Saturday, February 10, 2018

Padmaavat - Review

Everything that Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh) seeks to possess, he does so by any means necessary, whether it's viciously killing his way to becoming sultan or conquering kingdoms just to snatch up all of their jewels and princesses. His latest whim of greed is the kingdom of Mewar, whose heavily fortified capital city of Chittor contains Queen Padmavati (Deepika Padukone), the exquisitely beautiful and intelligent wife of King Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor). PADMAAVAT suffered through a sea of controversy and violence in its native land just to be released, only for the film to end up being an an adequately entertaining epic with one hell of a great performance. Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali presents the film as a mixture of old and new interpretations of the cinematic epic. In more simpler terms, this movie is what you get if you blend the 2002 take of DEVDAS with the aesthetics of Game of Thrones. The film is unbelievably gorgeous in all of its details, from the delectable costume design to the marvelous sets to the expansive cinematography that captures it all. Story wise, however, it suffers from often being too hokey and by-the-numbers for the modern taste. All of the betrayals, sacrifices, and tears hit their respective marks to ho-hum effect and I had to keep reminding myself that this isn't The Illiad despite its many allusions to it and even to the bad 2004 film TROY. One of the few saving graces in this department is the inclusion of Malik Kafur, a personal slave/assassin to Alauddin that brings a sexual charge to the picture that is sorely lacking in the main romance. If there is one reason to sit through this near three hour film, it is to watch Ranveer Singh. He is an unstoppable force of nature as the temperamental and conniving tyrant. The rest of the cast do an amiable job but can't keep up with Singh save for Jim Sarbh as Malik Kafur. This goes double for Padukone, who's sadly a bit dialed back as the titular heroine who can outwit anyone who challenges her. And that goes triple for Kapoor, who's a boring corpse of an actor that thinks that blue-steeling everyone and delivering his lines in a low tone makes him a charismatic leader. As for the music, the dance sequences are well shot and choreographed yet only the song "Ghoomar" proved to be memorable. And the less said about the CGI animals and the suited-for-3D shots, the better. PADMAAVAT is nowhere near as sacrilegious as some idiotic pundits and conservative thinkers believed it to be but it only checks enough boxes to be a serviceable epic.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Initial Reaction to the 2018 Oscar Nominations

We once again have nine nominations for Best Picture but this time around I have at least seen four of them. That's one up from last year! Whoo-hoo! Anyway, three of those titles (Dunkirk, Get Out, and The Shape of Water) made it into my Best Films of 2017 list. The last one is the front-runner in this race and to the sure-to-win nom, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I recently saw the film after its surprise win at the Golden Globes and I frankly have to say that it is good but not that good. I loved Sam Rockwell and McDormand does a fine job, along with the rest of the game cast, yet it really didn't resonant after leaving the theater. It's also a little too stagey (the words are more important instead of the blocking) and way too indie-riffic (small sets, mixture of quirky and grim, and the presence of Peter Dinklage and John Hawkes). Certainly not my favorite of Martin McDonagh and I feel like I will be on backlash bandwagon in the near future due to my satisfactory response and the fact that I really want Get Out to be the surprise winner. Seriously, how cool would it be if we had back-to-back Best Picture winners by black filmmakers?

I would gladly pluck out Darkest Hour and The Post in favor for The Disaster Artist and Mudbound but alas, Oscar bait must rule again.

Jason Blum is now an Oscar nominated producer. Can you believe in miracles?

I was so excited hearing Jordan Peele's name being read for Best Director. Gerwig was the cherry on top. Very glad that Steven Spielberg got a pass.

Absolutely loved seeing Daniel Kaluuya up for Best Actor. Denzel Washington, on the other hand, made me roll my eyes. He's great and all but really, for the bomb that was Roman J. Israel, Esq.?

Of course, the snub of James Franco comes as no surprise given the recent allegations levied against him.

Best Actress went accordingly until, SHE CAME AT THE END! God damn Meryl Streep! I have not seen The Post and she may be great in it, especially compared to her nomination last year for Florence Foster Jenkins, but I'm just sick of her stealing a slot from someone more deserving of the rub nearly every year now. Will next year have her be up for Mamma Mia 2?!

Both of the supporting acting races each had a surprise new contender into the race. Armie Hammer was booted in favor of Woody Harrelson and Lesley Manville thankfully took the place over Hong Chau. I accurately guessed that Harrelson would sneak his way into another Best Supporting Actor nom but Manville coming in out of nowhere was a true shocker.

Speaking of shockers, Logan up for Best Adapted Screenplay!

Very glad that The Big Sick and The Disaster Artist at the very least got some love in the screenplay categories.

The Boss Baby. Potential winner of Best Animated Film.

Ferdinand. Potential winner of Best Animated Film.

I know last year's animated output stunk but those two really shouldn't be here. Unfortunately, some changes in the rules last year were implemented to curb the nominations in this category so that anime and indie films could be shoved aside for the heavy hitters. Yes, the animated elite in Hollywood were pissed off at My Life as a Zucchini and The Red Turtle so much that they pressured the Academy to rule more in their favor. Thankfully, we have The Breadwinner and Loving Vincent in there as potential spoilers against Coco.

Some good choices in Best Foreign Language Film but wow, how did Foxtrot not get in?

Good old Agnès Varda, still alive and kicking major ass as she's nominated for her co-direction in the indie favorite doc Faces Places.

In a Heartbeat not getting a Best Animated Short nomination is a serious headshaker. Maybe it was some stupid technicality.

Can't really say much for the technical side of the awards but I'm very happy its littered with multiple noms for Blade Runner 2049 and the fact that Baby Driver gets to compete for Best Editing.

Other major snubs: Gal Gadot, Tom Hanks, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tiffany Haddish, The Beguiled, Nick Jonas and Mariah Carey in Best Original Song (thank you lord), and mother!. Yeah, I know that last one didn't have a chance anywhere but last night's Razzie noms still burn in my soul!

That's all I can muster right now. Tune in next month for my predictions which I will obviously fail at.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Initial Reaction to the 2018 Razzies Nominations

As per usual with the dummies running this show, the Razzie people once again chose to go with pure easy pickings. But wow oh wow, they really got extremely lazy this year, largely giving all the nominations to the same five or so movies.

Let's start with the elephant in the room: why is mother! anywhere on here?! Yes, the movie gained noteworthy buzz with its "F" rating via CinemaScore and it generated a polarizing response from viewers (see my own review and where it landed on my year-end lists for proof) but everyone can at least agree that it shouldn't be sullied by being featured here. I can at least be okay with Darren Aronofsky being up for Worst Director but no way should Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem be here at all.

Zac Efron wasn't so hot in Baywatch, acting wise I mean, but like Lawrence, he "earned" a nom just because of his notoriety with the youth. Oh you Razzies, you are just so scandalous with your mudslinging at millenials and their faves. It's almost like you are trying to stay relevant!

How on earth did Matt Damon not get a Worst Actor nomination for The Great Wall? That performance was such an easy layup for the Razzies and yet it was left in the dust. Hell, they even skipped on one of their "absolutely hilarious" joke nominations by having Damon and his terrible ponytail not up for Worst Screen Combo. More on that category later...

Again, like with Lawrence and Efron, Emma Watson gets a Worst Actress nomination for her work in The Circle to get heat from the teenagers and young adults. That movie had far more egregious things in it than Watson.

I really do not like Katherine Heigl but many people and even critics have pointed out that she is pretty much the best thing in Unforgettable and turned in a very creepy performance.

And there it is, the Razzies' unfunny sexual humor by having Tyler Perry nominated for Worst Actress again.

Seriously, how did Millia Jovovich skip out on another nom? She got it for the last Resident Evil movie and she is way, way worse in The Final Chapter.

Holy shit, they were were pulling teeth just to fill out Worst Supporting Actress. I had some trouble as well doing my own version but the five nominated by the Razzies didn't really raise much of a stink at all. Goldie Hawn was one of the few shining lights of Snatched by critics and the same goes for Sofia Boutella in The Mummy. Also, nice job you did there: the titular character from that movie, who gets a ton of screen time, gets regulated to the back just so they can throw shade at Emma Watson.

What is there to say about Worst Screen Combo? If ever they was a clear neon-glowing sign that the Razzies aren't even trying anymore, it is this year's edition of the category.

As for the snubs: Seriously, seriously, where's The Bye Bye Man? How daft can you get Razzies?

No Rings? No The Snowman? No The Last Face, not even for Sean Penn's awful directing? Nothing for Alien: Covenant? And what blackmail does Scott Eastwood have to avoid being featured in these awards?

Dear lord, the Razzies just keep getting worse and worse with each passing year. It used to be fun for bad movie lovers but now it is just feels totally hollow.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

France Gall - RIP

Famous French singer France Gall has died. She was 70 years old.

She started off her long music career as a popular teen singer in the early 1960's. However, she is forever immortalized for winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1965 with the Serge Gainsbourg penned song "Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son". Everything about her involvement in the contest came under attack: she and Gainsbourg were representing Luxembourg instead of their native France, the song was deemed too weird and inappropriate for the event by conservative critics, and her live performance was mocked for being off-key. Nevertheless, the song ultimately won and helped modernize Eurovision, ushering in a huge wind of change to the look and feel of the contest and led to more contemporary music stylings instead of the rote crooning that dominated in previous editions.

She continued her daring musical misadventures with Gainsbourg in tow, highlighted further with the very controversial song "Les Sucettes", until her twenties when she began to struggle with her career. She eventually found her footing again in the late 70's, coupled with her marriage to composer Michel Berger and extensive humanitarian work, and had a big hit in 1987 with her album Babacar.

When I delved head first into all things Eurovision last year, I tended to stay away from the early years of the contest due to its often stale musical offerings. But then I came into contact with "Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son", which has become one of my favorite Eurovision songs due to its vibrant music, subversive wordplay, and of course Gall's adorable voice.

She will be missed.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Film List of 2017

These are all of the movies I have watched throughout last year and were qualified to be judged for my awards.

If I didn't watch a film at all or in its entirety, it is disqualified and ineligible. There were a ton of movies that I couldn't get access to and/or make the time for. A few examples of films I wanted to see but couldn't before the mandated deadline were Lady Bird, The Big Sick, Raw, Okja, Logan Lucky, Blade of the Immortal, Kedi, Girls Trip, Detroit, The Lost City of Z, Mudbound, Better Watch Out, Atomic Blonde, The Breadwinner, Gerald’s Game, Kong: Skull Island and A Ghost Story.

Alien: Covenant
Annabelle: Creation
Baby Driver
Batman and Harley Quinn
Beauty and the Beast
The Beguiled
The Belko Experiment
Blade Runner 2049
Born In China
The Bye Bye Man
The Disaster Artist
The Emoji Movie
The Evil Within
Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry
The Fate of the Furious
The Florida Project
Free Fire
Get Out
The Great Wall
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Hounds of Love
It Comes At Night
John Wick: Chapter 2
Justice League
Justice League Dark
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
The Last Face
The Lego Batman Movie
The Lego Ninjago Movie
Monster Island
The Mummy
Murder On The Orient Express
One Piece Film: Gold
Personal Shopper
Phoenix Forgotten
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Resident Evil: Vendetta
Rock Dog
The Shack
The Shape of Water
Spark: A Space Tail
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars
Thor: Ragnarok
Wonder Woman
xXx: Return of Xander Cage
Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions

Overall Count: 61 Films

Joke Film Awards of 2017

Best Film Experience of the Year: Thor: Ragnarok (A Murphy's Law screening: a fine but disappointing film ruined further by a gaggle of teenagers behind me who would not stop talking throughout the entire thing, everyone constantly taking out their cell phones, and a sick man sitting next to me who refused to blow his nose.)

2nd Best Film Experience of the Year: Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry (Saw it with a huge crowd of anime fans, who reacted as if they themselves were anime characters and would loudly shout "Kiss!" whenever the two mains had some alone time.)

3rd Best Film Experience of the Year: The Florida Project (Saw it with my father, who couldn't believe that I would dare laugh during a "sobering drama".)

Best Film Title of the Year: My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea

Worst Film Title of the Year: The Bye Bye Man

Most Accurate Film Title: Murder On The Orient Express (Runner-Up: Dave Made a Maze)

Same Dress, Different Hairstyle: Churchill and Darkest Hour

The Kathryn Morris Award for "What's The Deal With This Person?": Marcus Henderson in Get Out

2nd Place of The Kathryn Morris Award: Mackenzie Davis and Carla Juri in Blade Runner 2049

The Enough Already Award for the Most Egregious Overuse of Something in Movies: John Denver songs

2nd Place of The Enough Already Award: Movie with "American" in the title

3rd Place of The Enough Already Award: Winston Churchill

Best Turtle: Amy's pet in The Beguiled

Best Alien Animals: The porgs, fathiers and vulptex in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Kill: Georgie's demise in It

Worst Kill: Toni Collette's parachuting in xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Best Reason to Fast-Forward to the End: Jason Statham's plane takedown in The Fate of the Furious

Most Incestuous Film: Split (Runner-Up: It)

Actor with the Biggest Open Schedule of the Year: Idris Elba

The Jai Courtney Award for The Biggest Failure to Jump to Stardom: Ezra Miller

The Lorraine Bracco Award for The Biggest Failure to Jump to Stardom: Danielle Macdonald

Best Cameo in a Comedy Movie: Zac Efron in The Disaster Artist

Worst Cameo in a Superhero Movie: Swamp Thing in Batman and Harley Quinn

Worst Cameo in a Sci-Fi Movie: Noomi Rapace in Alien: Covenant

Best Use of Subtitles: The Shape of Water

Worst Use of Subtitles: The Great Wall (Runner-Up: Temple)

Worst Use of CGI: Superman's face in Justice League

Best Food: The ice cream in Wonder Woman

Worst Food: The mushrooms in The Beguiled

2nd Worst Food: The non-ripe vegetable in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

3rd Worst Food: The key lime pies in The Shape of Water

Best Product Placement: Atari in Blade Runner 2049

Worst Product Placement: Goodnight Moon in Life

Worst Spoiler Poster: The Shape of Water

2nd Worst Spoiler Poster: Sleepless

Worst Spoiler Trailer: The Shape of Water

2nd Worst Spoiler Trailer: Rings

Laziest Poster of All Time: The teaser posters for Father Figures a.k.a. Bastards

Greatest Display of Lack of Originality: The posters for Table 19 and Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent

The “Original Film” Award for Greatest Display of Irony: The video box art of The Beguiled by Focus Features (Focus' slogan: "Clearly Original")

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Best Performances of 2017

Best Actor: James Franco - The Disaster Artist

Honorable Mentions:

James McAvoy - Split

Daniel Kaluuya - Get Out

Ryan Gosling - Blade Runner 2049

Mark Rylance - Dunkirk

Hugh Jackman - Logan

Javier Bardem - mother!

Ansel Elgort - Baby Driver

Colin Farrell - The Beguiled

Tom Holland - Spider-Man: Homecoming

Kenneth Branagh - Murder On The Orient Express

Doug Jones - The Shape of Water

Best Actress: Kristen Stewart - Personal Shopper

Honorable Mentions:

Sally Hawkins - The Shape of Water

Jennifer Lawrence - mother!

Gal Gadot - Wonder Woman

Brooklynn Prince - The Florida Project

Bria Vinaite - The Florida Project

Sophia Lillis - It

Daisy Ridley - Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Nicole Kidman - The Beguiled

Emma Booth - Hounds of Love

Allison Williams - Get Out

Dafne Keen - Logan

Kirsten Dunst - The Beguiled

Lily James - Baby Driver

Best Supporting Actor: Willem Dafoe - The Florida Project

Honorable Mentions:

Tony Goldwyn - The Belko Experiment

Michael Shannon - The Shape of Water

Richard Jenkins - The Shape of Water

Lil Res Howery - Get Out

Benicio del Toro - Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Bradley Whitford - Get Out

Michael Stuhlbarg - The Shape of Water

Harrison Ford - Blade Runner 2049

Luke Evans - Beauty and the Beast

Kurt Russell - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Jon Hamm - Baby Driver

Best Supporting Actress: Ana de Armas - Blade Runner 2049

Honorable Mentions:

Robin Wright - Blade Runner 2049 and Wonder Woman

Alanna Ubach - Coco

Catherine Keener - Get Out

Tessa Thompson - Thor: Ragnarok

Octavia Spencer - The Shape of Water

Karen Gillan - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Betty Gabriel - Get Out

Kelly Marie Tran - Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Zendaya - Spider-Man: Homecoming

Ruby Rose - John Wick: Chapter 2

Sylvia Hoeks - Blade Runner 2049

Next Up: The Best of the Rest of 2017