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Posts Tagged ‘J Edgar’

From speaking to American movie fans and reading their blogs I understand that January is a bit of a lean month full of crappy movies. Here in the UK things are very different, with indie gems and Oscar contenders coming out, for example last January I saw: 127 Hours, The King’s Speech, Black Swan and Blue Valentine. Unfortunately I also saw Season of the Witch! So what did I see this January?

The Artist -The story of the end of the silent era told in the format of a silent movie, stunning!

The Darkest Hour – Alien invasion movie, a good concept poorly executed.

The Iron Lady – Great performances from Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent can’t save what is an ill judged mess of a biopic of form British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Shame – Beautifully shot and brilliantly acted tale of sex addiction. Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan are devastatingly good.

Haywire – Steven Soderbergh gets his hands dirty with a revenge B thriller and a new action star is born in the shape of former cage fighter Gina Carano.

War Horse – Manipulative, sentimental and clichéd, but surprisingly enjoyable. What do you expect for Steven Spielberg.

Underworld: Awakening – Kate Beckinsale returns in her trademark catsuit as the war between Vampires and Lycans has taken a new turn. Disposable but fun. It would have been better without the 3D.

J. Edgar – Uneven but interesting biopic of J. Edgar Hoover. The main draw is a great performance from Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Descendants – With his wife in a coma following a powerboat accident, an Hawaiian lawyer has to reconnect with his daughters. A fantastic family drama that surely makes George Clooney favourite for the best actor Oscar.

The Grey – Surprisingly good adventure thriller about a small group of drillers oil workers who survive a plane crash in Alaska only to find they are in the middle of the kill zone of a pack of wolves.

Like Crazy – A British student falls for an American classmate, things are complicated when she is deported for overstaying her visa. An honest and believable story beautifully told and with a fantastic young cast.

The movie of the month is:

And an honorable mention for a movie that is far better than I ever imagined it could be:

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The BAFTA long-list has been announced today. The list is made up of between five and fifteen nominations in each category, it will be whittled down to five to create the actual nominations announced on the 17th of this month. As the British equivalent to the Oscars often has a strong home-grown leaning it is no surprise that My Week With Marilyn and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy lead the way with sixteen inclusions each.

The thing I find surprising is some of films that have been included: The Artist, The Descendants, The Iron Lady, War Horse, J. Edgar, Shame, Young Adult and Carnage. The problem isn’t that they are bad or undeserving films, it is that it haven’t seen them. Or to be more precise, that I haven’t been given the opportunity to see them yet. Two of the films I refer to went on general release today, the rest are yet to be released. This is a bizarre state of affairs for an award ceremony that is supposed to represent the best films seen in UK cinemas during 2011. A quick look at the BAFTA website explains the loophole in eligibility:

“Films must be released theatrically in the UK, within the Academy awards year: 1 January to 31 December 2011. Films that open between 1 January and 10 February 2012 inclusive may be ‘qualified’ by Distributors by being screened to Academy Film Voting Members by Tuesday 20 December 2011”.

I can only speculate the reason for BAFTA’s desire to include otherwise ineligible movies. If asked they would probably tell you that they want to be inline with the original release date of the movies and other award ceremonies. My opinion, they relish their new importance as the forerunner to the Oscars. While I don’t have a particular problem with either possibility I cant help thinking that if distributors want their movies to be eligible for awards they should show them during the “awards year” so ordinary cinemagoers like me can see them.

I also have another fear for the strange practice; providing they don’t screen utter crap, the voters could be unduly influenced by a film being put forward in this way. This already happens to a small degree by the time of year that a film is released. In last years best picture category (nominations: The Kings Speech, Black Swan and True Grit, Inception and The Social Network) three of the five nominated films were released after 31st December 2010 and none of the movies were released in the first half of the year. It isn’t just about the BAFTA’s, along with other early award ceremonies like The Golden Globe (awarded by the Starfuckers of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association) the awards help influence the nominations and ultimately the winners of the Oscars.

Aside from the complaining, I would like to express my delight at a some of the included films: Drive (isn’t a typical award film), Senna (I didn’t know documentaries were eligible in the best picture category). And in the acting categories: Antonio Banderas – The Skin I Live In (none English performances are often overlooked), Brendan Gleeson – The Guard (line foreign language, comedy are often overlooked), Christopher Plummer – Beginners (released back in July – the academy have short memories).

As mentioned the nominations will be announced on 17th January and the awards will take place on Sunday 12th February.

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With just two more movies to see this year: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (making a total of 108 movies seen at the cinema this year) I am already looking forward to the new year. I am led to believe the early part of the year can be a bit of a barren time for American cinema goers but here in the UK the new year is often the time to see the Oscar bait movies that week get a few months later.

With two academy awards from sixteen nominations, nothing says Oscar like Meryl Streep. The Iron Lady tells the story of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. From the clips and trailers I have seen, it looks interesting, the only doubt, the directors, Phyllida Lloyd’s only other feature appears to be Mamma Mia!

I have heard nothing but good things about Shame despite the unusual and controversial subject matter, sex addiction. After the excellent Hunger (2008), the re-teaming of director Steve McQueen and actor Michael Fassbender must be a good thing. The addition of co star Carey Mulligan and I am really looking forward to this one.

Clearly Ralph Fiennes’ doesn’t believe in making life easy for himself, making his directorial debut with an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. The updated setting is reminiscent of Richard Loncraine’s Richard III (1995), looks interesting.

I understand J,Edgar has had mixed reviews on the other side of the Atlantic but with Clint Eastwood in the directors chair and Leonardo DiCaprio in the starring role it has to be worth seeing.

There is already Oscar talk about George Clooney in The Descendants, directed by Alexander Payne (Election 1999 & Sideways 2004). I don’t know much about it but Clooney on good form remains a watchable movie star reminiscent of the stars from the golden age of cinema, I’m in!

Bizarrely, the two films I am most looking forward to aren’t going to feature at the Oscars, they are more what is (condescendingly) referred to as “genre movies”. As one of the few people who liked The Girlfriend Experience I am always interested in Steven Soderbergh’s more experimental ideas. Like with The Girlfriend Experience Soderbergh has gone for an unexpected lead actress for the action movie Haywire, former Mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano. He has surrounded her with an impressive supporting cast including: Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Bill Paxton. As I said it won’t win Oscars but it looks like its going to be fun.

There are two real guilty pleasure franchises around at the moment, we have to wait until later in the year for the next Resident Evil movie, but Underworld Awakening is out in January. Nearly a decade after the first Underworld movie Kate Beckinsale is back in her most iconic role (and costume). From the trailer it looks as dumb as the previous movies, but I really don’t care, I can’t wait!

Other movies coming out in January include: War Horse. Thanks to a really cheesy trailer, I can honestly say I have never been less excited by a new Steven Spielberg movie. I know nothing about The Darkest Hour other than what I have seen in the trailer but with director Chris Gorak who impressed with his debut Right at Your Door (2006) and Timur Bekmambetov credited as a produce I will give it a go. Another movie I now nothing about other than the trailer is Man on Ledge. The trailer makes it look a lot like Spike Lee’s Inside Man (2006), that isn’t a bad thing.

Check back on the 1st of February to find out what I actually saw and what I thought of them.

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