Wednesday, November 28, 2012

2012 Award Season: Independant Spirit Awards

The Independent Spirit Award nominations were released today marking the start of the 2012 Award season that will not end till February 24th when the Oscars are announced. 
What do the nominations tell us about what could be nominated for Oscars? Not much.  Obviously being independent most of these movies are smaller budget and played in very few theaters. 
A lot of them are mostly festival favorites.  But let’s take a look at some of the highlights. 

The two movies that got the most nominations are Moonrise Kingdom and Silver Linings Playbook with 5 each. Pretty much securing them an Oscar spot. 

Moonrise Kingdom was nominated for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Bruce Willis), Best Cinematography, and Best Screenplay. 
While the buzz on Moonrise Kingdom has been waning these nominations can give it a boost and it might get a Best Picture nom.  The biggest surprise here is the nomination of Bruce Willis.  He has not been getting much buzz for the role but I don’t think this nomination will increase his chances at the Oscars.

Silver Linings Playbook was nominated for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Male Lead (Bradley Cooper), Best Female Lead (Jennifer Lawrence), and Best Screenplay.
No big surprises here.  All these nominations are also front runners for Oscars and just reinforces them as the top contenders.  Maybe the biggest surprise is the lack of nomination of Robert De Niro for Best Supporting Actor which might hurt his Oscar chances.

The other movie that continues to get lots of buzz and will likely get an Oscar Best Picture nom is Beasts of the Southern Wild which had 4 nominations. Best Feature, Best Director, Best Female Lead (Quvenzhane Wallis), and Best Cinematography.

The biggest surprise of the nominations is the love for Matthew McConaughey who earned not 1 but 2 nominations.  First for Best Male Lead for the Killer Joe and Best Supporting Male for Magic Mike.  While there has been some buzz surrounding his performance in Magic Mike I am not sure anyone expected him to get nominated for Killer Joe.  The big question is will this increase his chances for a Best Supporting Oscar for Magic Mike

Another movie that has been getting lots of buzz (and one of my favorites of the year) The Sessions scored only 2 nominations for Best Lead Actor (John Hawkes) and Best Supporting Female (Helen Hunt) but failed to score Best Feature, Director, or Screenplay.  While I think the acting nominations are a lock for the Oscars the failure to get a Best Feature nomination could hurt its chances for a Best Picture nom Oscar. 

Other noteworthy nominations:
End of Watch which got very little buzz when released scored 2 nominations Best Supporting Male (Michael Pena) and Best Cinematography.  It could help give Michael Pena a little more buzz and he could get an Oscar nomination.

Jack Black increases his buzz for the little seen movie Bernie (another Matthew MConaughey movie) with a Best Male Lead nomination.  The movie is now streaming on Netflix and as more people see it he could get an Oscar nomination.

Amour seems like a lock for Best Foreign Film after it’s nomination. 

A few of my favorite movies that got some love were Safety Not Guaranteed, Sound of My Voice, and Compliance.  Although I think Compliance should have got more than just a Best Supporting Female (Ann Dowd) nomination as it is one of my favorite movies of the year.  I would love it if Dowd could get an Oscar nomination for the role but I doubt that will happen. 

Here is a list of the nominees.  Let me know your thoughts. 

Best Feature
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Keep the Lights On”

Best Director
Wes Anderson – “Moonrise Kingdom”
Julia Loktev – “The Loneliest Planet”
David O. Russell – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Ira Sachs – “Keep the Lights On”
Benh Zeitlin – “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Best Female Lead
Linda Cardellini – “Return”
Emayatzy Corinealdi – “Middle of Nowhere”
Jennifer Lawrence – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Quvenzhan√© Wallis – “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Mary Elizabeth Winstead – “Smashed”

Best Male Lead
Jack Black – “Bernie
Bradley Cooper – “Silver Linings Playbook”
John Hawkes – “The Sessions”
Thure Lindhardt – “Keep the Lights On”
Matthew McConaughey – “Killer Joe”
Wendell Pierce – “Four”

Best Supporting Male
Matthew McConaughey – “Magic Mike”
David Oyelowo – “Middle of Nowhere”
Michael Pena – “End of Watch”
Sam Rockwell – “Seven Psychopaths”
Bruce Willis – “Moonrise Kingdom”

Best Supporting Female
Rosemarie DeWitt – “Your Sister’s Sister”
Ann Dowd – “Compliance”
Helen Hunt – “The Sessions”
Brit Marling – “Sound of My Voice”
Lorraine Toussaint – “Middle of Nowhere”

Best First Feature
“Fill the Void” – Rama Burshtein
“Gimme the Loot” – Adam Leon
“Safety Not Guaranteed” – Colin Trevorrow
“Sound of My Voice” – Zal Batmanglij
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” – Stephen Chbosky

Best International Film
“Amour” (France)
“Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” (Turkey)
“Rust and Bone” (France/Belgium)
“Sister” (Switzerland)
“War Witch” (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Best Documentary
“How to Survive a Plague”
“Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present”
“The Central park Five”
“The Invisible War”
“The Waiting Room”

Best Cinematography
Yoni Brook – “Valley of Saints”
Lol Crawley – “Here”
Ben Richardson – “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Roman Vasyanov – “End of Watch”
Robert Yeoman – “Moonrise Kingdom”

Best Screenplay
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola – “Moonrise Kingdom”
Zoe Kazan – “Ruby Sparks”
Martin McDonagh – “Seven Psychopaths”
David O. Russell – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias – “Keep the Lights On”

Best First Screenplay
Rama Burshtein – “Fill the Void”
Derek Connolly – “Safety Not Guaranteed”
Nicholas Jarecki – “Arbitrage”
Rashida Jones and Will McCormack – “Celeste and Jesse Forever”
Jonathan Lisecki – “Gayby”

Someone to Watch Award
David Fenster – “Pincus”
Adam Leon – “Gimme the Loot”
Rebecca Thomas – “Electrick Children”

John Cassavetes Award
“Breakfast with Curtis”
“Middle of Nowhere”
“Mosquita y Mari”
“The Color Wheel”

Robert Altman Award


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Releases 11/27/12

This week there are lots of new releases coming to home video. 

The Men in Black are back after 10 years and they are traveling back in time in the biggest release this week MIB IIII

The super natural animated film ParaNorman is also coming out

Step Up Revolution another Step Up in 3-D and without Channing Tatum

Lawless a summer movie that never really caught on. About a family of Bootleggers based on the book The Wettest Country in the World

Sparkle is Whitney Houston’s last movie about a girl group in the 60’s.

The Apparition a super natural horror movie that’s all I know about this one.

The Day-A post-apocalyptic movie from Canada that I am not sure ever had a release here in the states.

6 Degrees of Hell- Corey Feldman was once a big star in the 80’s now he is a big star of straight to video releases.

Stash House- another straight to video release with an 80’s star. This time Dolph Lundgren buys the wrong house.

Some Guy Who Kills People- Another direct to video movie

Burning Man- An Australian family drama

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Spotlight: Best Movie Years

This week on the Sunday movie spotlight we are going to do something a little different.
We are going to discuss what we consider the best years for movies.  Every so often there is a year that comes along where there seems to be a large amount of great movies. For most critics that year is 1939 when Gone With the Wind, Wizard of Oz, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington came out.  Today we are going to give you our opinions on what the best year is.

For Steve that year is 1999
For me 1999 was a great year all around and great movies were only
a piece of that.  There were so many great surprises that year it's hard to know where to start.

For me the biggest surprise of 1999 and a movie that became an instant classic was The Matrix.  Watching the previews before it came out it looked kind of stupid.  But I am glad I saw it in the theater   The movie blew me away with it's action sequences and crazy mythology.

Then in the summer of 1999 we get a horror movie that will created a new genre. The Blair Witch Project came out with a unique marketing strategy for an extreme low budget horror film.   Get people to watch it by making them believe it is a documentary and given rise to the found footage genre of horror movies.  While some don't like the shaky camera aspect of the movie I found it unnerving and completely different from anything that came out before it making it one of my favorites of the year.
Also during the summer we got a different kind of horror movie that had one of the biggest surprise endings.  I am so glad I got to see The Sixth Sense before I heard the ending.  While I wouldn't consider it a horror movie it was suspenseful and had an ending I did not see coming.

Speaking of great endings that fall brought us another great one.  Fight Club was dark and violent and the people I saw it with didn't like it. But I thought it was great.  After watching it a second time knowing the ending it is a completely different experience.

Those are just a few of the great movies from 1999.  Others include American Beauty, Boys Don't Cry, Cruel Intentions, Dogma, 10 Things I Hate about You, The Mummy, and Galaxy Quest.
Check out the  IMDB list for highest rated movies of 1999


For Chris the year is 1984
My favorite year for movies is 1984. There were some truly great films that came along that year. I turned 12 that summer and I think that's when I really caught the movie bug.

Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom came out in Spring
that year. This was a great adventure movie and sparked the
return of Indiana Jones. This is my favorite Indy movie. It
was dark, with some truly scary characters. This was the first
movie I had a poster on my wall for.

Ghostbusters came out of nowhere for me. This is one of the most iconic films to date. I remember this being the first film I had to see more than once in the theatre. I can't remember how many times I saw it.

Another great, timeless classic is Gremlins. Who hasn't seen
this film? Spielberg owned the 80's and, this proves it. 1984
was a far better year for having this gem.

Wax on, wax off was a catch phrase of 1984 thanks to this film.
The Karate Kid was the Rocky of the youth. It was also the inspirational story of the 80's. A total feel good movie. It also helped local Karate schools boost memberships across the country.

84 also brought other great films such as The Terminator, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Amadeus, The Neverending Story, Revenge Of The Nerds, Check out Rotten Tomatoes top 100 films of 1984
Top movies of 1984

  - Chris



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Releases 11/20/12

 The Tuesday before Black Friday brings us only one big new release but a few rereleases and box sets worth checking out. A little something for everyone today.

The big release this week is the action movie The Expendables 2 bringing together some of the biggest action stars.

For the non-action oriented movie fans out there Disney is releasing Cinderella on Blu-Ray

Disney is also releasing Cinderella Part’s 2 and 3 ( I was unaware there were that many Cinderella’s) 

The new release I am most excited for is the Quentin Tarantino Box Set Tarantino XX with 8 of his movies.

The small movie Alter Egos comes out about super hero’s with personality disorders.

To put you in the Christmas Spirit there is the Sequel Santa Paws 2.

For the anime fans there is the Blu-Ray release of the well-reviewed Grave of the Fireflies

One of the strangest and most hated movies ever made Heaven's Gate is getting some life on Blu-Ray. While I have not seen the movie it got awful reviews when released and is credited with bankrupting UA studios.

Any Doobie Brothers Fans out there. Here is the documentary about the band.

A couple of movies for the Horror movie fans out there.

The Puppet Master collection with the first three movies on Blu-Ray

 Also the Documentary I Heart Monster Movies

For the classic film fans is the 7 Movie Box Set of The Thin Man series. The first two are great but haven’t seen the rest.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Spotlight on Vampires

Sunday Spotlight on Vampires!

This week, let's take a brief look at the history of the Vampire movies. Vampires have been in cinema goer's nightmares since the early days of film. In 1922, a German director named F.W. Murnau made the classic "Nosferatu". Which was based so closely on Bram Stoker's Dracula, his estate sued to have all copies of that film destroyed. They won and the film was lost for years until 1994. A team of scholars pieced the film back together from several surviving prints. Next up, in 1931 came Dracula. Bela Lugosi was the first to put sexy into the vampire role. He may not be sexy to you but, to ladies of the 30's, he was their Edward.

Lugosi was so good in the role of Count Dracula, many of his manerisims have become mainstays for the role. His accent, hairstyle, all have become symbols of Dracula. Over the years, we have seen many vampires in the cinema. Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Frank Langella, the list goes on. Lets look at some of the films that helped define the modern vampire film.

Nosferatu (1922) This German silent film was the first truly terrifying vampire film made. Starring Max Schreck as Count Orlok. His image defines horor films to this day.

Dracula (1931) Starring legendary actor Bela Lugosi as the titular Count Dracula. This is the gold standard of today's vampire film. This was recently restored to a pristine condition and released on Blu-Ray. This is a must see vampire film.

Salems Lot (1979) Stephen King's version of the vampire tale is truly a creepy one. This was a television mini series in 1979 but, remains of of the scariest vampire films to date.

The Lost Boys (1987) A group of teenage vampires hunt as a pack. Corey Haim and family must fight them off to survive. Sounds like a typical 80's teenage movie with a twist. This helped vampires transition from bloodthirsty creatures into the romantic vamps they have become. A pivitol 80's movie.

Twilight (2008) See where it all began. Twilight takes the vampire tale and turns it into a Romeo and Juliet of the modern age. Edward Cullen has become the modern day Dracula. Taking the vampire and turning him into a passionate, romantic creature of love. With sparkling skin and doe eyes, Edward is pure hunk.

There are many, many more great vampire films to check out. Hammer films are are also very good. Christopher Lee is fantastic as Count Dracula. Catch up on some great vampire stories this week.

Click here for a great list of the top 70 vampire films of all time.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Movie Review Lincoln

Lincoln tells the story of Abraham Lincoln's final months. It focuses on his relentless pursuit if the passage of the 13th amendment of the Constitution. There is no back story, no history is given on any characters. It starts out towards the end of the Civil War. Lincoln is tired, worn down, haggard. His son, Willie has died. His oldest son, Robert wants to join the Army to fight. His wife, Mary is depressed. The country is at war with each other. Needless to say, Lincoln has a lot of weight on his back. Daniel Day-Lewis channels Lincoln with such great talent that, you really believe in him. You feel the pain he is in, to such great degree. I have said in the past that Day-Lewis is one of this generation's finest actors and, this proves it. I am very certain this performance is Oscar worthy.

This is a very heavily dramatic film. Full of dialog and great speeches. This makes for some slow parts to the film but, the acting pulls you back in as soon as it drifts. The supporting cast is full of great actors as well. The one surprising performance came from Tommy Lee Jones who plays Thaddeus Stevens, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives. He may be up for a Best Supporting Actor nod come Oscar time. Steven Spielberg had this film in the works for some time. Liam Neeson was the original choice to play Abraham Lincoln. I'm sure he would have been fine in the lead but, Day-Lewis nailed this role down pat. Make no mistakes, this is HIS film.

Since there is no back story given, you may want to brush up on your history a bit, you may enjoy the film a bit more. But, if you are a history buff like me, you will love this film. A lot. The attention to detail was amazing.

4.5 out of 5

Friday, November 16, 2012

Movie Review: Argo

After being out for over a month I finally got a chance to see Argo.   The movie has been getting great reviews and is considered a frontrunner for Best Picture and Best Director. 


Argo is based on the true story of six Americans that escaped the US embassy in Iran as it was being taken over in 1979.   During the crisis the six hid out at the Canadian Ambassadors house while the CIA decided what to do.  When it was clear that the hostage situation was not going to end quickly they realized that if they did not get those six out of the country then they would be found and killed.  The CIA turned to their top extraction guy Tony Mendez (Ben Aflfleck).  Having no good options they decide that the “best bad option” is to pose as a film crew for a fake movie named Argo.  To create credible cover stories he has to go to Hollywood and get a script, a producer, and make everything seem legit.  Then the process of putting the plan into action begins. 


I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Sometimes a movie with this much hype disappoints.  But Affleck who not only starred in but directed it delivered a great movie.  The scenes with the Hollywood producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and Hollywood Make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) are very funny.  It pokes fun at the Hollywood hype that one must go through even to make a fake movie.  Once the action moves back to Iran the tension ratchets up.  It becomes a nail bitter of a movie even if you know how the story ends.  You always feel the peril of everyone involved and how one wrong movie could bring the whole plan crumbling down. 


The movie is well acted with Affleck giving one of his best performances as the lead.  Goodman and Arkin give good supporting performances.  While I thought there was going to be more action in the movie Affleck proves you don’t need a lot action to have the  intensity.  While we feel the peril all the hostages are in we don’t really get to know them well but at 2 hours the movie is the perfect length and gets the point across.  This is a movie that will definitely get some Academy award nominations. 


Overall:  4.5 out of 5 stars.  Near perfect. 


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Releases 11/13/12

There are three big releases this week

The biggest new release this week is the Pixar movie Brave. About a girl who wants to change her destiny.

The little seen Ben Stiller comedy The Watch is also being released. About a neighborhood watch that fights aliens

The last big movie coming out is Oliver Stone’s thriller Savages. About a Mexican drug cartel that tries to take over a 3 person marijuana growing operation.

A couple of independent movies are also coming out on home video.

Dark Horse which I know very little about but sounds like a very dark and depressing movie

Julie Delpy directs and stars in 2 Days in New York a sequel to her movie 2 Days in Paris. This one she plays Chris Rock’s girlfriend and is obviously a comedy about culture shock. But Chris Rock plays a more down to earth character then he usually does.

The independent documentary Queen of Versailles is also coming out. About Jackie and David Siegel as they try to build a giant luxury home but the economy collapses their money begins to dry up.

Pretty much a direct to home video release Vamps reunites director Amy Heckerling and star Alicia Silverstone for a vampire comedy.

Getting a Collector’s Edition release is the 2009 movie Watchman with the graphic novel included.

A couple of movies getting anniversary releases

Hard to believe that it 10 years ago that My Big Fat Greek Wedding came out. But now you can get the 10th Anniversary Edition

And getting a 50th Anniversary Release is the Best Picture Winner from 1962 Lawrence of Arabia. Fun Fact at 3 hours and 47 minutes it is considered the longest movie without any female speaking parts. With a 3 disc set and lots of extras I doubt that it adds any

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Spotlight: Daniel Day-Lewis

Sunday Spotlight on Daniel Day-Lewis

This week, let's take a look at the work of Daniel Day-Lewis. Two of my personal favorite fims he has been in are There Will Be Blood and Gangs Of New York. Those really stand out in his body of work because of the characters he played and the way he played them. Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood was dynamic to say the least. He is legendary for being a method actor. Going so far as to getting frost bitten during Gangs Of New York because he insisted on wearing the period clothing. Perhaps it is his total immersion into his character that helped him win 23 acting awards for his performance in There Will be Blood, including the coveted Oscar. He has a very broad history in films, all very much worth checking out. With Lincoln opening wide in less than a week, his performance is already being talked about for Oscar nomination. Check out Daniel Day-Lewis this week, see for yourself what makes him one of the best actors working today.

Daniel Day-Lewis on the Internet Movie Database

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New Releases 11/6/2012

The Amazing Spider-Man the first movie in the rebooted Spiderman franchise. The biggest release of the week and won’t be coming out till Friday 11/9/12. The movie did pretty well over the summer even if it did get overshadowed by The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.

There are a couple of Christmas themed movies coming out today just in time to get in the holiday mood.
The Muppet Christmas Carol 20th Anniversary Edition

Arthur Christmas

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles- The classic John Hughes directed holiday comedy with Steve Martin and John Candy

Two movies from 1950 are getting their Blu-Ray release today.
Sunset Boulevard-The classic film noir movie.

Rashomon – The classic Akira Kurosawa movie.

Fire with Fire- Bruce Willis, Josh Duhamel, and Rosario Dawson star in this action movie. I actually never heard of it and don’t remember it ever being released.

Your Sisters Sister – A independent comedy that had its premiere at Sundance.

With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story – Timed with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man this is a documentary about Spiderman’s creator Stan Lee.

They Live (Collector’s Edition) – A classic horror movie with Roddy Piper and directed by John Carpenter.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday Spotlight

Spotlight on...ME!

Last week, Steve did a write up on his passion for cinema. This week, it's my turn. My story isnt so different. Being born in 1972 gave me the opportunity to live in a great time for movies. The 80's. I lived Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Indiana Jones, E.T. for the first time with everybody else. It was truly a great time for movies. The first movie I remember seeing in a real theatre was Star Wars. I was a freshly turned 5 year old boy in 1977 when this hit the world. I was mezmerized from start to finish. I cut out the ads from newspapers to save. I collected every toy I could get my greasy mitts on. I think I loved my first movie.

Fast forward 5 years to 1982. I was 10 years old the year I saw my first real horror movie, Creepshow. To this day, this stands as one of the best horror films I can think of. It scared the pants off of me. This was my first exposure to Stephen King, George Romero, Tom Savini. It was a great introduction. This is the one that got me hooked on horror films, without a doubt.

The 80's had many great horror films I enjoyed. Probably not age appropriate but, it was a dirrerent time then. We didnt worry about mass shottings or any thing like that. Folks didn't blame movies for doing bad things like they do now. Movies were fun, an escape from the real world.

People ask me what my favoraite movie of all time is. That can be a difficult question to answer for many film buffs. It's like naming a favoraite child. If I were to pick one film to watch on a desserted island, it would be Jaws. This is always on the top of my list. It is a film I can watch anywhere, anytime. The story is so good and the acting is top notch. Jaws is pure movie magic at it's best.

I didn't always set out to review films or write about them. I do enjoy sharing my passion about them with other people who are interested though.  I met Steve through work and found we shared the same love for movies. We don't always see eye to eye but, that's part of the fun.

This is just a few points from my life as a cinephille. if you'd like to join out growing Facebook page, click the link below. We'd love to have everyone share their thoughts on this great hobby of ours.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Movie Review - A Christmas Story 2

A Christmas Story 2

Directed by Brian Levant

A Christmas Story 2 is a direct to video sequel to the much loved original A Christmas Story. Bob Clark and Jean Shepherd created something very special in that film. This lacks everything that had. The sequel picks up with the Parker family 5 years after Ralphie got his beloved Red Ryder BB gun(with a compass in the stock.) Ralphie has his eye on a car and, a girl. Drucilla is her name (the girl, not the car.) Ralphie's Mom and The Old Man are there too. Daniel Stern plays Ralphie's dad. Giving a very painful impression of Darren McGavin from the original. He sounds more like a constipated Mr. Magoo. Braeden Lemasters (The Stepfather) is Raphie, beloved blue eyed kid obsessed with BB guns. Here he belongs in a Porky's movie. The character's are just a horrible imitation of what made us love the original. Ralphie's pals Flick and Schwartz are there too but, just for painful comedy relief.

The Jokes used here are just recycled from the original. Nat Mauldin wrote the teleplay here. A very capable writer having done Doctor Doolittle and Open Season to name a couple. Sexy lamp leg? CHECK! Angry Santa Claus? CHECK! Chinese Chop Suey? CHECK! Aunties silly clothes? CHECK! Seriously, find some new material. I guess if it worked the first time, we're stupid enough to like it again. Wrong. Brian Levant is a very good director, having been a staple at Universal in the 90's. He did The Flintstones, Beethoven, Jingle All The Way and many more family films. I guess everyone has to slum it from time to time. I don't think the Jean Shepherd sound alike narrator helped here either. This is every bit as bad as you would think it is. Only worse.

0 stars

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