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Thoughts on the Oscar Telecast 2017

PACKING up my homemade treats, looking over my predictions with the list of winners, using eyes that were strained and tired from staring at the television screen for hours; I was ready to go to bed. Another year is now in the record books for a lot of reasons. Of course the biggest surprise was the mixup for the last category, best picture. Reading and hearing about the different theories on the how and why it happened did not provide me with answers to a couple of simple questions. Assuming Warren Beatty has all of his mental faculties, I just do not understand why he did not say he had the wrong card. It was obvious to me he was flustered, looking back to the side stage and around; he did not know what to do. Of all things then why would he throw Faye Dunaway under the bus. He could have whispered in her ear to see if she agreed, but since the surveys said La La Land was going to win, Faye possibly saw that on the card first instead of Emma Stone’s name when he showed her. The two of them knew they were giving out the best picture award, wouldn’t seeing Emma Stone’s name on the card be the first clue something was wrong and it would be perfectly okay to say so? This is just my opinion.

 

THE opening was refreshing to me. Since host Jimmy Kimmel is not a song and dance type of comedian like Billy Crystal, I liked the way Justin Timberlake sang his Oscar nominated song which loosened up the audience. Because of this, I felt the crowd gave off less of “aren’t we great, idolize us” vibe and more of an earthiness if you will. In fact, I thought Jimmy did a wonderful job in being down to earth. He avoided the mean spiritedness that some jokes could have taken on while he kept things moving on. The candy drop and the busload of tourists were my favorite segments, though the Matt Damon feud thing was more outrageous on the big stage. My favorite part was when Jimmy was conducting the orchestra to drown out Matt during his presentation.

 

MAYBE it is me but I thought the speeches were shorter this year and surprisingly were more personal when politics was brought into them. My favorite speeches of the night came from Viola Davis and the reading of writer and director Asghar Farhadi’s acceptance speech. Viola was so passionate and sincere, I loved how she talked about actors taking on the lives for those who no longer can speak. I laughed at Jimmy’s comment that she would be nominated for an Emmy with her speech. As for Asghar’s speech, I had just seen his winning film The Salesman the afternoon prior to the show and appreciated his thoughtfulness and heartfelt words. Gael Garcia Bernal was one of the presenters that touched the perfect balance of personal without the hate. Speaking of presenters I felt Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae were lovely while on stage as they brought out Katherine G. Johnson, the NASA mathematician that Taraji portrayed on screen. It was such a touching moment.

 

EVEN with the long telecast, as I reclined across my sofa my desire to be a seat filler was just as strong today as it has been all the past years. Just once I want to be part of the red carpet pre show activities, the ceremony and just be able to walk around and soak up the whole atmosphere of the event. With that said it has been a year of ups and downs with movies. I feel I saw more poorly done films than wonderful ones; but I would not trade a minute of it since I still love the whole movie watching experience and the ability to write down my thoughts to share with you. So tomorrow we will start all over for the new Oscar year in search of that 4 star picture. I look forward to another year talking and commenting on the movies with you. Thank you for all of your support, I deeply appreciate it.

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Oscar Nomination Picks 2017

THE time has come to put all of your worries aside, forget the chores, make your favorite food dishes and do something special for yourself. It is that time of year, after twelve months of movie watching, where I can relax and stretch myself out on the sofa to experience the blessed event—the Oscars telecast. My menu is set, all I have to do is pick-up the ingredients this weekend. I will be eating dinner early; the reason being it is not healthy to eat something then go lie down. It is bad for one’s digestion. I have declined all invitations to be part of an Oscar party since those attending tend not to devote all their attention to the show compared to me. Talking can only be tolerated during the commercial breaks. If everyone is settled in and there are no questions, let the show begin. I have listed below those nominees I think should win compared to those I think will win. Have a joyous night of fun and laughter everyone. So without further adieu, good luck to everyone and let the show begin.

 

SHOULD WIN:                                                                        WILL WIN:

 

Best Picture:

Hidden Figures                                                                           La La Land

 

Best Actress:

Natalie Portman                                                                         Emma Stone

 

Best Actor:

Casey Affleck                                                                               Denzel Washington

 

Best Supporting Actress:

Viola Davis                                                                                  Viola Davis

 

Best Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali                                                                            Jeff Bridges

 

Best Director:

Barry Jenkins                                                                            Damien Chazelle

 

Best Original Screenplay:

Manchester by the Sea                                                             La La Land

 

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Hidden Figures                                                                          Moonlight

 

Cinematography:

Silence                                                                                         La La Land

 

Best Animated Feature:

Kubo and the Two Strings                                                       Zootopia

 

Best Original Song:

How Far I’ll Go                                                                          City of Stars

Flash Movie Review: Doctor Strange

THOUGH you may not realize it right away, you will receive a gift from the people you meet in your life. You see him sitting across from you, his hand fidgeting with the necklace caught in his shirt button. His voice is lyrical where the words coming out of his mouth sound as if they are building an incredible overture; it is enough for you to think about what the second act could be. You keep catching yourself staring at his eyes while his cheeks continuously swell into 2 ripe plums you want to squeeze. None of it makes sense because you do not know him except for a few emails and one phone conversation that dove below the surface beyond the standard questions about the weather and jobs. The gesture that sent a shiver through your body was the brush of his hand on you as he excused himself to the bathroom. From this point in time the walls around your heart, solidified by the hurt and pain of past relationships, started to spring leaks filled with emotions and feelings. You realized all that was before would not be the same ever again.    HOW about the woman who was rushing down the staircase, trying to catch a train to the city. On the way she bumped into a gentleman, unaware the packet sticking out of her bag caught on a fold of his coat and fell out. She missed the train as if the doors of the train car deliberately knew what they were doing. Standing there trying to catch her breath the gentleman tapped her on the shoulder, presenting her packet to her. She thanked him and was surprised the man referred to them as X-rays. It turns out he was a doctor and wound up through conversations and consultations to be the doctor that successfully cured her. You see, you just never know what you might gain from a stranger.    NEUROSURGEON Stephen Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, Sherlock-TV), survived a horrific auto accident, but his hands did not. His ego would not let go; he was determined to go to the ends of the world to find someone who could restore the use of his hands. His journey led him to The Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton (A Bigger Splash, Snowpiercer). Doctor Strange got something different than what he had expected. This action fantasy followed the Marvel formula though this adventure movie was such a visual trip I felt there was almost too much stimuli for me to grasp everything. With Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, Secret in Their Eyes) as Mordo and Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt, Hannibal-TV) as Kaecilius, I enjoyed all the characters along with the humor sprinkled throughout the script. I felt the story took a long time during the introduction portion. Once the action finally happened I was a bit disappointed by it. Sure the scenes were visually intense but I felt the action and drama didn’t quite match it. My rating tonight will be heavily influenced by the special effects in this film. Oh and I understood I had to meet this character Doctor Strange because I am going to meet him again in a future Avengers film. There were two extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.

 

3 stars

 

 

Oscar Telecast

The telephone loudly pierced the purposeful silence that descended upon the house. It was less than 5 minutes prior to the Oscars telecast, so it was obvious the caller did not know me. Everyone who knows me knows not to call me on Oscar Sunday. I need the day to take care of life’s chores before settling in to watch the show and see how my predictions will fare. With the controversy over this year’s nominations I commend host Chris Rock tackling the subject head-on, with a mixture of humor and seriousness. I felt he found the perfect balance to carry off the monologue. As the show progressed I would have preferred it if Chris expanded beyond this one subject. Yes, there was the Girl Scout cookie moment but it seems ever since Ellen DeGeneres took that selfie shot in the audience, every telecast now has to have some kind of interaction with the audience. The cookie gag was funny for a moment but was not necessary in my opinion.

 

Though I just heard on the news that this telecast had the lowest television ratings of the past 8 years, I thought the news ticker running across the bottom of the screen listing the people the winners wanted to thank was a good idea; their speeches certainly seemed shorter to me. As far as I could remember this telecast was the closest to end on time compared to recent past shows. My favorite acceptance speeches were given by Leonardo DiCaprio and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, though I wished the music was not playing during Alejandro’s speech like it did not for Leonardo. I also enjoyed the quick informational blurbs that appeared next to the presenters, despite them being a bit small to read at times. Since I am a big fan of music, I was looking forward to the singing of the nominated songs. Lady Gaga did not disappoint; I thought her performance was a highlight of the show and was surprised her song did not get an Oscar. The two presenters that stood out for me were Louis C.K. for Documentary Short Subject and Toy Story’s Woody and Buzz Lightyear for Best Animated Film. Oh and I cannot forget the robots from Star Wars and the Minions.

 

If you know me you probably realize there would have to be something startling inappropriate or poorly thought out for me to dislike an Oscar telecast. There have been hosts that were quickly forgettable, speeches that dragged on forever and presenters that used the opportunity for personal gain; but I do not care, the bottom line for me has always been the celebration of the movies I love. Ever since I was a little boy, sitting on the floor in front of the TV with my bowl of popcorn, the Oscars has been my favorite show to watch. So with that being said, it is time to close the chapter on this year’s Oscar telecast and begin seeking out what will get the nod for next year’s show.

Flash Movie Review: The Scent of Green Papaya

The majority of the people who asked me if I was paying attention never knew how much attention I was actually devoting to them. I was probably studying their face as they were speaking to me. Looking at the shape of their ears, studying the color of their eyes, listening to the sound of their speech, checking their teeth for any errant food particles, noticing any unusual smells wafting off of them; I was trying to expand and fine-tune my senses. Our five senses, some say six, is something I never took for granted. I thought everyone practiced exercising their senses; it never occurred to me that someone would not be doing it. Growing up I thought the more I used my hearing the farther and clearer it would be able to hear sounds. The idea of hearing a colony of ants on the sidewalk as they systematically moved particles of sand fascinated me to no end; I thought with practice one day I would hear them. Little did I know in the adult world hearing or should I say listening would almost be a lost art form. I have encountered so many people who do not hear what a person is telling them. The same can be said about seeing; haven’t you ever walked down the street with a friend and at some point asked them if they saw that stranger standing at the store window or say bus stop? They did not see anyone and have no idea what you are talking about. I have had this happen to me more times than I can count. There is so much going around us in our daily lives that I cannot imagine not being able to experience even a little of it each day. If you are not totally convinced maybe this beautiful drama will help you.    TEN year old Mui, played by relative newcomer Man San Lu, was sent to live with a family who had experienced a tragic loss, to become their servant. Nothing was taken for granted in this household. This film festival winner and Oscar nominated movie had a gentle, quiet story. I say quiet because scenes focused on some of the simplest things but were able to produce exquisite results. With a beautiful music score I thought the script was well done and the actors such as Tran Nu Yenkhe (The Vertical Ray of the Sun, Cyclo) as the adult Mui and relative newcomer Thi Loc Truong as La mere were all totally believable. I enjoyed the way the story moved forward; things were subtly introduced instead of being too overt. In some ways I felt this produced calmness to the story even when there was an issue brewing underneath the surface. In addition, the use of dialog was kept to a minimum. This was the type of picture one could easily sit down to watch and absorb the action with one’s senses. Vietnamese was spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 1/2 stars — DVD

 

 

 

Oscar Predictions 2016

Five people are lined up waiting for the starting bell. When it goes off they race as fast as they can to the finish line. It seems as if the race was over just as fast as when it started. Under these circumstances I agree on naming one of the contestants the”winner.” The person was the fastest human on the planet. You see all five people ran their hearts out to get to the finish line first; but they were timed, so one came in first, the next one second and so on. Truthfully I have no issue with this type of contest because it seems more like physics to me. The Oscars on the other hand are different; how does one judge art? It is that time of year that everyone (that is right I am pointing my finger at you) is all abuzz about who will get an Oscar award. I do not know what methods other people use to decide who deserves the award (notice we no longer use the words win or winner, example: …and the Oscar goes to ___), but this is how I choose the acting roles: the actor who is the most convincing and totally becomes the character, where I no longer see them as “so and so” portraying a character, they are the character; they get my vote. My bottom line for how I choose in the other categories is how much did that nominee or aspect contribute to the entire film watching experience and teleport me from my theater seat into the picture and story.

 

With no further ado I present to you my choices on who I would like to see get the Oscar award and who will probably receive it.

 

MY PICKS                                                                                            THEIR PICKS

BEST PICTURE:

SPOTLIGHT                                                                                           THE BIG SHORT

 

BEST DIRECTOR:

ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU                                               ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU

 

BEST ACTOR:

LEONARDO DICAPRIO                                                                        LEONARDO DICAPRIO

 

BEST ACTRESS:

BRIE LARSON                                                                                      CHARLOTTE RAMPLING

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

SYLVESTER STALLONE                                                                      MARK RYLANCE

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

ALICIA VIKANDER                                                                               KATE WINSLET

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

SPOTLIGHT                                                                                            SPOTLIGHT

 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

THE BIG SHORT                                                                                    THE MARTIAN

 

BEST FOREIGN FILM:  (I DID NOT SEE ALL THE NOMINEES)

SON OF SAUL

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:  (I DID NOT SEE ALL THE NOMINEES)

INSIDE OUT

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

THE HATEFUL EIGHT                                                                           THE HATEFUL EIGHT

 

As the past Oscar season is about to come to a close, I want to wish all of you an Oscar day filled with unexpected joy, happy surprises and as always good health. Thank you for joining me on this journey to discover that elusive 4 star movie.

 

Let the show begin!

Flash Movie Trailer: Cafe De Flore

The sun’s light provides you with vitamin D. If you get too much sunlight you could damage your skin, even get a disease. Water is a vital component in maintaining a healthy body, however too much of it could wash out important nutrients or do something worse to your body. There are some people who fill their life with extremes. You may have heard someone say, “they play hard” or “party hard,” which means the individual does something to excess. I used to work with someone who would constantly come into the office hung over from a night of drinking. There are just some people who do not have the word “moderation” in their vocabulary. If I think about it is there anything one can do to an extreme without it being harmful in some way? At the health club I have seen people work out for hours; it cannot be healthy since they not only look like skeletons, they are creating hormonal changes in their bodies. Or have you ever been with someone who quickly wants to become part of your life? I have dated a couple of these individuals and I have to tell you I found it creepy. You may have experienced something like it. They start liking the same things you do, start using your funny catch phrases or sayings and want to be with you every minute of the day. Whether you say excessive or obsession it is not a good thing. A relationship with obsessive love will be an unhealthy one, filled with side effects.    SUCCESSFUL Montreal based DJ Antoine Godin’s, played by Kevin Parent (The Calling, La Maison du Pecheur), love ended his marriage. Parisian native Jacqueline, played by Vanessa Paradis (Fading Gigolo, Heartbreaker), experienced the same thing but for totally different reasons. This dramatic romance had two parallel stories running at the same time: one set in Paris during the 1960s and the other in present day Montreal. It was not hard going back and forth between the stories in this film festival winning movie because each of them covered weighty topics. The actors were well suited to handle the script; they kept things interesting for me. There was an element of mystery or maybe I should say suspense in the way the stories revealed little things that tried to tie the two together; however, I could not figure it out. It had the feeling of mysticism or psychic connection I believe, as several scenes introduced were dream sequences. This was confusing for me. Separately I was interested in each story though I was more involved with the story line for Jacqueline. I am guessing many viewers of this film have seen or reacted similarly to the actions of the characters; that is what kept my interest. However, I felt if the movie studio had done two separate films for the stories each would have been stronger. French was spoken with English subtitles.

 

2 1/4 stars — DVD

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Don Verdean

No matter where you look, from a corporation to a charitable organization to a health care facility, there will always be someone there who has the power. I have seen so many times where an individual changes once they get themselves into a position of power. It takes a strong internal makeup not to get corrupted by its force or to use it for one’s own advantage. At a former company where I worked there was an individual who did any and everything to get a particular title attached to their name. They did some sneaky and underhanded things to other employees just to get ahead in their career. The thing that really got me was when their actions were questioned by any of their co-workers (the ones that even talked to them) they would claim they had to act that way because it would benefit the company. This was rarely the case as far as I could tell. Even on the world stage haven’t we all seen individuals who claim their actions were for the greater good? I have such a hard time listening to people who claim to be righteous but they do not act it. I know an individual who is active in their religion and is quick to use their activities as proof that they are devout in their belief. However if you heard some of the prejudicial remarks that came out of their mouth you would never believe they were a religious person. To top it off, I have seen their friends who all believe this individual is the poster child for goodness. Do you think their title of vice chairman has anything to do with it?    BIBLICAL archaeologist Don Verdean, played by Sam Rockwell (The Sitter, Seven Psychopaths), was approached by Pastor Tony Lazarus, played by Danny McBride (Your Highness, This is the End), to form a partnership where Don’s discoveries would go on display at Pastor Lazarus’ church. The pastor believed this would greatly increase the size of his congregation and Don did not want to disappoint him. This comedy had a well seasoned cast; besides Sam and Danny, it had Amy Ryan (Escape Plan, Gone Baby Bone) as Carol Jensen and Jemaine Clement (What We Do in the Shadows, Men in Black 3) as Boaz. The story was a satire or more precisely a spoof on people’s willingness to believe anything depending on how it is presented to them. I thought the idea for this comedy was okay but as the movie continued I realized nothing was making me care about any of the characters. As the story played out it dropped into a madcap mode that came across as ridiculous. The actors did try to help but by the end of the film I was left with a blah feeling; there was nothing great or bad about this picture, it was innocuous if you can believe it.

 

1 3/4 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Creed

I gained new friends after I finished reading the book. Once the novel was back safely on its shelf the characters remained alive for me; I found myself thinking about them from time to time. As days turned into weeks I found myself wondering what a certain character would be doing now if the story had not ended. Do you ever find yourself doing the same thing? From a book or movie, maybe even someone you used to know? I have known several people who spend time online looking up individuals they used to have contact with in the past. Some may have been business contact, friends or romantic ones; they just wanted to know what happened to them. The same curiousity can be applied to the cast in a movie. There have been times where I enjoyed a film so much I wanted to experience the same characters in another story, hence the reason for sequels. Like any movie there have been excellent and poor sequels made by the film studios. I do not know if you feel the same way; but when I watch a sequel of a movie I praised highly, if the sequel is not good I feel cheated. It makes me not receptive to anything else the studio tries; I just want to preserve the good feelings I still have with the original one. In regards to this movie today, I thought Rocky was an excellent picture. Once the franchise was over I never gave it any thought; in fact, I did not know I even wanted to know something more until I saw this total surprise of a film.    GROWING up without knowing his famous father Adonis Johnson, played by Micael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station, Fantastic Four), never wanted anyone to know he was the boxing champion’s son; instead, he wanted to make a name for himself. With his athletic abilities Adonis felt the only person who could help him hone his skills was the former boxing champion Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables franchise, Escape Plan). This dramatic sport film was simply a stunner for me. I never imagined a story would be created that moved the Rocky franchise from years ago to current times. The writers did an incredible job of tying the past to the present and I was amazed at how good Sylvester was playing a much older Rocky. With Phylicia Rashad (Good Deeds, Just Wright) as Mary Anne Creed and Tessa Thompson (Selma, Dear White People) as Bianca, everyone in the cast did their part to create an honest and real film that totally kept my interest. Even with the tough bloody scenes, I remained focused into this beautifully told story. Some of you may be surprised with this review and I want to tell you no one is more surprised than me. I want to know what will happen next to Adonis Johnson. Several  scenes had blood and violence in them.

 

3 1/3 stars

 

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Last Witch Hunter

 

Except when it concerns weight, most instances of loss more times than not are associated with sadness. Even from a scarf to a pair of sunglasses, I have never heard someone say they were happy about losing them. Sadness can be overwhelming when it comes to the loss of a loved one. And if the death was sudden like a heart attack, the survivors can experience shock along with the sad feelings flooding over them. Though I would never say anything, I never understood when someone would say, “We lost her/him today.” I have always wondered if people were just uncomfortable saying the word “died,” maybe because it sounds so final or abrupt as compared to passing away or gone. Now there is another aspect of loss that I think must be harder to deal with and that is when the death is unexpected. Maybe due to an accident or killing, I can only imagine how awful it must feel. There were a couple of different people I knew who had experienced such a tragedy and it was heartbreaking. Though I will say when it comes to this form of death I can understand why a person would have a vein of anger and revenge mixed in with their unhappiness. Hopefully I will never have to experience such a horrible thing in my life. I would rather be exposed to this type of event as an observer while watching a movie. Or at least I thought so until I saw this fantasy adventure.    CURSED by a witch with immortal life Kaulder, played by Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious franchise, The Pacifier), would spend his life throughout the centuries protecting the world from such wretched witches. This action film was all about the CGI effects. There were a couple of scenes that were actually good. I thought the idea behind the story was decent; however the script was as dull as an old rusty nail. With Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) as Dolan 37th, Michael Caine (Harry Brown, Inception) as Dolan 36th and Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones-TV, Downton Abbey-TV) as Chloe; the actors had nothing to work with to try and make this film at least somewhat exciting. As for Vin, with his limited acting range, this role did not suit him at all. With his monotone speech, I found him boring. Maybe part of the issue was the direction the actors were getting because I did not care for the way scenes jumped back and forth in time; it made for a frenzied viewing experience. I will say I did not mind Rose Leslie’s character and wished there were more scenes with Michael; though even his character seemed like one I have seen him play before. This is one film I would not be sad if the movie studio lost.

 

1 2/3 stars

 

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