Thursday, January 22, 2009

Film: 20 Movies in 20 Days: Doubt

By Mr. Pink

John Patrick Shanley has directed one film prior to "Doubt" and that was the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan vehicle "Joe Vs. the Volcano." So, I don't know about you but I was predisposed to like Mr. Shanley's latest cinematic romp. You could imagine my surprise when Phillip Seymour Hoffman did not play a rich business man given a few weeks to live but a priest who is accused who molesting a 12 year old boy.

"Doubt,"based on Mr. Shanley's award winning play of the same name, is the story of Father Flynn (Hoffman) a progressive clergyman at a school principled by decidedly non progressive Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Streep). When Father Flynn holds a private meeting with twelve year old Donald Miller in the rectory and Sister Aloysius suspects the worst.

Let's get my bias right out of the way. I think Phillip Seymour Hoffman is our best working actor and my opinion is not changed here. His father Flynn is a mosaic of different character traits. A man who is simultaneously altruistic and possibly monstrous. Hoffman pulls both off with his usual deftness.

Streep is as solid as expected. Which is not to say she should be taken for granted. Her excellence is just so common that I can't bring myself to gush over her. She is fierce, funny, and as multi layered as you'd expect.

Amy Adams as Sister James brings her usual adorable nature but it is framed with a sadness and timidness that we don't usually see. She pulls off some of the most difficult moments in the film and she seems at home in both the comedic and dramatic elements she is asked to pull off.

But now we get to the last and possibly best performance in the entire film. Viola Davis as Mrs. Miller. She really only has one scene but in that one scene she does something that some might think impossible. She out acts Meryl Streep. I'm talking Joker in the interrogation room out acts her. Ms. Davis is the absolute best thing about "Doubt" and that is no small statement. Her time on screen is short but it is gut wrenching and is worth the price of admission alone.

All the ingredients are there for "Doubt" to be a great film. It has two of our best working actors, a powerful supporting performance by a relative unknown, a blooming star doing really solid work and wonderful source material. But the question is do these ingredients equal a great film. To be succinct, yes. "Doubt" is a movie that grows on you the farther you get away from it. I'm two days out and I like it more than I did yesterday.

If nothing else "Doubt" manages to capture the verbosity and literary panache that is so prevalent in the world of theater and so lacking in the land of cinema. It is nice to see great actors put opposite each other and let loose on a great script.

See This Movie.

Film: 81st Annual Oscar Nominations Announced

The 81st Annual Oscar nominations were announced this morning in LA, here are just a few of the usual suspects, the upsets, and the most deserved.

Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionare is this year’s Cinderella story. With 10 nominations, it is the one to beat. Although not a major category, Best Cinematography is one that I hope it takes home. Many crowd shots were done with a Canon stills camera, which takes 12 frames per second. I just find that to be incredibly creative and ingenious. A bit of a disappointment was Dev Patel not getting a nomination. But in all seriousness, I think we know who is winning Best Supporting Actor this year.

It was refreshing to see Taraji P. Henson in the Best Supporting Actress category for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. She really lit up the screen, in what was a very long and sometimes boring film. Don’t get me wrong, it was epic and depressing as well. It also leads the pack with 13 nominations. However, Taraji’s co-star Cate Blanchett was not one of them. While I was a bit surprised because Blanchett has been the golden girl for a few years now, I have to say that I found her southern accent to be droning and almost like a bad impression of Blanche DuBois at times. And with Kate Winslet out of the picture, this category is a tough one to call:

Amy Adams: Doubt
Penelope Cruz: Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis: Doubt
Taraji P. Henson: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei: The Wrestler

Clint Eastwood and his film Gran Torino were left out in the cold. I was surprised that not even Clint’s music got recognition. Not like he has room for just any award. The man shells out two gems a year these days. His odds for winning again are very good.

Kate Winslet did get nominated for Best Actress however it was for The Reader. This is interesting because she was campaigning this role for Best Supporting Actress, and Revolutionary Road for Best Actress. The Reader also got nominated for several other top awards, including Best Picture. It seems that Winslet’s film sans husband got more Oscarly love.

* Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
* Achievement in Cinematography
* Achievement in Directing
* Best Motion Picture of the Year
* Adapted Screenplay

* Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
* Achievement in Art Direction
* Achievement in Costume

I’m enjoying the nominations for Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder this year. When it comes down to it, he was the only one for that job. He won’t win, but it’s nice to see him on top of the world. He deserves it.

The biggest and most horrific upset is the fact that Bruce Springsteen was NOT nominated for Best Song. The Boss clearly deserves a nod for his chilling title track for The Wrestler. Let's hope Mickey wins and lets the Academy have it for such an embarassing mistake!

2008 was a good year for movies. While some categories seem to have an obvious winner, others are harder to call and it is sure to be an exciting evening.

Go Slumdog Millionaire!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Film: 20 Movies in 20 Days: Doomsday

By Mister Chapel

It's unfair to say that I am broken up that Neil Marshall's "Doomsday" isn't nearly as good as I would have liked, because I was the one who deemed it unimportant to see when it opened last March.

However, as the first of a twenty-movie-in-just-as-many-days binge, it does have enough redeeming characteristics to hold one's attention. It's just a pity they're all from other films.

I couldn't help but notice how every little bit seemed to recall a movie prior.

Its opening - a quarantine shutting down Scotland with giant gates ("28 Days Later").

Its setup - needing to go back in to retrieve something important ("Escape From New York")

Its first action sequence - introducing a gagggle of military characters whom we like and killing them off rapidly as the enemy they fight closes in ("Aliens")

Its splatterpunk three-ring circus with a carnivorous crowd eating up the words and actions of its ringleader ("Moulin Rouge")

Its journey to find the one they need, who lives in a Rohanian castle with townfolk who're dressed the part ("The Lord of the Rings")

Its one-on-one gladiatorial fight scene (Guess)

The list goes on, but the bottom line is that Marshall, whose m.o. is usually tight-knit groups working together against a common enemy ("Dog Soldiers," "The Descent") goes balls to the wall here with the budget and scope, but doesn't hit the right notes with his characters, namely our heroine Eden Sinclair. We feel for her, we do -- but not nearly enough. It's entertaining, it's big, it's loud -- but it's similarly disposable as well.

Film: 20 Movies in 20 Days (The List)

Bobby and Mister Chapel

  1. The Wrestler
  2. Doubt
  3. Frost/Nixon
  4. RockNRolla
  5. Man on Wire
  6. Ghost Town
  7. Rachel Getting Married
  8. Pineapple Express
  9. Vicky Christina Barcelona
  10. Horton Hears a Who
  11. Doomsday
  12. The Visitor
  13. Son of Rambow
  14. RedBelt
  15. Mamma Mia
Bobby's 5
  1. Let the Right One In
  2. The Happening
  3. Charlie Bartlett
  4. Shine a Light
  5. Burn After Reading
Mister Chapel's 5
  1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  2. Slumdog Millionare
  3. Zack and Miri Make a Porno
  4. Wall E
  5. In Bruges

Film: 20 Movies in 20 Days

On a Long Island Railroad train bound for Manhattan fellow Fanboyer Mister Chapel and I discovered something disheartening. 

We had seen a shockingly small amount of movies this year. 

Now, in the in the interest of full disclosure I must say that Mister Chapel was the more prolific movie watcher. With my most prosperous year topping out at about 100 and his, well, I'll let him expand on his own record because I don't think I can do it justice.

But this year our lists were hovering at about half my best total. And with the Oscars fast approaching we felt as if our usual top ten lists would be meaningless with such a small pool to pick from. 

To remedy that problem we created the  20 Movies in 20 Days challenge.  Which is, not surprisingly, exactly what it sounds like.  Our lists consist of movies that were released January 1, 2008  to December 31, 2008. 

We decided on 15 movies that we would both see and I chose 5 unique movies for Mister Chapel and he decided on 5 for me.  Both lists will be posted shortly.

These are movies we meant to see and missed, movies the other insisted we see and some are movies we think might be awful but we just need an opinion on.

Our mission ends February 3rd

The plan is to post small reviews for each film and to give our overall impressions of the experience of this kamikaze movie watching experience. Stay tuned.

Bobby Shortle
AKA.  Mister Pink