Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bond-ing With Banana

The only thing better than seeing the newest James Bond film - is seeing it with a Brit. Like Mr. Bond, I also have an 'M', whom I call 'Banana' (a nickname derived from the great kick I get out of hearing her pronounce the word with her fabulous accent). To say she was excited to see this latest 007 adventure is an understatement. She was chirping, exclaiming, and excitedly swatting me - and this was before we even got to the theater. It was so entertaining to watch her react to whatever was happening on the screen at any given moment. I've been told I'm quite animated when watching films, but I looked like I was napping compared to this woman. Her fervor was contagious, which made my movie-going experience a complete blast.
 As for the film itself, it definitely lived up to the hype. And in spite of my telling a friend that I was half-hoping it was a dismal disappointment so that I could entitle this review, "Skyfail", it couldn't have been further from the truth.
 There were so many images vying for our attention, it's hard to keep them straight -- Daniel Craig/Bond running ( I love watching this man run)! Q's hair! Kooky/blonde Javier Bardem! Voldermort in suspenders! Did I mention Daniel Craig running...?
 And I must agree with Entertainment Weekly's assessment of the exquisite Judi Dench as M: "the ultimate Bond girl" -- she had more chemistry with the superspy than the other two Bondbos combined (who apparently come without hips now!). She meets him quip-for-quip and has no time for his BS, but under her tough-as-nails exterior, you know she's fond of him and you can see parts of them in each other.
 There is also a grittiness to this Bond, that I also admired in Casino Royale. In spite of his constant state of coolness and impeccable wardrobe (Q must have designed those pants too, because there's no way trousers that tight can see that much action without so much as busting a seam), James is still a man. And not a young or infallible one, either. I love that we're allowed glimpses of his physical pain and emotional/mental frustration underneath that smooth surface - to see a man struggling to adapt to a strange new world instead of sadly becoming a relic from an old one.
 From an abandoned island fortress, to an exciting chase through the London Underground, and a thrilling showdown in the wild, barren beauty of the Scottish highlands, there is no lack of action. In fact, one of my very few complaints about the film is Albert Finney's inability to know when to turn off a flashlight (or 'torch' as Banana calls it). You'll see what I mean. ...Oh, and good luck getting that damn Adele song out of your head. ****/5

...And in case you're feeling nostalgic for Casino Royale, here's the review I did for Daniel Craig's Bond debut back in double-o-six.

Casino Royale

When Daniel Craig was chosen to be the next James Bond, many were disbelieving, if not outright opposed to the idea, not unlike the reaction to a little-known actor from down under, chosen to play Wolverine in X-Men. Hugh Jackman's career turned out okay, don't you think? I for one, was delighted. Craig is quiet, intense and oh-so-skilled, and while the piercing blue eyes and cut physique don't hurt, his greatest feat in the film is bringing humanity to 007. While most of us are familiar with the car chases, disposable hotties and countless gadgets associated with Mr. Bond, we know little of his origins as a spy and this helps to fill in some gaps. Eva Green is sassy and lovely and Judi Dench as 'M', is her incomparable, tough-yet-classy self. This is gritty, dirty, real-man Bond action, with tailored suits and gorgeous locales. Note to self: move to Spain, learn to play poker and buy a red dress. Plus, I love watching the guy run. Straight Flush.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Yo's Oscar Picks - 2012

Let's hope I call these better than the Globes...

Best Picture - The Artist

Actor in a Leading Role - George Clooney

Actress in a Leading Role - Viola Davis (but man, would I love to see Rooney Mara steal this one!)

Actor in a Supporting Role - Christopher Plummer

Actress in a Supporting Role - Jessica Chastain

Canine in a Starring and/or Supporting Role - Uggie

Directing - Martin Scorsese

Animated Feature Film - Kung Fu Panda 2

Writing (Adapted Screenplay) - Moneyball

Writing (Original Screenplay) - Bridesmaids

Art Direction - Midnight in Paris

Cinematography - The Tree of Life

Costume Design - The Artist

Documentary (Feature) - If a Tree Falls...

Documentary (Short Subject) - The Barber of Birmingham...

Film Editing - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Foreign Language Film - A Separation

Make-up - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Music (Original Score) - War Horse

Music (Original Song) - Man or Muppet (by Bret from Flight of the Conchords!)

Short Film (Animated) - La Luna

Short Film (Live Action) - Pentecost

Sound Editing - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Sound Mixing - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Visual Effects - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Have a wonderful Oscar night, everyone!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Golden Globes Review and 5 Shows You Should Be Watching

So as it turns out, my super power is not predicting award show winners. ;) I called 9 out of 25 of them, but I had great company who were just as entertaining as the show, so who cares. 
My highlights...

  • Ricky introducing the "filthy Helen Mirren"
  • Octavia Spencer's win and the awesome Martin Luther King quote
  • the fact that so many women were wearing gorgeous hues of green (my favourite colour)
  • the elegant Christopher Plummer winning for Beginners
  • when Kelsey Grammer surprised us with his win for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series and my friend exclaimed, "Oh, Kramer."
  • Laura Dern's surprise win for Enlightened - man, does she look like my sister...
  • how we couldn't stop giggling when Seth Rogen acknowledged just how excited he was to be presenting with the lovely Kate Beckinsale (I love that she couldn't stop giggling, either). Low-brow and hilarious.
  • my friends trying to find out "What's wrong with Jessica Lange's back??" (So glad she won!)
  • Peter Dinklage doing anything
  • Tina Fey photo-bombing fellow nominee and friend, Amy Poehler
  • Ricky referring to Mr. Darcy, er, Colin Firth as "very racist"
  • Michelle William's moving words about her and Heath Ledger's little girl, Matilda, in her acceptance speech
  • upon seeing a scary-skinny Angelina Jolie presenting, my friend declared, "She looks like a BRATZ doll!"
  • George Clooney stealing Brad Pitt's cane to give his well-spoken acceptance speech for Best Actor in The Descendants, and joking with Michael Fassbender about his full-frontal moments in Shame
  • The Descendants winning Best Picture (Drama)

Now, for the first entry in my 5 Shows You Should Be Watching series (in random order), I give you...

Justified (FX) - just starting its third season, this is one of the coolest shows on television, and it just keeps getting better. Lead by the perfectly-postured Timothy Olyphant as a federal marshal reassigned to the eastern Kentucky county where he grew up, is part Hillbilly Whisperer and bad-ass old-school gunslinger. Unlike his character in Deadwood, Marshall Raylan Givens is laid-back, droll, and has a devil-may-care attitude that somehow blends perfectly with his classic cowboy bearing. Plus, that hat is almost another character by itself.
 The other reason I watch is Boyd Crowder. Played effortlessly by Walton Goggins, he has evolved from hillbilly racist to a seemingly repentant man who found God behind bars, into a charismatic criminal force to be reckoned with. His scenes with Raylan are a delight because in spite of being on opposing sides, they seem to share some strange bond and have saved each other's lives on more than one occasion. There is a mutual, if begrudging, tolerance (respect, even?) between them that makes all of their exchanges quite riveting.
With a strong supporting cast, tons of action, humour, and villains as colourful as hats at The Derby, what are you waiting for? Giddyup! 

(you can see Season 1 on Netflix Canada or catch up here:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2012 Golden Globe Predictions - Television

Best Television Series - Drama
Game of Thrones: the freshman year of this daring, fantasy series was strong enough that I believe it could take the prize. While multiple story lines can sometimes get convoluted, this show manages to entwine them in such a way that they remain fresh and keep the viewer thirsting for more (yes, it's that good).
Honourable Mention: Boardwalk Empire had a strong year too, so this could be a tight race. And I'm a little disturbed by how much I'm drawn to American Horror Story, frankly.

Best Performance by an Actress - Drama
Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife: her ability to juggle Alicia Florrick's roles of evolving, confident lawyer, concerned mom, and still have time for a sensual private life this season, was something to behold.
Honourable Mention: Mireille Enos - The Killing -a soft-spoken cop on her last day of work is called to investigate a missing girl and is pulled into a mystery the likes of which I haven't seen since Laura Palmer. One to watch. Madeleine Stowe - Revenge - as the matriarch of a powerful and deceitful Hamptons clan, Stowe is at her ethereal-but-venomous best.

Best Performance by an Actor - Drama
Steve Buscemi - Boardwalk Empire: Nucky Thompson showed some new (scary) sides to his personality this season and I can't wait to see what he's going to do next.
Honourable Mention: Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad is definitely the one to beat as this series nears its end, and Damian Lewis of Homeland does an excellent job of playing an American war hero/possible terrorist, considering he's actually British.

Best Television Series - Comedy or Musical
Modern Family: this show is just consistently funny and has one of the best ensembles ever.
Honourable Mention: New Girl is fun to watch and I'm loving the dynamic between sweet/loopy Jess and her 3 male roomies, Episodes is an entertaining show about a British couple who moves to LA to produce an American version of their hit UK show and experience the insanity that is Hollywood for the first time.

Best Performance by an Actress - Comedy or Musical
Tina Fey - 30 Rock: is there anything this woman can't do? Plus, her book made me laugh out loud. A lot.
Honourable Mention: Amy Poehler - Parks and Recreation - I would vote for Leslie Knope. Zooey Deschanel - New Girl - she's random and geeky and lovely and I sometimes relate to her in ways that surprise me. 

Best Performance by an Actor - Comedy or Musical
Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock: Jack Donaghy is quite simply one of the most magnificent characters ever created. Just ask him.
Honourable Mention: Matt LeBlanc - Episodes - playing himself in a way that is funny, but not in a Joey-kinda-way.

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Downton Abbey: they should just call this Masterpiece Crack Pipe, because that's how addictive it is.
Honourable Mention: Mildred Pierce - Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce? Watch your backs, Grantham's!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Kate Winslet - Mildred Pierce: she's unstoppable.
Honourable Mention: Elizabeth McGovern - Downton Abbey - playing an American heiress in a noble family of Brits, she is at times, steely, delicate, manipulated and manipulative. Always fun to watch.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Hugh Bonneville - Downton Abbey: he's just so tall and well, properly British. I'd love to hug him,but it might appear unseemly.
Honourable Mention: this one's a neck-and-neck horse race, as well.

Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Jessica Lange - American Horror Story: never mind the fact that she's Jessica-Freakin'-Lange, her role as aging Southern belle, Constance, is a study in old-world charm, delicacy, and ball-breaking fierceness.  
Honourable Mention: Kelly MacDonald - Boardwalk Empire - her character continued to surprise me this season, which I love. Maggie Smith - Downton Abbey - there aren't a lot of laughs in this series, but as the prissy, observant Dowager Countess of Grantham, she provides most of them, stealing almost every scene she's in.

Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Peter Dinklage - Game of Thrones: I've loved him since The Station Agent and his character, Tyrion, is one of the most interesting (and funny) characters to hit the small screen in a long time. Plus, he pulls off all the best lines.
Honourable Mention: again, this one's a crap shoot.

...And I can't believe I'm quoting Jessica Alba, but I liked what she said about Ricky Gervais hosting tonight:
You kind of have to just know that he's a comedian and he's poking fun and that's it and not take it personally. We play dress-up for a living, so at a certain point you can't take yourself that seriously.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012 Golden Globe Predictions - The Films

Oh hey, remember me? I used to write stuff. Well I'm back, doing one of the things Virgos like to do most - making a list. This time it's in the form of people and films/shows I think might take home some Golden Globes on Sunday night - and some that are probably just wishful thinking. So, put your feet up, sit back and observe my (futile? half-baked?) attempts at cinematic witchery...

Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
Octavia Spencer - The Help: Viola Davis may have been the heart of the film, but Spencer was its stalwart (and funny) strength. I've been watching her for years and this should be the year she's recognized.
Honourable Mention: Shailene Woodley - watch out for this kid - she's only 20, but impressively held her own as George Clooney's daughter in The Descendants.
Jessica Chastain - easily transitioning from a vulnerable spy in The Debt to an endearingly atypical Southern belle in The Help. I'm loving this lady. 

Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Christopher Plummer - Beginners: his moving role as a 75 year-old widower who comes out to his grown son is about as far from Captain Von Trapp as you can get, but he pulls it off effortlessly. Plus, I loved hearing that he liked co-star Ewan McGregor's skinny jeans so much that they went shopping together so he could get some too.
Honourable Mention: Albert Brooks as a gangster in Drive didn't have much in the way of dialogue, but made up for it in laid-back menace.
Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud in A Dangerous Method - he's a chameleon who can kill orcs or dispatch bad guys whilst naked in a steam room at the drop of a towel, er, hat (Freudian slip! See what I did there?).  

Best Actress - Comedy or Musical - Motion Picture
Kristen Wiig - Bridesmaids: this may be part-wishful thinking, but she deserves it. The woman is a comedic juggernaut.
Honourable Mention: It's like an Oscar who's who here. 'Nuff said.

Best Actor - Comedy or Musical - Motion Picture
Jean Dujardin - The Artist: an intuitive actor-friend raved about the film and George Clooney called him "fantastic" - going with my gut.
Honourable Mention: I'd love to see "The Gos" get it for Crazy, Stupid, Love. I always suspected he had good comic timing. Plus, my sister watched the whole thing and I'm pretty sure she has some form of undiagnosed adult ADD.

Best Actress - Drama - Motion Picture
Viola Davis - The Help: in her first lead role, as the quiet, courageous Aibileen, who dares to tell the truth about the real lives of black maids in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 60s, made me laugh, cry, and was riveting in every scene. Plus, she's branded my memory with these words for the rest of my life: "You is kind. You is smart. You is important." 
Honourable Mention: Meryl Streep's The Iron Lady is the strongest contender, but Rooney Mara as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a revelation.

Best Actor - Drama - Motion Picture
George Clooney - The Descendants: as Matt King, "a guy who's never won an argument" in Clooney's own words, the actor might have embraced his most memorable character yet. He is, at times, awkward, nervous, and confounded, as a land baron who has been absent from his own marriage and the lives of his tempestuous daughters, only to return when his wife slips into a coma after a boating accident. But it's his restraint as a character and an actor that blew me away. I didn't know that charisma was something you could turn down to "Low" until seeing this, and the result was beyond impressive.
Honourable Mention: Brad Pitt in Moneyball - Clooney's buddy is his biggest rival in this category, and Michael Fassbender brings it once again, as a tormented man with a sex addiction in Shameless.

Best Animated Feature Film
Puss in Boots: it was great seeing Banderas and Hayek reunited - even as animated felines. Endearing characters and a lot of laughs. Me-ow.
Honourable Mention: Rango was great and I'd be happy to see it win, as well. (That snake alone - c'MON.)

Best Foreign Language Film
A Separation: I haven't seen this highly-praised Iranian film, but its popularity at our film festival this year and subsequent rave reviews tell me it's the horse to bet on.
Honourable Mention: The Skin I Live In from acclaimed Spanish director, Pedro Almodóvar.

(I don't care about the Best Song category, so I'm skipping it. I can do that.)

Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: I heard and felt the score for this one throughout the film as if it was another character. ...And the fact that I went through an awesome NIN phase back in the day did not influence my decision. Much.
Honourable Mention: Howard Shore (Hugo) and John Williams (War Horse) are always stiff competition.

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Stan Chervin, Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian - Moneyball: call it a hunch.
Honourable Mention: I'd love to see Nat Faxon, Alexander Payne, and Jim Rash take it for The Descendants, but we can't rule out Woody, either (Midnight in Paris).

Best Director - Motion Picture
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist: another hunch. This one's a crap shoot, folks.
Honourable Mention: More like, Glaring Omission - where's Fincher??

Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical
Bridesmaids: not just because Kristen Wiig is comic dynamo or because Melissa McCarthy stole every scene she was in, but due to the fact that this was an incredible year for women at the box office and winning the Globe would just be frosting on the cupcake.
Honourable Mention: those black & white mute people better not steal our cupcake!!! (Read: The Artist)

Best Motion Picture - Drama
The Descendants: it's a solid, memorable film that deserves to win.
Honourable Mention: The Help was more about the performances for me, but it would still be lovely to see them win.

That's it for the film portion, folks - stay tuned for my television Globe predictions before Sunday night's show (this means you, Dad)!