Thursday, February 26, 2015

Net Neutrality

Today the U.S. FCC five person panel determined that Net Neutrality should be enforced in this country.  This means that under their span of control (i.e. U.S. cable companies and telecommunications providers) that those providers will not be allowed to slow down internet connections to those people and companies who do not pay them extra to prevent it.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of the country supports Net Neutrality (or as you'll see John Oliver refer to it in the video below "Preventing Cable Company F*ckery") this decision by the FCC was far from assured.  Back when this video was originally broadcast in the summer of 2014 it seemed almost certain the decision would fall the other way - that cable companies would be allowed to create slow lanes for people and companies who did not pay higher rates.

Maybe Oliver's humorous, but real, exortations to get people to let the FCC know what they thought about the subject actually played a part in today's decision.  As you'll see in the second video, so many people tried to comment that it crashed the FCC's website for the better part of a day.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Some Observations on the 2015 Oscar Results and How I Did With My Picks

This year I picked 15 of the 24 winners, not quite as good as last year’s 17 for 24, but I’ve had fewer than 15 correct in other years.  I got Best Picture winner Birdman correct.  I’ll review all the winners and my picks below.

First, some observations:

No film dominated the show, or was even a clear frontrunner.  The Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman tied with four Oscars apiece.  Whiplash, with three wins, was the only other film to receive more than one.  And in what I believe is a first since the Oscars expanded to more than five nominations, every single Best Picture nominee won at least one Oscar.

On the other end of the spectrum, Foxcatcher (5 noms), Mr. Turner (4), Into the Woods (3), Unbroken (3), Inherent Vice (2), Wild (2), and Guardians of the Galaxy (2) were shut out.  Interstellar (5) won only for Best Visual Effects (and it didn’t deserve that.)

Despite tying with four Oscars apiece, Birdman is the “winner” over The Grand Budapest Hotel because it took home Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay among its four wins.  This was a trifecta for director/co-writer/co-producer Alejandro Inarritu.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

My 2015 Oscar Predictions

The Academy Awards ceremony is tomorrow night on ABC.  Check your local listings. 

I first tried to pick the Oscar winners four years ago.  I got a respectable 16 out of 24 correct.  The next two years I tried to really do my homework and see as many nominees as possible.  The result?  I dropped to 14 out of 24 then 12 out of 24.  Last year I didn’t really have time to research probable winners, so of course I did my best yet with 17 out of 24 winners picked correctly.

This year I’ve seen most of the major nominees, although several of the acting nominations were in films where that was the only one from the movie.  I haven’t seen some of those yet.  Regardless, I will do my best to make selections for every category.  Good or bad I will do a follow-up post on how I did.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Oscar Quiz: Best Picture Nominee or Adult Film? Can You Tell By Just the Title?

I did this quiz last year and it got a good reaction.  Here are fifty more films for you to try.  If you didn’t do that well last year then hopefully you, um, boned up for it this year.

Here’s a little quiz to see how well you know your Oscar nominees.  I will list a series of real film names, grouped by related titles.  Some of them will be ones nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and others will be on AVN’s list of the Top 101 Adult Videos.  Can you tell which is which?  Score one point for every correct answer.


All About Eve
All This and Heaven Too
The Bells of St. Mary’s
The Bishop’s Wife
Body & Soul
Dark Angels
Devil in Miss Jones
The Nun’s Story
The Resurrection of Eve
Seventh Heaven


Bad Wives
The Divorcee
The Gay Divorcee
An Unmarried Woman

When the Lights Go Out:

In the Heat of the Night
It Happened One Night
Neon Nights
Night Trips
One Night of Love

A Little Naughty:

As Good As It Gets
Flirtation Walk
Friendly Persuasion
Love Affair
The Love Parade
Nothing to Hide
One Hour With You
Scent of a Woman
Secrets & Lies
A Touch of Class

Getting Freaky:

Bound for Glory
Dangerous Liaisons
Dr. Strangelove
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Hidden Obsessions
The More the Merrier
Wild Things


Bus Stop Tales
Double Feature
Naked Came the Stranger
Raw Talent
Reel People
West Side
Wild Goose Chase


There are a total of 27 Best Picture nominees and 23 Adult Films in this quiz.  They break down as follows:

Religion: All About Eve, All This and Heaven Too, The Bells of St. Mary’s, The Bishop’s Wife, The Nun’s Story, and Seventh Heaven are the nominees; Body & Soul, Dark Angels, Devil in Miss Jones, and The Resurrection of Eve are the adult films.

Splitsville: The Divorcee, The Gay Divorcee, and An Unmarried Woman are the nominees; Bad Wives is the adult film.

When the Lights Go Out: In the Heat of the Night, It Happened One Night, and One Night of Love are the nominees; Neon Nights and Night Trips are the adult films.

A Little Naughty: As Good As It Gets, Flirtation Walk, Friendly Persuasion, Love Affair, The Love Parade, One Hour With You, Scent of a Woman, Secrets & Lies, and A Touch of Class are the nominees; Conflict, Nothing to Hide, and Scoundrels are the adult films.

Getting Freaky: Awakenings, Bound for Glory, Dangerous Liaisons, Dr. Strangelove, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and The More the Merrier are the nominees; Hidden Obsessions, Underworld, and Wild Things are the adult films.

Miscellaneous: Bus Stop Tales, Double Feature, Naked Came the Stranger, Raw Talent, Realities, Reel People, Watchers, West Side, Wild Goose Chase, and Zazel are all adult films.  There are no nominees among these miscellaneous movies.  As Bugs Bunny would say, “Ain’t I a stinker?”

How Did You Do?

Seriously?  You didn’t even get Dr. Strangelove?
1 – 10
At least you got Dr. Strangelove.
11 – 20
You might want to explore more Oscar nominated films.
21 – 30
Not bad.  You must have seen your share of films.
31 – 40
Damn good.  You really know your stuff.
41 – 49
Very impressive.  You are an expert on Oscar nominees.  (Or adult films.)
That IMDB sure is a handy site, isn’t it?

If you are interested, here are my prior Oscar quizzes:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ranking the 2015 Best Picture Nominees, Plus Some Observations

I have now posted reviews for all eight films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. 

Here is where I would normally say that I am not done reviewing Oscar nominated movies; that I am going to do more right up to when the Oscars are handed out.  This year, though, the ceremony is coming earlier than usual.  There’s only a little over a week left and I still need to do posts for this year’s Oscar quiz, and one on my predictions for the winners.  On my “post 2-3 times a week” pace that will fill up the time between now and then.  I may still review other Oscar nominees after the ceremony this year.  I haven’t decided yet.

In regards to ranking the eight nominees, right off the bat I have a tough time picking not only the best film of the year, but what order to put the best three in.  My top three are American Sniper, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Imitation Game.  It’s almost impossible to compare them because you could probably not pick three films more unlike each other.  One is an examination of the toll war takes on a person, another is a comedic, quirky tale about the misadventures of a hotel concierge, and the third is an historical drama based on the life of Alan Turing and his code breaking efforts during WWII.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Movie – The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The Grand Budapest Hotel allowed writer/director Wes Anderson to finally break through and receive Best Picture and Best Director Oscar nominations.  Oh sure, he had received nominations before, but it was almost always in the Best Original Screenplay category, so the Academy was saying, “We like your stories, but the movies aren’t mainstream enough for us.”  You can debate how mainstream The Grand Budapest Hotel is, but one thing is for sure, it’s definitely Anderson’s most popular film.  In addition to tying Birdman for the most Oscar nominations this year with nine, it has also achieved the biggest box office of any film Anderson has done.  And it’s the only true comedy among the eight Best Picture nominees.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Steve’s Selections #2 – Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984)

Steve and I each happened to include a martial arts film when we picked movies for each other.  I like these kinds of films, but I think Steve probably likes them slightly more than I do.  Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (don’t bother trying to figure out what the title means) is a traditional genre film from the legendary Shaw Brothers.  Rather than have any number of martial arts skills and weapons on display this one almost exclusively features fighting with lances.  There’s not a lot of plot – it’s a time honored tale of revenge – but there is plenty of fighting to watch.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Movie – Birdman (2014)

The first thing that I noticed about Birdman was that it appeared as if the movie never cut away from a scene.  After a bit it became obvious that while there were long takes going on – some of them several minutes in length – the film was disguising the edits to make it seem as if the entire movie was one long continuous shot (ala Timecode or Russian Ark).  After realizing this I actually was distracted for a while as I was watching to catch the hidden edits, almost as if it was a game.  I finally settled down and started watching it as an overall movie, not just a bunch of clever camera movements.  When I did I discovered a film that works on multiple levels and one that I feel has the greatest chance of winning Best Picture because of what it has to say regarding the performing arts.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Movie – Whiplash (2014)

Whiplash is the kind of movie that will probably polarize some people.  The rating on IMDB is stratospheric, so apparently the young males who predominate on that site are buying into the story in this film.  On the other hand, there’s a really, really bad message that is being presented by the movie – that being on the receiving end of unrelenting abuse is ultimately good for you.

You can tell that writer/director Damien Chazelle wants us to see this as a similar story to An Officer and a Gentleman, where the stern taskmaster is just trying to bring out the best in the raw recruit.  The thing is, this is far closer to Full Metal Jacket where the person with the authority just selects someone to heap abuse on until he destroys him.  In fact, Whiplash is actually worse than Full Metal Jacket in that respect because it’s not a film about the military; it’s set in a music school and the abusive relationship is between a teacher and a student.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

January Movie Status

I watched 15 new movies in January, plus rewatched 1 TV show season.

After making a push last month to finish the year with less than 50 entries left on the They Shoot Pictures Don’t They list, I barely watched any this month.  Instead I switched over to trying to see the Oscar nominated films, as well as other 2014 films to prepare for my coming Top 10 of 2014 list.  As a result, I liked almost every movie I saw in January.

I also didn’t try to finish off the new entries to my Consolidated IMDB List, other than the films also on the Oscar list.  In general, I took it easier in January.

There is a new TSPDT list coming in February, so I may not see too many more films from it this month, either.

Here are the 15 new movies I saw in January.  Highlighted films are ones to which I would give at least three stars out of five.

TSPDT (3): Wings (1966), The Woman Next Door (1981), 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)

Oscar (7): The Imitation Game (2014), The Theory of Everything (2014), Selma (2014), American Sniper (2014), Boyhood (2014), Whiplash (2014), Birdman (2014)

Other Movies (5): Surprised By Love (2015), Life Itself (2014), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), Lucy (2014), Citizenfour (2014)

Rewatches (1): Archer Season 5

Surprised By Love (2015) – Generic Hallmark movie that I stumbled upon while flipping channels and got a few laughs from.  Not quite enough to recommend it, though.  2.5 stars

Life Itself (2014) – Great documentary on Roger Ebert by the same man who did Hoop Dreams.  When they started filming no one realized Ebert would succumb to cancer in less than a year.  This is a moving review of his career, as well as a man’s struggle with the illness that ultimately takes his life.  4 stars

Wings (1966) – Soviet film about a female former pilot who now is an administrator at a school.  While respected, she is not liked.  Despite the title there are few aerial shots, but what ones they have are beautifully shot, especially one with two planes that is the best scene in the film.  3 stars

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) – The first of Steve’s Selections.  3 stars  You can read my review here

The Woman Next Door (1981) – Lesser Truffaut about a couple moving in next door and the wife is the former lover of the neighbor husband.  It ended badly for them years earlier.  It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see things are going to end badly again.  2 stars

The Imitation Game (2014) – Best Picture nominee about Alan Turing.  4 stars  You can read my review here.

The Theory of Everything (2014) – Best Picture nominee about Stephen and Jane Hawking.  3.5 stars  You can read my review here.

Selma (2014) – Best Picture nominee about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march on Selma.  3 stars  You can read my review here.

Lucy (2014) – Luc Besson action film with Scarlett Johannson as a woman who accidentally gets injected with a substance that opens up the complete potential of her mind.  The big box office for it probably made Marvel regret the decision not to do a Black Widow film among the dozen or so they have planned through 2020.  3 stars

American Sniper (2014) – Best Picture nominee about Chris Kyle.  4 stars  You can read my review here.

Boyhood (2014) – Best Picture nominee famously filmed over 12 years.  4 stars  You can read my review here.

Whiplash (2014) – Best Picture nominee about one asshole who wants to become a great jazz drummer, being mentored by another asshole who is a psychopath.  3 stars  My review will be posted in a couple days.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) – Controversial film with a Romanian woman trying to get an illegal abortion in 1987.  Her roommate helps her and ends up much the worse for wear.   3 stars

Birdman (2014) – Best Picture nominee about a former action star trying to adapt, direct, and star in a serious Broadway play.  4 stars  My review will be posted a couple days after the one for Whiplash.

Citizenfour (2014) – Oscar nominee for Best Documentary.  It is about Edward Snowden, the man who blew the cover off the fact that the NSA was spying on millions of American citizens who had no connection whatsoever to terrorism.  This was filmed in the Hong Kong hotel room with him as the stories were actually breaking in the news and is quite a view into those events.  I haven’t watched the other four nominees, but I can’t imagine how this would not win the Oscar – the subject matter is that important.  4 stars