26 February 2013

Muses and Maestros: DiCaprio and Scorsese

This marks the first post in a new series called Muses and Maestros, featuring some of the most talented pairings in modern film. First up, Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese.

The players: Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese
The works: Gangs of New York, The AviatorThe DepartedShutter Island

The most famous actor/director duo that Martin Scorsese will ever be involved in is his partnership with Robert DeNiro. The movie classics that evolved from that relationship will always be untouched. With that said, Scorsese is treading similar waters with Leonardo DiCaprio to great results. The Departed finally netted Scorsese that coveted Best Director trophy and it's hard to argue that DiCaprio's performance isn't a major reason for the film's success.

DiCaprio has gone on to other great work for directors besides Scorsese (Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott), but his highs have rarely reached the same heights that Shutter Island accomplished. Still, the envy of all filmmakers today is a hard goal to attain frequently.

Scorsese recently received accolades for his work on Hugo without DiCaprio, but his films without the former teenaged heart-throb have been few. Excluding documentaries, one would have to go back to 1999's Bringing out the Dead to find a feature without Leonardo DiCaprio in it and the two will pair up again (their fifth time) for The Wolf of Wall Street this year.

Best film: The Departed won Best Picture and it also won Scorsese his only Oscar for Best Director, but few films have captured such pathos as Shutter Island. DiCaprio's turn and Scorsese's direction resulted in a genre effort that vaulted an homage to psychological thrillers into what was my favorite film of 2010.

25 February 2013

New Amazing Spider-Man 2 Suit

Courtesy of Coming Soon, comes the newest look at Marc Webb's Spidey suit for the sequel to The Amazing Spider-man. The last suit worn drew some criticism for looking odd, but this look returns to the more familiar comic book styling that most fans are used to. Maybe this redesign will buy more goodwill from those apathetic about the 2012 reboot.

24 February 2013

Live Blogging the 85th Oscars

Tonight, Never Mind Pop Film is blogging the Oscars live.

The big talk of the 85th Academy Awards will definitely be whether Argo continues to steamroll into a write-in win for Best Director. Daniel Day-Lewis could make history tonight if he wins Lead Actor for the third time. Also looking to make history is Amour actress Emmanuelle Riva who is poised to become the oldest winner for Best Actress, but in order to so she will have to fend off Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain. The big question tonight will be what wins Best Picture (the last four years, the winner was a given going into the evening, but tonight is a toss-up).

Tonight is my first attempt at doing this, so here goes nothing...

Seth MacFarlane is doing well thus far. He already made Tommy Lee Jones laugh. Still, taking no prisoners.

And there goes his goodwill...

Captain Kirk! Where was he when James Franco co-hosted?

So no Muppets version of Flight then? Bummer.

Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz

Cool! Nice to see that the Academy doesn't make a big deal about winning recently.

Best Animated Short

Best Animated Feature

"So you got nominated for something a 9 year old can do?"

The Avengers assemble to not piss of Samuel L. Jackson.

Best Cinematography
Life of Pi

Best Visual Effects
Life of Pi

That cut-off was a little harsh. Congratulations on the Life of Pi team and Rhythm and Hues anyway.

Best Costume Design
Anna Karenina

Best Make-Up and Hairstyling
Les Miserables

Skyfall wasn't nominated for Best Picture, but here's the attention Bond deserves.

Best Live Action Short

Best Documentary Short

Any films plugged with Liam Neeson's voice has an excellent chance to win.

"When the Levee Breaks". Best song ever, yes?

Best Documentary Feature
Searching for Sugar Man

Best Foreign Film

I don't think anyone anticipated the director of Funny Games would win an Oscar for a romance.

Thank you, John Travolta, keep on dancing.

Damn, Jennifer Hudson. Just damn. I feel bad that Les Miserables has to follow her performance.

Best Sound Mixng
Les Miserables

Best Sound Editing
Zero Dark Thirty/Skyfall

Where are the Von Trapps! Well done, MacFarlane, well done.

Best Supporting Actress
Anne Hathaway

Best Editing

Argo's first win of the evening, Les Mis and Life of Pi lead the pack with two each thus far.

I always wondered where winners put their Oscars for the rest of the show. Thanks, Christoph Waltz.

Best Production Design

There's Lincoln's first win for the night.

D.A. Pennebaker, you rock.

A nicely done In Memoriam.

Best Score
Life of Pi

Life of Pi pulls ahead with 3, is an upset coming with director and picture?

Best Original Song
Adele - Skyfall

Best Original Screenplay
Quentin Tarantino - Django Unchained

Best Adapted Screenplay
Chris Terrio - Argo

Best Picture rarely wins without screenplay. Will the Argo train continue?

I really thought that the Academy wouldn't touch the script for Django Unchained with a ten foot pole. Too much controversy didn't bother them apparently.

Best Director
Ang Lee - Life of Pi

Keeping my fingers crossed that picking Life of Pi as Best Picture pans out. Ang Lee looks psyched.

Best Actress
Jennifer Lawrence

Grace under pressure, she earned that Oscar.

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis

Such an amazing lineup for Best Actor, there is literally no way they could go wrong. Meryl Streep didn't even need to look.

That's a record, congratulations, Mr. Day-Lewis, even if you were second choice behind Streep.

Best Picture

And let the conspiracy theories about George Clooney and the White House begin.

That's a night folks, drive safe and enjoy everything the movies have to offer in 2013!

23 February 2013

Stuff Academy Voters Like

Today marks the 85th Academy Awards and before we all sit down to watch the proceedings, let's look at some of the things that Oscar voters like. The definitive guide to everything deemed relevant by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

"Serious" comedians
History's greatest monsters
Divorced parents
Actors playing famous people
Meryl Streep
Tragic romances
Hollywood saving the day
Sentiment, but not heart
Supporting actors playing psychopaths
Period pieces
Mental illness
Domestic drama
Feel good stories
Loose women
True stories
Adaptations of literature
The Great War
Stephen Daldry films
Festival winners
Tom Hanks circa 1993-1998
Homages to yesteryear

Feel free to use this checklist to add to the evening's festivities. Also, take a shot whenever a winner tells his/her kids to go to bed.

22 February 2013

Hit Me With Your Best Shot #18

The game where I throw out one of cinema's more obscure quotes and you try to guess it. Readers are currently 12 for 17. Let's see if you can name the film this quote is from:

"Good. Bad. I'm the guy with the gun."

21 February 2013

Keeping Their Fingers Crossed for Oscar

Sunday night is rapidly approaching and the favorites for the 85th Academy Awards have mostly set themselves apart from the field. Still, favorites have a way of managing to be surprised when the winner's name is announced. These nominees may just benefit from playing the dark horse.

Emmanuelle Riva
For a majority of the season, Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain had the inside track for Best Actress, but along the way 86 year old Riva upset both actresses at the BAFTAs. Her strong performance may connect with a majority of the voting body that thinks Lawrence hasn't paid her dues and Chastain has many nominations in front of her.

Wreck-It Ralph is the hip choice right now, it has swept its respective category for the last several awards, but these two animated features have their own passionate fanbases. Tim Burton has never won an Oscar over his long career and maybe that changes Sunday evening. Either way, Disney will win its first Animated Feature Oscar for the first time since the category's inception.

Silver Linings Playbook
Chris Terrio (Argo) and Tony Kushner (Lincoln) are the front-runners for the Oscar, but Academy voters have a history of giving awards to films as compensation for losing bigger contests. David O. Russell has a lot of competition for Best Director, but conceivably he could come home with the adapted screenplay award.

Ang Lee
Ben Affleck's snub opened the field up for a while and if Steven Spielberg doesn't capitalize on the moment, Lee seems most suited to take home the trophy. Life of Pi has no acting nominees, but nearly all voters acknowledge the technical prowess Lee exercised while making the film.

Joaquin Phoenix
Mr. Phoenix may not personally be keeping his fingers crossed, but current guarantee Daniel Day-Lewis name-checked the actor for his work in The Master when accepting one of his awards. Is a groundswell starting for the recently retired Phoenix? Day-Lewis has won Lead Actor twice previously so his win is a lock, yet a surprise here would be almost unprecedented.

19 February 2013

It's All Been Done Before

Originality is often bemoaned to be lacking in modern cinema. Sequels and adaptations lie in waiting every weekend. Yet with all of the complaints about there not being anything new in film anymore, take faith that this is not a new problem. Hollywood has always put out movies that are a little too similar to other movies.

Familiar plots collide at least twice in any given year. In 2006 three films about magicians all saw the screen: The Prestige, The Illusionist and released to less fanfare, Scoop.

2013 is shaping up to repeat that again with The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Now You See Me. Prestidigitation just keeps popping up lately. If something as obscure as magic manages to appear that often how could any unused plots be mined out of Hollywood?

Read more at Film Annex

15 February 2013

Hit Me With Your Best Shot #17

The game where I throw out one of cinema's more obscure quotes and you try to guess it. Readers are currently 11 for 16. Let's see if you can name the film this quote is from:

"Lock me away. I'm a slasher.... of prices"

12 February 2013

Review: The Doting Wife (Side Effects)

Emily (Rooney Mara) has been putting on a brave face for the last four years. Her husband, Martin (Channing Tatum, a regular in these flicks now), was arrested for insider trading and spent a majority of their marriage inside of a jail cell. Martin is due out in a few days and Emily wants to be there for him to assist his transition back to regular life.

Emily really is happy to see her husband again, but the enthusiasm they shared when they first met in college just isn't there. Sex is spent staring at the ceiling and the rest of her day is like carefully treading through a trance. Her depression confuses her as everything can only get easier with Martin out of prison.

It is only when Emily drives straight into a parking garage wall that her outlook raises concern with Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law, doing his best Hitchcock leading man impression). Emily's condition could be easily solved, Banks presumes, and Oblexa should be the drug to do it.

A lot of Side Effects is lost if more elaboration is placed upon the synopsis, so I'll encourage viewers to just give it a go and see it in theatres.

Rooney Mara's follow-up to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was an anticipated one. Mara turned a lot of heads with her interpretation of Lisbeth Salander and after her nomination for Best Actress, we wanted to see what she would choose next. Mara does not disappoint and her half lackadaisical half fiery stint offers double meaning poised for introspection in every scene.

If Steven Soderbergh really does fold up the director's chair and call it a career then Side Effects is a fitting ending to the formalist auteur's filmography. Soderbergh has been hinting at retirement for the last couple years and while he may be tiring of the Hollywood system, his output has not reflected it, Haywire and Contagion were some of the better films of their respective years.

Operating as his own cinematographer under the guise of Peter Andrews, Soderbergh employs a variety of shots during Side Effects that rival some of the best lensers in cinema. The detached fashion in which most of Haywire and Magic Mike was captured in switches to close-ups here. At age 50, Soderbergh has everything in his repertoire calculated to fullest effect.

With any luck, Mr. Soderbergh's retirement is a short one. Few directors have mixed genres so effortlessly and with such panache. Please, come back soon.


James Gandolfini Appreciation Day

February 12th is Mardi Gras, but did you know that today is also James Gandolfini Appreciation Day?

Gandolfini broke out in his turn as hitman Virgil in True Romance and has appeared in 49 films over the course of his career. For all of his work ranging from The Last Boy Scout to Zero Dark Thirty, he is most easily recognized as Tony Soprano.

Mr. Gandolfini has proven to be the kind of actor that you want to appear in any role and has the kind of range that would make other actors blush. Whether he plays a tough-as-nails general or a neurotic mess, Gandolfini brings the gravitas.

To properly celebrate James Gandolfini Appreciation Day, check out his most recent roles in Killing Them Softly and Zero Dark Thirty.

10 February 2013

Jim Jarmusch's 'Only Lovers Left Alive'

Jim Jarmusch's upcoming vampire-love story finds Adam (Tom Hiddleston), a mysterious underground musician (who has lived for centuries) sunk in a depression due to the endless suffering in humanity. Trying to escape his existential funk, he reunites with long-term lover Eve (Swinton), but his hopes for romantic calm are spoiled by her wild younger sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska).

Only Lovers Left Alive received a great deal of its financing from last year's Cannes so there could be a first look at this year's festival. The cast (also including John Hurt and Anton Yelchin) and premise are extremely intriguing, let's keep those fingers crossed for a debut this year.

(Courtesy: IndieWire)

08 February 2013

Hit Me With Your Best Shot #16

The game where I throw out one of cinema's more obscure quotes and you try to guess it. Readers are currently 10 for 15. Let's see if you can name the film this quote is from:

"Be afraid. Be very afraid."

07 February 2013

The Disappearing Epic

Sprawling adventures with set pieces and large casts used to be available only on the big screen. If viewers wanted to watch a story that spans generations they had to go out for the evening and see it on the silver screen. It is no coincidence that, when taking into account inflation, five of the top ten grossing films of all-time are epics (#8 Doctor Zhivago, #6 The Ten Commandments, #5 Titanic, #2 Star Wars, and #1 Gone with the Wind).

Those evenings out have become less frequent as mini-series on television have over-taken the epic onscreen. The elements of one of the most famous epics of all-time, the Lord of the Rings franchise, are recreated on a weekly basis on HBO's Game of Thrones. Going to the theatre is no longer necessary to catch a story on a grand scale. Television has latched onto that market with miniseries.

With television, writers and directors do not have to sacrifice character for cinematic splashes of glory. David Lean had upwards of three hours to tell his stories, studio execs are hesitant to test the patience of viewers that long. Lawrence of Arabia couldn't be made today, a character study that takes place in the Middle East, especially a period piece? It would never happen now.

Read the full post here

06 February 2013

Tim Doyle's Unreal Estate Art

Pop culture artist Tim Doyle's first solo art show will take place in San Francisco from February 7th through February 23rd. His subject for this show are locations from some of the cult-iest shows on television (Firefly, Doctor Who, Deadwood). Firefly, in particular, is my favorite.

Can't make the show? Prints will be on sale this Friday here.

(Courtesy: /Film)

04 February 2013

Who Needs Oscar?

Judging from videos like the one above, entertainment columnists devoting their columns to the voting selections of octogenarians, and Oscar bloggers grabbing at each other's throats, it must be award season again.

Ideally, award shows should be about the celebration of cinema as all moviegoers get a chance to become acquainted with the nominees. For most people, that is the case, but not for Oscar bloggers. War paint is thoroughly applied, for your consideration ads are placed conspicuously and Twitter turns into a battleground.

The problem with the awards season itself is that it doesn't really strive to provoke interesting conversations, Oscar prognosticators act more like loiterers surrounding a fistfight: they spur on the conflict and get their kicks in when one film gets knocked down. In many ways, it's not that different from The Hunger Games, contestants enter battle to the death and only one is crowned victor.

Read more at Film Annex

03 February 2013

'Star Trek Into Darkness' Super Bowl Spot

Even with a crowded field of advertisements, even with all of the other trailer, that spot got a lot of people's attention. J.J. Abram's biggest news may have been taking the job for Star Wars VII, but 2013's biggest blockbuster will definitely be Star Trek Into Darkness.

2013 Oscar Pool

Hey guys! Once again it's time to make your picks for Oscar. Bragging rights are on the line as well as prizes (posters for Hitchcock, Silver Linings Playbook and Prometheus), first prize winner gets his or her choice of the three posters, followed by second place and third. So please join us.

01 February 2013

Hit Me With Your Best Shot #15

The game where I throw out one of cinema's more obscure quotes and you try to guess it. Readers are currently 9 for 14. Let's see if you can name the film this quote is from:

"Badly is an adverb. So to say you feel badly would be saying that the mechanism which allows you to feel is broken."