A Movie A day!

Hello there everyone!

a great website called aintitcool.com had a feature several years ago called “A Movie a Day” written by Eric Vespe (better known as Quint on the site). In it, he watched one movie a day, for months, and reviewed them. I tried to follow along as best I can and hung in there for quite a few.

He restarted it this past week and I encourage all with netflix, or amazon prime, or whatever, to watch a few of these. They are quite good.

2012 Films Revisited

In my “Movies 2012” Posting on New Year’s Day, I mentioned that due to the high number of quality 2012 movies released when I was low on funds, there was a probability of a series of revisions as I saw these films. Well, that has been happening with each new film viewed it seems. I am just stopping by to give all 3 of you readers an update of the list. After some reconsideration, I have decided that one of my choices must be struck from the list, and another must move higher.

The Artist was released in America, nationally, in January of 2012. Therefore, I saw it in 2012. Because it had a limited release in 2011 for Oscar contention, it is technically a 2011 film. This puts me in a pickle as I have spent the last month catching up on 2012 movies for the list. In a case of fairness, The Artist must be struck from 2012. ūüė¶

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Calm down! You still won the Oscar last year!

What also happens when one sees a film is an initial placement, and then after we’ve let the film settle in our minds, we reassess it. Les Miserables has benefited from this effect. I found my self humming “I dreamed a dream” yesterday in the car. This morning, as I was getting MY TEETH DRILLED, I was humming “Look Down”, which brought me no small measure of amusement. It all adds up to one revelation: Les Miserables is a movie that is gonna stick with me a long time. That moves it up. This also causes a revisiting of the other films on the list, and there was some movement.

2012 Movies (v5)

1: Skyfall

2: Django Unchained

3: Avengers

4: Les Miserables

5: Lincoln

6: Moonrise Kingdom

7: The Dark Knight Rises

8: The Hunger Games

9: The Hobbit

10: Prometheus

 

In rethinking these films, I cannot dispute Skyfall as the best of the year. I am sad that it was not nominated for an Oscar. Django still leads the pack of Oscar contenders and holds the #2 spot on my list. Avengers still holds sway as the King of the Comic Book films and sticks at 3. The middle section is where some changes happened. Moonrise Kingdom (which I adore) moves from 4 to 6. This is due to Les Miserables and Lincoln. I still prefer Les Mis to Honest Abe, but Spielberg has a damn good film here, and it needed to place higher than it was. This moves DKR down to 7th while Hobbit and Hunger Games hold on to 8 and 9.

I took a little heat for placing Hunger Games over Hobbit. While I feel Hobbit is a tremendous film, Hunger Games is a bit of a cultural touchstone. It is based on a GREAT book series, was well acted, well designed, and had some outstanding views on the world. As this is the successor to Twilight for the Teen girl set, I am so happy to see a film with some brains make such an impact with them.

In a bit more of a shake up, I needed a new #10. I almost did not put a 10th spot in this new list, as Argo, The Master, Zero Dark Thirty, and a couple of the other Best Picture nominees are to be viewed over the next month. But, what if they all, amazingly, stink?  I needed a 10. I examined the 3 films booted off the list previously- Get The Gringo, Prometheus, and Dredd. I ranked Dredd higher than Prometheus initially, but once you start picking them off, one by one, you feel twinges of regret. Prometheus gave me that when I booted it, Dredd did not. So, the Sci Fi Drama holds on for a little bit longer.

I am going to try to see at least one film in the theater next week, and possiblly a 2nd as well. I should have some DVD’s coming in so who knows what else will change!

Movie 43…a change of pace

The 361st movie I have seen in theaters

Star studded cast, what could go wrong….

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Almost everything it seems. Where to begin?

This film is about an aspiring screenwriter (Dennis Quaid) who gets a meeting with a studio exec (Greg Kinnear) to pitch his idea for a movie. In reality it is a series of shorts in one film. As he tells the idea, we get to see it acted out by famous performers such as Kate Winslet and Richard Gere.

The result is a steaming pile of monkey poop.

To be fair, there were a few laughs. By a few I mean 7 or 8.

The Catch

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The opening skit with Hugh Jackman is unfortunately one of the best of the bunch, and that is just Jackman walking around with a scrotum on his neck, while Academy Award Winner Kate Winslet reacts in horror. Thats it.

Homeschooled

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Up next is a terrifying bit where Liev Schrieber and Naomi Watts homeschool their son, and recreate the entire high school experience for him, including first kisses and gay encounters…with their son. Incest. yay.

The Proposition

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It just gets worse from there on as Anna Faris wants her boyfriend to poop on her to show his love. The semi filled theater had given up by this point.

Veronica

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Next was a charming segment where Keiran Culkin and Emma Stone profess their love to each other in a grocery store. Not a laugh in the sketch.

iBabe

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A send up of Apple with iBabe! An mp3 player that looks like a naked woman! At least there was nudity in this part.

Superhero Speed Dating

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Next we have speed dating with Robin, Batman, Superman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and The Penguin. How they got permission from DC comics is beyond me. This did give me 2 or 3 of the 7 or 8 laughs. Mostly centering on Supergirl’s incredibly hairy Bush… yeah. This is a great example of why DC can’t get their shit together for Justice League.

Middle school Date

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Adorable Chloe Moretz getting a period, and causing a panic.

Happy Birthday

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features Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott. Sean is mad at Johnny, and to make it better, he catches a Leprechaun for him. A foul mouthed Leprechaun played by Gerard (300) Butler. This might be the strongest of the segments and it was directed by Brett Ratner. What the hell kind of movie has it’s BEST part made by the bane of modern cinema??

Truth or Dare:

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This is followed by Truth or Dare with Stephen Merchant and Halle Berry. A couple of chuckles appear here. The photo shows her after inserting a turkey baster full of hot sauce into her vagina btw.

Victory’s Glory

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Then we get the Black Basketball Players versus White Basketball Player section. Not a laugh in the entire thing.

Beezel

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After some credits, we get Beezel, the psychopathic cartoon cat. Bizarre, but somewhat funny. Not funny enough to redeem this.

I honestly don’t know what to say. I have not seen a movie this bad since The Avengers. Not THAT Avengers, This one:

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Even Avengers might have the edge on this one. It might actually be on even keel with The worst movie of the 00’s!

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A Pathetic film. lets hope it is quickly forgotten. Also- 4% on Rotten Tomatoes. I have to agree.

After all these good, quality films I’ve been seeing, it was a nice change of pace to watch a shart that somehow came to life. Not a good start to 2013.

Dallas returns! Downton brings us down…

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Last night brought the 2nd season of the revival of Dallas, one of my favorite shows from the 80’s. It got off to a great start as we begin the last stories of J.R. Ewing,¬†greatest villain in TV history. His son, John Ross, took center stage as he begins putting his father’s lessons into action and prepares to take his place as the heir of the vilest man in Texas. Julie Gonzalo stands revealed as Pamela Barnes, daughter of long time JR rival¬†Cliff Barnes, as The Good Guys, Bobby, Elena, and Christopher try to expand the Clean Energies part of the business.¬†Mitch Pileggi, Skinner on X-Files, finds himself¬†promoted to series regular this season, Emma Bell (Walking Dead) joins the cast as his daughter, ¬†and Judith Light, Angela on Who’s the Boss, appears as his mother.¬†Tons of double crosses, backstabbing, and classic Ewing drama unfold in the premiere . Worth watching.

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In international news, this past weekend brought us the death of Lady Sybil Branson, nee Crawley, of Downton Abbey. The cause of death was Eclampsia during childbirth. You’d think a real person had died with all the news stories on the internet about it. I even read a medical story on the particular complication that took the character’s life. Crazy, but as I can attest, fandom knows few limits.

Lincoln

It starts off slow, but ends with a bang.

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This is the one everyone and their mother was talking about. The tale of January 1865, and Lincoln’s attempt to pass the 13th Amendment through Congress and end slavery forever. Structurally, the film is very good. It is well directed, well shot, and has a great script. The one glaring flaw is the ending. There is a segment that runs a few minutes long depicting his death, and a scene from his last¬†inauguration. I consider them to be quite out of place with the rest of the film. I know it seems counter intuitive to make a Lincoln film without the¬†assassination, but this is not a comprehensive look at his life. It’s focus is One Month in the man’s life, and a short¬†denouement¬†in early April 1865 as the war officially ends. It doesn’t ruin the movie, but I think it was a misstep.

What sets this film apart from the rest of the pack are the actors.

Daniel Day Lewis

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This is probably my favorite depiction of Lincoln, ever. Seeing as Lewis shares some screen time with Hal Holbrook, who made a career of playing Lincoln, this is no small achievement. Much is made of his method acting, and the lengths to which he goes to bring a character to life. If it did not work, he would be labeled crazy and forgotten by the world. Fortunately for us, and him, it works wonderfully. You believe he is Lincoln. The actor vanishes and the 16th President appears. Of all I have seen so far, he deserves the Best Actor Oscar. I cannot see him losing.

Sally Field

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Sally has still got it. She portrays Mary Todd Lincoln- Abe’s wife. She is vulnerable, strong, and oh so amazing as she suffers through the dark days of the Civil War with her husband. I am not sure if she can overcome the Jessica Chastain train of Zero Dark Thirty, but Sally certainly deserves her place among the Best.

Tommy Lee Jones

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As Abolitionist Congressman Stephens, Jones comes close to stealing the film from Lewis, as a proper Supporting Actor should. Tommy does what he does best in this film, he is powerful, fiery, and very dedicated to the cause of ending the stain of slavery forever. His final scenes with his housekeeper are the finest in the film.

There is a virtual cavalcade of talent in every bit part of this movie. James Spader, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Jackie Earl Haley, and Jared Harris only to name a few. Spielberg can get the best when he wants them, and it makes a huge difference.

So, how does this compare to the other nominees I have seen?

I still prefer Django to this and Les Miserables for Best Picture. Les Mis was great, and this was a wonderful look at political horse trading in the 19th century, but Django just WENT FOR IT. I still think Inglorious Basterds was better, Django leads the pack for my sensibilities.

Next question: Does Lincoln effect my top 10 list? yes.

op 10 2012: (v4)

1: Skyfall

2: Django Unchained

3: Avengers

4: Moonrise Kingdom

5: Dark Knight Rises

6: Les Miserables

7: Lincoln

8: The Hunger Games

9: The Artist

10: The Hobbit

As good as Lincoln was, Les Miserables is a better film. Lincoln gets bogged down with vote trading and insider politics, while Les Mis goes to the heart of freedom, sadness, joy, love, all with some amazing set and costuming. Close, but not close enough. Better acting in Lincoln though.

removed:

11: Dredd- This was one of my absolute favorite movies of 2012. It had such innovative use of 3D, and really stood out as an excellent comic adaptation. If Zero Dark Thirty and Argo are as good as I’ve been hearing, the Hobbit ¬†and Artist may be in trouble. Although, I am considering removing The Artist from the list. While I saw it in 2012, and it was a 2012 domestic wide release- it is officially a 2011 film, and was in last years oscars…hmmm. More on that after the next film.

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Les Miserables

Wolverine is on the run from The Gladiator because Catwoman left her baby at Borat’s house…

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My quest to see the remaining Best Picture nominees began today with Les Miserables. Confession- I have never read the book. I have never seen the previous non musical adaptations. I have never seen the play. This was first exposure other than knowing a few of the songs.

Holy Crap. I was blown away.

There is that moment, that occurs in all Motion Picture Musicals, when you stop and say “Oh yeah, they sing in this movie”. Once past that, I was struck by something fascinating- they were not singing to pre-recorded tracks. The vocals that we hear in this film are what was recorded live as they filmed. Normally films are lip¬†synced, in this one the actors are acting as they sing. This might seem a strange thing to focus on, but it really makes a difference.

This is the story of a man named Jean, who serves 20 years for stealing a loaf of bread. He is portrayed by Hugh Jackman. His warden is played by Russel Crowe.  He is paroled, and decides to leave his old name and life behind and make a new one. This is of course against the law as he is supposed to check in with his parole officers.

Several years later, he is an upstanding factory owner. A young woman works in his shop. She is trying to support a child who is living with some innkeepers far away. She is fired and has to turn to a life as a prostitute. Jean discovers the horrible effect the firing has had on his former employee and he makes a promise to take care of her child, just as she dies. Russell Crowe catches up to him, so its away to find the girl. The rest of the story is Jean and the child living their lives. He is afraid of being caught, and she falls in love with a young man tied up in an 1830’s revolutionary movement.

Hugh Jackman

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If Daniel Day Lewis was not getting so much attention for Lincoln (which I have yet to see) the oscar would be Jackman’s. It is well known that he is a song and dance man, of the type Hollywood no longer produces. He is also a hell of an actor. He puts both skills together with amazing effect. This is a career defining role for him, on par with Wolverine. You really feel Jean Valjean’s pain as he tries to balance the scales with God. A powerful performance.

Anne Hathaway

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She will break your heart. Fantine, the woman who turns to prostitution to support her child. She is only in the film briefly, but she leaves a lasting impact on all that follows. She gets “I dreamed a dream” the most famous of the songs in the film, and she nails it. People listening just to the soundtrack are missing the true performance. The major complaint is that her voice cracks a lot, and sounds quite weak. This is not due to a detriment of Hathaway’s performance, but is BECAUSE of it. She is acting, and the song comes at the point where she is at her lowest, and wants to die. Whats even cooler is that she does it all in one take. ONE TAKE, no camera cuts. The few minutes of this song are the most emotional in the film- because of her acting. She deserves the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this one, despite stiff competition.

Russel Crowe

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No one told Russell that he was not in a rock opera. His style is a bit out of place in this film, but I cannot fault the singing. He is an accomplished musician and can belt out a tune. He was just an odd choice compared to the others. Then again, his character of Javert- who chases Valjean is supposed to be a bit out of step with our heroes. Bottom line- he is not the best fit, but does an admirable job. I applaud him taking the role.

Sacha Baron Cohen

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This guy amazes me. He will be forever remembered as Borat, Bruno, and any of his other “Mockumentary” style creations. I enjoyed his schtick, but pretty much wrote the guy off. Then he showed up in Sweeney Todd, quite memorably ad he started showing signs of being more than a one trick pony. Now he shows up here, absolutely playing up his comedic talents as the incredibly corrupt innkeeper that has been taking care of Fantine’s child Cossette with his wife- played by Helena Bonham Carter. She delivers a good performance, similar to things she has done previously, while Cohen damn near steals the movie. After the drama, and sadness of the first section of the film, his character explodes onto the scene and was a crowd pleaser. His next film is Mercury- a drama based on the life of Freddie Mercury of Queen. He can act, he can sing, and he resembles Mercury. That is one to watch for.

Amanda Seyfried

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An actress that is on the cusp of something special. She first popped up on my radar in Big Love, and then she branched out into film with Mamma Mia, and a few unmemorable horror films. Now she pops up here, and has a few high profile pictures in development. She plays the adult Cossette, and has a lovely singing voice.

Eddie Redmayne

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Cossette’s love- Marius is played by Eddie Redmayne who impressed me last year in “My week with Marilyn”. He’s been in a few other productions and looks to be an up and comer.

Tom Hooper:

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Hooper is the director of the film. He first came to my notice a couple of years ago when he made “The King’s Speech” which won everything that year. He also directed a fantastic Mini Series called “John Adams”. You may have heard of it. This is three projects in a row that work for me. Hooper is going on my list of Directors to follow closely.

The question: Does this effect my top films list of 2012? Absolutely. The Cinematography, Costume, Set design, and SHEER QUALITY of this film catapults it into contention.

Top 10 2012: (v3)

1: Skyfall

2: Django Unchained

3: Avengers

4: Moonrise Kingdom

5: Dark Knight Rises

6: Les Miserables

7: The Hunger Games

8: The Artist

9: The Hobbit

10: Dredd

Removed:

11: Prometheus- I am sorry to see this one drop off, but its been a great year.

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The Oscar race is on!

Here are the best picture nominees for 2012:

Beasts of the Southern Wild, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Amour, Django Unchained, Argo

I have only seen Django. This needs to be remedied.

Some of these are just not playing near me anymore- Beasts of Southern Wild, Amour. Beasts in on Netflix, and at the top of my queue.

My plan is this: See them, or at least most of them. Argo cleaned house at the Globes and SAG awards, so this should be a priority. It is sadly only playing at night, at a Mall that I have never had a good movie experience at. Now, the hooligans will likely not be lining up to see Argo, but the threat of stabbing will keep me close to home. Argo shall remain a mystery unless it gets expanded release this month. Life of Pi is also at this Mall. Which is sad, as I like Ang Lee films.

Next in likely liquidity is Les Miserables. I wanted to see this, Tatum did not- so I never saw it. I expect it to vanish soon, therefore I shall check it out tomorrow and report back! That only leaves:

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Lincoln

Zero Dark Thirty

Silver Linings Playbook

 

Definitely doable by Oscar Night.

I would add The Master to this list (due to several acting noms) but its not on video, or at a theater near me. Its DVD release date is RIGHT AFTER the oscars, so it will also be missed. Oh well.