Bobby Fischer Against The World

YEAR: 2011

DIRECTOR: Liz Garbus

BUDGET: ?

GROSS: ?

 

when i was a kid i played a little chess. i would usually play against a family friend when they came to visit. he was one of those guys that was always competitive and wouldn't even let a little kid win at anything - so, on the few occasions that i won it felt extra good. i also liked to play Battle Chess on my amiga computer - although, i think, for me, it was more about watching the chess pieces fight than actually playing the chess match. anyway, so all that to say, i am not much of a chess player. but you don't have to play chess to enjoy Bobby Fischer Against The World.

prior to watching the film i got caught up reading about chess and the history of the game and found multiple websites that listed their top 10 greatest chess players of all time. and sure enough, in either the first or second spot on every list was bobby fischer!

people that follow chess know this to be true, but i think that maybe the general public who posses only a passing knowledge of it all, and i put myself in that category, i feel like all i ever knew about fischer was that he had gone "crazy" and i never really appreciated how great of a chess player he was.

sports, is filled with those questions of "what could have been?" 

what if ted williams hadn't taken four years off at the height of his talents to go fight in WWII? (how much better would his stats have been)? what if jordan hadn't taken that year off to play baseball?(would they have won 7 in a row?) what if barry sanders hadn't retired so early?(would he have broken walter payton's record?) etc...

what if fischer hadn't virtually retired from chess after winning the 1972 world championship? he was only 29.

unlike other reports or documentary pieces i had seen about bobby fischer in the past, Bobby Fischer Against The World covers his whole life and not just the last couple decades of when he became more and more paranoid and reclusive and angry... all that is still in the film and it is covered thoroughly. but by giving us his full history and really placing his greatness in context, it makes the second half of his life that much more poignant and, for me at least, frustrating.

The Ides Of March

YEAR: 2011

WRITER:George Clooney

DIRECTOR:George Clooney

BUDGET: ?

GROSS: $3,450,000 (as of October 7th, 2011)

 

a couple years ago, after the box office failure of a few films, all the talk was about the death of smart, adult fare. how, no one was going to see these movies and studios were going to stop making them. well, i guess george clooney didn't get the memo, because The Ides Of March is a smart, adult film and a really good one at that!

while i wouldn't call myself a political junkie (what's a step below "junkie?"), i do enjoy politics. actually, i enjoy it and am often very frustrated by it as well. but all that to say a good political thriller is always something that will intrigue me. but notice the word "good" in that last sentence.

the problem with some political thrillers is that they feel the need to really push the "thrill" part and to do so they end up getting convoluted and going to far: a murder and a cover-up and then a leak leads to another murder which brings in a secret uncovered from many years ago, etc... The Ides Of March doesn't fall into that trap.

the film takes us into the world of this campaign and in there we understand how high the stakes are and how important everything is to those involved. and given that, even a small (and believable) transgression can take on large importance and thrills and cause characters to change their views of things and act in ways they might not have otherwise (we don't need two murders and a secret organization to keep us interested or believing).

it also helps that the film is populated by great performances from all involved (clooney, gosling, giamatti, seymour hoffman, evan rachel wood, jeffrey wright marisa tomei). the film is filled with about six or seven one-on-one scenes between these various actors/actresses that had me transfixed to the screen. the performances and the writing create a palpable tension whether it be flirty or suspenseful or confrontational.

and let us not forget the direction here. clooney is quietly becoming on of the better directors out there. with this film, Good Night And Good Luck and Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind (i haven't seen Leatherheads) clooney has shows a real vision specific to each film in how he wants to tell the story and how he wants it to look. and with The Ides Of March he found in phedon papmichael a cinematographer to realize it beautifully.

i know the political thing will turn some people off. but, just to say... you dont have to be a political junkie or even a step below junkie to understand or enjoy this movie. so, don't let that hold you back.

2011 Oscar Predictions

 

WILL WIN are in bold

DID WIN are  big

MY SCORE: 18/24

despite anne hathaway's efforts and enthusiasm, the 2011 academy awards will go down as one of the worst i have ever seen. not because of who won or lost, but i'm talking the show itself.

besides the funny put-the-hosts-in-the-movies opening, there was barely a laugh or moment of excitement to be found (except when i won the pool i was in of course). the remixed songs was fun and the bob hope part was nice (although, seeing billy crystal out there to introduce it just made it more obvious what a great host he was and how anne and james just couldn't match up). but other than that the show was pretty dull.

as for my predictions: i did ok this year. 18/24 isn't bad and i did get 2/3 in the shorts categories which is where many pools are often won or lost. however, there were a few categories that, looking back, i'm not sure what i was thinking. i think i got a little too into the idea that The King's Speech wave would sweep up other categories that i missed, the now-obvious, Alice In Wonderland in art direction and costume design. and those of you who listened to the prediction episode of the podcast know how close i was to going with the winners in editing, documentary feature and foreign film (but, alas i didn't). so 18/24 it is. one better than last year and my second best showing since i started doing the podcast. how did you all do?

 

BEST PICTURE
The King's Speech
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The Fighter

 

 BEST DIRECTOR
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams , The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
Christian Bale , The Fighter
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo , The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

BEST ACTRESS
Natalie Portman , Black Swan
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Nicole Kidman , Rabbit Hole
Michelle Williams , Blue Valentine

BEST ACTOR
Javier Bardem , Biutiful
Jeff Bridges , True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth , The King's Speech
James Franco , 127 Hours

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Another Year , Mike Leigh
The Fighter , Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, and Keith Dorrington
Inception , Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right , Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
The King's Speech , David Seidler

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
127 Hours , Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network , Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 , Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich
True Grit , Joel and Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone , Debra Granik and Anne Rossellini

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Biutiful
Dogtooth
In a Better World
Incendies
Outside the Law

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Inception
The King's Speech
True Grit

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Black Swan
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King's Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Gasland
Inside Job
Restrepo
Waste Land

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING
Andrew Weisblum, Black Swan
Pamela Martin, The Fighter
Tariq Anwar, The King's Speech
Jon Harris, 127 Hours
Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, The Social Network

ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP
Adrien Morot, Barney's Version
Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng, The Way Back
Rick Baker and Dave Elsey, The Wolfman

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
John Powell, How to Train Your Dragon
Hans Zimmer, Inception
Alexandre Desplat, The King's Speech
A.R. Rahman, 127 Hours
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Coming Home” from Country Strong, Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
“I See the Light” from Tangled, Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
“If I Rise” from 127 Hours, Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
“We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3, Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Day & Night
The Gruffalo
Let's Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
Inception
Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit
Unstoppable

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
Inception
The King’s Speech
Salt
The Social Network
True Grit

ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Hereafter
Inception
Iron Man 2

Deliver Us From Evil

YEAR: 2006

WRITER: Amy Berg

DIRECTOR: Amy Berg

BUDGET: ?

GROSS: $196,585

 

over the last years a lot as come to light about the problems in the catholic church, that have been going on for decades, of priests molesting children and the church hierarchy basically covering it up. Deliver Us From Evil is an excellent documentary about exactly that.

the film's center piece is an interview with father oliver o'grady. and his story is a perfect microcosm of the huge problem that went on for so many years in the catholic church. juxtaposed with the o'grady interview and story are interviews with some of the families and children, now grown, that he betrayed.

o'grady is completely candid in the film as he talks about all the horrible things he did to the children of his various parishes. he talks frankly about how he ingratiated himself into their families and used his position of trust among faithful catholics to abuse their children. it isn't easy to listen to. but what made me just as angry watching the film, is the institutionalized protection he got from the church hierarchy as his superiors - in this case mostly cardinal mahony - did everything he could to sweep o'grady under the rug and away from view so that it wouldn't effect his chances of becoming cardinal - putting politics and power ahead of the children and justice (obviously it worked, since he did become cardinal).

the film shows how father o'grady was moved from one parish to the next (pretty much all within 50 or so miles of each other). and in one incredible move, mahony placed him in a really out of the way parish to keep him out of view of Rome. however, the parish was so out of the way that o'grady didn't have any superiors near by. he was basically running the show on his own. can you fucking believe it?!!

our hero of the story - besides the families that have spoken out - is father thomas doyle who reaches out to families and has spoken out against these horrible abuses and the way they weren't dealt with (and in so doing has been almost black listed and kept from advancing in his career).

the film is really well directed and is something that everyone should see regardless of faith. Deliver Us From Evil isn't an attack on religion or faith but on those that use the institution to do evil and those that know about it and do nothing.

No Direction Home

YEAR: 2005

DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese

BUDGET: $2 million (estimated)

for my birthday last year my friend chrystina (some of you might know her as my co-host on the great Watch It television podcast) gave me the No Direction Home dvd. i was very happy when i got it and i added it to my dvd collection right away. however, as anyone with a large dvd collection can tell you, it is very easy for movies to get lost in there. and that is what happened with this one. recently, however, it popped its head out from the crowded shelf and caught my eye and so it was time to finally watch it.

No Direction Home is a martin scorsese directed documentary about the life and career of bob dylan. and i can say that after having watched the film i feel like i know a whole lot more about dylan and i might know him better. but i still don't know him. and i think that is the point.

in the book The Tipping Point, author malcolm gladwell at one point talks about how we define people. how it is a common tendency for us to always define people in simple and singular ways: "jack is a liar", "jane is kind", "bill is shy", "betty is stuck-up", etc... but, jack, jane, bill, betty and all of us are more than just one simple definition/characteristic. and that is where this documentary succeeds so brilliantly.

throughout his life bob dylan has been claimed by so many. the folk music scene, the anti-war movement, they have all tried to define him as one of them (just look at how angry people got when he "went electric"). but he has never wanted to be defined or felt comfortable in that role. in one clip from a press conference he is asked the question of whether he sees himself as primarily a singer or a poet and he responds by saying that he actually sees himself "more as a song and dance man." this gets a big laugh, but it is also very indicative of his real, almost animosity, towards any kind of type-casting.

to be honest, i don't know if he could even define himself. there are many moments throughout the film where dylan seems to contradict something he had said previously about his music, his lyrics, his life, the meaning behind things he has said and done, etc... at times it felt like he was just making stuff up and being contradictory on purpose.

genius, poet, shy, singer, rebel, song writer, voice of a generation, song and dance man... bob dylan is all that and more and No Direction Home is an excellent exploration of the man that will both answer questions and bring up many more - just as it should.

Five Minutes Of Heaven

YEAR: 2009

WRITER: Guy Hibbert

DIRECTOR: Oliver Hirschbiegel

BUDGET: ?

GROSS: $13,217

between 2001 and 2005, director oliver hirschbiegel made four films in his native germany - two of which were the pretty good Das Experiment and the great Downfall (i haven't seen the other two yet). then in 2007 he faltered with his first english language film, the not good movie that was The Invasion (check out my discussion of all four Invasion Of The Body Snatchers versions here).

thankfully he got back up on the horse and in 2009 delivered Five Minutes Of Heaven, a film about truth and reconciliation that in a way is a reconciliation of its own with fans of hirschbiegel who had had to sit through The Invasion - okay, so that's me being a bit over dramatic, but i liked the metaphor so i went with it.

Five Minutes Of Heaven begins in northern ireland in 1975. alistair little is 17 years old and a member of the uvf and he is getting ready to kill his first catholic. the problem is that when he gets to the house to do it, the victims 11-year old younger brother, joe griffin is outside and alistair does it right in front of him.

cut to 33 years later and both boys (now grown men) are being driven separately to a house where a television show has promoted and arranged for the two men to meet for the first time since that night. the crew is there and everyone is ready to film the meeting and that first handshake leading to truth and reconciliation.

in the ensuing years since the incident, little did serve 12 years in prison and since then has traveled a lot, had many speaking engagements, has been involved in helping other reconciliations and has become a bit of a celebrity. the way his driver and the tv crew all talk to him with almost reverence is a little eerie.

on the other hand, griffin has never got over it. his mother basically blamed him for what had happened - saying that he didn't do anything to stop it - and never forgave him. he has lived for 33 years with the image of what happened and the guilt and anger from his own mother weighing on him. while the tv crew and cameras are there to capture the truth and reconciliation, joe griffin wants revenge.

both neeson and nesbitt give strong performances and guy hibbert's script is allowed to shine as herschbiegel takes a very simple approach to the story telling. the film almost feels like a play as it plays out in but a few locations - thus putting the dialogue and the performances front and centre.

although things don't go as smoothly in the film, after having watched Five Minutes In Heaven i would be more than willing to meet director oliver hirschbiegle in person and shake his hand and reconcile with him and forgive him for the pain he caused me - and every other theatre goer - that had to sit through The Invasion.

2010 Oscar Predictions

WILL WIN are in bold 

SHOULD WIN (where i have an opinion) is underlined 

 Did Win are BIG 

 

 

 

MY SCORE: 17/24

well, the oscars have come and gone and i had an average go with my predictions this year. it wasn't my most impressive performance, but it wasn't awful either. where i messed up this year was with the shorts (animation, live action, documentary). normally i get at least one of those right and this time nothing. and then, missing both screenplay winners is just awful. but, i went  17/19 for the rest of the awards and a perfect on the top 6 categories which isn't bad.... so, how did you all do?

Best motion picture of the year
  • Avatar
  • The Blind Side
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • Up In the Air
Performance by an actress in a leading role
  • Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
  • Helen Mirren (The Last Station)
  • Carey Mulligan (An Education)
  • Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)
  • Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia)
Performance by an actor in a leading role
  • Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
  • George Clooney (Up In the Air)
  • Colin Firth (A Single Man)
  • Morgan Freeman (Invictus)
  • Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
  • Matt Damon (Invictus)
  • Woody Harrellson (The Messenger)
  • Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)
  • Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
  • Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
  • Penelope Cruz (Nine)
  • Vera Farmiga (Up In the Air)
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart)
  • Anna Kendrick (Up In the Air)
  • Mo'Nique (Precious)
Best animated feature film of the year
  • Coraline
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • The Secret of Kells
  • Up
Best Documentary Short Subject
  • China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
  • The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
  • The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”
  • Music by Prudence
  • Rabbit à la Berlin
Best Short Film (Animated)
  • French Roast
  • Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty
  • The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)
  • Logorama
  • A Matter of Loaf and Death
Best Short Film (Live Action)
  • The Door
  • Instead of Abracadabra
  • Kavi
  • Miracle Fish
  • The New Tenants
Achievement in art direction
  • Avatar
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
  • Nine
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Young Victoria
Achievement in cinematography
  • Avatar, Mauro Fiore
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Bruno Delbonnel
  • The Hurt Locker, Barry Ackroyd
  • Inglourious Basterds, Robert Richardson
  • The White Ribbon, Christian Berger
Achievement in costume design
  • Bright Star, Janet Patterson
  • Coco before Chanel, Catherine Leterrier
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Monique Prudhomme
  • Nine, Colleen Atwood
  • The Young Victoria, Sandy Powell
Achievement in directing
  • James Cameron (Avatar)
  • Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Lee Daniels (Precious)
  • Jason Reitman (Up In the Air)
Best documentary feature
  • Burma VJ
  • The Cove
  • Food, Inc.
  • The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
  • Which Way Home
ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP
  • Il Divo, Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
  • Star Trek, Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
  • The Young Victoria, Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore
Achievement in film editing
  • Avatar, Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
  • District 9, Julian Clarke
  • The Hurt Locker, Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
  • Inglourious Basterds, Sally Menke
  • Precious, Joe Klotz
Best foreign language film of the year
  • Ajami
  • El Secreto De Sus Ojos
  • The Milk of Sorrow
  • A Prophet
  • The White Ribbon
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
  • Avatar, James Horner
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox, Alexandre Desplat
  • The Hurt Locker, Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
  • Sherlock Holmes, Hans Zimmer
  • Up, Michael Giacchino
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
  • "Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • "Down in New Orleans" from The Princess and the Frog Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • "Loin de Paname" from Paris 36 Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
  • "Take It All" from Nine Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
  • "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" from Crazy Heart Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
Achievement in sound editing
  • Avatar, Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
  • The Hurt Locker, Paul N.J. Ottosson
  • Inglourious Basterds, Wylie Stateman
  • Star Trek, Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
  • Up, Michael Silvers and Tom Myers
Achievement in sound mixing
  • Avatar, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
  • The Hurt Locker, Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
  • Inglourious Basterds, Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
  • Star Trek, Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson
Achievement in visual effects
  • Avatar, Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
  • District 9, Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
  • Star Trek, Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton
Adapted screenplay
  • Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell (District 9)
  • Nick Hornby (An Education)
  • Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche (In the Loop)
  • Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious)
  • Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (Up In the Air)
Original screenplay
  • Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman (The Messenger)
  • Joel and Ethan Coen (A Serious Man)
  • Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy (Up)

Remembered Directors Forgotten Films: John Frankenheimer

 REMEMBERED DIRECTORS FORGOTTEN FILMS: in this segment i will be spending time with various well-known directors and some of their lesser-known films. some may be hidden gems and others might be obvious why they are lesser-known, but either way it will help us in a discussion of the directors work and style beyond the movies that we all know about... for this go around we are gonna check out John Frankenheimer

 


 

JOHN FRANKENHEIMER INFO:

- personal academy award nominations: 0

- other personal awards and nominations: 35 nominations & 13 wins

- complete filmography

 

REMEMBERED MOVIES: these are the ones that usually come up when frankenheimer is mentioned: The Manchurian Candidate is probably his best film and the one he is best known for. many of us will also remember French Conection II because it is a sequal to a great movie, although it is pretty mediocre at best. then, for the younger generation, Ronin might be the only film that you recognize (even if you haven't seen it) from all the ones i am gonna talk about. if you haven't seen it you should, it is really good. also, let us not forget Birdman Of Alcatraz which is a really good movie as well.

 

THE FORGOTTEN FILMS: with about 25-30 films to his name there was a lot to choose from among the non-remembered films. some i had never heard of, while others i had always wanted to see and these were the ones i went with:

Seven Days In May (1964): this one appealed to me because it was a political thriller (which he obviously has a knack for given The Manchurian Candidate) and it was written by rod "Twilight Zone" serling (his only film script) among other reasons. however, this one didn't completely work for me. i wanted to like it, and i was with it for a while, but the problem for me was that the film seems to just linger. the tension should be building as the 7th day approaches and the plot to overthrow the president gets closer and closer to fruition, but by setting the whole film from the POV of the president and those on his side trying to discover and than stop the coup we never get to spend anytime watching the plotters build their plan and/or carry out the steps with a sense that things are one-step closer to "success".

The Train (1964): as the final days of the german occupation of france play out one nazi colonel tried to get a train full of great works of art out of france and into germany and a few resistance fighters try to stop him. while it is a solid action movie, The Train goes beyond that. among the resistance plotting and the great set pieces filmed with real trains, there is a discussion about art and human life and the value of things that elevate the film beyond my two-line synopses.

Grand Prix (1966): Grand Prix is all about the racing. of its three hours length, i would guess that close to one-third of that is spent on various racing sequences (the opening one is a good 20-minutes at least). not that i cam complaining though. the races are great. the split screen editing sometimes gets a bit out of hand - kind of like the editor learned a new trick and just wanted to use it as much as he could - but overall its use is well done and adds to the racing sequences. the story that they came up with is fairly unoriginal and could have been transported to almost any movie about any sport/activity (the older competitor who is getting tired of the game. the young upstart partying, womanizer. the rival loose-canon who is great, but hard to control, etc....). i do have to say though, that while i could recognize the average-quality of the script and the story, i did find myself interested in the characters and really interested in watching the beautifully filmed races.

Seconds (1966): although rod serling wrote Seven Days In May, Seconds is a film that feels like a long Twilight Zone episode. a man is lured to the offices of a company specializing in giving people a second chance at a new life by faking their death and then providing them with a completely new face, body and identity. the film is looks great and frankenheimer and his dp, james wong howe (who was nominated for an academy award) use angles and deep focus and close-ups beautifully.

Black Sunday (1977): unlike Seven Days In May, Black Sunday shows us both sides of the terrorist plot - those planning to carry it out and those trying to stop it. looking at all five films, i would say that this one is my favorite. you got good action, a thrilling cat and mouse chase as the authorities try to figure out, and stop the plot, and the last 30-40 minutes filmed at the actual 1976 super bowl which is very cool (and must have been a logistical nightmare). except for two of the worst special effects explosions i have ever seen in a movie, Black Sunday is a forgotten thriller that is worth checking out.

 

ALL THE FRANKENHEIMER FILMS I HAVE SEEN: The Manchurian Candidate, Birdman Of Alcatraz, The Train, Seconds, Seven Days In May, Black Sunday, Grand Prix, French Connection II, The Island Of Dr. Moreau, Ronin, Reindeer Games

 

LOOKIN' AT FRANKENHEIMER: even with the five films i just watched, i have still only seen about a third of frankenheimers oeuvre (and that doesn't include the HBO and cable tv films he made in the 90s and early 2000s). when someone used to mention frankenheimer my first reaction was how great The Manchurian Candidate is, how awesome the car chases in Ronin are and how disappointing French Connection II was (i have tried to forget about The Island Of Dr. Moreau). now, however i can throw in Black Sunday and The Train with the better action/thriller films i have seen and appreciate the technical expertise that is the Grand Prix car races.

does seeing these five films place frankenheimer on a higher level than i had him previously? i have to say yes. however, although it goes to show that he is more than just the guy who directed The Manchurian Candidate, that film is still his only real masterwork (with Birdman Of Alcatraz, Ronin, The Train, Seconds and Black Sunday pulling up second place).

 

- this post will of course be updated over time if i see other frankenheimer films -

 

 

2009 Oscar Predictions

 here i go again...

Will Win: Bold

Did Win: Big

 

 

 

MY SCORE: 19/24

 

BEST PICTURE
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"The Reader"
"Milk"
"Slumdog Millionaire"
"Frost/Nixon"


BEST DIRECTOR

Gus Van Sant ("Milk")
Ron Howard ("Frost/Nixon")
David Fincher ('Benjamin Button')
Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire")
Stephen Daldry ("The Reader")

BEST ACTRESS
Kate Winslet ("The Reader")
Angelina Jolie ("Changeling")
Melissa Leo "(Frozen River")
Anne Hathaway ("Rachel Getting Married"
Meryl Streep ("Doubt")

BEST ACTOR
Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler")
Brad Pitt ("The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button")
Sean Penn ("Milk")
Frank Langella ("Frost/Nixon")
Richard Jenkins ("The Visitor")

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams ("Doubt")
Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona")
Viola Davis ("Doubt")
Marisa Tomei ("The Wrestler")
Taraji P Henson ('Benjamin Button')

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Phillip Seymour Hoffman ("Doubt")
Michael Shannon ("Revolutionary Road"
Robert Downey Jr. ("Tropic Thunder")
Josh Brolin ("Milk")
Heath Ledger "(The Dark Knight")

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
"Waltz With Bashir" (Israel)
"Revanche" (Austria)
"The Class" (France)
"Der Baader Meinhof Komplex" (Germany)
"Departures" (Japan)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Screenplay by Eric Roth, Screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
“Doubt” (Miramax), Written by John Patrick Shanley
“Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Screenplay by Peter Morgan
“The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Screenplay by David Hare
Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Courtney Hunt
“Happy-Go-Lucky” (Miramax), Written by Mike Leigh
“In Bruges” (Focus Features), Written by Martin McDonagh
“Milk” (Focus Features), Written by Dustin Lance Black
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
“Changeling” (Universal), Tom Stern
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Claudio Miranda
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Wally Pfister
“The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Chris Menges and Roger Deakins
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Anthony Dod Mantle

BEST EDITING
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lee Smith
“Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
“Milk” (Focus Features), Elliot Graham
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Chris Dickens

BEST SCORE
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.),Alexandre Desplat
“Defiance” (Paramount Vantage), James Newton Howard
“Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Elfman
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A.R. Rahman
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Thomas Newman 

BEST ART DIRECTION
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"Changeling"
"The Duchess"
"Revolutionary Road"
"The Dark Knight"

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
“Australia” (20th Century Fox), Catherine Martin
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Jacqueline West
“The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Michael O’Connor
“Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Glicker
“Revolutionary Road”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Down to Earth” from “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, Lyric by Peter Gabriel
“Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Gulzar
“O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music and Lyric by A.R. Rahman andMaya Arulpragasam

BEST ANIMATED FILM
"Wall-E"
"Bolt"
"Kung Fu Panda"


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)” (Cinema Guild), A Pandinlao Films Production, Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
“Encounters at the End of the World” (THINKFilm and Image Entertainment), A Creative Differences Production, Werner Herzog and Henry Kaiser
“The Garden” A Black Valley Films Production, Scott Hamilton Kennedy
“Man on Wire” (Magnolia Pictures), A Wall to Wall Production, James Marsh and Simon Chinn
“Trouble the Water” (Zeitgeist Films), An Elsewhere Films Production, Tia Lessin and Carl


BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
"The Conscience of Nhem En"
      A Farallon Films Production    Steven Okazaki
"The Final Inch"
      A Vermilion Films Production    Irene Taylor Brodsky and Tom Grant
"Smile Pinki"
      A Principe Production    Megan Mylan

"The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306"
      A Rock Paper Scissors Production    Adam Pertofsky and Margaret Hyde

 
BEST MAKEUP
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Greg Cannom
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), John Caglione, Jr. and Conor O’Sullivan
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (Universal), Mike Elizalde and Thom Floutz


BEST ANIMATED SHORT
“La Maison en Petits Cubes” A Robot Communications Production, Kunio Kato
“Lavatory - Lovestory” A Melnitsa Animation Studio and CTB Film Company Production, Konstantin Bronzit
“Oktapodi” (Talantis Films) A Gobelins, L’école de l’image Production, Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand

“Presto” (Walt Disney) A Pixar Animation Studios Production, Doug Sweetland

“This Way Up”, A Nexus Production, Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
“Auf der Strecke (On the Line)” (Hamburg Shortfilmagency), An Academy of Media Arts Cologne Production, Reto Caffi
“Manon on the Asphalt” (La Luna Productions), A La Luna Production, Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont
“New Boy” (Network Ireland Television), A Zanzibar Films Production, Steph Green and Tamara Anghie
“The Pig” An M & M Production, Tivi Magnusson and Dorte Høgh

“Spielzeugland (Toyland)” A Mephisto Film Production, Jochen Alexander Freydank

 

BEST SOUNDS EDITING
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Richard King
“Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Tom Sayers
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
“Wanted” (Universal),Wylie Stateman

 

BEST SOUND
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick

“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney),Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
“Wanted” (Universal), Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño and Petr Forejt

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin
“Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan

FBNF Awards 2008

Fbnf awards with the academy awards in about three weeks it will be the official end to the 2008 awards season, but we all know it wouldn't be complete without this year's FBNF awards, so let us hand those out right now... (you can check out the 2007 FBNF awards right here)

best film:
- Slumdog Millionaire

best end credit dance (tie):
- tom cruise (Tropic Thunder)
    - this was great. i thought his character was hysterical throughout the film and this just put a great topper on a really good time at the movies. cruise can be great in these supporting roles where he really just lets himself go (think Magnolia also)  

- the cast of Slumdog Millionaire
    - i loved this film and the bollywood dancing at the end was so joyful and carried my smile from the end of the film through the closing credits.

worst sequel:
- Quantum Of Solace
    - it was a bad sequel, a bad james bond movie and just a bad film in general

best movie song (tie)
- bruce springsteen (The Wrestler) & jack white and alicia keyes (Quantum Of Solace)
    - both songs are good songs in their own right and worked really well in their respective films (pretty much one of the only good things about Quantum Of Solace)... oh ya, don't forget Rock Me Sexy Jesus from Hamlet 2

best male performance:
- mickey rourke
    - his performance in The Wrestler is so true and heartbreaking and uplifting.  from the hair to the hearing aide to the way he talks and carries himself differently in and outside the ring, rourke stands out from the crowd this year with that performance.

best sequel:
- The Dark Knight
    - this one was easy. not only was it far and away the best sequel of the year, it was the best comic book movie since tim burton's Batman in 1989 and one of the best films of the year - sequel or not.

best film i saw all year:
- Keane
    - released in 2004 this small lodge kerrigan film is one i am still thinking and talking about to anyone that will listen.  read my full discussion of the film here.

welcome back:
- woody allen
    - one of my favorite directors of all time allen could pretty much do know wrong for me until about 10 years ago.  these last 10 years have been up and down, with more downs then ups and the ups not being that high.  that was until Vicky Cristina Barcelona.  this wonderful film is the best thing he has done in a long time and although one film isn't maybe enough to say 'he's back", i so enjoyed the movie that i'm going to say it anyway... "he's back!"

best actor:
- ben kingsley
    - The Wackness and Elegy

best bad special effects:
- Be Kind Rewind

film that most frustratingly didn't live up to its potential:
- Righteous Kill
    - unlike last years winner of this award I Am Legend - which was actually a really good film for the first half of it, Righteous Kill wasn't very good from pretty early on.  however, given that two of the greatest actors of all time - robert deniro and al pacino - were the stars, and were going to be in a film and on screen together for most of it, for the first time ever, the potential for greatness was there.

best performance by young actors:
- all the kids in The Class (Entre Les Murs)

worst performances by young actors:
- the young actors in Gran Tornio

best two acting greats in one movie:
- merryl streep and phillip seymor hoffman in Doubt
    - dicaprio and winslet were good in Revolutionary road and this awards should have really gone to deniro and pacino (but, while they were fine in the awful Righteous Kill, they weren't great)... but streep and hoffman in doubt were excellent and the big climactic scene in which the two of them go head to head had me completely riveted.

most disappointingly historically inaccurate:
- parts of Frost/Nixon
    - i really liked the film, and its fine that they took some dramatic license with certain things and emphasized others that might not have been so 'dramatic' at the time, but to literally change actual dialogue from the frost/nixon interviews is just wrong. i mean, we have the actual footage and transcripts from the interviews, so use them at least for the interview scenes... also, creating that huge, climactic phone call scene - that never happened - that turns the film around and leads to the big 'get' in the interview is also wrong,

biggest oscar gyp:
- The Wrestler
    - yes it got an acting nod for both mickey rourke and marissa tomei (both completely deserving), but what about a best picture nomination?  or if that's too much to ask at least a screenplay nod?  and even if those two are to much for the academy, what about a best song nomination for bruce springsteen?  the song won a golden globe and it isn't even nominated for an academy award - in a category that only has three nominees (so its not like there is no room for it)... the only thing i can think is that there is some kind of technicality reason and it can't be nominated, but if that isn't the case then what the hell!?!?

well done oscar:
- heath ledger and robert downy jr. nominations
    - comedy and action rarely get much love from the academy so to have ledger (for The Dark Knight) and even more so, downey (for Tropic Thunder) nominated for supporting actor awards is great to see - and they are both very deserving.

best failed blockbuster:
- Body Of Lies
    - with ridely scott directing this spy thriller starring russell crowe and leonardo dicaprio Body Of Lies had blockbuster hopes, but instead it only ended up grossing just over half of its estimated $70 million budget.  not only that, but the reviews were split on it as well (it got 51% at rotten tomatoes)... but this one is more than just a good summer spy thriller. 

hey oscar, were there really no other good supporting female performances?:
- viola davis in Doubt
    - now i'm not saying davis was bad in the film, not at all... however, she is really only in the film for one 5-15 minute long scene, and her performance isn't so outstanding that it deserves a nomination for such a small role... who would i replace her with you ask?  well, how about rebecca hall from Vicky Christina Barcelona?  

the most unbelievably simple story:
- Wendy And Lucy
    - a girl and her dog are driving through a small town on their way to alaska.  the car breaks down and she loses her dog. she spends the next day or two looking for her dog while her car is getting fixed... there you go, that is Wendy And Lucy - and it is a really good film.

best film with lots of problems:
- Gran Torino
    - eastwood isn't bad (not best actor worthy as the national board of review thought), but playing a racist old man that just wants to be left alone but befriends the korean kid/family next door is anything but an original idea... also, the acting by the kids in the film is poor and the story is pretty predictable... and yet i enjoyed the film.. hmmmmmm, go figure.

worst film that was not the sum of its parts:
- Burn After Reading
    - with Burn After Reading i found the story original, i liked the characters, i thought it was funny at times, i liked the tone of the film, i was interested in what was going to happen, the performances were good - albeit a little over the top for some (but that fit the tone the coen brothers created)... and yet i was quite disappointed and confused in the end.

best film title:
- Quantum Of Solace and Young People Fucking
    - Quantun Of Solace sounds a little pretentious, but very cool and intriguing... Young People Fucking sounds like it is trying to shock people, but the film is so good it works.