Tuesday, January 28, 2014

12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Directed by Steve McQueen

Screenplay by John Ridley

Based on the memoir, "Twelve Years a Slave" by Solomon Northrup

Currently #87 of the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb (as of this posting)

Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o, Sarah Paulson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Adepero Oduye, Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt, Alfre Woodard, Paul Giamatti and Brad Pitt

This is one of the movies that I really wanted to see at this time of year. My family went out for our family movie outing. I warned my mother that the movie was going to be intense. Intense is an understatement. I had to have a couple of days to wrap my brain around this movie. It was recently nominated for 9 Oscars including Best Picture, Director and Actor.

Solomon Northup (Ejiofor) never knew what it was like to be a slave. He was born a free man living in New York with his wife, Anne (Kelsey Scott) and his children. Being an accomplished violinist, a pair of men presented Solomon with a chance to play at a circus in Washington, DC. While he was there, he was drugged and woke up in shackles. Slave masters told him that his name was "Platt", a runaway from Georgia.

Solomon proclaimed his innocence. That action only made things worse for him as he was whipped mercilessly. Solomon is sold to Master Ford (Cumberbatch), a man that treated the slaves like humans. This is the happiest the movie will ever be. Solomon's clashes with Tibeats (Dano). Solomon is sold again to a nasty cotton plantation owner named Epps (Fassbender) who extremely religious and treats his slaves like property. Master Epps has his prized Negress, Pasty (Nyong'o) much to the chagrin of Epps' wife, Mary (Paulson) that picked the most cotton, but she is unhappy in her life. Solomon tries any way he can to proclaim that he is a free man.

The movie is not the easiest movie to watch. I was angry. I shifted in my seat numerous times. I cannot imagine myself having that kind of life. As I told my mom when we exited the theater, just kill me. My ancestors endured that treatment for four hundred years. Being torn away from your family. Having no clue where you came from, distant relatives, etc.

My feelings aside, I want to talk about the film in general. I enjoyed the movie. Will it win Best Picture? The way that award shows are these days it will. A movie with a primarily African American cast has never won Best Picture. Think about it? The Color Purple, A Soldier's Story, Sounder, Precious, Ray... the list goes on. What does it say about Hollyweird that a story about slavery wins?

Their other criticism that Steve McQueen sold out to make an Oscar bait movie? Perhaps. I have seen both of his previous films. They felt like delving into untapped territory. This movie feels like Roots 2013. The overall feel of the movie felt false. There was scenes that was supposed to be emotional. I felt nothing.

I'm not knocking the entire movie. I thought that Hans Zimmer was completely robbed for a Best Score nomination. I loved the music of the movie. It was haunting. Lupita Nyong'o is a revelation as Pasty. Being her big screen debut is an astonishing feat.

My Rating

Saturday, January 25, 2014

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Based on the epic poem, "The Odyssey" by Homer

Stars: George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, Holly Hunter, Charles Durning, Michael Badalucco, Chris Thomas King and John Goodman

It has been a couple of years since I last saw O Brother, Where Art Thou? I never heard of the movie until I saw that soundtrack of the movie winning beaucoup amounts of Grammy that next year. Seeing the movie at the time, the music is the probably the best part of the movie. The movie was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and Cinematography. That has to say something, right?

Picture it, Mississippi 1937. A chain gang. Running through a vast field. Ulysses Everett McGill (Clooney), Delmar O'Donnell (Nelson) and Pete Hogwallop (Turturro) embark on a grand journey to find hidden treasure that Everett hid for an epic robbery. On their journey, the trio meets a blind seer that tells them that they would find a different kind of treasure. Will it be national stardom as they record "A Man of Constant Sorrow" as the Soggy Bottom Boys? Changing the tide of a gubernatorial race? Being infamous for hanging with notorious gangster "Babyface" Nelson (Badalucco).

As I stated before, the music of the film is the best thing about the movie. I don't like listen to Southern bluesy country music. I was so into it. You know, my feelings about the Coens. Their filmography is sketchy. It seems like that they have no success with their dramas then their comedies. This is one of the comedies I liked more their other ones.

My Rating

Monday, January 20, 2014

This Is the End

This Is the End (2013)

Directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen

Screen Story and Screenplay by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen

Based on the short film "Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse" by Jason Stone

Stars: Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride

That's right, bitches. I'm back. I know that it's been a minute and half since I posted a review. My usual burnout. I think from now on, I am going to watch my movies that I want to watch, instead ones that I should watch. Seeing the teaser trailer for this movie was brilliant cause you thought it was going to be something for Pineapple Express 2, but it was for this movie. I have seen plenty of apocalypse movies, this is certainly different.

Everybody is this movie is playing a deviated version of themselves. Jay Barchuel comes back to town to be greeted by Seth Rogen at the airport. They do what they do best; drink, smoke weed, eat and play video games. Seth has an idea to attend James Franco's housewarming party. Everybody that is everybody is there. It is like a Judd Apatow reunion. The problem is that Jay doesn't want to be there. He doesn't like the Hollyweird lifestyle. Something bigger happens, the end of days is happening outside. Jay, Seth, James, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride are stuck together in the house while all hell is breaking loose.

I heard ramblings bout this movie when it was released last summer. It was mostly good things. Is this the best comedy of the year? No. There were some moments were I laughed out loud, but they were few and far between. The movie is not bad. If I saw this in the movie theater instead of at home on my TV, I might had a different opinion. My reaction was indifference. The Rogen/Goldberg tropes are wearing a bit thin. I need something different than pot smoking and dick jokes. That's all.

My Rating

Thursday, January 16, 2014

2014 Oscar Nominations

Best Picture

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale – American Hustle
Bruce Dern – Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Amy Adams – American Hustle
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Judi Dench – Philomena
Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

Best Actor in A Supporting Role

Barkhad Abdi - Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper - American Hustle
Michael Fassbender - 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill - The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o - 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts - August: Osage County
June Squibb - Nebraska

Best Animated Feature Film

The Croods – Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco and Kristine Belson
Despicable Me 2 – Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin and Chris Meledandri
Ernest & Celestine – Benjamin Renner and Didier Brunner
Frozen – Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho
The Wind Rises – Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki

Best Cinematography

The Grandmaster – Philippe Le Sourd
Gravity – Emmanuel Lubezki
Inside Llewyn Davis – Bruno Delbonnel
Nebraska – Phedon Papamichael
Prisoners – Roger A. Deakins

Best Costume Design

American Hustle – Michael Wilkinson
The Grandmaster – William Chang Suk Ping
The Great Gatsby – Catherine Martin
The Invisible Woman – Michael O’Connor
12 Years a Slave – Patricia Norris

Best Directing

American Hustle – David O. Russell
Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón
Nebraska – Alexander Payne
12 Years a Slave – Steve McQueen
The Wolf of Wall Street – Martin Scorsese

Best Documentary Feature

The Act of Killing – Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
Cutie and the Boxer – Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher
Dirty Wars – Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill
The Square – Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer
20 Feet from Stardom – Nominees to be determined

Best Documentary (Short Subject)

CaveDigger – Jeffrey Karoff
Facing Fear – Jason Cohen
Karama Has No Walls – Sara Ishaq
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life – Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall – Edgar Barens

Best Film Editing
American Hustle – Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
Captain Phillips – Christopher Rouse
Dallas Buyers Club – John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
12 Years a Slave – Joe Walker

Best Foreign Language Film

The Broken Circle Breakdown – Belgium
The Great Beauty – Italy
The Hunt – Denmark
The Missing Picture – Cambodia
Omar – Palestine

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Dallas Buyers Club – Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa – Stephen Prouty
The Lone Ranger – Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

Best Music (Original Score)

The Book Thief – John Williams
Gravity – Steven Price
Her – William Butler and Owen Pallett
Philomena – Alexandre Desplat
Saving Mr. Banks – Thomas Newman

Best Music (Original Song)

“Alone Yet Not Alone” from Alone Yet Not Alone - Music by Bruce Broughton; Lyric by Dennis Spiegel
“Happy” from Despicable Me 2 - Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams
“Let it Go” from Frozen - Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song” from Her - Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson

Best Production Design
American Hustle – Judy Becker (Production Design); Heather Loeffler (Set Decoration)
Gravity – Andy Nicholson (Production Design); Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard (Set Decoration)
The Great Gatsby – Catherine Martin (Production Design); Beverley Dunn (Set Decoration)
Her – K.K. Barrett (Production Design); Gene Serdena (Set Decoration)
12 Years a Slave – Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Alice Baker (Set Decoration)

Best Short Film (Animated)

Feral – Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden
Get a Horse! – Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim
Mr. Hublot – Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
Possessions – Shuhei Morita
Room on the Broom – Max Lang and Jan Lachauer

Best Short Film (Live Action)

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me) – Esteban Crespo
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) – Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras
Helium – Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson
Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) – Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari
The Voorman Problem – Mark Gill and Baldwin Li

Best Sound Editing

All Is Lost – Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
Captain Phillips – Oliver Tarney
Gravity – Glenn Freemantle
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Brent Burge
Lone Survivor – Wylie Stateman

Best Sound Mixing

Captain Phillips – Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro
Gravity – Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson
Inside Llewyn Davis – Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
Lone Survivor – Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

Best Visual Effects

Gravity – Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
Iron Man 3 – Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
The Lone Ranger – Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
Star Trek Into Darkness – Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Before Midnight – Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Captain Phillips – Screenplay by Billy Ray
Philomena – Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
12 Years a Slave – Screenplay by John Ridley
The Wolf of Wall Street – Screenplay by Terence Winter

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)

American Hustle – Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine – Written by Woody Allen
Dallas Buyers Club – Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
Her – Written by Spike Jonze
Nebraska – Written by Bob Nelson