Archive | February 2012

Sneak Peak Sunday Round Up

It’s Oscar Sunday but competing for my attention are the leaked images from the Star Trek set and a new (and surprisingly long) trailer for Game of Thrones season 2.

I am the first to admit my geekdom does not stray very far into Trekkie territory. Sure, I saw a lot of Jean-Luc Picard movies in my youth with my dad. But most of my knowledge comes from J.J. Abrams’ rebootlandia of 2009’s Star Trek. I would rather live in that timeline anyway (sorry…). All this to say, when I look at these leaked images I am not analyzing the fact Benedict Cumberbath is wearing a black Star Fleet uniform (which apparently indicates he could be from Section 31, an intelligence organization, or a cadet, or just rocking an off-duty under shirt according to some commenters) or the fact that Zachary Quinto’s Spock is performing the Famous Spock Nerve Pinch (thanks again comment section). No, I am just excited that BC is not decked out in some crazy prosthetic makeup and that these images do not disappoint. Yowza, BC was not kidding about hitting the gym. The only disappointment? That this film is coming out in May 2013.

Must be easy to be a stunt double that just stands and watches on the Space Barge

Is it wrong to root for BC?

Check out these and some more images (including Uhura) here.

Also in my emailbox today? A newsletter from HBO GO, alerting me to the new almost two minute preview of Game of Thrones!

“Sometimes those with the most power have the least grace” — Petyr Baelish.

Stannis/Renly faceoff on the battlefield! (+ Melisandre). Robb getting involved in drama that (from what I recall) we don’t discover until the third book. But judging from these scenes they are incorporating a lot more than just book two plots (my mind is mushy trying to keep straight what happened when). Best ever? Seeing Gendry in battle around the 1:38 mark.

He may have ascended on The Fades but surprise! Joe Dempsie is totally pulling off one of my fave characters: Gendry

 

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Spirit Awards Redux

The Spirit awards were handed out with relatively little surprises. Tonight’s Oscars may be the first time that the Spirit Award Best Picture and Academy Awards Best Picture are the same since Platoon in 1986. Which is more depressing than exciting: you would think the Spirit Awards would make a point to honor a film that would otherwise go unrecognized at the big show (Take Shelter, anyone?).

I can say that I had little expectation with Seth Rogen as a host. But honestly, I think he rocked it. First he gets played on stage by The Black Keys’ “Gold on the Ceiling” (not literally, just a recording…sigh). The Spirit Awards tent on the Santa Monica beach was Seth’s first victim. Only weakness? Why did Seth feel the need to constantly explain away his jokes? I loved his attack on the stage setup, mainly because I was thinking the same thing minutes before.

Here is the link to the full monologue:

http://vids.perezhilton.com/plugins/player.swf?v=dd0ebe0b0d9e9&p=vega4-without-ads-transparent-flp&autoplay=false

Other Highlights:

  • Seth’s attack on Brett Ratner as a “horrible bigot” that led into a joke about Chris Brown being allowed to perform twice at the Grammys after “beating the shit out of a nominee.” So, so true.
  • A nice crack at Drive for having no dialogue but still being entertaining. Which is also what I loved about it. Wait, there is another literally silent film out there? Hmmm, ohhh. Insert some sort of ironic emoticon.
  • Michael Shannon being called out on his creepiness is never not funny. Like in this hilarious clip. Also, where can Van Alden’s story really go on Boardwalk Empire at this point? This man needs to do comedy.
  • The Spirit Awards also showing camera love to Zachary Quinto (and his date J Groff) were much appreciated.

I love you, Margin Call peeps

Time to Pound Grapes with the Cul de Sac Crew!

Cougar Town is not what you think it is about (Courteney Cox screwing younger guys). If you don’t watch, give it a chance. If you watched when it premiered, try again: it is not the same show anymore. It is a show about adult friendships, playing games, and drinking wine. And it is wonderful. I randomly decided to watch it on Hulu at the beginning of its second season and loved what I saw.But I cannot replicate the perfect description given by Mo Ryan in her review on the Huffington Post earlier today:

[CT is] about how friends accept and love each other, despite their flaws…

One of the most enjoyable things about the wonderfully funny and charming new season is how much it unashamedly highlights romance. “Cougar Town” isn’t doing that because it’s returning on Valentine’s Day (these episodes were shot months ago, when the return date wasn’t known), but because that’s really what the Cul De Sac chronicles are about — not just falling in love, but the way people quietly choose to keep loving those they’re closest to.

This show is about deciding to stay true to friends or lovers, even when they flake out or annoy you; it’s about finding strategies to deal with imperfections and problems. Every episode explores one of Jules’ flaws or one of the ways in which her friends can be misguided, but there’s nothing cruel about the excavation of the characters’ mistakes. This is a show about tolerance and forgiveness; it’s not a dissection of failure and regret.

In its return, “Cougar Town” amusingly makes the point that knowing someone that well is a gift not to be taken lightly. As a whole, this series gently asserts that the most valuable luxury in the world is unlimited time in which to get to know friends and loved ones even better.

Couldn’t have made it better myself: 26 Reasons to Love Cougar Town

Happy Galentine’s Day Ladies!

February 13th is the day all gals should get together for a festive brunch and gift-giving, according to Leslie Knope.

Here is a guide to create your very own Galentine’s Day brunch.

Musings on Ryan Gosling, Michael Pitt, Canadian programming and Dawson’s Creek

As I researched Ryan Gosling’s filmography, I came across a little gem of a picture with Michael Pitt. I thought, whoa what is this Michael Pitt movie? And then I realized: Murder by Numbers from 2002. I own this; I desperately want to watch this now. Problem: it’s not on Netflix Instant and 8/9 of my DVD collection is at my house and not at my apartment. I probably haven’t watched it since at least 2004 because it isn’t one of those “I have to watch this over and over, show it to my friends” type of movie.

But I digress: This is a great movie to look at in terms of before these two actors became THE Ryan Gosling (like THE Bradley Cooper) and Jimmy Darmody. Regardless of the creepy killer factor (which would have attracted me to it) I am guessing that Ryan and Michael were really the driving force behind why I saw this in theaters. (But as I brush up, maybe Ben Chaplin as well…although I did not know Nick Offerman yet! And he was no Ron Effin’ Swanson then). And it is right about this time that Ryan would make the transition from former Mickey Mouse clubber to full-fledged star with The Notebook; Michael Pitt worked steadily as well but his breakout moment did not come later with his work on Boardwalk Empire.

But these fellas already had a special place in my heart: Ryan for Breaker High and Michael for his role as Henry on Dawson’s Creek.

I am not sure what I first saw with Ryan Gosling but, from his filmography, I started with Breaker High when my digital cable subscription included Encore’s WAM (it probably no longer plays these shows). Before BH he was involved in an episode of one of those shows my friends and I always reminisce about: Are you Afraid of the Dark? I am not sure if it was after school or during the summer, but I loved me some Canadian programming. Any and all episodes of Breaker High and Our Hero I could watch multiple times.

Whereas Breaker High was about kids attending high school on a cruise ship, Our Hero was about a girl who communicated her life lessons through zine form.  Luckily, WAM tended to air them all over and over so I could get my fill (I mean, BH had 44 episodes total and OH had 26). I could never get into the other show they liked to air from New Zealand, The Tribe (funny how now I am part of my own Tribe), and generally judged it whenever it came on.

I distinctly remember that he was a prominent feature of a website I liked to go to for all my teen obsessions and that his gallery included a lot of shots from Young Hercules, although I never watched the show. When Murder by Numbers appeared on my radar, I was excited to see this new dark side. Most people would probably argue they first saw him in Remember the Titans, and while I most likely did know he was in it at the time, I have never been enthused by sports movies (sorry, Moneyball).

Requisite Ewan capture from Stay

From there he became a household name with The Notebook and bona fide movie star as we all chanted “McAdams loves Gosling!” And he has appeared in many movies I have been motivated to see: Stay (well it has Ewan McGregor so…), Half Nelson (had award consideration), Fracture (probably something my Dad dragged me to), Lars and the Real Girl, and Blue Valentine. This man has been working steadily for years and making pretty good script choices. Well done. Moving on…

First of all, can we clear the air? Why is Dawson’s Creek no longer cool? Why do people look back and say, oh boy, I bet these guys don’t want us to mention their Dawson’s Creek days. They should be proud of it; compared to many teen shows, Dawson’s Creek was a ground breaker for dealing with many teen issues and it has produced more actors that continue to be significant and even A-listers than most other former teen shows combined. I could rant on about this for a while but the bottom line is it sort of hurts my feelings to hear Michelle Williams, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson and James van der Beek parody their time on Dawson’s Creek and/or act like it never happened. DC was a big part of my formative years and it is a show they should be proud of (at least the first three seasons), and not shrink away whenever it is referenced.

Michael Pitt annoyed me about as much as he initially annoyed Michelle Williams’ character Jen Lindley on Dawson’s Creek. He was younger and childish and prone to flying off the handle for no good reason. But just like Jen I started to think well hell, he IS sweet and Henry’s earnestness began to rub off on me. And then it became bizarro world with Jen the cheerleader dating a football player, a place she (and us) probably couldn’t have ever imagined when she first showed up in Capeside. Michael appeared in a slew of prominent movies that I saw before Murder by Numbers: Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Bully as well as a prominent movie I haven’t seen, Finding Forrester. And just like Ryan he worked steadily afterwards, garnering attention for The Dreamers and appearing in The Village and Funny Games among others.

Why it is good to revisit older movies: Fran Kranz, Adrien Brody, Michael Pitt and Jesse Eiseberg are ALL in The Village? I definitely blocked out that knowledge.

But it was his role on Boardwalk Empire that really turned heads. As each episode progressed, Jimmy Darmody became the most complex, compelling character on the series. Forever haunted by his time spent in France during WWI, we slowly get to unpack his character scene by scene. How and why did he go from Princeton to the war to employment with Nucky? What is the deal with his mother? And sometimes it is nice to just spend some time with Jimmy, whether he is enforcing for the Italians or plotting a coup in Atlantic City. And his friendship with Richard Harrow was truly a boon for us viewers. And to sum up, Boardwalk Empire leaves it indisputable that this guy has some acting chops that I hope to see more as his career continues.

 

In sum, it is nice to look back on how these two formidable actors converged on one movie set a decade ago and how they have each grown. Murder by Numbers represents a time where I already had my reference points for their respective careers (admittedly they were teen shows); moving past that point, my reference points have changed due to the expanding caliber of their portfolio.

A real human being

When I saw the trailer for Drive, I saw little to be interested in, I think, for two reasons.  Whoever put the trailer together (at least the one I saw multiple times) did not do a very good job. The trailer failed to hint at any of the amazingness contained in this film; instead it catered to the masses (showing sexy shots of Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan, Ryan Gosling driving a car, and quick audibles from all the prominent cast members: Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston). Nowhere did it imply that it was more Tarantino than Jerry Bruckheimer, more gritty than showy. Secondly, the failure of promotion combined with the over-saturation of Ryan Gosling in 2011: Crazy, Stupid, Love (meh), The Ides of March (haven’t seen it), All Good Things (the movie that has been lingering in my Netflix Instant Queue), and Drive. And to some extent he has had a year of mileage and exposure starting with awards season last year for Blue Valentine. So in my mind I thought he was phoning this one in to round out a pretty good year.

But what a performance by Ryan Gosling:  He simultaneously made my heart break and creeped me out. For the first forty minutes he is genial and calm, calculating. It takes him about 20 seconds to generate an answer in conversation or decide to shake your hand. He smiles and leers uncomfortably long, and then reverts to a normal person for seconds at a time. I love how his character is presented as is, an explanation is not necessary to answer why he is the way he is (quiet and reserved, but adept at being a getaway driver as well as ruthless). The mystery is part of the fun.

I also downloaded the soundtrack minutes after the credits rolled, after becoming obsessed with it in the first few frames of the film. Check out some of these dreamy, 80s-esque tracks that underscore the grittiness of the movie’s performances:

My absolute fave that refuses to get out of my head…

College feat. Electric Youth – A Real Hero

Kavinsky – Nightcall

Desire – Under Your Spell

Or listen to the entire thing:

Let’s Pretend the Independent Spirit Awards are the Oscars in 2012

I have officially expanded my award season repertoire with rentals of 50/50, Margin Call, and Drive. One problem: it doesn’t give me much headway when it comes to the Academy Awards race.

But, taking a look at the nominees for the Independent Spirit Awards, airing the day before the Oscars, I feel much more on top of my game. Most movies I thought mattered this year are being honored at the ISA. (Of course The Artist and The Descendants are still nominated for Best Feature, sigh).

But what else do we have? 50/50, Beginners, Drive and Take Shelter. I can’t wait to check out Take Shelter and I am very pleased to see Best Feature nods for Beginners and Drive.

Under Best First Feature we have: Margin Call and Martha Marcy May Marlene.

The Best Supporting Male category mainly serves to give me a confidence boost because I have seen all of the films: Albert Brooks for Drive, John Hawkes for MMMM, Christopher Plummer for Beginners, John C. Reilly for Cedar Rapids, and Corey Stoll for Midnight in Paris.

It is a little odd to see Shame and Melancholia under Best International film but no complaints here.

And finally, Margin Call gets the Robert Altman Award (given to one film’s director, casting director and its ensemble cast) and oh yes, it deserves it. I could hardly peel my eyes from the screen as the movie unfolded and a big part of that has to do with the amazing cast. I always tend to believe Zachary Quinto is the MVP of anything he is involved in (Heroes, Star Trek, American Horror Story) but everyone else was up to the task of challenging him on that, even Penn Badgley (shockingly). And I have to say, watching this was far more entertaining than listening to a two hour podcast on the origins of the financial crisis for my International Finance class.