Feb 27, 2009

Vanishing VHS = Forgotten Films

The Museum of the Moving Image's blog and news source has a good article on the films that were on VHS that may be, now, seemingly lost to future video presentations. Mentioned, in this piece, is the now defunct Kim's Video which was, formerly, on St. Mark's Place in Greenwich Village. I had visited this emporium many times when visiting a friend in Manhattan. It was an incredible depository of rental films and retail dvds. The most obscure items could be found on their shoddy shelves. The place was not a sparkling clean palace of retail splendor. Downstairs was a cd area and upstairs was the video space. I purchased Pretty Poison, starring Tuesday Weld and Anthony Perkins, there 3 days before it was available for release on dvd. I found a dvd copy of John Huston's Fat City, which was out of print. I scooped it up for purchase. Many obscure Italian horror pictures were displayed in their own section; yes, Kim's had shelves devoted to Mario Bava, Giallo films, cult classics, famous directors, silent films and Asian martial arts films. It was wonderful. It made me dizzy.

Feb 23, 2009

After Oscar 2008

Well, I was wrong in 5 categories in last night's Academy Awards telecast. I took a couple of stabs in the dark regarding Best Foreign Film and Documentary Feature and ... lost. Here's some thoughts I scribbled down while watching this interminable mess:

* Hugh Jackman's hosting duties were the equivalent of flat ginger ale; a few bubbles and fizz and then ... blah. His opening song and dance was an embarrassment. A badly thought out production using the bad economic times as an excuse for cardboard High School musical sets. Meanwhile, the fool is prancing about on a stage at the Kodak Theater that is festooned with jewel-like lights and a mirrored stage that must have cost the producers a king's ransom. I could not understand his mangled pronunciation of the lyrics in his heavy Australian accent and the Milk song was a tasteless cringe-worthy moment with Jackman standing on a soapbox screaming into a bull horn, "I WANT MILK!!" Egads. Then he sits in Frank Langella's lap asking for a kiss. Kill me. I'll admit I saw Jackman in his Broadway show The Boy from Oz a few years back and he was quite entertaining. I could see him trying to use all the schtick from that show (ad-libbing, talking to the audience) in this production number. In the context of the musical it was enjoyable, here on TV last night, I wanted to run from the room. He seemed to be trying so so so hard to please.

* The malfunction with the curtain before the first award and the sound of the set crew getting agitated. Fantastic omen of the oncoming mess.

* The strange witch-like coven meeting to introduce each acting nominee by prior nominees. It seemed interesting at first, but grew weird and tiresome. I got a cold sweat when Shirley MacLaine talked about Anne Hathaway. Brrr ... bad vibes. Please go back to the traditional nominee list read ... clips ... and presentation.

* Steve Martin and Tina Fey's screenplay award presentation verbal by play = Great. Their comic timing and succinct mastery of being funny without being "Hollywood". Question: Why can these two people be so good, but participate in the most unfunny movie, namely Baby Mama, this past year?

* I liked the inclusion of the technical awards, art direction, costumes, etc. in one sweep by two presenters. It was classy and quick.

* The salute to musical films that was heralded by Jackman as being evidence that musicals were back? Not after that display, Hugh. It was clunky and harsh on the ears. Watching Hugh awkwardly dip Beyonce in her tights and top hat was laughable. They were so mismatched as a dancing couple. Then we get Zac Efron and his HSM 3 paramour and the couple from Mamma Mia! It was a confusingly choreographed mess with some kind of drum majorettes in top hats and tails standing atop a stairway in ominous shadow. Credit to this danse macabre was given to Baz Luhrman. Baz, you gave me a headache with Moulin Rouge, thanks for the migraine relapse.

* Speaking of noise, the Best Song presentation was another mess of sound and dancing. Two songs from Slumdog Millionaire were presented with a song from WALL-E jammed in like bad luncheon meat between two pieces of Indian Nan Bread. A.R.Rahmen stood here in a Nehru Jacket and just kept blaring out sounds in a very catatonic manner while people gyrated around him in colorful garb. Maybe they should just drop the Best Song category. It gets worse every year.

* Jerry Lewis was terse, polite and very gracious. Big surprise. He looked ill and really old.

* Speaking of old ... Sophia Loren must get a grip on herself. You are not 25 yrs old anymore. With her one hand on her hip and this teased reddish fright wig and big tinted 8 1/2 eyeglasses, she made me gasp. Same goes to Goldie Hawn. You were once young, cute as a button and sexy. You are not on Laugh-In anymore, Goldie. Trying to look 40 years younger is to be Laughed At.

* Worst moment? The IN MEMORIAM piece that is done each year to honor those in entertainment that have passed away. Whoever thought of having Queen Latifah warble "I'll Be Seeing You" like a lounge act, while the faces and names of those who died were shown on a huge screen, is an idiot and actually defiled the moment for the audience. Do they know millions and millions of people are watching this at home on TV? We need to see the presentation, not have the cameraman from Quantum of Solace film zooming and weaving around the giant stage screen. Ridiculous and insulting. Show the faces and names on our TV screens with some somber orchestral music, like you always have done, dim the lights and go to commercial.

* Otherwise, I liked the speeches by the winners in the acting categories and loved the Japanese animator of a French Animated Short who kept saying "Sank you ... sank you" and then recited a line from a Styx song. Brilliant. And I would have loved Werner Herzog to take home the Best Documentary Award for his brilliant Encounters at the End of the World. If only I could have heard that voice thanking the academy.

Feb 16, 2009

2008 Oscar Winner Predictions

Best Picture -

Best Director -
DANNY BOYLE - Slumdog Millionaire

Best Actor -

Best Actress -

Best Supporting Actor -
HEATH LEDGER - The Dark Knight

Best Supporting Actress -
PENELOPE CRUZ - Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Best Original Screenplay -

Best Adapted Screenplay -
SIMON BEAUFOY - Slumdog Millionaire

Best Foreign Language Film -
THE CLASS - France

Best Animated Film -

Best Editing -

Best Cinematography -
ANTHONY DOD MANTLE - Slumdog Millionaire

Best Art Direction -

Best Original Score -
A.R. RAHMAN - Slumdog Millionaire

Best Original Song -
JAI HO - Slumdog Millionaire

Best Costumes -

Best Makeup -

Best Sound Editing -

Best Sound Mixing -

Best Visual Effects -

Best Documentary Feature -

Best Documentary Short Subject -

Best Animated Short Film -

Best Live Action Short -

And I predict that the
Jean Hersholt Award Honoree
will be extremely rude and/or long winded
when accepting his award.

Feb 13, 2009

A Valentine's Movie

"I'm beginning to think that maybe it's not just how much you love someone.
Maybe what matters is who you are when you're with them."

dir: Lawrence Kasdan

Feb 6, 2009

173 Days of Anticipation

Sometimes a film trailer causes a tremor in your body like an electrical current; the images and sounds acting like a small stone skipping across a still pond. That feeling can be an almost extra sensory perception of something really special being advertised to your id and when it arrives it proves to be so ... or ...it can prove to be a false hope. That optimistic shimmer in my soul has happened a few times and has happened again with the trailer for 500 Days of Summer. This new film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel (two actors I like an awful lot) was shown at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Here is the trailer (please click on the HQ option):

The images of Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel both smiling, looking dour, the song that accompanies the images, the hints of a fantasy musical number, the shot of Gordon-Levitt strutting in pure happiness past an orgasmic water fountain, both of the protagonists running through an IKEA store like the Truffaut characters in Jules and Jim, the sweater vests and thin ties, the Godardian title font, the shot of the golden waning sunlight blazing behind a dirty train window and the sound of that oddly voiced news broadcaster-like narrator intoning his description of what these 500 days of Summer are like; especially his one sentence description, "This is not a love story, it's a story about Love." It doesn't feel like romantic comedy fake fluff. It looks happy and it looks pessimistic. I like that. And I'm hopeful.

Feb 5, 2009

The Great Collaboration

90 years ago today (Feb. 5, 1919)
Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin and D.W. Griffith
formed the United Artists Distribution Company.