Friday, February 8, 2013

With An App and A Prayer....

If equipped with a Fandango phone app, a local multiplex showing the majority of the films, and a free afternoon to creep stealthily around the premises of said multiplex, I propose that one could see the highlights of the Academy Award Best Picture nominees over approximately 6-8 hours and for the admission price of a single ticket.  Almost all the films that stayed in the theaters made bank, so I wouldn’t feel too bad about sneaking in for a short chunk of the film without paying for it.  Also, you’ll probably drop $19 on a bag of popcorn and a small soda while you’re there.  In my mind, that makes you and the theater even.  Are they serious?  Do they know how much popcorn I could make at my house for $19?  I could fill my entire car with popcorn and still have buckets of corn leftover!  

(Apparently some NBA team already had this idea....)

Oh….the nominees…right….

Lets get started, shall we?  

(To avoid making this post any longer, I have embedded links to each plot description if you click on the title of the film in case you aren’t familiar with this years nominees.  Thanks Fandango!)

1) Django Unchained – Hands down, my favorite movie of the bunch.  I’d actually recommend taking the time to watch the entire film, but I’m a huge fan of Tarantino’s work and am aware that not everyone feels that way.  Suffice to say if you love Tarantino, anachronistic music sequences and all, this film is for you. 
Most Memorable Scene:  Approximately halfway through the film, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Calvin Candie gives an impassioned speech during which he removes a human skull from a box.  No clue why DiCaprio didn’t get an Oscar nod for this scene alone, because he certainly deserved it especially because he sliced open his hand accidentally in real life and just kept going.  You’ll know you’ve popped your head in at the right part if you see multiple characters sitting at a long table in a well appointed dining room.  Just sit and wait for the crazy. 

2) Silver Linings Playbook – I’m a sucker for movies about people struggling with mental health issues.  And this one has become my new gold standard.  Many dismiss it for its feel-goodery and romantic comedy feel, but I say bring it on.  This is most definitely another one that I’d recommend be watched from start to finish.
Most Memorable Scene: Jennifer Lawrence is the favorite for the Best Actress trophy this year.  Sidle into the theater about halfway through to catch the scene in which Lawrence goes toe to toe with the great DeNiro without missing a beat.  That she’s able to hold her own all while nonchalantly slugging on a light beer proves why she should get the gold.

3) Zero Dark Thirty –I recommend trying to see the scene from this movie first so that you can feel like a total badass sneaking around your movie theater. 
Most Memorable Scene: I think most people would agree that the scene in which the Navy SEAL team raids Bin Laden’s compound is both astounding and nerve wracking.  Shot mostly from a first-person perspective, this sequence made me feel like an accomplice to one of the great covert missions of the past decade.  Scoot in for the last 45 minutes of the film, and stay until the end so you can catch some footage of Jessica Chastain’s brilliantly restrained performance. 

4) Argo – In all honesty, for me there were no standout scenes in this movie.  I adore Ben Affleck as a filmmaker, John Goodman is a national treasure and I thought this movie was well made, but I wasn’t captivated by any particular part.  That said, the story is unbelievably true and the film is definitely worth a viewing, especially since it’s the current frontrunner for Best Picture. In two weeks it’ll be out on amazon streaming for like $5, so I’d recommend waiting so you can enjoy it from your couch with reasonably priced snacks.  In fact, you could do an Oscar double feature and pair it with…..

5) Beasts of the Southern Wild – Quvenzhane Wallis is going to be the belle of the ball on Oscar night.  I cannot wait to see her walk the red carpet in her little dress, with her beaming mom or dad in tow to chaperone her.  That said, her performance is the reason to watch.  She plays a mostly unsupervised six year old, wandering around an area called the ‘bathtub’ in Lousianna, and for much of the movie she alternates between carefully pressing her ear to various wild animals, and trying to understand her mercurial father.  Like I said before, this movie is available to stream on amazon for $4, and has the shortest running time of all the nominees, clocking in at just over 90 minutes.  Even though the movie did not completely come together for me at the end, it is certainly unique and I'd go so far as to say the entire movie is an extended memorable scene. 

6) Life of Pi– This is the only nominee in 3D.  And while I usually detest 3D, I felt that this was an inspired use of the medium.  I did not read the book, but felt that was to my benefit.  As the story was unfamiliar to me, I was captivated from start to finish.  I didn’t expect to like this movie, but found myself thinking about the story for days as a twist at the end touched my soul in an unexpected way.
 Most Memorable Scene: Try to gank a pair of those 3D glasses from a ticket kiosk, or ask friends if they have an old pair lying around.  Stick those babies in front of your eye holes and watch the scene approximately an hour in where Pi attempts to train the tiger.  You’ll feel as if you are bobbing in the open ocean, and I dare you to not want to reach out and touch the tigers furry rump as he struggles back into the boat.  Visually stunning. 

7) Lincoln – Please see the first paragraph of my previous post.  

8) Les Miserables –I saw Les Miserables on Broadway when I was ten years old, and I was so mesmerized by the ending sequence that I almost wandered into oncoming traffic.  Thankfully, my parents grabbed me, breaking my reverie, but that didn’t stop me from getting the Original Cast Recording Soundtrack and listening to it until it started skipping from wear.  The movie, while an amazing feat of filmmaking, certainly did not move me in the way that the live performance did.  
Most Memorable Scene: Most certainly it’s when Anne Hathaway’s Fantine sings “I Dreamed A Dream”.  Hathway benefits greatly from the tight close up shot that director Tom Hooper selected for the scene.  For almost the entirety of the song, viewers are asked to fixate on her raw, filth streaked face and shoulders.  She is completely laid bare.  With a bleak future ahead of her she is left with nothing but a past and a voice.  Hathaway is the lock of all locks for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar this year, and this performance conveniently takes place during the first 30 minutes of the movie. 

9) Amour – You may not be able to find this one at your local multiplex.  But to that, I say….don't worry.  Do not see this movie unless you want your world to be disturbed.  From the outside, it seems like a sweet story of a man and his wife coping with illness and old age.  The problem for me is that it is done too realistically.  I almost walked out several times, and I never walk out.  That’s not to say it’s a bad movie, its just that it rocked me to my core by presenting a universal inevitability of life that I am definitely not ready to deal with yet.  Also – subtitles are hard to read while in the midst of sobbing uncontrollably. 
Most Memorable Scene: During the last 30 minutes of the film, the character Georges sits by his wife Anne as she screams in delusional pain.  She cannot communicate, so he gently scoops up her hand and tells her a story from his childhood to calm her down.  He takes conversational pauses during the story, treating her as if she’s still well and can respond to him.  The end of this scene left me incapacitated with sorrow. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  

Enjoy the overpriced movie popcorn!  And the creeping around.  Who doesn't enjoy a good creep?

 I really love popcorn. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

'Lincoln' Was Overrated

The movie, not the president.  Just want to make that clear.  If you are a history buff or just happen to adore the films of Steven Speilberg, go right ahead and sit through the plodding three hour epic.  

In the likely case that you are neither of the above, here’s a helpful tip. Just go see another movie at a megaplex, get there early and pop your head into a showing of Lincoln about an hour before it ends.  You’ll get to see Daniel Day Lewis’s Lincoln slow drawl his way through a few anecdotes, as well as experience the electrifying scene where the Thirteenth Amendment is passed.  High tail it outta there before the family travels to Ford’s theater because, face it, you know what’s happening next.  Boom.  You just saved yourself two and a half hours and a cool $10.  You’re welcome. 

Despite the glacial pace of ‘Lincoln’, this was a good year for movies people. Out of the nine films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards this year, seven of them are well on their way to becoming bonafide hits; five have hit the 100 million mark at the domestic box office, and two are well on their way.  Therefore, chances are that you saw at least one of them, and there was a good chance that you liked it.   

The past year also appeared to mark an era where people were willing to go to the movie theater and spend lengthy periods of time sitting in the dark with strangers.   Most of the films nominated this year are longer than two hours.  Fun fact, if you combine all of the running times of the films this year together it adds up to over 20 hours of film time.  That’s almost one entire day.  And that’s not even including ‘find a parking spot/wait in line for tickets and popcorn/advertisement/preview’ time. 

This is where I tell you that you have less than three weeks to see all 20 hours of those movies before Oscar night on February 24th.   But don’t you fret my friends, it’s also where I promise to crack out the rest of my tips on what is worth your valuable time and what is not. Because I am crazy enough to have seen them all.  Apparently I have no life.  That’s ok though because I adore movies, and have a soft spot in my heart for the Academy Awards.    

To avoid this post being super lengthy, I have decided to break the categories up into several posts over the next few weeks.  In the interest of time, I hope to have the post on the Best Picture nominees up by mid-week. 

In the interim, I would love to hear your thoughts on the Oscar night telecast.  Overrated?  Exciting?  An amazing excuse to heckle celebrities from the comfort of your couch?  All of the above?  Discuss.