Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Post Oscar Post

I'm glad that No Country for Old Men won Best Picture this year. The Coen Brothers have long been an important fixture in American cinema and it is but fitting that they get the award for their best work yet. Javier Bardem winning Best Supporting Actor was no surprise since he pretty much won every award that let to the Oscars. Everybody was surprised that Tilda Swinton won Best Supporting Actress for Michael Clayton...including herself, so much that she gave a pretty trippy acceptance speech with George Clooney and the Batman nipples and stuff. i LOVE that Diablo Cody won Best Original Screenplay for Juno (That picture above is her, by the way, still holding her Oscar after a night of celebrating. Sweet.), I didn't know that she used to be an exotic dancer, "Enjoy the paycut" says Jon Stewart, who made a vast improvement with his hosting chores this year than last time.
It was no surprise also that Daniel Day Lewis won Best Actor> I've yet to see There Will Be Blood, if you are not aware, they DID show it here in only ONE theater! In Gateway (I'm in Makati)! Now it's gone. I'm gonna have to drink my milkshake some other time...

Friday, February 01, 2008

My Official Oscar Nomination Reviews

I've been pondering on doing another review for a great while now, but I thought I would give it some for the movies to stew in my brain so I could give them a fair assessment. Plus it would be great exercise for my severely atrophied writing skills.

The writer's strike is still going on and it is directly affecting our business at the office (we transcribe and caption US shows), It would be nice if this all could end so I don’t have to go through the internet and read about what Britney ate for breakfast and that she had her 345th breakdown while driving her newly bought (and dented) Mercedes to a school where she was going to pick up her kids she couldn’t even legally see. I miss writing about how crappy some movies and TV shows are.

Now we see that the Academy Awards are just around the corner and that the strike may take this thing down as it did the Golden Globes, part of me thinks "Heck, we don’t need the Oscars." We don’t need this over-produced pomposity that is more of a jewel-encrusted, botox-injected pseudo-fashion show smorgasbord rather than an official cultural event (like the SAGs were this year). But another part of me thinks, "I need to see what they are going to do to this year's opening sketch".

Anyhoo, after I saw the nominees this year, I have to admit. I was satisfied with the choices. There were definitely good movies to begin with. Sure I preferred some that were not included, but this year's nominees for Best Picture were definitely, in my opinion, the best of the year.

I sought out these movies at my local DVD pirate bay and found a copy for all of them except one. I think we all can agree that the quality and packaging for pirated DVDs as of late has greatly diminished, and it sucks especially for committed collectors like myself, But I couldn't pass of the opportunity of not being able to see these movies first and imposing my pompous opinion to the world like I normally do in this blog.

The only movie without a review in this list of Oscar noms is There Will Be Blood, and word is it is the best of the bunch. But I have yet to see it. But these are the ones I've seen...

Movie Review: "Michael Clayton" (2007)

Alright, lemme start with one of my favorites in the bunch. George Clooney (who I pretend is who I would look like If I were white), stars as lawyer turned legal cleanup master Michael Clayton. He's a lawyer plagued with financial problems and ethical issues which would pretty much come full circle when he is assigned to "clean up" a big crap-cake of a legal problems with one of their large corporate clients generated by a colleague's meltdown (Tom Wilkinson) at a hearing. As the company CEO Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton) finds ways to clean the mess herself, Clayton does some deep investigating and finds the client company and his firm hiding documents that prove them guilty, putting him in a very compromising situation.

This movie kind of reminds me of another Clooney starred politico-legal drama, Syriana. The pace and density of the dialogue is very similar, only in Michael Clayton, the dialogue is easier to follow. If you really pay attention, you wont get lost. This is the result of good writing and editing. Tony Gilroy did a good job of pacing the dialogue, which is pretty much the meat and bones of the movie, in away that legal and corporate terms are made understandable but not dumbed down.

But the film's real glory point is it's ending. I'm not going to spoil it, but it's the kind of ending that makes you want to get off your seat pump your fist and say "yessss".

Rocketboy's Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Movie Review:"Atonement" (2007)

If any of these Oscar contenders has an up in terms of accolades, it would be Atonement. So far, Atonement has won the Golden Globe for Best Picture. Not that it really matters because as we have seen in the past few months, the Writers strike has reduced these lavish awards ceremonies into mere press conferences. And this will greatly affect its handicap for the other awards up for it.

Atonement is Joe Wright's (Pride and Prejudice) second collaboration with Keira Knightley in a period film, this time based on a novel by Ian McEwan. The story revolves around a couple and their lives and how a small false accusation turned their lives into tragedy. Newcomer Saoirse (love the name) Ronan plays Briony, a 13 year old who, despite naiveté accomplishes to sabotage the lives of his sister Cecilia (Knightley) and servant's son Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) and take them into the belly of history of World War II.

Atonement isn't really my kind of movie. I never got to see Pride and Prejudice because I really wasn't into the kind of British tea and biscuits movie that I thought this was. i have to admit though that the scenes involving Briony were quite mesmerizing and I was caught up in the tune of her charisma (I thought that last sentence up with an English accent). I can say, acting wise, she was the best part of the movie. The rest of the movie was an incoherent series of patched up story pieces that don’t have any sense of cohesion. The one shot sequence at the beach was particularly amazing, but see the point is, Atonement is just that, a lot of scenes like that thatched together and presented to us as we are told that we are actually watching one movie. the scenes don’t gel together as they should. I got bored halfway through it as I waited for a redemption scene that would never come.

If you are a fan of Keira, I guess its a must see just for the scenes with her in that green dress and for the guy fans, for the wet-in-the fountain scenes.

Rocketboy's Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Movie Review: "Juno" (2007)

Juno is said to be this year's Little Miss Sunshine. That little runaway hit that was made with a meager budget but eventually made it's way to peoples hearts and into film history.

Ellen Page is Juno, a pregnant 16 year old with the mouth of a 25 year old college dropout. Her best friend Bleeker (Michael Cera) is the father, but he can barely leave his bedroom except when he goes out to run with the track team, much less be a father. Juno's life turns upside down and right side up, depending upon your point of reference, as she nonchalantly goes through serious moral decisions like abortion, adoption and even a little involvement with a married man as she drinks her blue big gulp and criticizes modern music and cinema.

Again it’s the dialogue that makes this movie. We are treated with shallow banter and deep philosophical insights, often in the same sentence, at such a rapid pace, that you probably would need to see it more than once just to catch the quotes. Writer Diablo Cody will definitely be one of the writers to watch in these next few years. Ellen Page of course, delivers most of the lines that has more bite to them, and she delivers them with such finesse that you'd wonder how that brain got into that body.

Aside from the banter, the story, simple as it is, delivers what it is supposed to deliver. A story about a girl, dealing with life... as she deals with the jerks around her.

Rocketboy's Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Movie Review: "No Country for Old Men" (2007)

It’s happened to you before. You go and watch a movie. After it's done, you get out confused. You ponder as to what it meant, why they made it like that. You walk home, you ponder more. You figure it out. Then it becomes one of your favorite movies. It happened to me couple of times. It happened to me when I saw Pulp Fiction. It happened again when I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey. Before Sunset. For No Country for Old Men, it happened to me again.

No Country for Old Men is written and directed for the screen by the Coen Brothers (Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowsky) adapted from a novel by Cormac McCarthy. the story is about a Texan Vietnam veteran (Josh Brolin) who finds 2 million dollars in cash in a duffel bag in the middle of a blood spattered, body strewn failed drug exchange rendezvous in the middle of the desert. A she runs, a bounty hunter(Javier Bardem) seeks him out and virtually kills anyone who gets in his way. In the middle of it all is an aging sheriff(Tommy lee Jones) who makes sure that these two who are in his small town are brought to justice. What we get is an exciting cat and mouse chase without the frills and effects, just pure intelligent filmmaking, but we also get a philosophical look at life and how it treats us despite our best efforts.

This is officially may favorite movie in the group (and I love the other movies too). very rarely do we get to see a movie that doesn't feel like it was made in 2007. With characters who are as rich as they are well-defined. Not a line of dialogue is a wasted sound byte. Everybody in the small cast shone in his own way.

But one shone above the others. Javier Bardem's character Anton Chigurh is probably the best conceived character in film in the past few years. Chigurh is a badass. He makes Jack Bauer look like baby poo. He is evil personified. A calm, charismatic presence that is both enchanting and frightening. If this movie were released in the summer, you would see dozens of people dressed as Chigurh on Halloween. There is a scene where he tells a sales clerk at a store to call a coin-toss he just made. the clerk is puzzled as to what it was for, but we all know, based on the past few scenes, that the clerk's life was at stake. So he had everything to gain, and at the same time, everything to lose. So many sites in the Internet have been dedicated to explaining how his mind works, what his concept of free will is, and so forth. There is so much more going on in this character than just a ruthless hit man with a pneumatic tool for a weapon.

One of the most controversial aspects of this film is its "ending". This is what puzzled me when I first saw it. Anyone would be. I can’t even imagine how audiences would react to the ending if it were shown here. In some articles I had read that some people just stood up and cussed at the projector guy. I later read in some reliable review sites that it was meant to be that way to emphasize on an aspect of the movie not closely attended to by the audience, the philosophical side of the film, because we were so caught up in the cat and mouse chase. Anyways, I know it probably doesn’t t make sense to you who have not seen it, you just need to watch it. And I highly recommend that you do.

Rocketboy's Rating: 5 out of 5