Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Back when I was in community college, my father persuaded me to take night courses about (I believe) counseling in hopes that I'd follow in his footsteps (thankfully, that hasn't come to pass).

This was back in the 'taking the bus' days, so I walked up the street to wait by the bus stop in front of the library. Near that stop was a van that routinely provided meals for the homeless. I don't know if the people running the van knew, cared, or could tell that I wasn't homeless, but I managed to score a free meal 'most every time.

Maybe, they made more than enough food to meet demand, but, only recently (while visiting that same library) did I feel some remorse about what I did. Was I stealing a meal from someone who needed it far more? Most likely. This, in a nutshell, is my life: trying to be a good person and yet doing things that seem harmless on the surface, but can be downright hurtful in the long run.


Monday, February 23, 2015

8:32 "Tonight, we honor Hollywood's best and whitest-- brightest!"

8:33 Anna Kendrick joins NPH in honoring Hollywood.

8:34 Okay, I'm nominating Jack Black for next year's Oscar host.

8:36 Neat song. It was written by the Lopezes (Frozen).

8:38 Lupita Nyong'o presents Best Supporting Actor. The Oscar goes to...J.K. Simmons (1/24). Gave a very nice speech. I should listen to my parents more.

8:45 NPH's Oscar predictions are under guard by Octavia Spencer. Hey, it's not a pizza party, right?

8:46 Liam Neeson introduces Best Picture nominees The Grand Budapest Hotel and American Sniper.

8:49 Dakota Johnson (let's focus on the third-generation thing, not the 50 Shades thing) introduces Adam Levine performing "Lost Stars" from Begin Again.

8:52 Okay, seriously, is that Lady Gaga?

8:56 Jennifer Lopez and Chris Pine present Best Costume Design. The Oscar goes to...Milena Canonero for The Grand Budapest Hotel (2/24). Almost had a win in each decade; shame about the 90s.

9:00 "So delicious, you could eat her up with her spoon." I think it's worse that I got it than if I hadn't. Reese Witherspoon presents Best Make-Up. The Oscar goes to...The Grand Budapest Hotel. Okay, was the Guardians of the Galaxy make-up not impressive enough? Look at what they did to Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan and Michael Rooker. Unbelievable.

9:03 Channing Tatum tells us of budding filmmakers who will get to present Oscars tonight.

9:08 Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor...okay, how tall is she? Oh, yeah. Presenting Best Foreign Language Film. The Oscar goes to...Ida (3/24). Huh. Go figure. Man, he's really going. He might only get the one shot. Can't blame him for taking advantage.

9:13 Shirley MacLaine with Best Picture nominees Boyhood, The Theory of Everything and Birdman.

9:17 Marion Cotillard introduces Tegan and Sara and the Lonely Island performing "Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie...and, hey, "Darkness (Untitled Self-Portrait)" made it to the Oscars, after all.

9:24 Kerry Washington and Jason Bateman present Best Live Action Short Subject. The Oscar goes to..."The Phone Call".

9:28 Continuing with Best Documentary Short Subject. The Oscar goes to..."Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1" (4/24).

9:31 Just think: if Viola Davis had won for The Help, she likely wouldn't be on "How to Get Away with Murder". Anyway, she's telling of the many Lifetime Achievement Awards.

9:33 According to Twitter, that really was Will Arnett in the Lego Batman suit. Holy crapballs.

9:35 Gwyneth Paltrow introduces Tim McGraw singing "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me.

9:42 Okay, where's Neil? Locked out of his dressing room? Come on. Nothing suits him like a suit...oh, I get it. Birdman reference...crossed with some Whiplash.

9:43 Harley Quinn and Mr. Fantastic regale us with the Scientific and Technical Awards ceremony.

9:45 Sienna Miller and Chris Evans present the Sound Mixing award. The Oscar goes to...Whiplash.

9:48 Sound Editing award next. The Oscar goes to...American Sniper.

9:51 Jared Leto presenting Best Supporting Actress. The Oscar goes to...Patricia Arquette for Boyhood (5/24). Nice of her to give Emma Stone a hug. Fun fact: at the beginning of her career, Stone shared a scene with Arquette on "Medium". Blew my mind when I found out the other day...and now, she's going full-on Sarandon. It's her moment. Let the rest of the net rip on her.

9:59 Gotta love Robert Duvall wanting no part of NPH's security nonsense.

10:00 Josh Hutcherson introduces Rita Ora performing "Grateful" from Beyond the Lights, apparently one of the best movies of last year that no one saw.

10:03 Ansel Elgort and Chloe Grace Moretz (Tommy and Carrie in the Carrie remake!) present Best Visual Effects. The Oscar goes to...Interstellar. Oh, bullshit.

10:06 Kevin Hart and Anna Kendrick present Best Animated Short Film. The Oscar goes to..."Feast" (6/24).

10:09 Zoe Saldana and Dwayne Johnson present best Animated Feature. The Oscar goes to...Big Hero 6. Loved the film, but was so hoping for a Laika triumph.

10:17 "Presenting the President...of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences." Ha.

10:20 Chris Pratt and Felicity Jones present Best Production Design. The Oscar goes to...The Grand Budapest Hotel (7/24).

10:23 Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain present Best Cinematography. The Oscar goes to...Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman (8/24).

10:30 Meryl Streep introduces the Obituary montage.

10:35 Jennifer Hudson sings a tribute.

10:42 Naomi Watts and Benedict Cumberbatch present Best Editing. The Oscar goes to...Tom Cross for Whiplash.

10:46 Terrence Howard with the last three Best Picture nominees: Whiplash, The Imitation Game and Selma.

10:49 Jennifer Aniston and David Oyelowo present Best Documentary Feature. The Oscar goes to...CitizenFour.

10:58 Octavia Spencer's not watching NPH's nominations. Oh, wait. She's introducing Common and John Legend performing Selma's "Glory".

11:04 Idina Menzel getting some payback on John Travolta and presenting Best Original Song. The Oscar goes to..."Glory" from Selma. Didn't see that coming.

11:12 Scarlett Johansson introducing a tribute to The Sound of Music...and Lady Gaga (seriously?!) performing a medley of its songs.

11:20 OMG. It's Julie Andrews...and she's here to present Best Original Score (about damn time!). The Oscar goes to...Alexandre Desplat's The Grand Budapest Hotel (9/24). Fuck yeah!

11:29 Eddie Murphy presents Best Original Screenplay. The Oscar goes to...Birdman. Hmmm.

11:33 Oprah Winfrey presents Best Adapted Screenplay. The Oscar goes to...The Imitation Game. Hmmm, again. I'm totally taken aback here...and Graham Moore's an American?! Whosa-jigga-what? Okay, got a little heavy just then. (I'm presuming he's gay. Speaking of gay Oscar-winning scribes, whatever became of Dustin Lance Black? After a marvelous script for Milk, he did J. Edgar, then nothing. So weird.)

11:41 "Benedict Cumberbatch" takes the stage, presenting Best Director. The Oscar goes to...Alejandro Gonzales Innarritu for Birdman.

11:48 Oh, boy. Cate Blanchett with Best Actor. The Oscar goes to...Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything. Fucking bullshit!

11:53 I'll bring myself to care about the rest of the show, but don't hold your breath. Matthew McConaughey presents Best Actress. The Oscar goes to...Julianne Moore. (10/24). Freaking finally.

12:00 NPH's Oscar predictions are unleashed. Pretty dead-on.

12:03 Presenting Best Picture is Sean Penn. (For the record, I thought his joke was funny.) The Oscar goes to...Birdman. Whoa.

Well, another Oscar ceremony down. Feeling a little chilly, so I'm hitting the sack. I'll fix any mistakes in the morning. Night, y'all.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Oscar. Oscar who? Oscar who's gonna win.

Let's just do this.

Picture: It'll likely go to Boyhood. I just know it.
Actor: A lot of people have said that this will go to Eddie Redmayne, because who doesn't love a good 'challenged person overcoming adversity' performance? I said it at Uproxx and I'm saying it here: 'Fuck that noise. Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!'.
Actress: Just give it to Julianne Moore, already. Seriously, what is so freaking hard about this?
Supporting Actor: Haven't seen Whiplash, but I hear that J.K. Simmons was phenomenal in it and I'm a fan of him in a lot of other stuff, so...yeah, why not? (Much as I loved Edward Norton in Birdman, there's no sense pissing in the wind.)
Supporting Actress: Though I greatly enjoyed the performances of Keira Knightley and Emma Stone, the smart choice would be Patricia Arquette.
Director: Richard Linklater. In the spaces of a decade of higher-profile movies, he shot Boyhood. Tell me that commitment like that doesn't deserve recognition.
Original Screenplay: Any one of the Best Picture nominees could walk away with this, but I'm thinking...The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Adapted Screenplay: American Sniper, because they're gonna want to give it something.
Cinematography: Much as I love Roger Deakins, the (impressive) trick-shot work of Emmanuel Lubezki on Birdman is far more likely to be recognized.
Art Direction: The Grand Budapest Hotel's sets looked fantastic.
Editing: Despite my desire to edit my own films, it's really anyone's category, here. Let's say Boyhood.
Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Original Score: I had issues with the film, but Alexandre Desplat's score for The Grand Budapest Hotel is unimpeachable. If a GBH sweep is what it takes to get Monsieur Desplat his first (!) Oscar, so be it.
Original Song: "I'll Get You Want You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)". "Poisonous Love". "For the Dancing and the Dreaming". "A Million Ways to Die". "The Boxtrolls Song". That would've made a kick-ass category. As for the real nominees..."Everything is Awesome". It's happening, folks. Nothing to do but lie back and wait for it to be over.
Sound: Interstellar.
Sound Effects Editing: See above.
Animated Feature: This category isn't going to be as cut and dried as it was last year. This could seriously go to anyone...but Laika is long past due for a reward. The Boxtrolls.
Animated Short Subject: Lamentably, the short films did not end up online like in the past. The only one I've seen was "Feast", so...yeah. "Feast".
Live-Action Short Subject: "Boogaloo and Graham". Just a hunch.
Documentary Short Subject: "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1".
Documentary Feature: Finding Vivian Maier.
Make-Up: Guardians of the Galaxy. No question.
Visual Effects: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Again, no question.
Foreign Film: I dunno. Ida?


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Just thinking about why networks choose to cock-tease their viewers with huge, month-sized chunks between new episodes of animated programs. Just idiotic.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ah, Buzzfeed. You find the weirdest crap that somehow still appeals to me.

There's a tumblr called Hell Yeah Genderswap! that imagines several projects if their genders were flipped (and a few race re-castings for flavor; obvious though it may be, Morgan Freeman would make a damn good Dumbledore).

One thing I've noticed: in the "Hannibal" posts, how often Tilda Swinton comes up to play Hannibal Lecter. I totally see it, but still, it's weird.

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Friday, February 06, 2015

Amityville 2: the Possession (Lalo Schifrin)

Before the Lutzes were driven from their home, there were the Montellis, where various family tensions ultimately result in a violent outburst...or so this movie would have you believe. The less savory aspects of the film may not be for every taste, but with such an enthusiastic directorial style, you can't really call the film boring.

Lalo Schifrin revisited his Oscar-nominated score for this follow-up and while it's a little heavy on shattered glass stingers, there are some good passages here, such as the creepy music for the drawn-out murder sequence.

Amityville 2: the Possession
composed & conducted
Lalo Schifrin

1. Main Titles 1.49
2. Lens Glare 0.14
3. Blood in the Water 0.12
4. Mover Stinger 0.13
5. Another Room 0.48
6. Another Visitor 1.35
7. The Mirror Crack'd/Up the Stairs 0.40
8. Following Sonny 1.10
9. Paint Job 0.21
10. The Exhibit 0.36
11. Sonny Grabs the Gun 0.42
12. Open Refrigerator 0.12
13. Desecrated Bible 0.56
14. Intruder 1.53
15. Buried Arm 1.25
16. Stalked by Spirits 1.58
17. The Beast Within 1.56
18. Flowers in the Attic 1.30
19. Suspicions 0.05
20. Blood of My Blood 0.48
21. Looking for Answers 0.24
22. One Big Happy Family 0.23
23. Trish Goes Inside 0.52
24. Does Your Mother Know? 0.45
25. Face of Evil 1.05
26. Sonny Cleans House 4.25
27. "I'm responsible." 0.41
28. Talk With a Demon/Back at the House 2.34
29. Late Phone Call 0.39
30. The Message 0.12
31. Fire, Escape 1.00
32. Home Again 0.49
33. Bleeding Walls 2.08
34. Sonny Attacks 2.00
35. Coming Apart 2.17
36. Forsaken/For Sale (End Credits) 3.25

Yeah, I'm a little ashamed of the glibness of some of the titles.


Saturday, January 31, 2015

The movies of 2014.

Saw a lot of movies from 2014. Even managed to crack the 60s. That decision to see movies I'd usually avoid so I'd know the difference between a good one and a bad one paid off in some esoteric way, after all.

10. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - Effective continuation of the franchise, with some touching moments amidst the mayhem.

9. Inherent Vice - Twisty noir is rich with 70s atmosphere, full of humorous touches and enacted by a fantastic cast.

8. How to Train Your Dragon 2 - Larger spectacle, stronger humor, more emotion...I'll say it: this flies higher than the original.

7. Bad Words - Jason Bateman directs and sheds his nice-guy stripes in this amusing dark comedy.

6. Big Hero 6 - Obscure Marvel comic becomes a colorful animated feature, with a delightful ensemble of characters.

5. Birdman - Beautifully-acted glimpse into one man descent into (and possible rise out of) madness.

4. Captain America: the Winter Soldier - Exciting mix of superhero movie and conspiracy thriller manages to top the original.

3. The Boxtrolls - Charming stop-motion feature with engaging characters and a surprisingly dark streak.

2. Snowpiercer - One-of-a-kind post apocalyptic actioner; a movie that never stops surprising you.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy - Another obscure Marvel title transmogrified into a rollicking piece of cinema.

And then there's...

Chef - Laid-back but very entertaining story of reconnecting with one's roots.
The Drop - Atmospheric crime drama with fantastic performances and some sharp twists.
Edge of Tomorrow - Basically Groundhog Independence Day, but no less enjoyable for being so.
The Hundred-Foot Journey - Gorgeous French scenery and Indian food; a very affable pairing.
The Interview - Surprisingly hilarious (and expectedly ridiculous) given the controversy.
John Wick - Straightforward revenge pic benefits from a good Keanu Reeves performance and impressive action scenes.
The Lego Movie - Wacky, funny, exciting; no masterpiece, but better than it had any right to be.
Muppets Most Wanted - Silly and funny follow-up with great cameos and catchy songs.
22 Jump Street - Sequel has great fun with its meta aspects and also brings the laughs.
X-Men: Days of Future Past - Bryan Singer makes a strong return to the franchise in this lively installment.

Underrated: Hercules, Let's Be Cops and The Monuments Men

Overrated: The Fault in our Stars (Beautifully acted, generally well-made, but Christ on a Segway, that running time!) The Grand Budapest Hotel (Again, marvelous acting and impressive design...undercut by a maddening desire to turn a Lubitsch pastiche into the freaking Terminator. How am I the only one to see this?), and The Raid: Bernadal (This one hurts, as I enjoyed the first movie and the follow-up has many positives to it - the car chase, the prison fights - but it's two and a half hours long! What's more, certain aspects of the film - hello, Bat Boy and Hammer Girl - tip the scales of violence from 'entertaining' to 'torture porn'.)

Guilty pleasures: Brick Mansions and I, Frankenstein

Didn't think this was so bad: Annie, Maleficent and RoboCop

Kind of a letdown: The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sabotage and Sex Tape

The worst movies of 2014:

3. Dumb and Dumber To - Yeah, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels looked shockingly old, but complaining about that is akin to bitching about the character design on "Ben 10: Omniverse" - off-putting, to be sure, but hardly the biggest thing wrong with the project. Mean-spirited, needlessly gross, hideously photographed and depressingly derivative of the original. Not even a few stray pleasures (Harry's new roommate, the callback in the credits) can redeem it. Seriously, this is the best they could do in 20 years?!

2. The Legend of Hercules - Renny Harlin's career has had a couple of solid actioners amidst a field of guilty pleasures. This film doesn't even score in the latter category. If the crappy CGI effects (a Millenium Films trademark) don't get you, the 300 plagiarism will. And what the hell was up with Johnathon Schaech's cornrows?!

1. Winter's Tale - In my Letterboxd review, I noted how similar this was to Hulk (also starring Jennifer Connelly!): in taking its ridiculous story heart attack-serious, unbridled goofiness rises to the surface. Purple prose masquerading as dialogue, the best parents ever sending their baby asea in a model boat, the fact that Russell Crowe's demon is named Pearly Soames, Soames' ultimate fate, Colin Farrell's stupid effing haircut...

My favorite things in movies - 2014:

Archibald Snatcher partakes of cheese in The Boxtrolls, especially at the end

Batman treats his passengers to "real music" - The Lego Movie

The bonding montage of The Interview

Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman investigate a German apartment in Fury

The car chases in Captain America: the Winter Soldier, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and The Raid: Bernadal

The delineation of the money drop in Horrible Bosses 2

Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography for Birdman

The end credits montage of 22 Jump Street

Joaquin Phoenix gets a look at Jena Malone's old picture in Inherent Vice

Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets fixed up in Sin City: a Dame to Kill For

The mouthwatering food of Chef and The Hundred-Foot Journey

The mud fight in The Raid: Bernadal

The night vision fight in Snowpiercer

The opening chase in Brick Mansions

The paintings in Rob Lowe's house in Sex Tape

Quicksilver goes for a jog in the Pentagon kitchen in X-Men: Days of Future Past

Samuel L. Jackson in Captain America: the Winter Soldier and RoboCop

The shot from the point of view of the tank in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

A surprising amount of movies where a bad-ass/jack-ass softens (somewhat) through a burgeoning friendship with a child: Bad Words, The Equalizer, St. Vincent and A Walk Among the Tombstones

Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini in The Drop, especially the latter's 'respect' speech

Ty Burrell in Mr. Peabody and Sherman and Muppets Most Wanted

The visuals of The Book of Life, especially the Land of the Remembered

Holy shit, was that...?

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje in Annie
Mikhail Baryshnikov in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Jason Isaacs in Fury
David Patrick Kelly in John Wick
Romany Malco in Top Five
Alison Pill in Snowpiercer
Eric Roberts and Maya Rudolph in Inherent Vice

Random thoughts:

- Will Forte as Abraham Lincoln in yet another Phil Lord/Christopher Miller project? Pretty sneaky, sis.

- One trope I've always been intrigued by: the one F-bomb in a PG-13 movie (it even inspired its own entertaining - if incomplete - supercut: This year saw quite a few examples: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Big Eyes, Non-Stop, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Expendables 3, Get On Up, St. Vincent and perhaps my personal favorite of the year, Hercules.

- From the 'weird!' files: I got a pair of actresses confused this year. It didn't even occur to me until months after the movies in which I saw them in had faded from memory: Mirelle Enos from Sabotage and Miranda Otto from I, Frankenstein. (I blame their similarly constructed names.) Even though Sabotage was less than I expected, one has to admire Enos for taking on a role at a complete remove from her worried wife parts in World War Z and Gangster Squad.

- Despite an amusing (and Razzie-nominated?!) performance by Kiefer Sutherland, Pompeii was a bland actioner assembled from recycled parts. One thing that pissed me off about it: that the characters (and/or the writers) genuinely thought there was time for score-settling battles in the midst of a volcanic eruption.

- The Amazing Spider-Man 2. An electrical engineer doesn't think to wear protective gloves whilst handling an electrical connector...and directly over the naturally-occurring open tank of electric eels. The finale that feels like a "Robot Chicken" sketch come to life...this one, in fact. (Seriously, no one thought to yell at the kid to run away or pull him to safety? "You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us", my ass!) That damned web hand! This fucking movie made how much?!

- Seriously, can someone explain what the hell Whoopi Goldberg was doing in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

- I mentioned Get On Up getting stiffed for Oscars and, thinking back, it's not hard to figure why. It's one thing when your lead character breaks the fourth wall while they're, say, atop a ladder peering through a sorority house window. For your lead character to peer into the audience after he just got through slapping his wife big do your balls have to be to allow something like that?

- I'm about to spoil Sex Tape, but who cares, really? One of the copies of the video file ends up in the possession of the son of Jay and Annie's best friends who then proceeds to blackmail the couple for 25 grand. What does this fucking have to do with the price of milk? (And, of course, the little monster's parents don't believe Jay and Annie when they spill the beans.) Were the writers so desperate for a new source of conflict that they decided to reach deep into their asses for it? And then there's that moment at the end where not-Eddie Haskell visits Jay and decides to sweep what happened under the rug because Jay and Annie's son is the only friend he has. I swear to the Almighty, I actually said (but not loud enough to draw attention to myself), "Break his neck!".

- Producers of Rio 2: it's bad enough that the circus freak formerly known as Miley Cyrus is indulged by followers and news outlets the world over, but a "Wrecking Ball" reference? I can't even...

- Trailers give away too much, especially gags. Granted, this is the world today, where nothing can be kept a secret (thank you, Julian Assange), but it's very disheartening to be exposed to bits long before I can see them in a theater. Imagine how much funnier the airbags bit in Neighbors or the (clever) crossover cameo in A Million Ways to Die in the West had been had I not seen them in trailers. (Then again, Doc's reaction to the picture in Inherent Vice - which was also in the trailer - made me laugh, but then, I only saw that trailer once and it slipped from memory until I caught the film. Sometimes, it's better when a gag sneaks up on you.)

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