10 for ’10: Quotes

28 12 2010

Catch up with the idea behind this series here.

A single line can have so much power in a movie.  It can make us laugh, make us think, or make us cry.  It can delve profoundly into the soul, give insight into a character’s mind, provide a perfect punch of beautiful language, or be so foolish that we can’t help but repeat it endlessly.

2010 gave us many great quotes from many great movies.  Here’s just a sampling of how the power of the written word was wielded this year from 10 fantastic lines that served a great deal of purposes.

“Dating you is like dating a Stairmaster.”
– Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) in “The Social Network

“I just want to be perfect.”
– Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) in “Black Swan

“That Charlene … she’s one of them MTv girls!”
– Micky Ward’s sisters in “The Fighter

“It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!”
– Agnes in “Despicable Me

“This rock has been waiting for me my entire life.”
– Aron Ralston (James Franco) in “127 Hours

“It was almost as if … I had a love that was all mine.”
– Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) referencing Natasha Bedengfield in “Easy A

“You’re waiting for a train, a train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you can’t be sure. But it doesn’t matter … because we’ll be together.”
– Mal (Marion Cotillard) in “Inception

“When the world slips you a Jeffrey, just stroke the furry walls.”
– Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) in “Get Him to the Greek

“Stop trying, SURRENDER!”
– Richard from Texas (Richard Jenkins) in “Eat Pray Love

“Thanks, guys.”
– Andy in “Toy Story 3

Random Factoid #441

12 10 2010

I’ve seen lots of topics around gender pop up on the web over the past few days, so I’ve decided to dedicate two factoids to the issue.  Today’s focuses on the men; tomorrow, on the women.

Cinematical took a look at the MPAA’s sexism in evaluating nudity in movies.  Listen to this statistic:

Since 2006, 786 movies have been flagged for “nudity.”  Only three — all 2010 releases — have the warning of “male nudity”: Jackass 3DEat Pray Love, and Grown Ups. Zero in five years carry a “female nudity” red flag.

So why the discrimination against men?  Apparently it’s the legacy of “Bruno,” which angered quite a few parents.  I’ll admit that it was quite graphic (and a little bit more than I expected from an R), but I’m sure there are plenty of movies with graphic female nudity and we don’t see them getting descriptors added.  And for those wondering, “Bruno” was rated R for “pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language.”

I don’t understand why male nudity is that much more taboo.  I saw “Eat Pray Love” and “Grown Ups,” and neither featured any sort of traumatizing images.  Both were just bare backsides, which can pass in PG movies.  The double standard seems quite strange.  Are we just protecting women from the indecency of seeing certain things?

There’s only one fair way to do this: either the MPAA takes the unnecessary step of adding the gender of the naked person before each mention of nudity in a movie OR they just go back to saying “nudity” and leaving it at that.

Random Factoid #412

13 09 2010

It’s funny what movies can make us do.

I read a lot of books (and I keep a detailed record for them much like I stated that I did for movies in Random Factoid #400).  After seeing the movie “Eat Pray Love” and winning a copy of my book, I decided to delve into Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir.  I’m not a woman, but I definitely did get a lot out of it, particularly from her stay at the ashram.

More notable, though, is that I also used an “Eat Pray Love” bookmark to keep my place in the book.  For seven years now, I have been using the same bookmark that I got on the first day of fifth grade.  It has a Bible verse and a very nice illustration on it, and I have used it for every book I have read since.  Up until now, that is.

This is totally random and probably won’t generate any comments.  Oh, well.  I enjoy using this to chronicle my own personal milestones.

“Eat Pray Love” Poll Results

22 08 2010

“Eat Pray Love” third wheeled it at the box office this weekend, scrounging a nice $12 million on a fair 48% decrease from its opening.  With $47.1 million in the bag, it’s outpacing last year’s “Julie & Julia,” which wound up with about $94 million overall.  But that

Anyways, box office speculation aside, it’s time to talk about awards.  Back before anyone had even seen the movie, I wrote an Oscar Moment on “Eat Pray Love” speculating on its chances in Best Actress and Best Picture.

With a low 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s doubtful that the movie will garner the critical support necessary to get a Best Picture nod.  Then again, that’s just one point higher than “Nine,” which was still in the hunt for Best Picture last year, albeit as a bottom-feeding disappointment.

But there hasn’t been any hating on Julia Roberts, and good actresses have gotten into the Best Actress field with worse ratings – just ask Cate Blanchett, who scored a nomination in 2007 for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” a movie with a 35% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

So I asked the readers where the awards season run for “Eat Pray Love” would end.  Would it wind up with an Oscar nomination of any kind or just be a Golden Globes movie?  Or, heck, would it even have an awards season?

No one seemed particularly optimistic.  Only one-fourth of voters in the poll thought it could manage an Oscar nomination.

The other six were split half and half.  Three think it will be nominated for a Golden Globe, while three others think it won’t have any luck in the winter.  It’s really tough to tell, but Julia Roberts would be an easy fallback if the rest of the season disappoints.  So for now, we will just have to wait and see.

Random Factoid #385

17 08 2010

Just when you thought I was done talking about “Eat Pray Love,” I come back with ANOTHER factoid.  I am not obsessed with it on an “Inception” level, just to clear the record.

Today’s discussion piece comes courtesy of The Big Picture over at The Los Angeles Times. The post was “What does this say about U.S. manhood: Male critics actually like Eat Pray Love,” and author Patrick Goldstein gave this shocking statistic of the movie’s critical opinion:

Men who liked the movie: 27.

Men who hated the movie: 44.

Women who liked the movie: 15

Women who hated the movie: 24.

Here’s my take on these results.  Looking at them for just what they are, you might assume that male critics have been emasculated or a kind of gender swap happened.  Although I’m not taking statistics next year, I know (perhaps through reading Malcolm Gladwell, perhaps through 15 years of education) how to look at data and interpret it.

Just to point out, male critics don’t like it more.  The percentage of people who liked the movie was nearly identical among the genders, with just a fraction of a percentage point more for women.  The surprising fact is not so much that they liked it at all so much as it is that they liked it just as much as the target gender.

As a self-declared movie critic, I know that more than the quality of the movie itself factors into the grade I bestow upon it.  Preconceived notions play a HUGE part.  If I think I’m going to hate a movie, and it winds up being average, I will probably give it a higher grade than an average movie I thought I would love.

Take, for example, the movies I gave a B this summer.  I was expecting “Robin Hood” to be amazing, and it wound up being just OK.  On the other hand, I was preparing for a disaster with “Despicable Me,” which I actually mildly enjoyed.  Had I seen “Robin Hood” with the expectations of “Despicable Me,” I probably would have given it a higher grade; the same goes for the other way around.

As much as we try to stay subjective in reviewing, we can’t help but let surprise and disappointment play a big part in our feelings.  And I think the surprise of seeing a decent chick flick makes guys more inclined to like a movie, while women would feel disappointment for the same movie.

My conclusion: male support of “Eat Pray Love” doesn’t reflect the quality of the movie; rather, it is evidence of the influence of gender-based stereotypes on the opinion of a movie.

Random Factoid #381

13 08 2010

There are influential movies, and then there are influential movies.

Sound like a profound observation?  It’s really not.  I just think it’s a fancier and more mysterious way of saying that there are two types of influences movies can have on us.

The more deep, lasting influences come from movies I dub “lifestyle influential.”  These movies change the way we think and the way we see the world.  These movies can be as profound as “Requiem for a Dream,” the movie that makes you never want to do drugs, or as hard-hitting as “Schindler’s List” and “Hotel Rwanda.”  On the other hand, I also place into this category movies that have a long-lasting impact on the way you do things.  So I place “Julie & Julia” here because it started me on the whole blogging journey.

Then there are the movies likely only to inspire a spontaneous change; I dub these “behavioral influential.”  The effect of seeing one of these movies is a sudden impulse to act like a character or do something they did.  “Eat Pray Love,” which I saw on Wednesday, can now officially fall into this category.  As Julia Roberts’ Liz Gilbert munches on some delicious Italian food, our mouth waters thanks to some lavish camerawork fondly known as “food porn.”  So when my family went out for dinner yesterday, I insisted on Italian food only because of seeing the movie.  I had a delicious seafood pasta that totally hit the spot.

What movies have influenced your behavior recently?

REVIEW: Eat Pray Love

12 08 2010

The big tagline advertised for “Eat Pray Love” is “let yourself go.”  Indeed, as millions of readers across America have discovered, Elizabeth Gilbert (played here by Julia Roberts, who looks every bit as good as she did 20 years ago in “Pretty Woman”) did just that after she couldn’t find fulfillment in her everyday life.  Her publisher allows her to spend a year traveling to Italy, India, and Bali as she attempts to discover how to forgive her past while finding happiness for the future.

Ryan Murphy’s film adaptation of Gilbert’s memoir, however, doesn’t do itself the favor of following the author’s lead.  Rather than letting itself go, it keeps all its emotions bundled up inside.  There are some definite moments of profound revelation that are wonderful to watch, but the movie comes off as feeling rather cold.

We get to smile on occasion; there is a laugh every once in a while, but we sit through the majority of 130 minutes with a stoic stone-faced look.  Even as Gilbert eats delicious food and falls in love, the movie still keeps a melancholy and vaguely plaintive tone, which really puts a damper on how much we are able to enjoy ourselves.  That’s not to say the movie is off-putting because Gilbert spent a great deal of her year in solemn reflection.  Murphy just doesn’t indulge us often to share in her moments of bliss.

People who have read the book tell me that Elizabeth Gilbert has a wonderful sense of humor and a compellingly entertaining voice.  It’s a near impossible cinematic feat to lift both of those off the page and onto the screen, and the script, written by Murphy and Jennifer Salt, doesn’t seem to do her writing talents justice.

Read the rest of this entry »

Random Factoid #377

9 08 2010

Is it really going to come down to estrogen vs. testosterone at the theater this weekend?  It’s “The Expendables” vs. “Eat Pray Love” for the box office title (with “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” looking to appeal to both sides), but some people seem to think it’s a battle of the sexes.  Just look at this over the top fan-made “The Expendables” trailer.

Over at the Los Angeles Times, Steven Zeitchik sizes up the weekend duel:

… a rare experiment will take place next weekend when the testosterone-heavy exploits of Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables” goes up against the journey of female discovery that is Julia Roberts’ “Eat Pray Love.”  It’s as close to a laboratory environment as you can get, since the two films’ subject matter and intended audience couldn’t sit on further ends of the gender spectrum. “The Expendables” contains few romantic interludes, while “Eat Pray Love” doesn’t feature many mercenary gunfights. Julia Roberts is interested in discovering a foreign country. Sylvester Stallone wants to blow one up.

Other factors, meanwhile, are controlled for. Both are mid-budget studio films coming out in the dog days of August. Both were made with the goal of pleasing crowds more than critics. Both pictures are driven by one huge-name star accompanied by a host of smaller ones. And the two are going head-to-head with very little competition. (“Inception” should have finally lost some steam; the more modest “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is the only other wide opener.) The film that wins the weekend should provide one gender with bragging rights and settle the box-office question (a point made amusingly in the below fan trailer for “The Expendables,” which implores men to turn out for the film next weekend to take back the mantle for all of masculinity).

… But we’ve heard for so long that movies can succeed by aiming at one group or another, and certainly can succeed if they lock down one gender. But according to the pitched battle between “The Expendables” and “Eat Pray Love,” that isn’t entirely true. One gender does hold an edge when it comes to determining a film’s fate. Women get more excited about movies, and they’re more willing to see movies that don’t specifically target them. Men, for their part, are more lukewarm and less flexible.

He also talks a little bit about how gender affect moviegoing:

There are plenty of theories about which gender is drawn more to the movies, and how they make their decisions about going to them. For a number of years it was all about the young males, then, after “Twilight” and “Sex and The City,” all about groups of women, we were told.

According to the MPAA’s research, when it comes to overall attendance, the genders are actually about even. In 2009, the organization found that the moviegoing audience in this country was 52% female and 48% male, pretty much reflective of the breakdown among the U.S. population as a whole, which is 51% female and 49% male. (Women did purchase tickets at a higher rate (55%-45%), but that’s a purse-strings statistic more than a filmgoing one. )

But it may not be that simple. With nearly every other form of entertainment (sports, books, you name it) one gender takes the lead in determining which products are successes and which are consigned to failure. Movies should, all things being equal, follow the same pattern.

It’s almost impossible to get a real-world snapshot of the battle of the sexes at the box office — most movies appeal at least a little bit to both genders — and there are usually other movies crowding theaters in a given weekend anyway.

The article made me think about how my gender affects my moviegoing.  Yes, I am a guy, and I’d much rather see an action movie than a romantic comedy – although I’m much more flexible since I am a “movie person.”  I’ll never see any of the “Twilight” movies or a “Sex and the City” movie on my own volition.

But do I feel defensive about my gender?  Unlike the fake trailer suggests, I don’t think that the box office “belongs” to men.  Julia Roberts is hardly a threat to manliness.  As much as I hate to say it, there is a place for movies like “Twilight.”  Everyone needs a movie.  If you have 30 screens at a theater, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have something to appeal to any person who stops by the theater.  That means showing indies and foreign films, whatever it takes.

So in this weekend’s box office clash, I’m on team “Scott Pilgrim,” mostly because Sylvester Stallone needs to stop trying to be cool.  Heck, I’m still on team “Inception.”  Wouldn’t it be dreamy if it returned to the top?

Oscar Moment: “Eat Pray Love”

3 08 2010

On August 13, the women get the first legitimate movie aimed at them since “Sex and the City 2.”  Rather than just looking at clothes in the high-profile bomb back in May, they can get some late summer substance from “Eat Pray Love,” the Julia Roberts-headlined adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s wildly popular memoir.

Millions of women have read the book and loved it, including my own mother who at the time rarely read but holed herself up to plow through it.  Trust me when I say that women adore this book.  I’m not sure how much that fan base alone can make it commercially viable, especially because of the pretty stealth marketing campaign.  They haven’t gone out of their way to excite anyone outside their target group; very few prominent bloggers have seen it.  They really are selling it just on Elizabeth Gilbert’s book and the presence of Julia Roberts.

So what exactly does the star power of Julia Roberts mean for the Oscar hopes of “Eat Pray Love?”  Definitely a lot less than this time a decade ago, when Roberts won an Academy Award for “Erin Brockovich,” a movie she carried on her shoulders.  As Entertainment Weekly pointed out to me, this is the first time that she’s attempted the feat since.  At that same time ten years ago, she was the highest paid star in the business, claiming $20 million paychecks when they were considered exorbitant.

I don’t think a Best Actress nomination is completely out of the question for Roberts.  She has enough respect from the Academy since she has won, and after quite some time out of the spotlight while she raised her kids, a nomination would show how happy they are to have her back in full force.

In fact, these “chick lit” movies have had success scoring Best Actress nominations – as long as you are Meryl Streep.  The Academy’s forever golden girl received her last two nominations for playing characters adapted from literature, Julia Child in last year’s “Julie & Julia” and Miranda Priestly in 2006’s “The Devil Wears Prada.”  Both movies were released fairly late in the summer and boasted great box office legs (the latter finished with the higher total).

And another interesting observation: both of those movies were nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Picture, although they lost to “The Hangover” and “Dreamgirls,” respectively.  I’m not sure if “Eat Pray Love” will be pushed as a comedy, but if so, I can easily see a Best Picture nomination coming from that category.  But the big question has to be if this is a movie that can push its awards season beyond the Globes.

With ten nominations, there is definitely more of a spot for movies like “Eat Pray Love” that there has ever been.  Just look at “The Blind Side,” which was nominated last year after carving out a large audience from middle America.  These niche movies, reaching a particular group, may fare really well in the Academy’s current attitude that seems to want to represent all tastes in Best Picture.  If “Eat Pray Love” gets good reviews and makes a nice chunk of change in August, some strong marketing muscle in December and January could easily thrust it into the discussion.  And if Roberts’ performance is still remembered, then the movie could also ride in on her trail.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing a nice, quiet movie soon.  And watching all that food in Italy.

BEST BETS FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Picture, Best Actress


What To Look Forward To in … August 2010

7 07 2010

It’s the day after three days after (didn’t finish the post quite in time) July 4th, which means that summer is basically half-over. Everyone make a sad face.

It’s also July, which means it’s time for me to make my August preview post for some movies that few people want to see. Everyone make a sadder face.

But I think there is some potential for some hits in August, some fueled by estrogen and others by testosterone.

August 6

And the winner for the most unnecessary 3D treatment in the history of movies is “Step Up 3D!” Honestly, Hollywood, stop making the third installment of every series in 3D just because it sounds nice in the title. Who wants to see people breakdancing in 3D? I’m just waiting for the straw that will break the camel’s back on the technology … getting closer …

It’s make or break career-wise for Will Farrell with “The Other Guys.” After last summer’s “Land of the Lost” tanked hard, it’s up to this movie to help him save face in the industry. Thankfully, he has Mark Wahlberg, The Rock, and Samuel L. Jackson to help him. My bet is on the latter, though, to provide the most laughs.

The last two decades were not exactly good to Rob Reiner, so maybe “Flipped” can turn the tables in his favor again. This is the man that gave us “This is Spinal Tap,” “The Princess Bride,” and “When Harry Met Sally.”  It’s time for a return to form, and I think his adaptation of Wendelin Von Draanen’s book can do it for him.  I read the book as a kid, and it still to this day is one of my favorites.  I’ll forgive him for the slap in the face to my generation though – he moved its setting to the 1950s because it is more “innocent.”

On the indie side of things, the most interesting release looks to be “Middle Men,” which chronicles the birth of the Internet pornography industry. It’s a curious choice for Luke Wilson, former comedic star.

There’s also the quiet “Cairo Time” with Patricia Clarkson, the film festival hit “Lebanon” that provides hard-hitting war drama, and “The Oxford Murders” which seems to have little to offer aside from Elijah Wood.

August 13

“Eat Pray Love” is this year’s “Julie & Julia,” that is, a late summer movie aimed at the oft looked-over women. Particularly middle-aged and older women, AKA not the kind that lined up for “Twilight.” With Julia Roberts, a huge star who makes herself pretty scarce, and a literary phenomenon to its name, this could be poised to reap in some big money.

But all the guys seem to be hungering for “The Expendables,” Sylvester Stallone’s new movie that features just about every ’80s action star, be they fresh or washed up. All I can say is thank goodness it is rated R.

And then aiming somewhere in between is “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,” a different kind of comic book movie. The usual hero is someone awesome; here, the hero is pathetic Michael Cera fending off seven evil ex-boyfriends of his new girlfriend. Anna Kendrick makes an appearance in the movie in some aspect, so that’s probably enough to get me to see it. Don’t be surprised if this is an out-of-nowhere smash hit. The style looks pretty irresistible.

These movies are probably not opening anywhere else other than New York or Los Angeles this day, but look for them in late August or September. Hopefully “Animal Kingdom,” a foreign crime drama released by Sony Pictures Classics, isn’t the new “Gommorah.” And then there’s “Tales from Earthsea,” the latest Japanese anime movie. One of these days I’ll get around to watching “Spirited Away”…

August 20

“Lottery Ticket” would fall in a pile with other urban movies I don’t pay much attention to if it weren’t for one tiny detail: Ice Cube is playing an old man. He was a hip father only five years ago … it’s a little soon for a grandpa role.

“The Switch” is in an interesting place. Jennifer Aniston was once a draw, but her rep has taken some hits after a series of movies that were not very well received. Jason Bateman is still a rising star, still looking for that movie to really put him on the A-list. Can they meet in the middle? A comedy with a serious concept could do it for them.

I don’t get excited for documentaries, but “The Tillman Story” looks great. A little un-American, sure. But it’s a movie about the truth, and that’s usually a good thing.

Maybe your local megaplex will keep “Toy Story 3” in its 3D theaters to save you from “Piranha 3D,” yet another unnecessary movie looking to profit off the premium ticket prices.  And “Nanny McPhee Returns” because apparently we didn’t get enough of her the first time.

I really hope that “happythankyoumoreplease” finds its way to Houston sometime. It’s directed by Josh Radnor of “How I Met Your Mother” fame and stars the gorgeous Malin Akerman. I love me some indie comedy, and the movie found some love at Sundance. But since no real trailer is out there and it’s being released by some distributor I’ve never heard of, I have my doubts.

August 27

And now we get to those crummy last official week of summer releases.  “Takers,” despite a fairly impressive cast, just looks dumb.  “The Last Exorcism” provides enough chills to tide that crowd over until Halloween.

Indeed, the only movie that looks redeemable this weekend is “Going the Distance,” the rom-com starring real life couple Drew Barrymore and Justin Long.  The movie explores a long-distance relationship, territory that has seldom been tread.  If the women have seen “Eat Pray Love” too many times, they could make this a hit.

So, whatcha wanna see in August?  Lemme know in the poll.

Random Factoid #310

3 06 2010

I’m pretty easily amused.  I’ve probably used that line to start a factoid several times, but it’s the truth.  I am.

And it’s funny how I’ll see one thing and get a train of thought going that leads me to a factoid.  Today’s came from reading a post from 24 Frames, the movie blog for the Los Angeles Times.  Yesterday, the MPAA reversed its rating on “Eat Pray Love” from an R to PG-13.  Sony wanted this for obvious reasons: making sure they could keep the younger teen demographic.  It was R for “brief strong language;” now, it is PG-13 for “brief strong language, some sexual references and male rear nudity.”  I like how those last two things weren’t mentioned at all in the R-rated descriptor.

But some of the descriptors that the MPAA uses are kind of … odd.  Take for instance, the ones for the 2010 remake of “The Karate Kid.”

I’m sorry, but “bullying?”  I understand that parents may not want their kids to see that, but there are sites now for parents to get more in-depth looks at a movie’s content.  I don’t see why they couldn’t just leave it at “violence” and call it a day.

Or what’s even worse: “a brief instance of smoking.”  I honestly wonder if the MPAA use that for some movies just to make me laugh.  Although smoking kills and I’m glad that the smoking crack-down is occurring as long as it doesn’t disrupt the art.

What To Look Forward To in … Summer 2010

5 05 2010

Before the season actually gets kicked off in two days, I thought it was necessary to spell out my five most anticipated movies of summer 2010.  Rather than bore you with verbose observations, I will give you the rationale for my picks with only two things: the movie’s trailer and 10 words or less describing why I’m dying to see it.

Winter’s Bone (June 11)

I can’t wait because … it’s a rare summer drama and won big at Sundance.

Shrek Forever After (May 21)

I can’t wait because … it has to redeem “Shrek” after the last movie stunk!

Eat, Pray, Love (August 13)

I can’t wait because … this is that enjoyable watching chick-flick I’m always weak for.

Robin Hood (May 14)

I can’t wait because … Russell Crowe has Maximus bottled up inside for this.

Get Him to the Greek (June 4)

I can’t wait because … it’s time for Jonah Hill and Russell Brand’s breakout movies.

The Kids Are All Right (July 7)

I can’t wait because … it’s an indie and this makes comedy out of controversy.

Iron Man 2 (May 7)

I can’t wait because … action plus Robert Downey Jr. have equaled big fun before.

Toy Story 3 (June 18)

I can’t wait because … it’s going to be like revisiting my childhood!

Salt (July 23)

I can’t wait because … Angelina kicks butt!  And it’s not a franchise movie!

Inception (July 16)

I can’t wait because … it’s Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to a new classic.