Monday, January 17, 2005

What have you seen, heard, read in the last week that you loved hated or were indifferent about?
Lewberry scores a documentary trifecta: The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Control Room, Pro
Deb watches only family movies: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Thinking XXX (HBO)

Why Michael Moore wasn't at the Golden Globes
The Hot Blog has the answer.

West Memphis Three Film
While researching, unenthusiastically, the filmography of Michael Madsen (see below), I noticed that he appears in a film to come out some time this year called "West Memphis Three," about the child murder cases documented in Paradise Lost. That brilliant documentary stayed with me for a long time. It did not purport to know the truth one way or the other, the way the Thin Blue Line did, but cast serious doubts on the verdict that landed 3 teenagers in jail (one on death row). As the follow up to their other amazing trial-in-progress documentary, Brother's Keeper, Paradise Lost, and the sequel, spawned a large community of followers convinced of the boys' innocence, or at least the wrongfulness of their conviction.

It's the only movie I've ever rented that I watched twice in the same night. I couldn't sleep, thinking about it, so I got up and watched it a second time. I do not have a clear idea about what the truth is, but the film is frightening on many, many levels. I hope that this Hollywood version will not try to answer anything definitively one way or another. I really wish they would just let the documentaries stand.

I believe that Paradise Lost is also the film that brought the filmmakers, Bruce Sinfosky and Joe Berlinger, together with Metallica who provided the soundtrack. That collaboration led to their new acclaimed documentary about the band,(haven't seen it) Some Kind of Monster.

I enjoyed Rounders, so I figured I would like the new ESPN show that started last week, Tilt. Boy, is it bad. Stay away. Sometimes I like Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) when his I-can-only-play-one-character-type is in the right film. He is also in the worst movie I have ever seen (title forgotten it's called Sacrifice), stuck in the wrong film. Tilt is somewhere in between, but the rest of the bad characters and stupid dialogue and ridiculous ideas send this show over the cliff.

On TV right now
8:00 Central time - part 2 of a new Ken Burns documentary, this about boxer Jack Johnson. I've had the first 20 minutes on in the background and it's really interesting. On PBS. Boston Glove review here:
It's tempting to say that unlike Ali, who became an antiwar icon and America's most famous Black Muslim, Johnson never stood for any cause beyond his own unquenchable pursuit of happiness. But that conveniently forgets the fact that in his era, Johnson's indulgent lifestyle was a way of telling a hostile world that he -- and by extension every African-American -- was a free man.
More Like It
Eternal Sunshine racks up 6 British Academy Film Award nominations; House of Flying Daggers gets 9.

Article 19 Film Review: Sideways
****************1/2 (16 1/2 out of 19) It really is funny and a bit touching. And there are a few moments that are really perfect, even powerful: funny scenes, sad ones and intimate conversations. I have one pet peeve about movies though and this one violated it badly. I hate montages. Music plays and you see a series of scenes letting you know how much fun the characters are having. All the sudden when the dialogue picks back up, they have gotten to know each other very well, are very close, and you have no clue how they did it or what they talked about. Sideways has no fewer than 2 montages, one of which definitely moves the story along with no dialogue. Now, I'm not saying I could write a movie, certainly not one as good as this. But it seems a bit cowardly or maybe lazy to have the main character, who is introverted and depressed, finally open up and be funny without any dialogue...just over some music. So we don't know for sure if he (the character, the screewnwriter?) really was able to find a way to be relaxed, engaging, crack good jokes, like it looks like he's doing. I don't mind montages that involve a character's thinking or remembering, but when it actually moves the drama forward, it makes me crazy. I'm sure that's not fair--there are probably perfectly good reasons why they use the effect montages provide--but it does make me crazy, especially when I have my own questions about a character's ability to interest another. Other than that (it's just a minute or so), this is a fabulous and very funny movie. But a bit overhyped at this point. Best picture of the year? I don't think so. Still, I may like Sideways more the more it sits with me. I'll let you know.

Being Seen
It's one thing to get your movie made; maybe even tougher to get it seen. NYT's Adam Leipzig explains why "The Sundance Odds are Getting Longer."
Miracle of miracles, your movie gets accepted by a festival and then is picked up for distribution. The question now becomes: Will it ever have more than a minuscule audience? Approximately 450 movies are released in the United States every year by about 30 recognizable distributors. Of those, major film studios release about half, and independent distributors release the others. But the numbers are even tougher than they look, because roughly 90 percent of the box-office receipts will be sucked up by the studio releases, leaving about 225 independent releases - most likely including your picture - to compete for the remaining sales. When you realize that there will be only a few independent movies that genuinely captivate the popular imagination every year (in 2004 those included "The Passion of the Christ," "Fahrenheit 9/11" and, perhaps, "Supersize Me") you'll see what a thin sliver of pie is left for everyone else.
Stop Ashlee Simpson
...from doing anything ever again. Sign the petition.

Golden Globes
Didn't clear up much about Oscar. The Eastwood film hasn't shown here yet, and I don't like him anyway, so I was glad to see The Aviator win best pic, and confused that a legend like Scorsese didn't rate the best director. Bummed that Eternal Sunshine got shut out of the screenplay race, and even though I liked Sideways quite a bit (review of sorts to come), it doesn't rate all the runaway best picture hype that it's getting. It is maybe on a par with the aviator (how to compare such different films?) but certainly no better.

Seemed to be a bad night for Neverland, but I assume it still has a best picture nomination locked up with Sideways, the Aviator and Million Dollar Baby. My hunch is Ray will sneak in 5th, but perhaps Hotel Rwanda has the momentum to get in. Oscarwatch has all the winners from last night.

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