Random Factoid #45

11 09 2009

As I stare at the blinking cursor struggling to come up with a factoid at this late hour, I think to myself, “What could I possibly say to to entertain my readers more?”  I am waiting, watching that cursor appear and disappear pensively as if it holds the key to unlocking the factoid inside of me.  From black to white it turns, and I’m sure by now, you are thinking, “Quit buying time and give me the darn factoid!”  Well, fine!  Here it is, you voices resonating in my head.

I make my own “Academy Awards” each year; that is, I nominate and award who I think should be receiving the Oscar.  Sorry, “Slumdog Millionaire,” all your Oscars went to “The Dark Knight.”  And Helen Mirren, hand back that statue; it’s going to Kate Winslet for “Little Children.”

I used to make this list at the end of the year, but now I start in May.  I already have the majority of the big categories filled with the exception of Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, in case you were wondering, which obviously you were if you have trekked through the entire factoid to get to this last extraneous bit of information that I could let run on for forever, but I have chosen to give you a break and end the sentence now.





Marshall and the Movies – A Month in Retrospect

28 08 2009

You know what your problem is, it’s that you haven’t seen enough movies – all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.

– Steve Martin

31 days ago, I sat on my bed with my computer and a dream.  Never did I think it would reach where it is today.  I had feared that the blog would just be a new outlet for my obsession, but it would really end up being me talking to myself.  Yet as I am writing this post, the blog has just passed 1,700 views.  Not too shabby.  So, I think that thanks are in order.  THANK YOU, READERS!  This blog has become somewhat of a success because of you.  And I especially commend those of you have commented, whether on your own will or as a result of my constant prodding.

Usually anniversaries are a good time to sit down and reflect since the original event.  And I intend to do just that.  In my first post, I laid out a very rough mission, if you will: “What I do hope to do is to inspire a deeper appreciation of movies, foster a desire to discuss movies, and connect with people through the glorious medium of film.”

Have I reached the goals that I set out?  Overall, I think I have made good progress towards them, but my work is by no means finished.  Of those three categories, I think I have done the best job of connecting with people through movies.  I have several movie blogs that I now check because they stumbled upon my blog and commented, and I felt the need to pay it forward and read their blog as well.  Some of these excellent blogs include Joel the teen critic and James the Central Florida film critic. The blog has served as a great conversation piece among friends and acquaintances at school, allowing me to talk without being reticent about my obsession.  One post even inspired an hour long debate with a friend.

I can obviously work on fostering a desire to discuss movies, seeing as I have 1,707 views and 43 comments.  For those of you who don’t have a calculator within reach to do the math, that is a meager 2.5% of all viewers who have left a comment.  I hope I am not nagging about commenting, but the blog becomes a project in vain if I can’t get your input.  And as for inspiring a deeper inspiration of movies, hopefully that will come with some of my guided projects that will be starting soon … I PROMISE!

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F.I.L.M. of the Week (August 21, 2009)

21 08 2009

The new feature that I hyped up (OK, I briefly mentioned in a post that no one read) is here!  The F.I.L.M. of the week will be unveiled every Friday; F.I.L.M. is an acronym for “First-Class Independent, Little-Known Movie.”  But the movies will not be limited to independent films, although I would like to highlight them.  The word just works better in forming a strategic acronym.

The whole point of this weekly feature is to suggest a movie that you might not have seen, considered, or even heard about (barring you are a major film buff like myself).  So if you are browsing Netflix or walking around Blockbuster, rather than picking up “17 Again” or, God forbid, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” you will be armed with the knowledge of at least one movie that is a safe bet for excellent entertainment.

It is my distinct pleasure to award the distinction of the first “F.I.L.M. of the Week” to the exquisite “Little Children.”  The movie is just on the outside of my top 10, although given more viewings, it just might move into the elite ranks.   It is one of very few movies that I can say are practically flawless.  Every performance is great.  Every character is well-developed.  Every minute of it is absolutely spellbinding. Unfortunately, audiences didn’t pick up on its brilliance; it grossed about $5 million at the box office, most of which was from Oscar season. The movie was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress (Kate Winslet), Best Supporting Actor (Jackie Earle Haley), and Best Adapted Screenplay. The Golden Globes nominated it for Best Picture.

The movie is based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, but he decided to take the movie in a distinctly different direction than the book rather than just make a carbon copy.  The screenplay is about as good as it gets.  It complexly weaves together the tales of Sarah (Kate Winslet), the resistant mother stuck among droves of Stepford wives, Brad (Patrick Wilson), the stay-at-home-dad emasculated by his wife (Jennifer Connelly) and her success, Larry (Noah Emmerich), a disgraced police officer out for vengeance, and Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley), a pedophile who moves in with his loving mother.  They all impact each other in ways they cannot even fathom, and the film’s overlying messages become clear through their encounters.

Everyone is magnificent in the movie, but I do have to single out a few names.  Director Todd Field gives the film narrative poise unlike any movie of the decade, and his presence and guiding hand is clearly felt throughout the movie.  He skillfully handles the very tough material that the movie tackles, treating it with the respect and dignity that they deserve.  Despite its heavy themes, Field also allows it to function as a very dark comedy as well.  This should have been Kate Winslet’s Oscar-winning performance.  It is nuanced, emotional, and absolutely gripping.  She immediately draws you in and never lets go.  Jackie Earle Haley does the unthinkable by turning a feared sexual predator into someone we can ultimately feel compassion for and empathize.  He moves you almost to the verge of tears, especially in scenes with his gentle and loving mother (Phyllis Sommerville).  Here, we see him as emotionally raw and not a pedophile, but as an insecure human being just like the rest of us.

But it’s time for me to stop writing and let the movie speak for itself.  I will say that the movie might be disturbing for some easily squeamish, mainly because of its brutally honest and often graphic portrayal of things that exist in our society.  Nevertheless, for a movie that will keep you thinking for days, drop everything and watch “Little Children.”  If you do see it, write your thoughts in a comment, or if you have seen it, still express yourself in a comment.

Until the next reel,
Marshall

P.S. – Watch the trailer.  It’s one of the rare ones that doesn’t give away anything about the plot. And it also sets you up for the ride that “Little Children” offers.