Friday, January 30, 2009

Nine: Sadistic Hollywood?

Every year comes with its own cinematic disappointment. Rob Marshall has managed to deliver two for two with his debut features Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha; two wonderfully rich entities destroyed by Marshall's stoic direction. And now he is back again, with the movie adaptation of the intriguing stage musical Nine. The cinematic disappointment of 2009?

Marshall will undoubtedly squander the material with his cliched, unimaginative vision we have become accustomed to, leaving yet another talented cast to provide the goods. But what a cast! The reason for my future disappointment as some of my favourite actors unite to take on my favourite genre of all...the musical. Can they sing? Can they dance? Can they kick Marshall out of the director's chair and replace him with...anyone!? We will have to wait, and wait I will. Impatiently. And optimistically. Even with Marshall at the helm.

And there it is, my addiction to cinema; no matter how awful I feel about this movie, I cannot help but be excited about such material and talent as is here. And then be disappointed. I can hear Hopelessly Devoted To You in the background. Bugger.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Someone's killed their children and made them into cookies, and I want to go see that."

Funny, but should anyone want to see For Your Consideration?

Answer: Only those who a) liked The Love Guru, b) I don't like or c) voted The Reader for Best Picture and Director at the Oscars.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Anyone for pie?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jamie Bell = Tintin.

The announcement that Jamie Bell will be Tintin for Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's big-budget movie version of the successful comic series is most definately reason to celebrate for this young movie buff. My hero as a little boy - along with the ever wonderful Lady Penelope - was Tintin, my hero as a newfoundly gay adolescent was Billy Elliott (the delicious Bell). Therefore the combination of the two is unsurprisingly reason enough to start eagerly anticipating this movie trilogy(?). Particularly if Spielberg manages to stay away from those pesky alien plot-twists and the CGI enhances, and does not lose, Bell (Tom Hanks and The Polar Express anyone?).

Monday, January 26, 2009

"I didn't even buy a dress!"

The SAG Awards last night summed everything up; the Oscar race is over (apart from Supporting Actress perhaps?), actors love awards and Meryl Streep is terrific. Period.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Review: Milk.

FilmIreland review of Milk

It seems inevitable that every year cinemagoers will be confronted with a prestigious biopic, complete with a heavily-lauded central performance and awards galore. La Vie En Rose, Walk the Line, Ray, A Beautiful Mind, etc. have all come and collected their Academy Awards, now it is the turn of Milk.

Milk tells the true story of the first openly gay man to be voted into American public office in 1977, Harvey Milk. Those hoping that the film’s divisive director, Gus Van Sant, would abandon the usual confinements of the Hollywood biopic may well be disappointed, as the narrative sticks to the usual tale of a down-on-their-luck hero overcoming his/her adversity to reach his/her goal in an unprecedented manner. While this goes some way in harming the authenticity of the story, it grants the often aloof director the opportunity to express himself in a more universal manner resulting in a highly engaging and entertaining film.

There is no surprise that Sean Penn delivers a wonderfully human and magnetic performance in the title role, or that he is supported by a solid ensemble cast, yet the casualness with which the presentation of these mainly – and often overtly – homosexual characters is incredibly uncharacteristic in such Hollywood fare, and should be applauded (and undoubtedly will be, especially in light of California’s recent Proposition 8 debate echoing the 1978 Proposition 6 debate depicted in Milk). This refreshingly casual approach lends the film a heart, something that is so often neglected in such a conventional biopic, one that grounds Milk’s achievements with his love for life, for people, for freedom and is most crucially utilised in the depiction of Milk’s long-term relationship with Scott Smith (as played with delicate poignancy by James Franco). It is this relationship that transforms the closeted, lonely Milk we meet at the start, into the charismatic, fun and optimistically persistent politician who has since become recognised as one of the most significant public figures of the twentieth century. And will continue to entertain, charm and inspire through this cinematic offering.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

The release of a Woody Allen movie can only mean one of two things; a return to form (see: Melinda & Melinda, Match Point) or a nail in his coffin (see: Scoop, Cassandra's Dream). VCB fits into neither category as this is more than a return to form, this is an original, exciting piece of work from one of cinema's most interesting writer/directors. Allen is most definately back.

Ok, so VCB may not be of Annie Hall calibre (is anything these days?) - and it is rather more commercial than many of his previous efforts - but it does find Allen on particularly playful form, resulting in a surprisingly sexy, charming movie with an array of great characters (Penelope Cruz's Maria Elena is an instant Allen classic). See it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

"I'm Helen Sinclair!"

I forgot how much I heart Woody Allen. (And Dianne Wiest).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

10 thoughts...on the 2009 Oscar nominations.

  1. The Academy must have really liked The Reader. How did I not see that one coming after the GG and BAFTA loving? (Answer: I've seen the movie and know it shouldn't have taken a slot). This is a particularly bitter pill when taken alongside a Best Director nomination for Stephen Daldry...did no one see The Wrestler or Rachel Getting Married? (I would have been happier for nominations for The Dark Knight and Christopher Nolan, and that's saying something!).
  2. Poor Sally Hawkins. The BAFTA snub may have hinted at a second hit from Oscar, but how could you not vote for her Poppy? I think she may need a hug...I hope Emma Thompson is still on offer. I can only imagine Angelina Jolie is chackling with joy right now (perhaps throwing her pawn versions of Hawkins and Kristin Scott Thomas). Oscar is cruel.
  3. I love this Original Screenplay list; Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges, Milk and Wall-E! Four terrific films that deserve the recognition. I just wish there was room for Rachel Getting Married, The Wrestler and Woody Allen's comeback too.
  4. Justice at last! Not only was Kate Winslet's performance in The Reader moved to Lead status (finally!) but it was nominated over her less impressive work in Revolutionary Road. Oscar does good? I like it. Surely she now has it in the bag and - with Oscar's newfound morality - she has my full approval.
  5. The Academy controlled their love of Slumdog Millionaire, nominating the vastly superior performance of Michael Shannon (in Revolutionary Road) over SM's Dev Patel. Bravo. (Although SM did manage to take two of the three slots for Best Original Song, robbing Bruce Springsteen's wonderful song for The Wrestler).
  6. I better like Frozen River.
  7. Does Oscars obvious dislike of The Wrestler (no Screenplay or Song nod) mean Penn is likely to beat Rourke for Best Actor? My guess is if Penn takes the SAG then it's his.
  8. I love the idea that Penelope Cruz may actually walk away with an Oscar (or is Viola Davis stronger than I currently believe?). Thank you Oscar for putting Winslet in her rightful place!
  9. Is this the end of the Oscar race 09 (SM for Picture, Director & Adapted Screenplay, Winslet for Actress, Penn for Actor, Cruz for Supporting Actress, Legder for Supporting Actor)?
  10. This is Winslet's year. Undoubtedly her involvement bumped The Reader onto a handful of ballots...Oscar loves her, as do we all (or we should!). Check out why below...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

And the nominees are...(?)

Here are my predictions for this years Oscar nominations. Not that they differ from the general consensus of a largely predictable year. Only time is stopping Slumdog from getting a hold of those Oscars...

Best Picture
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire

Note: It would be nice to see Wall-E, The Wrestler or Rachel Getting Married take a surprise slot here (perhaps ousting either The Dark Knight or Frost/Nixon) although a nomination for the undeniably, and unapologetically, queer Milk is enough to comfort me with any other nominee here. However, Doubt remains in the game and Milk is more vulnerable than I would like to believe (no Golden Globes love and, as previously stated, very gay for Oscar).
I doubt the above line-up will be messed around. (Snore!).

Best Director
Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard Frost/Nixon
Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight
Gus Van Sant for Milk

Note: Similarly it would be nice to see Andrew Stanton, Darren Aronofsky or Jonathan Demme nominated here (in place of the undeserving Howard) but any surprise nod would undoubtedly go to the beloved Clint Eastwood for Gran Torino, who has a history of surprising at the Oscars (to my dismay).

Best Actor
Richard Jenkins for The Visitor
Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn for Milk
Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler

Note: This list would look pretty solid to me if it wasn't for Eastwood who could spoil the Director and Actor line-up with Gran Torino. But who will go? Is there a possibility that the golden couple that is Brangelina can be snubbed together? (Yes). Or will the lesser known Jenkins be ignored? (I hope not).

Best Actress
Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married
Sally Hawkins for Happy-Go-Lucky
Meryl Streep for Doubt
Kristin Scott Thomas for I've Loved You So Long
Kate Winslet for Revolutionary Road

Note: Ok so I went out on a limb here, Thomas is an incredibly vulnerable candidate. Can she beat the solid precursor support, and Hollywood power, of Angelina Jolie? And the recent surge of critical praise for Melissa Leo? I can only least I will have Poppy/Hawkins' cheery disposition on the list (right?).

Perhaps the Academy will wake up and put Winslet's better performance in lead (in The Reader), dutifully ignoring Revolutionary Road and saving the Supporting Actress nominees from daylight robbery. Unlikely.

Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin for Milk
Robert Downey Jr for Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt
Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight
Dev Patel for Slumdog Millionaire

Note: This seems like a solid line-up, although I would love a surprise nomination for James Franco (Milk), Eddie Marsan (Happy-Go-Lucky) or Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges). Is is possible they could take Patel's slot? (The answer is A - No, everyone loves Slumdog. Don't be silly!). Perhaps Brolin or Downey Jr are not as strong as once thought? (There needs to be a surprise somewhere!).

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams for Doubt
Penelope Cruz for Vicky Christina Barcelona
Viola Davis for Doubt
Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler
Kate Winslet for The Reader

Note: Adams and Winslet (may I be mistaken?) are vulnerable here due to internal competition and category fraud, respectively. Benjamin Button's Taraji P Henson may take their slot (I'm guessing Adams' unless Winslet shifts category as she did with the crazies at BAFTA). It would be nice to see Alexis Zegerman (my personal choice for supporting actress of 2008 with Happy-Go-Lucky), Vera Farmiga (because she needs a breakthrough) or Rosemarie DeWitt (for Rachel Getting Married) nominated, but its unlikely.

Best Original Screenplay
Rachel Getting Married
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
The Wrestler

Note: Woody Allen is back at the Oscars? Time will tell as this race is particularly strong (see also Burn After Reading, Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges, The Visitor). It would be nice to see Happy-Go-Lucky and/or In Bruges mentioned.

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Note: I would be surprised if this is not the line-up, unless support for The Dark Knight is overwhelming (please say its not!) or they pick Revolutionary Road as their prestigous literary adaptation over The Reader (impossible if you've seen RR, right?).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"I don't know where she gets it from. Her mother wasn't nearly so picky."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

3 films, 3 days, 4 words - My bum is sore.

The Wrestler
Who knew how much real violence existed in wrestling? Not me anyway (surely staples are a step too far?!). Regardless this is a wonderful film about life, love and existence...a fable for modern times, so invested in its titular character that you cannot help but fall for it. A lovely companion to The Fountain (cue rapid re-evaluation of said gem).
Undoubtedly a solid piece of entertainment (especially for anyone with an interest in the history of American politics) yet, for me anyway, incredibly frustrating. In reality Richard Nixon may have been an awful American President, but cinematically he appears as the victim of David Frost's vanity (leaving me as sympathic for Nixon as I was for Downfall's Adolf Hitler). Perhaps this is over simplifying the narrative (similar to the way the narrative simplifies Rebecca Hall's role to a pair of legs with breasts) but there is no denying the divisive characterisations of both characters which will leave any sympathisers of Frank Langella's Nixon unsatisfied.
Revolutionary Road
Or the film I have been anxiously waiting for...and shouldn't have been. I loved Richard Yates' debut novel, but the cinematic version seems to have forgotten the strength of its source material; its insight, the insight into the world of a relationship falling apart due to the unfulfillment of respsonibility, of everyday life and of committment. Without this the film tends to veer too closely to melodrama territory (Winslet needs a Tennessee Williams role STAT!) and is more enjoyable for its unintentional campness than any true artistic expression. Yet Winslet and Leo are as likable - and as attractive - as ever and dog lovers will enjoy chooing over Kathy Bates' beautiful pup (on preview here). Perhaps American Beauty was a fluke afterall Mr Winslet?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Give him the Oscar already.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cross my heart, and hope to die...

The Oscar nominations are out in a handful of days, and I'm on the edge of my seat - GIVE KRISTIN HER ACTRESS NOMINATION! (as well as Sally Hawkins)!!!!!! And please Kylie snub Angelina!!! PLEASE!!!! Rant over.

The Best Actress Oscar is a favourite of mine, simply because women are more easily portrayed as bitchy, desperate and aggressive in their road to Oscardom than their male counterparts (also known as the Renee Zellweger syndrome). Also I love actresses-turned-movie stars, the fashion and women in general - in a very Almodovar way. Plus it didn't hurt that this years Actress competition has been a strong seven horse race or that I fell for three of these performances (Hathaway, Hawkins and Thomas), love two of the actresses (Streep and Winslet) and hate another one (Jolie). I can have no opinion on Melissa Leo as I have not seen her work, yet I am selfishly hoping for her to be snubbed along with Jolie. I'm not sure how likely it is that Jolie will be snubbed as she a) is being nominated everywhere and b) was surprisingly snubbed last year, but I can dream for the line-up of Hathaway, Hawkins, Streep, Thomas and Winslet. That would be sweet. And would make me smile...

Friday, January 16, 2009

It is written.

You may want to hate it, but you can't. See Slumdog Millionaire and be charmed.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

10 thoughts...on the BAFTA nominations.

  1. Poppy wanted 10 nominations (perhaps) for Happy-Go-Lucky. She got none. Not even one for Sally Hawkins. Or for Best British Film (where Mamma Mia! where nominated). BAFTA should be ashamed.
  2. Stephan Daldry is nominated for Best Director. For The Reader. Did anyone see the movie? Why not nominate Sam Mendes simply for directing a successful Hollywood movie too?
  3. Winslet gets two Lead Actress nods. The backlash begins (for me at least)
  4. Slumdog Millionaire is unstoppable. ("The British are coming.")
  5. Kristen Scott Thomas, and to an extent I've Loved You So Long, is approved here. Fingers crossed for Oscars.
  6. A happy surprise in the form of a nomination for Brendan Gleeson for In Bruges. This is the type of surprise nomination that makes the BAFTAs comforting.
  7. Will Jonathan Ross be presenting? (I do hope so!).
  8. Will Richard Attenborourgh release an apology to Mike Leigh, Hawkins and co. similar to the one released for the Keira Knightley snub back in Pride & Prejudice time.
  9. Have any of the voters seen half the movies they've nominated? (Particularly Benjamin Button).
  10. Hopefully Streep will beat Winslet on homeground (as it is unlikely Thomas will walk away with the BAFTA), in which case we will find out who she wants to spank now...

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Prepare to scratch your head.

This film was just nominated for Best Editing for a Comedy or Musical by the Editor's Guild (yes a real guild of editors!). Perhaps there is some harsh irony in there that only Meryl and co can appreciate.

Monday, January 12, 2009

10 thoughts...on the Golden Globes 2009.

  1. Snore! Slumdog Millionaire cleans up. Give it the Oscar already.
  2. "Oh god, who's the other one?" The icing on top of a very sweet cake for Kate Winslet as she forgets one of her fellow nominees, the sourer Angelina Jolie (just in time for her annual Oscar snub?). Terrific.
  3. Sam Mendes really should have shaved.
  4. Cameron Diaz really should not have presented Winslet with her second GG, we're still trying to forgive her for The Holiday...
  5. Winslet should have apologised to her fellow Supporting Actress nominees for stealing (for that is what she did, and may continue to do) their glory with a leading role.
  6. Does Jennifer Lopez/J.Lo/pseudo entertainer have something against Marisa Tomei and her "veteran experienced stripper"? (While she grants Winslet the friendlier - and rather more impressive - description of "German woman with a past").
  7. Sally Hawkins is adorable. As is Emma Thompson's mothering through her acceptance speech. (Thank god Winslet was not eligible here for her GG performance, as she unintentionally proved quite the comedienne " have to read...NOW").
  8. Someone give Kristin Scott Thomas an award! Or at least some more juicy roles! I've Loved You So Long 2 anyone, perhaps she could play a distant aunt in Kym Getting Married? (The sequel to Rachel Getting Married, where The Hath takes the Rachel role and Scott Thomas is free to chews up the painfully domestic scenery).
  9. The Leading Actor race is proving interesting. Penn or Rourke? Or Eastwood? Or Langella? Its all to play for least I hope, or else it will be a very boring Oscars.

This image will put a smile on many a cinemagoer's face (including mine...if the above hadn't given that away already). Go team Winslet!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pre-GG thinkings...

That's right, its time for the GGs and while the line-up may not have me wetting myself with excitement (categories are either predictable or uninvolving, as I have yet to see the majority of the nominees). Still, a high profile awards ceremony is an attention holder and the swing towards Anne Hathaway as the golden girl (for Oscar that is) - yes, that is over Miss Winslet and Miss Streep - may be cemented with a win this morning...also the actor battle is still ongoing (Rourke? or Penn?? or a surprise???) and there is a chance that the awful(ly brilliant) Mamma Mia may walk away with the Film-Comedy/Musical prize...outrageous you say? I wouldn't hold your are my predictions:
Film - Drama: Slumdog Millionaire
Film - Comedy/Musical: Mamma Mia
Director: Danny Boyle
Actor - Drama: Sean Penn
Actor - Comedy/Musical: Javier Bardem
Actress - Drama: Anne Hathaway
Actress - Comedy/Musical: Meryl Streep
Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger (who else?)
Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz
Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire
Foreign Film: Waltz With Bashir
Animated: Wall-E
Original Score: Slumdog Millionaire
Original Song: The Wrestler
Will Winslet cry at a double loss?...Will the crowd scream with terror at the hypocrisy at awarding Mamma Mia over Happy-Go-Lucky (possibly for film and actress)?...Will Elizabeth Taylor provide unbeatable entertainment as she did with her previous GG appearance?...And will anyone care? (Of course!).

Friday, January 09, 2009

Monday, January 05, 2009

For Your Consideration.

THIS SHOULD NOT BE A BEST PICTURE NOMINEE. But it undoubtedly will be after its PG nomination, along with Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk and Slumdog Millionaire (the eventual winner?). Another predictable Best Picture year, oh my!

Monday, January 05, 2009


"Tell us about the movie you're going to make."

"Oh, sure. It's called 'Charlie Chan In London'. It's a detective story. Most of it takes place at a shooting party in a country house. Sort of like this one, actually. Murder in the middle of the night, a lot of guests for the weekend, everyone's a suspect. You know, that sort of thing."

"How horrid! And who turns out to have done it?"
"Oh, I couldn't tell you that. It would spoil it for you."

"Oh, but none of us will see it."

Sunday, January 04, 2009

There Will Be Poppy.

"The Road to Reality. Don't really want to be going there!"
This deserves its place among the top ten of 2008. I will never be capable of completing a top ten without neglecting some gem or other. But they are fun!

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Is it possible??? The cinematic highlight of Julia Robert's career, for me, is that wonderful little scene in Closer where the ever delicious Clive Owen basically tells her to fuck off. She did. And I for one was grateful. Yes she is a charming Hollywood starlet with a wonderful smile, but the admiration that follows her simply makes it too easy to dislike such a limited performer (also it does not help that Oprah foams at the mouth at the very mention of Her name).
But how the magic of cinema can change a boy! After a two minute (and a handful of seconds) trailer, I could not help but be somewhat struck by her presence. Was it the lack of releases these last few years? Was it her smile? Or was it the wonderfully delicious leading man she is once again sparring against (yes, that would be Mr. Owen himself)? Who knows...but she had me drooling, and if the film (Duplicity) is as sexy, smart, funny and fun as the trailer, then she will have finally conquered my admiration. Time will tell...