MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland


It’s the Friday before Oscar… three new wide releases (over 1000 screens) and I can only hope that Vantage Point doesn’t suck relentlessly. Proud moments!
Is there anything left to say about Oscar (or anything else)?
You tell me.

Be Sociable, Share!

38 Responses to “BYOscarB”

  1. Is it just me or has there been a trailer for Vantage Point attached to three quarters of all movies in theatres since last summer? Anyways, I’m boycotting it on GP. I’ve seen the trailer enough times that if I sat through the movie I might have to blow my head off.

  2. Noah says:

    Be Kind Rewind was an enormous disappointment to me. It really doesn’t have anything important to say and it doesn’t say it in a way that is original in any way. While the premise does strain credulity, the fault is more that there is no love for craft expressed either behind the camera or in front of it. The messages in the end winds up being remarkably similar to any number of films you’ve seen before, but Gondry undercuts his own point by consistently espousing the theory that it’s the message and not the medium. But the message isn’t clearly defined and as a result, the film feels trite and unfocused. It’s too bad, I really looked forward to it.

  3. Me says:

    So I watched Blade Runner and American Gangster back-to-back this weekend. I know a lot of people feel that Blade Runner isn’t a classic or a good film or whatever, but watching it again and the docs on the DVD set, it’s impossible not to come out of that one truly impressed by the vision and craft that went into it. At the time it came out, it looked like nothing that had come before.
    American Gangster, on the other hand, wasn’t very visually interesting, didn’t have a vision (beyond “let’s make it look like the French Connection”), and really felt like any number of other movies. I’m a Ridley Scott defender, but this one just fell flat.

  4. eugenen says:

    “Charlie Bartlett” is best of ’08 so far. Great acting, lovely (and unusual) message, smart script. I hope it does well.

  5. Noah says:

    Me, I’m a noted Ridley hater, but I think you raise a really valid point there in your comparison. For whatever flaws I might think Blade Runner has, there was definitely a devotion to craft and story and a semblance of a (robotic) heart. American Gangster has none of that heart, although I think Savides’ photography is pretty good, but you’re right it looks similar to a number of films.
    My big issue with American Gangster was the Russell Crowe character, though. I don’t understand why he is given equal time with Denzel. What do we learn from knowing that Crowe’s character is a womanizer and a bad parent? There is so much time spent on that storyline and it doesn’t really add up to anything that couldn’t have been conveyed in half that time. It seems to me that because they got such a big star in that role, the filmmakers felt the need to beef it up and give it equal importance, but the truth is that it’s just not as important or as interesting as Denzel Washington’s section. Denzel is, after all, playing the American Gangster.

  6. Crow T Robot says:

    OK… predictions. I think all the favorites will come to pass Sunday. Except… my Spidey-senses tells me Juno will win best picture or best actress… or both. Not a big fan of the film but it does have a weird little energy that separates it from the downbeat rest. And it’s the most popular, which is almost always a recipe for winning.
    So that’s me caring about the Oscars.
    Sea-Crow-st out.

  7. hendhogan says:

    so, does michael moore increase his oscar cache? seems likely with 3 iraq docs and a darfur one in competition. they may knock each other out.

  8. movielocke says:

    has anyone seen the doc shorts? those are the only ones I’ve not seen any of.
    I think upsets will happen in cinematography and editing, both going to Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Art Direction will go to There Will Be Blood rather than Atonement or Sweeney. otherwise I think most everything will fall as expected (three for transformers, four for No Country, the three locked acting awards go as expected)
    The only big question mark, it seems is Supporting actress, you can make a really good argument for why any of the five will take it. So far I’ve stuck with Cate, but I’m very tempted just this week to go with Tilda Swinton. Overall another spread the wealth year.

  9. hendhogan says:

    so is that cottillard or christie you think get best actress?

  10. Me says:

    Noah, one of many problems with American Gangster, for me, is that it seemed like they wanted to make two movies: The Goodfellas (Denzel’s) and Serpico (Crowe’s), and they didn’t really do anything new or interesting for either of them. Take away the fact that Denzel is black, and there’s nothing new, at all, about his half of the movie, either. With a few small changes to the script and central casting, and the American Gangster could have been Puerto Rican, Irish, Italian, you name it.

  11. Noah says:

    Yeah, agreed. I think there was something interesting there, not necessarily original though. It seemed kind of derivative of everything from New Jack City to Prince of the City, but I felt at least Denzel’s section had some fire in it. But I didn’t like the fact that it didn’t show the extent of the damage done to the community. Aside from one shot of a man splayed across his bed with a need in his arm while his wife/mother is crying, we didn’t see a lot of the impact of Denzel’s crimes.

  12. teambanzai says:

    Ordinarily I would say that No Country was a shoe in for Best Picture but after Crash it seems all bets are off, and Juno could win just based on popularity. At the very least I think it has it’s best chance for screenplay. It’s up against some pretty strick compitition in the other catagories.

  13. brack says:

    I loved “Charlie Bartlett” as well. Sure it’s completely unrealistic, but it’s funny and has characters you really care about. Too bad it’s essentially getting dumped.

  14. pchu says:

    Saw Be Kind Rewind. Very creative and sometimes amusing, but Gondry doesn’t seem to know how to string a story together. It’s obvious he has talent (ESOTSM is one of my favorite movie) but he shouldn’t be allowed to write another script.
    Also watched Definitely Maybe, and liked it more than your usual Romantic Comedy. Ryan Reynolds isn’t his usual annoying self.

  15. Armin Tamzarian says:

    BE KIND is good fun. Rough around the edges and with a hokey “raise the rent money” sort of plot, but it all works within the world of the movie. I think some of the script issues that people have were by design. I mean, the film *feels* like the sort of movie I used to rent on VHS from mom and pop stores in the eighties. Dunno, I thought it was kinda clever. Seems like a hard film to hate on, to me.

  16. IOIOIOI says:

    Be Kind Rewind is one of the more civic minded movies that I have ever seen. It’s all about two guys that use the power of FILM — their love of film — to bring a community together. If you have a problem with a film that is civicly minded, believes in the power of film to change people, and to bring people together. Well; you really have got to stop thinking of you, and start thinking of the world around you.

  17. Nicol D says:

    Just finished La Vie En Rose. I could say I hope Cotillard wins but the truth is the film was better than many of the other nominated pictures. True widescreen compositions, beautiful imagery, well paced, fantastic acting, great music…
    What a wonderful film !

  18. scooterzz says:

    i’d be willing to bet that ‘be kind…’ will sink like a stone…. i found it just painful…but, again, just subjective me…

  19. lazarus says:

    I think what ee-I-ee-I-O is trying to say is that if you don’t love Be Kind Rewind, the terrorists win.

  20. jeffmcm says:

    Now why isn’t that on the posters? (would have applied better to, say, The Kingdom)

  21. Dave Vernon says:

    I’m also feeling that Ellen Page may take the Oscar, mainly because Christie has been the front runner for so long and there’s certainly no heat around her movie anymore (was there ever?). Juno does have real momentum…the film, the performance and the actress feel young, hot and of the moment. I can already promise that the expected screenplay win will be ridiculed in years to come (we’ll all wonder how dialogue that bad got anything other than a razzie)…yet the momentum of the film is pushing towards that screenplay win. I don’t think it will go as far as best picture though.

  22. movieman says:

    …oh, but, “Vantage Point” does suck, Dave…it’s a truly insidious brain-rotter. Repeat after me: Pete Travis is not the new Paul Greengrass; Pete Travis is NOT the new Paul Greengrass.
    Glad to see that some of you share my affection for “Charlie Bartlett.” Since it’s doubtful that anyone will actually pay to see it in a theater, I hope that “Charlie” eventually finds an audience on dvd. The flawed but earnest “Be Kind Rewind” looks like another non-starter theatrically. But like all of Gondry’s films, it should pick up a small, if passionate following somewhere down the road.
    Thankfully the toxic fumes of “Witless Protection” (has there ever been a movie with such a poetically apt title?) won’t be infesting multiplexes for long. The only question(s) is how/why Mamet alter ego Joe Mantegna and Bergman/Coen Brothers veteran Peter Stormare agreed to be in such a vile piece of dung.
    Are they really THAT hard up for a paycheck?
    Strange how the “wide” break of “U2-3-D” translated into just one or two evening shows per theater where–at least in these parts–it’s sharing a screen with daytime occupant Hannah Montana (fourth week and counting!). But I’m guessing “U2” will have longer legs in digital/3-D houses than Ms. Cyrus.
    Looking ahead to next weekend, will “Semi-Pro” open as big as “Blades of Glory”? Or will the R-rating place it more in the “Anchorman” camp? Does the mildly (very “mildly”) charming modern-day fairy tale “Penelope” have a shot at the tweener audience? Or will it be d.o.a. after sitting on the shelf for a year and half? And is Sony making a critical error by opening “The Other Boleyn Girl” wide rather than opting for a platform release?
    Despite uindistinguished direction by first-timer Justin Chadwick, “Boleyn” is actually a tad better than anticipated.
    Both Portman and Johansson ace their British accents and acquit themselves nicely. I think the problem audiences are going to have with the movie is that there isn’t a single sympathetic character in the mix. Anne is portrayed as a conniving vixen; Henry comes across as seriously pussy-whipped; and Johansson’s Mary seems like a throwback to classic female victims, even though she’s the only one who gets a “happy” ending.

  23. Chucky in Jersey says:

    “Persepolis” went national this week … with a good number of theaters playing it split run (alternating 1 screen with another pic). Sony Pictures Classics needs to fold its distribution into regular Sony forthwith.
    OTOH regular Sony correctly figures that the Oscar Bait non-winners will fade away after tomorrow night. That explains the wide release for “The Other Boleyn Girl”.

  24. adorian says:

    I watched La vie en rose again yesterday. I love it. I want Cotillard to win. There were so many times when the old and frail Piaf looked like Judy Garland, so it would be a way for Hollywood to apologize to Judy for everything by giving the award to someone whom she resembled in many ways.
    I also watched Wag the Dog for the first time since its 1997 release. Talk about relevant! I was amazed at how sharp it was. The more outrageous it got, the more I felt certain that the current administration had done those things yesterday.

  25. jeffmcm says:

    “Sony correctly figures that the Oscar Bait non-winners will fade away after tomorrow night. That explains the wide release for “The Other Boleyn Girl”.”
    To fill the Oscar-bait void?

  26. Wrecktum says:

    “I can already promise that the expected screenplay win will be ridiculed in years to come (we’ll all wonder how dialogue that bad got anything other than a razzie)…”
    Completely agree. Juno is a fine film…the acting, story, themes, filmmaking are all top notch. But much of the precious, overwritten dialogue is cringeworthy. How anyone could believe a Millennial 16 year old would talk like a cynical Gen-Xer is beyond me. “Thundercats are go,” are you fucking kidding me?

  27. jeffmcm says:

    The themes and story aren’t exactly ‘top-notch’ either. If the point of the movie is to show Juno how to find true love, wouldn’t it behoove the movie to give Paulie Bleecker a little more to do? Like actually have a character motivation or two?

  28. Wrecktum says:

    I think it’s a nice character arc, but you’re right that, at the end, the relationship between Juno and Paulie is poorly defined. In that respect the movie fails. However, I would argue that the rest of the characters are richly and realistically drawn and the overall story structure works very well.

  29. movielocke says:

    “”Thundercats are go,” are you fucking kidding me?”
    Juno strikes me as the type that watches a lot of adult swim.
    I think it’ll be Julie Christie taking the award. Though I’ve still got no idea on supporting actress.
    I’m pissed that the Landmark stopped showing hte live action shorts today, they ran for two showings yesterday but I was going to catch them today. Guess I’ll see Persepolis instead…

  30. Wrecktum says:

    “Juno strikes me as the type that watches a lot of adult swim.”
    Perhaps. But that doesn’t excuse the inanity of the line being spoken at that moment in the film. Phony, fey and ridiculous.

  31. anghus says:

    to me, the biggest flaw in Juno, other than the cringeworthy lines, is how poorly the pregnancy storyline is handled.
    It makes it look like being pregnant in high school and giving up a baby is as easy as ordering lunch at taco bell.

  32. movielocke- you mean stoned?
    And c’mon guys…who the hell ridicules (or even gives shit one) about screenplay winners? I mean, is there some list somewhere of screenwriting award winners that people are still torn up about? I have a BA in screenwriting and I honestly cannot remember ANY screenwriting winner of ANY sort period. And this is after a good 3 minutes of thinking about it then realizing nobody, including me, cares.

  33. IOIOIOI says:

    Come on, Angus. It does not even come close to working out that way. Juno is damn near conflict through out the entire movie. She’s only rebellous because she loves a guy, and cannot work it out. It’s all an act until the end of the film. When she finally gets her life together. Onions; Anghus. Onions.

  34. “There were so many times when the old and frail Piaf looked like Judy Garland, so it would be a way for Hollywood to apologize to Judy for everything by giving the award to someone whom she resembled in many ways.”
    Oh HELL No! Putting aside the fact that I loathe that movie (One of the three worst i’ve seen from 2007) and don’t think much of Cotillard, that’s just a ridiculous statement. Besides, Liza Minnelli has an Oscar. And I think a blood relative is a bit closer to “someone whom she resembles”.

  35. jeffmcm says:

    KCamel, if La Vie en Rose was one of the three worst movies you saw last year, you didn’t see enough movies.

  36. movieman says:

    Are me and Tony Scott the only ones not feeling the Oscars this year?
    Maybe it was the writer’s strike and months of “Will-it-happen-or-not?”, but I have less enthusiasm (and interest) in tonight’s shindig than any year in recent memory. All the self-congratulatory blather (“How about those writers? Let’s all give ’em a big hand!;” “Now a moment of silence to honor the memory of the late, great Heath Ledger;” ad nauseam), inane banter between presenters, ghastly musical production numbers and endless, pointless clip reels just isn’t exerting its usual gravitational pull.
    I’ll watch–how could I not?–but it really does seem an awful lot like work this year.

  37. Jeff:
    1. West
    2. The Hills Have Eyes 2
    3. La Vie en Rose
    4. The Man from London
    5. Black Sheep
    I really thought La Vie en Rose was an awful movie. Terribly directed, pitched at the same horrifically loud tone, discombobulating and filled with a ridiculous Cotillard performance that ranged from shrieking quasi-modo-meets-gollum to shrieking amelie-meets-booze-hound.
    I had a fascinating (albeit brief) discussion with this old lady at the end of the movie as we were leaving the cinema. She said “What did you think?” I was taken aback because that’s rare to have a stranger ask that, but I replied “I didn’t like it. Far too long and I didn’t like the way it jumped all over the place.” (or something to that effect) She replied simply “I disliked it more than that silly movie where that Fonda woman made that young girl eat soap!” Lovely. That’s my kinda gal!

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon