Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscars 2009 Recap.

Well, after I wrote my Friday picks, I loaded up my drinkin’ jacket with three Milwuakee’s Best Lights and went to see Slumdog Millionaire at a local theater on Saturday night.

Let me just say I was thoroughly impressed and finally realized what all the fuss was about. It's a really good film that deserved all the accolades.

That said, having seen it and feeling the momentum and hype spiraling up to the Oscars, I would have changed my picks on a number of categories. But, I’m happy for Danny Boyle winning Best Director and Picture for Slumdog. If you’re not up-to-date on his body of work, here some other personal Boyle favorites that you should definitely check out

  • Shallow Grave

  • Trainspotting

  • 28 Days Later

  • Sunshine

  • Millions

Speaking of my Oscar picks, I was a terrible 11-13. Not even as good as last year's picks.

I should add that the reason I’ve been so lousy is that I haven’t been to the theater in quite some time. The last movie I saw in theater was Knocked Up way back in 2007, which is pitiful. However, now I remember what it’s like to see a movie in a darkened theater with other movie goers. It truly is a remarkable thing. And it's good to be back.

So, here are a couple highlights of my picks (if you care):

  • I was 5-1 in the biggie categories (actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, director, best picture). I would have been 6-0 had my blinders not been on for David Fincher and Benjamin Button. I thought this was going to be a Crash-type thing. You remember? The year that Ang Lee won best director for Brokeback, but Trash, oops I mean Crash, won best picture.

  • I was really shocked WALL-E only won one Oscar. True, it won the biggie – best animated film, but I thought this movie would have been showcased a bit more. Goes to show, you shouldn’t pick with your heart. It’s a good flick. Check it out.

  • I was also shocked that Pixar’s Presto did'nt win Best Animated Short. Instead it was won by La Maison en Petits Cubes. Check out the animation here while it’s still up. My thought is the Academy wanted to give other animators the limelight in this category instead of Pixar.

  • After Departures won best foreign language film, I opened up my laptop and tossed it into my Netflix queue. Waltz with Bashir was supposed to win, but didn't. Departures sounds and looks like a pretty interesting film, though. It's like a Japanese Six Feet Under. Count me intrigued.

That said, here are the films that I’m looking forward to seeing after viewing last night's Oscars:

  • Departures

  • Frozen River

  • The Wrestler

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

  • Milk

  • The Reader

  • Doubt

  • Rachel Getting Married

Questions? Comments? Up Yourses? Please respond.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My 2009 Oscar Picks

Don't have a lot of time, but I thought I'd send you my list of who I think is going to win this Sunday. Thought? Concerns? Yeas? Nays? Please comment!

Best Picture: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Best Director: Danny Boyle (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE)

Best Actor: Sean Penn 'Milk'
I hear Sean Penn rocked in this movie. And, due to the Academy's snubbing of Brokeback Mountain, they'll reward this movie somehow. Hell, it may even win best picture.

Best Actress: Kate Winslet 'The Reader'

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger 'The Dark Knight'

Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona'

Best Animated Feature Film: 'Wall-E'
I'm picking Wall-E to win a number of awards. It simply is one of the best animated movies of all time.

Best Foreign Film: 'Waltz With Bashir'

Best Original Screenplay: 'Wall-E' Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter

Best Adapted Screenplay: 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' Eric Roth, Robin Swicord

Best Documentary Feature: 'Man on Wire'

Best Original Score: 'WALL-E'

Best Original Song: 'Down to Earth' 'WALL-E'

Best Film Editing: 'Slumdog Millionaire' Chris Dickens
Did I mention that I never, ever lose on best film editing?

Best Documentary - Short Subject: 'The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306'

Best Cinematography: 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' Claudio Miranda

Best Costume Design: 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' - Jacqueline West

Best Sound Mixing: 'WALL-E' Tom Myers, Michael Semanick, Ben Burtt

Best Sound Editing: 'WALL-E' - Ben Burtt, Matthew Wood

Best Live Action Short Film: 'Spielzeugland (Toyland)'

Best Animated Short Film: 'Presto'

Best Makeup: 'Hellboy II: The Golden Army' Mike Elizalde, Thom Flout
I thought the make-up in Hellboy was out of this world. I'm picking the upset over Dark Knight and Button.

Best Art Direction: 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'

Best Visual Effects: 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'

FINAL NOTE: Yes, I'm picking Benjamin Button to win a number of awards over Slumdog. However, I think Danny Boyle will win a Best Director oscar over Fincher. I'm just not feeling Slumdog. Of course, that means that, more than likely, Slumdog will sweep everything.

AICN Sneak Peak at The Road.

If you read this blog, you'll know my deep admiration and affinity for Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

I was perusing Aint-It-Cool-News today and came across a review from a guy who has seen the final cut of the film version - directed by John Hillcoat.

Check it out here.

Sounds intriguing. And, going back to another entry I wrote pre-Oscar announcements, I think this film has big chances for 2010 awards season. At least it sounds like it's a faithful adaptation that pulls no punches a' la Fight Club and No Country for Old Men.

Only time will tell. The film is to be released sometime this year. If it's as good as this guy is squawking, I'm thinking late summer, early fall.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Will our nation's youth ever rage against the machine?

I just finished reading an interesting piece of commentary by The Plain Dealer columnist Phillip Morris concerning the possibility of the United State's youth eventually raging against the machine.

Morris claims it's not a question of "If?" but more a question of "When?"

After reading the commentary and thinking this over for a couple minutes, I've got one word to say: Bullshit.

Look, Morris makes some good points - including the fact that even after your beautiful young children graduate Magna Cum Laude at Notre Dame University - not to mention after you shelling out close to $50,000 on college tuition - there isn't going to be a guaranteed job waiting for them.

That's got to suck big time.

But, I just can't see this generation raging against anything that doesn't have to do with video games, television or pop culture.

So what are you getting at, Eimer? Well, what I'm getting at is there is this big blob of yes that's walking around and conforming to whatever the taking heads are saying.

- Stimulus package. YES.

- Raise taxes. YES.

- More government intervention. YES.

- More rules against non-conformity. YES

There's no fucking free thinking anymore! Or none that I've seen anyway. If Morris thinks that this next generation is going have the next Che Guevara, Samuel Adams (the person not the beer), Malcom X, Lech Walesa or even Guy Fawkes - he better think again.

Of course, I'm generalizing. And I'm sure there are some nuggets of anger stewing out there. I'm sure there are some young kids that think about the future of the United States and are actually interested in the current events that are happening around them.

But I don't see it anywhere: My work. My home. My neighborhood. My city. My state. Seems apparent to me that nobody under the age of 30 even fucking cares that people are losing jobs, losing homes, losing their cars and losing their freedom.

I simply don't see the anger. I don't see the angst. I don't see that hatred. I don't see the slightest hint in the populace that's even thinking about raising a middle finger in the air in the land of hypocrisy and screaming "FUCK YOU I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!" over and over again, untiil something violent happens.

Nope. Don't see it at all.

All I see is our citizens walking straight into the meat grinder of conformity with this bland look on their face, nodding their heads in agreement and marching forward until they end up in some god-for-saken assisted-living facility drooling in their eggs with shit running down their pants.

Hmmmm, maybe Pink Floyd was onto something?

Who knows? I may be totally wrong. Hopefully, I'm eating crow and the next generation is already writing a big Breakfast Club fuck you letter to the principal.

I'll even digress, and go back to my Fight Club and Die Hard with a Vengeance theology and say that the next uprising won't be in an open field with bayonets, spears and screaming men in kilts. It's going to take place via our laptops.

It's going to be silent. It's going to swift. And very little blood will be shed. (Well, hopefully a little.)

But, it's not going to happen anytime soon.

Thanks Mr. Morris for a very thought-provoking article with balls.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dog Poo Everywhere!

Look, you may think from reading this post and this post, that I’m constantly consumed by turds. Or am I simply consuming turds?

Regardless, truth be known that every single day of my life I try to escape poop, feces, doo doo, #2, shit or, as my daughter calls it, 'poo poo'. But I just can’t.

It's part of me. It's everywhere. From the office to the home - I'm destined to always be around turds in every facet of my life. Even when I run.

Let me tell you story.

Yesterday, the weather was above 50 degrees, so I thought I’d skip out of work a little early and go on a long run.

Warm days in Ohio during the month of February - like yesterday and today - are extremely rare.

'How rare?' You ask?

Well, remember that scene in The Perfect Storm when the crew of the Andrea Gail hung on for dear life as their boat was relentlessly twisted and catapulted by the angry saltwater of the mighty Atlantic Ocean?

Then, just like that, everything subsided. George Clooney, Mark Walhberg, John C. Reilly and the rest of the crew popped their heads up, took a glance out of the window and noticed the sunny skies and the calmness of the sea.

For a couple of seconds they looked around at each other and smiled thinking to themselves “Yeah, we beat this thing.” Oh, but reality quickly crashed down when they soon realized that they didn't escape the storm at all. They were in the eye of hurricane. Then, that huge giant CG wave kicked the ever-loving shit out of them.

In Ohio, that giant Perfect Storm wave represents winter and the Andrea Gail represents Ohioans in February. This freak weather is nothing but a cock tease designed to give us blue balls (pun intended) for two more months. Screw the groundhog. The Spring - as the rest of the world knows it - doesn't hit Northeast Ohio until early May.

But I digress...I pulled into the Bath Nature Preserve parking lot, tossed on a pair of shorts and running shoes, then took a quick whiz before staring my run.

I noticed a group of high school kids playing Frisbee football in the wet soccer field. A warm (gasp!) wind was blowing in from the west. And, for the first time in a long time, I was comfortable outside.


I wasn't 1/4 mile into my run when I heard a familiar sound: SHLUMPF! I looked down and my right Asics running shoe was now a rotten shade of brown. I was so ecstatic about being outside that I forgot to look where I was running. I had just stepped into the biggest pile of dog shit you’ve ever seen.

And, judging from the various shades of brown and the size, I later surmised that it wasn’t simply one giant turd left by some Marmaduke dog - but an assembly of various dog turds from a variety of mutts.


I cursed the owners of the foul beasts, scraped my foot in the melting snow and continued on my run.

About a mile in, I decided to give this particular run a title: Dog Poo Everywhere! (at least I assumed they were from a dog).

From big piles to small pebbles. From dark brown to light tan. Tons and tons of dog turds were strewn on the jogging trail as far as the eye could see - sort of like the fallen soldiers in Gone With The Wind or the injured kids who fell off the trampoline in that one episode of The Simpsons.

Again, I cursed the owners.

Did they not know that snow melts quicker than dog turds?

What were they thinking when they passed up the doggy poop bag dispenser at the beginning of the trail?

Is there some sort of dog shit amnesty that I'm not privy to, which states that you don’t have to pick up your dog’s crap when it’s snowing out?

In any event, I decided to turn this disastrous run into a game and imagined that I was NFL running back dodging doo doo defenders on my way to the end zone.

That's when I felt a slight pang in my intestines.

“Oh no!”

Oh yes. Just like the many dogs that pranced around the park and did their business, I suddenly had to take a crap.

I pulled a small bundle of toilet paper from my jacket pocket (Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared) and pranced into the woods like a white-tail deer dodging a hunter’s bullet. I found a nice clear, piece of un-melted snow and proceeded to do my business.

After wiping my bum, I covered up yesterday’s dinner with a pile of snow and pulled up my shorts.

In my urgency to get back on the trail, I did a 180-degree turn and suddenly heard a familiar sound: SHLUMPF!

I looked down and my left Asics running shoe was now a rotten shade of brown.

I silently cursed myself.

Friday, February 6, 2009

One-Sentence Movie Reviews: Winter Edition

More One-Sentence Movie Reviews For Your White, Pasty, Non-Suntanned Skin.

Lakeview Terrace
Samuel Jackson hates bi-racial couples and this movie is what happens when one moves in next door.

The Counterfeiters
Who knew a movie about the Holocaust could be so entertaining, and so under two hours.

City of Ember
It's like The Goonies but replace One-Eyed Willy's pirate ship and treasure with the outside world.

Death Race
It's Shawshank Redemption mixed with NASCAR mixed with Grand Theft Auto mixed with a big plate of stinky, brown shit.

Although entertaining Matt Dillon is far too good looking to play an inebriated Charles Bukowski.

The boring, boring west.

River's Edge
Keanu and Crispin play weird and weirder when their best friend kills a girl.

The Wackness
Will make you want to smoke weed, cry and listen to 90's hip hop before it ends.

Man on Wire
Will make you want go out live life and pursue a career in tightrope walking.

Pineapple Express
Remember that one part when they smoked weed, fired guns and made snarky weed jokes? Me neither.

Alan Ball, of American Beauty and Six Feet Under fame, writes and directs a very interesting film about racism, sexism and teenage love in the suburbs.

Burn After Reading
Great cast, kooky script and great direction tosses this Coen Brother's flick into my top 10 favorites of last year.

The first 40 minutes rocked while the rest of the movie sucked.

Ice Men
This movie was about as gay as the cast of guys trying act like outdoorsey straight men.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army
This movie cements Guillermo Del Toro as this generation's George Lucas and Steven Speilberg.

Son of Rambow
Great idea for a movie, but it could have been so much better.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe
I don't.

Encounters at the End of the World
Warner Herzog proves that there's a lot more to Antarctica than dancing penguins.

Long Way Down
Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman ride their hogs from Scotland to South Africa and make me forever jealous at their privileged lives in the process.

The Dark Knight
Another great superhero sequel where the villian is more popular than the superhero.

Kicking and Screaming
Noah Baumbach's 90's comedic swan song to college life.

Step Brothers
It's like watching Naked Gun or There's Something About Mary for the very first time.

Tropic Thunder
Ben Stiller is getting better and better as a director.

The second-best animated movie from Pixar next to Finding Nemo.

Drillbit Taylor
It's like every other Owen Wilson movie you've ever seen.

It's like Strangers On a Train but bloodier and in Russia.

Iron Man
I like where this franchise is heading.

Charlie Wilson's War
Based on a true story, watchable film where Tom Hanks bangs some hot women and tries to stop a war in less than two hours.

The Incredible Hulk
It's good, but didn't I already see a similar version of this movie five years ago directed by the guy who won Best Director for Brokeback Mountain.

It's like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind if you were a designer of children's books.

P.S. I Love You
Good idea and great acting, but did it have to be so goddamn long?

The Happening
M. Night Shamalayan does it again........he makes another shitty movie.

The Duellists
Entertaining movie - Ridley Scott's first - about two pissed-off soldiers that duel each other every couple of years.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
A few guffaws, but not as funny as The Farrelly Brother's The Heartbreak Kid.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Everyone that is in film school right now should watch this film so they can get a clue about how to direct and handle a camera.

Sex and the City: The Movie
The four sassy bitches, plus Mr. Big, sleepwalk through this clunker.

An entertaining, yet bleak, movie about teenage angst and Ritalin that's not to be confused with Chumbscrubber.

Rob Zombie shoots....and fails with this uninteresting turd on a stick.

The Wrestler movie review

EIMER DEBRIS NOTE: Since I don't get out to the movies that much (I rent them from Netflix), my buddy Mac wrote a great review of Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler:

If you read the latest articles on Mickey Rourke these days you’re probably thinking that his new movie The Wrestler is his comeback movie. The movie that will save his career. Yes, it’s true he’s already won a Golden Globe and scored his first ever kiss from the Oscars this year with a nomination, but don’t think that Mickey Rourke hasn’t been in anything good the last few years. I personally thought more people should’ve been talking about him back in 2005 for his performance in Sin City.

NO MATTER. Because The Wrestler is my movie of the year (yes, I’ve seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Rourke gives a performance with more balls and blood than anyone else came close to this year. And there have been some good performances this year, too.

I think if you take any famous Professional Wrestler from the 80’s, I don’t care if it’s Macho Man, Mr. Wonderful, or Jake the Snake, I bet my Wrestlemania Videos that their life parallels the one portrayed by Rourke. Watching the opening credits filled with Pro Wrestling headlines and sideline commentary from the 1980’s talking about the main character Randy “The Ram” Robinson, you don’t feel like you’re watching a Darren Aronofsky film.

But Mickey Rourke said it best in his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes: ‘A director as great as Darren Aronofsky only comes around once every twenty or thirty years’. That’s Goddamn right. The movie he has made has all the grit and grain and that quasi-documentary feel you see in movies from the 70’s. And a clear departure from his previous movie ‘The Fountain’. This is a harsh portrait of a man knocked down and savagely beaten by his own industry. An industry where many people don’t use their real name. This truth could be said about many lines of work. However, professional wrestling looks like it would be fun for a while, but doesn’t look like one with a quality 401k or health benefits.

Randy struggles with getting old in an industry that’s not too kind to those who age. He barely gets by in life. He wrestles in a local minor league circuit and puts in as many hours working at the market as long as is doesn’t interfere with his wrestling. He spends his money on painkillers, tanning beds and hair salons, items that would be considered job expenses for wrestlers but Randy’s days of having an expense report are left in the 1980’s. He’s still well known and liked a lot in the locker room and by die-hard fans who show up autographs. But, after one of his matches, Randy ends up in the hospital and gets open heart surgery. The doctor explains to him that people who have heart attacks and have surgery cannot continue to be a professional wrestler.

Walking that close with death leaves a lonely taste in Randy’s mouth. He feels the urge to ask out Cassady, his favorite stripper who works in a club he hangs out in. Marisa Tomei is probably the most underwritten about actress of the past few years and she’s got a shot this year at winning her second oscar for her role as Pam. I don’t know if actresses like playing a stripper on not but I can’t believe it’s easy for them to do. To be able to pull it off with the kind of moves and mannerisms that shows a real woman working in a weird and bizarre industry like stripping, is quite impressive. Hat's off to Marisa Tomei.

In the club, Cassady has a soft spot in her heart for Randy her most protective customer. She knows he works in a weird and bizarre industry too. Outside the club Randy tells her about his heart attack and his fear being alone. She urges him to try to salvage a broken relationship with his daughter and agrees to help him shop for a birthday present.

Randy’s life after wrestling has a glimmer of hope. He’s able to get his feelings across to his angry daughter and is able to get Pam to have a beer with him. But things happen and Randy’s old ways are haunting him and he can only go back to his only family he’s ever known. The family the cheers for him when he bleeds.

The film ends with a twenty year reunion wrestling match between The Ram and his arch enemy from the 80’s The Ayatollah. The final scene in the movie strikes the hell out of you when Randy rises on top ropes and at that moment you realize two things: One, a new respect for the men who work in that crazy industry and the true punishment they endure playing in a fake sport. And two: Mickey Rourke deserves the Oscar.

Milan A. Cargould

Thanks for the review Mac. Can't wait to see it.