Sunday, February 28, 2010

Countdown to Oscar 2010: 16th Annual SAG Nominees and Winners

Inglourious Basterds Claims Top SAG


The nominees and winners for the 16th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards with the WINNERS in bold:

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series for Television
Simon Baker, "The Mentalist"
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter" WINNER
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"
Hugh Laurie, "House"

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series for Television (Because there was a tie, there are six nominees instead of the traditional five in this category.)
Patricia Arquette, "Medium"
Glenn Close, "Damages"
Mariska Hargitay, "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit"
Holly Hunter, "Saving Grace"
Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife" WINNER
Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer"

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series for Television
"The Closer"
"Dexter"
"The Good Wife"
"Mad Men" WINNER
"True Blood"

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series for Television
Christina Applegate, "Samantha Who?"
Toni Collette, "United States of Tara"
Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"
Tina Fey, "30 Rock" WINNER
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "The New Adventures of Old Christine"

Oustanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series for Television
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock" WINNER
Steve Carell, "The Office"
Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm"
Tony Shalhoub, "Monk"
Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men"

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series for Television
"30 Rock"
"Curb Your Enthusiasm"
"Glee" WINNER
"Modern Family"
"The Office"

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Kevin Bacon, "Taking Chance" WINNER
Cuba Gooding Jr., "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story"
Jeremy Irons, "Georgia O'Keeffe"
Kevin Kline, "Great Performances: Cyrano de Bergerac"
Tom Wilkinson, "A Number"

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Joan Allen, "Georgia O'Keeffe"
Drew Barrymore, "Grey Gardens" WINNER
Ruby Dee, "America"
Jessica Lange, "Grey Gardens"
Sigourney Weaver, "Prayers for Bobby"

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Matt Damon, "Invictus"
Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger"
Christopher Plummer, "The Last Station"
Stanley Tucci, "The Lovely Bones"
Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds" WINNER

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Penelope Cruz, "Nine"
Vera Farmiga, "Up in the Air"
Anna Kendrick, "Up in the Air"
Diane Kruger, "Inglourious Basterds"
Mo'Nique, "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire" WINNER

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture
Jeff Bridges - "Crazy Heart" WINNER
George Clooney - "Up in the Air"
Colin Firth - "A Single Man"
Morgan Freeman - "Invictus"
Jeremy Renner - "The Hurt Locker"

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture
Sandra Bullock - "The Blind Side" WINNER
Helen Mirren - "The Last Station"
Carey Mulligan - "An Education"
Gabourey Sidibe - "Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire"
Meryl Streep - "Julie and Julia"

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
"An Education"
"The Hurt Locker"
"Inglourious Basterds" WINNER
"Nine"
"Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire"

American Hardcore is a Potent Rock Documentary

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 58 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux


American Hardcore (2006)
Running time: 100 minutes (1 hour, 40 minutes)
MPAA – R for pervasive language including sex and drug references
PRODUCER/DIRECTOR: Paul Rachman
PRODUCER/WRITER: Steven Blush (inspired by his book: American Hardcore: A Tribal History)
EDITOR/CAMERA: Paul Rachman
DOCUMENTARY – Music, Retrospective

Starring: Henry Rollins, Edward Colver, Flea, Paul “H.R.” Hudson, Ian MacKaye, and Moby

Director Paul Rachman and writer Steven Blush joined forced to created the music documentary, American Hardcore, tracing punk rock music’s turbulent history from 1980 to 1986. The filmmakers focus on “thrash” hardcore bands and the punk music scenes in cities such as Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., and various locales in California. They also explain the cultural and political backdrops and social context in which hardcore was born.

The thesis of American Hardcore is that hardcore began in 1980 and ended in 1986, although some will argue that new and different versions of it continued after ’86. The film also says very little about the pre-hardcore bands like The Ramones or Sex Pistols or that period of 1977-80 that set the stage for hardcore. The film is really a quick and broad overview of the hardcore punk scene that, while it might frustrate hardcore fans, experts, historians, etc., is easily digestible for people who know little or nothing about hardcore (including this reviewer).

Rachman packs the film with archival concert footage, which is something akin to a revelation when seeing these kinds of performances for the first time. It’s just mind-boggling to watch all that youthful energy and mania – both onstage and in the crowd. This film also features many photographs by Edward Colver. For many viewers, next to the concert footage, the best material in the film will be the many interviews with members of hardcore bands active during the 1980-86 period: Bad Brains, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Gang Green, MDC, Minor Threat, SS Decontrol and many more. There are even appearances by musicians influenced by the scene (Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Moby). The best thing about American Hardcore is that it offers something for everyone from punk rock fans to newcomers, and while the film seems to lose energy after the first hour or so, it’s still fun to watch and an eye-opening experience.

7 of 10
B+

Friday, March 30, 2007

Colin Firth is "The Advocate" in "The Hour of the Pig"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 94 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Hour of the Pig (1993)
Also known as The Advocate
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: France/UK
Running time: 102 minutes
MPAA – R (originally NC-17)
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Leslie Megahey
PRODUCER: David M. Thompson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Hooper
EDITOR: Isabelle Dedieu

DRAMA/MYSTERY/HISTORICAL with elements of a thriller

Starring: Colin Firth, Ian Holm, Donald Pleasence, Amina Annabi, Nicol Williamson, Michael Gough, Harriet Walter, Jim Carter, Lysette Anthony, Sophie Dix, and Justin Chadwick

France in the year 1452: Richard Courtois (Colin Firth), a lawyer from Paris, and his law clerk, Mathieu (Jim Carter), move to the small rural village of Abbeville, in the province of Ponthieu, where Courtois will become the public defender. He hopes to find peace in the countryside, but what he finds instead is ignorance, superstition, and fear. He is especially taken aback because some of the clients he must defend are animals (because in Middle Ages France, animals could be tried and executed for murder as the law recognized they could be possessed to do evil). Courtois must defend a pig accused of murdering a Jewish boy. He tries to settle the case by buying the pig, but the owner, Samira (Amina Annabi), refuses the offer. Samira is an alluring Moor who travels throughout France in a caravan with her people, and she believes that the pig is innocent and shouldn’t be punished. Courtois comes to believe that the Jewish boy’s murder is part of a sinister conspiracy. Still, he is trying to solve a mystery in a town where the denizens view Courtois’ intelligence as if it were as mysterious as the witchcraft they fear so much.

The Hour of the Pig, better known as The Advocate to American audiences, is probably one of the strangest coherent movies many film viewers will ever see. The history of filmmaking is full of strange, peculiar, and ultimately confounding films. There are others films that are strange because they contain ideas from the real world, either past or present, that mystify us because they are so alien either to our times and culture. The Advocate is one such film. It’s story takes place in a time in France when the power of the feudal lords was waning, and the economically powerful bourgeoisie were throwing their power behind a centralized authority, the monarchy.

Still, the feudal lord in this film, Seigneur Jehan d’Auferre, the Lord of Abbeville (wonderfully played by the always regal Nicol Williamson), wields a lot of power and also influences both the outcome of both and the lives of the film’s central players. The Seigneur recognizes that the peasants are ignorant and superstitious, but it is best to appease their fear when it comes to religious matters. Into this comes Courtois, who recognizes the law about prosecuting animals, but thinks it to be ridiculous as a practical matter. In his estimation, the local magistrate, Boniface (Michael Gough, who played Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred in the 1989 film Batman and its three sequels), and the local prosecutor, Pincheon (Donald Pleasence), should not prosecute animals simply because they are supposed to be reasonable and enlightened men who shouldn’t do such a… dumb thing.

Courtois finds himself in the midst of a murder mystery, where the political and religious leaders of Abbeville know more than they let on. They are corrupt not only so they can maintain their power, but also because it allows them to take advantage of the villagers for both their bodies and souls. In a quiet way, this film takes a glance at how superstition and particularly fear dictate how a community lives. The Advocate is fascinating; combine that with a murder mystery and plenty of seduction (the frankness of language, innuendo, and sex will surprise some viewers who expect period dramas to be so refined) and The Advocate is a mystery thriller to rival classic Film-Noir.

Actor Colin Firth is one of the two people who hold this concept together. He plays Richard Courtois with great subtlety for a lead. Although we see this narrative largely through Courtoir’s eyes, Firth is not flashy and doesn’t try to dominate the screen. He doesn’t need to because he knows that the strange world of Middle Ages Abbeville will develop before our eyes with him as the guide, but doesn’t need to show off because of it. We attend him without Firth forcing our attention to Courtois, and Firth rewards us with a wonderful trip into the past with his character as our guide.

The other pillar is writer/director Leslie Megahey, who allows the actors to play with and embody the characters. However, the fact that Megahey created such an engaging screenplay from such an alien time (that feels so real) is the biggest achievement, and his film (whether you know it as The Hour of the Pig or The Advocate) is a fascinating story worth watching.

7 of 10
A-

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Twilight's Robert Pattinson to Appear on "The Daily Show"

Robert Pattinson, the wildly popular young actor who portrays dreamy vampire Edward Cullen in the "Twilight" movies will be in New York City next week.  Pattinson will visit several talk shows to promote his new film, Remember Me (March 12, 2010).  This is, of course, all subject to change:

March 2: The Daily Show
March 2: The View with Remember Me costar Emilie de Ravin
??? Jimmy Kimmel

"The View" is broadcast on ABC affiliates in the morning, while "The Daily Show" appears on cable channel Comedy Central, 11 p.m. Eastern and 10 p.m. Eastern, but check your local listings.

"Pluto Nash" Harmless and Funny Box Office Disaster

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 200 (of 2004) of Leroy Douresseaux


The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
Running time: 95 minutes (1 hour 35 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence, sexual humor, and language
DIRECTOR: Ron Underwood
WRITER: Neil Cuthbert
PRODUCERS: Martin Bregman, Michael Scott Bregman, and Louis A. Stroller
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Oliver Wood
EDITORS: Alan Heim and Paul Hirsch

COMEDY/ACTION/CRIME/SCI-FI

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Randy Quaid, Rosario Dawson, Joe Pantoliano, Jay Mohr, Luis Guzmán, James Rebhorn, Peter Boyle, Burt Young, Miguel A. Núñex, Jr., Pam Grier, John Cleese, Victor Varnado, and Illeana Douglas with Alec Baldwin

In the future, an ex-con named Pluto Nash (Eddie Murphy) takes a dive and turns it into the hottest bar on the moon, Club Pluto. However, when he resists the local mafia’s demands to buy him out, they blow up Club Pluto and put out a far-reaching contract on his life. Now, to save his business and his life, Nash, a beautiful young employee named Dina Lake (Rosario Dawson), and Nash’s loyal robot bodyguard, Bruno (Randy Quaid), rush to discover the who, what, and where on the mafia boss with the initials MZM, before the hit men kill them.

Although released in the late summer of 2002, The Adventures of Pluto Nash was finished in 2000. When the film was finally released, it earned just under $4.5 million on its $100 million budget, the biggest budget to gross loss to date. Still, I have a feeling that Warner Bros. Pictures bailed on the film. It’s not as bad the box office failure indicates, not even close. In terms of Pluto Nash’s concept and production values, it is retro, archaic even. The last time a big studio movie looked like The Adventures of Pluto Nash, it was Total Recall. Pluto Nash is the kind of faux sci-fi that might have gone over better in the 80’s. In fact, the science fiction setting seems arbitrarily chosen; the plot and story would work quite well set in the present day. Heck, this could have been set in Prohibition and been the sequel to Harlem Nights, and like the much maligned Harlem Nights, I really like this.

As it is, Pluto Nash is a funny, goofy comedy. It’s not a very good Eddie Murphy movie; in fact, the film isn’t specifically an Eddie Murphy film because the script isn’t really geared towards his film personality. However, Murphy is funny and loose in this low rent crime comedy. It’s a slapstick and chase comedy, and, as an actor, he does more than just go through the motions.

There is, however, something awkward and mishandled about this film, and it’s hard for me to place my finger on it. The problems start from the conception all the way through the final execution and completion of the project. Still, I enjoyed it for Murphy, some cute moments, and a nice supporting cast that include a small appearance by Pam Grier (sorely underutilized here) and a cameo by Alec Baldwin, who would have made this movie had his part been enlarged. But besides Murphy, I love this most of all because of Rosario Dawson; beautiful, sexy, and possessing a bright screen personality that lights up any scene in which she appears, I’d see a The Adventures of Pluto Nash part two for her.

6 of 10
B

Gregg Araki Went Straight for "The Doom Generation"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 134 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Doom Generation (1995)
Running time: 85 minutes; Unrated
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Gregg Araki
PRODUCERS: Gregg Araki and Andrea Sperling
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jim Fealy
EDITORS: Gregg Araki with Kate McGowan

COMEDY/DRAMA

Starring: James Duval, Rose McGowan, Johnathon Schaech, Cress Williams, Dustin Nguyen, Margaret Cho, Nicky Katt, Parker Posey, and Perry Farrell

Sex, mayhem, murder, and whatever are all in ample evidence in bad boy indie director Greg Araki’s film, The Doom Generation. Controversial and bold, the film is an apocalyptic vision of a dead end generation who live for whatever makes them feel something good (usually feeling good through sex, drugs, and giving others pain) at the moment.

A teen couple, Jordan White (James Duval) and Amy Blue (Rose McGowan), picks up Xavier Red (Johnathon Schaech), an adolescent drifter with a penchant for violence and kinky (or deviant as some call it) sex. Dimwitted Jordan and crystal method addict Amy save Xavier from some skinheads who are stomping his ass. Xavier returns the favor when he saves the kooky couple from a gun-wielding, Asian convenience store clerk (Dustin Nguyen) by killing the clerk. Thus begins a hellish road trip that finds the trio dishing out remorseless brutality and freefalling into nihilism, and it all leads to a sad and shattering ending.

The film is filled with shocking images, jaw-dropping sex, and uproariously deadpan dialogue that pricks up the ears. The film, however, is mostly flat. Fictional road trips are often a sign of a story that doesn’t know where it’s going or of a writer who is stalling for time while he figures out where his story is going. Still, The Doom Generation is bold and unflinching and is the perfect antidote for the staid, mind numbing, eye candy that the film industry churns out for the movie masses. Araki’s bold stokes and colorful decadence is a breath of fresh air even if the story is flat and the plot nonexistent. So boldness must count for something.

5 of 10
C+

VIZ Media DVD Releases for April 2010 Include "Naruto" Sets

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES NEW DVD RELEASES FOR APRIL 2010


VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced their list of DVD titles scheduled for release in April 2010. This includes the final box set release of NANA, the next episodic releases of the popular BLEACH and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN series, and the latest box set release of NARUTO SHIPPPUDEN. Also releasing is the live action feature film, K-20: THE FIEND WITH TWENTY FACES, from VIZ Pictures. VIZ Media DVD titles are distributed (in English) in the U.S and Mexico by Warner Home Video and in Canada by Allegro.




New NARUTO and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Releases Include:

NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Box Set 2 Special Edition • Rated 'T+' for Older Teens • MSRP: $69.97 US / $99.99 CAN • Available April 20

Team Kakashi is joined by Team Guy in their pursuit of Gaara's kidnappers, Deidara and Sasori, but their way to the Akatsuki hideout is fraught with familiar enemies and deadly traps. Once inside, Sakura and Granny Chiyo must take on Chiyo's own grandson, the puppet master Sasori, whose complex tricks and genius puppetry demand every last ounce of Chiyo's and Sakura's strength and skill to counter. Meanwhile, Naruto and Kakashi take off after Deidara, who is once again on the run with Gaara in tow...

The Special Edition Box Set contains 13 episodes on 3 discs, exclusive art card, and a collectible NARUTO Shippuden Mininja figure (Deidara).

NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Box Set 2 Standard Edition • Rated 'T+' for Older Teens • MSRP: $49.95 US / $71.99 CAN • Available April 20

DVD-only collection featuring 13 episodes on 3 discs. Exclusive art card and collectible figure not included.

NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Volume 8 • Rated 'T+' for Older Teens • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available April 6

Supported by Naruto's powerful chakra, Granny Chiyo performs the Reanimation Ninjutsu to revive Gaara, but the cost is high. Back in the Leaf Village, Kakashi must spend time in the hospital to recover from his use of the Mangekyo Sharingan. With two open spots on Team Kakashi, Naruto is prepared to recruit some of his friends from the village. But unbeknownst to him, the replacements are being chosen by the village elders, and at least one of them he's really going to hate!

Episodes 31-34

NARUTO Uncut Season 2 Volume 2 Box Set • Rated 'T+' for Older Teens • MSRP: $39.97 US / $57.99 CAN • Available April 27

The destruction of the Hidden Leaf Village has been averted, but at great cost. While the village mourns, a new menace arrives in the form of Sasuke's brother, Itachi Uchiha--but why is he after Naruto? Then Jiraiya whisks Naruto away on a training journey to find the legendary kunoichi Tsunade, who's been selected to become the new Hokage. But they'd better hurry, because Orochimaru is looking for her as well!

For more information on NARUTO and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, please visit www.NARUTO.com


Additional VIZ Media DVD releases include:

NANA Box Set 4 • Rated 'M' for Mature • MSRP: $59.90 US/ $85.99 CAN • Available April 13

Life is a whirlwind--will the Nanas make it through the storm without each other? As if Blast's debut wasn't causing enough stress, Takumi and Nana K.'s announcement sends everyone reeling, but none more than Nana O. and Reira. While Reira turns to Shin for comfort, Nana is drawn to Yasu and his calm understanding, leaving her questioning her relationship with Ren. Nana K. meanwhile is happily nesting in her new home, but her continued estrangement from Nana O. weighs heavily on her heart.

Contains episodes 35-47

For more information on NANA, please visit nana.viz.com.

BLEACH Volume 27 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available April 20

With the Bounts defeated, Ichigo and his friends settle down to what they think will be an ordinary life of school and battling Hollows. But things take a turn for the unusual when a new student arrives at school who seems to know all about Ichigo--including the Hollow within him that's getting stronger all the time. With a menacing Spiritual Pressure descending on Karakura Town, Isshin and Urahara are worried that someone is creating an army of Arrancar--Hollows with Soul Reaper powers--and that someone may be former Soul Reaper captain Sosuke Aizen!

Episodes: 110 thru 113

For more information on BLEACH, please visit BLEACH.viz.com.


From VIZ Pictures (Live Action Feature Films):

K-20: THE FIEND WITH TWENTY FACES • MSRP: $24.92 US/ $35.99 CAN • Available April 20

It is 1949 in Japan, in a world where World War II never happened and the nobility system is still in place. Heikichi, a circus acrobat, is deceived by "The Fiend (Kaijin) with Twenty Faces" and is set up to take the fall for the phantom thief. Now, Heikichi must wage war against K-20. Directed by Shimako Sato, starring Takeshi Kaneshiro, Takako Matsu, and Toru Nakamura.

For more information on VIZ Pictures titles please visit VIZ-Pictures.com.

Regina King is Frustrated with Sony Pictures over "The Boondocks"

I found this article over at AOL Black Voices:  Regina King, the voice of brothers Huey and Riley Freeman, on Cartoon Network's, "The Boondocks," expresses frustration with the series' producer, Sony Pictures, over the gap between the second season of the hit animated series and the third season.  Although there hasn't been an official announcement, Aaron McGruder has posted statements on the Web saying that the third season of "The Boondocks" will happen, perhaps as early as the end of March.

My favorite quote:

"'Boondocks could be so bigger than what it is," the former '227' actress furthered. "If I had the money to buy 'The Boondocks' off Sony, I would because all of you would be wearing 'Boondocks' T-shirts and there would be Huey and Riley dolls. I would capitalize off of that, and I would be a very rich woman."

I'm also curious as to why the series has been delayed for so long.

41st NAACP Image Awards Complete List of Winners

The NAACP Image Awards are awards presented annually by the NAACP or National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The awards honor outstanding people of color and their work and performances in film, television, music, and literature.

Like the Grammy and Oscars, members of the NAACP vote for nominees and winners of the Image Awards. There are also honorary awards, including the President's Award, the Chairman's Award, Entertainer of the Year and The Image Award Hall of Fame.

Fox Network broadcast the 41st edition of award ceremony live, Friday, February 26, 2010.

http://www.naacpimageawards.net/41/home/

Thanks to the New York Times for the following complete list of winners:

The complete list of winners of the 41st NAACP Image Awards:

-- Comedy Series: ''Tyler Perry's House of Payne''

-- Actor in a comedy series: Daryl ''Chill'' Mitchell, ''Brothers''

-- Actress in a comedy series: Cassi Davis, ''Tyler Perry's House of Payne''

-- Supporting actor in a comedy series: Lance Gross, ''Tyler Perry's House of Payne''

-- Supporting actress in a comedy series: Keshia Knight Pulliam, ''Tyler Perry's House of Payne''

-- Drama series: ''Lincoln Heights''

-- Actor in a drama series: Hill Harper, ''CSI: NY''

-- Actress in a drama series: Jada Pinkett Smith, ''HawthoRNe''

-- Supporting actor in a drama series: Delroy Lindo, ''Law & Order: Special Victims Unit''

-- Supporting actress in a drama series: S. Epatha Merkerson, ''Law & Order''

-- Television movie, miniseries or dramatic special: Gifted Hands

-- Actor in a television movie, miniseries or dramatic special: Cuba Gooding Jr., ''Gifted Hands''

-- Actress in a television movie, miniseries or dramatic special: Kimberly Elise, ''Gifted Hands''

-- Actor in a daytime drama series: Cornelius Smith, Jr., ''All My Children''

-- Actress in a daytime drama series: Debbi Morgan, ''All My Children''

-- News/information (series or special): ''The Inauguration of Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States''

-- Talk series: ''The Mo'Nique Show''

-- Reality series: ''Extreme Makeover: Home Edition''

-- Variety series or special: ''The Michael Jackson Memorial: Celebrating the Life of Michael Jackson''

-- Children's program: ''Dora the Explorer''

-- Performance in a youth/children's program: Keke Palmer, ''True Jackson, VP''

-- New artist: Keri Hilson

-- Male artist: Maxwell

-- Female artist: Mary J. Blige

-- Duo, Group or Collaboration: The Black Eyed Peas

-- Jazz album: He and She, Wynton Marsalis

-- Gospel album: Still, BeBe & CeCe Winans

-- World music album: Black President, Sila and the Afrofunk Experience

-- Music video: ''I Look to You,'' Whitney Houston

-- Song: God In Me, Mary Mary

-- Album: ''Stronger With Each Tear,'' Mary J. Blige

-- Literary work, fiction: The Long Fall, Walter Mosley

-- Literary work, non-fiction: In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past, Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

-- Literary work, debut author: A Question of Freedom, R. Dwayne Betts

-- Literary work, biography/autobiography: Michelle Obama, Deborah Willis

-- Literary work, instructional: Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man, Steve Harvey

-- Literary work, poetry: Bicycles, Nikki Giovanni

-- Literary work, children: Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change, Michelle Cook

-- Literary work, youth/teens: Michelle Obama: Meet the First Lady, David Bergen Brophy

-- Motion picture: ''Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire''

-- Actor in a motion picture: Morgan Freeman, ''Invictus''

-- Actress in a motion picture: Gabourey Sidibe, ''Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire''

-- Supporting actor in a motion picture: Adam Rodriguez, ''Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself''

-- Supporting actress in a motion picture: MoNique, ''Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire''

-- Independent motion picture: ''Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire''

-- Foreign motion picture: ''The Stoning of Soraya M.''

-- Documentary: Good HairGood Hair

-- Writing in a comedy series: Halsted Sullivan and Warren Lieberstein, ''The Office''

-- Writing in a dramatic series: Shonda Rhimes, ''Grey's Anatomy''

-- Writing in a motion picture: Geoffrey Fletcher, ''Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire''

-- Directing in a comedy series: Ken Whittingham, ''30 Rock''

-- Directing in a drama series: Chandra Wilson, ''Grey's Anatomy''

-- Directing in a motion picture: Lee Daniels, ''Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire''

[END]

Friday, February 26, 2010

X-Men: The Last Stand a Mixed Bag

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 115 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux


X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Running time: 105 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence, some sexual content, and language
DIRECTOR: Brett Ratner
WRITERS: Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn
PRODUCERS: Avi Arad, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Ralph Winter
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dante Spinotti (with Philippe Rousselot)
EDITORS: Mark Goldblatt, Mark Helfrich, and Julia Wong

FANTASY (SUPER HERO)/SCI-FI/ACTION/DRAMA

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammar, Rebecca Romijn, James Marsden, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones, Patrick Stewart, Ben Foster, Dania Ramirez, Michael Murphy, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Ellen Page, Josef Sommer, Bill Duke, and Daniel Cudmore

Warren Worthington III (Ben Foster) is a mutant; a pair of large, white angelic wings grows out of his back. His father, Warren Worthington II (Michael Murphy), through his pharmaceutical company, has created a “cure” for mutancy, one that will suppress the gene that makes them unique, take away their powers and make them normal humans. Worthington wants to use it on his son...

Meanwhile, the X-Men are in a state of flux. Ororo Munroe/Storm (Halle Berry) is now the X-Men’s leader, while Scott Summers/Cyclops (James Marsden) mourns the loss of the love of his life, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), who was apparently killed in X2: X-Men United. Now, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), founder of the X-Men and a school for mutants on his palatial estate, wants Storm to take leadership of the X-Men. Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) finds himself caught in the middle, counseling Storm, the Professor, and a teen mutant love triangle: Rogue (Anna Paquin), Bobby Drake/Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), and Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page). With all that drama, they find the issue of Worthington’s cure brought to their doorstep when an old colleague, the blue-furred Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast (Kelsey Grammar), visits to inform the X-Men of the cure’s existence.

A “cure” for mutancy threatens not only the status quo, but also threatens to alter history. For the first time, mutants have a choice. They can retain the thing that makes them unique and gives them their powers, although that also isolates them, alienates them from normal humanity, and marks them as targets for humans afraid of mutants. Or they can take the cure, give up their powers, and become humans. Magneto (Ian McKellen), the mutant mastermind and powerful adversary of the X-Men, believes that taking the cure won’t always be voluntary, and that one day mutants will be in internment camps where the government will force them to take the cure. Magneto gathers a mutant army, a brotherhood of mutants, including X-Men turncoat Pyro (Aaron Stanford) and such new faces as Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) and Callisto (Dania Ramirez), to wage war against humanity and any mutants that stand in his way. However, a powerful new ally, one even more powerful than Magneto, joins the brotherhood – a mutant with power to trigger the war to end all wars. Known as Phoenix, this mutant’s arrival also causes deep turmoil within the X-Men.

X-Men: The Last Stand is a very well made film. Brett Ratner (the Rush Hour franchise) directed a movie that doesn’t have many dry or dull moments. This is a graphic film in terms of violence, but it is also visceral and purposefully driven. Ratner visually captures the script’s rough interplay of ideas about bigotry, conformity, self-defense, and zealotry. It’s all about an “eye for an eye” and “get you before you get me.” The film also has especially high production values. In terms of cinematography, this is the best looking film in the X-Men franchise. It has a gritty futuristic look when necessary, but can also come across as a lifelike, moody drama and character piece when needed. The sets, costumes, and art direction are as good as those in any superhero film (except for maybe the Spider-Man films).

The acting is good, quite good in fact. The script and director allow Hugh Jackman to show a more dramatic and human side of Wolverine, he’s more a character than he is the cool, killing machine (as he was in the second X-Men film, X2), and Jackman, a fine actor, is more than up to the task of being a somber, stern, and sober actor. Halle Berry, who’d long demanded more screen time and more meat in her role as Storm, gets it here. Her Storm makes an effective leader, and though some of Storm’s dialogue sounds clumsy coming out of her mouth, Berry takes on her larger part with brazen confidence. Ian McKellen is masterful as Magneto; his words carry the force of a born leader, a king, and a master strategist. Proud and bold, he has his eyes on the prize, and he doesn’t waver even when his troops falter. The younger cast members, new mutants like Ashmore, Paquin, Stanford, and others add freshness to this dire third film.

However, for all that this flick is so well made, X-Men: The Last Stand is too dark and downbeat, and (considering that children are a big part of its intended audience) a bit too spicy with language and one almost-love-scene. Some of the action sequences are overdone, over the top, and some seem embarrassingly desperate, such as the one at the Golden Gate Bridge. The surprise new character seems like a fifth wheel/third leg – overdone, unnecessary, and maybe even misused and underutilized. At the end of the day, X-Men: The Last Stand just manages to outdo its gloom and doom with good acting and some surprisingly adroit wit and many clever asides. It’s sad to see this trilogy put forth such a dark final(?) piece, but this mosaic does have enough shiny pieces that I can at least give it a “B” with reservations.

6 of 10
B

Saturday, May 27, 2006

X2 X-Men United Still Best X-Men Film

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 65 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux


X2: X-Men United (2003)
Running time: 133 minutes (2 hours, 13 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sci-fi action/violence, some sexuality, and brief language
DIRECTOR: Bryan Singer
WRITERS: Michael Dougherty, Daniel P. Harris, and David Hayter; from a story by Zak Penn, David Hayter, and Bryan Singer
PRODUCERS: Lauren Shuler-Donner and Ralph Winter
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Newton Thomas Sigel (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: John Ottman with Elliot Graham

ACTION/SCI-FI/SUPERHERO/FANTASY

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Bruce Davison, Anna Paquin, Kelly Hu, Shawn Ashmore, and Aaron Stanford

Once upon a time, a good sequel to a successful film was a big deal. Then, came a time that when a sequel surpassed the original, movie fans really had to take notice. X2: X-Men United, the sequel to the 2000 film X-Men, blows its predecessor away. I’m not kidding. Once it was difficult for me to name five great films based upon superhero comics; hell, I would need to add movies based on any comic character just to come up with five decent films based on that genre. Now with Blade II and this film, I’m in hog heaven; they’re signs that maybe good things can come from superhero movies. Let’s be honest: The Matrix is a comic book movie without actually being a comic book first.

In the new film, a mutant new on the scene, named Nightcrawler/Kurt Wagner (Alan Cumming) makes an attempt on the life of the President of the United States (Cotter Smith). A military scientist, General William Stryker (Brian Cox) uses that attack to spur the President McKenna into giving Stryker permission to initiate an attack on the X-Men. Stryker uses drugs to force the secrets of Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his School for Gifted Youngsters out of Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto (Ian McKellan). While the professor and Scott Summers/Cyclops are off to visit Magneto and Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and Ororo Munroe/Storm (Halle Berry) are off to find Nightcrawler, Stryker and an assault force attack the school where Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is babysitting the students. Now divided, the X-Men must reunite and also find themselves with old foes Magneto and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) as allies in their war against Stryker. And the merry mutants must also discover the whereabouts of their professor before the evil Stryker uses him to unleash Armageddon on mutantkind.

X-Men director Bryan Singer returns for the sequel, but X2 is so much different from the first. It’s more fun, and there is lots more action. It’s an edge-of-your-seat, rollicking slugfest from beginning to end, filled with suspense and sci-fi thrills. The film is gorgeous. The sets, props, and special effects are tight. The costumes look good, seeming almost as natural civilian clothing; in fact the X-Men spend a lot of time in regular clothes, so they really do seem like regular guys (albeit with special powers) who are being harassed by dangerous jerks. Almost everyone in this film, from good guy to bad, is cool, beautiful, and stylish – always looking hip while in character. Even the hairdos are hittin.’

Best of all is the story. In the first movie, the story had a few glitches, some starts and stops, but this time, the screenplay is a lean, mean fighting machine. Every character, both large and small, plays his part to the hilt. Everybody counts, not like in the first film where many smaller parts seemed painfully extraneous. Every actor makes a point to make his moments on the screen count, and that gives the film a striking verisimilitude.

Dude! The writers unleash Wolverine. He kicks lots of butt, and Hugh Jackman seems to be having a ball doing it. He really gets to use those claws, and the bad guys get a taste of hot, adamantium (the metal from which Wolverine’s claws are made) rage. Nightcrawler is a very good character, and I expected a disaster when I first saw early photos of the character. Stryker and his killer companion Yuriko Oyama (Kelly Hu) are very good bad guys; they made me care, made me hope really badly, that they’d get theirs in the end.

Words won’t do this justice. This is a comic book fanboy’s dream: a great X-Men movie – pure action, great adventure, thrilling suspense, and sci-fi as awe-inspiring as you’d find in some of the best science fiction films. If you liked the first one, you’ll really like this one. If you only had a passing interest in the original, that’s all the more reason to see the sequel. X2: X-Men United could be the pinnacle of superhero films. I know I’ll be harping on its super goodness for a long time. It’s not totally dumb, the story throws the viewer a few tidbits to think about. But, really, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

8 of 10
A