Random Factoid #467

7 11 2010

Eek.  I hope this doesn’t mean I’m some freak of nature with my memory.

On her blog “Monkey See” for NPR, Linda Holmes wrote a post about pop culture misconceptions that we all have.  Her reawakening to the idea has an interesting genesis, which I’ll quote below:

“… it somehow came up that The Flash and Flash Gordon are not the same person. By which I mean, “it came up that I was not aware that The Flash and Flash Gordon are not the same person.” (I think I sang the Queen song when The Flash was mentioned.)

I have no idea how I’ve lived as long as I have while laboring under this particular misconception, but let me tell you: Monkey See comics guru Glen Weldon, as you can imagine, was filled with … I don’t even know if it was contempt. He later claimed it was just pity, and that was supposed to be good news. ‘So,’ I said to him, ‘you’re telling me that there is both Flash and The Flash.’”

I hate to say it, but I really haven’t had many of these for the movies.  Just look at Random Factoid #184 and understand how I’m “that person” who knows every movie, every actor, and every release date.  The day a movie comes out is how I calculate time; movies are my relative measure.

I’d say the closest I ever came to a misconception was back in 2009 confusing “A Serious Man” and “A Single Man” all the time because you can’t be Oscar contenders and have the same initials.





REVIEW: A Single Man

8 02 2010

The protagonist of “A Single Man,” George Falconer (Colin Firth), often references moments of clarity, in which he is able to forget the pain of his past and live in the present.  Director Tom Ford does an excellent job of highlighting these moments, and it is here where his first film absolutely glitters.  He has made a movie that stands as one of the most thoroughly beautiful aesthetic achievements in years.  And it isn’t beautiful just to be beautiful – Ford uses all these elements to subtly alert us to the true mood of the scene, but it’s never so subtle that the message is unattainable.

Set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the film’s events take place on what very well could be the last day of George Falconer’s life.  He has had to mourn the death of his longtime lover Jim (Matthew Goode) in private, thus making him a ticking time bomb of grief, ready to self-destruct at any instant.  George passes through life as little more than a specter, a mere shadow of the charismatic man that once walked in the same loafers.  On this day, no one even seems to suspect anything out of the ordinary.

We follow George as he meticulously attempts to finish his business.  He teaches his english class to a largely insipid and bored college class – with the exception of Kenny (Nicholas Hoult), who seems to take an interest not only in the thematic relevance of the class to the real world, but also in George himself.  He has dinner with his old friend Charley (Julianne Moore), a woman with a high capacity for alcohol and heartbreak.  Yet in the midst of all this, life (or some might call it fate) keeps giving him reminders of why we live.  These fleeting instances of rapture are brilliantly captured by Ford’s lens, and they especially stand out against the bleak canvas of George’s life.

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Shameless Advertisement #5 – December

1 12 2009

Well, December is finally here!  Bring on the Oscar movies … and plenty of other fun movies!

There was another pretty good turnout for this poll.  In a tie for second place were “The Princess and the Frog,” “Avatar,” “It’s Complicated,” and “Invictus.”  Unfortunately, the runners-up get nothing except a link to their trailers.

There was also a tie for first place.  Rather than prominently feature “Up in the Air” for the third time, I decided to spread the wealth. So the winner, and the readers’ of “Marshall and the Movies” most anticipated movie of December 2009 is…

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Oscar Moment: Screenplays

22 11 2009

NOTE: This “Oscar Moment” is a tad different from any of the prior ones.  Rather than focusing on a specific movie, this post focuses on a particular category – in this case, screenplays.

A part of the Oscar season that I particularly love is watching the studios promote their movies.  Thankfully, my friends over at Awards Daily do a fantastic job of monitoring the “For Your Consideration” ads that are placed in Variety and other indudstry magazines.  But as the Internet becomes bigger and more present in our lives, the studios have adjusted campaigns slightly over the past years.  Now, they have set up “For Your Consideration” websites designed to promote their movies to the voters but also provide a place for average moviegoers to learn more about the movies simultaneously.

A recent feature that most studios have graciously included on these sites is access to the screenplay of that movie in its entirety.  Personally, I find these a great way to learn about the different styles of moviemaking in the race.  Some movies draw heavily from their screenplay, others use it as merely a guideline.

Therefore, I feel it to be my duty to impart the knowledge of this treasure trove of movie gold to any interest moviegoer reading this blog.  Click on the links below and they will take you to the screenplay for that movie (I will update this page periodically with new screenplays when they become available).  Enjoy, because the race is just beginning!

NOMINEES for Best Screenpalay:

Click here to read the screenplay for “Precious.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “An Education.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “The Hurt Locker.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “Inglourious Basterds.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “A Serious Man.”

Other Screenplays:

Click here to read the screenplay for “A Single Man.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “Nine.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “It’s Complicated.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “The Informant!”

Click here to read the screenplay for “The Road.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “The Blind Side.”





What To Look Forward To In … December 2009

14 11 2009

What is in my mind the finest month for the movies is almost here!  Let Marshall guide you through the best and steer you away from the worst, but most of all enjoy!  The studios have been holding back their best movies all year to dump them all here, where they can get serious awards consideration.

December 4

A major Oscars wild-card is “Brothers.”  No one really knows what to make of it.  If the movie hits big, it could completely change the game.  But it could just fly under the radar like most expect it to now.  However, the trailer makes it look as if it the movie could be absolutely mind-blowing.  Directed by Jim Sheridan, who has received six Academy Award nominations, “Brothers” follows Grace Cahill (Natalie Portman) as she and her daughters deal with the loss of her husband, Sam (Tobey Maguire), in war.  Sam’s brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) comes to live with Grace to lend a helping hand.  But romantic sparks fly between the two at precisely the wrong time: the discovery that Sam is alive and coming home.  With the two brothers both tugging Grace’s heart for their share, a different type of sparks fly.

You have heard me say plenty about “Up in the Air.”  If you haven’t read my Oscar Moment on the movie or heard my bliss at the release of the trailer, let me give you one more chance to hope on the bandwagon.

But the movies don’t stop there.  “Armored,” an action-drama that is tooting its own moral horn, starring Matt Dillon and Laurence Fishburne.  “Everybody’s Fine” appears to be a holiday movie, so that might be worth checking out if you’re in the spirit.  The movie, a remake of a 1990 Italian film by the same name, stars Robert DeNiro as a widower who reconnects with his estrange children.  And “Transylmania” looks to cash in on the vampire craze sweeping the nation by satirizing it, but I doubt it will be financially viable because it is being released by a no-name studio and without any big names.

December 11

The highlight of the weekend for many will be “The Princess and the Frog,” Disney’s return to the traditional animation by hand musical.  The movie looks to capitalize on what we know and love Disney musicals for, adding some catchy tunes to a fairy tale we have known since childhood.  Anika Noni Rose, best known for her role as Lorrell in the film adaptation of “Dreamgirls,” lends her talented voice to the princess Tiana.  As a huge fan of “Dreamgirls” during the winter of 2006, I couldn’t think of someone better equipped to handle the sweet, soft Disney music (which isn’t designed for belters like Beyoncé or Jennifer Hudson).  That being said, the music won’t sound like anything you’ve ever heard from a Disney fairy tale.  It is being scored by Randy Newman, not Alan Menken (“Beauty and the Beast,” etc.), and will have a jazzy feel much like its setting, New Orleans.

This week also boasts the opening of three major Oscar players. Two have been featured in Oscar Moments, “Invictus” and “A Single Man.” The former opens nationwide this Friday, the latter only in limited release. I’ll repost the trailers below because they are worth watching. But read the Oscar Moment if you want to know more about the movies.

According to the people that matter, “The Lovely Bones” has all the pieces to make a great movie. But for summer reading two years ago, I read the source material, Alice Sebold’s acclaimed novel. I found it dreadfully melodramatic and very depressing without any sort of emotional payoff to reward the reader for making it through. But maybe Hollywood will mess up the novel in a good way. If any movie could, it would be this one. With a director like Peter Jackson and a cast including Saiorse Ronan (“Atonement”), Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, and Susan Sarandon, it could very well happen.  It opens in limited release on this date and slowly expands until its nationwide release on Martin Luther King Day weekend in 2010.

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Oscar Moment: “A Single Man”

13 11 2009

Today’s “Oscar Moment” is brought to you by the movie “A Single Man,” adapted from a decades-old novel by Christopher Isherwood (if that sounds like the closing of “Sesame Street,” excuse my tardiness of honoring the show’s 40th anniversary).  The movie could follow a similar awards season road to “Slumdog Millionaire.”  Both were discovered at film festivals, got a distributor, and began attracting much Oscar talk.  “A Single Man” burst onto the scene at the Venice Film Festival, where Colin Firth took home the prize for Best Actor.  He has since become a frontrunner in the Best Actor race at the Oscars.  But Firth is not the only part of the movie getting attention.  Julianne Moore has gained some traction in a tight Best Supporting Actress race, and Tom Ford, former fashion designer (something I know only from a quick Google search), has won raves for his first film.

From watching the trailer, after the shock of watching a montage filled with Ford’s distinct, visually arresting style, you probably are asking, “This looks good, but what is this movie about?”  The movie centers around middle-aged homosexual British professor George Falconer (Firth) and him reeling from the death of his partner, Jim (Matthew Goode, “Watchmen”).  It follows him over the course of a day, consoled by close friend Charley (Moore), as he tries to discover if life is worth living without Jim.

It is a tight Best Actor field this year, with heavyweights such as Morgan Freeman, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Jeff Bridges in contention.  Yet most people seem to think that Firth is safe for at least a nomination.  He is a likable actor, never demanding much attention, and making missteps in only the quietest of fashions.  Although many people seem to have postulated that the Academy is very homophobic from its snub of “Brokeback Mountain,” the Best Actor prize went to Sean Penn for playing homosexual San Francisco mayor Harvey Milk last year.

Moore perhaps faces even stiffer competition in Best Supporting Actress.  Mo’Nique is a lock (which I can now testify to from seeing the movie).  Barring a complete flop of “Nine,” at least one actress will get in, if not two.  “Up in the Air” has two strong candidates in the category, Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga.  “The Lovely Bones” could also has two potential nominees with past winners Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon.  I don’t think Moore is a certainty by any means, but I must keep in mind that I have not seen her performance in the movie.  But she is a four-time nominee, and maybe it is her time.  We all know how desperate the Academy was to award Kate Winslet last year after five times coming up empty on Oscar night, even willing to commit category fraud to give it to her.

As for the Best Picture/Director duo, it seems to be less likely than the two actors.  The film’s subject matter could likely hurt it – I say this not because of my own personal beliefs but because there exists a large faction of old white men in the Academy opposed to homosexuality.  I think the triumph of “Milk” last year shows significant progress, but nonetheless, this homophobia still exists, even if in vestiges.  Without the expansion of the field of Best Picture nominees, I don’t think this would have a chance.  But I think “A Single Man” lurks at the bottom of the ten or just outside of it.  If one of the heavyweights like “Invictus” or “The Lovely Bones” underwhelms, I think “A Single Man” could sneak in and steal a spot.  As for director Tom Ford, I am quite skeptical about his chances.  While the trailer shows an appealing stylistic approach, this cannot cover the fact that this is Ford’s first film.  It is fairly rare for a director to earn a nomination for their first project, and in such a strong year for directors, I think Ford will get lost in a crowd of big names like Clint Eastwood, Peter Jackson, and James Cameron.

I feel like I close every “Oscar Moment” on the same note: “I don’t care if it gets nominated, this looks good enough to get me to a theater!”  The same goes for “A Single Man,” which opens in limited release on December 11 and will gradually expand across the country as awards season progresses.

BEST BETS FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Actor (Colin Firth), Best Supporting Actress (Moore), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction

OTHER POTENTIAL NOMINATIONS: Best Picture, Best Director (Tom Ford)








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