Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: New York, New York (1977)

Jimmy (De Niro) tries to get Francine's (Minnelli) number.

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Produced by Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff
Written by Earl Mac Rauch and Mardik Martin
Starring Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Double Feature: Heaven Can Wait (1978) and The Accidental Tourist (1988)

Note: Out of the 496 films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, I'm down to 148 left to see.

Heaven Can Wait:

When he is prematurely sent to Heaven, quarterback Joe Pendleton (Warren Beatty) is forced to inhabit the body of a recently-deceased millionaire. He meets idealist Betty Logan (Julie Christie), falls in love with her, and buys a football team in an attempt to play in the Super Bowl. But he must leave the body, as per the deal he made, and inhabit another - a football player's. As a quarterback once again at the end of the film, he must play until the game is over and try to get Betty back in the guise of a complete stranger. This film is so likable that it's easy to see why the Academy honored it.

The film received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor (Jack Warden), Best Supporting Actress (Dyan Cannon), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score. It took home one statuette for Best Art Direction.

The Accidental Tourist:

Lawrence Kasdan's adaptation of a noted bestseller features William Hurt as Macon Leary, a travel guide author. After his wife Sarah (Kathleen Turner) divorces him, he meets Muriel Pritchett (Geena Davis), a dog carer/trainer, as he leaves his dog at a kennel so that he can go away for work. Of course, he is reluctantly taken in by the woman and her son when he returns, and he grows to love them. Then his wife shows up to reconcile their marriage upon the finality of their divorce. Will he choose to go back to his wife or start a new one with Muriel? You probably know the answer, but it doesn't change the enjoyable aspects of the film. A.M.P.A.S. likes movies that go down easy, and this one certainly does.

The film received nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Davis), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. Davis won a deserved Oscar for her scene-stealing performance.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Earrings" Has Finally Arrived

Catherine Warner in Alex Withrow's Earrings (2012)

After working on it for the past year, Alex of And So It Begins... has premiered the first entry of his passion project - a short film entitled Earrings. I don't think I could, in good conscience, review the film because it's much more than that. It's the culmination of a fellow blogger's efforts to create something visual, something more than a blog post. You can read about Alex's journey here.

I will say, I think the film succeeds on so many levels. The visuals are inspired, the performances natural, the music haunting, and the mood wonderfully restrained. That's not a full review, but, again, it isn't intended to be. Call it a hearty recommendation from one blogger to another.

If you want to see the film, click here or here. Happy watching, and congratulations Alex!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Best Supporting Actor: 1980s

1980: Peter Firth, Tess
Oscar winner: Timothy Hutton, Ordinary People
Was he nominated?: No

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Batman (Bale) and Catwoman (Hathaway) in Nolan's epic finale.

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Produced by Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, and Emma Thomas
Written by Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, and David S. Goyer; characters created by Bob Kane
Starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Morgan Freeman

I'm obviously late in posting this. In short, I loved the film and think it's the best of Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. If you want to keep reading, there's more after the cut. (Spoiler-free)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why I Like "The Prestige"

Angier (Jackman) gives a show.

Last week, Alex of And So It Begins... was kind enough to invite me to participate in his post "The Polarization of The Prestige" for his Week of Nolan series. The piece I wrote was too lengthy and had to be trimmed, so I thought I'd post the entire thing for anyone who wants to read it.

A spoiler-free reasoning after the cut.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Movie Confessions Blogathon

Nostra at Myfilmviews has created a new blogathon, entitled the Movie Confessions blogathon. In it, you can confess things that might have, up to now, been a secret. Read my confessions after the cut.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Review: Margaret (2011)

Anna Paquin as Lisa Cohen

Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Produced by Gary Gilbert, Sydney Pollack, and Scott Rudin
Written by Kenneth Lonergan
Starring Anna Paquin, J. Smith-Cameron, Jean Reno, Jeannie Berlin, Allison Janney, Matthew Broderick, Mark Ruffalo, and Matt Damon

Friday, July 20, 2012

Best Supporting Actor: 1970s

1970: Trevor Howard, Ryan's Daughter
Oscar winner: John Mills, Ryan's Daughter
Was he nominated?: No

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: To Die For (1995)

Nicole Kidman as Suzanne Stone

Directed by Gus van Sant
Produced by Laura Ziskin
Written by Buck Henry (screenplay); Joyce Maynard (novel)
Starring Nicole Kidman, Joaquin Phoenix, Casey Affleck, Illeana Douglas, Alison Folland, and Matt Dillon

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Watching Bad Movies

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in the dreadful Gigli (2003)

To date, I've seen over 2,500 films, so it would be natural to assume that I have seen some downright bad ones. Maybe a few here and there anyway. Upon browsing my IMDb ratings recently, I noticed something that astounds me even now: I've watched some really bad movies. I don't mean bad as in campy, or so bad it's good. I mean films that I can in no way defend and that are just embarrassing to admit watching. See some that I've actually watched (in their entirety) after the cut.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

5 Reasons Why "Following" is Christopher Nolan's Best Film

The writer (Jeremy Theobald) and Cobb (Alex Haw)

With The Dark Knight Rises opening later this week, it's safe to say Christopher Nolan's fanbase is about to burst with excitement. As is yours truly. But will it be Nolan's best film? That remains to be seen. For the moment, I'd name Following (1998) as his best work.

Nolan's debut film is about a budding writer who follows people for ideas. When he crosses paths with a thief named Cobb (sound familiar?), he enters into a world of crime and betrayal. At 71 minutes, the film is a brief, but effective, thriller. Though the film was fraught with production difficulties, such as no real budget, non-professional actors, and a shoot which could only take place on weekends, it remains Nolan's best film.

Here's why: (in no particular order)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Review: Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Newlyweds Suzy (Hayward) and Sam (Gilman)

Directed by Wes Anderson
Produced by Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven M. Rales, and Scott Rudin
Written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Starring Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, Jared Gilman, and Kara Hayward

Friday, July 13, 2012

Best Supporting Actor: 1960s

1960: Anthony Perkins, Psycho
Oscar winner: Peter Ustinov, Spartacus
Was he nominated?: No

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man

Directed by Marc Webb
Produced by Avi Arad, Matthew Tolmach, and Laura Ziskin
Written by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, and Steve Kloves
Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Sally Field, and Martin Sheen

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My All-Time Award Winners

In honor of reaching 100 posts, I thought I'd post my all-time award winners in 18 categories. Interestingly enough, only one film was honored twice here, but some were very much in contention in other categories. More after the cut.

The Apartment (1960)

Billy Wilder's masterpiece is a tender romance that offers a plethora of classic moments in a deeply satisfying blend of comedy and drama.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Review: They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)

Robert (Sarrazin) and Gloria (Fonda) in Horses

Directed by Sydney Pollack
Produced by Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler
Written by Horace McCoy (novel)/James Poe and Robert E. Thompson (screenplay)
Starring Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Gig Young, Susannah York, and Red Buttons

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Top 100 List Updated

I've fully updated my top 100 favorites of all time list, which can be viewed here. This update saw a good shakeup of my list, with 12 new films entering and 12 other ones leaving.

Films Added:
Barry Lyndon (1975), Charade (1963), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Goodfellas (1990), L'Enfant (2005), Marathon Man (1976), Mean Streets (1973), Network (1976), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Reservoir Dogs (1992), Rocky (1976), and Winter Light (1962)

Films Removed:
The Awful Truth (1937), Breathless (1960), Gaslight (1944), Le Notti Bianche (1957), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), Rashomon (1950), Roman Holiday (1953), Rosetta (1999), Sunrise (1927), The Tree of Life (2011), and West Side Story (1961)

Here's a copy of my old list after the cut.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Review: To Rome with Love (2012)

Baldwin, Page, and Eisenberg in Rome

Directed by Woody Allen
Produced by Faruk Alatan, Letty Aronson, Giampaolo Letta, and Stephen Tenenbaum
Written by Woody Allen
Starring Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, and Ellen Page

Friday, July 6, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Review: Ted (2012)

John (Wahlberg) and Ted (voiced by MacFarlane)

Directed by Seth MacFarlane
Produced by Jason Clark, John Jacobs, Seth MacFarlane, Scott Stuber, and Wellesley Wild
Written by Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, and Seth MacFarlane

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: After the Wedding (2006)

Helene (Knudsen) and Jacob (Mikkelsen) reunited.
Directed by Susanne Bier
Produced by Sisse Graume Jørgensen
Written by Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen
Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Rolf Lassgard, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Stine Fischer Christensen, and Christian Tafdrup

Monday, July 2, 2012

Double Feature: Alice Adams (1935) and Shane (1953)

Alice Adams:

Katharine Hepburn headlines as the titular character of George Stevens' comedy of socially-challenging proportions. As the daughter of a working man, she cannot present herself as frivolously as the other girls in town, and she is quite the scandal for it. Her world is shaken up when she must deal with the scandal of a new-found romance with the upstanding Arthur (Fred MacMurray) and the problem of her social position.

The film received only two nominations for Best Picture and Best Actress. It lost both of them, but Hepburn was very deserving of a what would have been her second Oscar at the time. The supporting cast was also passed over sadly.


George Stevens' celebrated western (what range he had) features a roaming stranger (Ladd) who helps a terrorized family restore peace to their valley. Under the heel of an aged cattleman, the entire community is plagued with fear as he attempts to drive them out, even hiring a gunslinger (Palance) to intimidate them. Shane, a semi-retired gunman, must fight to keep the peace and take a final stand for his friends.

The film received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (De Wilde), Best Supporting Actor (Palance), Best Screenplay, & Best Cinematography (Color). Loyal Griggs took home his (and the film's) only Oscar for Best Cinematography.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Films I Saw in June

Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves (1996)

The Best:

1. Breaking the Waves - ****
2. The Roaring Twenties - ****
3. The Last of the Mohicans (1992) - ****
4. Summer with Monika - ****
5. Poetry - ****
6. Rampart - ****
7. Wuthering Heights (1939) - ****
8. Shane - ****
9. Remember the Night - ****
10. Prometheus - ***1/2

More after the cut.