Thursday, February 19, 2009

Call the COPs: Clueless Oscar Predictions, the 2009 edition

First, what ... no love for Movievangelist's 4th anniversary earlier this week? Yeah, it was Monday, you heartless @ssholes. I give you so much joy and entertainment over nearly 1,500 days, and what do I get in return? A big steaming cup of Eff Off, Jeff. As Maggie from "Caddyshack" would say, "Tanks for nuttin', Danny."

OK, I forgive you. Let's move on.

So the Oscars are this Sunday. Where the hell did that come from? Serves me right for having another kid. Before they can totally sneak up on me, the awards deserve the unique Movievangelist take. By that, I mean predictions of winners based on very little knowledge of how things actually work. With that, enjoy.


Josh Brolin, “Milk”: Not bad in his second dipsh!t conservative role of the year -- after "W." -- but not amazing, especially compared with Spicoli in the lead role. ODDS: 20-to-1.

Robert Downey Jr., “Tropic Thunder”: Loved him, but ain't no way blackface gets the golden boy. At least he didn't go full retard. ODDS: 25-to-1.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt”: If he didn't win for "Along Came Polly," he won't win here. ODDS: 18-to-1.

Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”: Remind me ... what was the role again? Don't remember reading anything about it. And what's he up to these days? ODDS: 1-to-1 Bazillion.

Michael Shannon, “Revolutionary Road”: Well, he's been deserving ever since playing Mary Catherine Gallagher on SNL. What's that? That was MOLLY Shannon? My bad. ODDS: 30-to-1.


Amy Adams, “Doubt”: Sorry ... it's all been downhill since "Cruel Intentions 2." ODDS: 15-to-1.

Penélope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”: My new daughter might share her name, but I have a hard time believing she can actually reel this in, despite all the buzz. I mean ... she kind of sucks as an English-speaking actress. ODDS: 3-to-1

Viola Davis, “Doubt”: Heard she's great, but two people from the same movie in the same category isn't good. ODDS: 5-to-1.

Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”: Have no idea how good she was, but I'm calling a minor upset here, in part because it will give the most-nominated film of this year one of the top awards. ODDS: 2-to-1.

Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler”: I'd give it to her based on the boobies alone. Alas, the Academy's standards may be slightly different. ODDS: 7-to-1.


Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor”: He was amazing in a tougher role than Penn or Rourke had, but just being nominated will be his award. ODDS: 15-to-1.

Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”: Great performance by a real pro, but not enough to knock off the two favorites. ODDS: 10-to-1.

Sean Penn, “Milk”: Not transcendent, but pretty damn good, especially for a would-be tough guy. Throw in the fact that there are a few gay people in El Lay, and I think he gets it in a squeaker. ODDS: 3-to-1.

Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”: Another year, maybe. I still think he was robbed for "Kalifornia." ODDS: 12-to-1.

Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”: I won't mind if he takes it home, because it's a good story. I just think he's got a little of the same thing as Jenkins. Meaning, enjoy your nomination: ODDS: 4-to-1.


Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”: Apparently she's a real shrew here, which is laudable. But she's still going to have to wait her turn. ODDS: 10-to-1.

Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”: Really? Really? Really? No. ODDS: 25-to-1.

Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”: I'm pretty sure you have to actually have heard of the movie to give someone the Oscar. ODDS: 20-to-1.

Meryl Streep, “Doubt”: The Grand Old Dame brought her A game, but she also already has a couple of shiny boys. ODDS: 5-to-1.

Kate Winslet, “The Reader”: The movie is uneven, but she never wavers in her pained performance. The bridesmaid gets the ring ... er, statue this year. ODDS: 3-to-1.


David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button": Go ask Zemeckis about borrowing his. I liked you better when you were weird. ODDS: 15-to-1.

Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon”: Solid effort, but there's an Indian freight train ready to run you over. ODDS: 8-to-1.

Gus Van Sant, “Milk”: Good movie, but nobody thinks you're the reason. ODDS: 10-to-1.

Stephen Daldry, “The Reader”: Impressive track record for this guy, but the nomination is enough recognition. ODDS: 12-to-1.

Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”: Classic tale of an indie darling making good without going too Hollywood. They're ready to unleash the Oscar love. ODDS: 3-to-1.


“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”: Great makeup, good performances, but it's too long and too much like that filthy, thieving "Forrest Gump," which stole an Oscar from "Pulp Fiction." ODDS: 15-to-1.

“Frost/Nixon”: Another year, maybe, although it may also just be too talky for some voters. ODDS: 10-to-1.

“Milk”: If any movie pulls the upset, it's this one, and -- quite frankly -- it would be a "Crash"-type crapfest. I like it, sure, but not enough to make it No. 1. ODDS: 8-to-1.

“The Reader”: It may have been made to win Oscars, but it won't. I would have rather seen "The Visitor" here. Nice knobs, though, Kate. ODDS: 20-to-1.

“Slumdog Millionaire”: Crank up the curry and pass around the chai. The feel-good hit of the winter -- well, with a dash of poverty, mutilation and thuggery -- is headed for the winner's circle. ODDS: 2-to-1.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Come on ... you don't come back from "Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man." You build on it: "The Wrestler"

Dropping back in as we approach two weeks of being a two-kid family. What fun. There's really nothing quite like juggling a screaming newborn and moody toddler. I suggest you try it.

Anyway, I caught the GREAT MICKEY ROURKE COMEBACK MOVIE before our new daughter arrived. There were the rave reviews, of course, but I've actually enjoyed the former boxer in other recent roles -- most notably as Marv in "Sin City." So call it a comeback if you want -- I mean, the guy did do Wild Orchid -- but it's not like he was in Siberia.

As you likely know, our story follows a one-time late '80s wrestling star now plying his trade on smaller stages as his life generally sucks. Here he is, still working out, shooting 'roids, tanning, dyeing his hair, and for what? To bang around high school gyms for pocket change? To show up at pathetic wrestling legends shows with other has-beens? To hang out at a strip club and make goo-goo eyes at Marisa Tomei? (If you thought her giving us the goods in "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" was something, just watch. And watch. And watch.)

Yes, this is the life of Randy "The Ram" Robinson, painfully captured in all its gritty, documentary-like glory by director Darren Aronofsky. While "The Wrestler" isn't as dreary as "Requiem for a Dream," it's definitely got some downer moments, mostly when it comes to the Ram's plight -- locked out of his trailer, begging for hours at a supermarket, trying to make nice with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood), hearing people use his given name. Sure, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair may still be running around these days, eons after their career peaks. But it's not hard to believe the Ram's story -- even with the lights dimmed, there's still a stage, sad as it may be.

Rourke is really good and earned that Oscar nomination. Not just the pathetic parts, but also the slice of life stuff -- from showing us behind the scenes how wrestling works to making his way with his supermarket job and his would-be love life. Of course, if you know Aronofsky, you know there's no happy ending, and that's about right. The rebirth of the Ram wouldn't be nearly as riveting as him simply being resolved to his lot in life.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the awesome music. Not Springsteen's mopey closing credits song or even Guns n' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine," which they got for free. No, I'm talking about some classic '80s hair metal. I know I missed a few, but I counted classic tracks by Quiet Riot, Cinderella and Ratt. Yes, "Round and Round" by Ratt! Where else are you going to see that song in a movie? Well, other than "Schindler's List," of course.

Friday, February 06, 2009

On the same day I buy a "Real Genius" DVD for less than $5 ...

This news breaks.

(What can I say? That Circuit City going-out-of-business sale finally delivered. Could you pass up Val Kilmer's finest hour for such a paltry sum? Just wait until I find "The Saint" ... )

Anyway, you gotta love Val making noise about elected office. My favorite quote: "I'm just looking for ways to be contributive."

"Contributive?" "Contributive?" C'mon, Iceman ... that kind of talk will make Maverick drop you as a wingman likethat.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The way they went at it, maybe this should have been called "The Breeder": "The Reader"

Gotta love the laptop and wifi. You may recall I took some time off from blogging when my first kid was born, prompting cries of anguish from ... what, seven readers? Dare I say ... eight? With the second, though, here I am, a mere 27 hours later, sharing my take on what I saw in the last few pre-baby days. At least, until She of the Boundless Radiance tells me to get my a$$ over there and fetch more Jell-O.

(Update: Make that 39 hours later. It wasn't a Jell-O request, but let's just say someone didn't like seeing me hunched over the Dell for more than a few minutes. Nearly 12 hours later, I'm just now getting back to this. So it goes ... )

Even with Kate Winslet showing her goodies, ain't no way Jeff sees "The Reader" in the theater in normal times. The period pieces usually aren't my thing, nor are tales of scandalous affairs. And this movie just had that arty-farty, give-us-some-Oscar-nominations stank. But hey, it was nominated for some big ones, and when it came to other options, my wife and I couldn't get too excited about Old Man Pitt or Kate's other movie -- with her and Leo screaming at each other.

And then there were the boobies. I can safely saying that I never thought to put "SS guard" and "nice rack" in the same sentence before now.

Our story: A German teen (some young actor) meets a thirtysomething tram ticket-taker (Winslet) through happenstance and falls into a torrid summer affair with her. Of note -- beyond the bordering-on-gratuitous topless scenes -- is how she likes him to read literature to him. He obliges, but eventually she takes off, never to be seen again. Or so we thought.

Years later, the kid is a '60s law student, and his class watches the trial of former WWII female prison camp guards, including Winslet. Obviously this moves the kid, and he remains fixated on her after the trial, engaged in a different, much longer relationship that ultimately makes them both better people.

To say more might be a spoiler, but we can discuss the pros and cons.

(First, a side note: As the closing credits started rolling, I joked with Amy that I wanted to wait for the bloopers. Really, though, wouldn't that be awesome? Forget the little dance number at the end of "Slumdog Millionaire." How cool would it be to watch a serious drama, then have outtakes -- a la Jackie Chan or Judd Apatow movies -- as the credits roll? For what movie would that be the most inappropriate? "Schindler's List?" "Requiem for a Dream?" "Deliverance?" The possibilities are endless ... )

Pros: somewhat interesting story, especially for a romance/period piece; solid performance by Winslet, clearly in Oscar mode again even if the makeup job for her later years was a bit off; a great supporting turn by Lena Olin as a prison camp survivor -- her last scene is great, and a true "supporting role," not one of those third-billed performances; and a second half that was more intriguing than the first, where I kept thinking, "Good thing she's showing some skin, because this is getting repetitive."

Cons: that first half, which was plodding at first, then just boring; the German kid, who had a hard time delivering on his character's torn emotions and looked like a Heath Ledger wannabe; a little bit of overkill in the relationship between the adult versions of our couple; a too-mopey Ralph Fiennes.

In the end, this is still a good movie, even if not my bag. Put another way, don't expect me to be half-drunk one Friday night next year and think, "Hmmm ... should I pop in 'Old School,' 'Flash Gordon' or 'The Reader?'"