At Home By Myself... With you

YEAR: 2009

WRITER: Ramona Barckert, Kris Booth

DIRECTOR: Kris Booth

BUDGET: $CAD40,000 (estimated)

GROSS: ?

clicking away through netflix suggestions based on my ratings and previously viewed films and randomly browsing through genres i came across a bunch of titles that caught my eye, the first one of which was At Home By Myself... With You. i saw that it was a canadian film and feeling all patriotic i clicked play, streamed it to my tv and sat back on the couch...

now, don't let the "quirky" "romantic" netflix qualifiers scare you off. we all know that romantic comedies - quirky or not - are generally predictable by nature, not always that interesting and often not really that funny." but, it doesn't have to be that way, as At Home By Myself... With You proves.

also, i clicked the "quirky" link and saw that netflix had also tagged And Justice For All, Adaptation and Young Frankenstein with said tag. so, who really knows what "quirky" means to them?

romy is a women who, as we learn from the opening voiced-over animation, has many phobias. from opening boxes to going outside. and by "going outside" i mean literally taking one step out of her apartment - something she hasn't done for six years. then a guy moves in next door... okay, so you know where this is going. but, as predictable as the destination may be, the ride is enjoyable.

the filming style, the voice-overs, that opening animation, the score and the supporting characters all created a feel to the film that is like a children's story - or some kind of fairy tale? a story about the girl stuck in her apartment who falls for the charming and sweet always-on-the-go guy across the hall.

kristin booth (who you may have seen on a really good film i talked about a couple years ago, Young People Fucking) is great as romy. she is sweet and quirky (ya, i said it), but without becoming a caricature. it's interesting: romy is the "oddest" character in the film and yet she, and the guy across the hall, are what keep the film grounded in reality and make the emotional moments valid for the audience.

also, in case you were interested in the quirky-factor, but wasn't sure how it compared. it is a little quirkier than Easy Rider (another film that, for some ridiculous reason, was listed under my netflix "quirky" suggestions).

Midnight In Paris

YEAR: 2011

WRITER/DIRECTOR: Woody Allen

BUDGET: $30 Million (estimated)

GROSS: $33,637,833 (as of July 3rd 2011)

every time i see those classic white title cards, the same ones he uses for every single film, i can't help but be excited with the anticipation of what is to follow. i am a huge woody allen fan and even though he has been hit and miss since the late 90s, he had been pretty much all "hit" in the 20-30 years prior to that that i know there is always the chance of something great. just look at Vicky Christina Barcelona!

his films are like an old friend. you know those friends that you can go years without talking to but the moment you see each other again its as if no time had passed. well, it had been a couple years since i'd seen a woody allen movie, but the minute Midnight In Paris started it was "hello old friend."

the film begins with a lengthy montage of paris images taken over the course of a complete day from light to night with music playing over top. when i say lengthy, i mean it goes on for the whole instrumental tune and probably 30 seconds to a minute longer than most directors, and definitely most studios, would allow. but it is perfect.

like new york in Manhattan and barcelona in Vicky Christina Barcelona, paris is as important to Midnight In Paris as anything else. in those films (and many others of his) the cities are characters. from the way he shoots the films (often framing the characters so as to put the scenery/city as the main focus) to the way the characters talk about the cities and their surroundings.

then there is the talking. there is no way you can listen to a woody allen movie and not know it is a woody allen movie. his style is so wonderful and specific and the instant i heard it in this film i had yet another "hello old friend" moment.

as i have also said in the past, this specific writing style isn't conducive to all actors. the dialogue and style of conversationalism that allen creates just leads to some actors seeming very forced or uncomfortable. thankfully he has usually been good at finding performers that get it and i was very happy to see that owen wilson was one of them. wilson, and everyone else in the film, give very good performance and do justice to a film that feels like it is a movie that woody has been leading up to making for a long time now.

without giving anything away, the film covers people and ideas that his characters in the past have only talked about. whether it was alvy singer in Annie Hall or Isaac in Manhattan to name just a couple, he has often talked about, quoted, argued over and complained about many of the people that make appearances in this film. from gertrude stein to luis buñuel. in Husbands And Wives he plays professor gabriel roth, who says, at one point, that he often thinks about moving to paris.

given all that, i only wish he had made this movie earlier so that he could have acted in it. but, regardless, you can add Midnight In Paris to the "hit" column.

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

She's Out Of My League

YEAR: 2010

WRITER: Sean Anders & John Morris

DIRECTOR: Jim Field Smith

BUDGET: $20 million (estimated)

GROSS: $31,628,317

you know that moment in 97% of all romantic comedies where one of the two recently-fallen-in-love parties admits something to the other one that ends up splitting them apart until the big finale get-back-together gesture that allows the film to end with a kiss as the camera pulls out wider and wider? well i feel like i am about to have one such moment, ironically, with the romantic comedy She's Out Of My League.

i have to admit that the only reason i watched this film in the first place was because i didn't think it was going to be that good. i go to the movies a lot, but even i can't see everything and have to make decisions to see some films over others. however, in an effort to have a more complete view of the year in movies when it comes time, at the end of the year, to make best and worst lists and hand out the FBNF awards i have been playing catch up with movies that hadn't looked worth it. and i have to say that so far i was generally right to have skipped them.

last week alone i "caught up" on three didn't-look-very-good films and 66.66666% of them were ones i was right to have skipped in the theatres. however, then there was the other 33.3333% that was She's Out Of My League which turned out to be one of the funniest films i have seen this year. and it is that "funny" part that is so important.

romantic comedies are generally predictable on many levels. the films are usually bright, the main characters follow a usual arc in their path to eventual happiness (ala the admission/fight that leads to the break-up i mentioned earlier), there is often a best friend or two on both sides of the relationship that bring much of the comedy.... you get the gist.

all that to say that given how "similar" these films are when you really look at them, their success and failure comes down to a few things and one of the biggest is the funny. When Harry Met Sally had all the standard rom-com fair and it was really funny. When In Rome (part of the past weeks 66.66666%) carried the rom-com tropes with pride but, except for the supporting characters played by will arnett and dax shepard, the film wasn't funny. sure, this is a bit of a simplification and there is more to why When Harry Met Sally is a classic and When In Rome is not, but this isn't a thesis on the romantic comedy genre. this is a discussion of She's Out Of My League which, as i mentioned before, is really funny.

often comedies, romantic or otherwise, start off strong with the funny and then slowly peter off as the film goes on. as if the writers used up all their ideas in the first half of the film and had nothing much left for the second half as they got past the initial idea and had to actually figure out the complete story. She's Out Of My League doesn't have that problem. there is funny throughout this one.

from the main character's awkward speech to his ex-girlfriend about how he is getting so much action since they broke up (his friends told him that in order to get her back he had to make her believe that he was doing great without her) to the hysterical discussion about how he is a 5 (he made it up to a six with a half a point each for being funny and a nice guy, but lost a full point for driving a piece of shit car. whereas is friend gave himself an extra point for being in band - although it is a hall and oats cover band) and the girl is a hard 10 and how no one can ever date more then 2 number positions different from themselves. i could go on and tell you about his friend who is always quoting/referencing disney cartoon love stories like Aladdin or the great scene at the dinner table when the 10 meets his family for the first time, or.... add to that the endearing characters, the fun story and you got yourself one surprise of a good romantic comedy.

so, this is the part of the discussion where i hold a boom box over my head, or run as fast as i can to the new years eve party or walk across a sea of people in the subway as they cheer me on in order to let She's Out Of My League know that - although i only watched it because i didn't think it was going to be very good, i was wrong and i fell for it and this feeling of like i have for it is real.... applause... music... smiles... camera pulls out.... cut to black.