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Archive for February 2011

83rd Academy Awards

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First of all, let me say that I’ve been watching the Oscar telecast since 1996, when Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” won Best Picture (I remember his acceptance speech for Best Director), and this year’s ceremony was the worst of the lot. By far. James Franco and Anne Hathaway are both talented actors but they are clearly not suited for hosting this show. To cop a criticism: “James Franco was high as giraffe’s pussy the whole night”. Please, Academy board of directors, do whatever it takes to bring back Billy Crystal. Please!

That having been said, I correctly guessed 15 of 21 categories. Not my best showing. The most embarrassing miss came in the Best Director category. I assumed (foolishly) that the Academy voters would split the vote between Best Picture and Best Director, given the strong support for both “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network”. My assumption was based on the fact that the majority of the DGA voters are television directors, where Tom Hooper is better known, and that David Fincher beat him at the BAFTAs. Given that Hooper is a half-Brit, that’s a bit of a shock. But not enough of a shock to overcome the DGA’s rather excellent 90%+ prediction rate.

David Fincher still made the better film of the year. But that’s my personal opinion.

Of my other five missteps, I ignored the “Alice in Wonderland” remake in both the Art Direction and Costume Design categories. Upon reflection, Tim Burton film almost always win these categories when they are nominated. Something to keep in mind for future predictions.

I assumed “The King’s Speech” would have more of a sweep than it did. It missed the two aforementioned categories, as did Geoffrey Rush for Best Supporting Actor. I actually thought Christian Bale deserved the award more than the other four nominees and should have picked him against conventional wisdom. My bad.

I also assumed the “TKS” wave would capture Best Original Score, which it didn’t. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won instead for “TSN” for their very modern soundtrack. Another well deserved win, and one I wholeheartedly support.

Yesterday I said I was fully prepared to see “Inception” win for Best Cinematography, and that’s what happened. Poor Roger Deakins, and poor “True Grit”, which received 10 nominations but walked away empty handed.

So all that silliness is now over with for another several months. There are a few films from 2010 I still want to see. Otherwise, it’s a quiet waiting game through this summer. Slim pickings on the radar, aside from “Win Win”, “Cold Weather”, “Meek’s Cutoff” and “The Tree of Life”.

One final note — Melissa Leo rules, both on screen and off. Go see her on “Frozen River”. Now.


Written by camcarlson

February 28, 2011 at 11:08 PM

Posted in Cinema

83rd Academy Award predictions

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Best Picture: “The King’s Speech”
Best Director: David Fincher for “The Social Network”
-Tom Hooper won the DGA award for “TKS” and betting against the DGA is a foolish venture, but I am cautiously optimistic the Academy will split the top two awards this year. Watch me be proven wrong.
Best Actor: Colin Firth for “TKS”
Best Actress: Natalie Portman for “Black Swan”
Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush for “TKS”
-Christian Bale has won many awards for his role in “The Fighter” but I think “TKS” will have enough momentum to award Rush his second Oscar. He is the best thing about “The King’s Speech”, after all.
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo for “The Fighter”
-While Hailee Steinfeld stole every scene in “True Grit”, first-time performances, not to mention child actors, rarely win.
Original Screenplay: “TKS”
Adapted Screenplay: “TSN”
Foreign Film: “In A Better World” from Denmark
-Academy members who cast votes in this category are required to see all five nominees, so supposedly they are choosing the best film and not just the one with the most name recognition. I will say their choices over the past few years have been pretty solid.
Animated Feature: “Toy Story 3”
Documentary: “Inside Job”
Cinematography: Roger Deakins for “True Grit”
-Deakins is a brilliant cameraman who has been nominated nine times but has never won. I find it hard to believe the Academy would give “True Grit” ten nominations but let them walk home empty handed, so I predict this category is where they will win. However, I am fully prepared to see “Inception” win instead. Nominees in this category are listed by title of film, not by the name of the cinematographer.
Editing: “TSN”
Art Direction: “TKS
Costume Design: “TKS”
Makeup: “The Wolfman”
Original Score: “TKS”
-It should be Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for “TSN” but Desplat will likely win on the coattails of “TKS”
Song: “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3”
Visual Effects: “Inception”
Sound Editing: “Inception”
Sound Mixing: “Inception”

Update — I’m amending my choices for Director and Original Song.

Written by camcarlson

February 26, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Posted in Cinema

Cuarteto Casals with Andreas Klein

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Last Sunday I was treated to a performance by Cuarteto Casals with Andreas Klein at the GBPAC. They performed three pieces, with an intermission between the second and third. The second piece was String Quartet No. 1, “Metamorphoses Nocturnes” by György Ligeti. I am by no means educated sufficiently in classical music to render any kind of thoughtful analysis, but I will say that I greatly enjoyed the music and the performance. Some segments reminded me of themes from horror films: suspenseful and haunting in equal measures. The only previous exposure I have to Ligeti’s music is his Musica Ricercata II, used in Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut”.

Here is a different quartet performing part of Ligeti’s piece:

Written by camcarlson

February 21, 2011 at 10:12 PM

Posted in Cedar Valley, video

Oscar predictions part 3: other awards/support

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I was going to write a third entry about Oscar predictions, etc., but I lost steam. That and I’ve been preoccupied these past couple weeks. By the time I finally get around to writing what I intended to write, I find someone else has not only done so but has done it better than I could have. So rather than plagiarize, I will momentarily redirect your attention to
this link.

The only thing I’ll add is the predicting power of Vegas oddsmakers. Over the past 10 years they’ve correctly guessed the eventual winner 7 times. They missed with “Traffic” in 2000, “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005 and “Avatar” last year. This year, when the nominations were announced, they favored “The Social Network” 2:3 over “The King’s Speech” at 5:2. However, I believe tide has turned in favor of TKS, and the current published odds reflect this as well.

Next weekend I will post my predictions.

Written by camcarlson

February 20, 2011 at 6:44 PM

Posted in Cinema

Waterloo Blackhawks

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Tonight I attended my first game at Young Arena: the Waterloo Blackhawks vs. the Green Bay Gamblers. I met Kathy & Doug, Sharina and her 8-year old son Tyrese at Hu-Hot for a pregame meal, and then parked next to the defunct Happy Chef on 63 and found my seat in the C section. The game was fairly entertaining. Tyrese seemed to enjoy himself, especially when players would slam against the barrier near our seats (we were in the third row). Beers were pricey — a Budweiser cost $4 — and they come in plastic bottles. The $3.25 walking tacos, however, looked like a delicious bargain. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. We were treated to a five-minute overtime round and then a shoot-off, which Green Bay won. I would definitely go back again.

Written by camcarlson

February 19, 2011 at 10:17 PM

Posted in Cedar Valley

“Disco Dolls”, “127 Hours” and “Enter the Void”

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Back in high school I had a subscription to Newsweek. Don’t ask me how or why (because I can’t remember). One issue had a single column devoted to a kitschy 70s film called “Disco Dolls in Hot Skins in 3-D”. The film had found new life as a revival in art-house and college cinemas. Having never seen an old-school red-and-blue lens 3-D film, I tore the page out of the issue and saved it for years, waiting for an opportunity to see it.

A year ago I found out the Bijou in Iowa City was screening it as their midnight movie. Finally! My plans to attend were dashed when some stuffed-shirt axed the screening on the grounds that the university shouldn’t be using taxpayer dollars to support pornography. Despite the Bijou’s pointed objection that ticket sales made up the vast majority of their financial support, the decision was final.

This year the Bijou put the film back on the calendar, and after discussing the matter at length with the head office, they acquiesced to showing it. I tinkered with the idea of driving down to see it, but in the end I passed. Red-and-blue 3-D was a gimmick at best and often induced miserable headaches. And I have no desire to pay someone to give me a headache (intentionally). We’ll avoid a discussion of the pros and cons of sitting in a dark theater watching blatant porn. The movie is out-of-print on DVD; used copies sell for upwards of $100 (though they do come with the glasses).

But really, even if I could watch it at home, I don’t think I’d want to. I doubt my nearly encyclopedic knowledge of film history will be diminished or lacking in any significant way if I don’t see this movie. Simply knowing of its existence should suffice.

I did manage to catch something in the cinema this weekend – “127 Hours”, the latest by Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting”, “28 Days Later”, “Slumdog Millionaire”). It’s one of this year’s ten Best Picture nominees, and rightly deserves the recognition. James Franco, who rarely is afforded an opportunity to show he is a serious actor, does a great job as Aron Ralston, the real-life outdoorsman who in 2003 fell into a canyon and became stuck when a boulder pinned his right hand against the canyon wall. Five days pass while Aron screams for help, watches his food and water rations run out, tries in vain to move the boulder, hopelessly chips away at it with his utility tool and records his predicament on his digital camcorder. Tired, hungry, hallucinating and desperate, he refuses to give up, and eventually resorts to drastic measures I don’t believe I’d be capable of myself. I won’t reveal what he does at the end, but it is grisly to watch (or to hear, in one particularly quick moment).

I also saw “Enter the Void” this weekend. Very bizarre existential film. The opening credits are as artistic as the film but their loud abrasive style doesn’t match the more meditative nature of the storyline. I’m fairly confident in saying this is the first I’ve seen that shows a penis ejaculating inside a woman from the viewpoint of the uterus.

Written by camcarlson

February 16, 2011 at 10:39 PM

Posted in Cinema

“Black Swan” VFX

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One more…

Written by camcarlson

February 5, 2011 at 3:57 PM

Posted in Cinema, video