Sunday, February 27, 2011

Golden Sunday

When did the Oscars become irrelevant?

Friends and colleague just laugh now about the award ceremony that will air this Sunday night. More interested in the movie stars frocks and their telecast reactions after a devastating loss. Does having an oscar mean anything? For best picture it means more money, but when you think of the best directors, best actors/actresses in history, most have never walked home with the golden man.


Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Tim Burton, Jean-Luc Godard, Norman Jewison, Akira Kurosawa, Fritz Lang, Spike Lee, Robert Altman, Cecil B. De Mille, James Ivory, Ridley Scott, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Sydney Lumet etc.. etc..

Donald Sutherland, Albert Finney, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, Paul Giamatti, Alan Arkin, Montgomery Clift, Richard Burton...

Annette Benning (who will likely be passed over AGAIN), Helena Bonham Carter, Glenn Close, Deborah Kerr, Angela Lansbury, Lauren Bacall, Barbara Stanwyck, Thelma Ritter, Rosalind Russell, Kristen Scott Thomas, Julianne Moore, Toni Collete, Molly Parker, Christina Ricci, Sigourney Weaver..

Perhaps quality is indicated in the company you keep. Then I guess it's far better to walk out empty handed...

This is the first year that I've ever seen every single film nominated or over hyped. Tonight is the Oscars, and I will be tuning out. For the past ten years most of the "winners" have left me dumbstruck. Sandra Bullock? Reese Witherspoon? Julia Roberts? Gwyneth Paltrow? REALLY??? I never grew up in an American high school where homecoming queens and kings are crowned victorious, but this seems like a grown up version of prom night. What are you wearing? You look lovely!

Toy Story 3 was great, but it was ... number three. Unfortunately their competition is a disappointing yet visual appealing Illusionist, and the fun but formulaic How to train your dragon. I was horrified that they ignored the sleeper hit Despicable Me, a far more original story with plenty of artistic merit.

Best Actress
My favourite performances of the year? Perhaps Jennifer Lawrence in The Winter's Bone if it can't be Lesley Manville in Another Year.

Best Actor
Colin Firth's portrayal in The King's Speech really has stood above the rest, however, I do wish the academy at least acknowledged Paul Giamatti's stellar role in Barney's Version.

Best Director
Tricky, tricky. If it's a matter of: "we should give the award to someone who has a fantastic body of work," then David Fincher by all means.

Best Picture
It's a moot point. There's nothing that I really really loved this year so what can I say? Er.. the King's Speech? Am I suppose to pity a wealthy, aristocrat who can't speak properly? Social Network... when I've never given a flying horse shit about facebook? It even had Justin Timberlake so it loses a few points there. The Fighter, an okay boxing film, with some really loud loud characters. Inception, which never fully felt like a dream? Black Swan, an over the top soap opera that made me laugh rather than care about Nina? Maybe Winter's Bone, but who actually saw it? Oh and I forgot about True Grit. I guess that's the problem.

In the end, frankly, I just don't give a damn.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Strange and the vivid

Nobody does it better than Japan when it applies to background painting. This exceptional series: Mushishi, created by Artland (spanning 26 episodes) is an animated series based off the manga by Yuki Urushibara. There is also a live-action version directed by Katsuhira Otomo (Akira).

Devoid of violence or nudity, it is still not recommended for children. With eerie and supernatural concepts of reality, the storyline follows Ginko, a Mushi master travelling across the land investigating strange cases involving "mushi"; ghost-like creatures that co-exist in our world. The format is similar to many North American series formats (Sherlock, X-Files, CSI), each episode serves a self-contained dilemma where the protagonist digs beneath the surface, discovering both answers and more questions.

I've recently found a few episodes online:

Episode 1 : The Green Seat
Episode 2: The Light of the Eyelid (this one really can creep out kids)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New & old

Historical fantasy is often plagued with melodramatic story lines, two dimensional characters, and horrible dialogue... fortunately there are a few exceptions.

Although I look forward to seeing HBO's Game of Thrones, I must admit I wish Guy Gavriel Kay's novels were adapted to the silver screen, perhaps more so. Partially because he doesn't leave you starving for years on end, delivering a juicy tale of intrigue and romance with one healthy serving. Like many authors, usually their sophomore years prove to be the most successful. Quite a few of my friends agree, it wasn't until after Tigana that Kay hit his stride. Looking for something to tide you over while you wait for Game of Thrones? There are plenty of options...

Best of the best:
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
Sailing for Sarantium & Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay
Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

Monday, February 14, 2011


When you're ambushed with a chaotic amount of work it's always great to have a way to deflate. My job is filled with closet alcoholics, drug addicts, and.. ehem... many other vices. It's always surprising, since it's a job about youth and nothing sucks the life out of you faster than boozing, smoking, and snorting.

Fortunately I've managed to find a great book or two, and to my utter surprise the only upcoming films I'm interested are on television. I've seen five films recently, that's right FIVE awful pieces of sh*t films in a row. For the next five months I can't truly pick out one film that I'm interested in.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Inside Game Of Thrones - Extended Version (HBO)

Sean Bean is a good start, however the future of Game of Thrones lies heavily on the actors playing the children. This extended version by HBO is a great introduction into the complicated world of George. R.R. Martin's epic drama. I does look a bit "clean" for my taste, however you can't tell until the final transfer.

The Borgias Sneak Peek [HQ]

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Inside and Out

If you aren't sick of them already, the Actor's Studio sheds light on the growing pains of many of the most successful talents in Hollywood. I've always remembered that the most acclaimed actors are not necessarily the most talented, but perhaps the most fortunate. The right place, right time, where they were given the opportunity to catapult themselves into fame.

Would you say that Donald Sutherland, Gary Oldman, Maria Bello, Christina Ricci, Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell, John Malkovich, Angela Bassett, Richard E. Grant, Robert Downy Jr., Catherine Keener, Edward Norton, Toni Collette, or Paul Giamatti... aren't GREAT actors simply because they manage to seamlessly melt into their characters and are often overlooked during the Oscars? Even then.. they are still well known. Many cities have a number of phenomenal talents that perform on stage, working tirelessly on their craft... never to have their mugs plastered on cheap tabloid rags or selling cosmetics on a billboard.

The most entertaining... or ... insightful (additional parts will be shown on the link)

Simpsons cast (maybe the funniest) part 1
Kevin Spacey part 1
Tom Hanks part 1
Johnny Depp part 1
Robert Downey Jr. part 1
Dave Chappelle part 1
Jodie Foster part 1
Meryl Streep part 1
Hugh Laurie part 1
Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward part 1
Conan O'Brien part 1
Ricky Gervais part 1
Steven Spielberg (on of the hardest to find and one of the longest interviews 4 hours... clip)

Who I wish they had on their show? More directors and especially screenwriters.. but then again.. it wouldn't be the actors studio then.
Tim Burton, Ang Lee, Ian Holm, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson (diary during filming... hilarious), Daniel Day Lewis, Jon Stewart, Tom Stoppard, Alan Rickman...

Still hunting for (since they have interviewed them) William Goldman, Norman Jewison, Arthur Miller, Sydney Pollack on youtube.

Lipton's classic questions, based on Bernard Pivot after the Proust Questionairre:
  1. What is your favorite word?
  2. What is your least favorite word?
  3. What turns you on?
  4. What turns you off?
  5. What sound or noise do you love?
  6. What sound or noise do you hate?
  7. What is your favorite curse word?
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
  9. What profession would you not like to do?
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Brain freeze

Many wealthy (or on credit...) Canucks fly down south of the border to skip the harsh winters every year... laughing at us poor schmucks who are stuck up north. But sometimes they miss some of the best events that Canada has to offer.

1. It's painfully cold this year, but it's also been a very long time since I've seen people skate along the pond, the canal... or even a man-made backyard skating rink. Ottawa's Winterlude features the world longest ice rink, ice sculptures, and concerts.

2. Sugaring. The Eastern provinces of Canada offer something that the west can't... Maplefest.
Maple syrup on pancakes, bacon, sausages... heck, they even pour it on snow! Kids hopped up on sugar, as they enjoy horse-drawn hay rides, live music, tree tapping...

3. Skiing.. whether it's Quebec, Alberta, or British Columbia. This winter will have phenomenal slopes.

4. The underground. Want to know where the locals are... they're twenty feet under. Montreal and Toronto have vast underground connection offerings, giving businessmen/women the option of never taking one step outside. Grocery stores, movie theatres, shops, restaurants, shoe shining, drycleaners, book stores, and transit. What snow?

5. Quebec Ice Hotel (Hotel de Glace) Rebuilt every year, their doors open in January until the beginning of April. Remember James Bond: Die Another Day... could be cozy.