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Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

Time for the big move…

Posted by goldwriting on January 24, 2009

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[photo credit]

Just a quick note to let everyone know the site will be down tonight (1/24) at midnight for about an hour or so. We are moving onto a new server and planning out a whole new design flow, which I am extremely excited about. Tonight is only the server migration, but the new design will be unleashed in the near future. The site will have more content, more functionality and even more movie linkage (if that is even possible). Thanks for reading and hope you all are having an amazing weekend!

Coming Soon: Defiance

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The 81st Academy Award Nominations: The Big Show Goes Small

Posted by goldwriting on January 22, 2009

oscarDo you know how long I have been waiting to duel with someone. Seriously! I have the sword and everything.

For movie fanatics all over the world, this is the morning we wipe our crusted eyelids, roll clumsily out of bed and collapse on the couch to see the live announcement of the Academy Award nominations. It is more than a testament to the passion we have for cinema, it is a statement of how much we want to quickly and violently debate the fairness of the Academy’s choices. So, let the debate begin…

Best Motion Picture of the Year

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Frost/Nixon

Milk

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire (deserves to win, most likely winner)

What can anyone do to stop the steamrolling power of the Slumdog? Pretty much nothing. Sweeping every category it was nominated in at the Golden Globes, Slumdog has all the momentum and all the passion of an Oscar winner. It’s uplifting, full of hope and adversity, and overall everything the Academy voters love to rally around. When it wins for Best Picture it will also help paint the picture of the Academy as a more international accepting body of voters. I give great credit to Benjamin Button and Frost/Nixon for both being incredible films, but I don’t see them climbing over Slumdog for a win. Milk to me is over-nominated and I would have gladly let this one go in favor of The Dark Knight or Revolutionary Road. My disappointment over the snubbing of The Dark Knight isn’t truly due to thinking it would win the category, but because it would have given some validation to the comic book genre and really helped to boost the idea that these are not just costumed vigilantes on a violence bender, they are incredibly complex and moving stories available to be enjoyed by adults as well as kids. As for The Reader, Ricky Gervais must have been right when he told Kate Winslet at the Golden Globes, “See, just do the Holocaust movie and awards just come rolling in.”

Best Achievement in Directing

David Fincher: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Ron Howard: Frost/Nixon

Gus Van Sant: Milk

Stephen Daldry: The Reader

Danny Boyle: Slumdog Millionaire (deserves to win, most likely winner)

This is the first time since 1944 where there is an exact match between the Best Picture category and the Best Director. Commonly the two awards go hand-in-hand, but there is usually one oddball or mismatch between them. Not this year and my feelings remain pretty much the same from the previous category. Danny Boyle will walk away the winner.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Richard Jenkins: The Visitor (deserves to win)

Frank Langella: Frost/Nixon

Sean Penn: Milk

Brad Pitt: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Mickey Rourke: The Wrestler (most likely winner)

Now here is some excitement and tension for the night. The inclusion of dark horse Richard Jenkins throws a distinct wrench in the celebratory plans of Mickey Rourke, who took the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama. Jenkins hands down deserves the nomination and I am pulling for him to win. All these performances were incredibly strong, which could split the voting and leave Jenkins available for the sneak attack. The big money is on Rourke because of his Cinderella-esque return to the limelight, but I’m personally hedging my bets and putting some small change on Jenkins. Sean Penn can proudly stand here as the one thing I agree with in terms of nominations for Milk. He was the lightning rod for this film and it all hinged on his stellar performance. Langella and Pitt both were terrific, but the momentum and buzz are not behind them this year.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Josh Brolin: Milk

Robert Downey Jr.: Tropic Thunder

Philip Seymour Hoffman: Doubt

Heath Ledger: The Dark Knight (deserves to win, most likely winner)

Michael Shannon: Revolutionary Road

I was thinking about just leaving this area with one word, “Duh”, but that would steal my opportunity to praise and shout for the nomination of Michael Shannon. He was the most outstanding and powerful part of Revolutionary Road and I am thrilled he got the nod here. Yet, with that said, let me now return to my previous thought…

“Duh.”

Ledger takes this.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Anne Hathaway: Rachel Getting Married (deserves to win)

Angelina Jolie: Changeling

Melissa Leo: Frozen River

Meryl Streep: Doubt

Kate Winslet: The Reader (most likely winner)

Who is Melissa Leo and what is this film, Frozen River? Pulling a repectful Jenkins-like move, Leo throws this semi-strong category into a whirl. Hathaway and Winslet are the two obvious front runners, with Hathaway almost sure to take the Independent Spirit Award the night before the Oscars and Winslet still fanning herself off after the double grab at the Golden Globes for both her roles this year. Holocaust subject matter aside, I think Hathaway was stronger in her role as an ex-junkie struggling with reintegrating herself into her own family, where as if Winslet had been nominated for Revolutionary Road instead of The Reader I would be more inclined to begrudgingly hand it to her. Streep can’t be totally counted out, especially since all four of the main actors from Doubt got nominations, but I think she will fall by the wayside here. Maybe when she lands there, she can bring Jolie a drink, she’s been down there all year.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams: Doubt

Penelope Cruz: Vicky Christina Barcelona

Viola Davis: Doubt

Taraji P. Henson: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Marisa Tomei: The Wrestler (deserves to win, most likely winner)

Even though Vicky Christina Barcelona took home the Golden Globe for Best Comedy, I think Penelope is the only one is this category you can count out of the running. The two Doubt women, Davis and Adams, were both sensational, but they might end up splitting that audience in half. This leaves Henson and Tomei to battle it out, with Tomei a touch ahead since I think she only lost out on the Globe because she was battling Winslet on her night-of-all-nights. If Henson pulls it out here, she will most likely be one of very few of the thirteen nominations for Button that will result in a win.

Best Animated Film of the Year

Bolt

Kung Fu Panda

Wall-E (deserves to win, most likely winner)

I’m still baffled by all the acclaim for Bolt, but it really doesn’t matter this year. Wall-E lost out on a Best Picture nod most likely because everyone just wanted to give it this award and be done with it. Plan on Pixar walking away once again, proud of its tiny trashman.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Eric Roth: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

John Patrick Shanley: Doubt

Peter Morgan: Frost/Nixon

David Hare: The Reader

Simon Beaufoy: Slumdog Millionaire (deserves to win, most likely winner)

There’s a good chance Slumdog will continue its reign here, but it’s a strong category so anything could really happen. The Reader has pulled in lots of support and you can count on a huge studio push for the win, but the rest of the pack are no slouches either. Shanley wrote the play for Doubt as well as the screenplay and he was already heaped with acclaim for the stage version (surprisingly, the same holds true for Morgan with Frost/Nixon). Hare succeeded greatly with taking an incredibly minute starting point, a much loved, but much thinner short story, so his skill and credit comes from the expansion and illumination of tale we are lucky to not have missed. Anyone’s game, but I’ll lean towards the Bollywood train based on sheer momentum.

Best Original Screenplay

Courtney Hunt: Frozen River

Mike Leigh: Happy-Go-Lucky

Martin McDonagh: In Bruges

Dustin Lance Black: Milk

Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon: Wall-E (deserves to win, most likely winner)

Again, this is a category where Milk really doesn’t fit. I don’t see it as an original story since it was a biopic and mostly a dramatization of the documentary, The Life and Times of Harvey Milk. It’s a good film, but not what I consider an original story. Then there’s that mystery movie, Frozen River, once again. I really need to see this. Wall-E deserves writing acclaim without a doubt since the first twenty minutes were done beautifully with virtually no dialogue at all. That’s talent, people. Happy-Go-Lucky and In Bruges are getting more acclaim since both movies had their main actors recognized with Golden Globes this year, but I think this one will still end in the incredibly cute storage bin of our friend, Wall-E.

Best Achievement in Art Direction

Changeling

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (deserves to win, most likely winner)

The Dark Knight

The Duchess

Revolutionary Road

The Duchess is a period drama and those tend to do well in this category. As for the rest, they are all incredibly picturesque and beautifully designed films, ranging from the aging, earthy tones of Button to the stark and stunning colors of Road, any of these films deserves the accolade on this night. Just for the sake of picking a winner, I’ll toss my tiny iota of support behind Button. (Sorry, Dark Knight, I still love you.)

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Changeling

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire (deserves to win, most likely winner)

Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish the difference between Best Art Direction, which is how the film and its universe looks, and Best Cinematography, which is how the film is shot, which in turn show you how the universe looks. It’s a fine line, but this year I think the inventiveness of movement and pacing coupled with the saturated colors of India are going to bring Slumdog yet one more statue for the night.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Australia

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (deserves to win, most likely to win)

The Duchess

Milk

Revolutionary Road

Except for The Duchess, these are all dramas set in fairly contemporary time periods, so the costume design was more about complementing the world and environment, whereas in Duchess gets to really show off the fashions of its 18th century era; big hair pieces, huge dresses and rib-crushing corsets. I’ll lean towards Button due it sheer volume of nominations and its clarity of vision inside the entire project, but this is truly a toss-up.

Best Documentary Feature

The Betrayal

Encounters at the End of the World

The Garden

Man on Wire (most likely to win)

Trouble the Water

I can’t put “deserves to win” here since I have seen absolutely none of these. I love documentaries, but I happen to miss this grouping completely. I’ve heard amazing things about Man on Wire from both friends and industry readings, so I’ll go with that one.

Best Documentary Short Subject

The Conscience of Nhem En

The Final Inch

Smile Pinki

– The Witness – From the Balcony of Room 306

Umm…[tries to read tea leaves]…uh…The Witness? Yeah, that’ll win.

Best Achievement in Film Editing

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Frost/Nixon (deserves to win)

Milk

Slumdog Millionaire (most likely winner)

Although the editing in Slumdog was sensational, I am happy to announce I think there is actually a better choice in this category. Frost/Nixon tackled a nearly yawn-inducing subject, one last interview with an old and broken man, and turned into a harrowing, sweat-filled ride towed along by brilliant pacing. Do I think it will actually win, nope, but it most certainly gets my vote for most deserving.

Best Foreign Language Film

The Baader Meinhof Complex

The Class

Departures

Revanche

Waltz with Bashir (most likely winner)

Bashir took home the Globe and you can expect it will do the same here. Nothing but praise has been heaped on this oddly animated drama and I am itching for my chance to witness it myself.

Best Achievement in Makeup

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (most likely to win)

The Dark Knight

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (deserves to win)

The real choice here is what you find more impressive, making something look incredibly realistic with a mixture of CGI and practical makeup or making something fantastical come to life with prosthetics and makeup? The former would give you Button as the winner and the latter would give you Hellboy II, while the only makeup worth celebrating in Dark Knight is the insanely creepy and dripping face of the Joker. I would like to see Hellboy win here for the amazing work not only on the main character, but also the underworld villain Prince Nuada and his sister, Princess Nuala.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)

Alexander Desplat: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

James Newton Howard: Defiance

Danny Elfman: Milk

A.H. Rahman: Slumdog Millionaire (deserves to win, most likely winner)

Thomas Newman: Wall-E

While this might be the happiest group of characters Danny Elfman ever scored for, I think he will lose and quickly return to his gothic roots. Slumdog has a good chance due to its unique international flavor and the Golden Globe A.H. Rahman is already carrying, but the other three are very much in the running.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)

Peter Gabriel: “Down to Earth” from Wall-E (most likely winner)

Gulzar: “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire (deserves to win)

– A.R. Rahman, Maya Arulpragasam: “O Saya” from Slumdog Millionaire

There is a distinct lack of the man commonly referred to as “The Boss”! Why Bruce Springsteen didn’t get a nomination for the Golden Globe winning song he wrote and performed for The Wrestler is beyond me. Also surprising is the exclusion of Academy golden oldie, Clint Eastwood, and his warbling diddy for Gran Torino. With those two oddly out of the limelight, Gabriel could indeed walk away with it for his heartwarming tune, but Gulzar’s tune is the ending credits number and backs up a huge Bollywood dance number, which helps lift the audience to their feet after all the yearning and struggling they just witnessed. I’m going to put my mark there, while internally wishing I could actually dance like that.

Best Animated Short Film

La Maison en Petits Cubes

Lavatory – Lovestory

Oktapodi

Presto (most likely winner)

This Way Up

Presto is the only one I have seen since it was shown before Wall-E in the theater, but the whole thing is done with no dialogue and is gut-wrenchingly funny. Plus, it’s a Pixar joint, so just give it the gold and be happy they want to make more.

Best Live Action Short Film

Auf der Strecke (On the Line)

Mannon on the Asphalt (most likely winner)

New Boy

The Pig

Spielzeugland (Toyland)

I’ll go with Mannon on the Asphalt because it makes me think of a montage of skateboarders faceplanting.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

The Dark Knight (deserves to win, most likely winner)

Iron Man

Slumdog Millionaire

Wall-E

Wanted

The fact Wanted can now call itself an Academy Award nominated film just tickles me. There was some great sound work by all the nominees in this category, but here I will lovingly and joyously put my ballot into the box of Dark Knight. From the sounds of the jet engine of the Batmobile to the bone-crushing thud of Ledger’s head hitting the interrogation room table, this was a symphony of audio accomplishment.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight (deserves to win)

Slumdog Millionaire (most likely winner)

Wall-E

Wanted

Evidently Iron Man didn’t mix as well as they edited. Odd. Anyway, I’d still like to see Dark Knight get this, but I think the voting block might split this one up. There might still be enough uber-love for Slumdog to pull this one through for them as well.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (deserves to win, most likely winner)

The Dark Knight

Iron Man

This is the one category where Button truly deserves to win, hands down. The character of Benjamin was so incredible and adorable, I couldn’t felt any more sympathy and yearning for him if he were sitting right in front of me. The only reason it worked was the sheer realism of this aged and decrepit child, so without any reservations, this one goes to them.

If you made it all the way down here, thanks once again for reading and I would love to hear your thoughts. Tell me I’m right, tell me I’m wrong, make me believe I missed out on something truly great or just let me know what you thought of that box of Raisinets you got at the movies (Were yours stale? Mine were last time, but I can’t stop getting them).
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All Tomorrow’s Parties: A Bridge to the Future Unknown

Posted by goldwriting on March 6, 2008

alltomorrowsparties4.jpg “It’s not a dream?” “No,” he said.

Timelines and parallel possibilities come together and break apart during each waking second of the day and every sleeping moment of the night. Little connections are being made everywhere that ripple and reverberate throughout society and sometimes, just sometimes, people find a way to get in front of the chaos wave, trying to direct it towards their own desired outcomes. So when telling a story like this it only makes sense to place most of it on a large, broken down bridge, as it leads in one way to a whole new existence, but in another way it leads to nowhere at all.

For those who don’t know about William Gibson, here is a tasty refresher course. Gibson can’t be said to have burst onto the cyberpunk scene in 1984 with his landmark novel Neuromancer, the reason being that he created the cyberpunk scene. He refers in a large number of his books to nodal points and connectors that bring about change in the world they exist, well, he himself is one of those points. With the introduction of Neuromancer into popular culture he coined the first ever usage of the word “cyberspace” and thereby defined it. Once that found its place in our lexicon the growing world of virtual reality and cyberspace became molded as much by his visions than any scientific field or philosopher. It’s not even too far to say that Neuromancer became the unofficial bible of this burgeoning virtual world. From that point on he was raised to cult-like status by science fiction fans around the world and her has never strayed far from the cyberpunk genre, following things up with titles such as Count Zero, Burning Chrome, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Virtual Light and Idoru. He also wrote the short story Johnny Mnemonic, which was adapted into a completely silly movie with Keanu Reeves as the star.

No that you’ve had your literary history class, let’s discuss this particular work, All Tomorrow’s Parties.

This story revolves around a group of people who unknowingly find themselves at the nexus point of a major change in the world as they know it. Some of them are fighting to stop it, while others are trying to get ahead of it and direct it to their own ends. Lastly, the group which we all feel the most kinship with, are those who are stuck in the middle without any comprehension of how big this situation really is. On the heroic side; Laney, a unwilling patient from an orphanage who was given a drug that now allows him to see the flow of data and understand it on a deeply fundamental level; Rydell, a one time rent-a-cop who encapsulates an archetype that Gibson loves to write, the dark trenchcoat-wearing, quiet-talking, lighting-quick moving, unwilling loner hero; Silencio, a boy who doesn’t speak, but has an innate talent for digging underneath the information he is shown to find the information that he wants; Chevette, a young, punky looking girl who’s undesired ability is being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong man on her arm; and lastly the appearance of Rei Toei, a completely virtual Japanese pop star who is totally sentient, universally desired and somehow nowhere to be found. These are the characters that Gibson weaves into this tale and the enviroment he sets them loose in is a nearly destroyed futuristic version of the Golden Gate bridge, which since a massive earthquake no longer has cars packed on it in traffic jams, but an entire city of squatters and outcasts aptly called “Bridge People”.

One of the things I love about Gibson is his staccato writing style. The stories snap and break as he slices over to a new timeline or another character’s point of view. There is a beat and rythym to his writing that is unique to him alone. I will admit that if you have no knowledge at all of computers and the digital culture, there are going to be a lot of concepts and terms thrown around in Gibson’s work that won’t make a lick of sense. He is the Granddaddy of Cyberpunk and it would definitely be good to brush up on the topic before diving into his world. As for my feelings on this story, I liked it. It is a little tough getting into it, mainly due to so many different threads being started, but once they start to intertwine with each other the excitement from each one builds on the next and you ride that wave until the final page. Overall not quite as intriguing as some of his other books, Pattern Recognition being the most recent I read before this, but still a solid effort and a fun dip into the seedy side of the tech world.

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Duma Key: Unlocking more than you ever wanted to see

Posted by goldwriting on February 20, 2008

duma_whole.jpg

Continuing his quest to become the most prolific horror writer in history, Stephen King unleashed a new tale of heaven meets hell on the sandy beaches of an island called Duma Key. The story follows a sturdy Midwestern man named Edgar Freemantle who has worked long and worked hard to have the good life. On the far end of middle age he has built his construction company into a multi-million dollar empire, kept his wife happy and healthy and raised his two wonderful daughters. Retirement plans weren’t nearly on his mind yet, but other plans, more devious and more red plans were already in action. A crane on his work-site backs into his truck and just misses taking his life. What it did succeed in taking was his right arm, a crack out of his skull, the mobility of his right leg and lastly, the happiness of his marriage. Edgar begins to have rage issues when he wakes up in the hospital and after numerous therapy sessions it is decided that maybe he needs what is referred to as a “geographic cure”. Time to pick up and move on. His doctor also suggests a hobby, “something to build hedges against the night” as King put it. Edgar sees a brochure for Duma Key and knows it is the place he will start his new life. The hobby he digs up from his past is drawing, which leads to painting, which leads to things he never could have dreamed of in his worst nightmares.

King succeeds continually at creating characters that not only are believable, but likable as well. I instantly felt I knew Edgar Freemantle, along with Jerome Wireman, the wise and painfully genuine gentleman who lives down the beach, and Elizabeth, the elderly woman who’s past is not only hidden from others, but from herself as well due to the onset of Alzheimer’s. In classic King form he sets up a relaxed and easygoing pace, steadying the reader for the roller coaster they are strapped into. Then with a soft turn of the page and a quick hidden scream you find yourself tearing through the final 250 pages at breakneck speeds (I actually finished the book at 2:30am this morning, no rest for the wicked or those who imagine it). Beyond the storyline, just underneath the surface, this story is also about the muses, the voices from those hidden places that speak to all people who create, artists, writers, builders, musicians, etc. We read in here the dangers that lie beneath the ebb and flow of what we safely refer to as “inspiration”. King asks if you really know where that great line came from, how that picture in your head got so clear, and what would you do if you realized their was power just lurking out of focus behind those ideas.

I’ve been a fan of King’s for most of my life, in fact it was with him that I really gained my appreciation of literature as a whole. He was an author passed down to me by my Mom and I initially read him as something else her and I could talk about, but soon enough I found myself diving from one strange and haunting world to another. I can’t seem to get enough of King’s talent for twisting the simple and ordinary into mesmerizing and terrifying. Yes, he can be called a “pop author”, but you can never call him lazy. The man is a writing machine and even through his own personal declarations of retirement, he shows no signs of slowing down. To that, I say, “Thank goodness.”

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