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"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Friday, August 8, 2014

New Trailer: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


The surprising sequel that most people didn't see coming, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, has a brand new trailer.  Returning director John Madden and cast Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton from 2011's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are joined by newcomers Richard Gere, David Straithairn and Tamsin Greig.  Taking place eight months after the first film, we check in with the guests and staff of the The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and the Beautiful (great hotel name, by the way) and how they're doing.  It's seems they're all doing well now that Richard Gere has joined them. Of course, they are!  Though I had to sigh at that random shot of an elephant in the trailer.  Yes, we have elephants in India, Hollywood! Please get over it by now.  The film releases on March 6, 2015.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Movie Review: Like Father, Like Son


The above poster features the tagline 'At what point does a father truly become a father?'.  Hirokazu Kore-eda's Like Father, Like Son (Soshite chichi ni naru) explores themes of family and fatherhood in this extremely moving film that just might have you reaching for the box of the tissues and not just a tissue.  

As much as I love French comedies for their absurdities and boisterousness, I love Japanese dramas that quietly bring home the point with beautiful storytelling and emotions.  I expected no less with Kore-eda's latest.  The story deals with two vastly different families - the Nonomiyas and the Saikis - who have two young boys just about to start school.  When the Saikis discover through a blood test, that their son and their DNA doesn't match, it all leads to a possible accidental swap at the hospital the day he was born.  Suddenly, the Nonomiya's orderly world is threatened as well and their fears come true.  Their son is not their biological son.

Both families are devastated to learn this and at the first meeting negotiated by the hospital, awkwardness and anger ensues. Though not at each other but at the strange turn of circumstances.  The hospital would like them to swap children as soon as possible as the boys are still young and might not be affected much once they get older.  However, the parents are much more reluctant.  The situation is unique and the wounds are still raw.  They decide to meet frequently to get to know each other more. 

Thorough these meetings, the differences between the two families are never more evident.  The Nonomiyas are the wealthier of the two and live in a modern high-rise apartment building in the city while the Saikis live in a small cramped house two hours from the city and behind their hardware store.  The contrast between the two little boys is more so.  Keita Nonomiya is a thoughtful, quiet only child and Ryusei Saiki is the playful eldest of three. They are the reflections of two opposite styles of parenting.

Ryota Nonomiya (Fukuyama Masaharu) is at times cold, demanding workaholic who believes that one should be independent.  Therefore little Keita learns the piano even though he's only fair at it, attends a top-end school and has impeccable manners.  Ryusei is more outgoing, chews through his straw while sipping a drink and focuses all his attention on his handheld video game.  In short, the boys have much to learn from each other.

But they never do get that much time to as their parents decide on swapping them on weekends as they ease into swapping them for good eventually.  Keita and Ryusei are bewildered at this sudden change and look upon it initially as a mini-vacation that suddenly turns into a permanent situation.  They have now to call these strangers 'father' and 'mother' and get used to a whole new way of life. 

As do their parents, having prepared for their future in one way and have to rethink how to approach their own sons.  Writer-director Kore-eda chooses to hones in on the two fathers, Yukari and especially Ryota.  Ryota is a self-made architect while Yudai (Lily Franky) is more fun-loving and has a more hands on approach to raising his three children.  He fixes toys, takes them to fly kites and is an equal hand to raising his kids with his wife Yukari (Maki Yoko).  Meanwhile, Midori Nonomiya (Ono Machiko) might as well be raising Keita alone for all the time he spends at work.

Like Father, Like Son won the Jury Prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.  The jury featured directors Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee, both of whom have explored the often difficult relationship between fathers and sons.  In fact, the Spielberg-owned DreamWorks has officially commissioned a Hollywood remake of the film.  But I urge you to first watch the original because I am sure that much will be lost in the cultural transfer.  

Kore-eda's editing has fewer cuts and gives the movie a slow pace that most Western audiences won't be used to.  But I enjoyed the camera lingering on its subjects and showing the action from the viewpoints of the little boys as well.  The children in this feature, especially little Keita with his expressive, emotional eyes, are big reason to tune in to this film.  Unlike Hollywood, here the dramatic outbursts are kept to a bare minimum.  It takes many things to become a father, one of which is unconditional love, as the characters find out themselves in their own sweet time.  That's a good thing, a really good thing. Like Father, Like Son joins my list of favourite Japanese films alongside Tokyo Story, Rashomon, Departures and more.  Do watch it if you can.  

Written, Edited and Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda; Cinematography by Takimoto Mikiya; Music by Takeshi Matsubara, Junichi Matsumoto, Takashi Mori

Rating: 


Monday, July 7, 2014

Gone Girl: Teaser Evidence Posters

The last time I blogged (3 months ago!) it was about Gone Girl. So it's only fitting that my return post should also be about one of my most long-awaited films of the year.

The David Fincher-directed film has a clever marketing campaign. Ahead of its first trailer release, four different 'evidence' posters have been released online as teasers on popular websites for film news.  The first of which appeared on Huffington Post, the second on Awards Daily, the third on Indiewire and the final and fourth on Hitfix.  Have a look at the intriguing posters below:




Source: Awards Daily


Source: Hitfix


Source: Indiewire

If you've read the novel on which the film is based, these posters should make you very happy because this means the film is on the right track.  It has captured the right tone of the book.  It makes me very happy indeed and very much like a student who is sitting for an exam I have actually studied for.  Can't wait for the new trailer to arrive on July 7th.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gone Girl Trailer: Have you seen Amy?


"I did not kill my wife. I am not a murderer." Those chilling words at the end of the first trailer released today for David Fincher's upcoming adaptation of Gillian Flynn's novel, Gone Girl sum up the feel of the movie. Starring Ben Affleck as Nick and Rosamund Pike as Amy, the trailer is set to the track of 'She' sung by Charles Aznavour underlying the major cracks in their relationship leading up to Amy's disappearance and the emergence of Nick as the likely and only suspect.  Dark, chilly with hints of the menace yet to come, this is what we expected of Fincher and this film.  Gone Girl also stars Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry and Scoot McNairy and will release in theatres on October 3, 2014.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Movie Review: Veronica Mars


“A long time ago, we used to be friends… “ Stop me if this theme song is familiar to you in any way, because a long time ago, you used to be a marshmallow.  Yes, Marshmallows, it’s our time in the spotlight as Veronica Mars, the feature film, finally landed on March 14, 2014, a year after its historic and game-changing Kickstarter campaign.  The most popular girl-detective (sorry, Nancy Drew!) is back with a new saga for the big screen that not only changes her life but has potentially life-changing decisions for several other characters in Neptune verse.

For the uninitiated, Veronica Mars was the titular lead character on a not-so-successful series of the same name on The CW.  Set in the fictional town of Neptune, California, Veronica (played by the winning Kirsten Bell) is the daughter of the disgraced sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Conlatoni) who finds herself ostracized from her school, her community and her best friend’s family during a murder investigation of said best friend Lilly Kane (Amanda Seyfried).  Of course, this unique genre of high school noir became instantly likable with its snarky dialogue (a la Joss Whedon), great storytelling across seasons and some amazing guest stars (2 time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain, Academy Award winner Melissa Leo and Emmy winner Aaron Paul all had small parts on the show).  The series regulars, were just as talented, as most of them have gone on to successful film and TV careers. Yet I imagine they were always associated with their parts on Veronica Mars, the TV show which was cruelly canceled due to low numbers in 2007.

But here we are seven years later, with a triumphant return on silver screen as we meet Veronica and her Scooby gang reunited in Neptune as a murder investigation and a high school reunion loom large among other unresolved issues.  To recap, Veronica has moved on since college and is about to join a prestigious law firm.  She has a supportive boyfriend Piz (Chris Lowell) who, if you can recall, she also dated in college.  But that's where the California ties end for Veronica.  No more investigations, no more stakeouts, no more dangers.  So she thinks.

Veronica gets pulled back in the game as her other ex-boyfriend, a certain Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is accused of murdering his musician girlfriend, Bonnie DeVille aka Carrie Bishop, a girl they both went to high school with.  Once Veronica is back in Neptune, no matter how she tries, she falls into the rhythms of the past much easier than she or anyone else expected.  There are fake identities, suspects to be interrogated and sheriffs to piss off. In short, it's the good old days.

Old friends and foes, such as Wallace (Percy Daggs III), Mac (Tina Majorino), Eli (Francis Capra) and Madison are back as are fan favourite characters, Leo D'Amato (Max Greenfield) and Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino) delighting us with their brief appearances.  This is the reason why the film exists in the first place, because the fans weren't done with Veronica and her world just as yet.  So the reunions are brief as multiple plot lines are introduced, with several character's futures at stake.  The solving of the murder mystery is pure Veronica at her best, recruiting her friends and stepping up her game to find out who wants to harm Logan.

Team Logan fans will be delighted with young Echolls' maturation since college, he's now in the Navy and trying to leave his wild days behind him.  I said, trying... there is a roaring fistfight at the reunion that echoes Season 1 Logan nicely.  But I must say, I wavered briefly and over onto the Team Piz borderline for a bit. But then, all it took was a Logan smoulder by his car and I was back.  The rest of the Neptune gang has little time onscreen on a 107 minute film and the celeb cameos (including James Franco and Dax Shepard) will give you a quick chuckle, but the film ends, promisingly and tantalisingly, with the hope of future installments in Veronica-verse.

Veronica Mars is meant strictly for fans for original series who love the throwaway references and hints to the show's previous seasons but I hope it also tunes fans in to watching the series for the first time.  And I strongly hope this isn't the last we've seen of Veronica and that it doesn't take another seven years or a college reunion to see her again.

Directed by Rob Thomas; Screenplay by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero; Cinematography by Ben Kutchins; Editing by Daniel Gabbe; Music by Josh Kramon

Additional cast: Krystan Ritter, Ryan Hansen, Gaby Hoffman, Jerry O'Connell, Martin Starr, Jamie Lee Curtis


Rating: 

Monday, March 3, 2014

My Oscar Picks 2014

Another year, another wonderful year for films! It has been touted as one of the competitive years where there is no clear frontrunner.  The acting categories are pretty much a lock but the rest of categories could go any way.  Read on for my picks for the 86th Academy Awards below.


PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Christian Bale in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Bruce Dern in “Nebraska” (Paramount)
Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)
Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)

Should win: Leonardo DiCaprio
Will win: Matthew McConaughey. As much as I want Leo to finally, finally one of these sometime in his career. McConaughey has an amazing past couple of years and his performance in Dallas Buyers Club is the culmination of his recent career choices. It would be pretty unbelievable if he wins her on his first try.

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Barkhad Abdi in “Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Michael Fassbender in “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Jonah Hill in “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)
Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)

Should win: Jared Leto
Will win: Jared Leto. He looks rock solid in this category. I'd be really surprised if he loses.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Amy Adams in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sandra Bullock in “Gravity” (Warner Bros.)
Judi Dench in “Philomena” (The Weinstein Company)
Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County” (The Weinstein Company)

Should win: Cate Blanchett
Will win: Cate Blanchett. If anyone can upset Blanchett here is Amy Adams who, on her fifth nomination, might breakthrough.

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Sally Hawkins in “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Jennifer Lawrence in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Julia Roberts in “August: Osage County” (The Weinstein Company)
June Squibb in “Nebraska” (Paramount)

Should win: Lupita Nyong'o
Will win: Lupita Nyong'o.  The category has had many surprise winners in the past and possibly some one other than Lupita Nyong'o or Jennifer Lawrence might win. But really it is between the two of them and Lawrence stands to become the youngest actress with two Oscars before she turns 24 and also win consecutive Oscars.  Can she do it?

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM OF THE YEAR
“The Croods” (20th Century Fox)
Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco and Kristine Belson
“Despicable Me 2” (Universal)
Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin and Chris Meledandri
“Ernest & Celestine” (GKIDS)
Benjamin Renner and Didier Brunner
“Frozen” (Walt Disney)
Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho
“The Wind Rises” (Walt Disney)
Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki

Should win: Frozen.
Will win: Frozen. The only real competition for Disney's buzzworthy and acclaimed winter hit is Hayao Miyazaki final masterpiece, The Wind Rises.

ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
“The Grandmaster” (The Weinstein Company) Philippe Le Sourd
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Emmanuel Lubezki
“Inside Llewyn Davis” (CBS Films) Bruno Delbonnel
“Nebraska” (Paramount) Phedon Papamichael
“Prisoners” (Warner Bros.) Roger A. Deakins

Should win: Roger A. Deakins.  His cinematography in Prisoners added so much texture to the mood and tone of the film.  
Will win: Emmanuel Lubezki.  His innovativeness in his work on Gravity is astounding.  

ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Michael Wilkinson
“The Grandmaster” (The Weinstein Company) William Chang Suk Ping
“The Great Gatsby” (Warner Bros.) Catherine Martin
“The Invisible Woman” (Sony Pictures Classics) Michael O’Connor
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Patricia Norris 

Should win: The Great Gatsby
Will win: The Great Gatsby.  If The Great Gatsby wins any Oscar, it's this one.

ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) David O. Russell
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Alfonso Cuarón
“Nebraska” (Paramount) Alexander Payne
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Steve McQueen
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount) Martin Scorsese 

Should win: Alfonso Cuarón
Will win: Alfonso Cuarón.  I've read people predicting a possible upset by Steve McQueen in this category but I don't know, Gravity was completely his vision (he also wrote and edited the movie) so I really believe like Ang Lee last year, the most technically complicated film will be honored.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“The Act of Killing” (Drafthouse Films)
Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
“Cutie and the Boxer” (RADiUS-TWC)
Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher
“Dirty Wars” (IFC Films)
Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill
“The Square” (Netflix in association with Worldview
Entertainment and Participant Media)
Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer
“20 Feet from Stardom” (RADiUS-TWC)
Nominees to be determined 

Should win: The Act of Killing.
Will win: The Act of Killing.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
“CaveDigger”
Jeffrey Karoff
“Facing Fear”
Jason Cohen
“Karama Has No Walls” (Mudhouse Films)
Sara Ishaq
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”
Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed
“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”
Edgar Barens

Should win: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Will win: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.  


ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING
“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Christopher Rouse
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features) John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Joe Walker

Should win: Gravity.  It was the perfect film, all wrapped in 90 minutes.
Will win: American Hustle. Something tells me, it's either going to be this or Captain Phillips that will win here.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
“The Broken Circle Breakdown” (Tribeca Film) – Belgium
“The Great Beauty” (Janus Films) – Italy
“The Hunt” (Magnolia Pictures) – Denmark
“The Missing Picture” (Strand Releasing) – Cambodia
“Omar” (Adopt Films) – Palestine

Should win: Italy's The Great Beauty 
Will win: Italy's The Great Beauty 

ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features) Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” (Paramount) Stephen Prouty
“The Lone Ranger” (Walt Disney) Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

Should win: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. I dissed its nomination earlier but the makeup is pretty impressive in the film.
Will win: Dallas Buyers Club. Simply because I keep reading everywhere about this $250 budget for makeup everywhere.  I want to see receipts, people!


ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SCORE)

“The Book Thief” (20th Century Fox) John Williams
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Steven Price
“Her” (Warner Bros.) William Butler and Owen Pallett
“Philomena” (The Weinstein Company) Alexandre Desplat
“Saving Mr. Banks” (Walt Disney) Thomas Newman

Should win: Thomas Newman for Saving Mr. Banks.  I really loved the score in the film.  
Will win: Gravity.  The music in Gravity was the third unseen character in the film.  The music evokes very strong emotions in it.

ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SONG)
“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2” (Universal)
Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go” from “Frozen” (Walt Disney)
Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song” from “Her” (Warner Bros.)
Music by Karen O Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” (The Weinstein Company)
Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Lyric by Paul Hewson

Should win: Let It Go
Will win: Let It Go. This is the category I'm most emotionally invested in simply I want to watch an EGOT being crowned live.  I will be most upset if anyone else wins.

ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION DESIGN
“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: Andy Nicholson; Set Decoration: Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard
“The Great Gatsby” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: Catherine Martin; Costume Design: Beverley Dunn
“Her” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: K.K. Barrett; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Alice Baker

Should win: Her.  I want to live in the world created by Her and its retro meets the future world. 
Will Win: The Great Gatsby. Okay, The Great Gatsby could also win its second Oscar here.  

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
“Feral”
Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden
“Get a Horse!” (Walt Disney)
Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim
“Mr. Hublot”
Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
“Possessions”
Shuhei Morita
“Room on the Broom”
Max Lang and Jan Lachauer

Should win: Get a Horse!
Will win: Get a Horse! Can Disney make it a clean sweep with best animated feature and short film? I really think it has a great chance.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)” (FREAK Independent Film Agency)
Esteban Crespo
“Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)”
Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras
“Helium”
Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson
“Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)”
Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari
“The Voorman Problem”
Mark Gill and Baldwin Li

Should win: Helium.
Will win: Helium.  I heard the most about this film online so this becomes my default choice.

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
“All Is Lost” (Lionsgate & Roadside Attractions) Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Oliver Tarney
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Glenn Freemantle
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (Warner Bros.) Brent Burge
“Lone Survivor” (Universal) Wylie Stateman

Should win: Gravity.
Will win: Gravity. I'm putting all my chips in the Gravity bag this time around with my fingers crossed. I hope this goes well.

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (Warner Bros.) Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges,
“Inside Llewyn Davis” (CBS Films) Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
“Lone Survivor” (Universal) Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

Should win: See above.
Will win: See above

ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (Warner Bros.) Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
“Iron Man 3” (Walt Disney) Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
“The Lone Ranger” (Walt Disney) Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
“Star Trek Into Darkness” (Paramount) Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

Should and will win: Gravity is a definite lock here.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“Before Midnight” (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Screenplay by Billy Ray
“Philomena” (The Weinstein Company) Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Screenplay by John Ridley
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount) Screenplay by Terence Winter

Should win: Before Midnight.
Will win: 12 Years a Slave.  Out of all the books in the categories, I feel 12 Years a Slave was the hardest to adapt, John Ridley has done an impressive job.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
“Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Woody Allen
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features) Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
“Her” (Warner Bros.) Written by Spike Jonze
“Nebraska” (Paramount) Written by Bob Nelson

Should win: Her.  My favourite screenplay from 2013.
Will win: American Hustle. I'm going to be devastated if Her and Spike Jonze doesn't win but something tells me that David O. Russell is not going empty handed at the 86th Oscars.  This seems the most obvious category.

BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR
“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Producers
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)
Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.)
Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman, Producers
“Her” (Warner Bros.)
Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, Producers
“Nebraska” (Paramount)
Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Producers
“Philomena” (The Weinstein Company)
Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)
Nominees to be determined

Should win: Gravity.  It's time that a intelligent and innovative film set in space should finally win and Gravity should be that film. I don't see The Avengers: Age of Ultron ending up in the Best Picture race, do you?
Will win: 12 Years a Slave. If not Gravity, then the only other best film of 2013 has to be 12 Years a Slave.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Movie Review: The LEGO Movie


There's been an influx of sequels and franchises in animation for the past few years so it's always great to welcome the new kid of the block when it comes to original content.  The LEGO Movie, the brainchild of filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller whose Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (a delightful and puntastic sequel) released a few months ago, is made up of 100% awesomeness.  This is a fact, you can go look it up.

Based on the toy building blocks that defined most of our childhoods, the film pits the free thinkers vs. the rule followers.  All of this combined in a clever package of humour, the right amount of pop culture and a small dash of emotion makes it hard to resist.  This oft-heard tale of an ordinary hero's epic journey opens with an old man proclaiming a prophecy about the "Special" one and a piece of resistance (Yes, really!). The wise one Vitruvius is voiced by Morgan Freeman (Who else?) states that one "most interesting and special" will save the world from the Kragle and liberate the rest of the MasterBuilders.

Enter Emmet Brickowski (voiced by Chris Pratt, who's adorably clueless in the part), an ordinary construction worker who's like the rest of the citizens of djfowiejr and just longs to be a part of a group to belong to.  He has lived his whole life by the rules, doesn't question authority and is pretty much a nobody.  Until the day he runs into Wyldstyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks) aka the girl of his dreams (we know this to be true because she is introduced in slow-motion closeup) at the construction site where he works after hours.

He is then sucked right into an adventure he would dare not dream himself as Wyldstyle believes him to be the Special and takes him to the rest of the surviving MasterBuilders and Vitruvius as they band together to take down President Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) who wants to end the world on Taco Tuesday.  The horror!  Emmet tries to fit in but it is soon obvious to everyone that he does not exhibit the skills of the chosen one.  The scene where the MasterBuilders figure out this is hilarious.  Imagine disappointing a group that includes Gandalf, Dumbledore, Superman, Wonder Woman and Abraham Lincoln!

Seriously, The LEGO Movie had me the moment I heard the prophecy by Vitruvius.  The laughs started and did not end until the movie ended.  Emmet gets his chance to shine and prove to everyone especially Wyldstyle that there is something about someone who follows the rules and she as a free thinker comes to understand where Emmet comes from.  That's a lot of deep thinking for a movie based on LEGO toys.

But that's the beauty of the film that at once is both meta and wholly original at the same time.  The supporting characters, a brooding and boastful Batman (voiced perfectly by Will Arnett), a 1980s spaceman Benny (voiced by Charlie Day) who just really wants to build a spaceship, the ever-chipper Unikitty (voiced by Alison Brie) and the conflicted good cop/bad cop (voiced by Liam Neeson) will have you in stitches.  Even the cameos by Superman (voiced by Channing Tatum) and his nemesis Green Lantern (voiced by Jonah Hill) will make you want more.

Many films based on childhood toys have tried to cash in its familiarity and make something cinematic out of it.  Some have succeeded and others have failed.  But no other movie revels in as much as The LEGO Movie does.  I have to admit, I've a bit of Emmet in me, knowing that an instruction manual is there to guide me.  I like using my imagination after all but I like have a manual in front of me as I start.

The LEGO Movie is far and above, the best movie of 2014 for me.  Others may come and win me over later on as more films release in the year.  And if the theme song "Everything is Awesome" is not firmly embedded in your brain after seeing the film, then you need to watch it again.  I know I can't wait to see it again and again.

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller; Screenplay by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, from a story by Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman and Phil Lord & Christopher Miller; Cinematography by Barry Peterson and Pablo Plaisted; Editing by David Burrows & Chris McKay; Music by Mark Mothersbaugh


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