Friday, December 23, 2011

We Need to Talk About Kevin ("Gee, ya think?")

Of all the complaints I’ve read about We Need to Talk About Kevin, Ramsay’s first film in nearly a decade, the most interesting to me is the idea that the film doesn’t work because Kevin (played by Ezra Miller as a teenager) is a monster more or less from the time the doctor cut his umbilical cord. And you know what? Those folks aren’t wrong- a film in which a mother looks back at the fleeting, subtle signs that her kid is going to end up shooting up his school does (on paper, anyway) sound more compelling than one in which a child reveals his evil from the get-go and seems inevitably careening toward cataclysmic violence.

Yet I don’t think that Ramsay wants to examine the genesis of a killer, so much as she wants to explore how inadequate the vast majority of us are when confronted with unfiltered evil.

Click here for full review.

Screener grubbing 2011

I’m a busy guy. After all, I’ve got a wife and kids, I’m working full-time, and I take college classes to boot. So while I try to carve out time for movies I want to see, there are always a few that slip through the cracks. Therefore, as in previous years, I’ve decided to make a list of the movies I want to see most, in the hope that some Good Samaritan out there might help me see what I really want to see before the Muriels deadline at the end of January.

Note: some of the movies I’ve listed are scheduled to come to Columbus, while others are or will be available to me to view at home before the deadline. Titles that are italicized are ones I probably won’t be able to see- at least, not without help.

1. A Separation (Farhadi)
Usually, the movies I look forward to most are known quantities, more often than not coming from established filmmakers. So it seems a little odd that the movie I feel most compelled to watch before the Muriels deadline is from a director whose work is unfamiliar to me. However, based on the raves for A Separation since it first premiered at last year’s Berlinale, I’m willing to make an exception to my usual M.O. In recent years I’ve become more selective of critics whose opinions I really trust, so while it’s impressive that Farhadi’s film was at the top of Roger Ebert’s best-of-2011 list and placed prominently on the lists of both EW critics, that means less to me than the love it’s getting from Mike D’Angelo, who’s the exact opposite of a critical “easy lay.” Yet D’Angelo has rated the film higher than any new release since The Man Who Wasn’t There fully a decade ago. Good enough for me.

2. Margaret (Lonergan)
Speaking of a decade ago, remember when Kenneth Lonergan was an exciting new directorial voice, poised to take American cinema by storm in the wake of his You Can Count on Me success? Then Margaret happened- a movie that was caught up in litigation for five years before trickling into the most cursory of releases, a cautionary tale for up-and-coming filmmakers who would dare to think big within the Hollywood system. But while the groundswell of online support for Margaret is heartening, in the end a film must succeed on its own merits, and judging by all the evidence, it’s the sort of ambitious, underloved work that’s usually right up my alley. I’m just hoping I can check this out sooner rather than later.

3. George Harrison: Living in the Material World (Scorsese)
There are quite a few notable documentaries still on my cinephile dance card before the movie years wraps up (see #6 below), but the one I’m most curious to see is this one. Being both a Scorsese fan and a Harrison fan of long standing, I really want to check out what the master filmmaker has to say about the most spiritual- and in many ways, the most complicated- of the Beatles.

4. A Dangerous Method (Cronenberg) [coming 27 Jan to Columbus]
I wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of Eastern Promises, but when Cronenberg’s on, he’s pretty great. And considering I dig a lot of his more cerebral works, I’m hoping this is in the tradition of Dead Ringers and Spider.

5. Aurora (Puiu) [available 10 Jan on DVD]
Puiu’s bitterly cold comedy The Death of Mr. Lazarescu made my top 10 back in 2006, so I’ve waited a while for this, his follow-up, and felt terrible that I had to miss its single screening at the Wex. No matter- the upcoming DVD release should help me rectify this.

6 (tie). Into the Abyss (Herzog)
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Berlinger/Sinofsky)

Two documentaries about the complexities of the American justice system, from two (okay, three) gifted filmmakers. Reviews for Into the Abyss haven’t been stellar, but Herzog’s always compelling, and I’m curious about his take on the death penalty. And while the West Memphis Three were freed just a few months ago, I believe the third Paradise Lost documentary should present a fitting coda both to the case and to this great and noble documentary series.

I’ve listed the other movies in my to-see list below, in alphabetical order. As before, titles that I don’t think I’ll have a means to see prior to the Muriels deadline are italicized, so if anyone out there can hook me up with a copy, that would be awesome:

The Artist (Hazanavicius) [coming 13 Jan to Columbus]
Carnage (Polanski) [coming 20 Jan to Columbus]
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Fincher) [now in theatres]
House of Pleasures (Bonello) [coming 2 Feb to Columbus; also available on SundanceNow]
The Interrupters (James)
Moneyball (Miller) [now in theatres]
My Joy (Loznitsa)
Mysteries of Lisbon (Ruiz) [now on DVD]
Pina (Wenders)
Shame (McQueen)
The Skin I Live In (Almodovar)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Alfredson) [coming 13 Jan to Columbus]
Tuesday, After Christmas (Muntean) [coming 27 Dec to DVD]


Monday, November 21, 2011

New Content Alert

So hey, look! I actually wrote some new reviews for the blog. If I only I liked the movies, that would be even more awesome! Anyway, here goes:

Breaking Dawn- "If you need the book to explain the movie, then the filmmakers have dropped the ball."

Happy Feet Two- "What was once endearingly off-kilter now feels focus-grouped to death."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Return of the Curse of the Incredible Two-Headed Marathon

In my younger days, I wasn’t much of a horror-movie fan. Having come fairly late to my movie love compared to some cinephiles out there, I made it a point to gobble up canonical classics in the course of my cinematic education. But in the process of doing so, I missed out on a lot of genre favorites, especially in the more populist genres such as Westerns and particularly horror films.

Consequently, it comes as something of a surprise to discover that this year represents my tenth trip to Columbus’ annual horror marathon, which in its present incarnation is known as the Incredible Two-Headed Marathon. And while the younger me might not have considered this his idea of a good time, I can confirm that it’s a blast, so much so that I’ve started taking my wife with me. Having missed a lot of the classics, the marathon affords me the chance to enjoy them for the first time on the big screen.

But the fun of the marathon goes beyond the movies themselves, as any marathoid will tell you. Naturally, some of the movies go over better with a crowd than others (one of my first marathons included Don’t Look Now, which isn’t exactly a crowd pleaser but is certainly more welcoming than Irreversible, which played two years ago). Beyond that, however, there are the selections from co-host Bruce Bartoo’s vast library of vintage trailers, the short films, the costume and scream contests, the de rigeur audience participation, and of course the experience of holing oneself up in a movie theatre for twenty-four hours, healthy diet and proper hygiene be damned.

Over the past decades, many a movie lover and armchair pundit has bemoaned the diluting of the “audience experience” as a part of going to movies. Whether it’s discussing the increasing ease of getting top-quality presentation in the comfort of one’s own home or bitching about those damn kids and their yelling and cell phone usage during the show, going to the movies has, for most people, lost a lot of the magic it once had. But to those people, I’ll just say this: if you want a communal moviegoing experience, the Marathon delivers.

This year’s lineup, roughly in order:

Bruce and co-host Joe Neff always begin with an oldie-but-goodie, and horror doesn’t get much older than this year’s lead-off hitter, 1919’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It’s great, of course, but what makes this even more exciting is that it’ll be accompanied by a new score performed by Columbus favorite Sue Harshe.

My introduction to the cycle of Roger Corman’s big-screen Poe adaptations came two years ago at the marathon when I saw the gorgeous Nic Roeg-lensed Masque of the Red Death. This year brings another Corman/Poe film, The Pit and the Pendulum, which doubles as a tribute to horror icon Vincent Price, who stars in the film and would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year.

Ti West’s House of the Devil was one of the better horror films of the past decade, more for the slow-burn style of the first two-thirds rather than the relatively prosaic payoff. Still, it’ll be nice to see this one with a crowd.

Another one that should benefit from the Marathon experience is Bride of Frankenstein, still one of the hallmarks of the genre. Most of the time, Golden Age Hollywood horror feels a bit slow and stodgy for this crowd, but what sets Bride is that the laughs don’t feel out of place since it’s actually supposed to be funny and bizarre. Also, Ang hasn’t seen this yet, so it’ll be fun to introduce her to it.

Meanwhile, the one I’m probably looking forward to most here is Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey’s Flesh for Frankenstein, which I’ve somehow missed out on so far. I know very little about the particulars of this, except that it has something of a reputation…

And speaking of reputation, few horror films nowadays are as notorious as A Serbian Film, which has its Columbus theatrical premiere at this year’s marathon. Neither Ang nor I are big fans of so-called “extreme” horror movies (for example, I didn’t cotton to Martyrs, which played here last year), so we might duck out during this to check on the dogs and grab a bite to eat instead.

This year’s other premiere is Midnight Son, which I actually hadn’t heard of until it was announced as part of the lineup. Ang is a big fan of vampire movies, and I’m also curious to see what wrinkles this one has on this well-tilled ground. I for one am hoping this is more Martin than Twilight (sorry hon).

It just wouldn’t be a horror marathon without a gonzo Asian thriller on the bill. Bruce and Joe set the bar high last year with House, and this year’s inclusion is the allegedly strange and “ultra-rare” Goke: Bodysnatcher From Hell. How can you go wrong with a title like that, he asked with a hopeful smirk on his face.

Along with Pit and the Pendulum and Flesh For Frankenstein, the third movie I’m most looking forward to at the marathon is The Hitcher. This is another one of those I haven’t seen yet, but I’m a fan of Rutger Hauer in steel-eyed baddie mode, so this should be right up my alley.

Giallo films have generally been hit-and-miss with me, but I’m willing to give The Beyond a shot this year. I’ve yet to really enjoy a Lucio Fulci film, but what the hell, right?

Bruce and Joe have announced James Gunn’s slugfest Slither for some previous marathons, but somehow it’s always been one of those that gets cut when the marathon is running behind. Still, it’s a lot of fun for those with strong stomachs for gross-out gags and should be fun with the marathon audience- provided it doesn’t get cut, that is.

The final film on this year’s marathon schedule is the original Hellraiser. This one, unlike a lot of eighties horror favorites, is one I’ve actually seen. I’m not a huge fan of this, but admittedly I haven’t seen it in years, and I’m perfectly willing to give it another chance, if I make it through everything else first.

The Incredible Two-Headed Marathon takes place at the Grandview Theatre, beginning at noon on Saturday and running through noon-ish on Sunday. Tickets are $40 at the door. For more information, check out the web site.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

"Sherlock Holmes was a pimp!"

Cold Weather is a treasure because it’s not ashamed to be modest of scale. To the contrary, writer/director/editor Aaron Katz relishes in the very smallness of his movie, and the movie is all the more pleasurable for it. Everything about the movie feels modest, beginning with the ambitions of its protagonist Doug (Cris Lankenau), a twentysomething who’s recently dropped out of college but might, y’know, go back, like, eventually. For now, he’s content to shack up with his slightly more career-minded big sister Gail (Trieste Kelly Dunn), work nights at the local ice factory, and hang out when he’s off the clock.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Movies of My Life #5: My Senior English Project

A few months ago, I received an invite via Facebook to my 15-year high school reunion. I’ve never harbored much nostalgia for my high school days- I wasn’t a popular guy, partly because I wasn’t popular but also because I was, quite frankly, a bit of an asshole to anyone outside my strange little circle of friends. Still, I’m curious as to how the event will go for me, not least because I’m genuinely curious to find out of I changed that much in the last decade and a half.

Like many people, I don’t think I’ve retained a lot of what I learned in high school, at least not to the point where I can readily summon up the knowledge that once came almost instantly. In hindsight, it seems like my biggest takeaway from high school was that it was a key time in the formation of my tastes, especially in terms of how I think about movies. I first started getting really serious about cinema during my junior and senior years, which feel comfortably in the aftermath of Pulp Fiction, which served as a gateway drug for many a budding cinephile back in the day.

So, when my AP English class was tasked with penning and presenting a project to be completed during senior year, I took the opportunity to delve into cinema history. I remember justifying the project to my teacher by positioning cinema as the logical successor to novels in the realm of popular narrative entertainment, but in fact this was mostly an excuse to educate myself in the films of yesteryear. Because I hadn’t seen most of the canonical classics, I had to comb through lots of books and web sites in search of the ideal selection. Then throughout the year, I watched all of the films (on VHS, of course), then assessed each of them in terms of their cultural impact and their cinematic and “literary” merits.

In order to help narrow down the list, I set myself some limitations:

1. Only English-language films. Since one of my goals was to analyze the films’ impact on the cultural climate, I thought it would be easier to limit myself to movies that were made primarily for English-speaking audiences. With a handful of exceptions, the movies I chose were pretty well-known, and the ones that weren’t had a specific reason for being chosen. More on this later.

2. No films made after 1986. Why 1986? Because I was presenting the project to the class in 1996, and I thought it was best to have at least a decade’s distance in order to gauge the film’s long-lasting legacy rather than catching the tail end of its contemporary buzz. Because of this, I missed out on a handful of golden greats, most egregiously Do the Right Thing and the movie that helped inspire the project in the first place, Pulp Fiction.

3. No more than two films per director. I mean, sure- I could have loaded down the list with Hitchcock, Kubrick, Chaplin, and so on, but I wanted to get some diversity in the selection while at the same time recognizing how major these guys really were.

4. No animated films. Of course, this was back when “animated classics” were almost exclusively old-school Disney (to give you some perspective, Toy Story was released in November of my senior year). However, my principal justification for this rule was that I didn’t feel that cel-and-ink moviemaking should be judged alongside live-action works, due to the differences in how they were made. Whether I still feel that way is a subject for another post entirely.

5. No documentaries, for much the same reasons I decided against including animated films.

Anyway, here’s my original senior project list of movies:

The General (1927, Keaton/Bruckman)
City Lights (1931, Chaplin)
Gone With the Wind (1939, Fleming)
The Wizard of Oz (1939, Fleming)
Citizen Kane (1941, Welles)
Casablanca (1942, Curtiz)
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942, Welles)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948, Huston)
The Third Man (1949, Reed)
Sunset Blvd. (1950, Wilder)
Singin’ in the Rain (1952, Kelly/Donen)
The Searchers (1956, Ford)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957, Lean)
Vertigo (1958, Hitchcock)
Psycho (1960, Hitchcock)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962, Lean)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962, Frankenheimer)
Dr. Strangelove (1964, Kubrick)
Blowup (1966, Antonioni)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Kubrick)
The Godfather (1972, Coppola)
Chinatown (1974, Polanski)
Raging Bull (1980, Scorsese)
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982, Spielberg)
Platoon (1986, Stone)

OK, so a lot of these choices are pretty obvious. But all in all, I think I kept things fairly eclectic, especially considering how much I still had to learn.

But like so many tinkerer types, I just can’t seem to leave anything alone. So with fifteen years and thousands more movies under my belt, I’ve decided to revisit the list, separating the worthy titles from the ones that can be pared away, and replacing them with movies that I think broaden the scope of the list even more.

First, I’ve decided to tighten my two-films-per-director rule, forcing myself to choose only a single work per filmmaker, thereby representing some of the greats I neglected last time, either due to space issues or simple ignorance of their greatness. But which to choose? For Welles, it was easy- considering the type of list this is, how are you not gonna go with Kane? Likewise, with Kubrick and Lean, I felt like 2001 and Lawrence were more representative not only of their makers’ styles but of the ambitions that helped to make them great. Vertigo, more than Psycho, represents a kind of Rosetta Stone for Hitchcock. And finally, despite the enduring popularity of Gone With the Wind, I find that it doesn’t hold up as well as The Wizard of Oz, which remains one of those movies that everyone knows even today- no mean feat after more than seven decades.

So what else would I cut? The easiest choice would be the most recent film on the list, Platoon, an inclusion which dates my list more than any other. After all, in the mid-nineties, Stone was one of the most inescapable figures on the cinematic scene- up there with Spielberg and Scorsese, certainly- and his cachet was so strong that even a steaming load of speculative bullshit like Nixon won raves from critics all over the world. Today, Stone has largely been unmasked as a charlatan, and Platoon has been overshadowed by more skillful works of art about Vietnam, in particular Coppola’s far superior Apocalypse Now.

And if I’m bringing Apocalypse on board, I’m afraid I’ll have to cut out The Godfather, alas. While Godfather remains more popular and influential in popular culture, Apocalypse is the better work of art, and a rare case in which directorial indulgence and borderline madness actually worked to produce a masterpiece.

As for two of my other original choices, City Lights and E.T., I’d switch them out in favor of two different films by their makers. For my new Chaplin film, I’d go with Modern Times, which keeps Chaplin’s sentimental streak but amps up the satirical streak, making it a key mid-point film in his career as he transitioned from silents to talkies. For Spielberg, I’d be inclined to pick Jaws to fill the horror-film gap left by Psycho, along with taking over the seventies blockbuster role left by the loss of The Godfather.

The final two movies I’d jettison- Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Manchurian Candidate- simply don’t feel as indispensible now as they did back in high school. In my research at the time, I got the impression that John Huston was one of the canonical masters of the cinema, but the intervening years have shown me that, as great as he was, he wasn’t quite on the level of some of the folks who didn’t end up making the cut. Likewise, The Manchurian Candidate, while certainly a great film, isn’t quite major enough to justify keeping it on the list when any number of stone-cold classics have been sidelined.

As for the keepers, I feel like most of them are fairly self-explanatory. You can’t make a list like this without Kane, Casablanca, The Third Man, and Singin’ in the Rain. Additionally, films by John Ford, Buster Keaton, Martin Scorsese, and Billy Wilder should be represented in the mix. And while Chinatown’s entry would be justified by its screenplay alone, it also stands both as a superlative homage to classic detective noir and a vehicle for one of the most singular stars in cinema, Jack Nicholson.

Finally, there’s Blowup, a quirky selection that I’ve decided to keep. The primary reason I originally chose this was because I wanted to spotlight the increasing presence foreign filmmaking had on the cinematic scene in the second half of the 20th century. Many of the biggest names in world cinema (Godard, Bergman, Bunuel, Fellini, Kurosawa, et al) have avoided working in English for the most part if not entirely. Others, such as Polanski came to America and proceeded to make films within the system, although he was able to keep plenty of his sensibility in his English-language films. By contract, Blowup essentially finds Antonioni translating his signature style into English, with little discernible difference aside from the language and setting. As such, it’s a fascinating case, and combined with the fact that it remains a masterpiece and an essential time capsule of 60s-era swinging London, it deserves to be here.

So where does the list stand now? I decided to keep fourteen of the original titles:

The General (1927, Keaton/Bruckman)
The Wizard of Oz (1939, Fleming)
Citizen Kane (1941, Welles)
Casablanca (1942, Curtiz)
The Third Man (1949, Reed)
Sunset Blvd. (1950, Wilder)
Singin’ in the Rain (1952, Kelly/Donen)
The Searchers (1956, Ford)
Vertigo (1958, Hitchcock)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962, Lean)
Blowup (1966, Antonioni)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Kubrick)
Chinatown (1974, Polanski)
Raging Bull (1980, Scorsese)

… and so far, I’ve added the following:

Modern Times (1936, Chaplin)
Jaws (1975, Spielberg)
Apocalypse Now (1979, Coppola)

This leaves us eight spots. To begin with, let’s trade one hugely popular but ideologically prickly Civil War epic (Gone With the Wind) for another- Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. Sure, its racial politics are regrettable, to put it politely, but its influence is unmistakable.

While we’re at it, why not another silent film? Of my original 25, only two films were from the silent era (City Lights was a borderline pick at that), and both of them were comedies. The Birth of a Nation broadened the possibilities for cinema as a storytelling form, but it only hinted at how expressionistic the medium could be. To better spotlight this, I would choose Murnau’s Sunrise, one of the most beautiful films ever made, and one that to my eyes best represents the poetry of which the silent film form was capable just before spoken dialogue came along to change everything.

Moving forward in time, there were several filmmakers I overlooked the first time who have since become favorites, and I would want to see their work represented on this list- namely Robert Altman, Michael Powell, and Howard Hawks. Altman has cast such a long shadow over the last four decades of American cinema that he should be included here, and I think the obvious choice would be Nashville, which would also give the list another film with a political bent. Of all the Powell’s classics, the one that I think suits the project best is A Matter of Life and Death, which would double as a replacement of Bridge on the River Kwai as the WW2 selection while injecting some magical realism into the proceedings.

Hawks is the toughest call. The guy made plenty of masterpieces across genres, to the point where it’s hard to say which is his most representative. Rio Bravo would be a hell of a choice, as would Only Angels Have Wings, but my choice would be The Big Sleep, which in addition to offering many of the usual Hawksian pleasures is also a classic detective noir to serve as a point of comparison with the already-selected Chinatown.

Which leaves me with three more choices. The first of these would be Bonnie and Clyde, which I’ve chosen to represent the transitional period that Hollywood faced at the fall of the Production Code. Director Arthur Penn polarized critics infusing the popular crooks-on-the-run genre with shocking violence that hadn’t previously been possible in a high-profile release. This made the film a flashpoint between older audiences who dismissed it as exploitation and younger ones who saw it as a sign of the grittiness that would take over Hollywood movies for the next decade.

With two choices to go, I find myself having to evaluate my reasons behind this project. Then and now, one of the deciding factors was whether a film said something significant about the times in which it was made. And while it’s debatable whether this is the case with, say, Sunrise, I think it’s applicable to most of the movies I’ve chosen. It also, I think applies to Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night!, which even today stands as the pinnacle of rock’n’roll musicals. While rock was probably the most dominant force in Western media in the second half of the 1900s, there’s precious little of it on my list. Lester’s use of cinema vérité techniques to liven up the musical genre is also a factor in my decision, although not so much as the fact that it stars the biggest band the world has ever known at a time when they were in the process of changing popular culture forever.

But while I’m pondering what made me take on the project on the first place, I also find myself thinking over why I’m revisiting it now. Fifteen years down the line, I could look back at my old list like I look back on so many aspects of my youth, with amusement and slight derision at how young and foolish I was. But what good would that do? If I feel nostalgic for this particular part of my life, it’s because I know that it set me on a steady course as a movie lover, laying a strong foundation for my cinematic education. So with this in mind, my final selection is David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, which remains one of the most acclaimed and singular American films of the last quarter century. If nothing else, consider this my gift to the high-school me, whose mind surely would have been blown.

Here’s the New List:
The Birth of a Nation (1915, Griffith)
The General (1927, Keaton/Bruckman)
Sunrise (1927, Murnau)
Modern Times (1936, Chaplin)
The Wizard of Oz (1939, Fleming)
Citizen Kane (1941, Welles)
Casablanca (1942, Curtiz)
The Big Sleep (1946, Hawks)
A Matter of Life and Death (1946, Powell and Pressburger)
The Third Man (1949, Reed)
Sunset Blvd. (1950, Wilder)
Singin’ in the Rain (1952, Kelly/Donen)
The Searchers (1956, Ford)
Vertigo (1958, Hitchcock)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962, Lean)
A Hard Day’s Night! (1964, Lester)
Blowup (1966, Antonioni)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967, Penn)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Kubrick)
Chinatown (1974, Polanski)
Jaws (1975, Spielberg)
Nashville (1975, Altman)
Apocalypse Now (1979, Coppola)
Raging Bull (1980, Scorsese)
Blue Velvet (1986, Lynch)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

No school like the old school, huh?

Remember the retro Muriels I did earlier this year? Sure you do. In the interest of creating some new content a little bit at a time while finishing up the planning of my upcoming wedding, I've decided to keep doing that further back into the past. So beginning today until I am no longer able to keep this going, I'll be posting old-timey Muriels nominations over at my newly-created blog Throwback Muriels. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Jamie want big boom."

I haven’t had cable for years, so I’ve been missing out on lot of the better shows on television. That’s why Netflix Watch Instantly is fun- it doesn’t have everything by a long shot, but it’s got plenty to occupy the folks here in my house. One of our favorite Netflix offerings is the Discovery Channel hit MythBusters, which is fun but also semi-educational and, for the most part, family friendly. In other words, perfect for watching at the end of a long day of work and/or school.

Sadly, I recently happened upon the news that many of the episodes that Netflix currently streams will no longer be available as of this Monday. The list of episodes being given the axe includes some of our favorites, including “Salsa Escape,” “Cooling a Six-Pack,” “Cell Phone Destroys Gas Station” (the source of the above quote), “Blind Driving,” and beloved specials about pirates, James Bond, and the gang’s two-episode trip to Alaska.

But to my eyes, the biggest loss is “Alcatraz Escape.” If a MythBusters newbie asked me what would be a good place to start, “Alcatraz Escape” would be the one I’d recommend. For my money, it’s the perfect combination of the ingredients that make MythBusters work- a well-known history-based myth coupled with a healthy amount of education speculation, and spiced up with ingenuity and some derring-do. It’s not quite my favorite (that honor would go to the thankfully still-available “NASA Moon Landing”), but it’s a lot of fun.

So if you’ve ever been curious to get into MythBusters, I suggest you get moving, because after this weekend, many of the show’s best-known episodes won’t be available to stream anymore. And for those who want to watch their favorites one more time before they’re gone, here’s the complete list of episodes getting the heave-ho:

Exploding Toilet
Cell Phone Destroys Gas Station
Barrel of Bricks
Penny Drop
Buried Alive
Lighting Strikes/Tongue Piercings
Alcatraz Escape
Chicken Gun
Breakstep Bridge
Buried in Concrete
Ancient Death Ray
Boom Lift Catapult
Salsa Escape (Big Blasts Collection)
Exploding Port-a-Potty (Big Blasts Collection)
Is Yawning Contagious?
Cooling a Six-Pack
Son of a Gun
Shop ‘Til You Drop Special
Mythbusters Revealed
Hollywood on Trial
Breaking Glass
Killer Brace Position
Border Slingshot
Helium Football
Bullets Fired Up
Exploding Pants (Big Blasts Collection)
Crimes and Myth-Demeanors
Diet Coke and Mentos
Earthquake Machine
Deadly Straw
Air Cylinder Rocket (Big Blasts Collection)
Exploding Lighter (Big Blasts Collection)
Firearms Folklore
Anti-Gravity Device
Holiday Special
Hindenburg Mystery
Pirate Special
Underwater Car Escape
Grenades and Guns (Big Blasts Collection)
Exploding Water Heater (Big Blasts Collection)
Confederate Steam Gun (Big Blasts Collection)
James Bond, Part 1 and 2 (Big Blasts Collection)
Alaska Special 1 and 2
Exploding Steak
Blind Driving
Ninjas 2
Alcohol Myths
Motorcycle Flip
Coffin Punch
End With a Bang
Banana Slip, Double Dip

Oh, and if anyone can point me to a site that lists other Watch Instantly titles Netflix is adding or cutting, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Summer 2011: Mini-preview

You know, I really used to look forward to the summer movie season. If nothing else, the coming of May would always herald the biggest, loudest, most spectacular movies of the year- pure cinematic candy to gorge on when escaping the assaultive sun. Sadly, as I’ve gotten older I’ve lost a lot of this sense of fun. It’s not just that I’ve gotten more mature as a moviegoer either. I’m still just as capable of enjoying a well-crafted blockbuster as the next guy, provided it delivers the thrills and doesn’t kill too many brain cells. But what really took away that summer movie magic was when the studios started releasing summer-worthy titles year ‘round. Once Hollywood began putting out a big e-ticket every month or so, summer began to feel less like a special time at the movies.

That said, there are at least a handful of intriguing titles coming to multiplexes this summer. Please notice that I’m talking about multiplexes here. Like many cinephiles I’m looking forward to the release of the Errol Morris’ latest doc, Tabloid, along with the goodies new and classic coming to the Wexner Center over the summer. But all five of my anticipated titles listed below should be coming to a theatre near you, no matter where you are, by the time the kids go back to school in the fall. We’ll begin, of course, with my #1 most anticipated movie of the summer, and proceed in (roughly) descending order of anticipation.

Tree of Life (May)

Come on, like you didn’t see this one coming. Back when this was slated to come out in ’09, it topped my most-anticipated list of that year, and the intervening two years have only increased my eagerness to see this. Terence Malick has yet to falter in my eyes, and this project, which he first began writing in the 1970s, could be his most personal yet. There will always be the contingent of vocal Malick-haters, but they can suck it. In a time when there’s precious little excitement left at the multiplex, Tree of Life is my idea of an Event Movie.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (July)

I have yet to be truly bowled over by a big-screen Potter adaptation, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t looking forward to this. Part of the reason is because last fall’s installment was one of my favorites of the series to date, doing a bang-up job of condensing the original story while setting up this final entry. And with so much ground yet to cover before the series has wrapped, this one has the potential to be pretty ambitious. I predict this’ll be the top-grossing movie of the summer- and perhaps one of its most satisfying entertainments.

Super 8 (June)

With his first two features as a director, JJ Abrams has proven himself to be a canny assimilator of popular culture. Now with his third film, he offers his take on the eighties-era Spielberg adventure, with a group of small-town kids coming face-to-face with something… strange. This may be the iffiest film on my list, but the trailer is awfully impressive, and Abrams looks to be sure-handed in his re-imagining of Spielberg-esque Americana.

Captain America: The First Avenger (July)

Speaking of Americana, am I the only one who’s looking forward to this more than any other comic-book flick of the summer? I hope not, because while X-Men: First Class looks to be yet another attempt to milk a seemingly dry franchise and Thor doesn’t seem too compelling to me, Captain America is the kind of throwback superhero yarn that could serve as a corrective to heaviness that’s become increasingly prevalent in the genre. And I couldn’t think of a filmmaker better suited to this than Joe Johnston, whose underloved The Rocketeer was another infectious adventure about the straight-arrow good guy. With luck, Captain America will give him the franchise he deserved to get two decades ago.

Kung Fu Panda 2 (May)

What’s that, you say? Pixar has a new movie coming out this summer? Well yes, but that Pixar movie is Cars 2, and as much as I’d like to stand out from the crowd, I can’t help but join the chorus that calls the original Cars the least of Pixar’s films thus far. Meanwhile, Kung Fu Panda is Dreamworks’ best animated film to date, a thoroughly unpretentious action comedy that showcases Jack Black’s best star turn since School of Rock. So while I’m still curious to see what else Pixar can do with the Cars gang, deep down I’m really looking forward to laughing along with Po and the Furious Five. Just as long as it doesn’t get too schmaltzy, I expect that I’ll be laughing a lot, and sometimes when you’re watching a big summer movie, that’s really all you need.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Grim it up"?!?!?!?

After reading this, I’m pretty much done with Jeff Wells. I can handle his super-sounds-of-the-70s taste in movie and alpha-male posturing, and hell, I find his comically thin skin as amusing as anyone. But after reading his comments about child abuse I don’t think I can take any more. To tell abused and neglected children to “grim it up” in response to poor parenting is insensitive at best and dangerous at worst. I was lucky enough to grow up with parents who didn’t abuse me, but I know plenty of people who weren’t so fortunate, and I know from experience that the suffering adults inflict on children causes lifelong wounds, both physical and psychological. I came of age in a time when the idea of physical punishment of kids was being seriously called into question, and I wholeheartedly agree with nearly every child psychologist today that hitting your children does far more harm than good. Likewise, to willfully cause pain to someone you live is, to me anyway, fairly unthinkable.

But what really gets me is his remark that he “can tell you stories about my own messed-up childhood that’ll tear your heart out.” Oh, so you had a terrible childhood and you turned out OK, so that means every kid should be able to do it? I call foul on that remark. If you made it out fine, then bully for you. However, most children don’t have the temperament or the inner strength to suck it up when things get bad for them, especially when the bad stuff is coming at the hands of the person they look to first for help and guidance in life. For him to downplay the cost of child abuse so casually is, to my eyes, a glaring lack of the sort of empathy I abhor in others. If you can’t extend your heart to someone who’s suffering- particularly if you suffered from the same sort of pain- I don’t have much use for you in my life.

Friday, April 01, 2011

White Elephant 2011 Super-Post!

Right back where (or at least when) it belongs, it’s the 5th Annual White Elephant Blogathon! The brainchild of Lucid Screening’s Ben Lim, who has since moved on to work for the good folks at The Criterion Collection (, White Elephant has quickly become a yearly tradition for the blogosphere’s most fearless and foolhardy souls. In case you’re new to the whole White Elephant thing, here are the rules as laid down by Ben back in ’07:

1) Submit the title of a movie that you want someone else to review (preferably something available via Netflix).
2) Review the movie that you get assigned and post the review on April 1.
3) Have fun!

This year’s crop of movies is more eclectic than it’s ever been, with some notorious garbage, some cult favorites and curiosities, and even a handful of legitimate classics in the bunch, although there will no doubt be some debate over which movies fall under which category.

So instead of playing a prank that could jeopardize your job or land you in hot water with your significant other, celebrate April Fool’s Day by checking out this year’s White Elephant reviews.

I'll be updating this list over the next few days, so check back throughout the weekend to sample the goodness the White Elephant has to offer this year.

Now, without further ado, this year's White Elephant lineup!

Simon Abrams hangs with Ice-T in Surviving the Game!

Jim Bach tackles Southland Tales!

Kent Beeson witnesses the epic battle of the ‘Stache vs. the Tongue in Runaway!

Josh Bell gets stung by Scorpion Thunderbolt!

Andrew Bemis goes running with The Devils!

Christianne Benedict gets tangled up in Exte: Hair Extensions!

Steven Carlson shudders at the touch of Myra Breckinridge!

I go back- wayyyyyyyyyy back- in time with Caveman!

KC Costanzo tears the cover off Unmasking the Idol!

Dennis Cozzalio argues for (or against) The Life of David Gale!

Jose Cruz goes pro with Amateur!

Andy Fernandez orders up Le Boucher!

Jaime Grijalba recibe ordenado por El Cardenal! (note: in Spanish)

Ivan Lerner gets into Big Trouble!

Matt Lynch walks the plank with Cutthroat Island!

Michael May recounts The Legend of Boggy Creek!

Ripley McCoy does the bedpan two-step with Patch Adams!

Victor J. Morton IS Cool As Ice!

Joe Neff powers up with Electric Dragon 80000V!

Cole Roulain gets Three O’Clock High!

Caroline Shapiro looks into Feeding Boys, Ayaya!

Stacia investigates the mysteries of Deadlier Than the Male!

Philip Tatler takes on Triumph of the Will!

Patrick Williamson says Welcome Home, Soldier Boys!

Bryce Wilson cracks open the Diary of a Cannibal!

White Elephant Blogathon 2011: My Review of Caveman (Carl Gottlieb, 1981)

When I learned that I would be reviewing Caveman this year’s White Elephant Blogathon, I was relieved to draw a movie that I could actually watch with my fiancée and kid, unlike so many movies I’ve reviewed in the past. Yet at the same time, I was a little conflicted about the movie itself. I knew that I had seen it as a child, but I was hard-pressed to remember much about it, aside from the phrase “zug-zug,” which seems to be Caveman’s best-known bit. Moreover, I was a little uneasy about reviewing a movie of such modest ambition, since while it would be an easy sit, there isn’t a whole lot of meat on the movie to which one can apply critical insight, much less write something of interest to more than a handful of people.

Caveman, directed by Carl Gottlieb, is a lowbrow comedy, and it aspires to be nothing more than that. There’s a well-worn critical adage that it’s impossible to debate comedy and eroticism, since one’s tastes for both are subjective. This goes double for a movie like Caveman. While one can appreciate some forms of comedy without necessarily finding them funny- hell, Jacques Tati’s films are so intricately engineered that one is too busy marveling at the direction to laugh- the truth is that a movie like Caveman has little to offer but guffaws. So in the end, if Caveman is funny to you, it works, and if it’s not, it doesn’t. What can I say? It worked for me.

Much of this is because it’s so unashamedly silly. From beginning to end, Caveman takes the low road comedy-wise, but the tone is so good-naturedly goofy that it’s infectious. Leading man Ringo Starr has little to do but mug for the camera, but he does it well and lets his hangdog charm do the rest. And the rest of the cast is just as committed, especially Dennis Quaid as Starr’s none-too-bright sidekick, who ends up taking even more abuse than the hero.

Of course, your mileage may vary depending on your taste for slapstick and barn-door-broad gags. Caveman is full of gags aimed at the average grade-school-aged boy, which may be why it’s becoming one of my son’s favorites. It’s the kind of movie in which the heroes, having just discovered fire, fend off an enemy by burning his butt. It contains multiple appearances by a most clever dinosaur who not only howls at the moon at night but also crows like a rooster at dawn. And would you be surprised if I told you that there’s a scene in which Starr, Quaid, and company track through a big pile of dinosaur poop? I didn’t think so.

Then again, Caveman is so sincere about its desire to little more than silly fun that it’s aged surprisingly well. I recently bemoaned to a friend of mine that silliness is in short supply in contemporary comedies, which are so set on being smart and hip that they can’t quite commit to the jokes. Compare Caveman to 2009’s misbegotten Year One and you’ll see the difference- while Year One is just as full of lowbrow gags and egregious contractions of history as Caveman (if not more so), it never musters up the nerve to go all the way with its comedy, and consequently feels less like a movie than a tossed-off sketch by the Apatow Company All-Stars. At least when Caveman unleashes a dumb joke- which, let’s face it, is pretty frequently- you get the sense than it means it.

Now, I don’t want to oversell the merits of Caveman. It’s not a great movie, and much of my affection for it comes from how much it feels like the product of a bygone era in comedy. But I’ll be honest- it’s a hard movie to dislike. For one thing, it lacks many of the more mean-spirited impulses that usually characterize slapstick. As a result, the movie is surprisingly gentle in tone, making it (with a few minor exceptions) pretty solid family viewing, complete with a fun impromptu musical number around a campfire. Also, the stop-motion dinosaurs are a lot of fun- strangely, the unsophisticated animation gives them more character than a more technically proficient rendering, allowing them to come off less as photorealistic dinos than overgrown house pets. And somehow, thirty years ago, Gottlieb got away with making a “dumb” comedy in which 99% of the dialogue was delivered in a nonsensical invented language, and without subtitles to boot. Is there any way this could happen in today’s Hollywood climate? Not a chance.

Friday, March 11, 2011

2010 Muriels Wrap-up!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to post links to the Muriels announcements this year. So instead, for the benefit of those who haven’t been keeping up, I’m going to include all the winners in one convenient wrap-up post, complete with links to the almost uniformly awesome write-ups penned by the voters. Here’s the list, with the winners listed alongside my personal ballot and a handful of my thoughts. And if you want to check out all of this year’s Muriel goodies, I encourage you to slide on over to the Muriels blog or check out the full results at the Muriels Web site.

Anyway, the list:

Best Film:
Muriel’s top 10:
1. The Social Network
2. True Grit
3 (tie). Dogtooth and Toy Story 3
5 (tie). The Ghost Writer and Winter’s Bone
7. Carlos
8. Exit Through the Gift Shop
9. Black Swan
10. Mother

My top 10:
1. Dogtooth
2. Exit Through the Gift Shop
3. The Social Network
4. Winter’s Bone
5. Another Year
6. Inception
7. The Ghost Writer
8. Somewhere
9. Carlos
10. Everyone Else

Unless you’re the Skandies (or if you’re less awesome, the Oscars), the dominance of Social Network was pretty predictable. But as always, I’m impressed by the diversity of our choices here. Sure, there are a handful of Oscar-nominated films, but be fair- at least they’re good Oscar nominees instead of the requisite tepid middlebrow stuff. Seeing as how we’re junkies for all things Coen and Pixar, it wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine True Grit and Toy Story 3 figuring prominently in this year’s Muriels. But who could have predicted that Dogtooth would go over this well with our crowd? Not only did Lanthimos’ masterpiece go toe to toe with three of this year’s most acclaimed wide releases- it also turned out to be the highest-placing foreign-produced film in the five-year history of the Muriels. Good job, folks.

Best Lead Performance, Male:
Muriel’s top 5: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network; Edgar Ramirez, Carlos; Tahar Rahim, A Prophet; James Franco, 127 Hours; Jeff Bridges, True Grit
My top 5: Ramirez, Eisenberg, Rahim, Franco, Louis-do de Lencequesaing, The Father of My Children

Can’t complain about this top 5- Muriel’s top 4 match mine, albeit in a slightly different order, and I’m a Bridges fan of long standing. That said, how awesome would it have been if Ramirez pulled out the upset? It ended up being a surprisingly tight race, as you’ll be able to see by checking the Muriels site.

Best Lead Performance, Female:
Muriel’s top 5: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit; Natalie Portman, Black Swan; Kim Hye-ja, Mother; Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone; Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
My top 5: Sylvie Testud, Lourdes; Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Vincere; Lawrence; Ruth Sheen, Another Year; Birgit Minichmayr, Everyone Else

Good job Muriel buds realizing that True Grit is Mattie’s story, and therefore that Steinfeld is the daggum lead in the movie. Seeing Kim placing in the top 5, along with the diversity in the best picture and actor categories, makes me wonder if 2010 wasn’t the year of the foreign film… at least in Muriels land.

Best Supporting Performance, Male:
Muriel’s top 5: John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone; Christian Bale, The Fighter; Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech; Andrew Garfield, The Social Network; Matt Damon, True Grit
My top 5: Hawkes; Garfield; Niels Arestrup, A Prophet; Armie Hammer, The Social Network; Pierce Brosnan, The Ghost Writer

So… not a close race. But Hawkes is so great in Winter’s Bone that I don’t mind. But wait… only four other people voted for Armie Hammer? Seriously? That just doesn’t compute with me.

Best Supporting Performance, Female:
Muriel’s top 5: Greta Gerwig, Greenberg; Olivia Williams, The Ghost Writer; Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom; Aggeliki Papoulia, Dogtooth; Amy Adams, The Fighter
My top 5: Williams; Dale Dickey, Winter’s Bone; Papoulia; Kathryn Hahn, How Do You Know; Elle Fanning, Somewhere

Gerwig wasn’t on my ballot- and frankly, I would’ve considered her a lead in Greenberg- but this is the kind of off-the-wall surprise I always hope for from the Muriels, not unlike Tilda Swinton and Antichrist taking home Best Actress and Cinematography, respectively, last year. Additionally, a second look at my ballot leads me to wonder if I didn’t underrate Hahn, whose warm and funny performance in How Do You Know grows in my memory along with the film itself.

Best Direction:
Muriel’s top 5: David Fincher, The Social Network; Olivier Assayas, Carlos; Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit; Yorgos Lanthimos, Dogtooth; Bong Joon-ho, Mother
My top 5: Lanthimos; Fincher; Banksy, Exit Through the Gift Shop; Mike Leigh, Another Year; Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone

I would just like to give a nice shout-out to Sony Pictures Classics, who distributed Another Year like it was, oh I dunno, Take Me Home Tonight, dropping it in theatres just after Oscar nominations came out, and a scant two days before Muriels ballots were due. With a cannier release pattern, Leigh’s film could have gained some critical traction a la Winter’s Bone, as well as connecting with Leigh’s usual audiences in arthouses everywhere. It’s sad to see a film like this, that everyone seems to care about except for those in charge of distributing the damn thing.

Best Screenplay:
Muriel’s top 5: The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin); True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen); Dogtooth (Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou); Inception (Christopher Nolan); Carlos (Olivier Assayas and Dan Franck)
My top 5: The Social Network; Dogtooth; Carlos; Inception; The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski and Robert Harris)

Again, can’t argue with this.

Best Cinematography:
Muriel’s top 5: True Grit (Roger Deakins); Shutter Island (Robert Richardson); The Social Network (Jeff Cronenweth); Inception (Wally Pfister); Black Swan (Matthew Libatique)
My top 5: Let Me In (Greig Fraser); The Social Network; Valhalla Rising (Morten Søborg); Never Let Me Go (Adam Kimmel); Shutter Island

Even if the Academy doesn’t recognize Deakins, Muriel sure the hell does.

Best Editing:
Muriel’s top 5: The Social Network; Inception; Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; Shutter Island; Black Swan
My top 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; Exit Through the Gift Shop; Inception; The Social Network; Dogtooth

New category this year, and these choices are all fairly solid in my opinion.

Best Music:
Muriel’s top 5: The Social Network; Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; Inception; Tron: Legacy; True Grit
My top 5: Never Let Me Go; Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; The Social Network; Tron: Legacy; Soul Kitchen

This is always a bit of a strange one, since for me it’s not about which movie has the best music so much as which one uses it most effectively. For my money, my top two choices are easily the best of 2010, although it says something that the Tron Legacy score is on regular rotation on my iPod.

Best Cinematic Moment:
Muriel’s top 10:
1. Staring into the inferno - Toy Story 3
2. “Burning for You” - Let Me In
3. Nina Sayers is… the Black Swan - Black Swan
4. Anniversary dance - Dogtooth
5. Zero-gravity fight - Inception
6. Opening breakup - The Social Network
7. Facemash - The Social Network
8. Ending - The Ghost Writer
9. Opening credits - Enter the Void
10. Blackie’s midnight ride - True Grit

My top 10:
1. Bedside proposal, takes 1 and 2 - How Do You Know
2. Henley Royal Regatta - The Social Network
3. Opening credits - Enter the Void
4. Sex Bob-omb vs. the Katayanagi Twins - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
5. Initiation killing - A Prophet
6. “Burning for You” - Let Me In
7. Cat with a hammer - Dogtooth
8. “Is this our time?” - Winter’s Bone
9. Tale of the Three Brothers - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
10. Carlos stops the party - Carlos

This is always a lot of fun, although it can be tough to narrow it down to ten. It’s such a competitive category that my favorite never seems to crack the top 10, and that was the case again this year. Was it that everyone skipped How Do You Know due to the disappointing reviews? As I’ve said before, I expect time will be very kind to Brooks’ film. Oh well- at least the centerpiece scene of Let Me In ended up at a strong #2.

Best Cinematic Breakthrough:
Muriel’s top 5: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit; Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone; Banksy, Exit Through the Gift Shop; Chloe Grace Moretz, Kick-Ass/Let Me In; Yorgos Lanthimos, Dogtooth
My top 5: Lanthimos; Edgar Ramirez, Carlos; Banksy; Lawrence; Tahar Rahim, A Prophet

This category is always all over the map, and not always in a good way. But it’s hard to knock our choice of winner, who landed just outside my personal top 5. And hey, Lanthimos!

Best Body of Work:
Muriel’s top 5: Leonardo DiCaprio; Mark Ruffalo; Manoel de Oliveira; Chloe Grace Moretz; Andrew Garfield
My top 5: Garfield; DiCaprio; Oliveira; Ruffalo; Ewan McGregor

Looking at our winner, you’d think DiCaprio had strong showings for both of his 2010 performances in the Best Male Lead category, but no- five votes for Shutter Island, none at all for Inception. It was just one of those wonky categories, on in which a teenaged actress could find herself placing alongside a filmmaker roughly six times her age (seriously, the dude just keeps crankin’ ‘em out. I hope I can even make it to 102, much less be as productive as he is).

Best Ensemble Performance:
Muriel’s top 5: The Social Network; True Grit; The Kids Are All Right; Carlos; Another Year
My top 5: Dogtooth; The Social Network; Winter’s Bone; Another Year; How Do You Know

A handful of Muriel favorites show up here again, but this is the only appearance of Kids Are All Right in the top 5 in any category, unless you count Ruffalo’s silver medal in Body of Work. Makes sense- I didn’t love the movie as a whole, but the cast was pretty solid.

Best Web-Based Film Criticism:
Muriel’s top 5: The AV Club; The Man Who Viewed Too Much; Slant; MUBI; Roger Ebert
My top 5: The AV Club; The Man Who Viewed Too Much; MUBI; Vern; The Academic Hack

Hey look- I wrote this one up. Check it out!

10th Anniversary Award for Best Film, 2000:
Muriel’s top 5: In the Mood for Love (Wong); Memento (Nolan); Yi Yi (Yang); Requiem for a Dream (Aronofsky); Dancer in the Dark (von Trier)
My top 5: La Commune [Paris, 1871] (Watkins); Songs From the Second Floor (Andersson); Code Unknown (Haneke); Yi Yi; Eureka (Aoyama)

25th Anniversary Award for Best Film, 1985:
Muriel’s top 5: Brazil (Gilliam); Ran (Kurosawa); After Hours (Scorsese); Back to the Future (Zemeckis); Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (Burton)
My top 5: Come and See (Klimov); Back to the Future; Brazil; Ran; After Hours

50th Anniversary Award for Best Film, 1960:
Muriel’s top 5 6: Psycho (Hitchcock); The Apartment (Wilder); Breathless (Godard); Peeping Tom (Powell); L’Avventura (Antonioni); La Dolce Vita (Fellini)
My top 5: Les Bonnes Femmes (Chabrol); Peeping Tom; The Apartment; L’Avventura; Psycho

Something I enjoy doing is predicting a year in advance what movies will take the anniversary awards the following year. This year was pretty easy, and I went three-for-three. Psycho was a particularly obvious choice, considering that he’s taken this category for the third straight year now. This makes next year that much trickier, since he didn’t release a movie in 1961. As such I’m predicting that David Lynch takes both 2001 and 1986, and that Yojimbo edges out Jules and Jim for 1961.

Special award: Best Film of the 1950s:
Muriel’s top 10:
1. Vertigo (Hitchcock)
2. Rear Window (Hitchcock)
3. The Searchers (Ford)
4. The 400 Blows (Truffaut)
5. Touch of Evil (Welles)
6. Seven Samurai (Kurosawa)
7. Sunset Boulevard (Wilder)
8. Singin’ in the Rain (Kelly/Donen)
9. Rashomon (Kurosawa)
10. Night of the Hunter (Laughton)

My top 10:
1. Orpheus (Cocteau)
2. The 400 Blows
3. The Seven Samurai
4. M. Hulot’s Holiday (Tati)
5. Vertigo
6. Sweet Smell of Success (Mackendrick)
7. Singin’ in the Rain
8. Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi)
9. Rio Bravo (Hawks)
10. Ordet (Dreyer)

After last year’s best-of-the-00s categories, Steve decided it would be a good idea to continue doing special awards on a year basis. I know several of the voters who complained how tough of a choice it was to narrow down this category to 10, so rich a filmgoing period was the 1950s. And yet… there’s Hitchcock again, in both the first and second spots. Then again, considering the dude pretty much owned the decade (with special mention for Messrs. Kurosawa, Wilder, and Ray), that’s not a bad thing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lost: The Poll

I've been really swamped lately, which means that something had to give. Hence, no content for almost a month now. It's nothing personal, but with so few worthwhile movies out right now and so much else going on in my life, I just don't have the energy to write as much as I'd like to. At the end of a long day, I'd just as soon watch something. In the past, this would have been a movie, but in recent months Angela and I have gotten hooked on watching Lost, which we can stream through Netflix. As of now we're almost done with season 3, and while it's sort of bumpy going on occasion, it's also compulsively watchable. So for all you Lost fans out there, here's a poll I made for your enjoyment, which will hopefully stir up discussion until such time as I can rustle up new content.

Why only the survivors, you ask? Because at this point I can't begin to get a reading on many of the Others, not to mention the supporting characters who appear in flashbacks and such. Besides, considering how many characters have appeared on Lost, can you really blame me for keeping the number down?

So which of the characters listed below are your favorites? You can choose up to three. And yes, I've included Vincent for all you dog lovers out there.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Retro Muriels Bonus: Best of the Aughts

Finally, as a last palate cleanser before this year's awards begin, here's my picks for the best of the last decade by category:

Best Picture:
The New World
Waking Life
8 Women
There Will Be Blood
25th Hour
The Son
Synecdoche, New York
Beau Travail

Best Director:
Terrence Malick, The New World
Lars von Trier, Dogville
Takashi Miike, Audition
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Spike Lee, 25th Hour

Best Lead Performance, Female:
Emmanuelle Devos, Gilles’ Wife
Isabelle Huppert, The Piano Teacher
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
Carice Van Houten, Black Book
Charlotte Rampling, Under the Sand

Best Lead Performance, Male:
Olivier Gourmet, The Son
Damian Lewis, Keane
Sam Rockwell, Joshua
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Tom Wilkinson, In the Bedroom

Best Supporting Performance, Male:
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Nick Nolte, Clean
Daniel Day-Lewis, Gangs of New York
Ray Winstone, The Proposition
Peter Sarsgaard, Shattered Glass

Best Supporting Performance, Female:
Mia Kershner, The Black Dahlia
Hafsia Herzi, The Secret of the Grain
Juliette Binoche, Code Unknown
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Maria Bello, A History of Violence

Best Screenplay:
Synecdoche, New York
The Prestige
25th Hour
The Secret Lives of Dentists

Best Ensemble Performance:
8 Women
Kings and Queen

Best Cinematography:
The New World (Emmanuel Lubezki)
Beau Travail (Agnès Godard)
Gerry (Harris Savides)
In the Mood for Love (Christopher Doyle and Mark-li Ping-bin)
Silent Light (Alexis Zabe)

Best Music:
25th Hour (Terence Blanchard)
There Will Be Blood (Jonny Greenwood)
Waking Life (Glover Gill and the Tosca Tango Orchestra)
Birth (Alexandre Desplat)
WALL*E (Thomas Newman)

Best Cinematic Moment (unranked):
25th Hour – last temptation of Monty
Bus 174 – slow motion apprehension gone awry
Caché – “I just wanted you to be present”
Déjà vu – interchronological car chase
Oldboy – hammer time
Ratatouille – Ego’s flashback
Talk to Her – “Shrinking Lover”
We Own the Night – rainstorm ambush
Werckmeister Harmonies – cosmos (opening shot)
You, the Living – honeymoon fantasy
Young @ Heart – “Fix You”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Muriels Retro: 2009

Best Picture:
Lorna’s Silence
Inglourious Basterds
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Passing Strange
The Hurt Locker
Still Walking
35 Shots of Rum

Best Director:
Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Lorna’s Silence
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Pete Docter, Up
Wes Anderson, Fantastic Mr. Fox
Hirokazu Kore-eda, Still Walking

Best Lead Performance, Female:
Tilda Swinton, Julia
Charlotte Gainsbourg, Antichrist
Arta Dobroshi, Lorna’s Silence
Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds
Maria Onetto, The Headless Woman

Best Lead Performance, Male:
Nicolas Cage, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Joaquin Phoenix, Two Lovers
Matt Damon, The Informant!
Michael Fassbender, Hunger
Michael Jai White, Black Dynamite

Best Supporting Performance, Male:
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Jeremie Renier, Lorna’s Silence
Jackie Earle Haley, Watchmen
Christian McKay, Me & Orson Welles
Michael Fassbender, Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Performance, Female:
Zoe Kazan, Me & Orson Welles
Ursula Strauss, Revanche
Edith Scob, Summer Hours
Kirin Kiki, Still Walking
Alycia Delmore, Humpday

Best Screenplay:
Lorna’s Silence
Inglourious Basterds
Fantastic Mr. Fox

Best Ensemble Performance:
Passing Strange
Still Walking
35 Shots of Rum

Best Cinematography:
Antichrist (Anthony Dod Mantle)
Tetro (Mihai Malamaire, Jr.)
Hunger (Sean Bobbitt)
Inglourious Basterds (Robert Richardson)
35 Shots of Rum (Agnès Godard)

Best Music:
Tetro (Osvaldo Golijov)
Up (Michael Giacchino)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Alexandre Desplat et al)
Coraline (Bruno Coulais)
The Informant! (Marvin Hamlisch)

Best Cinematic Breakthrough:
Christoph Waltz (actor- Inglourious Basterds)
Michael Fassbender (actor- Hunger)
Michael Jai White (actor/writer- Black Dynamite)
Arta Dobroshi (actor- Lorna’s Silence)
Melanie Laurent (actor- Inglourious Basterds)

Best Body of Work:
Michael Fassbender (actor- Hunger, Inglourious Basterds)
Werner Herzog (director- Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done)
Jérémie Renier (actor- Lorna’s Silence, Summer Hours)
Agnès Godard (cinematographer- 35 Shots of Rum, Home)
Steven Soderbergh (director/editor/cinematographer- The Informant!, The Girlfriend Experience)

Best Cinematic Moment:
You, the Living – honeymoon fantasy
Up – scenes from a marriage
Lorna’s Silence – Claudy rides off into the sunset. CUT.
Inglourious Basterds – meeting in a fuckin’ basement
Antichrist – opening scene
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans – nursing home shakedown
Duplicity – tarmac throwdown
Inglourious Basterds – Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France
Drag Me to Hell – parking garage fight
35 Shots of Rum – “Night Shift”

Monday, February 14, 2011

Muriels Retro: 2008

Best Picture:
Synecdoche, New York
Silent Light
The Duchess of Langeais
The Class
In the City of Sylvia
Rachel Getting Married
A Christmas Tale
Chicago 10
The Secret of the Grain

Best Director:
Carlos Reygadas, Silent Light
Jacques Rivette, The Duchess of Langeais
Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York
Jose Luis Guerin, In the City of Sylvia
Steven Soderbergh, Che

Best Lead Performance, Female:
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
Rebecca Hall, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Catherine Deneuve, A Christmas Tale
Naomi Watts, Funny Games
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married

Best Lead Performance, Male:
Michael Shannon, Shotgun Stories
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Guillaume Depardieu, The Duchess of Langeais
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Synecdoche, New York
Benicio Del Toro, Che

Best Supporting Performance, Male:
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Brendan Gleeson, In Bruges
Brad Pitt, Burn After Reading
Bill Irwin, Rachel Getting Married
Roger Allam, Speed Racer

Best Supporting Performance, Female:
Hafsia Herzi, The Secret of the Grain
Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married
Ann Savage, My Winnipeg
Samantha Morton, Synecdoche, New York
Jane Lynch, Role Models

Best Screenplay:
Synecdoche, New York
A Christmas Tale
Rachel Getting Married
The Duchess of Langeais
In Bruges

Best Ensemble Performance:
Rachel Getting Married
A Christmas Tale
The Class
Synecdoche, New York
In Bruges

Best Cinematography:
Silent Light (Alexis Zabe)
Paranoid Park (Christopher Doyle and Kathy Rain Li)
The Man From London (Fred Kelemen)
Che (Peter Andrews [Steven Soderbergh])
The Duchess of Langeais (William Lubtchansky)

Best Music:
WALL*E (Thomas Newman)
Speed Racer (Michael Giacchino)
Cassandra’s Dream (Philip Glass)
My Winnipeg (Jason Staczek et al)
Happy-Go-Lucky (Gary Yershon)

Best Cinematic Breakthrough:
Hafsia Herzi (actor- The Secret of the Grain)
Charlie Kaufman (director- Synecdoche, New York)
Rosemarie DeWitt (actor- Rachel Getting Married)
Martin McDonagh (director/writer- In Bruges)
Danny McBride (actor- The Foot Fist Way)

Best Body of Work:
Darius Khondji (cinematographer- Funny Games, My Blueberry Nights, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait)
Michael Shannon (actor- Shotgun Stories, Revolutionary Road)
Roger Deakins (cinematographer- Revolutionary Road, Doubt; visual consultant- WALL*E)
Samantha Morton (actor- Synecdoche, New York, Mister Lonely)
Richard Jenkins (actor- Burn After Reading, The Visitor, Step Brothers)

Best Cinematic Moment:
Young @ Heart – “Fix You”
Kung Fu Panda – no charge for awesomeness
Woman on the Beach – diagram
Silent Light – bathing the children
In Bruges – tower showdown
Silent Light – sunrise
The Wrestler – Ram at the deli counter (first time)
JCVD – “Hard Times”
The Silence Before Bach – traveling player piano
XXY – sex surprise

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Muriels Retro: 2007

Best Picture:
There Will Be Blood
No Country for Old Men
Gone Baby Gone
Lake of Fire
The Host
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Syndromes and a Century

Best Director:
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
David Fincher, Zodiac
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Bong Joon-ho, The Host
Jafar Panahi, Offside

Best Lead Performance, Female:
Carice Van Houten, Black Book
Nicole Kidman, Margot at the Wedding
Ashley Judd, Bug
Luisa Williams, Day Night Day Night
Ellen Page, Juno

Best Lead Performance, Male:
Sam Rockwell, Joshua
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
Michael Shannon, Bug
Ulrich Mühe, The Lives of Others

Best Supporting Performance, Male:
Mark Ruffalo, Zodiac
Kurt Russell, Grindhouse
Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Peter O’Toole, Ratatouille

Best Supporting Performance, Female:
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There
Margo Martindale, Paris, Je T’Aime
Kelly Macdonald, No Country for Old Men
Kelli Garner, Lars and the Real Girl

Best Screenplay:
There Will Be Blood
No Country for Old Men
The Hunting Party

Best Ensemble Performance:
No Country for Old Men
Hot Fuzz
I’m Not There

Best Cinematography:
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Roger Deakins)
There Will Be Blood (Robert Elswit)
Regular Lovers (William Lubtchansky)
Youth Without Youth (Mihai Malamaire Jr.)
Zodiac (Harris Savides)

Best Music:
There Will Be Blood (Jonny Greenwood)
Once (The Swell Season)
Ratatouille (Michael Giacchino)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Nick Cave and Warren Ellis)
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Michael Andrews, John C. Reilly, et al)

Best Cinematic Breakthrough:
Carice Van Houten (actor- Black Book)
Jonny Greenwood (composer- There Will Be Blood)
Ben Affleck (director/writer- Gone Baby Gone)
Luisa Williams (actor- Day Night Day Night)
The Swell Season [Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova] (actors/composers- Once)

Best Body of Work:
Roger Deakins (cinematographer- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, No Country for Old Men, In the Valley of Elah)
Josh Brolin (actor- No Country for Old Men, Grindhouse, American Gangster, In the Valley of Elah)
Casey Affleck (actor- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Gone Baby Gone, Ocean’s 13)
Robert Elswit (cinematographer- There Will Be Blood, Michael Clayton)
Sam Rockwell (actor- Joshua, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)

Best Cinematic Moment:
We Own the Night – rainstorm ambush
Ratatouille – Ego’s flashback
Superbad – Seth’s secret shame
There Will Be Blood – baptism
The Host – Han River attack
There Will Be Blood – derrick explosion
Zodiac – Lake Beryessa
No Country for Old Men – showdown at Hotel Eagle
Grindhouse – Ship’s Mast
Offside – trip to the men’s room

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Muriels Retro: 2006

Best Picture:
The Prestige
Children of Men
Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
The Departed
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
The Proposition
Duck Season
The Child

Best Director:
Alfonso Cuaron, Children of Men
Christopher Nolan, The Prestige
Martin Scorsese, The Departed
Michel Gondry, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
Cristi Puiu, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

Best Lead Performance, Female:
Gretchen Mol, The Notorious Bettie Page
Laura Smet, The Bridesmaid
Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
Sandra Hüller, Requiem

Best Lead Performance, Male:
Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat: Cultural Learnings of American for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brick
Ion Fiscuteanu, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
Hugh Jackman, The Fountain
Steve Coogan, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

Best Supporting Performance, Male:
Nick Nolte, Clean
Ray Winstone, The Proposition
Michael Caine, The Prestige
Sacha Baron Cohen, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children

Best Supporting Performance, Female:
Mia Kershner, The Black Dahlia
Cloris Leachman, Beerfest
Eva Green, Casino Royale
Rebecca Hall, The Prestige
Maribel Verdu, Pan’s Labyrinth

Best Screenplay:
The Prestige
The Departed
Inside Man
The Proposition

Best Ensemble Performance:
The Departed
The Prestige
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
The Proposition
Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

Best Cinematography:
Miami Vice (Dion Beebe)
Children of Men (Emmanuel Lubezki)
The Proposition (Benoit Delhomme)
The Black Dahlia (Vilmos Zsigmond)
Three Times (Mark-li Ping-bin)

Best Music:
The Fountain (Clint Mansell)
The Proposition (Nick Cave and Warren Ellis)
Brick (Nathan Johnson)
Drawing Restraint 9 (Björk)
The Prestige (David Julyan)

Best Cinematic Breakthrough:
Cristi Puiu (director/writer- The Death of Mr. Lazarescu)
Rian Johnson (director/writer- Brick)
Laura Smet (actor- The Bridesmaid)
Rebecca Hall (actor- The Prestige)
Sandra Hüller (actor- Requiem)

Best Body of Work:
Sacha Baron Cohen (actor- Borat, Talladega Nights)
Ray Winstone (actor- The Proposition, The Departed)
Hugh Jackman (actor- The Fountain, The Prestige, X-Men: The Last Stand, Scoop, Flushed Away)
Michael Caine (actor- The Prestige, Children of Men)
Clive Owen (actor- Children of Men, Inside Man)

Best Cinematic Moment:
Déjà vu – interchronological car chase
jackass number two – The Valentine
Children of Men – escaping the safe house
Children of Men – battle of Bexhill
Talladega Nights – enter Jean Girard
Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny – “Kickapoo”
A Prairie Home Companion – “Bad Jokes”
Borat – nude smackdown
A Scanner Darkly – Freck’s suicide
4 – opening shot

Friday, February 11, 2011

Muriels Retro: 2005

Best Picture:
The New World
Kings and Queen
A History of Violence
Tropical Malady
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Gilles’ Wife
The Matador

Best Director:
Terrence Malick, The New World
Arnaud Desplechin, Kings and Queen
Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Innocence
Michael Haneke, Caché
David Cronenberg, A History of Violence

Best Lead Performance, Female:
Emmanuelle Devos, Gilles’ Wife
Emmanuelle Devos, Kings and Queen
Sibel Kekilli, Head-On
Q’Orianka Kilcher, The New World
Naomi Watts, King Kong

Best Lead Performance, Male:
Damian Lewis, Keane
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Robert Downey Jr., Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Viggo Mortensen, A History of Violence
Choi Min-sik, Oldboy

Best Supporting Performance, Male:
Jeff Daniels, The Squid and the Whale
Mickey Rourke, Frank Miller’s Sin City
Bruno Ganz, Downfall
Oliver Platt, The Ice Harvest
Mathieu Amalric, Munich

Best Supporting Performance, Female:
Maria Bello, A History of Violence
Robin Wright Penn, Nine Lives
Qiu Yuen, Kung Fu Hustle
Michelle Monaghan, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Magali Woch, Kings and Queen

Best Screenplay:
A History of Violence
Kings and Queen
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
The Matador
The New World

Best Ensemble Performance:
Kings and Queen
A History of Violence
The New World
Games of Love and Chance
Nobody Knows

Best Cinematography:
The New World (Emmanuel Lubezki)
The Intruder (Agnès Godard)
Innocence (Benoit Debie)
2046 (Christopher Doyle)
Kings and Queen (Eric Gautier)

Best Music:
Tony Takitani (Ryuichi Sakamoto)
The Beat That My Heart Skipped (Alexandre Desplat et al)
Gilles’ Wife (Vincent D’Hondt)
King Kong (Howard Shore)
Pride & Prejudice (Dario Marianelli)

Best Cinematic Breakthrough:
Sibel Kekilli (actor- Head-On)
Lucile Hadzihalilovic (director/writer- Innocence)
Q’Orianka Kilcher (actor- The New World)
Michelle Monaghan (actor- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Richard Shepard (director/writer- The Matador)

Best Body of Work:
Emmanuelle Devos (actor- Kings and Queen, Gilles’ Wife, The Beat My Heart Skipped)
Heath Ledger (actor- Brokeback Mountain, Lords of Dogtown, The Brothers Grimm, Casanova)
Werner Herzog (director- Grizzly Man, Wheel of Time, The White Diamond)
Mathieu Amalric (actor- Kings and Queen, Munich)
Joan Allen (actor- The Upside of Anger, Yes, Off the Map)

Best Cinematic Moment:
Caché – “I just wanted you to be present”
Oldboy – hammer time
The Devil’s Rejects – “Free Bird”
The New World – arrival of the English
Kings and Queen – a letter from dad
King Kong – Kong searches for Anne in NYC
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – Harry under the bed
Kung Fu Hustle – the musicians
Domino – Jerry Springer
Last Days – “Death to Birth”

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Muriels Retro: 2004

Best Picture:
Before Sunset
Kill Bill: vol. 2
Cowards Bend the Knee
The Five Obstructions
Los Angeles Plays Itself
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Best Director:
Lars von Trier, Dogville
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill: vol. 2
Guy Maddin, Cowards Bend the Knee
Richard Linklater, Before Sunset
Jonathan Glazer, Birth

Best Lead Performance, Female:
Bryce Dallas Howard, The Village
Moon So-ri, Oasis
Julie Delpy, Before Sunset
Nicole Kidman, Dogville
Esther Gorinton, Since Otar Left…

Best Lead Performance, Male:
Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Red Lights
Paul Bettany, Dogville
Gael Garcia Bernal, Bad Education
Jeff Bridges, The Door in the Floor
Jim Carrey, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Best Supporting Performance, Male:
Mark Wahlberg, I [heart] Huckabees
Danny Huston, Birth
Jude Law, I [heart] Huckabees
David Carradine, Kill Bill: vol. 2
John Hurt, Dogville

Best Supporting Performance, Female:
Coralie Revel, Secret Things
Maia Morgenstern, The Passion of the Christ
Eva Green, The Dreamers
Daryl Hannah, Kill Bill: vol. 2
Cate Blanchett, Coffee and Cigarettes

Best Screenplay:
Before Sunset
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
I [heart] Huckabees

Best Ensemble Performance:
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
I [heart] Huckabees
Kill Bill: vol. 2

Best Cinematography:
Birth (Harris Savides)
Hero (Christopher Doyle)
Father and Son (Aleksandr Burov)
Collateral (Paul Cameron and Dion Beebe)
Distant (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)

Best Music:
Birth (Alexandre Desplat)
The Incredibles (Michael Giacchino)
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (Mark Mothersbaugh and Seu Jorgé)
Greendale (Neil Young)
Bad Education (Alberto Iglesias)

Best Cinematic Breakthrough:
Shane Carruth (director/producer/actor/writer/composer/editor/production designer/sound designer- Primer)
Bryce Dallas Howard (actor- The Village)
Moon So-ri (actor- Oasis)
Coralie Revel (actor- Secret Things)
Eva Green (actor- The Dreamers)

Best Body of Work:
Lars von Trier (director/writer- Dogville, The Five Obstructions)
Cate Blanchett (actor- Coffee and Cigarettes, The Aviator, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou)
Jude Law (actor- I [heart] Huckabees, Closer, The Aviator, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Alfie, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Jamie Foxx (actor- Collateral, Ray, Breakin’ All the Rules)
Nicole Kidman (actor- Dogville, Birth, The Stepford Wives)

Best Cinematic Moment:
Before Sunset – Celine’s apartment
Kill Bill: vol. 2 – the Bride vs. Elle Driver
Birth – not a funny matter
Dogville – Grace’s escape attempt
Gozu – reach out and touch someone
Enduring Love – balloon accident
Anchorman – biker incident
Notre Musique – Hell
The Incredibles – Elastigirl infiltrates Syndrome’s lair
Hero – attack on calligraphy school

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Muriels Retro: 2003

Best Picture:
The Son
Kill Bill: vol. 1
The Secret Lives of Dentists
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Bus 174
Stuck on You
The Good Thief

Best Director:
Gaspar Noé, Irreversible
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, The Son
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill: vol. 1
Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
David Cronenberg, Spider

Best Lead Performance, Female:
Monica Bellucci, Irreversible
Uma Thurman, Kill Bill: vol. 1
Oksana Akinshina, Lilja 4-Ever
Angela Bettis, May
Charlize Theron, Monster

Best Lead Performance, Male:
Olivier Gourmet, The Son
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Nick Nolte, The Good Thief
Campbell Scott, The Secret Lives of Dentists
Matt Damon, Stuck on You

Best Supporting Performance, Male:
Peter Sarsgaard, Shattered Glass
Brendan Gleeson, 28 Days Later
Albert Dupontel, Irreversible
Sean Astin, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Sonny Chiba, Kill Bill: vol. 1

Best Supporting Performance, Female:
Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Sand and Fog
Miranda Richardson, Spider
Catherine O’Hara, A Mighty Wind
Alison Lohman, Matchstick Men
Ellen DeGeneres, Finding Nemo

Best Screenplay:
The Secret Lives of Dentists
Kill Bill: vol. 1
Shattered Glass
The Son
Stuck on You

Best Ensemble Performance:
A Mighty Wind
The Secret Lives of Dentists
Kill Bill: vol. 1
Shattered Glass
The Good Thief

Best Cinematography:
Gerry (Harris Savides)
Spider (Peter Suschitzky)
Kill Bill: vol.1 (Robert Richardson)
City of God (Cesar Charlone)
Irreversible (Benoit Debie)

Best Music:
A Mighty Wind (Various)
The Triplets of Belleville (Benoit Charest)
The Fog of War (Philip Glass)
Spider (Howard Shore)
Kill Bill: vol. 1 (RZA et al)

Best Cinematic Breakthrough:
Oksana Akinshina (actor- Lilja 4-Ever)
Angela Bettis (actor- May)
José Padilha (director- Bus 174)
Zooey Deschanel (actor- All the Real Girls)
Anna Kendrick (actor- Camp)

Best Body of Work:
Johnny Depp (actor- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Once Upon a Time in Mexico)
Harris Savides (cinematographer- Gerry, Elephant)
Matt Damon (actor- Stuck on You, Gerry)
Hope Davis (actor- The Secret Lives of Dentists, American Splendor)
Howard Shore (composer- Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Spider)

Best Cinematic Moment:
Bus 174 – slow motion apprehension gone awry
Gerry – rock marooned
Gerry – sunrise shuffle
Kill Bill: vol. 1 – the Bride vs. Go-Go Yubari
A Mighty Wind – “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow”
So Close – “Close to You” in the record store
The Son – Francis uses the air hose
Kill Bill: vol. 1 – the Bride meets the Man From Okinawa
The Secret Lives of Dentists – the flu spreads
Spellbound – “your word is… Darjeeling.”