Random Factoid (500)

10 12 2010

Notice the stylistic change?  Not very subtle, I know, but I can scarcely contain my enthusiasm because today is my (500)th day of blogging!!! WOOHOOOO!!!!

How did I celebrate?  A MATH MIDTERM!!!  Just kidding, that’s what I had to do.  I celebrated the day at a Secret Santa dinner for my select choir group, a second viewing of “Black Swan” on its Houston general release, and something I’ve been planning almost since my blog started: watching “(500) Days of Summer” on my (500)th day of blogging!

I first saw the movie about four days before I started blogging, and it was the second review I wrote on the site.  In my overwhelmingly positive statement of love, I said:

“One of the things that sets the movie apart is its depiction of events: they are presented in a non-linear fashion. This allows the audience to really feel the up and down nature of their relationship and to know that anything can happen next, a luxury that romantic comedies can rarely provide its viewers. Deschanel, who most audiences will remember as Will Ferrell’s love interest in ‘Elf,’ plays Summer with the right balance of warmth and bitterness. She plays hard-to-get but also projects Summer’s need to be loved at the same time. Gordon-Levitt, who is perhaps best known for his work on the TV show ‘Third Rock from the Sun,’ has puzzled moviegoers with his selection of films over the years, choosing some off-kilter dramas (I do recommend you check out ‘The Lookout,’ one of his finest during this spell). This seems to be more familiar and comfortable territory for him, though, and I hope that he chooses more movies like this. He plays Tom with such irresistible charm that you yearn over his heartbreak and you cheer with his successes, especially when they break out into music and dance numbers to Hall and Oates (Gordon-Levitt is a surprisingly good dancer).”

I’m pretty much obsessed with this movie, and it was so nice to sit down and watch the whole thing for once.  I’ve been watching it in bits and pieces on HBO and Cinemax, but only watching it from start to finish can I really appreciate how wonderful and unique the movie really is.

So thanks to everyone who has supported me in my first (500) days of blogging because I couldn’t have done this by myself.  As for the next (500), who knows what’s coming?

Random Factoid #370

2 08 2010

One only has to see “(500) Days of Summer” to know that great things can begin in an elevator.

As a kick-off to their “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” series, Anomalous Material inspired all participants (which include yours truly) to write an elevator pitch for their site.  According to a quote on Wikipedia which they so kindly posted, an elevator pitch is “an overview of an idea for a product, service, or project. The name reflects the fact that an elevator pitch can be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride (for example, thirty seconds or 100-150 words).”

They suggest several practical uses for this pitch, but I have an entirely different (and potentially unique) one: it will help me talk about it in college interviews and applications.

You can do either a long pitch or a shorter one.  The abridged version is meant to get bluntly to the point of what your blog is about.  So here’s my short pitch: “Marshall and the Movies is about me sharing my obsession with movies with everyone who will listen.”

Here’s my longer pitch: “I’ve always been the movie guy, and I’m trying to use all my knowledge for good.  Whether it’s alerting people to good movies or steering them clear of bad ones, sharing my moviegoing experiences, or just writing thought-provoking pieces about the Oscars or whatever pops into my mind, Marshall and the Movies is a blog about those two things but written for you.”

Be honest – would you visit my site if I came up to you and told you that in an elevator?

Random Factoid #212

25 02 2010

Some friends and I who share a common obsession with the movie “(500) Days of Summer” have been messing around on Facebook, setting our profile pictures to the movie’s characters.  Tom and Summer are covered – but not by me.  Who am I, then?

Rhoda, the greeting-card worker who is seen trying to roll out a new line of cards with her cat, Pickles.  She is an obscure character, but I remembered her.  Mainly it was because I actually felt bad for her because there she was, just trying to unveil a cute and sweet new line of cards with her cat who she probably loves dearly.  Then depressed Tom comes along and just decides to tear her down while he is feeling especially horrific.  Her response is a simple frown, and I just wanted to go and give her a hug.

(In case you don’t remember her, this should jostle your memory.)

Random Factoid #210

23 02 2010

Another short factoid today.  Sorry, it’s a busy week … I’m learning to tap dance!

I was turned away from free screenings of “(500) Days of Summer” last summer not once, not twice, but thrice.  Persistence paid off, and my friend and I were there an hour and a half early for our fourth try.  We pitched camp in the lobby and played Uno for quite some time.

Random Factoid #171

15 01 2010

I swear to you that I do not have OCD, but you will probably think that I do after I reveal this pet peeve to you.

You know how sometimes when you peel the plastic off the case of a DVD and it clings to the spine a little bit?  It really bothers me when the plastic sticks to the case and you have to scratch to get it off.  I found myself quite preoccupied doing it with both “Food, Inc.” and “(500) Days of Summer” the other day.

I don’t know why it gets to me.  The only logical cause I can come up with is that perhaps I think that unless all the plastic is off, the DVD hasn’t fully been opened.  But that sounds a little silly even to me.

LISTFUL THINKING: The Top 10 Movies of 2009

31 12 2009

As strange as it is to say, 2009 is over.

As the bookend of the first decade of the new millennium, this year has come to represent the changing scope of the 2000s.  Technology, as it always seems to, has reached soaring heights.  But as the man who created the most revolutionary of these advancements this year, James Cameron, said in an interview with Newsweek, “Filmmaking is not going to ever fundamentally change. It’s about storytelling. It’s about humans playing humans. It’s about close-ups of actors. It’s about those actors somehow saying the words and playing the moment in a way that gets in contact with the audience’s hearts. I don’t think that changes.”

With that in mind, I celebrate 2009 for all the incredible stories that enchanted me as only cinema can with my top 10 list.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oscar Moment: “Crazy Heart”

9 12 2009

Here’s a little Oscar story for you, told just like a fairy tale!

Once upon a time, there was a studio called Fox Searchlight.  This was a specialty studio, so their job was to release movies that would be critically acclaimed and win lots of Oscars.

But in September, it was becoming inherently clear that things weren’t quite panning out for Fox Searchlight.  “(500) Days of Summer” and “Adam” weren’t really Academy-type movies, and “Amelia” was a huge bomb with critics.  With only Wes Anderson’s animated “Fantastic Mr. Fox” left to release, they didn’t seem to have any viable candidate for big categories at the Oscars (although some author’s commentary: Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt deserve to be nominated).

Fox Searchlight, who gave us last year’s Best Picture “Slumdog Millionaire,” had to do something to put themselves on the awards season map.  So they used a trick play and moved “Crazy Heart,” originally scheduled for release in 2010, up to December 2009.

“Crazy Heart” is about an aged, washed-up country singer who falls in love with a younger female journalist and begins the trek back to the place he loves the most: the stage.

Does this sound familiar?  Think back to just last year…

“The Wrestler” is about an aged, washed-up wrestler who falls in love with a younger female stripper and begins the trek back to the place he loves the most: the ring.

But the comparisons shouldn’t stop there.  Both movies feature a sort of “rebirth” performance from their lead actors who have been ignored by the Oscars previously.  Jeff Bridges, the main man of “Crazy Heart,” has not hit the depths quite like “The Wrestler”‘s Mickey Rourke, whose struggles with drug abuse were widely publicized.  Bridges, on the other hand, has been doing rounds as a valuable character actor over the past few years and has deep respect in the industry.  However, Fox Searchlight wants to make sure that we know that he has been an Oscar bridesmaid four times.  They also make the somewhat hyperbolic claim that this is “the performance of a lifetime.”  I think its pretty safe to say that all the hopes of this movie ride on Bridges’ shoulders.

And just look at the trailers.  They are practically the same, even down to the guitar-strumming melodies behind them (the tune for “Crazy Heart” is Ryan Bingham’s “The Weary Kind”).

So, will this be a fairy-tale ending for Fox Searchlight?  That’s largely up to you, the moviegoer, who makes the business, and the critics, who give the awards and write the reviews.  At the moment, the latter have not shown much love.  The Washington, D.C. Film Critics did not even nominate Bridges for Best Actor.

One interesting note: Mickey Rourke lost the Oscar to a gay man played by Sean Penn.  Could Bridges lose to Colin Firth, who plays a darker homosexual in “A Single Man?”

We’ll find out the ending on a Sunday night in March…

BEST BETS FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Actor (Jeff Bridges), Best Song (“The Weary Kind”)

OTHER POTENTIAL NOMINATIONS: Best Picture, Best Actress (Maggie Gyllenhaal)