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.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The movies of 2016.

Okay, let's do this again.

10. The Founder - More or less The Social Network with burgers, but equally well-acted and still quite appealing on its own merits.

9. Kubo and the Two Strings - As with all of Laika's oevure, beautifully animated and rich in heart, with an appropriate tribute to the art of storytelling.

8. Star Trek Beyond - Perhaps the best entry in the reboot series so far, with exciting action and terrific character interplay.

7. La La Land - An effervescent musical and a love letter to Los Angeles rolled into one, with dynamic turns from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

6. Everybody Wants Some!! - Wholly lacking in plot thrust, but who cares when the environment and the characters are this enjoyable?

5. Zootopia - You'd think that colorful animation and sharp social commentary wouldn't make for the best mix, yet here we are.

4. The Nice Guys - A welcome return to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang territory for Shane Black, and while it's not quite as masterful, it is very good, with a fine team in Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling.

3. Captain America: Civil War - It's little wonder Marvel runs rings around the box office, with movies as rousing and funny as this.

2. Doctor Strange - Eye-popping effects and note-perfect work by Benedict Cumberbatch highlight this engaging Marvel movie.

1. Deadpool - With copious amounts of gore and cursing, this may be the most puerile major superhero movie ever made...and it is, by far, the most fun I had at a movie all last year.

And then there's...

Bad Moms - A terrific cast and a script of steady laughs punctuated by some strong points make for one of the most delightful comedy surprises of recent memory.
Eddie the Eagle- Underdog sports story doesn't re-invent the wheel, but still entertains, with engaging turns from Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman.
The Edge of Seventeen - A most effective high school story, with a fantastic performance from Hailee Steinfeld as the frustrated (and frustrating) protagonist.
Finding Dory - Not one of the greatest Pixar movies, but some good gags and amusing new characters make it fun.
Kung Fu Panda 3 - Latest chapter in the animated saga got lost in the shuffle, but it's still an exceptional work.
Moana - Beautiful animation, catchy songs and a likable pair of leading characters; who could ask for more?
A Monster Calls - Heartbreaking story of dealing with loss, highlighted by striking animated sequences.
10 Cloverfield Lane - Even with its polarizing ending, this is a marvelous little thriller, with first-timer Dan Trachtenberg nicely eliciting suspense and fine performances.
Triple 9 - A superlative cast gives this lively-if-pulpy thriller more class than it probably deserves.
X-Men: Apocalypse - Heavy on spectacle, but buoyed by good set-pieces and nice character moments.

Underrated: Batman: Return of the Caped CrusadersPride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sing and Suicide Squad (...yes, I'm serious)

Guilty pleasures: Gods of Egypt, Hardcore Henry and London Has Fallen

My favorite things in movies - 2016:

Alden Ehrenreich in Hail, Caesar!

"All dinosaurs feared the mighty T-Rex." - Deadpool

Chadwick Boseman in Captain America: Civil War and Gods of Egypt

The crew takes a trip to Yorktown in Star Trek Beyond

The evocations of the past in Eddie the Eagle, Elvis & Nixon and Everybody Wants Some!!

The fight with the Kakamora in Moana

"A Lovely Night" - La La Land; among many fine aspects of this musical (Linus Sandgren's eye-catching cinematography, the use of Los Angeles locations), this sequence stands out

Mandy Walker's cinematography for Jane Got a Gun

Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad

The McDonald brothers tell Ray Kroc their story in The Founder, especially the 'perfecting the Speedee system' sequence

The pursuit of Shredder's transport in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Quicksilver evacuates the Xavier mansion in X-Men: Apocalypse

The renderings of the stories and the monster in A Monster Calls

Rosita readies her kids for school in Sing

Sharlto Copley in Hardcore Henry

The tarmac battle in Captain America: Civil War

The visual effects of Doctor Strange, especially when the Ancient One opens Strange's mind

Woody Harrelson in The Edge of Seventeen, Now You See Me 2 and Triple 9

Holy shit, was that...?

Benjamin Bratt in Doctor Strange
Jim Broadbent in Eddie the Eagle
Clark Duke, Wendell Pierce and Wanda Sykes in Bad Moms
Cam Gigandet in The Magnificent Seven
Luis Guzman in Keanu
Bill Hader in Finding Dory
Tom Everett Scott in La La Land
Ty Simpkins in The Nice Guys
too many names to list in Hail, Caesar!
Dean Winters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Alfre Woodard, Hope Davis and Jim Rash in Captain America: Civil War

What a tragic waste...

everyone not named Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart in London Has Fallen
Holly Hunter and Joe Morton in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Frances McDormand in Hail, Caesar!
Jean Smart in The Accountant
Michael Stuhlbarg in Doctor Strange
that adorable little pig in Moana (don't front; you were thinking it, too)

Random thoughts:

- It took the IMDb trivia page for Star Trek Beyond to point me in this direction, but I read how Simon Pegg named Jaylah after Jennifer Lawrence. I don't know if she was ever approached for the role, but my mind went right to Star Trek V's Sha Ka Ree and the vain hope that Sean Connery would play Sybok.

- And speaking of J-Law, that scene in X-Men: Apocalypse, where Quicksilver runs Mystique to a place while holding her head. You don't think that Simon Kinberg got a look at 'How It Should Have Ended's' X-Men: Days of Future Past video before he wrote this, do you?

- As I feared, Swiss Army Man, aka, the farting corpse movie, is making year-end top ten lists left and right, despite my (not completely unreasonable) assertion that it's just a hop, skip and a jump toward eight-time Oscar winner, Ass: the Movie. Most people bitch about the proliferation of comic book movies, reboots and any manner of film adapted from another medium. "There's too many movies like that. We should support anything that's original." Ah, yes, the Jupiter Ascending fallacy. Two years on, how's that working for you?

- Because of my financial troubles, I didn't see anywhere near as many movies as I wanted to this year (37). For the curious, here are the movies I wanted to see, but couldn't: Absolutely Fabulous: the Movie, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Bad Santa 2, The BFG, Central Intelligence, Criminal, De Palma, Desierto, Don't Breathe, Keeping Up with the Joneses, Live by NightMasterminds, Mechanic: Resurrection, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, NerdlandOffice Christmas Party, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Rogue One: a Star Wars StorySing Street, Storks and War Dogs.

- Watching Everybody Wants Some!!, I was truly struck by how much Zoey Deutch resembles her mother, Lea Thompson. Also, her character was named Beverly, which, if you're familiar with Miss Thompson's filmography, should have you chuckling right now.

- After hearing "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the Suicide Squad trailer and "Don't Stop Me Now" in the Hardcore Henry trailer, no matter the ultimate quality of the respective films, Queen + action movie trailer = asses in seats. There's no use arguing this. It's science. Shit, you could probably put "Fat Bottomed Girls" over a trailer and guarantee an $80 million opening weekend.

- While I enjoyed Sing quite a bit, I have but one complaint: why was there no singing from John C. Reilly (who voiced Eddie)? For crying out loud, his one Oscar nomination was for a role where he got to sing!

- For the second summer in a row, Paramount felt the need to spoil their potential summer blockbuster in ads leading up to the film's release. Here's a tip: just because you feel you have the foreign box office sewn up is no reason to go and blow the film-going experience for domestic audiences. Schmucks.

- You probably noticed (or didn't) that there wasn't a listing for 'overrated' movies this year. I didn't see any critically-praised, Oscar-baity movies that could stand to be taken down a peg, so let me just go with an overrated movie moment: "Would that it 'twere so simple?" from Hail, Caesar!. Seriously, even the Coen faithful have to admit that, following the first 20 seconds or so, the point is made and it's straight up "Family Guy" territory after that.

- It's amazing that Batman headlined three movies this year. Even more amazing, given his dark backstory, is that the kid-friendly one would be, far and away, the most entertaining (and that streak looks to continue given the trailers for The LEGO Batman Movie).

- I liked Now You See Me 2, but I am still disappointed that, in the scene where the Horsemen meet Daniel Radcliffe's character and he screws up a card trick, not a one of them said 'This guy sucks at magic.'. You tell me that wouldn't have brought the house down.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

And the nominees are...

- Nine Best Picture nominees. Even if I had the money to see more movies this year, I still would've likely shown interest in one of them.

- Suicide Squad an Academy Award-nominated movie (for Make-Up and Hairstyling)? That sound you hear is a world of haters eating a bag of shit with a side of dicks.

- Greig Fraser gets his first cinematography nod (for Lion). While I loved Linus Sandgren's work on La La Land, a part of me will be rooting for him.

- First time nominations for Mahershala Ali, Andrew Garfield, Naomie Harris, Lucas Hedges, Isabelle Huppert, Ruth Negga and Dev Patel.

- Strong showing for the Best Animated Feature category (read: no nomination for Sausage Party).

- A Best Director nod for Mel Gibson. Looks like he's on the comeback trail.

- Having listened to all the nominees for Original Score on Spotify, I'm putting my faith in Jackie and Passengers, though let's be honest, it'll likely go to La La Land.

- Trolls got an Original Song nod, making it an Academy Award-nominated movie. Balls.

- Among the nominees for Adapted Screenplay is Eric Heisserer for Arrival. You may remember him from such genre exercises as the Nightmare on Elm Street remake, the prequel to The Thing and the surprisingly good Final Destination 5.

- It took a while, but a movie set in modern times got a Costume Design nod.

- Movies that got snubbed: Live by Night, Sully (save for a Sound Mixing nod), A Monster Calls and The Founder.

- As much as I loved Deadpool, did anyone really believe it would get a Best Picture nod? Yeah, probably not.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The film music of 2016.

My favorite scores of 2016:

(Danny Elfman - Disney)
Elfman's follow-up to his lush 2010 score is equally entertaining.
Best tracks: "Alice", "Watching Time", "Story of Time"

(John Williams - Disney)
A beautiful fantasy score from a man who, by now, could write them in his sleep.
Best tracks: "The Witching Hour", "Building Trust", "Sophie and the BFG"

(Michael Giacchino - Hollywood)
Fantastic entry into the Marvel universe, with some wonderfully off-kilter moments.
Best tracks: "The Hands Dealt", "Smote and Mirrors", "The Master of the Mystic"

(Carter Burwell - Disney)
Burwell gave the Disney adventure a lively score.
Best tracks: "I Hope You Didn't Kill Us", "Pendleton Push", "Safe Harbor"

(Fernando Velazquez - Quartet)
Engaging WWII score broods and soars like the best from that era.
Best tracks: "Absolute Perfection", "The Consul and Nikolai", "Gernika Under the Bombs"

(Marco Beltrami - Varese Sarabande)
Grandly bombastic music for the lavish guilty pleasure; one of Beltrami's finest.
Best tracks: "Set vs. Horus", "Wings and a Prayer", "God of the Impossible"

(Jeff Grace - Back Lot)
A thundering, Morricone-channelling Western score from the underrated Grace.
Best tracks: "Priests and Sinners", "Finding Abby", "Surrender and Standoff"

(John Ottman and David Buckley - Lakeshore)
Funky, clever score for the enjoyable neo-noir.
Best tracks: "Theme from 'The Nice Guys'", "Equanimity", "Cars That Drive Themselves"

(Brian Tyler - Varese Sarabande)
Another delightful bit of musical legerdemain from Tyler.
Best tracks: "Now You See Me 2 Fanfare", "Behind the Curtain", "Off the Grid"

(Michael Giacchino - Varese Sarabande*)
Giacchino provides another exciting entry in the franchise.
Best tracks: "Night on the Yorktown", "Franklin, My Dear", "Par-tay for the Course"

(Bear McCreary - Sparks & Shadows)
Marvelously creepy score for the confined thriller, highlighted by a striking main theme.
Best tracks: "Michelle", "Hazmat Suit", "The New Michelle"

(John Ottman - Sony Classical)
Powerful music that nicely makes up for the previous X-score.
Best tracks: "The Transference", "Split Them Up!", "Great Hero/You Betray Me"

(John Debney - Lakeshore)
Lovely score; not quite The Passion, but more hopeful.
Best tracks: "The Young Messiah Theme", "Severus Lets Jesus' Family Go", "A Son Named Jesus"

Other good scores:

Denial (Howard Shore), Elle (Anne Dudley), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (James Newton Howard), Finding Dory (Thomas Newman), Gold (Daniel Pemberton), Hail, Caesar! (Carter Burwell), The Huntsman: Winter's War (James Newton Howard), Jackie (Mica Levi), Kubo and the Two Strings (Dario Marianelli), The Light Between Oceans (Alexandre Desplat), The Magnificent Seven (James Horner and Simon Franglen), A Monster Calls (Fernando Velazquez), Nocturnal Animals (Abel Korzeniowski), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Fernando Velazquez), Rogue One: a Star Wars Story (Michael Giacchino), The Secret Life of Pets (Alexandre Desplat) and Storks (Mychael and Jeff Danna)

Some great unreleased scores:

The Edge of Seventeen - Atli Orvarsson
Keanu - Steve Jablonsky and Nathan Whitehead
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - Nick Urata

Here's the part of the post where I would mention the best specialty releases that the labels had to offer, or at least I would if I had been able to buy any of them this year. Instead, I'll just be listing the best and the rest of what I wish I had.

The best...

Arena (Richard Band - Intrada) - Pity that opportunities for Band to utilize orchestra dried up, but this interesting synth score made the transition a good one.

Batman: TAS - Vol. 4 (Shirley Walker and others - La La Land) - More engaging scores for the last part of the original run, as well as some interesting odds and ends.

Family Guy (Ron Jones and Walter Murphy - La La Land) - The show's been running on fumes for a while, but that's not the fault of the music, and it's nice to see the early scores get released.

Nick of Time (Arthur B. Rubinstein - La La Land) - I don't know who had to sell their soul to get us a Rubinstein CD, but I promise their sacrifice will not be in vain.

The Rescuers Down Under (Bruce Broughton - Intrada) - Legend has it that Broughton could've done Home Alone instead, but rather than wonder 'what if?', let's just bask in this rousing sequel score.

RoboCop 3 (Basil Poledouris - Varese Club) - Nobody's favorite RoboCop movie, to be sure, but Poledouris's music, including a pair of terrific new themes, gives it some legitimacy.

The Rocketeer (James Horner - Intrada) - If only to finally have the cue where Cliff puts on the rocket pack and the two main themes play simultaneously, this would be worth every penny.

The Shawshank Redemption (Thomas Newman - La La Land) - One of Newman's first Oscar nominations was well-deserved; an exceptionally touching opus.

The Twilight Zone (various - Intrada) - Much like its contemporary "Amazing Stories", this anthology show had a nice mix of vets and up-and-comers providing eclectic music.

Volcano (Alan Silvestri - Varese Club) - Not quite the 1997 Silvestri score I was hoping to see expanded, but a very exciting work, nonetheless.

...and the rest...

All I Want for Christmas (Bruce Broughton - Intrada)
The Awakening (Claude Bolling - Quartet)
The Chosen (Ennio Morricone - Beat)
Delta Force 2 (Frederic Talgorn - Intrada)
Dick Tracy (Danny Elfman - Intrada)
Fighting Back (Piero Piccioni - Quartet)
The Great Buck Howard (Blake Neely - La La Land)
The Haunted Mansion (Mark Mancina - Intrada)
Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco (Bruce Broughton - Intrada)
The Monkey King 2 (Christopher Young - Intrada)
Ozzy (Fernando Velazquez - Quartet)
The Return of the Musketeers (Jean-Claude Petit - Quartet)
Santa Claus: the Movie (Henry Mancini - Quartet)
The Setting Sun (Maurice Jarre - Intrada)
The Snows of Kilimanjaro (Bernard Herrmann - Kritzerland)
So Fine (Ennio Morricone - Music Box)
Starship Troopers (Basil Poledouris - Varese Club)
Take a Hard Ride (Jerry Goldsmith - La La Land)
Trancers I-III (Mark Ryder, Phil Davies and Richard Band - Intrada)
Unidentified Flying Oddball (Ron Goodwin - Intrada)
venredi ou la vie sauvage (Maurice Jarre - Music Box)

A few extra notes...

- Though it was a reprint of an earlier article (something they'd been doing throughout the year), Collider's article about the '23 Most Exciting Composers Working Today' struck me due to the fact that I didn't recognize some of the names on the list (Norma Desmond's line about the idols being smashed and replaced by "some nobodies!" ran through my head). In the interest of fairness, I decided to listen to the scores of these 'nobodies' (seriously, how did we ever live before Spotify?). I've found that (to me, anyway) they have a ways to go before I'm seeing movies just because they scored it. However, Mica Levi's Jackie, with its beautifully woozy main theme, hints at interesting things.

- *Yes, I know that that's the cover art for the inevitable Varese Sarabande Deluxe Edition of Star Trek Beyond, but this has way more zing than the cover of the regular release, which feels like a placeholder cover until the design team could come up with something better.

- Still on the subject of STB:DE, my two favorite track titles have to be "Spock Speaks Hive" and "The Dreaded Rear Admiral". (And I'm tickled that, while bowing to pressure to come up with professional track titles for Rogue One, Giacchino provided the jokey ones in the liner notes. You can take the man out of the chain...)

- While it failed to make my best-of lists, I found Marco Beltrami's Ben-Hur far more interesting than others did, if not up to Gods of Egypt. I think most people just got pissy that it wasn't Rozsa; what he wrote was what was asked for. Seriously, are you people new to the current environment of film scoring?

- Conversely, people were enthused by Daniel Hart's Pete's Dragon, but I just didn't feel it. Maybe, I needed to experience it in the film.

- Because I'm a sucker for this stuff, two of my favorite cues of the year are "Ley Lines" from Ghostbusters and "Half Shell" from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

- Henry Jackman's score for Captain America: Civil War, while a step in the right direction, was a long way from a great superhero score. Even so, I couldn't help but notice a resemblance between one of the motifs and the Joshua theme from WarGames, only with a couple of bars added. Not sure where this originated from, short of the WarGames reference in The Winter Soldier.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 12, 2017

It feels really weird to be confident about things like the future. I'm so used to expecting the worst of what may happen.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Got a crick in my neck that I've had since yesterday morning and it hurts like eight bitches on a bitchboat.

Googled a way to get rid of it. One website told me that to get rid of a crick that I've slept on wrong is 'to sleep on it right'. What kind of 'it hurts when I do this, so don't do that' horseshit is that?

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Can you tell if I'm happy or mad?

Not to drop a big ol' jinx deuce, but today, I turned a corner in my life of 'I'm never gonna get out of debt, much less ever have money to even pay off the stuff I'm dealing with in front of me'.

Going on Facebook, I find a post about how freelance writers are needed to provide a few articles a month...for pay! I get in contact with the person who posted the ad and they sent me an e-mail elaborating on the position.

Now, by itself, that's some pretty good news.

Cut to a few hours later. I interviewed with a company about a job and expressed a desire to work a certain schedule, one that would allow me to work two jobs with (more or less) the same income.

Training begins the week after next. I'm a little excited and nervous, as most people in similar situations ought to be, but - assuming I play my cards right - this may be the last 'worried' post I make here for a while.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 01, 2017

365 days of something.

What do I want to do this year to enrich my life?

1. Drive to Toronto for at least two day trips.

2. Eat myself sick at no fewer than three local food festivals.

3. Sneak food into as many movies as I feel the need.

4. Get and keep a job that will allow me to claw my way out of debt.

5. Kiss a random girl.

6. Sell a screenplay.

7. Try new dishes, including one made by my own hands.

8. Task to be named later.

9. Have a good cry. (The reason doesn't matter.)

10. Shoot a short film.

It's very important to establish goals for one's self.