Monthly Archives: March 2010

Independent Film Festival of Boston 2010

Hey guys, IFFBoston has just announced its lineup of films for this year’s festival and it looks like it will be bigger and better than ever. The festival is turning 8 this year and this will be my fifth year volunteering. Each year over 20,000 movie lovers descend onto Somerville, Cambridge and Boston to watch some of the most promising independent films each year and to mingle with actors, writers, directors and other people in the entertainment business. The festival has grown at an incredible speed in just 8 years and past guests have included Ben Kingsley, Chris Cooper, Steve Buscemi, Eliza Dushku, John Waters, Will Arnett, Joey McIntyre, Danny Huston, Rob Corddry, Mary Steenburgen, Famke Janssen, Michael Cera and many others.

This year the festival kicks off on Wednesday, April 21 with the film “The Extra Man” starring Kevin Kline, John C. Reilly, Katie Holmes and Paul Dano. Kline is scheduled to be there to pick up his IFFBoston Career Achievement Award. IFFBoston will also introduce a new award in honor of late editor Karen Schmeer called the Karen Schmeer Award for Excellence in Documentary Editing. All in all over 150 films will be screened including feature films, documentaries and shorts. I highly encourage anyone in the area to check out the festival, good times will be had by all! Here are a few of the exciting films that will be screened this year, keep checking back here as more news comes out from IFFBoston headquarters!

Note: All of these summaries are quoted directly from the IFFBoston website.

Narrative Features

  • THE EXTRA MAN
  • In this urbane comedy, Paul Dano and Kevin Kline play writers who sideline as escorts for wealthy widowed socialites.
  • CELL 211
  • In this Goya Award-winning suspense thriller from Spain, a rookie guard is trapped inside a prison during a riot and must pretend he is a prisoner to survive.
  • CYRUS
  • Mark and Jay Duplass’s hilarious new comedy about the battle for one woman’s affections, starring John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Catherine Keener and Marisa Tomei.
  • DRONES
  • An unassuming guy is shocked out of his dull, everyday work routine when he discovers that his co-workers aren’t exactly from this planet in the latest film by Amber Benson and Adam Busch.
  • THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD
  • In this frenetic, high-octane Korean Western, three Outlaws in 1930s Manchuria attempt to recover a map to buried treasure.
  • I AM LOVE
  • The wife of an Italian industrial magnate (Tilda Swinton) embarks on a dangerous affair in this sumptuous film.
  • THE KILLER INSIDE ME
  • Casey Affleck portrays a Texas deputy sheriff whose dormant violent tendencies resurface. Directed by Michael Winterbottom.
Documentary Features

  • 8: THE MORMON PROPOSITION
  • Investigates the Mormon Church’s role in passing California’s Proposition 8.
  • BANANAS!*
  • Twelve Nicaraguan banana workers sue Dole Food over their use of a dangerous pesticide known to cause sterility.
  • ERASING DAVID
  • Director David Bond attempts to disappear to find out just how much private companies and government know about him.
  • HOW TO FOLD A FLAG
  • Examines the difficulties facing returning veterans of the Iraqi War.
  • TEENAGE PAPARAZZO
  • Adrien Grenier’s (Entourage) feature directorial debut documents the rise to fame and success of Hollywood’s youngest member of the paparazzi.
  • ORGASM INC.
  • This hilarious and thought-provoking documentary explores the world of pharmaceutical companies attempting to get FDA approval for the first Viagra-like product for women.
  • ON THE OTHER SIDE OF LIFE (SPECIAL SNEAK PREVIEW SCREENING)
  • A gripping account of two brothers struggling to balance modernity and tradition in Cape Town.
  • SATURDAY NIGHT – CLOSING NIGHT FILM
  • James Franco (PINEAPPLE EXPRESS) makes his directorial debut with this behind-the-scenes look at the making of an episode of Saturday Night Live.
For a complete film list and general information, please visit the official IFFBoston website here:

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Alice in Wonderland – Review

I did not have the highest hopes when I stepped into the theatre the other day to see Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. After all, the reviews have been mediocre at best. Unfortunately I cannot say that my opinion of the film differs much from most reviewer’s.

The film is undeniably entertaining. It begins with Alice, a beautiful 19 year old woman who gets proposed to by an unattractive goof of a man. The last thing she wants to do though is get married or grow up for that matter. I mean who would want to grow up when one could instead venture into Burton’s psychedelic Wonderland of unlimited possibility instead? When Alice stumbles upon Wonderland, we watch with breathtaking glee as she encounters the most absurd and scary of characters. The world that Burton has created is as imaginative as anything he has made in the past and arguably more beautiful. In 3D, even a simple drop of water keeps you mesmerized. One of the best, if not the best scene in the film is one in which Alice drinks from a bottle of potion labeled “Drink Me” and eats from a cake labeled “Eat Me” and proceeds to shrink and grow. Unfortunately the rest of the film seems to stumble along with no direction.

Alice encounters the Mad Hatter, played by Johnny Depp and follows his guidance for he believes that she is the savior of Wonderland. Depp plays the Mad Hatter with his signature bizarreness and tries hard to create an original character but in the end you cannot differentiate between Depp, the actor and his character. When I watched the film, all I could think was, “Oh there’s Depp again, acting odd, like he does in most of his films.” Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a terrific actor but one whose fame has grown almost too large. Helena Bonham Carter is undeniably delicious as the Red Queen. She heightens every scene she is in into one of ludicrous art. We are told that she is “evil” but it’s difficult not to root for her. Her entourage of unattractive henchmen look like characters from a Commedia dell’arte play and add to Burton’s bizarre vision. Anne Hathaway is pleasant as the White Queen but the role hardly gives her room to exercise her very formidable acting muscles.

In the end though this film is a classic example of style over substance. It looks like a gorgeous acid trip but its story is overly simple and actually makes no sense. We never learn why the Red Queen is evil and why the White Queen is good and therefore never have any investment in the outcome of the story. I never really rooted for Alice or the “good” characters, nor did I particularly despise the Red King and Red Queen. There are also implausible elements in the film like how the Red Queen never suspects Alice of being Alice, despite the fact that there are rumors that she has returned to Wonderland. To top it all off Johnny Depp has a pointless dance at the end of the film for seemingly no reason whatsoever. I love Tim Burton so ultimately I was disappointed in his latest film because I know he can do much better.

Bottom line: If you really want to see this film, see it in 3D for a fun, dumb time or wait until it comes out on DVD.

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Geek Movie News

Warning: This post might be too geek-tastic for some of you.

If you haven’t already heard, Ian McKellen has confirmed that the two Hobbit movies will begin filming this July in New Zealand. What’s that sound? Oh yes, that’s the collective squeal of excitement from millions of Lord of the Rings fans around the globe. McKellen who will be reprising the role of Gandalf in the prequels posted on his website that, “casting in Los Angeles, New York City and London has started,” and that “the script too proceeds. The first draft is crammed with old and new friends, again on a quest in Middle Earth.” The two Hobbit films will be based on The Hobbit as well as Tolkien’s other work The Silmarillion and will be directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labryinth) and produced by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. Since the final cast list has not been confirmed who would you like to see in the films?

Another bit of exciting news is that HBO’s fantastic and short lived show “Rome” may be headed to the big screen in the form of a sequel! The film will likely follow leads Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus in Germany four years after the events of the series finale. I absolutely loved the series and can’t wait to see violent, hedonistic, amoral Rome in all its glory on the big screen.

Another interesting bit of geek news is that Clash of the Titans in 3D, which opens on April 2 has gotten a very mediocre review, not for the actual film but for the way the 3D looks on screen. Clash of the Titans was not originally shot with 3D cameras and the film’s studio only very recently decided to release the film in 3D, therefore they converted a non-3D movie into 3D. Peter Sciretta of Slashfilm had this to say about it, “I will be completely honest — it did not look great. It looked passable. … To me, the live-action post-converted 3D footage looked very unnatural. At times the characters appeared to stand out like cardboard cutouts, while other times they appeared to be graphed to a computer generated 3D model, and it just looked odd. The computer animated elements look a little better, but as a whole it was a subpar experience.” I’m still very excited to see the movie but I will definitely be seeing it in 2D.

So that’s your movie geek news for now, hopefully that’ll satisfy you until Iron Man 2 comes out, now go back to playing WOW. Before you go though vote on the following poll!

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The Cinematographic Art of the Music Video

Hello, everyone!

Yes, I am alive. I’ve just been taking a break after 21 Days of Oscar and have been busy with midterms/ general procrastination. Thanks again to everyone who made 21 Days of Oscar such a blog-tacular event. Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about Lady Gaga’s new 9 minute music video for “Telephone.” It’s really more of a short film involving lesbians, prison, poison, sandwich making and the infamous P*ssy Wagon from Tarantino’s Kill Bill films. It’s hilarious, fun and really quite stupid. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here:

I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate a post to the art of the music video. I know you must be thinking, “but this is a movie blog not a music blog!” However I would argue that some music videos are just short films with constant background music. I should also mention that some film directors started as music video directors (Michael Gondry, Spike Jonze) and some film directors continue to direct videos as well. So I have made a list of some of my favorite music videos, I have not included Thriller by Michael Jackson cause everyone has already seen it a million time. These are just videos I think are visually interesting, I’m not necessarily a fan of every artist or every song for that matter.

Aerosmith – Pink (directed by Doug Nichol)

Blind Melon – No Rain

Bjork – All is Full of Love (directed by Chris Cunningham)

Beastie Boys – Intergalactic

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give it Away

Kanye West – Love Lockdown

The Killers – Read My Mind

Madonna – Nothing Really Matters

No Doubt – New

Fatboy Slim – Weapon of Choice

Nine Inch Nails – Closer

Bjork – Joga

Weezer – Buddy Holly

Lady Gaga – Bad Romance

I’ve left out hundreds, if not thousands of fantastic videos, what are some of your favorites?

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2010 Oscars – Thoughts

Oscar Stage

So the biggest night in Hollywood has come to an end and overall I thought the show was missing a little something. I just didn’t feel like it really captured the magic of movies that well. After last year’s fantastic telecast I was a bit disappointed with this year’s. There were some great highlights however. Here are some thoughts.

– Neil Patrick Harris’ song and dance routine was boring and pointless.

– I enjoyed Martin and Baldwin’s opening.  They were funny and totally bizarre and a bit awkward. They weren’t amazing but totally competent. I wish they had more of a presence throughout the show.

Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010

– Christoph Waltz wins! So happy, he seems like a totally down to earth guy.

– Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr. were hysterical when presenting the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay!

– I loved the John Hughes tribute. I’m so happy the Academy recognized how big of an impact he had on teen movie-goers everywhere.

Actor | Musician | RolesClass | Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010 | Individual | Matthew Broderick | Molly Ringwald

– I actually really enjoyed the dance number to the Best Score nominees. The dancers were pretty incredible.

– I loved it when Elinor Burkett crashed the stage when Roger Ross Williams was accepting his Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject. That’s live TV for ya, if the Oscars had more spontaneous moments like this more people would watch.

Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010

– Congrats to Mo’Nique!

– Ben Stiller was fantastic as a Na’vi. Totally hilarious and ridiculous.

– James Taylor sounded great as he sang “In My Life” to a tribute to those in the entertainment business who passed in the last year. The Academy made a huge and disrespectful mistake though when it failed to include Farrah Fawcett (and others) in its tribute.

– The horror tribute seemed out of place.

– Please Academy stop having young Disney stars present awards. Taylor Lautner looked terrified on stage and Miley Cyrus was just obnoxious. Please however continue to invite young, talented actors like Amanda Seyfried.

Actor | RolesClass | Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010 | Individual | Kristen Stewart | Taylor Lautner

– I loved the tributes to the Best Actor and Best Actress nominees. This was my favorite thing about last year’s Oscars. Highlights from this year were Tim Robbin’s tribute to Morgan Freeman, Julianne Moore’s to Colin Firth, Oprah’s to Gabourey Sidibe, Stanley Tucci’s to Meryl Streep, aw heck I liked all of them. Hopefully this will become an annual tradition.

Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010

– Ahhh, Kate Winslet.

– Jeff Bridges’ acceptance speech was like totally groovy dude. Loved how he talked about his parents.

Actor | Authors | RolesClass | Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010 | Individual | Jeff Bridges

– Does Sean Penn ever make sense when he goes up on stage? It doesn’t matter I love him anyway.

– Sandra Bullock gave a terrific acceptance speech. The best of the night, unfortunately she did not give the best performance of the year – not by a long shot. Meryl, Carey, Gabourey and Helen all gave truly amazing acting performances and it’s sad that Sandra is getting an award because people like her not because she gave an outstanding performance. Oh well, Meryl still has 2 Oscars, an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, a BAFTA, 2 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, a Cannes Film Festival Award, 2 Emmy’s, 7 Golden Globe Awards and 2 SAG Awards.

Actor | Producers | RolesClass | Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010 | Individual | Sandra Bullock

-Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman to win Best Director! Awesome job!

Academy Awards | Awards and Events | Awards by Franchise | Media Awards & Events | Movie Awards and Events | Oscars 2010

– The Hurt Locker wins Best Picture. Okay, definitely not my favorite picture of the year but I liked it and can appreciate the fact that it’s technically a very well made movie.

-Up In the Air won no awards and Inglourious Basterds only took home one! What a shame.

– Avatar did not win Best Picture, that’s okay. Remember, James Cameron, The Wizard of Oz did not win the year it was nominated either. What did win that year? Gone With the Wind. So now the question is will people one day look at The Hurt Locker like we now do at Gone With the Wind? I highly, highly doubt it. One last suggestion to Cameron, if you really want another Oscar please spend a bit more time on the script for the sequel to Avatar. Hire a fantastic writer and write scenes in which the actors can truly emote and surprise us. Do that and you’ll make something both visually and emotionally spectacular.

Thoughts for Next Year

I would love to see Tina Fey host, or Ellen Degeneres or Hugh Jackman, perhaps even Robert Downey Jr.

– Academy, please stop trying to be entertaining by turning the Oscars into the MTV Movie Awards. This is a classy event.

– Try your best to capture the magic of Hollywood, that’s all I ask.

Click on the link to watch the beautiful people celebrate at the Vanity Fair Oscar party.

http://www.vanityfair.com/services/lookup?videoId=70811113001&defaultPath=/video%3FvideoID%3D70811113001

What did you think?

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21 Days of Oscar – My Picks!

Here are my picks for some of this year’s major Oscar categories. These are not who I think will win but who I think should win.

Best Original Screenplay

Inglourious Basterds

Best Adapted Screenplay

Up In The Air

Best Art Direction

Avatar

Best Cinematography

Avatar

Best Score

Avatar

Best Supporting Actor

Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress

Mo’Nique, Precious

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

Best Actress

Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Best Picture (in ranking order)

10. Where the Wild Things Are

9. District 9

8. Precious

7. A Single Man

6. An Education

5. (500) Days of Summer

4. The Hurt Locker

3. Up in the Air

2. Avatar

1. Inglourious Basterds

It has been very hard for me to choose my best picture of the year. It seems like every week it changes. I loved Up in the Air and it hit me emotionally but it almost felt too “ordinary” which is a quality that I don’t really associate with my favorite films of each year. I also loved Avatar, I know it’s incredibly easy to make fun of the film but it’s also a movie experience like no other and I felt more exhilarated after seeing it than perhaps any other film I’ve seen in a theatre. I even found a couple of its scenes moving but unfortunately the writing was just too poor and its acting while totally adequate was not exactly ground breaking. Which brings me to Inglourious Basterds. Quentin Tarantino’s latest film was highly engrossing, superbly written, ferociously well-acted and showed us a new side of Tarantino. Though Inglourious Basterds did not move me emotionally, except for  a couple of scenes, every aspect of the film was brilliantly executed.

Tonight it looks like either Avatar or The Hurt Locker will win Best Picture and even though I liked Avatar more than The Hurt Locker I will be happy with whichever film wins. I hope you all have a wonderful Oscar night tonight and it’s been a great pleasure writing to you all in the last 21 days! Check back in a couple days when I will post my thoughts on the show. Thanks for reading!

Here’s a nice look back at the year in film:


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21 Days of Oscar – My Nominations

Tomorrow night is the Academy Awards so I’ve decided to celebrate the night by revealing the films I would have nominated in some of the top categories if I were an Academy member. I have only nominated films I have seen, so I have not nominated Helen Mirren for Best Actress for example, because I have not seen The Last Station not because I think she gave a bad performance. Tomorrow I will reveal my top choices in each category. I wish you all a lovely Oscar Eve!

Best Original Screenplay

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

(500) Days of Summer

A Serious Man

The Brothers Bloom

Best Adapted Screenplay

An Education

A Single Man

Up In The Air

Precious

Where the Wild Things Are

Art Direction

Avatar

Inglourious Basterds

Nine

Where the Wild Things Are

A Single Man

Cinematography

Inglourious Basterds

The Hurt Locker

Avatar

A Single Man

Where the Wild Things Are

Score

Avatar

District 9

Where the Wild Things Are

A Single Man

Up

Supporting Actor

Alfred Molina, An Education

Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Matt Damon, Invictus

Zach Galifianakis, The Hangover

Brad Pitt, Inglourious Basterds

Supporting Actress

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart

Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air

Mo’Nique, Precious

Julianne Moore, A Single Man

Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air

Actor

Morgan Freeman, Invictus

Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man

George Clooney, Up in the Air

Colin Firth, A Single Man

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

Actress

Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Rachel Weisz, The Brothers Bloom

Carey Mulligan, An Education

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

Gabourey Sidibe, Precious

Director

Quentin Tarantino, Inglorious Basterds

Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Lee Daniels, Precious

James Cameron, Avatar

Picture

An Education

Avatar

District 9

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

Precious

A Single Man

Up In the Air

Where the Wild Things Are

(500) Days of Summer

Check back here tomorrow when I will reveal the winners! What would you have nominated if you were an Academy member? Discuss!


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