a women suffering from multipal personality disorder. All but maybe the last half hour pales in comparsion to Sybil, a late 70's mini-series that covers a more serve case of the phenomina, and also features Joan Woodward. Eve is also a prime example of Nunnley Johnsons tast for odd openings and narrations (why Alistair Cook? Not that I'm complaining, but why Alistair Cook? I mean the movies set in Georgia!), and foundness for casting Lee J. Cobb as a virtuous authority figure.

The Pledge is the best movie my brother ever recomended to me. I'm not going to say much about the film, only that it is definatly worth seeing, and you spend the last half of the movie just waiting for things to blow up in Jack Nicholsons face. This movie also compelts my long belated list of the 5 best movies of 2001, listed below in alphabetical order:

1. A. I.: Artifical Intelligence
2. A Beautiful Mind
3. Mulholland Drive
4. The Man Who Wasn't There
5. The Pledge

Finally finished season 5 of Gilmore Girls, which really did feel like an improvment over season four.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

"Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul: Where there is compassion even the most poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless."- Eric Hoffer

"Every revolutionary idea evokes three stages of reaction: 1) It's completely impossible 2) It's possible but it's not worth doing 3) I said it was a good idea all along."-Arthure C. Clarke

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Oscar Picks 2007

Well the time has come for me to post my Oscar perdictions for the annual Oscar poll. I do however reserve the right to change my predictions up until the time of the Oscar broadcast, thought that seems unlikely. While I have modertly strong opinons on most of the major catagories, I'm really mostly guessing when it comes to some of the more minor ones.

Best Picture- I'd be voting for The Departed if I belonged to the Academy, and that is my prediction for winner. However I have a sneaking feeling that highley commited Little Miss Sunshine fans might be able to push their movie over the top.

Directing- Martin Scorses for The Departed, finally.

Best Actor- Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland. Though if I where an Academy member I'd be highley tempted to cast my vote for Peter O'Toole, who should have one a best actor Oscar 45-years ago.

Best Actress- No brainer, Helen Mirren for The Queen.

Best Supporting Actor- Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine.

Best Supporting Actress- I'm gonna play it safe and go for popular favorite Jennifer Hudson of Dreamgirls, though I'd have voted fro Adrina Barraza from Babel.

Best Animated Feature- Happy Feet

Best Documentary Feature- Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth seems to have a lock on the Zitgiest.

Best Foreign Language Film- Pan's Labyrinth

Best Art Direction- Dreamgirls

Cinematography- The Prestige

Costume Design- Marie Antoinette

Documnentary Short- The Blood of Yingzhou District (vote based on only on title)

Film Editing- Babel

Makeup- Pan's Labyrinth

Original Score- Babel (though I might have voted for The Queen)

Original Song- I only know one of the songs on this list, so I'm just going to pick something from Dreamgirls at random, how about: "Listen"

Animated Short Film - Maestro (because it just sounds like the name of a best short film winner)

Live Action Short Film- Binta and the great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea)

I'm spliting my vote on the next two catagories, because both film choices need to win at least one Oscar:

Sound Editing- Letters from Iwo Jima

Sound Mixing- Flags of Our Fathers

Visual Effects- Superman Returns, because I don't want Pirates to win an Oscar (sorry Dane).

Adapted Screenplay- Could Borat pull a 3-6 Mafia? No I vote for The Departed.

Original Screenplay- The Queen.

Nates awards rankings:

Most wins: Tie- The Departed and Babel with three each.

The Queen, Dream Girls and Pan's Labyrinth each get two.

While The Last King of Scotland, Little Miss Sunshine, The Prestige, Marie Antoinette, Letters from Iwo Jima, and Flags of Our Fathers each get one award.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Two From '39

Sunday evening I enjoyed to semi-neglected films from the classic movie year of 1939. The first up was the non-musical version of Goodbye Mr. Chips. Star Robert Donat beat Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith, and Clark Gable in Gone With The Wind, to win the best actor trophy at that years Oscar ceremony. The movie is based on the novel by James "Everything I Write is Designed to Make You Cry Like A Baby" Hilton, and concerns the six decade association of a 'classics' teacher with an English boys school. Greer Garson plays the love intrest. While I feel the English boys school sub-genra has been done better (To Serve Them All My Days), this is a moving film with a highley relatable lead and too much Terry Kilburn.

Second feature of the evening was Dark Victory. I read a piece in Films of the Golden Age, that talked about how the children of a military officer who had raised his kids on black and white films, liked to call this movie "Bette Davis Dying". "Bette Davis dying" is actully a pretty good description for this film, as the story involves said actress as an heiress with a fatal brian condition, and George Brent as the brain surgon who falls in love with her, despite being unable to save her. High melodrama. Ronald Reagan and Humphrey Bogart also via for Ms. Davis's romantic attentions, playing a play boy and horse traner respectively.

Getting to Know Mitt Romney

Get to Know Mitt Romney here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"I say if you're a senator and you've got a drinking problem that's got you in trouble, don't use it as an excuse. Come out like a man and say I've done some things I'm not proud of . . . and then simply leave it up to the people of Massachusetts."
— Al Franken

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Mormons, George Reeves and Alan Ball

With the upcoming releasse of the Howard Hughs releated film The Hoax, it seemed time to view the film about the other famous Hughs forgery (or supposed forgery depending on who you belive), Melvin and Howard. This quarky film by Jonathan Demme tells the story of Melvin Dummar, who in the late 1960's gave a late night ride to a man claiming to be Howard Hughs, only to have a will bequething him millions of dollars from the late billionare, deliverd to his Utah gas station in 1976. Known as 'The Mormon Will' this document was later determend by a court to be fraudulent, though some belive it was simply repressed by Hughs buisness associates who disagreed with where the money went.

The movie Hollywoodland takes a look at the mysterious death of television superman George Reeves. All of the three major theorys regarding his death are explored. First, that he was accidently killed by fiance Leonore Lemmon. Second, that his death was orderd by the reportedly ruthless MGM vice-president Eddie Mannix. Third, that Reeves shot himself over desperation regarding what he perceived as his failed career. Ben Affleck gives what may turn out to be the most well regarded performance of his career, picking up on Reeves every little subtelty of vocial cadiance and movment. This is a good but far from great film, that made me want to re-watch the superior 50's crime drama L.A. Confedental.

My recent complition of the series Six Feet Under inspired me to the see the film that made its creator, and my personal writing god, Alan Ball famous. That movie is American Beauty, the much deserving winner of 1999's best picture award. The movie, well its pretty awsome, not for all tastes, but pretty awsome. Lot's of truth in there. Anyway back in the fall of 99' me and my friend Jackson traveld down to Salt Lake City to visit his then girlfriend Megan. There I meet a friend of Megans who told me that this movie was awsome, but I was dismissive (I was more prudish then). I just want to say I'm sorry Megans friend whose name I can't remember, you where right, American Beauty is awsome.

Some Recent Deaths

A couple of deaths I wanted to mention, first off Ray Evans. Mr. Evans was a composer, often in partnership with Jay Livingston, who wrote such classic film songs of mid century as 'Mona Lisa' and 'Que Sera Sera'. My favorite Ray Evans fun fact is that he cameos with Jay Livingston in Billy Wilder's Sunset Blvd., preforming a varent of their Oscar winning song 'Buttons and Bows' at Artie's New Years party.

Second Robert Adler, credited as 'co-inventor' of the television remote control has died here in Boise Idaho. He was 93.

Lastly, and I don't know if you've heard, but apperently a rather obscure figure named Anna Nicole Smith has died as well.

Friday, February 16, 2007

"The Mussulman condemns the heathen, the Jew, and the Christian, and the whole world of mankind that reject his Koran, as infidels, and consigns the whole of them to perdition. The Jew believes that the whole world that rejects his faith and are not circumcised, are Gentile dogs, and will be damned. The heathen is equally as tenacious about his principles, and the Christian consigns all to perdition who cannot bow to his creed, and submit to his ipse dixit.

But while one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and whitout any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, causes 'His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust'"- Joseph Smith, 1842 (original spelling retianed).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mount Carmel

I found this CBS morning show fluff piece on Mount Carmel Tennessee, one of the hamlets I coverd on my mission. Oh the memorys it brings back, Skips Dinner, the Holstin Ordinance Works, "bloody" 11 W, and the railroad bridge with "Jimmy Loves Rena" spry painted on it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Everybodys Waiting

Last night I finished the 5th and final season of Six Feet Under. While the first half of the season wasn't as strong in my opinion as some seasons past, that was more then made up for in the last five episodes. Nate's unexpected death was quite movingly handeld, and the emotional final episodes where heartbreaking. The last 20 minutes of the final episode are just the most amazing send off of any televsion series of which I am aware. I find myself repetedly watching the final montage and chocking back tears each time. Excellent work on the part of all involved. Also I liked the irony of Claire ending up with a well adjusted Republican. Check out this montage of the shows fake commercials and musical numbers.

On sunday I had the second part of my documentary films class. We watched a doc about Iraq war veterns who are now involved in anti-war activites titled The Ground Truth. We also watched the first three of the four acts of Spike Lee's When the Levees broke. Interesting Spike Lee fact: In the late 1990's Lee directed two 'Pavarotti & Friends' benefite specials for television.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Ian Richardson Dead Unexpectedly at 72!

Ian William Richardson, actor best known for playing the conniving British PM Francis Urquhart in the BBC's House of Cards trilogy, has died unexpectedly at the age of 72. Richardson bosts a large cataloge of work on stage and screen, and I regret that I am not more familour with it, but his Francis Urquhart is so good, that that alone constitutes a wonderfull legacy. The only good that can come out of his passing is that it might motavaite me to break down and by the House of Cards DVD set.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Francos Labyrinth

The Chronicals of Narnia + Schindlers List = Pans Labyrinth. This movie did not entirely work for me, it may have been because my expectations where so high. Ivana Baquern did fine work as Ofila, Sergi Lopez's Captain Vidal is one of the most evil characters in film, and the special effects were memoriable. The story however never fully engaged me, and the conflicting elements of high fantasy and high violance were in the end, kind of hard to process together. I did however like the anti-authoritarian message of the film, about the dangers of just following orders. I left the theater unsatisfyed.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


I said I was going to wait until I'd seen The Departed to name which movie I think is going to win best picture of the year at the Academy Awards. Well I'm glade I waited because otherwise I would have named Little Miss Sunshine as the persumed winner, but now that I've seen The Departed I feel that it deserves the award. It's quite the movie, sitting in the theater watching it I consitantly felt overjoyed that they still make movies this good. Not only is The Departed the best of the pictures nominated, its also the best picture of '06 all around. I'm thinking I'll put out a top ten list of my favorite movies of 2006 sometime in late Febuary or early March, I feel I've seen enough movies in the theater this last year to actully take a stabe at a best list.

As I didn't really care about the SuperBowl, I decided to counter-program. First I went to the monthley CES firside, which featured Elder David A. Bednar speaking about scripture study. Some may take this as a bad sign, but what I remember most from the broadcast, is the fact that the brightly colord outfits of the female choir members make them look, at a distance, not unlike a bowl of Post Fruity Pebbles cerial. After the broadcast I watched an equaly frutie Cecil B. DeMile picture, The Sign of the Cross. This movie is about the persicutions of 1st century Roman Christians under Nero. I had read a positive piece about the movie in Films of the Golden Age some time back, but was ultimatly disapointed in the film, the first half of which was boring and the second half overwrought. This movie is famous among film buffs for it infamous 'milk bath scene' featuring Claudette Colbert's clevage. The best lines in the film are spoken by Fredrick March to Elissa Landi, after the formers last minute conversion to Christianity, before joining his lover in the lion infested stadium: "I feel a strange hope, much happier now." But just image those words spoken with very little feeling.

This morning I viewed the Powell/Pressburger production A Canterbury Tale. Inspired by the works of Chaucer this movie tells the story of several pilgrams to the titular town during the waining days of World War Two. Together these 'Scoobies' solve the mystery of 'The Glue Man', and each recives a special blessing for there trouble. Kind of slow, with a mystery of only minor consequence, the film was a box office dud on its orignial releasse in England, so much so that it was re-edited for American audiances, including the inseration of actress Kim Hunter into a new narrative frame for the film.

Zsa Zsa Gabor is 90

Friday, February 02, 2007

Febuary 1st

If you live in southwest Idaho, are home during the day, and don't have cable, then you would have been screwed yesterday in regards to daytime television (I mean more then usual). You see Middelton High School burned down, causing the local channels news divisions to highjack there schedualing and go on endlessley about what is really an open-and-close story, i.e. "the school burned down", enough said. Luckily for me I have cable, and better yet I have movies:

I mentioned The Asphalt Jungel in a recent blog, and its appereance as a random wiki artical prompted me to give it the number one slot on my netflix list. However by the time it arrived I wasn't in the mode and didn't really enjoy the film, despite it's having an excellent cast including James Whitmore, Jean Hagen, Same Jaffe, and Marylin Monroe. I listened to the first few minutes of Drew Caspers audio commentary on the thing, and he said that the avarge viewer only catchs about 40% of the goings-on the first time through, so maybe that's why I didn't like it, though I consider myself an above avarge viewer. I've also decied I don't like Sterling Hayden in anything Kubrick didn't direct, he goes for intensity but really comes off anoying, he's still great as the crazy general in Dr. Stranglove though: "You ever heard of fluoridation Mandracke, floridation of water?"

That evening I went to Boise's historic Egytian Theater for an evening of silent film. Social idoit that I am, I non-the-less have a perfect tract record of finding young women to go to these things with me (meaning of I've done it twice). It was a good introduction to, (or slice of as the case may be) silent cinema, two slapsticks and a childrens fantasy with iconic imagery. Each 'short' had an orignal score performed by the Treasure Valley Youth Symphony (for whom this event was a fundraiser), all compostions were good, but particularly memorable was the middle selection. For those who might like to know the program it was as followes: Big Business a particularly funny Laurel and Hardy piece from 1929, The Land Beyond the Sunset, a childrens fantasy whose content is very much a product of that particular era of film making (1912), and a solid Chaplin 'the tramp just escaped from prision' short intitled The Adventure (1917).

To wrap it all up I watched Little Miss Sunshine before I went to bed, and I quite liked it. I think that's probably your best picture winner right there, but I'm going to wait until I see The Departed tomarrow to make my final call on that race.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

More Links

Random picture: British agents of the Animal Liberation Front liberate Beagles.
The Cover Letter.

New Graphic Torture Photos from Iraq.

Molly Ivins dead at 62, I'm looking forward to the write-up in The Nation.

Huckabee's running, and Biden too.

Scholar Robet Price looks at the Book of Mormon among the lines of inspired fraud.

List of people from Orange County.

On our oneline vs. real life personas.

List of MGM films.