28 February 2011

Animation and the Academy


The academy's relationship with the animated field has been a neglectful one. As of 2011 only three films have been nominated for Best Picture. That figure would be four had the Academy exhibited better judgment in their selection of films in 2009 (WALL-E should have easily slipped by The Reader). With the addition of the ten slots rule an animated film has made it to the big dance two years in a row.

Whether or not more nominations will yield a win is yet to be seen, but this year seemed like the best opportunity for an animated film to take the prize. Toy Story 3 was met with almost-universal acclaim and - up until the inclusion of The Social Network and The King's Speech - was many critic's number one film.

UP was my favorite film of last year and had I an ballot I would have placed it firmly at #1. Another deserving candidate would have been Beauty and the Beast, but Silence of the Lambs had everything all but sealed early on. For many animated films are easy to discriminate against because they do not know how painstaking it is to make an animated feature. Some don't care to find out.

Who knows? Maybe next year will be the year, but more likely it will be a long time before we hear an animated film take home the Best Picture Oscar. But that day will come.

(Courtesy: Border Stylo)

27 February 2011

'Inception' and 'King's Speech' Clean Up Oscars

While the big talk may have been about whether or not The Social Network would beat The King's Speech, or whether Annette Bening would finally get that Best Actress Oscar, Alice in Wonderland's bizarre wins (Costume, Art Direction), Inception cleaned up at the 83rd Academy Awards taking four of the eight awards (cinematography, visual effects, sound mixing, sound editing) it was nominated for.

The King's Speech also had four wins, next was The Social Network with 3 wins, and The Fighter had two as well as Alice in Wonderland.

Best Film
The King's Speech

Best Actor
Colin Firth

Best Actress
Natalie Portman

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale

Best Supporting Actress
Melissa Leo

Best Director
Tom Hooper

Animated Film
Toy Story 3

Foreign Film
In a Better World

Adapted Screenplay
Aaron Sorkin - The Social Network

Original Screenplay
David Seidler - The King's Speech

Documentary Feature
Inside Job

The Wolfman

Original Score
Trent Reznor - The Social Network

Original Song
Randy Newman

Best Editing
The Social Network

Short Animated Film
The Lost Thing

Short Documentary
Strangers No More

Short Live Film
God of Love

25 February 2011

The Vault: The Blob (1958)

Yes, it’s The Blob, another one of those B grade, underfunded, science fiction movies that came out during the Cold War Era. Cheesy? Incredibly. But when you watch it, you’re getting exactly what you asked for; cherry-pie filling monster and all.

Steve Andrews (played by Steve McQueen, billed for the only time as “Steven McQueen”) is out watching the night sky with his girlfriend Jane (Aneta Corsaut) when they see what they think is either a meteor or a shooting star, the latter being the more romantic of the two. Thinking that whatever it is may be close, Steve and Jane jump in the car to investigate.

Flash to a different scene: An old man living in his rural mountain shack hears a loud noise from outside. He goes to check it out, and finds a circular object. After poking it most wisely with a stick, the circular meteor object opens, revealing a clear, sticky, jello-like substance. The old man accidentally touches the blob, and… well, guess.

Flash back to Steve and Jane: They’re driving down the highway and the old man jumps out on the road. He’s injured; the blob is attached to his hand! Steve! Jane! Quick, take the old man to the doctor’s!

At the doctor’s the old man is put onto a gurney, and Steve and Jane are sent back out to the crash site to try to find anything. On the way Steve has his three friends tag along (after just a little trouble with the local authorities because of some backwards drag racing). They have no way to know that the old man has disappeared. When Steve and Jane come back, all the lights are out at the doc’s place, and after looking around Steve witnesses a terrible event! The Blob! It… ate… everyone there! The old man… the nurse… the Doc!

Steve and Jane go to the cops, but the cops don’t believe the teens. The horror show is playing at the theater, it could be an inspired prank. The cops can’t fathom that a steadily redder, carnivorous blob may just be eating the whole town!

What will the teens do to protect their little suburb?
This film was funny, but at times I was jumping as well! The old man on the highway is giving me the jibblies right now, as I write alone in my room, late at night. And don’t let that bright red blob fool you, whether it looks like cherry-pie filling to you, or jello, you’ll find some sort of food to compare the goofy looking blob to. That, combined with Steve McQueen’s commendable acting, taking charge of his first leading roll, and a better-than-most sci-fi/horror script may be why this flick rose in the underground ranks of the late 50’s. A movie that, even now, has a cult following. But perhaps that's due to the catchy title tune.

Let’s have one more round of that song, since that’s what makes part of this movie so dang memorable...

Beware of the blob, it creeps
And leaps and glides and slides
Across the floor
Right through the door
And all around the wall
A splotch, a blotch
Be careful of the blob
Beware of the Blob!

You have to hand it to Burt Bacharach for those lyrics.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

24 February 2011

The Hangover Part II Teaser

This seems like too much of a redundancy, but what do I know? It's got monkeys and America loves monkeys.

23 February 2011

Due Date Dash Day Three

This is the third day of Warner Bros. Due Date giveaway and three of the top slots have been taken but free rentals of the film are still available.

This is the last set of clues being given for Due Date Dash. To enter leave your answer regarding who my "companion" blog is in the comments below.

Malick's Untitled Romance

It seems odd that just recently we got a first look at Tree of Life a few months ago (that took years in the making) and now we get a look at Malick's next film - released in 2012 supposedly - that has only been in production for a few months. Odd man that Terrence Malick.

Not very revealing, but another dazzling shot from Malick. Pictured are Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams, the rest of the cast includes: Javier Bardem, Rachel Weisz and Barry Pepper.

(Courtesy: The Hollywood Reporter)

22 February 2011

Due Date Dash Day Two

It's day number two of Due Date Dash and the guessing game for my "companion" blog continues. Two more clues will be given today and the next two will be given Thursday.

Remember, to enter all you have to do is leave your answer as to who my matching blog is in the comments below. No one has ventured a guess yet, so all six prize slots are still available.

Due Date Dash

Warner Bros. is hosting a Due Date prize giveaway and, like Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifinakis, Nevermind Pop Film has been teamed up with another blog for Due Date Dash. In order to win you simply have to guess what other film blog NPF has partnered up with and leave your answer in the comment section below.

21 February 2011

10 Words or Less: Memento (2000)

Leonard can't remember a thing to save his life.

17 February 2011

Guillermo Del-Toro to Produce "Darker" Pinocchio

Guillermo Del-Toro is a busy, busy man. Luckily, he has taken time to develop and produce a stop-motion Pinocchio for Universal pictures, Deadline reports. The project is based on the 2002 book by Gris Grimly, which aimed for an older audience. Del Toro knows his craft by now (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy and The Devil's Backbone) and I can't see how this could possibly be bad.

If that weren't enough to stoke your fires Nick Cave has signed on to be the musical consultant and the puppets and 3D will be done by the UK company McKinnon and Saunders who also did the puppets for Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Corpse Bride.

Shane Black to Direct Iron Man 3

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang scribe Shane Black, according to Deadline, is in final negotiations to direct the third Iron Man film. Black is known best for writing the Lethal Weapon 1 and 2 films as well as The Last Boy Scout. This seems like an excellent choice as Iron Man 2 was missing most of that spunky fun that the original Iron Man had in spades. And Black knows how to write a witty actioner.

Black has a good relationship with Downey as he re-launched his career in 2005 with the cult-hit Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and seeing how Favreau left Marvel in the dust this project could certainly use all the good will it can muster.

14 February 2011

Review: Un Prophète

Prison is viewed as the last resort for the dregs of society. Criminals will either spend their time recounting and repenting their misdeeds that brought them there, or something more sinister occurs. Occupants with negligible offenses seek safety in the arms of prison elders. Young men are trained by the old about the inner, delicate linings of a criminal enterprise. Now, they are smarter, more sophisticated offenders. What is left is the evolution of a criminal.

Malik (Tahar Rahim) is a low-level head-buster. Despite only being nineteen, Malik is going to serve the next six years of his life in prison. If he wants to cling to survival, he needs to find a group to attach himself to.

Luciani (Neils Arestrup) is connected and he also serves as the unofficial head of the prison that Malik inhabits. When Luciani makes a proposal to Malik, suddenly he has to make a choice that never faced him before: kill the new witness for the state, or become just another figurehead in the national fatality statistics.

The film is masterful in its presentation of its confines. When the camera is allowed to roam a setting that is not a jail cell we the viewers are physically relieved as well as Malik. The freedom offered by the shots out of prison are immediately confronted with the harsh realities of what Malik knows too well.

Whether it be a close-up of Malik holding a razor between his teeth, or Luciani staring out of a jail-cell window he knows he will never leave each shot is composed magnificently. These are several select shots throughout the film that are quite good and hopefully as time moves on more filmmakers will be tempted to be this creative as well.

In the long run though the film is kept from Godfather status because of its tendency to delve into the realm of the fantastical. When a film's prime motive is to ground itself in the harsh light of realism this contradiction lends itself to criticism.

While 'Prophete' delivers several in-depth looks at each of its main players, the film works on a much larger scale. The prison system does not always rehabilitate its inhabitants, it creates monsters. We do not know what kind of person Malik was like before he entered the prison walls, but he comes out with more blood on his hands than when he first started.


The Vault: Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Amanda McCready is missing and Patrick (Casey Affleck) and Angie (Michelle Monaghan) are hired to assist in bringing her back home. Patrick is a life-long Beantowner, this city made him. Subsequently, he knows this city's dark alleys better than any law enforcement. If there is a chance that Amanda can be found, it rest in these dark alleys.

Boston is a city that wears its blue collar proudly, the people don't gossip, and they answer questions even less often. Police inquiries are dusted off and no answers are had. This is a problem because in missing child cases 50% of the children die within 78 hours and the window is closing. No one is more aware of that than Chief of Police Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman), whose own child died after being abducted. The police are utilizing every available resource looking for the child, but Patrick is sure something is amiss and it starts with Amanda's mother, Bea (Amy Ryan).

She does coke, screws around, and deals, but she never finds the time to be a mother. When it comes to light that one of her dealings with "Cheese", a Haitian gangster, could be the reason for Amanda's appearance, Patrick ingratiates himself into a much larger scenario. 

When watching the film one begins to long for the days when you could leave your child in the backyard without worrying they could be abducted. Now, seemingly there is not a single moment in the day that a child is completely and assuredly safe. Gone Baby Gone presents many questions, some forcefully through Det. Bressant (Ed Harris, in probably Ed Harris's best performance in recent history). Whether he plants evidence on a dirtbag father, or operates a sting without the higher-ups he is always 100% certain. Patrick is less so. 

Casey Affleck is superb as Patrick. He faces off against acting titans like Freeman and Harris on a regular basis and comes out punching. His convictions are what make him possibly the most human part of the film (or, depending on your outlook the most flawed).

Gone Baby Gone is a tale of pieces: the pieces of ourselves we lose and the pieces of us that tell us what is right and what is wrong. The ending of this film is haunting. And reverts back to the questions posed at the beginning. Saving a child is worth any price, but that toll the disappearance takes on us is monumental.

Spider-man Reboot Titled 'Amazing Spider-man'

Sony announced today that the new name of the latest Spider-man film starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone will be The Amazing Spider-man. The title alludes to the comic book series where Gwen Stacy was the main love interest, Pete's web-shooters are his own invention, and high-school angst will feature more prominently.

The 3D reboot will be released July 3rd, 2012

10 Words or Less: I Love You, Man (2009)

Not your traditional love story.

09 February 2011

Join Our Oscar Pool

Oscar season has begun and NMPF is looking for competitors to compete for Oscar gold of your own over at Picktainment.

Ryan Reynolds vs. James Franco

One tale features a man buried alive, the other, features a man trapped by his own appendage. One is receiving awards play, the other is barely talked about. So why the difference?

Paul's (Ryan Reynolds) encounter with death is a far different take than Aron Ralston's (James Franco). Granted, both are initially frantic but there is a zen-like quality to Ralston's that never appears in Buried. And for good reason. Ralston's predicament is - and Ralston admits as much himself - his own fault. Had he deemed it a good idea to tell anyone of his location his journey could have ended with both arms intact. Paul Conroy wakes up six feet under at an undisclosed region of the desert armed with only his phone, writing and a lighter. He has a timetable for his escape whereas Ralston had as much time as his supplies allotted.

We are a nation of the insured, so it comes to no one's surprise when Aron Ralston comes along, throws caution to the wind and ends up captivating the entire world. A story of a government contractor being held hostage brings no elation at the end of the film, only dread. Perhaps therein lies the reason why 127 Hours has played to so many positive reactions. His escape is a celebration of life where Paul Conroy's story is mostly a fear of death.

So come Oscar time, warranted or not, Franco will be the one hearing his name at the podium when the nominees are announced while Buried languishes at theatres.

07 February 2011

Cowboys & Aliens Superbowl Spot

By far my favorite spot of the entire game. Could be the hit of the year.

06 February 2011

'Adjustment Bureau' Superbowl Spot

This film came out of nowhere and now I can't wait to see it.

05 February 2011

Review: Made in Dagenham (****)

I was lucky enough to catch Made in Dagenham last night at the local rep cinema. I consider myself lucky because I'd never heard of the film, and I consider it to be one of the best of 2010.
The movie tells the story of a strike in the upholstery shop, staffed solely by women, at the Ford Motors plant in Dagenham, England. Initially a strike about being classified as unskilled labour, the cause quickly morphs into a demand for equal pay for women. It's quite an inspiring tale.

Sally Hawkins (Happy Go-Lucky) turns in a tremendous performance as the (fictional) strike leader Rita O'Grady.

Movies like this really deserve more attention. It wasn't a ground breaking work of cinema, but it was a more solid film than a lot of the dreck that's being thrown around for the "Best of 2010" honours.

03 February 2011

'Win Win' Trailer

Paul Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) moonlights as a bad wrestling coach, and his day job includes taking custody of an elderly man. His grandson (Alex Shaffer) shows up and could change everything. A gifted athlete with a troubled past he could also lose everything when his mother re-appears in their lives.

10 Words or Less: The American (2010)

He cares about his craft, and nothing else.

01 February 2011

Listen to The King's Speech Soundtrack

I think at this point of the year we all know Alexandre Desplat is the frontrunner for Best Original score. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, and Daft Punk may be more deserving, but The King's Speech will probably sweep everything it is nominated for.