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The 2013 August Movie Season

August used to be a dumping ground for unwanted movies, but I feel like that’s changed in the past few years. This year is no exception, and there’s been a lot of small indie fare coming out all month. But this weekend is actually looking to be pretty amazing. Here’s what’s coming:

  • The World’s End – An unofficial sequel to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, this movie reunites the creative trio behind those great movies: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost. I’ve been avoiding specifics about the movie, but it looks to have something to do with a pub crawl and, uh, the end of the world. Or something. Early word seems good.
  • You’re Next – This movie played at Fantastic Fest in 2011 (the year I went), but the movie got picked up that very week, and the studio cancelled the second showing (the one I had penciled in). Word of mouth from the first screening was great, and the film won awards at the end of the fest, so it’s been a long two years of waiting for this one. On the outside, it looks like a typical “home invasion” movie, but I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun (or “fun”, as home invasion isn’t the most playful of subgenres).
  • The Spectacular Now – An indie film that’s been making the rounds for a while and is supposed to be expanding this weekend (though likely still fairly limited). It’s supposed to be a good coming of age story, which could be fun.
  • Ain’t Them Bodies Saints – I know nothing of this movie, except that it has buzz. What else do you need? It’s supposed to be hitting VOD this weekend.
  • Honorable Mention: Short Term 12 (doesn’t seem like my kinda thing, but it’s also got great buzz), Blue Jasmine (not a big Woody Allen fan, but he is usually at least interesting), The Grandmaster (Wong Kar Wai’s latest, only here in the HM section because it’s unlikely to be playing near me/you), and In a World… (which I think has been on VOD for a while now).

Obviously, I have no idea if any of these movies are actually good, but they all seem interesting, so let’s get on this stuff.

Trance

Danny Boyle’s new movie Trance is one of those reality-bending films that constantly has you wondering if what you’re seeing is real. It takes some deserved flak for being more concerned with plot machinations than characters, and boy does that plot go in some ludicrous directions, but if you’re the type of person who likes the tick-tock puzzles of movies like Inception or Timecrimes, I think you’ll enjoy it. And if you don’t, it would still probably fall under the not wholly depressing category of “Interesting Failure.” Personally, I’ve been in a bit of a lull when it comes to keeping up with new releases, so I found this one to be engaging and energizing in a way that most 2013 releases have failed to achieve (though, true, I have been woefully neglectful of a lot of movies I probably should have seen).

The movie opens with a bang, an art heist, complete with an “inside man” (Simon, played by James McAvoy) who manages to stash the stolen painting away from both the authorities and the criminals. Alas, it appears that during the heist, Simon gets a rather nasty bump on his head and claims amnesia. The criminals, lead by Franck (Vincent Cassel), attempt to extract the location of the stolen painting via some rather intense torture, but eventually decide that Simon’s amnesia is real. This leads them to consult a hypnotist, Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson, who they think might be able to extract the location of the painting. But Elizabeth has ideas of her own, and you begin to wonder if she’s really uncovering lost information… or is she implanting information for her own purposes?

That’s a pretty raucous mashup of cliches going on right there. You’ve got the heist (of notoriously impossible to fence artwork no less), you’ve got amnesia, and you’ve got hypnotism, the latter of which drives you to constantly question what you’re seeing on screen (there’s more tropes to be had here, especially as the story starts to really twist and turn). It starts off plausible enough, saunters into ludicrous territory, which would be bad if it didn’t rocket past that phase and into some next-level bonkers stuff towards the end. As previously mentioned, the characters are rather thin here, and there’s not really enough there to provide the required weight to the plot, particularly when you reach the very end (there’s a relationship there that I think it’s hard to buy).

That being said, Danny Boyle’s propulsive, visually striking style certain keeps things moving at a fast, entertaining pace. So while the characters may not have been fleshed out as well as I’d like, I did find myself fully engaged at all times. While Boyle’s style doesn’t completely make up for ridiculous plot points or thin characters, it does elevate the film beyond simple schlock. The pounding soundtrack also works really well here. The performances are solid all around, but extra credit goes to Rosario Dawson’s fearless performance here. She’s channeling that sultry femme fatale archetype, but as it turns out, she might be the actual heroine of the story too, and she plays it well. Dawson has some nude scenes too, and not mere glimpses either. I suppose you could say that the nudity is integral to the plot, though it’s a pretty big leap. Not that I’m complaining.

Ultimately, I enjoyed it for what it was: an outlandish thriller with preposterous twists and turns that were nonetheless completely engaging and entertaining. I had a lot of fun with this, but then, I tend to enjoy these sorts of reality-bending puzzle movies. Fans of more character-based drama may come away unfulfilled, but I had a good time and it’s a film that’s stuck with me for a couple weeks now. ***

BFI Greatest Films Meme

Minor controversy in the film nerd world broke out recently when the once-a-decade BFI film poll unseated reigning champion Citizen Kane in favor of Hitchcock’s most personal of films, Vertigo (Kane had held the top spot for 5 polls… 50 years is still a pretty impressive run though). Personally, Vertigo is a middle tier Hitchcock film (lesser Hitch?), as there are at least 5-10 other Hitchcock movies I’d put ahead of that one. But on the other hand, I’d probably opt to rewatch Vertigo over Citizen Kane (though I agree that both movies are pretty darn good!) In any case, all the cool kids are showing off their filmic bona fides by listing out which of the top 50 BFI movies they’ve seen. Sad to say, I’ve probably seen less than I should have, but here’s what I’ve got (typical meme rules apply – bold the film if you’ve seen it):

1. Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock, 1958

2. Citizen Kane, Orson Welles, 1941

3. Tokyo Story, Ozu Yasujiro, 1953

4. La Règle du jeu, Jean Renoir, 1939

5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, FW Murnau, 1927

6. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick, 1968

7. The Searchers, John Ford, 1956

8. Man with a Movie Camera, Dziga Vertov, 1929

9. The Passion of Joan of Arc, Carl Dreyer, 1927

10. 8½, Federico Fellini, 1963

11. Battleship Potemkin, Sergei Eisenstein, 1925

12. L’Atalante, Jean Vigo, 1934

13. Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard, 1960

14. Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola, 1979

15. Late Spring, Ozu Yasujiro, 1949

16. Au hasard Balthazar, Robert Bresson, 1966

17= Seven Samurai, Kurosawa Akira, 1954

17= Persona, Ingmar Bergman, 1966

19. Mirror, Andrei Tarkovsky, 1974

20. Singin’ in the Rain, Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, 1951

21= L’avventura, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960

21= Le Mépris, Jean-Luc Godard, 1963

21= The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola, 1972

24= Ordet, Carl Dreyer, 1955

24= In the Mood for Love, Wong Kar-Wai, 2000

26= Rashomon, Kurosawa Akira, 1950

26= Andrei Rublev, Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966

28. Mulholland Dr., David Lynch, 2001

29= Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979

29= Shoah, Claude Lanzmann, 1985

31= The Godfather Part II, Francis Ford Coppola, 1974

31= Taxi Driver, Martin Scorsese, 1976

33. Bicycle Thieves, Vittoria De Sica, 1948

34. The General, Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman, 1926

35= Metropolis, Fritz Lang, 1927

35= Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock, 1960

35= Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles, Chantal Akerman, 1975

35= Sátántangó, Béla Tarr, 1994

39= The 400 Blows, François Truffaut, 1959

39= La dolce vita, Federico Fellini, 1960

41. Journey to Italy, Roberto Rossellini, 1954

42= Pather Panchali, Satyajit Ray, 1955

42= Some Like It Hot, Billy Wilder, 1959

42= Gertrud, Carl Dreyer, 1964

42= Pierrot le fou, Jean-Luc Godard, 1965

42= Play Time, Jacques Tati, 1967

42= Close-Up, Abbas Kiarostami, 1990

48= The Battle of Algiers, Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966

48= Histoire(s) du cinéma, Jean-Luc Godard, 1998

50= City Lights, Charlie Chaplin, 1931

50= Ugetsu monogatari, Mizoguchi Kenji, 1953

50= La Jetée, Chris Marker, 1962

By my count, that’s 20 out of 50, not a particularly impressive number, though nothing to be embarrassed about either. Still, there are a few on the list that I really should have seen by now (I’m looking at you, Metropolis! I’m coming for ya!) I think perhaps I’m also due for a French new wave marathon of sorts, as that’s one area of film I’m not particularly familiar with…

Oscar Liveblogging

It’s always hip to claim that the Oscars are a big horrible affair, and to be sure, it is an overlong ceremony dripping with hoary jokes and self-congratulation. Here at Kaedrin, we don’t mind all that though. I find that two things really help make the experience palatable: Beer and Mockery. In all seriousness, as much as people are sick of awards season, I like this late placement – it gives you time to catch up with some of the lesser-seen films and because of the dearth of good films released this time of year, theaters will often feature Oscar nominated films that you didn’t get a chance to see before (I doubt I’d have seen The Artist if it didn’t get nominated). Sure, the demographics of the Academy (basically old white dudes (the horror!)) seem to get things wrong often, but the Oscars are ultimately a celebration of movies, and I think that’s a good thing, even if they almost never reflect my tastes.

If you’re interested, here are previous installments: [2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004] Check back for frequent updates (starting around 8:30 pm EST), and feel free to hang around and leave comments to play along (I’ve re-instituted anonymous commenting for the event)…

I’m going to post my picks for the major awards now (around noonish), but again, check back later for frequent updates (usually posted every 2-5 minutes or so).

  • Best Picture: The Artist. I know some folks hate this movie or find it too slight to win a best picture nod, and while I really enjoyed the film, I don’t think it’s the best of the year. That being said, it’s right up the Academy’s alley and it’s been racking up other awards. I think a lot of folks thought The Descendants would be the favorite, because who woulda thunk that a silent film would be successful, but Payne and Clooney have lost some steam here. Interestingly, Midnight in Paris seems to have picked up some steam, because for some weird reason, Hollywood people really want to like Woody Allen movies, and this is actually Allen’s most commercially successful film ever. Even more unlikely is Hugo, though as self-congratulation goes, it’s hard to beat that one. I still consider those dark horse picks though, as The Artist is going to mop up tonight. The rest of the field has practically no chance of winning, but then, I’ve only seen 6 of the 9 nominees (and seriously? I saw 95 movies that came out in 2011 – the Oscars definitely don’t match my taste) and only one of the nominees showed up on my top 10. As it happens, that one movie was The Artist, so there is that. But then, I’m full of shit and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close will probably win.
  • Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. Since Best Picture and Best Director generally track together, this is the obvious choice. Again, you’ve got an outside chance that Alexander Payne or Woody Allen will take this home (same as for Picture)… and I doubt Scorsese will take it home, as the Academy probably feels like they already rewarded the guy and corrected all wrongs a few years ago. Malick is the film nerd community’s choice, I guess, and the dude sure knows how to make movies that are visually brilliant, but his movie is overly indulgent and personal and long and probably won’t connect with the Academy.
  • Best Actress: Viola Davis for The Help. The other obvious choice is Meryl Streep, because you know, she gets nominated every damn year and has “only” won twice. I suppose this is a sorta rematch of that year these two were both nominated for Doubt a few years ago, but I’m just betting that Davis will take the statue this year. I think the Academy will see this as an opportunity to reward a film they like (racism bad!) without having to go all Best Picture on everyone. I suppose there’s a chance with the other nominees, but I do believe that Rooney Mara and Michelle Williams will be passed over because they’re young and everyone assumes they’ll have lots of opportunities in the future… Particularly Williams, who has very quietly established herself as one of the best actresses of her generation. Hard to believe she got her start on the Creek, but now she’s in one or two art house darlings every year.
  • Best Actor: George Clooney for The Descendants. Mostly because he’s George fucking Clooney and the Academy likes to be starstruck, especially when it comes to actors. Jean Dujardin is the other obvious choice, if only because the The Artist is a juggernaut, but he’s, like, French, and he will remind people of Roberto Benigni in that he’s new to Hollywood and probably won’t do much else… I was puzzled at Demian Bichir’s nomination, but in the interest of mocking Hollywood, I’ll just say that they nominated this so that they could look their landscapers in the eye or something. My choice for this award would definitely bee Gary Oldman… and holy crap, this is only his first nomination? Zoinks! Maybe a dark horse, but the movie he’s in is so damn reserved (and so is his performance), and the Academy likes histrionics more than subtlety.
  • Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer for The Help. This one’s a toss up. Bérénice Bejo may end up spoiling by riding the wave from The Artist, but Spencer has some momentum of her own (she took the Golden Globe, the SAG, the Critics Choice and the BAFTA) so maybe this isn’t as much of a toss up as I initially thought. Personally, I’d love to see Melissa McCarthy get some recognition, but that’s not going to happen.
  • Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer for Beginners. Plummer has all the momentum here… he’s apparently a classy guy and everyone loves him and this is the sort of thing the Academy does to reward a long career. Speaking of rewarding careers, Max von Sydow might have been a spoiler if his movie wasn’t so reviled. None of the other nominees can really mount opposition here. Plummer is pretty close to a lock.
  • Best Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris. One reason I don’t think Woody Allen will take Best Picture/Director is that the Academy often uses these screenplay awards as consolation prizes, and again, Hollywood wants to like Allen, so I’m betting he’ll get this. The Artist may be riding high and totally ruin this pick, but I’m still betting on Allen.
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants. The consolation prize factor strikes again. Moneyball has a chance to spoil, but Sorkin/Zaillian already have a statue (and Sorkin just got his last year), so I’m betting it will be a consolation because this movie isn’t going to win Best Picture…
  • Editing: The Artist. I don’t really know about this one, so I’ll just go with the obvious choice… Could also be Hugo, but I’m going with momentum here.
  • Cinematography: The Artist with, again, Hugo as competition.
  • Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes. This is basically making up for the lack of a nomination for Andy Serkis as supporting actor… I guess Hugo or Harry Potter could mount an offense, but I’m doubting it.
  • Makeup: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Ungh. Why do I even pick this category? I guess the Iron Lady could win too, but Potter certainly has more visible makeup…
  • Costumes: The Artist. Though Jane Eyre could easily take this, who cares? I don’t want to think about this one anymore.
  • Musical Score: The Artist. For the momentum, but also because it’s a more prominent element of the film than the other nominees… In other news, John Williams has been nominated for this award 47 times. But he’s still going to lose tonight.
  • Best Song: “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets. Only two nominees! And I actually like one of the songs! And it’s the song that will win! (even though the song doesn’t make much sense – does anyone really ever doubt if either of the participants is a man or a muppet? But hell, it’s catchy and fun and it’s the Muppets, so there.)
  • Best Animated Film: Rango. A pretty sparse field this year, though the inclusion of two European features is interesting. I doubt they’ll find any traction though. Rango seems to be the favorite. Usually I just go with the Pixar movie, but Cars 2 didn’t even manage a nomination this year. I didn’t love that movie, but is it really worse than Puss in Boots?
  • Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation. This is always a wildcard category, as even films with critical praise often get beat out by some film that hasn’t even come out in the US yet. Or something. But A Separation has a lot of praise going for it, so here it is. Plus, it’s Iranian, and Hollywood is tolerant and insert joke about Hollywood totally not being a Zionist conspiracy or something.
  • Best Documentary: Undefeated. I have no fucking clue. I picked this one because it’s got some Weinstein buzz behind it or something. But any of the other nominees could take it (the only category where I haven’t seen any of the nominees, nor have I heard of a few of them)…

So there’s my picks. Check back later tonight to see how I did!

Update 7:40 pm: Ok, just settling in now, making final preparations etc… Alex from Batrock has posted his guided tour of the nominees and in previous years, he’s also at least posted a recap, so check it out. “I’m calling for an immediate moratorium on Bullock and all Bullock related products.” Yes.

Update 7:54 pm: Every year, I tune in a little early and then immediately tune out of the inane Red Carpet pre-ceremony. This stuff is just mind-numbing and I can’t take it. This will either force me to start drinking early, or… Holy shit, what the hell is going on with Zach Galifianakis’ facial hair? He looks a little like Stephen Root. Not that that is a bad thing, cause Stephen Root is awesome, but Galifianakis’s quasi-beard is just bizarre. (Expect updates to start in full force at 8:30)

Update 8:04 pm: Uh oh, it looks like the porno stache is going to be a trend this year. Bradley Cooper is sporting one. Makes him look like a child molester.

Update 8:06 pm: I aspire to someday be one of the people who stand by the red carpet and just scream as loud as I can whilst in the general vicinity of C list celebrities. I’m nothing if not ambitious.

Update 8:09 pm: Stella Artois commercial basically confirms that they spend all their time making really fancy glassware and no time on the crappy beer.

Update 8:17 pm: I usually feature other blogs that are liveblogging, but no one does that anymore, so I’ll just feature some tweets: “Shitty joke, smug smirk, everyone laughs = George Clooney’s life.”

Update 8:25 pm: In anticipation of some sort of musical number at the beginning of the ceremony, I’ve cracked open my first beer: Firestone Walker Walker’s Reserve Porter. (Natalie Portman’s answer to how she felt last year when she was nominated: “I was in a daze” in other words, she was totally baked)

Update 8:29 pm: This beer is really solid, though not really in my favorite style. Lots of roasted coffee flavors, but enough other notes to make up for it, and really easy to drink. Perfect. Ok, let’s get this party started.

Update 8:37 pm: So this youtube video (cause seriously, that’s what it’s like) they did at the beginning of the ceremony was ok, but Billy Crystal as TinTin is the creepiest thing ever.

Update 8:40 pm: Oh God, a musical number. And it’s horrible. Drink.

Update 8:41 pm: Jonah Hill fat joke. I want to say that I was surprised that Crystal took the risk… but it was a really lame, unfunny joke. If you’re going to insult someone, go whole hog. Anyway, musical number is over, and now I remember why Billy Crystal doesn’t have a career anymore.

Update 8:44 pm: Cinematography kicks things off and goes to Hugo, and I’m 0 for 1. Nice. Hahah, even the guy who won can’t believe they put Cinematography first.

Update 8:46 pm: So Hugo wins another technical award and boy these two are weird and can’t talk. Is this a harbinger of things to come, or a consolation prize for Hugo?

Update 8:48 pm: James Gunn: “Martin Scorsese deserves a best actor nod for laughing at Billy Crystal’s song.” ALso, apparently the guy who won for Cinematography was Quentin Tarantino’s “coke wizard

Update 8:52 pm: Montage! Over/under this year is 8. This is number 1. Place your bets!

Update 8:59 pm: Costume Design goes to The Artist and I’m 1 for 2. This guy spent all morning practicing this speech. Makeup goes to The Iron Lady? I guess they think that portraying someone on the opposite end of the political spectrum takes a shitload of makeup. Nice speeches. Ok, I’m 1 for 3. Meanwhile, on twitter, everyone is noting that the Montages are like YouTube supercuts. Heh.

Update 9:01 pm: Montage #2! Kinda? Its a montage of interviews, but I like it better than the supercuts.

Update 9:07 pm: Sandra Bullock, in German/Chinese: “Death to America!” Best Foreign Language film goes to A Separation, and I’m 2 for 4. I will see this movie someday. Maybe this guy will make a political statement. And yep, here we go. War bad!

Update 9:14 pm: Jessica Chastain was in every movie last year, right? Best supporting actress goes to Octavia Spencer for The Help. I’m 3 for 5, and yes, racism bad! Ohhh, she’s gonna cry! Cry, crybaby, cry! Seriously, always nice to see genuine emotion in a speech, but she’s gonna get ushered offstage soon, but she didn’t and she’s actually asking them to wrap up because she knows she’s freaking out. Awesome.

Update 9:17pm: Hmm: “What does Spielberg, Voice of All Jews, think of this Iranian gentleman? #Oscars” and this: “A SEPARATION is the best film if the year, period. Well deserved win. I hope Iran doesn’t kill the director.” and finally: “Someone, I hope, transcribed that speech. I’m pretty sure he said ‘stay away from our enriched uranium.'”

Update 9:24pm: Bob Balaban! Hey, at least it’s not a montage. Unfortunately, we’ve seen this a hundred times before. Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper’s Mustache present editing, which goes to: The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo? Ok, I guess. I’m 3 for 6 now. And they weren’t expecting this either. Heh, some of the team didn’t even bother showing up, and these guys are so flustered that they’re just leaving.

Update 9:29pm: Hugo picks up another technical award. Hmm. Awesome “Hugo, no you go” pun. Also, I would love to be able to call him Marty. These guys are pretty good. Wait, sound mixing and sound editing are separate awards? I smell a way to make this ceremony shorter. And Hugo wins this other award too. Martin Scorsese is apparently dating a 9 year old girl.

Update 9:31 pm: Stay tuned for a memorable performance from Circ du Solei. Can it be a “memorable performance” before it actually happens? Is that how memory works now? Damn.

Update 9:37 pm: The Muppets! Well, at least they put some sort of live performance in front of this Montage. Does that count as a montage? I’ll say yes, which brings us to…3? And this is actually pretty good, though not sure how relevant it is. Jesus, look at that guy. Is he human? Or is he just going to have really bad back problems for the rest of this life?

Update 9:45 pm: Man, these Crystal jokes are reallly hoary. This Robert Downey Jr and Paltrow bit is really stupid. He should have just walked out in the Iron Man costume. Best Documentary goes to Undefeated. Holy crap, I was right, bringing my total to 4 for 7. Nice speech for a bunch of thank yous. Ohhh, did he just curse? Sound cut out. And had to believe, but these are the first people to be played off… and damn, they cut off the microphone, hehe. Chris Rock is rockin a mini-afro, reminding me of that Good Hair documentary he did…

Update 9:50 pm: Chris Rock is pretty funny, best animated movie goes to Rango and I’m 5 for 8.

Update 9:57 pm: Emma Stone and Ben Stiller, weird pairing. And I never knew she was so tall. Holy shit, she’s totally trashed. Or high. Probably both. Visual Effects goes to Hugo, and shit, I’m 4 for 8, and I’m still not sure what this means for Hugo. Will it be a big sweep, or all these technical awards a consolation prize. Guy just said that winning an Oscar is really “underrated”. Hehe.

Update 10:03 pm: Wow, they didn’t use the breakdown scene from Warrior, good on the Oscars. Best supporting actor goes to Christopher Plummer and I’m 5 for 9. Oldest actor ever to win an Oscar? Huh. Totally had his speech prepared, and now, heh, he admits to rehearsing his whole life for this, classy move acknowledging the other nominees, nice.

Update 10:05 pm: Heh: “Drop and give us ten pushups, Christopher!”

Update 10:10 pm: Actually laughed at a Billy Crystal joke here. Twice. Tyler Perry joke and Nick Nolte joke… and oh shit, the President of the Academy! Run! Go! Get to the Choppa! Save yourself!

Update 10:15 pm: Crystal’s crack about the President of the Academy riling up the audience got a giggle from me. Best Original Score goes to the Artist, and I’m 6 for 10. Accents are funny. Anyone else bothered by the weird, tinny audio feedback thing that’s going on with the sound? What the fuck is this guy going on about? He sounds French.

Update 10:19 pm: Will Ferrell is always a highlight, and Zach’s weird facial hair is a fine addition. It’s funny, this is the first time in years when I wouldn’t mind seeing a live performance of the songs (especially since there’s only two, and one of them is from the Muppets, which would be awesome). And yeah, best song goes to The Muppets, duh. I’m 7 for 11, and this dude was in Flight of the Concords? Heh. Nice speech.

Update 10:21 pm: Beer numero dos: homebrewed Simcoe IPA. Just bottled it last week, and it’s still a little light on the carbonation, though there’s enough here to make it drinkable. Another week or two and it will be perfect. Huge citrus hop character here, really nice, but will benefit from some additional time.

Update 10:24 pm: Heh: I’m behind on Oscars but I’d be remiss if I didn’t express my happiness about hearing the Meet Joe Black theme in this first montage.

Update 10:28 pm: God, the sound at the Oscars is horrible. Also, I like how this is the one night out of the year that Hollywood pretends that writers are important. Best Adapted Screenplay goes to The Descendents, and I’m 8 for 12. Holy shit, is that Dean Pelton? Posing? Nice!

Update 10:31 pm: And best original screenplay goes to Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris… and he’s not there? WTF? I’m 9 for 13. Nice interview montage. Again. Herzog, Overboard, well done. Oh great, the short film awards are next.

Update 10:42 pm: And so we enter the portion of the show that no one cares about: technical awards and short films. Brutal. But the Bridesmaids penis talk is livening things up a bit. And the Oscar goes to… a short film no one has heard of or cares about! Funny drinking on stage. Marty is as confused as I am. And the other Oscar goes to… another short film (documentary) no one has heard of or cares about!

Update 10:45 pm: Morgan Freeman isn’t clapping. He hates Pakistanis. Or is drunk. And best animated short goes to… another short film no one has heard of or cares about! Yeah!

Update 10:47 pm: Who is this guy kidding with that hat? Let’s get back to some real awards.

Update 10:54 pm: Ohh, best director award. But we haven’t done the best actor/actress yet? Huh. I wonder how they really determine what order to do these awards in. Anyway, the oscar goes to haha, Michael Douglas can’t pronounce his name either, for The Artist. He forgot his speech, and he’s just thanking everyone he can think of. I’m 10 for 14. He just thanked the dog from the movie. Before the financer.

Update 10:59 pm: What the hell are the Governor’s Awards? Are these like the Lifetime Achievement Awards? Honorary Oscars, apparently. Yeah, so as much as I like guys who do makeup and James Earl Jones and even Oprah, this is totally unnecessary.

Update 11:02 pm: Beer #3, my homebrewed stout. I wasn’t really planning on drinking these tonight, but it seems all the beer in my fridge is high ABV and I’d like to, you know, work tomorrow.

Update 11:03 pm: Yay dead people!

Update 11:04 pm: I think that, instead of What a Wonderful World, the song for the dead people montage should be Queen’s Who Wants to Live Forever. You know, like Highlander does it.

Update 11:07 pm: Oh, and that afro is amazingly awesome.

Update 11:10 pm: I should have counted these interview montages as actual montages, but whatever. In other news: “It would be cool in the In Memoriam segment if they could tell us which people were in Hell.”

Update 11:20 pm: Natalie Portman arrives, and finally we get to some more big awards. It would seem so appropriate for Natalie Portman to present best actor to Gary Oldman, but it’s probably not to be… Best Actor goes to Jean Dujardin. I’m 10 for 15. Jean speaks pretty good English, but he still has a funny accent. He seems very excited and good for him.

Update 11:32 pm: Mama mia! Colin Firth is pretty likeable, love his anecdote about Michele Williams… And Best Actress goes to Meryl Streep! I’m 10 for 16, and it’s hard to argue with her win, but, you know, racism. Or not, whatever. And in fairness, it’s been like 30 years. Nice speech though, acknowledging the “her, again?” side, then completely dismissing it, as she should.

Update 11:35 pm: Hahah: “And, of course, Rooney Mara. She showed bush.” Also: Horse is shitting himself waiting for Best Horse.

Update 11:38 pm: And Best Picture goes to The Artist, and I’m 11 for 17. No surprise here, holy crap, look at all those people on stage. Who are all these people? What is this guy talking about? Who is he? Ah, he’s the producer, and he, too, does not know how to pronounce Hazanavicius.

Update 11:42 pm: Well, 11 for 17 works out to 65% or so, which is actually pretty low for me. Yet the show was still not all that exciting. Whatevs. It’s been real folks, I’m going to bed. Maybe one more update tomorrow when I realize that I counted wrong.

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone is having a great holiday, and here are a few links that I put together in 5 minutes:

That’s all for now…

Link Dump

Time is short, so just a few links to things I’ve liked on the internets lately:

  • Victorians Smiling – Most old-timey pictures I’ve seen have featured folks with scowls on their faces, but these victorian pictures feature people who are smiling. I particularly like the last sequence of photos.
  • Lord of the Tweets – John Scalzi recently watched the Lord of the Rings movies and live-tweeted his thoughts. Some are very amusing…
  • The Seven Deadly Sins of Star Wars – Clever. Kottke adds his 7 most egregious changes to the original trilogy (i.e. the greedo shot first complaints), but he leaves out the most recent round of tomfoolery (i.e. “No. Nooooooo…”)
  • What the NFL Won’t Show You – I don’t watch a lot of football, but I found this article interesting, as it pertains to a view of the field that consumers don’t actually have access to, but which would be the most clear in illustrating what’s happening in the game and how it works. (via Kottke)
  • Overheard in DC: Bike Cops – The bike cop one is good, but my favorite is this one:

    Male and female New Jersey Devils fans at the Caps game Saturday night:

    Guy: “That’s icing.”

    Girl: “Icing? Cupcakes!”

    Heh. Brilliant.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for some Holiday horror on Sunday!

Link Dump and Other Stuff

I’ll be travelling this week, so there probably won’t be an entry on Wednesday. But! Next week marks the start of the Six Weeks of Halloween, so lots of good stuff coming… For now though, enjoy some links:

  • Modern Warfare 2 Player Attempting To Reach Rank 70 Without Killing Anyone: Sometimes, when looking at the video game landscape, it’s easy to see a lot of juvenile power fantasies and become embarrassed by that. For example, games that feature shooting as a primary mechanic seem to be rather dominant (at least, among the big budget stuff). However, unlike passive forms of entertainment (TV, Movies, Books, etc…), games can allow for creativity on the consumer end of things. This means that even a relatively juvenile exercise like Modern Warfare 2 can become something more interesting… but only if you work for it. For example:

    In two hours of playing, Glen has reached rank 5 without taking a life. Using pacifist means to earn points, Glen estimates it will take him roughly two months to be the first player to reach rank 70 with zero kills.

    Apparently, he’s up to level 21…

  • Fermat’s Last Theorum: Engaging 45 minute documentary about the man who solved Fermat’s Last Theorum. As Kottke notes: ‘The film is not really about math; it’s about all of those movie trailer cliches — “one man!”, “finds the truth!”, “fights the odds!”, etc. — except that this is actually true and poignant.’
  • Danish Championships in Rabbit Hopping: I don’t think my brain works anymore. This can’t be what I think it is. Can it? I need to run some diagnostics. Impressive bunnies though.
  • How to Make Luke’s Lightsaber: Ridiculously thorough instructions for creating your very own lightsaber.
  • Hollywood Producer Fight!: James Cameron rips on Piranha 3D and that illustrious film’s producer overreacts:

    What it comes down to, Jim, is – that like most things in life – size doesn’t really matter. Not everyone has the advantage of having endless amounts of money to play in their sandbox and to take ten years using other people’s money to make and market a film….like you do. Why can’t you just count your blessings? Why do you have to drop Marty Scorsese’s or Tim Burton’s names, both gentlemen who I have personally worked with, and who have enjoyed great joy and success with movies of all genres and sizes well before the advent of modern 3D? Then as now, they were like kids in a candy store recognizing, far beyond your imagination, the possibilities of storytelling and originality.

    If I were a producer, my response would have been something along the lines of: “Clearly Jim didn’t see the underwater ballet scene. Also, Avatar sucked.”

That is all for now. Again, probably no post on Wednesday (maybe something on Thursday when I get back). Also, first week of 6WH will kick off with three Italian giallo films. See you then…

Anathem Plot Update

Lev Grossman, geek blogger for Time magazine, reports on the plot of Neal Stephenson’s new novel, Anathem:

Since childhood, Raz has lived behind the walls of a 3,400-year-old monastery, a sanctuary for scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians—sealed off from the illiterate, irrational, unpredictable “saecular” world that is plagued by recurring cycles of booms and busts, world wars and climate change. Until the day that a higher power, driven by fear, decides that only these cloistered scholars have the abilities to avert an impending catastrophe. And, one by one, Raz and his cohorts are summoned forth without warning into the Unknown.

Interesting. No mention of other planets or aliens (as originally rumored, though the above doesn’t rule that out either), but a promising plot, I guess. [via io9]

Upgradation

I’m going to attempt to upgrade to the new Movable Type (my blogging software) today, so things are liable to get a bit dicey around here. Or not, but let’s not jinx it. It’s the “release candidate” version of the software, meaning that it’s out of beta, but not quite the final release. In other words, it’s still in beta, but it seems stable enough that I’m going to give it a try. See you on the other side (and soon, I hope).

Update: Upgrade complete. Sorta. Some of my template tags appear to be throwing errors. If you’re reading this, then I’ve figured it out, but it’s annoying that this worked with MT3.3 and is broken now.

Again Update: It appears that the comments popup is no longer supported. Indeed, they deprecated its use a long time ago, and it’s been acting funky ever since, so now when you click on “comments” you go to the individual post page (anchored down to the comments section). To be honest, I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but I’ve never gotten around to it. Anyways, I’m still putzing around with the new system. Lots of interface changes make everything seem strange again, but I’m not sure if they’re for the better or not.

Yet Another Update: Lots of breakage in the archives. I still have to switch over the comments to the new style links, and it seems that MT4 and Opera don’t play well together when it comes to the template editor, as I managed to screw up this page (should be fixed now) and some other templates (still working on them). There are a bunch of annoying bugs that only seem to affect Opera, and I’m finding it frustrating.

One More Update: All the archives should be pretty much fixed, but there might still be some issues here or there that I’m not aware of yet.

Travelling

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be travelling a lot. This week, I’ll be attending UPA 2007 in Austin, TX. Next week, I’ll be attending another conference in Boston (insert obligatory Road Trip joke here). I’ll have internet access, so I’ll be around, but the regularly scheduled Wednesday posts may suffer.

Anyway, in anticipation of Robot Chicken’s Star Wars special, here’s one of their previous episodes. Hilarious.

This one’s pretty good too.