Saturday, February 25, 2012

Some tidbits and random thoughts

In 1864, Lewis Carroll asked John Tenniel to illustrate Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Tenniel accepted and was paid £138 or roughly $219. Today writers, and some publishers, seeking illustrators offer around the same amount to illustrate an entire book.

Rick Santorum's view on women’s rights dates back to the Middle Ages. If that is what he believes I can accept it, but who is voting for him? They can’t all be men. While a group of white middle-age religious men testified on Capital Hill about Women’s Contraception Rights, not one woman was asked to participate. In fact one was denied to speak.

Would someone look out the window and see if Superman is circling the globe backwards?

I was driving home from the local nursery, Strother & Martin’s, when I heard Governor Christie wants to lower the flags at half-mast for Whitney Houston. I would rather see them lowered for a sanitation worker killed in the line of duty than a drug addict. Celebrity you say? They weren’t lowered for Frank Sinatra or Lou Costello, both Jersey born, why her?

It has all become too acceptable for an entertainer to overdose. Maybe the industry should be regulated like sports. When players started receiving too many serious head injuries, the NFL changed the design of the helmets along with the rules. Instead of protecting entertainers the industry has these tributes that go on for days. It’s safer to be in porn than music.

I wish the producers of “The Bachelor” were involved in the Republican nomination race. It would go a lot faster. Mitt will you accept this rose?

The other day at a Chinese restaurant I got a fortune cookie that read “Your luck will change”. What the hell does that mean? Now it’s 5 o’clock in the morning and I can’t sleep trying to figure out whether I have had a good life or not.

The father of my daughter’s friend told me he is planning to swim the Straights of Gibraltar next summer. I told him it wasn’t necessary since they have a ferry system now, but he said its part of his bucket list. That’s the kind of people you find out here. My bucket list has ‘buy a DVR’, which I thought was a sure thing until I got that damn fortune cookie.

If you read my last piece I wrote about my Oscar picks, which will be televised this Sunday (The Oscars that is not my picks, although I guarantee they would go a lot shorter). I have to write an addendum. I just finished watching “The Help” a few minutes ago. By far the best picture I have seen in a long time. This film was beautiful, poignant, clever, funny, but mostly important. It showed a similar human spirit as “Schindler’s List”. I was very hesitant to watch it thinking it was a ‘chick flick’. Sometimes great films have awful marketing. That is the case here. It really was a great piece of filmmaking. I know I always have a least one thing to critique, and I do with “The Help” but unlike Minny’s pie recipe, I’ll keep it to myself.

By the way, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is circulating a petition about what happened on Capitol Hill if you are interested. Here is the link and yes I did sign it. Apparently, even though it is 2012 I still need to help protect my daughters’ and wife’s rights.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Oscar, Oscar, Oscar

Yes the Oscars will soon be upon us and that means you are eagerly waiting to read what I have the say about them. I won’t go through all the categories in fear this will read like the show itself. Speaking of the show. Next year please get someone else to host rather than a balloon with a painted face. What is with old comedians and plastic surgery? Are they so desperate to get a laugh?

Best Picture

"The Artist"

This has a good chance for the title alone. Hollywood still thinks it makes art. But spending over $75 for tickets, snacks, and a sitter for a black and white silent film? I’ll wait for the DVD.

"The Descendants"

ehh, good not Oscar worthy.

"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

Too painful and released too late.

"The Help"

Seems like many African-Americans hate this film, so forget its chances. Didn’t see it.


Beautifully filmed. Marty will most likely win since he is passed due, although I have a few critiques. 1) While imitating French films the characters seems more like caricatures. Just compare an early scene with one from “Amelie”. 2) Borat as an inspector? Please. 3) Why does Hollywood use English actors to portray everyone from a foreign country? Not only would it feel more authentic to have them speak with French accents, but it would heighten Hugo’s isolation. Marty, for your next project, call me. Second half with Méliés was great. Yes, I said great.

"Midnight in Paris"

Beautiful charming film. Little overdone with the yellow filter. Owen Wilson looked like he was caught between his acting style and Woody’s. Won’t win.


See “Descendants”

"The Tree of Life"

Good time to catch up on that much needed nap.

"War Horse"

Remake of “Frances Goes to War” but without the laughs. Boring meandering plot. Only one decent scene with the cavalry charging the machine guns in an old world meets new. If Spielberg didn’t have his name on this it wouldn’t have made the cut.

My pick? “Thor”. Out of all the nominated films I couldn’t watch any twice. That’s the true test of an Oscar winner. Be honest, which of these would you watch more than once?

Actor in a Leading Role

Demián Bichir in "A Better Life"

Never heard of it.

George Clooney in "The Descendants"

I wasn’t sure about this pick until I talked to my wife. She was deeply saddened watching this film. Sad? Did we see the same film? Here’s a brief summation. Clooney’s character is married to a horrible woman that apparently is a crappy mother and is having an affair with Shaggy. She is in a boating accident and dies. The guy is a lawyer whose family owns a billion dollars of Hawaiian real estate, his kids start to love him again, he lives in Hawaii, AND he looks like George Clooney! And everyone feels bad for the guy? That, my friend, is acting.

Jean Dujardin in "The Artist"

I’ll get back to you.

Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"

Someone tell the academy remakes don’t win.

Brad Pitt in "Moneyball"


Actor in a Supporting Role

Kenneth Branagh in "My Week with Marilyn"

Sorry but I just can’t see him as Marilyn.

Jonah Hill in "Moneyball"

Was he in this?

Nick Nolte in "Warrior" Really?

Christopher Plummer in "Beginners"

Chris is long, LONG overdue. One of the best actors around today.

Max von Sydow in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

Max is long, LONG overdue. One of the best actors around today. Wait, did I just…Aren’t they the same person?

Actress in a Leading Role

I didn’t see any of these movies, so I’ll just pick Michelle Williams since Hollywood loves Marilyn. Besides, everyone is sick of Meryl, “The Help” is too controversial, Rooney comes from money, and Glenn Close really is a man. Why do you think they call her Glenn?

Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs"

Viola Davis in "The Help"

Rooney Mara in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady"

Michelle Williams in "My Week with Marilyn"

Actress in a Supporting Role

I only saw “Bridesmaids” and comedies very rarely win. Besides, does anyone really care about this category? Can’t they move it to the technical night and make the show shorter?

Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist"

Jessica Chastain in "The Help"

Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids"

Janet McTeer in "Albert Nobbs"

Octavia Spencer in "The Help"

The saddest comment is the number of original songs nominated. Just two and they had to scrape iTunes clearance barrel for them. Maybe the Academy should just skip categories some years. However, I think it will be a big night for Scorsese who made a film the Academy can get behind.

Overall it promises to be one of the most mundane years ever. I think the only thing that will help is if Vegas sets some odds. What’s the over/under for GOP jokes in the monologue?