Category Archives: Uncategorized
THE PAST YEAR HAS BEEN ONE of extremes and that includes the film industry. It seemed to me as if the movies I saw were either exceptionally good or horribly bad. There seemed to be less in the middle. The films that I felt were excellent were an absolute joy to experience; however, the ones that were at the other end of the spectrum were torturous at times. But, I want you to know I never left the movie early and for those times I felt I was about to fall asleep, I would shake my legs or pop mints into my mouth to stay awake. Nothing stopped me in my quest to see and review the latest films. Even during a blizzard, I drove to the theater, parked my car in the attached parking deck and went inside the theater to watch 3 pictures one right after another; I guess you can say I am dedicated or crazy. It was all worth it as we put a close on the past year with a final hooray as the Oscar awards are to be handed out this weekend. There are some close races that I had trouble deciding, but I am going to get through and share my thoughts with you. So with that being said, below are my choices for what I feel should get an award and what the academy will pick.
MY CHOICES ACADEMY PICKS
GREEN BOOK ROMA
CHRISTIAN BALE RAMI MALEK
OLIVIA COLMAN GLENN CLOSE
MAHERSHALA ALI MAHERSHALA ALI
REGINA KING REGINA KING
SPIKE LEE ALFONSO CUARON
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIEDER-VERSE INCREDIBLES 2
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK BLACKkKLANSMAN
THE FAVOURITE ROMA
So, there you have it. If I do not win the pick pool I am okay with it. For me, it is all about the entertainment value. If a film can take me away from my reality and place me into its, then it has won in my books. Have a happy and joyous Oscar time to you and yours.
NO MATTER HOW HARD WE TRY, there is going to be times in life where we must deal with stuff (some people would use a stronger word) thrown our way. They may be anywhere between simple annoyances to heavy issues. Presently I am dealing with a continuous annoyance. Every time the temperature outside has a wide swing the tire pressure light goes on in my car. I never know if it is just a loss of air from the temperature, debris in the road or the start of an actual flat tire. I am stuck always going to an auto dealer to have the tires checked out. It is stuff like this that will drive me crazy because I do not have an outlet to release my frustrations. What I would like to do is kick my tires or bang on my dashboard when the tire light goes on; but that is not going to make anything better. However, I have been using my feelings as fuel to come up with an alternative that will give me piece of mind. My idea now is to buy a tire pressure gauge and one of those small air compressors; so, I can even out the air pressure in all my tires and get the tire gauge light to turn off, as long as there is not a flat tire. WHEN DEALING WITH HARD OR HEAVY situations, some individuals may not be fully equipped to handle the pressure. I believe it is better to submerge into your feelings than trying to ignore them. Letting yourself experience these emotions I find can be therapeutic, if not cathartic. In my past I have taken tragedy and taken all the feelings associated with it and wrapped it tightly around me to the point where I was nearly comatose. But during that time there was a part of my brain working on ways to learn and hopefully grow from the experience. Now there are some people who may experience a traumatic event and totally withdraw from reality. The pain is too much for them to handle so they find ways to avoid it. I hope I do not come across as judgmental but that is not something I could maintain. Sure, I can escape by taking a mental vacation for a while; but I am not the type of person who would try to fill the void I was experiencing with a substitute that could harm me. As I said, everyone handles trauma differently and this film festival winning action, crime drama will show you one of those ways. AFTER MANY YEARS A CASE DETECTIVE Erin Bell, played by Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased, The Upside), thought she had left behind resurfaced, stirring up strong emotions inside of her. To deal with the present she would have to revisit her past. This movie also starred Toby Kebbell (Fantastic Four, Dead Man’s Shoes) as Silas, Tatiana Maslany (Stronger, Orphan Black-TV) as Petra, Scoot McNairy (Argo, Monsters) as Ethan and Sebastian Stan (I, Tonya; Captain America franchise) as Chris. This was an unusual role for Nicole. Being a big fan of her work, I thought she would have been outstanding in the role. However, I never found her believable as the older version of her character; the entire time I was aware it was Nicole Kidman playing a role. The scenes that jumped into the past seemed more interesting to me, but I disliked the going back and forth in time throughout the film. This lead it to be not a very entertaining film for me. I found the script slow moving and at times dull. After the movie ended I took my disappointment and funneled it into a grocery store trip to buy myself a treat.
MAYBE YOU WOULD NOT GET ANNOYED; but I do when meeting a person for the first time, who is trying to by funny. Humor is and always has been my go to safe spot, so it is not like I am against someone being amusing; however, if I do not know the person I need time to learn about them. The part that bugs me is when the person says something odd, but then says they are only kidding followed up with them saying no, they are not kidding then back to saying they’re kidding. I had this one conversation with this man who tried to make every topic a joke. If it was a straight forward joke where they laughed afterwards, then I would have gotten the message, but that was not the case. They would say something with this deadpan delivery and expression, where I had no idea if they were joking or not. Then they would start the kidding, no kidding cycle; I must tell you that got old fast. In a few minutes I was tired from the confusing signals and politely excused myself. The funny thing though is I love sarcasm and this person was attempting to be sarcastic, but it fell flat. IN A SIMILAR VEIN A PERSON who exaggerates without using humor can be problematic for me as well. This would be someone who enjoys using the words: best, biggest, most expensive, etc. I never know if their statements are true and wonder what they are using as a comparison. At a party I was sitting with a small group of guests. One person was dominating the conversation in my opinion. As I listened it became apparent to me they were either bragging or believed they knew the best places to shop and eat in the country. I so badly wanted to ask what made it the best place but honestly, I was not interested. If they had simply talked about a particular restaurant or store I would have been curious to hear about it; but add in one of those words I listed earlier, and I start to feel like all they are doing is bragging to a crowd. Before you think I am a horrible guest, let me say I totally enjoy hearing people tell their stories. Maybe I do some editing of them quietly in my head as I navigate thru their version of humor and/or exaggeration; but overall, I still like a good story and the main characters in this mysterious crime drama had me paying close attention to their story. HAVING ONLY RECENTLY MET, STEPHANIE SMOTHERS and Emily Nelson, played by Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect franchise, Table 19) and Blake Lively (The Shallows, The Age of Adeline), were fast becoming friends. So, when Emily asked Stephanie if she could pick her son up after school, Stephanie was eager to please. She was not expecting Emily to disappear and not come back. With Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians, The Bachelorette-TV) as Sean Townsend, Andrew Rannells (The Intern, Bachelorette) as Darren and newcomer Ian Ho as Nicky Nelson; this dark comedic crime story was a blast to watch. Anna and Blake were so good together I would like to see them together again in another film, they had a great chemistry that shined on the big screen. There were a couple of holes in the script, but I did not care; there was so many twists and surprises that kept the story going. I also thought the use of humor added a whole fresh element. Little did I know I was entering such an entertaining experience with this picture, where I got the humor and enjoyed the outrageousness.
3 ¼ stars
THOUGH I WAS PREPARED FOR a long show, by the time it actually ends it always seems so much longer. Not that I am complaining about it since I know when you have people talking off script it is hard to peg an actual ending time. Personally I prefer the winners to come prepared with their acceptance speeches. The reason I say this is because there have been so many times where a winner gets up in front of the audience and can only sputter out sporadic words of thanks. Of course I am all for an off the cuff remark or something fun; but walking up and pretending you are totally in shock (especially if you are one of the odds on favorites) and not having anything written down makes me suspicious. Oh wait, maybe that is supposed to be ACTING!
COMPARED TO PAST SHOWS THIS one was not one of my favorites, though nowhere near the one Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosted one year. Overall Jimmy Kimmel did a decent job; not a laugh out loud type stint at hosting, but he had some good segments. I actually thought he was a bit restrained. Where the Jet Ski joke was fun (don’t you love Helen Mirren?!) I thought going over to visit the movie patrons next door was a waste of time. It is funny my first thought when the lights turned on and they stopped the feature film was I would have been so upset if I was in the audience and they stopped the movie in the middle. The whole stint was similar to last year’s joke that went a bit sour when it was discovered one of the tourists had recently gotten out of prison.
ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS FOR me was hearing all the nominated songs being performed by their original artists. I enjoyed the staging especially for Remember Me from Coco and This is Me from The Greatest Showman. Another high point for me was Frances McDormand’s acceptance speech. Granted I wish we lived in a world where we did not have to classify or label a person’s gender or race to their profession, but I totally understand why it needs to be done presently. Maybe it is just me but I do not focus on whether a woman or man wrote the screenplay; I just want it to be a well written script. However if a person is being discriminated because of their race, religion, gender or gender identity; then I would have a problem with it. I noticed many of the celebrities were wearing a particular pin on their clothing. Showing your solidarity with a cause is admirable and I do not want to downplay the action. The question I have is are they just wearing the pin to wear it; did they pay for it and the money is earmarked for a good cause or are they actively trying to cause change in a broken system? You know how much I love the movies but like sports figures, I think something is askew when people who act are given huge amounts of money while many school teachers are being forced to foot the bill to supply their class with fundamental utensils for education.
OVERALL I WAS SATISFIED WITH the voting results. There really were no surprises per se. My only wish is I would like the better made movies to be spread throughout the year, instead of the film studios holding what they believe will become Oscar nominated pictures towards the end of the year. The other thing I would like to have is more quality made movies; this year had more than the usual amount of films that got a low star rating from me. But enough of that; let me end on a happier note. How many of you absolutely loved the introduction of Rita Moreno, who wore the exact same dress she wore when she won her Oscar for West Side Story? That took place over 55 years ago! Now one more comment; I thought it was an excellent idea to bring back Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty to get a 2nd chance to name the correct picture. Now that they are done don’t bring them back.
WELL THAT IS ALL I have to say about the show. Another year closes into the record books. I have gathered up my reviews from the past year and put them in a time capsule that looks suspiciously like a box that once held a humidifier inside of it, hung up my Oscar predictions on the corkboard, recycled my plastic water bottle and watered my poor neglected plants before I checked on what movies would be opening this weekend. In case I have to see three films in a row I better get on the treadmill to prepare myself. Everyone thank you for following me the past year; I hope I was able to save you from spending money on the poorly made films and let you become surprised on some new discoveries. A happy and healthy year of movie watching I wish for each and every one of you. Thank you.
WELL ANOTHER OSCAR SEASON will close with this weekend’s awards show. It has been an interesting past year for movies. There have been a couple of breakout stars and some major flops. Looking at my reviews the past year, there seems to have been fewer outstanding films in my opinion. I believe only 1 or 2 movies received my top 4 star rating. To tell you the truth overall it has been a tough slog to sit through so many pictures that were poorly made. I did however discover 3 new things at the theater. First, I love the one remodeled theater out of 18 at the movie complex near my house. With oversized, soft reclining seats that vibrate to the soundtrack and a dynamite sound system; it made watching a blockbuster film more enjoyable. Second, I discovered a decked out theater with great sound and picture quality along with reclining seats does not make a poorly made film any better. And lastly I discovered I hate, yes hate, sitting in a theater that allows people to order food and have it brought in so they can eat a meal while watching the movie. It is so annoying to sit there and try to pay attention to the picture while a group of people next to you are chomping down on their food. And don’t get me started with the ones that eat with their mouths open!
So let us put all of that aside, get settled into our happy place and enjoy the Academy Awards show. I have all of my favorite snacks ready (to be eaten during the commercials) and have the weekend off from teaching, so I can focus on getting all of my chores done before the telecast. Without further ado let me present to you my choices for what I think should and will win in each category listed.
MY CHOICE TO WIN WHAT WILL WIN
The Shape of Water The Shape of Water
Gary Oldman Gary Oldman
Sally Hawkins Frances McDormand
Sam Rockwell Sam Rockwell
Allison Janney Allison Janney
Guillermo del Toro Guillermo del Toro
Loving Vincent Coco
Call Me by Your Name Call Me by Your Name
Get Out The Shape of Water
Dunkirk Blade Runner 2049
This is Me Remember Me
Phantom Thread Beauty and the Beast
Baby Driver Star Wars: The Last Jedi
THERE YOU HAVE IT, my picks for the Oscars. May each and every one of you enjoy the show and may each day after be an Oscar worthy day for you. Thank you for your support, comments, likes and suggestions; I appreciate it deeply and also you allowing me to nurture my passion for movies.
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.
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:
Hidden Figures La La Land
Natalie Portman Emma Stone
Casey Affleck Denzel Washington
Best Supporting Actress:
Viola Davis Viola Davis
Best Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali Jeff Bridges
Barry Jenkins Damien Chazelle
Best Original Screenplay:
Manchester by the Sea La La Land
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Hidden Figures Moonlight
Silence La La Land
Best Animated Feature:
Kubo and the Two Strings Zootopia
Best Original Song:
How Far I’ll Go City of Stars
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.
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.
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