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Archive for January, 2009

The Reader

January 26th, 2009

Kate Winslet

Now having seen all the Oscar nominated films, I have found my winner. It is “The Reader.” It is an intriguing story with fantastic acting–something which Slumdog lacks. Kate Winslet gives an incredible, emotional performance in this picture worthy of an Oscar. My only gripe is that Ralph Fiennes delivers his typical Nazi/Jew/WWII shtick with that droll, stoic thin-lipped character he is accustomed to portraying. But I guess that works for these types of roles.

Now I know that Punjabi Millionaire just won Best Picture at the SAG awards. I just think that’s boring. Everyone is on the wagon for this flick and I cannot understand why. Millionaire is a trifling film compared to “The Reader.” I know that Slumdog is a fresh story compared to a side story of the Holocaust. It used to be to win an Oscar just play a suffering Jew or Nazi with a heart. Now it just may be a measure of Mumbai.

Go see “The Reader” and I promise you will find it meriting top honors.

Oscar Nominations

January 23rd, 2009

Well the Oscar nominations were announced yesterday and here are the major ones:

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Richard Jenkins–The Visitor
Frank Langella–Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn–Milk
Brad Pitt–The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke–The Wrestler
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Josh Brolin–Milk
Robert Downey Jr.–Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman–Doubt
Heath Ledger–The Dark Knight
Michael Shannon–Revolutionary Road
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Anne Hathaway–Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie–Changeling
Melissa Leo–Frozen River
Meryl Streep–Doubt
Kate Winslet–The Reader
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Amy Adams–Doubt
Penelope Cruz–Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis–Doubt
Taraji Henson–The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei–The Wrestler
BEST DIRECTOR
David Fincher–The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard–Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant–Milk
Stephen Daldry–The Reader
Danny Boyle–Slumdog Millionaire
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Frozen River
Happy-Go-Lucky
In Bruges
Milk
Wall-E
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Eric Roth–The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley–Doubt
Peter Morgan–Frost/Nixon
David Hare–The Reader
Simon Beaufoy–Slumdog Millionaire
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Bolt
Kung Fu
Panda
Wall-E
BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
Milk
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Starting with “Slumdog Millionaire,” I cannot understand why this movie is being revered so much.  In my opinion it is a Bollywood flick backed by Merchant Ivory.  It is a good story and has great cinematography.  However, the acting was horrible (there is a reason why none of them were nominated for even the Golden Globes.  The main character had the same emotionless expression throughout the movie.  Since the acting performances were dull, then in my mind it cannot win for Best Picture, Producer, or Director.  Bottom line: great story and worthy of Adapted Screenplay, but rediculous for anything else.

Best Actor was by far Mickey Rourke.  He displayed such vunerability and raw emotion obviously pulled from his own life.  Sean Penn’s portrayal of Harvey Milk was too distracting for me.  Instead of coming across as a queen, it was like watching “I am Sam” making out with dudes.

Supporting Actor is a tough one.  I’m sure Heath Ledger will win for Dark Knight.  It was a tour de force performance which surpassed Nicholson’s Joker.

Best Actress might just go to Meryl Streep in Doubt.  However, I plan on seeing Rachel Getting Married this weekend and her performance looks great.  It would be nice to see someone new winning.

For Supporting Actress I am torn between Amy Adams and Marisa Tomei.  Both performances were great, however Amy Adams’ role had more depth to it.  Not quite sure why Viola Davis was nominated since she was onscreen for 5 minutes or so.

So that leaves Best Picture.  Taking out Slumdog, I think leaving out “The Wrestler” was a huge snub.  Out of the remainder, none of them really wowed me.  But if I had to narrow it down to two, those would be “Ben Buttons” and “Doubt.”  Benjamin Buttons was a new take on Forest Gump and Doubt had such strong performances.

We’ll see how it all shakes out soon enough…

20090115-planecrash-bToday, an Airbus A320, flight number 1549 made an emergency landing in the Hudson River after apparently hitting some geese after takeoff.  “A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security in Washington said there were no indications that this incident was a result of a terrorist attack.”

It is premature to come to this conclusion.  Has the department considered an Al Queda goose?  Maybe geese what migrated from tribal regions in northern Pakistan?  Just saying….

The other day, President Elect Obama did something surprising, although not shocking given his level of confidence and savvy.  He had dinner at George Will’s house with several other “Conservative” writers and columnists.  Then, it was announced that he was going to hold a benefit dinner honoring John McCain the night before he is inaugurated.

These events,  called “gestures” by some, are part of the moral fabric and political philosophy which Barack Obama is made.  It is right out of the playbook by Sun Tzu in the Art of War.  One of its tenets is to always make sure you “build a golden bridge for your enemies to retreat.”  While Obama does not see these parties as “enemies” per se, they are and will be his adversaries for years to come.  Mistakenly attributed to Sun Tzu is the phrase “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” represents a key difference between Obama’s approach to politics and most other politicians.

While many vehemently questioned his inclusion of controversial Pastor Rick Warren and the openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson in his inauguration ceremony, the net effect of such invites is apparent.  He is, without fanfare, subtlety expanding the definition of what is politically centrist by drawing the left and right edges inward.  This is how he won the election and the only way an American President can be successful in our diverse Union.  The bridges he builds allow polar opposites an easy way to meet him in the middle.

It is this idea of inclusion, rather than exclusion.  Dialog versus diatribe.  You can surround yourself with those who think like “you”, those who you think “like” you or those who like to “think.”  Obama chooses to listen and give voice to those who think–for themselves.  It is in the proud tradition of our country that out of the many voices we are one.  And we all will be much better off for it.