Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Movie – Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Slumdog Millionaire is an absolutely terrific film that swept through the Oscars in 2009.  It won 8 of the 10 awards it was nominated for, including Best Picture.  And one of the awards it didn’t win – Best Song – it lost to itself when the other song from the film, “Jai Ho”, took home the Oscar.  It wasn’t just the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who loved it.  It is only the second film in history to sweep the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay awards at the Golden Globes (Hollywood Foreign Press), BAFTAs (the “British Oscars”), and Academy Awards.  The other film to do it?  Schindler’s List.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Taste of India

“God I love the sweet taste of India/ Lingers on the tip of my tongue/ Gotta love the sweet taste of India/ Blame it on the beat of the drum.” – Aerosmith, Taste of India

Quick – what country’s film industry produces more movies in a year than any other?  Nope, it’s not America’s, despite the number of new movies that come out every week.  It’s India’s.

You may have heard of “Bollywood”.  Technically, it refers to the film production from the country’s largest city (Mumbai), but it has come to generally be used when referring to all Indian cinema.  (Just as “Hollywood” is used for any American film.)  The word comes from Bombay (the previous name for Mumbai) Hollywood.

Unfortunately, it is sometimes used in a derogatory manner, meaning quick and cheap productions that only have singing and dancing in them.  That’s no more fair than saying that all Hollywood movies are quick and cheap horror/action/romcoms.

There is a wide diversity of movies made in India.  I have seen too many that I would recommend to list them all here.  Instead I will try to give you just a taste of what is available from Indian cinema.  Note:  I will not be covering classic Indian films here (i.e. Pather Panchali); that is deserving of a separate category someday.

I have tried to pick representative movies from different genres.  I was lucky in that I worked with contractors from India for many years and I got to discuss films with some of them.  One of my recommendations, Black (2005), is a movie I probably would never have even heard of, let alone seen, if it had not been recommended to me by them.

Some of the movies I will be writing about are actually from non-Indian production companies, but all are shot in India and feature mostly Indian casts and crews.

As I post the reviews I will come back and post the links to them here:

Monday, February 27, 2012

2012 Oscar Winners – Results and Comments

It's 12:45 AM and the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony ended about an hour ago.  The Artist won Best Picture.  No one movie emerged as the big winner.  The Artist and Hugo shared the honors with five wins apiece.  The only other film to receive more than one Oscar was The Iron Lady with two.  Hugo’s wins were all in the technical categories, while The Artist won three of the five major Oscars (Picture, Director, and Actor). 

The show moved along very well.  It went three hours and 15 minutes, which is just a few minutes longer than last year.  For an Oscars telecast that is blazing speed.  Four hours used to be more common.  Last year was the first time they eliminated some of the time-consuming bits and had several presenters do two, or even three, awards while they were on stage.  These changes have cut the time down quite a bit.  Things still bogged down with the final three awards (Actor, Actress, and Picture.)  It took them 45 minutes to hand them out when it had taken them two and a half hours to hand out the prior 21 awards.  I actually thought they were going to finish in less than three hours, but they still kept the tributes to each of the five nominees in the Best Actor and Actress categories and those took up several minutes apiece.

Friday, February 24, 2012

My 2012 Oscar Predictions

The Academy Awards ceremony is this Sunday, February 26th at 8:30 PM EST.  It is on ABC.  Check your local listings. 

I’m posting this list so you can either be amazed at my overall movie knowledge, or so that you can ridicule me for being wrong.  Hopefully it’s more the former than the latter.  My goal is more than 50% correct, with a hope of 75% (18 of 24 categories), although that may not be realistic.  I got 16 out of 24 (67%) last year.  Good or bad I will do a follow-up post on how I did.

Here is the complete list of nominations in all twenty-four categories.  What I would pick is highlighted in yellow.  No highlight means I have not seen any of the choices.  What I think will win is in bold.  I will also say if I think my choice is a lock, likely, educated guess, or wild-ass guess.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


This blog just passed 25,000 views.  Sure, that’s not a very big number compared to sites that have boobs or cute cats (or both) on them, but it’s pretty good considering that I don’t do any promotion via social media.  (No Twitter.  No podcasts.  I’m not even on Facebook.  Yes, I’m a caveman.  Other than having to shave four times a day, it’s not a bad life.) 

25,000 is also not a bad number considering I was at only 10,000 views just over three months ago, and 2,500 views just over eight months ago.  With this in mind, I’d like to thank everyone who takes the time to visit, to comment, and especially those who share a post they like with their friends.

Those of you with six figure, or even seven figure, numbers of visitors to your movie blogs – here’s an exchange from the 2011 film Friends With Benefits that puts things into perspective for all of us.

(A woman is trying to convince a man to take a job she has lined up for him):

Jamie Rellis – “This is a huge opportunity Dylan - Art Director of GQ magazine.  This is the big leagues.  I mean, no offense to your little blog on the internet.”

Dylan Harper – “Which got six million hits last month.”

Jamie Rellis – “I could put up a video of me mixing cake batter with my boobs and it will get eight million hits.”

Such is life in the blogosphere…..

By the way, on the subject of sites with boobs or cats or both on them, here’s a blatant attempt to increase traffic.

Humor – Fake Oscar Campaign Posters

I ran across some fake posters for Oscar contending films.  They sarcastically change the titles and taglines to be more “truthful” about the movie.  Here are my two favorites:

You can see the rest here.

Movie – Anonymous (2011)

Ah, the benefits of low expectations.  I went into this film not looking for much, perhaps even cringing a little at the thought of Roland Emmerich directing a movie about Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I.  Emmerich, known for making a series of big budget disaster flicks (Independence Day, Godzilla 98, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012), would not be someone I would pick to do a costume drama.  And you know what?  I ended up feeling that this movie is a reasonably entertaining political thriller.  Emmerich financed the entire thing himself, so this was obviously something he had wanted to do for some time and his earnings from his prior work had finally allowed him to do it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Movie – The Muppets (2011)

I’m old enough to have watched the original Muppet Show when it was on TV in the late 70s.  It was a lot of fun, but all good things must end and it eventually went off the air.  I saw a couple of the early Muppet movies, but none of the more recent ones.  It had probably been more than 25 years since I had really seen the characters, other than the Bohemian Rhapsody video that was released a couple of years ago.  As I sat and watched this Muppets movie it brought back all the great times watching the show.  I had a smile on my face almost the entire time I was watching the film.

Movie – Rio (2011)

The movie Rio is an animated film that received an Oscar nomination, but it was not for Best Animated Feature film.  It was for Best Original Song.  That song, Real in Rio, is played at the opening and closing of the film.  You can find the video for that song here (embedding for it has been shut off so I can't include it with this post).  Its only competition is from The Muppets’ song Man or Muppet, so it has a 50/50 chance of winning the Oscar.  It is definitely the catchier of the two songs, but The Muppets have a lot of nostalgia working for them.  As for Rio, the movie is decently entertaining, with some laughs here and there, but it is aimed more at kids than adults.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Movie – Beginners (2011)

The film Beginners received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting actor for Christopher Plummer’s performance.  He plays a man who has come out as gay very late in life.  He is also a man who is dying.  In addition, Plummer falls into the “has done good work for decades and has never won an Oscar” camp.  This is an Oscar triple-whammy and so understandably he is considered the frontrunner to win the award.  While Plummer did a very good job in Beginners, I feel that Ewan McGregor should have received a lot more notice himself for his performance as this man’s son.

Movie – A Better Life (2011)

When the Oscar nominations for Best Actor were announced, Demian Bichir’s name was among them.  The largest initial reaction to this was “Who?”  Up until then, he was probably best known in America for a recurring role on the TV show Weeds.  The Academy nominated him for his work in the film A Better Life.  It’s the story of a father and son living a tough life in the Los Angeles area.  Bichir does give a fine performance; a quiet, dignified one, in fact.  I’m a little surprised he got nominated because it is usually the flashier roles that get the attention of Oscar voters.  This is a decent film, although it may anger some people.  I will explain.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Movie – Albert Nobbs (2011)

The film Albert Nobbs was nominated for three Oscars (Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Makeup), and it has a number of familiar faces in supporting roles, but it really is Glenn Close’s movie from top to bottom.  In addition to starring as the title character, she also produced, co-wrote the screenplay, recruited a number of people for roles, and even wrote the lyrics to the song that is performed over the closing credits.  It’s obvious that this was an important story to her.  The fact that she persevered almost 30 years in getting it made also speaks volumes to her commitment to it.  The result is an interesting character study set against the backdrop of a high class hotel in late 1800s Dublin, Ireland. 

Movie – Jane Eyre (2011)

According to IMDB this is the 20th version of Jane Eyre that has been filmed.  Surprisingly, this is the first one I have ever seen.  I have not read the book it is based on, either, so I went into this almost blind.  Unfortunately, I did know what the big reveal was going to be because about 15 years ago I had seen the film Wide Sargasso Sea (1993).  It was a prequel to the Jane Eyre story and it showed Rochester and some other characters in Bermuda.  Because I knew the reveal, this did probably lessen the impact of the movie on me.  Nevertheless, it is still a well-crafted film that is worth seeing.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Movie – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

As supporters of director David Fincher quite correctly point out, this film is not a remake of the original 2009 Swedish version.  It is an English language adaptation of the original book.  Those supporters sometimes go on to say that this means the Swedish film is not relevant when reviewing Fincher’s version.  I’m afraid I don’t agree there.  It was impossible for me to see this film and not compare it to the original.  This review will include some of those comparisons.  By the way, if you want to read my review of the book and the original film, you can find those here.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Movie – Warrior (2011)

I’ve seen Warrior called a modern day Rocky.  While I think that’s not completely accurate, I can certainly see why people would compare the two.  Rocky focuses on an underdog in boxing, while Warrior focuses on a couple of underdogs in the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting.  Even though the film does not have any real big surprises in it, it still is very entertaining.  I have never watched an MMA bout in my life, but I found myself still drawn into the lives of these two men because of their backstories.  This is what raises this film above a generic B-movie about fighting.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Movie – Margin Call (2011)

It has often been said that an Oscar nomination can have a huge impact on a film, especially if it did not get much notice beforehand.  Margin Call was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for J.C. Chandor’s writing.  While this is hardly a low budget, independent film, it did kind of fly under the radar.  I doubt I would have ever seen it, had it not received the nomination.  Great writing is probably more important to me than any other single aspect of a movie, so even though the plot of Margin Call didn’t sound that exciting, I gave it a try.  I am very glad I did.  I ended up enjoying it quite a bit and it may even make my list of the top 10 films of 2011.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Movie – Puss in Boots (2011)

Puss in Boots is nominated for the Best Animated Feature Film Oscar, although it is unlikely to win.  This movie spins off the Puss character from the last three Shrek movies.  He is once again voiced by Antonio Banderas in a take off of his Zorro character.  The film is directed by Chris Miller, who also did the third Shrek film.  Don’t expect any of the other characters from Shrek to make an appearance, though.  Puss goes solo on this one.  I would place this movie about on par with the last couple of Shrek films – it’s got some laughs and it will entertain, but it’s not breaking any new ground.

Movie – Rango (2011)

Rango is nominated for the Best Animated Feature Film Oscar and it is considered the frontrunner.  It is directed by Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean) and features the voice of Johnny Depp as the title character.  It is both a parody of, and a love letter to, the classic western.  It manages to combine just about every feature of a standard western plot, but does it with animated creatures of all sorts.  The result is an interesting mix of new and old.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Movie – The Ides of March (2011)

The Ides of March is a film co-adapted (with Grant Heslov) and directed by George Clooney.  They received an Oscar nomination for their screenplay.  It is based on an off-Broadway play titled Farragut North.  Clooney fought the studio, who wanted to use the name of the play for the film, too.  Thankfully, Clooney prevailed.  The title that was used is a great reference to Julius Caeser and is very fitting for the (metaphorical) backstabbing in this movie.  The Ides of March is one of my top 10 films of 2011. 

Movie – Drive (2011)

The film Drive is one that is liked by quite a few people, so they were disappointed when it received only one Oscar nomination and that it was only for Sound Editing.  The film has hit a nerve with quite a few people and that is for a good reason.  Despite the fact that it is based on James Sallis’ book of the same name, the film is actually a modern day remake of the very popular classic western Shane (1953).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine’s Day

Now that I’ve done the posts on Pride and Prejudice I will be getting back to posting reviews of Oscar nominated films.  In the meantime, I hope everyone has a happy Valentine’s Day.

In case you are interested, here is last year's Valentine's Day post.  Warning – it contains several attempts at humor.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Movie – Lost in Austen (2008)

Lost in Austen is a four episode miniseries that imagines what would happen if a modern woman got transported into the world of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  I would describe it as a comedy/drama with romance in it, as opposed to a romantic comedy.  It is definitely for people who know the P&P story.  Anyone else would probably be lost.  All of the characters you would expect in Pride and Prejudice are there, and they all are played as if it is a drama, but inserting this modern woman into the story gives many opportunities for comedy.  It has proved quite popular with P&P fans, except the purists who are horrified by what happens with some of the characters.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Movie – Pride & Prejudice (2005)

This is the first real adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that I saw.  I had seen Bride & Prejudice (2004) the year before (you can read more on that in the parent post.)  After seeing the 2005 version via rental, I went out and bought it.  I’ve watched it three more times since then, and I’ve watched some scenes from it even beyond that.  This is the adaptation that made me understand why so many people love the story.  It truly captured the romance between Elizabeth and Darcy and it is one of the best romantic dramas I have ever seen.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Movie – Pride and Prejudice (1995)

This is the version of Pride and Prejudice that I saw most recently.  I had seen the 2005 and 1940 versions earlier, and before that I had seen 2004’s Bride & Prejudice (more on that can be found in the parent post).  The 1995 version of the story is actually a six episode miniseries that aired on the BBC.  As each episode was shown, the audience grew and the result is that this is probably the adaptation that is beloved by the largest number of Jane Austen fans.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Movie – Pride and Prejudice (1940)

This is the third version of Pride and Prejudice that I saw.  I had seen the 2005 version a couple of years prior, and before that I had seen 2004’s Bride & Prejudice (more on that can be found in the parent post).  The 1940 version of the story is generally considered to be furthest from the original book.  That is primarily due to it actually being an adaptation of a stage play, not the novel.  The result is the version that is lightest in tone and that has the most humor.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Many Versions of Pride and Prejudice

“Hear that sound, George?  [makes fast, repeating sound]  That's Jane Austen spinning in her grave like a cat in a tumble-dryer.” – Amanda Price, Lost in Austen

Last year for Valentine’s Day I did a series of posts I called “Gwyneth Paltrow is British”.  All the movies where she played a Brit had romantic plots in them, so they seemed to be a good fit for Valentine’s Day.  You can find those posts here.  This year I am going to review the versions of Pride and Prejudice that I would recommend.  The book has sometimes been called “the most romantic ever written”, so it also is a good fit for Valentine’s Day.

There have been almost a dozen filmed versions of the Pride and Prejudice story.  The best known are versions from 1940, 1980, 1995, and 2005.  I will be reviewing three of them: the 1940 movie with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier; the 1995 miniseries with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth; and the 2005 movie with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. 

I have not seen the 1980 version with Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul.  I had planned to watch it, but after recently seeing the five hour 1995 miniseries, I could not take another five hour version of the story so soon afterwards.  Another thing making me a little hesitant to see the 1980 one is that it is generally considered the least of the four major adaptations.  I find it interesting that along with that it is also considered the version that is most faithful to the book.  This illustrates that movies and books are two different media and that what makes a good book is not necessarily what makes a good movie.  There is such a thing as being too faithful to the book.

Notice that I wrote “generally considered” in the prior paragraph.  People think that The Lord of the Rings fans or Star Trek fans are the most obsessive ones out there.  I’m here to tell you that they have nothing on Jane Austen fans.  The amount of fighting on the IMDB boards over the various Pride and Prejudice adaptations is truly amazing.  I realize that I am approaching the “third rail” by even writing reviews of some of the versions, but never let it be said that I am unafraid to present my opinions on a movie that I would recommend to others. 

In addition to those versions mentioned above, I have also seen the 2004 movie Bride & Prejudice.  It was actually the first version of the story that I saw, followed by 2005, 1940, and 1995.  It was directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham).  It was a Bollywood-influenced modern version of the story starring Aishwarya Rai and Martin Henderson.  It is an interesting take on the story, but it’s not quite good enough for me to recommend.  If you have seen the other versions, and this concept sounds interesting, then check it out.  In case you are wondering, I have not seen the other modern version from 2003 with Kam Haskin and Orlando Seale.

A very fun miniseries that uses the story as its basis is 2008’s Lost in Austen.  Its premise is that a modern English woman gets transported into the world of Pride and Prejudice – her favorite book – and she finds out things are not quite what she expected.  She proceeds to make a mess of things, with characters and storylines going in directions Jane Austen would be surprised by.  It’s definitely something Pride and Prejudice fans should see and I will be reviewing it, too.

I have also seen some people refer to Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) as a version of the Pride and Prejudice story.  While author Helen Fielding definitely had Colin Firth’s version of Fitzwilliam Darcy in mind when she created her character of Mark Darcy (played by Firth in the movie in a meta moment), I do not feel that the overall plot of Bridget Jones’ Diary follows that of Pride and Prejudice closely enough to be called a version of it.

Finally, there has been much talk about a film version of the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  The studio has had trouble keeping a director attached to it, as well as finding a leading lady, so who knows if this movie will ever get made.

As I post reviews for these movies, I will place links to them below:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Book and Club – 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Several years ago I ran across the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.  The title, combined with a cover featuring Janet Leigh screaming in the shower in Psycho, made me chuckle.  I flipped through the 950 page hardcover book and my immediate thought was “Wow!”  Even though it was a little more expensive than usual, I knew I had to have it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I Received a Liebster Blog Award

Barry P. at Cinematic Catharsis has honored Tips from Chip with the Liebster Blog Award!  So, what is that?  It’s an award bestowed by fellow bloggers to give special recognition to notable blogs with fewer than 200 followers.  I am quite honored that Barry selected me for this, since he follows quite a few different blogs.  Thank you so much Barry.  It was certainly a welcome bit of news.

You may be wondering what recipients of this award are supposed to do with it.  The answer is that they should pay it forward to other people whose sites are deserving of recognition. 

There are a few rules if you decide to accept the nomination: you should thank the person who nominated you; nominate five other favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers; and copy/paste the Liebster Blog icon into your post. 

Like Barry said in his post on this, it was tough to narrow the potential nominees down to just five, but here goes (in alphabetical order):

  1. 1001plus
  2. Aziza's Picks
  3. Big Thoughts from a Small Mind
  4. Eternal Sunshine of the Logical Mind
  5. Public Transportation Snob

Movies – 2012 Best Picture Nominees Recap

I have now posted reviews for six of the nine films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.  I am not done yet.  I intend to write reviews for those films I have seen that received other Oscar nominations, and that I would recommend.  Look for reviews of Rango, Rio, Drive, Warrior, The Ides of March, and others in the future.  You can read my previously posted reviews for nominees Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 here, Rise of the Planet of the Apes here, and Kung Fu Panda 2 here.

Before getting to those additional Oscar nominees, I was nominated for a Liebster Blog Award and I need to do a post on that.  I also just joined a club for those people who use the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book as a suggested list of future movies to watch and I will post on that.  Finally, I am going to do a special set of reviews of the various versions of the very romantic Pride and Prejudice leading up to Valentine’s Day.

In the meantime, here is how I would rate eight of the nine Best Picture nominees from best to not quite the best. 

  1. The Artist                     (Read my review here)
  2. Hugo                            (Read my review here)
  3. Midnight in Paris         (Read my review here)
  4. Moneyball                    (Read my review here)
  5. The Descendants         (Read my review here)
  6. The Help                      (Read my review here)
  7. War Horse                   (See below)
  8. The Tree of Life           (See below)

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – You may have noticed I did not have this in the list above.  That is because I have not seen it yet.  It is considered the least of the Best Picture nominees, so I decided to not make a special trip to the theater for it.  I will watch it when it comes to DVD. 

This film got two nominations for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor.  I did some digging.  Since 1945, Decision Before Dawn (1951) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) are the only other films to receive a Best Picture nomination with only one other nomination.  Decision Before Dawn’s other nomination was for Best Editing, while Four Weddings and a Funeral’s was for Best Original Screenplay.  Neither film won an Oscar.

War Horse – This is not a bad movie, but it couldn’t decide if it was a family film or a war movie.  It had all the simplistic, sicky sweet scenes you’d expect in a movie for children (complete with cute animals and uplifting score), but then it added in R-level war violence with people and animals getting killed left and right.  Aside from not explicitly seeing limbs being blown off, it wasn’t far removed from Spielberg’s D-Day opening in Saving Private Ryan.  I can’t recommend this as a family film because it would probably traumatize children, and I can’t recommend it for adults because of all the eye rolling scenes in the movie.  Since I only do full reviews for movies I am recommending, I will not have a separate post for this film.

The Tree of Life – Anyone who has seen Terrence Malick’s last couple of films will know what to expect: lots of beautiful images and not much plot.  This movie follows that pattern.  It’s a lot like a trophy wife who is stunningly beautiful to look at, but when you need more depth, comes up lacking.  The movie opens with a 50 minute long-form music video, and then has about 20 minutes of plot stretched over the remaining hour and twenty minutes of film.  The movie literally covers time from the forming of the universe, to the Earth as a burned out cinder because of the sun’s expansion as a red giant.  While I don’t agree it belongs in the Best Picture category, its nomination for Best Cinematography is well-deserved.  On a related note, here is a very short, fake script for the movie.  It made me laugh out loud.  If you loved this film, and do not have a sense of humor, then you should not click on the link.

A few more observations now that I have seen eight of the nine movies:

  1. Last year only one of the ten nominated films exceeded two hours (Inception).  It was a welcome change from the three hour long depress-fests that often get nominated.  This year six of the nine films are over two hours long, and The Descendants is just barely under two hours.  Only The Artist and Midnight in Paris are short by Academy standards.  The six longer films average 2 hours 17 minutes in length, with the two longest having the exact same runtimes of 2 hours 26 minutes (The Help and War Horse).
  2. Last year I liked all ten Best Picture nominees enough to recommend them.  This year is different.  The Tree of Life consists of many beautiful images in search of enough plot to fill its runtime and I cannot recommend it unless you are a big Malick fan.  And yes, I did “get” the film.  War Horse is a kids’ movie and a gritty war movie mixed into one and can’t make up its mind which it should be.
  3. Only one of the nine nominees is rated R (The Descendants), although War Horse should have been rated R for the violence in its war scenes.  Even the R rating for The Descendants is only because of a few “f*ck”s being uttered.  All the other films are rated PG-13, except for Hugo, which is rated PG.  This is quite a turnaround from years past.  When there were only five nominated films it was quite common to see all five of them be R-rated.  Even last year six of the ten nominated films were R-rated.  This year there is just the one.  I’m not sure what this says about the state of movie making.  Perhaps there is so much bowing down to the MPAA for a PG-13 rating and the bigger box office it brings that studios will cut back even further on R-rated films in the future.
  4. This was the year for misty eyed nostalgia.  The Artist, which is about the disappearance of silent films, is shot and presented almost exactly like a silent film from the 1920s.  Midnight in Paris celebrates the writers and artists of 1920s Paris.  Hugo celebrates the dawn of cinema, also in Paris.  It’s interesting that the French film (The Artist) is nostalgic about Hollywood, while the two Hollywood films are nostalgic about Paris.
  5. Four of the five Best Actress nominees have done at least one nude scene.  Unless Viola Davis wins the Best Actress Oscar, this will continue a string of 26 straight years, and all but 4 years since 1970, where the Best Actress winner has done nudity.  Many of the winners appeared nude in the role that won them the Oscar.  So much for “real actresses don’t do nude scenes.”

Friday, February 3, 2012

Movie – Hugo (2011)

When Hugo first came out I took one of my increasingly rarer trips to a movie theater to see it.  When I got there I saw only showtimes for the 3D version.  I asked about the 2D version and was told that there were no showings for it.  I asked “what about the people who prefer 2D?”  There were a few noises of agreement from the line behind me.  The manager happened to also be behind the counter and he told me that they only had 3D so I could take it or leave it.  The stunned look on his face when I told him I would leave it, and then turned around and walked out was satisfying, but it left me having not seen the movie.  (And no, there was no movie-style scene where the whole crowd followed me out the door.  I didn’t even get the “slow clap” that gains momentum as I left, either.  Oh well.) 

I did manage to find showings for the 2D version, but they were quite a ways away from me.  I figured that the film would get some Oscar nominations and when it did, it would return to theaters.  I was partially right; the first chain didn’t bring it back, but a second chain did.  Unfortunately, they simply returned the 3D version again.  In their haste to be penny wise, they ended up being pound foolish.  They didn’t stop to think that the people who would be most interested in seeing an Oscar nominated film, and the people who would be most interested in seeing a 3D extravaganza, probably do not have a lot of crossover with each other.  The result is that the chain has already removed Hugo again after only one week of low ticket sales.  You may be wondering which chains these are.  They shall remain nameless, but I will say that the first one certainly didn’t display the magic of cinema that the movie Hugo did, and that the second royally screwed themselves by expecting to earn a king’s ransom for their tickets.

This time I checked again for any 2D versions showing anywhere within an hour and a half drive time.  I finally found an old arthouse theater in downtown Portland (that’s the one in Maine for the west coast folks who don’t know that the Oregon city was named for the Maine one.)  It was just under an hour to drive there, pay extra for the parking garage, and watch it in a theater that was alternately so cold I wished I had a heavier jacket, then so warm I wished I could take off more than my jacket.  And you know what?  It was completely worth it.  Hugo is a fantastic movie.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Movie – The Descendants (2011)

The Descendants is the latest Oscar bait film starring George Clooney.  It’s got all the elements Academy voters like, and it received five nominations, including ones for Best Picture, Best Director for Alexander Payne (Election, Sideways), and Best Actor for Clooney.  It probably should have received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Shailene Woodley.  While this is a good film, and while it won the Golden Globe for Best Drama, I do not expect it to win much on Oscar night.