Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I wish Little Miss Sunshine, my favorite film of 2006, would have taken home the Best Picture award at the Oscars last Sunday.

Comedies are so discriminated against by the Academy!!

When Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton announced The Departed, my expression was probably similar to any of those in the Sunshine cast photo below. (If I were better at Photoshop, I'd have edited myself into the photo!)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Friday, February 23, 2007

Introducing Oliver

My newest dog, with his siblings Dawson and Scooter.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Check out PostSecret. Some are funny, like the one above. Some are sad. Some are tragic. Some are mean. But all are secrets.

New secrets are posted every Sunday.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Music and Lyrics... and a waste of time

My freelance review:
"Music and Lyrics," the new comedy starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, is the kind of movie that gives comedies a bad name.

Hugh Grant plays a washed-up has-been from an 80's pop band who is offered a comeback opportunity to write a duet for a Britney Spears-like pop sensation.

Enter Drew Barrymore as a klutz possessing an undiscovered, natural born talent of writing song lyrics. Grant conveniently stumbles upon her and she, of course, becomes his love interest. Kinda creepy if you ask me. She looks like she could have played his daughter. Or granddaughter. Okay, maybe just daughter.

Throw in some former TV stars for padding. Brad Garrett -- so funny in "Everybody Loves Raymond" -- seems to be avoiding any typecasting by not even trying to be funny here. And Kristen Johnston -- so unfunny in "Third Rock from the Sun" -- is just as unfunny here.

The writers took an awkward, highly-episodic route to stretch the thin plot over what seemed like much longer than 96 minutes. Especially frustrating was that while the movie could have ended at any of several different points, it didn't.

And then there's the banter between Grant and Barrymore. Very rough stuff here -- like a quickly thrown together first draft of what could have evolved into crisper and funnier dialog.

And then there's the music. Oh my. Remember when the Brady Bunch kids started singing those sappy songs? The music and lyrics in this flick triggered some scary, scary, scary flashbacks for me.

This movie is being released on Valentine's Day, with the studio undoubtedly hoping to rake in some cash from the date crowd. But do your valentine a big favor and do anything but see this mess of a movie.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Oscar Buzz - Best Picture

My brother got me obsessed with trying to figure out which film will take home the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards later this month...

I had assumed that my new favorite film of the year, Little Miss Sunshine, had no chance of winning, with it being the type of movie that's traditionally ignored a top-win by the Academy. I'm not surprised to have seen it nominated, though, since other movies of its kind often get nominated to seemingly "round out" the list of the nominations -- examples being Sideways in 2004, Chocolat in 2000, Ghost in 1990 and Working Girl in 1988.

But, it's looking like Sunshine has a real chance.

(By the way, I disliked The Departed -- I thought the dialog was over-the-top, the story was confusing, that Jack Nicholson had phoned in his typical "I'm a crazy nut" performance, and that it was way too long. I thought Letters from Iwo Jima was just okay -- the first 45 minutes were really boring. I loved The Queen -- one of my favorites of the year. I didn't see Babel.)

According to the Guros o' Gold -- which averages what 14 critics/industry insiders think -- on Movie City News, Sunshine will win. It's score is well in front of its closest challengers -- The Departed and Babel, almost neck-and-neck. Letters from Iwo Jima and The Queen take distant fourth and fifth places, respectively.

In the Jan. 26 Five Not-So-Easy Pieces post on his Carpetbagger blog, New York Times media critic David Carr asks readers for their predictions. Here's an interesting analysis that also supports Sunshine winning:
[Departed] and [Letters] will split the geezer vote, and weariness over heavy-handed social commentary that is "so last year" (Crash and Brokeback Mountain) hurts Babel. As for The Queen, missing nominations for "the Blairs" Michael Sheen and Helen McCrory in this wonderfully acted film hurt its chances, by process of elimination leaving us with the feel good black comedy [Sunshine], the only logical survivor of this tepid list of nominated films. What a shame that the Academy didn't have the vision to nominate the very best of the overlooked films of 2006: Children of Men, Pan's Labyrinth, and Notes On A Scandal.
And another:
Me thinks Departed will cancel out Iwo Jima which will cancel out The Queen and Babel. By a nose, [Sunshine] will prevail.
I can't remember a year when you couldn't automatically eliminate at least two of the films from the running. To me, this suggests a year where none of the films are really standing out. Given that, I'm beginning to wonder if the following influence will come into play: Martin Scorsese not having been awarded for any of his past works. The following posting embraces that influence and calls for The Departed to win:
As much as I'd love to see [Sunshine] take the top prize, I don’t think it's going to happen. I’m pretty sure Scorsese will win this year, and I think the Academy will toss the Best Pic win to The Departed by default.
The same poster also shares concern that Sunshine cannot win without it having received a Best Director nomination:
I don't understand why so many people think [Sunshine] is such a contender in the Best Picture race. If you look at Oscar statistics, it’s the only nominee you can almost certainly be sure will NOT win. It's virtually impossible for a film to win without a Best Director nomination. In fact, it's only happened three times: 1989 with Driving Miss Daisy, 1932 and Grand Hotel, and Oscar's very first year, 1927 and Wings. Even then, Daisy had the most nominations of any film in its year, and there were a lot of weirdnesses in the Academy's early days.
And then there's the Best Editing influence:
Has to be The Departed or Babel. Why? Editing nominations. Film editing is easily the most important (and under-appreciated) element in crafting film. In the last 40 years, only four Best Picture winners did not receive a nomination for editing.
Richard Corliss of Time magazine, though, suggests a factor that may quash the above points and lead to Sunshine winning:
In troubled times, Oscar sometimes looks for an antidote (or palliative), and chooses a happy-think movie for Best Picture. It happened during World War II, when the Catholic musical Going My Way won, and in the Vietnam War, with the Dickens musical Oliver, and at the apogee of the Watergate crisis, with The Sting, and just after the Clinton impeachment, when the modest comedy Shakespeare in Love snipered Steven Spielberg's bloody Saving Private Ryan. We are in another of those historical moments, with grim death gargling at you around every corner and people being slaughtered like sheep. Of course, Academy voters could heed the incendiary Zeitgeist and vote for Babel, a film about international chaos, or Letters from Iwo Jima, depicting the last days of a losing war. The Queen shows a head of state stubbornly resisting the popular will, and The Departed is a chic bloodbath. Or, surveying this bleak terrain, the Academy membership might turn to the one feel-good movie nominated for Best Picture. Voting for a comedy that celebrates life -- eccentric but essentially loving family life -- would be an affirmation of what Hollywood has done since its Golden Age: try to make America forget what makes it gloomy, and bring it a little Sunshine.
What do you think?

New #1 film of 2006

Why should the fun of declaring the "top films of 2006" be over? In catching up on some films I didn't see last year, I've found a new #1:

#1 - Little Miss Sunshine. What an absolute gem! Terrific comedy, well-developed characters, sincerity, heart, solid story-telling -- basically, everything done right. The cast is amazing -- Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin and Alan Arkin. How to describe this movie: Take National Lampoon's Vacation, substitute its cartoon characters with realistic -- but still offbeat -- ones, develop the story better, and keep a good number of laughs along for the ride. This one hits every note right on. Not to be missed.

The rest of my top 10, written about here:

#2 - The Queen.
#3 - The King.
#4 - Match Point.
#5 - Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
#6 - An Inconvenient Truth.
#7 - Thank You For Smoking.
#8 - Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?
#9 - The Lake House.
#10 - A Prairie Home Companion.

Honorable mention to World Trade Center, previously in my top 10.