Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June Movie Watching

June was a busy movie watching month for me as I saw eight films theatrically, as follows:

The Hangover. Unfortunately it never "quite" took off as the "action" was off-screen during the night of debauchery. However, there was just enough spark in the recreation of events and a few good laughs to make this a solid recommend-- and the best end credits of all time.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. What a waste! What particularly stings is the original movie had such a masterful ending-- and the ending to this one was laugh-out-loud idiotic. Side note: On the electronic sign above the theater, was the abbreviated: The Taking of P-- Ha!

Moon. Wished this was better, but it kept my interest and was a nice antidote to the usual summer movie fare. Sam Rockwell just can't find that "big" movie.

Drag Me To Hell. This movie has been wildly overrated. And I did enjoy it to an extent, but it all seemed lazy. When I was walking out of the theater I heard I guy say, "I'm trying to remember who told me this movie was good."

Whatever Works. Well, this was the one last hope that Woody could have a third good film from the '00s-- and it didn't happen. Loved Evan Rachel Wood (so different than in The Wrestler) and Ed Begley Jr. (funny!).

Food, Inc. Made some interesting points, but I think it didn't stretch itself as a feature film work.

The Hurt Locker. Not a 100% bona fide classic, but excellent nonetheless. Didn't like the ending, nor the tacked-on "day X" titles but it had a compelling story line and a solid lead performance. Everyone is clamoring to say that Kathryn Bigelow is the unsung auteur, but I suspect she just is a reasonably talented filmmaker who this time got lucky.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. What can I say? The critics are trying to outdo themselves with clever ways of bashing it. The fans, in terms of $$$ have spoken. Me: I was a little bored by it (as with the first) but thought it was OK overall. Actually could have used a bit more Megan Fox! I'm not going to throw stones, because I just don't care that much.... but IRON MAN is the franchise for me these days.

On TCM, watched: Tarzan, the Ape Man (1932)-- really good, if a bit lengthy (made long by such things as weird five minute Cheetah monkey sequence) and David Copperfield (1935), well cast but unfortunately overrated, I love the book but it IS perhaps unfilmable.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Producers and Marketing People Screw Over Oscars

This is a shocker.... the idea to have more nominations for producers at the Oscars came from Bill Condon and Laurence Mark who most assuredly would have seen a Best Picture nomination had the rule existed when DREAMGIRLS was in contention. And even more shocking the head of the committee was Tom Sherak, a marketing dude. Plus "marketing guru Cheryl Boone-Isaacs" was also on the committee that pushed this one through. Hmmmmmm. And it all came out of a post-mortem following the OSCARCAST.

I'm glad this decision was all about honoring more ""excellence" and not some ploy to get producers more noms, the show higher ratings, and bump up the profiles of marketing executives.

Link to Los Angeles Times article.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Oscars Will Have Ten Best Picture Nominees in 2010

This announcement had me reeling today! It is a BAD idea and will serve no other purpose than to dilute the awards and lead them down the path of the Grammys and the Emmys, where they give so many out that they no longer have meaning. Ten Best Pic noms today, ten best director noms tomorrow, Best Voice-over performance, etc. It will never end if you open this can of worms.

The people who are all excited on the boards about how wonderful this is are not thinking clearly. This will NOT open up the race to a better mix of movies. The Academy is NOT going to suddenly nominate the likes of the SUPERBADs and THE DARK KNIGHTs. Who said that THE DARK KNIGHT placed 6-10 last year. It probably didn't. Do you think the Academy REALLY would have nominated THE WRESTLER for Best Picture?

In addition to the five nominated films (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, MILK, FROST/NIXON, ... BENJAMIN BUTTON, and THE READER) we'd more likely have...


and for the "surprise" nominee, December fav MARLEY & ME.

Trust me, if this thing goes through STAR TREK is NOT gonna be on that Best Picture list.

This is only going to muddy the waters. A Best Picture nomination won't carry half the weight (literally as the number is doubling). And it'll make the Best Animated Film category a complete joke, because there will probably be an animated movie stuck into that Best Picture category every year (after all its safe to nominate an animated film without the corresponding director and the voters are going to have to come up with FIVE of these). So when UP is on the Best Picture list it's not gonna take a genius to figure out it's gonna win Best Animated movie. And no, the Academy would also never put TWO animated movies up for best picture.

What's really got me riled up is this rule change is all about ratings for the show and not, as much as the Academy would like you to believe, or moviegoers would like to think, to honor excellence.

This idea is a TRAVESTY.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Owen Gleiberman Ranks Woody Allen's Films

In this past week's Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman ranked Woody Allen's 40 films, including the newest, Whatever Works. The full list of Gleiberman's Woody rankings was posted online.

I made such a list (41 films, including telefilm Don't Drink the Water) after re-watching all of Woody Allen's movies at the time of about Small Time Crooks, and I've added the new films as I saw them. (Many of my rankings actually coincide with the EXACT placement of OG's!)

I offer MY LIST below, plus commentary underneath.

Ranking Woody Allen's Directorial Features

1. Annie Hall— 1977
2. Manhattan— 1979
3. Hannah and Her Sisters— 1986
4. Husbands and Wives— 1992
5. Broadway Danny Rose— 1984
6. Interiors— 1978
7. Another Woman— 1988
8. Bananas— 1971
9. Sleeper— 1973
10. Radio Days— 1987

11. Crimes and Misdemeanors— 1989
12. Zelig— 1983
13. Take the Money and Run— 1969
14. Deconstructing Harry— 1997
15. Match Point— 2005
16. Bullets Over Broadway— 1994
17. Love and Death— 1975
18. New York Stories (seq.)— 1989
19. Mighty Aphrodite— 1995
20. The Purple Rose of Cairo— 1985
21. Manhattan Murder Mystery— 1993
22. Alice— 1990
23. Vicky Cristina Barcelona— 2008
24. Stardust Memories— 1980
25. A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy— 1982
26. Sweet and Lowdown— 1999
27. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion— 2001
28. Don’t Drink the Water (TV)— 1994
29. What’s Up Tiger Lily?— 1966
30. Everything You Always Wanted…—1972
31. Everyone Says I Love You— 1996
32. Scoop— 2006
33. Hollywood Ending— 2002
34. Whatever Works— 2009
35. Small Time Crooks— 2000
36. Shadows and Fog— 1992
37. Celebrity— 1998
38. Cassandra’s Dream— 2008
39. Melinda and Melinda— 2005
40. September— 1987
41. Anything Else— 2003

Just in case the Gleiberman list gets pulled someday, here it is below for reference:
1. Manhattan (1979)_2. Annie Hall (1977)_3. Bananas (1971)_4. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)_5. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)_6. Match Point (2005)_7. What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)_8. Zelig (1983)_9. Sleeper (1973)_10. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)_11. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)_12. Love and Death (1975)_13. Take the Money and Run (1969)_14. Stardust Memories (1980)_15. Small Time Crooks (2000)_16. Deconstructing Harry (1997)_17. Bullets Over Broadway (1994)_18. Sweet and Lowdown (1999)_19. Mighty Aphrodite (1995)_20. Cassandra’s Dream (2007)_21. Husbands and Wives (1992)_22. Broadway Danny Rose (1984)_23. Interiors (1978)_24. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)_25. Oedipus Wrecks from New York Stories (1989)_26. A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982)_27. Radio Days (1987)_28. Whatever Works (2009)_29. Everyone Says I Love You (1996)_30. Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)_31. Scoop (2006)_32. Alice (1990)_33. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001)_34. Another Woman (1988)_35. Melinda and Melinda (2004)_36. Shadows and Fog (1991)_37. Hollywood Ending (2002)_38. Celebrity (1998)_39. Anything Else (2003)_40. September (1987)

My commentary. First off, I love Manhattan (1979), however, I can't deny that Annie Hall is Woody Allen's masterpiece, even if Manhattan would be the "cooler" choice for the #1 slot. Bananas is a VERY funny movie, but even I think I've over ranked it at #8... but OG has it at #3! Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex... as a production, is Woody's most ambitious-- but its wildly uneven and decidedly not "top ten." Match Point is EASILY Woody's best 00s effort, although I doubt it ranks in the top ten (there is just too much competition)-- but I respect making room for one of the later ones by OG. What's Up Tiger Lily? is fun and was probably a riot in it's day, but I find it a weird choice to go out on a limb for by OG. Woody Allen has sometimes cited The Purple Rose of Cairo as his favorite and Woodyphiles would almost all put it in his top ten. I'm just not the biggest fan of it (I didn't think it lived up to it's premise, i.e. the way it ends). I admit I'm in the minority on Purple Rose. Almost everyone would agree that Stardust Memories at #24 on my list is more accurate than at #14, I think OG is bucking the general consensus there. If you've seen the movie, it has one of the funniest things I ever heard in a Woody film however, when the "aliens" tell him: "You're not the Peace Corps type. You want to help humanity? Tell funnier jokes." Small Time Crooks seems to divide people. According to Gleiberman it's Woody's second best film from the 00s. Although it's certainly not his worse from the 00s, that's not saying much. Cassandra's Dream was trumped by Sidney Lumet's similar Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, but as time passes, it might move up the ranks. Husbands and Wives I consider a masterpiece, and I think this is the single film whose placement I most disagree with on OG's list. Broadway Danny Rose is a personal favorite, and yes, perhaps I just couldn't resist putting it so high on my list. Interiors and Another Woman have a checkered reception. Most people would agree with OG and NOT with my high rankings-- but I'm standing by them. I'm not going to give it a RINGING endorsement, but, unlike almost everyone I know, I was amused by The Curse of the Jade Scorpion-- and it ACTUALLY has a realistic plot-driven excuse why any pretty younger woman would be attracted to Woody. Finally, I too never thought Woody Allen would make a movie WORSE than September-- but he DID with Anything Else...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

No AFI Special?

If it's June, it must be time for another AFI "list" television special. However, this year there has been no announcement. A sign of the recession? The fact that there's nothing left to make a list about? Probably both. But either way its AFI's first break from the formula since the specials started in 1998 (a couple years they even did two specials). Of course, last year's top ten from ten generes swallowed up a lot of potential material. I actually would have liked to have seen a top 100 westerns list, for example.

It's time for One Line Review's summer hiatus. Time to take in some of the summer sun. I'll be back on June 22nd with more on the movies... with more regularity than of late, I'm planning on getting a new laptop-- my old one has been on the fritz, and its the reason for my recent lack of entries.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Millvina Dean, the Last Titanic Survivor, Has Died at Age 97

The Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912 (the ship fully sank in the early hours of April 15) and according to the NEW YORK TIMES headline which followed, there were 866 survivors. Millvina Dean, who was just two months old at the time of the sinking, was the last remaining survivor, and was the youngest person onboard (and naturally had no recollection of the sinking), and boarded the ship with her parents and brother as a third-class passenger, en route to relocate to Wichita, Kansas from England. Her mother and brother survived, but her father perished.

Because her father died as a result of the sinking, Millvina Dean had never seen James Cameron's film in its entirety [she reportedly saw several scenes featured on television]. In fact out of the six Titanic survivors alive when the film was released in 1997, only two are known to have seen the Cameron film: Eleanor Johnson Shuman (who was at the Chicago premiere where she met James Cameron; she saw the movie a few times) and Michel Navratil (who watched it at home a few years after it came out, with his family).

Surely, in three years' time on the 100th anniversary of the sinking, the movie will get a re-release.

RMS Titanic link on wikipedia.

TITANIC (1997) link at wikipedia.

Millvina Dean link at wikipedia.

A link to a youtube home video of her at an interview in 1998.

Link to Encyclopedia Titanica message boards re: Titanic survivors who saw the Cameron film.