Green Zone

25 03 2010

Green Zone is basically a lamer version of Damon and Greengrass’ last two films together, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum.  It has its share of action, but it will still bore you to death.  Even the “climactic” battle drags on for so long that by its end I had lost all interest.  All the characters are one-dimensional cliches and all the great actors in the film seem to be on auto-pilot, especially Greg Kinnear, who’s dangerously close to being type-cast as the corporate sleazeball.

Though I’ve loved Greengrass’ directing style in the past, he’s got to let the whole shaky-cam obsession go.  Even when two characters are simply talking, with no danger in sight, Greengrass films it as if they’re in the middle of a warzone.  You get the impression that even if someone was sitting around drinking tea the camera would still be spinning all over the place handheld style.  Shaky-cam should be used sparingly, not for the duration of a 2 hour drama.  It doesn’t come off as gritty, just unnecessary and headache-inducing.

So in addition to being a bad movie, Green Zone is the first official contender for biggest flop, box-office wise, of 2010.  Whoever greenlit this film with its $100 million budget probably deserves to lose their job.  How the budget was able to balloon to $100 million is beyond me, so it’s not much of a surprise to hear that Universal is struggling financially.

3.5/10





Thoughts on the Oscar nominations

3 02 2010

First the good: 

Up gets the honor of being the first ever animated film to be nominated for best picture.  Sure it took the expansion to 10 nominees, but it’s still quite an accomplishment and I couldn’t think of a more deserving film. 

Hurt Locker and Avatar lead with 9 nominations each.  I’m happy to see two great films lead the field.

-Always nice to see veteran actors like Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep get nominations.  Hopefully they both win this year.

-Vera Farmiga and Maggie Gyllenhaal get their first nominations.  They’re both wonderful and it’s great to see them get some recognition.

-Kathryn Bigelow gets a best director nomination.  The film industry is still male dominated, so it’s always nice to see female directors get nominated.

-The Academy embraces sci-fi.  Avatar, District 9, and Star Trek all get a good amount of nominations.  Banner year for sci-fi.  Now if only Sam Rockwell had managed to get a best actor nomination for Moon

-No major nominations for Nine, Lovely Bones, or Invictus, proving that not all Academy members are sheep.

In the Loop, Harry Potter, and A Serious Man all get  nominations.  All deserving surprises.

And now the bad:

The Blind Side.  Seriously, I feel like I’m going crazy.  This getting a nomination sure doesn’t make the expansion to 10 nominees look like a good idea.

-Sandra Bullock.  She could possibly win a Razzie and an Oscar, and to think that she might beat Meryl Streep.  Not cool, Academy.

-No nomination for Ponyo.  It wasn’t expected to squeeze in a nomination, but I still feel it was much more deserving than some of the other animated nominees.

-No nomination for Julianne Moore.  Admittedly I have not seen the film, but she’s long overdue and I was hoping she’d get some recognition this year, oh well.

-No best score nomination for The Informant!

No best makeup nomination for District 9.

Here’s the full list of nominees:

Best Picture
“Avatar”
“The Blind Side”
“District 9”
“An Education”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Precious”
“A Serious Man”
“Up”
“Up in the Air”

Best Director
James Cameron, “Avatar”
Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”
“Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”
“Lee Daniels, “Precious”
Jason Reitman, “Up in the Air”

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”
George Clooney, “Up in the Air”
Colin Firth, “A Single Man”
Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”
Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker”

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”
Helen Mirren, “The Last Station”
Carey Mulligan, “An Education”
Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”
Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, “Invictus”
Woody Harrelon, “The Messenger”
Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station”
Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones”
Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, “Nine”
Vera Farmiga, “Up in the Air”
Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Crazy Heart”
Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”
Mo’Nique, “Precious”

Best Adapted Screenplay
“District 9”
“An Education”
“In the Loop”
“Precious”
“Up in the Air”

Best Original Screenplay
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The Messenger”
“A Serious Man”
“Up”

Best Animated Feature Film
“Coraline”
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Princess and the Frog”
“The Secret of Kells”
“Up”

Best Foreign Language Film
“Ajami” (Israel)
“The Milk of Sorrow” (Peru)
“A Prophet” (France)
“The Secret in Their Eyes” (Argentina)
“The White Ribbon” (Germany)

Best Art Direction
“Avatar”
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“Nine”
“Sherlock Holmes”
“The Young Victoria”

Best Cinematography
“Avatar”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
“The Hurt Locker”
“The White Ribbon”

Best Costume Design
“Bright Star”
“Coco Before Chanel”
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“Nine”
“The Young Victoria”

Best Film Editing
“Avatar”
“District 9”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Precious”

Best Makeup
“Il Divo”
“Star Trek”
“The Young Victoria”

Best Music (Original Score)
“Avatar”
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Sherlock Holmes”
“Up”

Best Music (Original Song)
“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog”
“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog”
“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36″
“Take it All” from “Nine”
“The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart”

Best Sound Editing
“Avatar”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”
“Up”

Best Sound Mixing
“Avatar”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

Best Visual Effects
“Avatar”
“District 9”
“Star Trek”

Best Documentary Feature
“Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country”
“The Cove”
“Food, Inc.”
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”
“Which Way Home”

Best Documentary Short
“China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”
“The Last Campaign of Booth Gardener”
“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”
“Music by Prudence”
“Rabbit a la Berlin”

Best Short Film (Animated)
“French Roast”
“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty”
“The Lady and the Reaper”
“Logorama”
“A Matter of Loaf and Death”

Best Short Film (Live Action)
“The Door”
“Instead of Abracadabra”
“Kavi”
“Miracle Fish”
“The New Tenants”

-Overall a pretty good list. Feel free to give your own thoughts below!





My 20 Most Anticipated Movies of 2010

2 01 2010

20.  THE GHOST WRITER  (Roman Polanski)

-Had one of the most intriguing teaser trailers.  Plus, with all the controversy surrounding Roman Polanski it’ll be interesting to see how the public reacts to this.  It stars Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan.

19.  MACHETE  (Robert Rodriguez)

-The fake trailer from Grindhouse is being made into a feature.  Should be fun, and it’s nice to see Danny Trejo get a starring role.

18.  DUE DATE  (Todd Phillips)

-I think Zach Galifianakis is one of the funniest people alive, so I can’t wait to finally see him in the lead role for a comedy like this.  Robert Downey Jr. also stars. 

17.  DAYBREAKERS  (Spierig brothers)

-This one comes out next week.  It’s getting good reviews, I like Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, and I thought the trailer looked great.  I think it’ll be a lot of fun.

16.  BIUTIFUL  (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)

-It’s by the director of Amorres Perros and Babel and stars Javier Bardem.  With those names there’s no way this turns out bad.

15.  JACK GOES BOATING  (Philip Seymour Hoffman)

-I know nothing about this except that it’s Hoffman’s directorial debut.  He’s one of my favorite actors so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares as a director. 

14.  THE AMERICAN  (Anton Corbijn)

-From the director of Control and starring George Clooney.  Sounds like a promising duo.

13.  THE RUM DIARY  (Bruce Robinson)

-The director of Withnail and I hasn’t made a film in almost 20 years, so it’s great to see him back and directing again.  This stars Johnny Depp playing a Hunter S. Thompson type journalist just like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, so I’m predicting this to be wild and fun.

12.  YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER  (Woody Allen)

-I’m always excited for a new Woody Allen film.  This one’s got another great cast including Frieda Pinto (her first role since Slumdog), Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, and Antonio Banderas.

11.  MY SON, MY SON, WHAT HAVE YE DONE?  (Werner Herzog)

-Starring one of my new favorite actors (Michael Shannon) directed by one of my all time favorites, and produced by David Lynch.  Should be thoroughly creepy.

10.  LIFE DURING WARTIME  (Todd Solondz)

-From the writer/director of Happiness and Welcome to the Dollhouse, both of which I consider masterpieces. 

9.  TRUE GRIT  (The Coen Brothers)

-Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Jeff Bridges star in the Coen brothers’ remake of the John Wayne classic.  At this point anything the Coens make I’ll see opening weekend.  They’re just so consistently brilliant.

8.  ENTER THE VOID  (Gasper Noe)

-The director of Irreversible is back with another mindfuck.  All I need to know.

7.  TOY STORY 3  (Lee Unkrich – PIXAR)

-It’s Pixar, I’d be shocked if this didn’t turn out to be great.

6.  HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1  (David Yates)

-Man I’ll be sad when this series comes to an end.

5.  MICMACS  (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

-A new comedy from the director of Amelie.  All his films have been wonderful (with the exception of Alien: Resurrection), so I can’t wait for this one.  One of the best working directors.

4.  BLACK SWAN  (Darren Aronofsky)

-Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis star as rival ballerinas in what’s being described as a psychological thriller.  Aronofsky’s one of the most interesting directors right now, so I always look forward to what he’s doing next. 

3.  THE TREE OF LIFE  (Terrence Malick)

-This is only Terrence Malick’s 5th film in his almost 40 year career, so it’s kind of an event whenever a new film of his is released.  Plus, apparently this one’s got dinosaurs in it.  Yeah, dinosaurs.  Can’t wait.  He’s one of the most adventurous and beautiful filmmakers, and this has been his pet project which he’s been working on since the 70’s.  It stars Sean Penn and Brad Pitt.  Not to go overboard on the hype and give the film unrealistic expectations, but this could be one of the greatest films ever.  It has unlimited potential. 

2.  SHUTTER ISLAND  (Martin Scorsese)

-It’s so exciting to see Scorsese tackle the horror/thriller genre (I don’t really count Cape Fear).  Plus, I love the Hitchcock-esque mystery feel I get from the trailer.  This one just looks amazing.

1.  INCEPTION  (Christopher Nolan)

-OMG I CAN”T WAIT TO SEE THIS.

Notably absent:  Alice in Wonderland, or “The Mad Hatter in Wonderland” judging by the trailer which puts Johnny Depp front and center and barely even features Alice.  Honestly, I wish Tim Burton would stop remaking everything, and I wish he’d stop casting Depp and then covering him in white make-up everytime.  It also looks like he went completely nuts with the CGI.  Needless to say I’m skeptical about this one.





Invictus

23 12 2009

Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mandela, a President trying to bring together a divided nation with the help of their rugby team, the Springboks.  Matt Damon plays Francois Pienaar, the Springbok’s captain.

I have mostly mixed feelings on Invictus.  On one hand, I appreciate how Eastwood doesn’t use any technical flourishes or stylizations.  He lets the story and the performances do all the talking.  On the other hand, I think this makes the film fall flat.  Eastwood seems to just be on autopilot at this point, following the textbook and not taking any risks.  For this reason Invictus never really seems to maximize its potential and instead just ends up being another solid biopic. 

RATING:  7/10

I also have to once again comment on a terrible, overly sentimental song, this one titled “Colorblind,” that’s every bit as hokey as it sounds.  The cue for this song comes out of nowhere, so it’s also a total distraction.  These things are trying to ruin otherwise good movies left and right, it seems.





“Invictus” trailer

28 10 2009

2nd Matt Damon trailer of the day.  You can view it here (no embed yet).

Looks promising.  It’s interesting to see Clint Eastwood (a staunch conservative) make a Nelson Mandela film, even if it’s not your everyday “greatest hits” biopic but focused instead on a small slice of his life.





“Green Zone” trailer

27 10 2009

Great director, great cast, bad trailer.  I can see why they pushed it back to 2010.





“Road,” “Invictus” Posters

23 10 2009

roadposter

 

invictus