Thursday, March 31, 2011

James Franco talks Oscars on Letterman

Tomorrow night, Friday April 1st, James Franco will be chatting with David Letterman on the Late Show about not doing so well as an Oscar host. The clip is embedded below. It is fantastic. I laughed and clapped a bit.

The Entertainment Weekly article in its entirety:
James Franco talks Oscars bombing with Letterman: 'I think the Tasmanian Devil would look stoned standing next to Anne Hathaway'
by Mandi Bierly

On Friday’s Late Show, James Franco and David Letterman bond over their much-maligned performances as Oscar hosts. Watch a preview below. Franco admits he’s thought about why viewers would think he was “under the influence,” and his best guess: “I love her, but Anne Hathaway is so energetic, I think the Tasmanian Devil would look stoned standing next to Anne Hathaway,” he jokes. Truthfully, he says, he hasn’t played the ceremony back, and maybe he had low energy, but he felt, “I honestly played those lines as well as I could.” Letterman asked Franco why he even cares what people thought. Franco says just because being the best Oscar host ever wasn’t on his list of things to do doesn’t mean he didn’t care or try hard. “But here’s the hypocritical thing,” he says. “Leading up to the Oscars, I couldn’t hear enough about how, ‘Oh, people don’t care about the Oscars anymore. It’s dead. It’s boring. It’s at the end of a long awards season. Who cares about it?’ Well, as soon as you don’t host the way they want you to, they suddenly care, and they won’t shut up about it. Then they can’t hear enough about a show they don’t care about.”

Letterman, reflecting on his own “Oprah, Uma, Uma, Oprah” experience, told Franco what he can expect now. “There will be for you, I think, a modicum of embarrassment, which you shouldn’t feel,” he says. “That will pass. You’ll go into a period of numbness, and then you’ll become, rightly so, defiant.”

In a morning-after-Oscars PopWatch poll, 47 percent of readers thought Franco and Hathaway gave Letterman competition for Worst Host Ever.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Trailers that look cool

First off is Larry Crowne with Tom Hanks as the title character. Also starring Julia Roberts.

Second, Midnight in Paris with Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams, and a whole
slue of cool people in Woody Allen's next film.

Third, a British young adult movie that looks great, Chalet Girl, that will most likely have a smaller opening in the US.

theater experience

The topic seems to be a common one. It is worth it to go to the movies, or is the home experience just as good, or better? I for one feel that there is something intrinsic about the movies that some films are just meant to be experienced at the theater. Key word: EXPERIENCED. Others, may be best enjoyed at home with a savings in cost.

Theater owners are meeting this week in Vegas for their industry convention. With declining ticket sales and attendance, theater owners are scrambling for ideas to revitalize the movie goers options.

Food and drink seems to be the focus this year. I for one, would enjoy the option of a cocktail in theaters. Surprisingly, the major chains are considering more upscale options, with a minimal increase in cost, $2-4 per ticket. In the Portland Metro area we have had for several years the option at Cinetopia. Their website includes info that in addition to the original Vancouver location, a Beaverton and second Vancouver location are to be opened in June and November of 2011 respectively. While I enjoy their Living Room theater experience (mainly the large, roomy armchair like seat with footrest and tray) the additional cost does make me choose carefully which movies I am willing to spend the extra change on. Frankly, since Jennica moved to Milton-Freewater, I have only been to Cinetopia once. It was for a 3-D showing of Avatar over a year ago. Do note, that they take 3-D very seriously at Cinetopia. My observation is that the gap between regular concession fair and the gourmet options is significant. While the typical concession items are primo, I have not been able to enjoy a cocktail. Similar to a point made in a recent Entertainment Weekly print article on the topic, I am concerned about movies being constantly interrupted for those requiring wait staff service. I like the limitation that once the movie starts, no more orders can be placed.

Check out the article on the owners convention here: Landmark theater owner wants to check out the competition at Cinetopia.

EW does not seem to have archived their article, though I did find the clever artwork (above). They also featured approximately ten theaters around the country with varying food options and perks. Portland's downtown Living Room multiplex was included and the Seattle location made me want to drive three hours just to see a movie there. Not bad NW! Seems to me about seven years ago EW did a similar article. That one featured Kennedy School and put it in my head that if I made it to Austin, I would visit the theater highlighted.

Shout out to all the alternate options in P-town. Those previously mentioned, the various McMenamins theaters and Laurelhurst theater. Also, Valley Theater on Beaverton-Hillsdale is McMenamins-esk. Beer and pizza are available, no art.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How Do You Know

Similar to how I missed Life As We Know It in theaters, I missed How Do You Know during the holiday season. Reviews from real people that I heard were quite weak (as was the box office and critic's reviews).

That said, I really enjoyed the movie! I thought it showcased quality work from the actors in the type of roles that they shine best inhabiting -- Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Jack Nicholson and Owen Wilson. Also, supporting actress Kathryn Hahn has great give and take with Rudd. You may recognize her from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, A Lot Like Love or Win a Date With Tad Hamilton. She was pregnant while filming the movie. The movie does not follow a generic, predictable rom com plot line though I am fairly certain it was marketed as one. I am a fan of James L Brooks less successful movies. For instance, I LOVE Spanglish with Adam Sandler and Téa Leoni. How Do You Know follows an unconventional plot movement, I think to its success. The movie does not lag, it holds your attention. It is laugh-out-loud funny and has very touching moments as well.  
Thanks for being such a great host Emily, I love the Skillet Gnocchi with Spinach and Italian Sausage!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Black Swan dancing double, controversy?

Friday I was a little bit shocked to see the headline, 'Black Swan' double claims Natalie Portman only did '5 percent' of full-body dancing shots in the movie. Sarah Lane claims that she was part of a cover-up to mislead the public and that a producer told her not to talk about her work with the press. Benjamin Millepied has been quoted by the LA Times as saying that 85 percent of the movie is Natalie. Millepied was a choreographer for the movie and is now engaged to Portman. The weaknesses I find in the headline being some groundbreaking, earth shattering truth are that Lane allowed Portman's head to be digitally placed on her body, she received three credits in the movie, and she did not sign a non-disclosure agreement to confirm that she would not discuss her work. Common Hollywood practice, such a legal document, to me, would be evidence of such a concerted effort on the part of the filmmakers and the studio to hush-up the issue. If such a document had been signed, I am sure Lane would be facing legal action by the studio at this point. Lane even says, "The shots that are just her (Portman's) face with arms, those shots are definitely Natalie,” she says. Lane was disappointed with the three credits that she did receive (Hand Model,” “Stunt Double,” and “Lady in the Lane” for a brief walk-on role). Three credits?! Seriously, this is hardly some Flashdance level conspiracy.
What a testament to what filmmaking and special effects can achieve. Lane's body must be an awfully close duplicate of Portman's because nothing seems out of place in the movie. All this talk can not deny that Portman did work for a year and a half for the performance. She did everything she could to experience what it was like to be a prima ballerina and to look the part. Nothing more could be asked of an actress. For the record this is what Portman openly said on the issue back in November, “It was not anything I ever could have done in a year, nothing I could’ve caught up with. But I think it was just better for all of us if I did as much as possible.” She never shied away from the fact that a double was used for dancing sequences.

I was initially a little disappointed that I may have been misled by Hollywood's PR machine. Upon completion of reading all the information, I do not feel tricked. I feel like this is someone's sour grapes. Lane was credited, no one is denying her work on the film. New York City Ballet prima ballerina Jenifer Ringer appeared on Oprah during Oscar season and shared her opinion that the movie was an accurate look at the world of ballet. Aside from the thriller/horror elements of course.
Director Darren Aronofsky released the following statement today, March 28th, to defend his actor. He had the editor count the shots and determine what percentage of them are Natalie Portman.
“Here is the reality. I had my editor count shots. There are 139 dance shots in the film. 111 are Natalie Portman untouched. 28 are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math that’s 80% Natalie Portman. What about duration? The shots that feature the double are wide shots and rarely play for longer than one second. There are two complicated longer dance sequences that we used face replacement. Even so, if we were judging by time over 90% would be Natalie Portman. 
And to be clear Natalie did dance on pointe in pointe shoes. If you look at the final shot of the opening prologue, which lasts 85 seconds, and was danced completely by Natalie, she exits the scene on pointe. That is completely her without any digital magic. I am responding to this to put this to rest and to defend my actor. Natalie sweated long and hard to deliver a great physical and emotional performance. And I don’t want anyone to think that’s not her they are watching. It is.”
Here is the Entertainment Weekly article with the filmmakers' response to the claim.
The timing of this story falls within the week in which the movie arrives on DVD. After reading the initial article, I also read the blog post on Dancer Magazine's website (, the article featuring the quote from Portman's fiance and choreographer for the film and watched the effects footage. I would not recommend watching it if you have yet to see the movie. I was going to post a link to the video, but it has been removed from YouTube due to Fox copyright. I do not see that as a sign that the controversy or claim is true, more that studios work diligently to remove any of their TV shows or movies unauthorized use. I'm sure its still out there for those who want to dig for it. My feeling with special features is that I do not want too much of the movie making magic ruined. I like to keep the fourth wall up, at least a little bit. I do not need to know how they do everything. I like my disbelief suspended.

Does this affect your experience of the movie? Do you think Hollywood should offer full disclosure or is this par for the course? After Aronofsky's statement, there seems to be little left to question.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

In beginning to compose my review of this movie, my writing became a discussion of the source material and the genre from which it came. The film is based on a short story by Phillip K Dick, The Adjustment Team. As this is a movie blog and I would gather people read these posts for movie subject matter, I've included the futuristic-dystopian topic toward the end of this post. I apologize if it is too random.

One of my favorite movie composers, Thomas Newman (American Beauty, Shawshank, Little Women, Meet Joe Black -- he has 83 entries as composer on imdb) did the music for the film. I actually wish I had noticed the score more. For some reason I did not observe it as well as I usually do. There was one song choice at an important moment that was a little heavy-handed for me, but I leave that to debate with those who have seen the movie. This is certainly a film I do not want to reveal anything additional about. Last post I talked about how the medium in which one watches a movie can affect not only the experience of watching the flick, but also how it affects expectations. This was a movie that I instantly knew I wanted to see the first time I saw the trailer. When the film was released, the reviews were alright, they seemed about an average of a B. This helped settle my expectations. It was 7th at the box office in its second week of release this past weekend. Seems like a lot of the folks I know have seen it and enjoyed it. Can't recall how many positive status updates I've seen about the Adjustment Bureau. I am among them, I truly enjoyed it and liked it. I make a point of not disclosing plot points and for this movie in particular, I really don't want to say much. If you like Matt Damon and Emily Blunt and the trailer interested you, I think you will be entertained. And also Matt Damon is so yummy.
As mentioned above, the movie is based on a Phillip K Dick short story. The executive producing credit for Isa Dick Hackett, is legit. She is one of Dick's two daughters, the both of whom have a production company for the adaptations of their father's work. Maybe its because of Jon Stewart's cameo as himself in the movie, but seeing that name on the big screen during the closing credits made me think of the inside flap of America the book.

I read the short story the Adjustment Team online. The movie takes the premise of the story and truly develops it into a much more fully realized world. The filmmakers, including writer-director-producer George Nolfi, deserve major credit for expanding on the idea of the story and bringing great deep to it.

My ramblings...
Matt Damon's Phillip K Dick movie, is much stronger and much deeper than Ben Affleck's. Though, I did like 2003's Paycheck. Of course, I am partial to both the Bostonians pictures. Paycheck also features Michael C Hall, post Six Feet Under, pre Dexter. Also, I love the future/dystopian genre. I think its based in growing up on Back to the Future movies. Then reading Invitation to the Game in junior high and in high school Fahrenheit 451. I tried to read Catch-22 after I watched Clockwork Orange, but could not even make sense of it. This makes me realize that I have never read 1984 and should really get on that. My favorites: Terminator, 1 and 2, AI, THX 1138, Minority Report and Blade Runner. The last two are also based on Philip K Dick stories. I also must mention WALL-E in this conversation for its commentary on what the future may look like. It is scary that the films and books produced decades ago, would no longer take place in the future, they take place in present time. The Adjustment Bureau is a much more philosophical than a scary look at the future; there is a spiritual, religious component that debates free will. Though not futuristic or dystopian, I feel a connection between The Adjustment Bureau and Contact. For me its the exploration of spirituality and faith, and the question of if we alone in the universe and on our own. And worm holes mean time travel and time travel brings it all Back to the Future.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Life As We Know It

The great thing about the home viewing of flicks, is the re-set in expectations. I was originally very excited about seeing this movie but for one reason or another did not make it to my local multiplex. When Life As We Know It was in theaters this fall, I heard mixed reviews. To my recollection it did not do super-well at the box office. Available via Netflix for the first time this week, I was excited to watch it this afternoon. I thought it was very well done. Very funny and heartfelt, it was well plotted. I couldn't help but wonder, did the manner in which I watched it make all the difference in my enjoyable viewing experience? The onslaught of previews and clips on talk shows that is standard practice for the marketing of all major movie releases, often does the movies a disservice. While home viewing has much less of a delay than back in the VHS era, the time between theatrical release and OnDemand/DVD/Redbox/Netflix, certainly helps. In this case, I was entertained.

Movie Night 3/11/11

Last night we took a trip to the 80's and watched Flashdance. I had actually never seen it or realized how many songs are from the soundtrack. As Laura pointed out, the music was made specifically for the movie. What A Feeling and Maniac are definitely my favorite.
I also want recommend checking out the trailer for Bad Teacher, in honor of all my GREAT teacher friends. Looks very funny. I have read about this movie and was very excited by my first look. I am also liking Jason Segel in it as well. It opens June 24th.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Watched the DVD this evening. What a sweet romantic comedy. Not the typical ridiculous scenario type. The movie stars Hugh Dancy as the title character with Asperger's and the new neighbor Beth (Rose Byrne) that he meets shortly after the death of his father.

I LOVE that on amazon, it says if you purchase Adam + Temple Grandin you save. See my rendition below. This is because, Hugh Dancy portrays a young man with Asperger's Syndrome in Adam, and Claire Danes, his wife, has won an Emmy, a SAG and a Golden Globe for her role as the real life Temple Grandin. Temple Grandin is a highly educated animal scientist who has developed more humane slaughtering methods, all while coping with Autism. While I mention Temple Grandin, let me take the opportunity to recommend it as well. It is an HBO movie and if I had a blog when I saw it, I would have praised it at the time. Neurotypicals can learn much from the characters and people of both movies.
The soundtrack to Adam is excellent (and available on iTunes). It is very Grey's Anatomy/Catch and Release and features several songs by the Weepies (though only one is featured on the soundtrack album, Somebody Loved can be found on iTunes off the Happiness album). The movie Adam was also a prize winner at Sundance in 2009. I had seen both of the lead characters interviewed when promoting the movie and am glad to have finally seen it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Movie Night 3/4/11

Last night we watched 127 Hours. It was the first time for Marla, Robbie, Marie, Laura and Jerre. I loved it the first time and knew I would be able to sit back and enjoy it even more the second time. The Zahm's brought brownies and ice cream, yummy treats. Little Julia watched until the main character, real life Aron Ralston as portrayed by James Franco, fell and was stuck by a boulder. She even said, stuck!; I tried to film her saying it.
Everyone had their own reaction to the film. Laura was hoping for more info about the character and Robbie, Robbie wants us all to go canyoneering this summer!

I searched again for the article I read about Aron Ralston after seeing the movie in theaters. The best I could find was the dateline info written by Tom Brokaw.  There is always wikipedia for general info. I know that throughout the awards season, I enjoyed seeing Ralston appear with Franco at events. Most recently, the two sat next to each other at the Independent Spirit Awards. I think this is my most media-heavy post. Here's my original blog when I saw the movie:

Watched Philadelphia on tv (on Oprah's OWN no less); for a movie from 1993, it is still such an excellent movie. The good ones hold up regardless of the year. It will be interesting to see which ones hold up from the crop of 2010 Oscar films.

Update on 127 Hours: just watched the special features on the DVD. We should have totally watched the alternate ending at movie night, bonus scenes with his family! Anne and Jeff watched it last night too, with similar mixed reactions. Anne said once he was trapped, she had trouble staying engaged in the movie. My lovely coworker Joann took my recommendation, watched it today and liked it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

article about Dave Karger

The following is a link to the Advocates interview with Entertainment Weekly's Dave Karger. He is my Oscar guru and mentor. Great clues for next year already!
Here's a cute video from Ben Stiller's parents: