Tangled

I loved Tangled. Possibly more than what is appropriate for a 20-year-old guy. It’s good old Disney, with music and magic.It doesn’t have the double layer, with something for the adults as well as the kids, like Pixar does so well, but that’s okay. It wouldn’t work for everyone. I think the comedy in this, though easy and child-orientated, will keep parents entertained as well.

It’s the most expensive animated movie ever, and it looks it. I think it was money well spent (I hope they make it back). It looks amazing, and the use of 3D is very good. The scene everyone will talk about is the lantern scene, just because of how incredible it looks, and all the kids in the cinema reaching out to touch the floating lights. With so many 3D movies out these days, you’d think they’d learn by now that you can’t touch things in 3D. Baby Rapunzel (was she born with hair that already past her shoulders?) is so adorable. She is serious competition for Agnes from Despicable Me, and Bonnie from Toy Story 3, in terms of animated cuteness.

I’m sure the children Disney is aiming Tangled at won’t notice or even care, but the plot has some holes in it. Well, not holes, but smudgy lines. Why would Mother Gothel tell Rapunzel when her real birthday is (or her real name even), especially since she seems so hesitant to celebrate it? And does she come to love Rapunzel over the years? It certainly doesn’t seem so. It also seems awfully convenient that she would leave straight away for a three-day journey for her birthday present, especially after a big argument. The other major issue is: if the lost princess’ name was Rapunzel, and she would be about the same age as this crazy girl with ridiculously long hair, why doesn’t it occur to Flynn/Eugene that she could be her? Or the horse with the human brain? Or to anyone of the dancing people in the town that she looks exactly like the baby in the mosaic? Also, [SPOILER ALERT] how do her parents recognize her with brown hair? Mother Gothel was the one who discovered that cutting it makes it brown right before kidnapping her… Or did they just see it in her eyes? (Yes, that’s me being cynically sarcastic.) [SPOILER OVER]

That’s quite a long paragraph of plotline oddities. But really they don’t matter. The film still works, and is a treat to watch. The music is also not bad, but I’ve never been a fan of Disney songs, they just never do anything for me. I imagine people who want to will like them. I’m glad Tangled came out in 2011 here in the UK, so I can safely say it may be my favorite animated film this year. 


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The 83rd Academy Awards Nominations

The nominations for this year’s Oscars were announced this morning, and in general I think they’re alright. No major surprises. The biggest shock being no Best Director for Christopher Nolan, and no Best Actor for Ryan Gosling, especially Michelle Williams got Best Actress for Blue Valentine.

Here are my thoughts, predictions and whom I’m rooting for. I don’t feel like I know enough to comment on the technical awards so its just the main ones, i.e. the ones more people care about.

Actor In A Leading Role

It has to be Colin Firth this time, for The King’s Speech. Jeff Bridges won last year, though he is very good in True Grit, but I don’t think he will get it second year in a row. Jesse Eisenberg was good, but he should be happy with a nominations. He still has years and years to win an Oscar.

Actor In A Supporting Role

It’s good to see Jeremy Renner nominated for The Town, but I think Christian Bale should and probably will get it for The Fighter. Otherwise Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech. I haven’t seen Winter’s Bone, so can’t really comment on John Hawkes, but should Mark Ruffalo really be there? Isn’t he just there because The Kids Are All Right is up for a lot of other things?

Actress In A Leading Role

I’m so happy Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole) and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine) are there. I think Natalie Portman has a much better chance of winning for Black Swan, but I think all three would deserve the win.

Actress In A Supporting Role

Not that the poor thing would stand a chance of winning Best Actress in A Leading Role, but Hailee Steinfeld’s nomination for True Grit is truly deserved. But she won’t win this either. A nomination at such a young age is pretty good. After winning at the Globes, I’d say Melissa Leo has a pretty good chance, though if it had to go to The Fighter, I’d give it to Amy Adams. Less crazy doesn’t mean lesser acting. But of course, Helena Bonham Carter should get it.

Animated Feature Film

The Illusionist (though I haven’t seen it) and How To Train Your Dragon don’t stand a chance against Toy Story 3. Unless TS3 will win Best Picture, and voters decide to give either one of them a chance, but I don’t see that happening.

Directing

Where is Christopher Nolan?? The five who are nominated are definitely good, but I would have liked to see Nolan there. And Danny Boyle, but I’m less upset about that. Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan would be a great win, though it won’t happen. The Coen Brothers also probably won’t happen because True Grit is a remake. So, my bet is David Fincher.

Music (Original Score)

I think Daft Punk should have been on there for Tron: Legacy. I don’t remember How To Train Your Dragon having that great a score, but its not exactly the kind of film they’d put in there just because (The Kids Are All Right nominations for example). All the other four are all great, but if I had to pick Hans Zimmer for Inception. Or Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network.

Music (Original Song)

I thought there would be a Burlesque song thrown in but I am so glad there isn’t. I have only heard If I Rise (127 Hours) and We Belong Together (Toy Story 3), so I have to go with Toy Story 3. Even though I don’t think I remember the song. That’s probably not the right reason to pick it, but I bet Academy members do the same sometimes.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

I finally understand why Toy Story 3 counts as an Adapted Screenplay, and I guess it makes sense. The idea of adapted is that is it based on previous material, not literally adapted from something. And the idea is based on the previous films, so therefore not an original screenplay. But I’m glad it’s there. If not, True Grit. I think the Coen Brothers had a great screenplay, but I have no idea how it compares to the original.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

If they credit a nomination to someone else for the story, is the screenplay still technically original? I’m not so sure The Fighter should be there. I really want Inception to win, though The Fighter or The King’s Speech probably has a better chance.

Best Picture

Having ten Best Picture nominations isn’t quite as exciting as it was last year. Still, it means more films have a chance, though the five that you would think wouldn’t have gotten nominated if the nominations list was still limited to five, still don’t have a chance. I think those would be: The Kids Are All Right, Inception, 127 Hours, Winters Bone, and either Black Swan or Toy Story 3. But really, I want Black Swan or Toy Story 3 or Inception to win. The obvious and most likely choices areThe Social Network and The King’s Speech, both excellent films, but it’s just too obvious. After last year’s disappointment (yes I didn’t want The Hurt Locker to win), a nice surprise would be very welcome this year.

Review: The Fighter

There have been a lot of true stories recently – all uplifting tales of overcoming obstacles and whatnot. And who doesn’t love a true story that ends up being a feel good movie. As it turns out, I have a threshold for how feel good those movies can be. Or The Fighter just took it too far.

(By the way, this review has major spoilers. Don’t read more if you would rather not know the end.)

Up till, like the last five minutes of the film, I had come to terms with everything I thought was wrong with it, and even though I knew it couldn’t go any other way. When we get the happy ending (that feels so very Hollywood) everything just came tumbling down. I love a happy ending, honestly.  Even more so in a true story, if I’m shown that the character(s) deserve it. But did he really? I mean, I’m sure the real Micky Ward deserved his wins and everything. I have nothing against the real man. But the movie feels a little stretched. Not in the lying kind of way, but it felt like they were making the story bigger than it was to make it a Hollywood movie. Either that or David O. Russell did something horribly wrong. And what didn’t help were the prologue/epilogue interview bits. It was all a bit like they were trying too hard.

You know what I also hate? When you can feel the presence of the real people the film is about on set. You know they were part of the making and it takes something away. Biopics should really be made posthumously.

The two main boxing matches were shot like they were actually being filmed for TV, with the lower resolution and everything. I was very skeptical in the first match over this. It is such a noticeable difference; it takes you out of the story for a moment. Thankfully, you can get back into it. In fact, second time it happens, after my initial disapproving headshake, I found I was really into it, and for the slightest moment even forgot I wasn’t watching an actual match. But then he wins and it all goes downhill from there. Except for my momentary lapse of judgment, it actually feels a little patronizing, and almost backwards in terms of cinematic technological advancements.

It is a lot easier to go on and on about what I disliked, and there are significant things, but the good parts, mainly the acting, partially make up for all the faults. All four of the main actors, Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams were brilliant, and the performances definitely deserve all the awards recognition and the praise they’re getting. I would’ve thought Amy Adams would get the Globe over Melissa Leo, but I guess everyone just assumes the crazier the role required more skill, which I don’t think is necessarily true.

Knowing the family was involved in the making of the film, or even knew it was being made is odd, considering how bad the sisters and the mother and Dicky come across. Still, the crazy family doesn’t really valid how feel-good the movie tries to be at the end, and it left me feeling a little irritated. It’s a shame, because it has really good parts, and the performances are excellent. Somehow the overall product just didn’t work for me. 

Rabbit Hole Review

I didn’t know Rabbit Hole was an adaptation, until the opening credits. I tend to bequite wary of films that areadaptations of plays. The static feeling they have bothers me a little, not enough to dislike a film, but it’s always there. I have nothing against plays – I quite enjoy them.However most scripts written for the stage rarely lose the theatre feeling on screen. So when I saw in the opening credits that it was based on a play, I was like ‘Ohh.’

For a film that had me suddenly very unexcited in the opening minutes, Rabbit was wonderful. I don’t know how much he changed, but playwright David Lindsay-Abaire has transformed his play for the screen very well, and it almost lacks that feeling. The small part it still has of that stage-play sense actually works well for the understated mood John Cameron Mitchell is going for (quite different from his last, Shortbus).

There are moments where the whole understated thing actually feels like an accident, because of the setting of the movie. When dealing with a couple that loses a child, the norm is to include the point when the child dies, and show the initial stages of their grief. Here, we begin 8 months into their changed lives. Most of the time you believe that they’re trying to get on with their lives, but there are moments in the beginning where it feels like they’re trying not to give away too much at one time. Its one thing to write it so things are reveal gradually, but if the viewer can feel it, that’s probably not the screenwriter’s fault.

The plot of the film is actually revealed like little plot twists, like when you find out why the neighbor is ‘just being nice’ or why they’re at group meetings, or who the teenager is Nicole Kidman is stalking. I loved that these aren’t things they dwell on, it’s almost like we are expected to know all this. The thing is, I kind of already did. I knew what the story was going in, so I knew what was up with this couple, and the group therapy and who the teenager was. If you didn’t know, maybe the whole thing wouldn’t seem so fluid. The thing I didn’t like though, was the final bit, like the epilogue. It fades out, and I thought it would end there, which I would initially dislike for its incompleteness, but then grow to appreciate, like a Raymond Carver short story (it did actually remind me of one, ‘A Small, Good Thing’). The film is like just an excerpt into their lives, giving it an actual ending makes it feel like the second half to the story.

It’s been a long time since Nicole Kidman has actually impressed me. We all know she can act, but while most great actresses often do something that makes people notice them again and again, Nicole doesn’t usually exceed expectations. Here, thankfully, she does. Its nothing to shower her with awards over, but its nice to be reminded why everything thinks she’s a good actress. Aaron Eckhart is brilliant. I haven’t seen much of his work, and never really thought much of him, but being able to have an argument (on screen) with Nicole Kidman when she’s that good, and still maintaining his screen presence is impressive stuff.

The film was beautiful and sad and honest, but I just wish they hadn’t given it the ending. I also like the title less now I know what it means. It brings focus to one particular part of the story, which was nice, but that much emphasis on it sort of takes away from the rest of the story, which is equally good. 

BAFTA Film Awards Nominations – What I Want

BAFTA has announced the nominations for 2011 Film Awards. Here is who I think or I would like to win (in bold). (Listing all the nominations is just tedious and there are loads of places you can find them. Like here: http://www.bafta.org/awards/film/2011-film-awards,1572,BA.html )


BEST FILM

It will go to The King’s Speech or The Social Network, but wouldn’t it be lovely if it went to Black Swan? Darren Aronofsky’s film is brilliant, but unfortunately I don’t see it winning the number of awards it deserves.

OUSTANDING BRITISH FILM

Surely since The King’s Speech is the only one nominated for Best Film as well, it will get it? It would definitely deserve both. 127 Hours also could win, and it would also be well deserved, seeing as its being overlooked everywhere else.

OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER

Four Lions. Its not really the obvious choice, but it was so good. Being the only film I’ve seen of the five also probably makes me a little biased in this category.

BEST DIRECTOR

Christopher Nolan – Inception or Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan. Both did so well, and The King’s Speech and The Social Network combined will probably win everything else.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

It’s a hard one. Inception or The King’s Speech. I would just really love for Inception to win stuff. Awards can be too elitist sometimes.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

I don’t really think it’s fair that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is nominated, since the screenplay would have been in Swedish. Even though it is in the wrong category (technically its an original screenplay, no?) Toy Story 3 should win. How often is an animated film screenplay good enough to get recognized?

BEST FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Unlike with the Golden Globes where I had only seen one of the five Foreign Films nominations, here I have seen four. I don’t think The Secret In Their Eyes should be part of this, surely it’s too old a film. Of Gods And Men (Des Hommes Et Des Dieux) is my pick. Its French, its about monks, and its set in Algeria. Oh and it’s a true story. What more could you want?

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Why only three nominations? Anyway, obviously it has to be Toy Story 3. Even though it should be up with Best Film as well.

BEST LEADING ACTOR

James Franco. He cut his arm off. But Colin Firth will win, ’cos he’s a Brit.

BEST LEADING ACTRESS

Where is Carey Mulligan? She’s not nominated but I’m putting it in bold anyway. She should be on that list. But Natalie Portman deserves it, even with her Golden Globe.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

He should be around for Never Let Me Go as well, and also because he isn’t going to win so I feel a little sorry, but Andrew Garfield. Yes really.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Again, with the lack of love for Never Let Me Go? Keira Knightley. They could have atleast nominated her. But really, I would have wanted Helena Bonham Carter to win. She was robbed at the Globes.

BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC

Alexandre Desplat for The King’s Speech (for a film about royalty TKS was quite un-boring, and the music certainly helped) or Hans Zimmer for Inception (who knew you could do so much with an Edith Piaf song).

I am angry at the complete snub of Never Let Me Go. Apart from a film about the Royals, how much more British can I film be? And it’s the BAFTAs! They also liked The Kids Are All Right way too much. Is this one of those “oh it’s a film about lesbians, lets all be positively discriminating” things? (I have nothing against lesbians really). Anyway they made less mistakes than the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, so lets hope the Academy can do even better. 

The 68th Golden Globe Awards Report

So the Golden Globes have happened, and I stayed up to watch it (1 am in the UK, on a bit of a time lag because those annoying people on Sky Movies Premiere kept talking). The nominations were a little surprising, as has already been discussed so much, so I’m guessing some wins might be a little as well.,

So here are the Motion Picture award categories, who I wanted to win, who won, and my thoughts. Who I wanted to win isn’t really my prediction, its more what would happen in the fantasy world inside my head. Not that the nominations would be the same but anyway…Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
What I wanted: Andrew Garfield – The Social Network
The Winner: Christian Bale – The Fighter
I have yet to see The Fighter, but from the trailer I guess it seems deserved, but I think was the predictable choice.

Best Original Song
What I wanted: Didn’t really care about any of the nominations really…
The Winner: You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me – Burlesque
Did it win because it was Cher? Or that Burlesque was the only musical? This year, this category was so unexciting to me…

Best Original Score
What I wanted: Hans Zimmer – Inception / A R Rahman – 127 Hours / Reznor & Ross – The Social Network
The Winner: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – The Social Network
Four of the five nominations were brilliant, I would have been happy with any results, as long as it wasn’t for Alice in Wonderland. But Reznor and Ross definitely deserved it, the score for The Social Network is truly brilliant.

Best Animated Film
What I wanted: Toy Story 3 / Despicable Me (not that it has a chance)
The Winner: Toy Story 3
Given that it should have been nominated as Best Feature Film as well, this was not a surprise. There was no suspense here.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical
What I wanted: Anne Hathaway – Love & Other Drugs / Emma Stone – Easy A
The Winner: Annette Bening – The Kids Are Alright
Meh, I guess that’s ok. I mean she was good… Still, I hope this doesn’t mean she’s gonna get the Oscar. That’d be too much.

Best Screenplay
What I wanted: The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)
The Winner: Aaron Sorkin – The Social Network
Awesome. It had to win.

Best Foreign Film
What I wanted: I have only seen I Am Love but I don’t want it to win.
The Winner: In A Better World (Denmark)
What can I say about a film I haven’t seen. I guess I will try and watch it at some point.

Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
What I wanted: Helena Bonham Carter – The King’s Speech / Mila Kunis – Black Swan
The Winner: Melissa Leo – The Fighter
Oh. Well, maybe she is great. Will find out when I see it.

Best Diector
What I wanted: Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan
The Winner: David Fincher – The Social Network
This is good, TSN deserves it. I think its about time David Fincher got an award, isn’t it? Though I think the same applies to Darren, but never mind.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical
What I Wanted: Jake Gyllenhaal – Love & Other Drugs (only because I haven’t seen Barney’s Version or Casino Jack)
The Winner: Paul Giammati – Barney’s Version
I haven’t seen the film… so I don’t know. But Johnny Depp and Johnny Depp definitely weren’t hard to beat…

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
What I wanted: Natalie Portman – Black Swan
The Winner: Natalie Portman – Black Swan
There was no way she could not get this. She needs the Oscar and everything else as well. So glad they got this right.

Best Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical
What I wanted: The Kids Are All Right
The Winner: The Kids Are All Right
As the only film nominated in this category worthy of a nomination, it had to be. But even still it was more a film that a nomination should have been enough for. Toy Story 3 should have been nominated in this category as well, and won.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
What I wanted: Colin Firth – The King’s Speech / Ryan Gosling – Blue Valentine
The Winner: Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
The Brits will be happy. And he deserved it, of course.

Best Motion Picture – Drama
What I wanted: Black Swan / Inception / The Social Network
The Winner: The Social Network
Kind of expected, given its already winning things, and being nominated for everything, and that it is so good. Though it would have been nice to end the (long) night with a nice surprise, at least its not a disappointment.

I have only written about the Film awards, as most of the TV ones I cared a lot less about, and have seen very little of what was nominated. However, I was very happy with Glee’s 3 wins (Best Supporting Actor – Chris Colfer, Best Supporting Actress – Jane Lynch, and Best TV Series – Comedy or Musical), and with Boardwalk Empire winning Best TV Series – Drama, as it makes me more excited to see it when they finally show it over here.

Bollywood Review: No One Killed Jessica

In the intermission of No One Killed Jessica, I read on my phone that Rani Mukherji’s character, Meera Gaity, didn’t actually exist. Having watched the first half of the film, I thought surely this wasn’t right, and so afterwards, I Google-d furiously to find out that it was indeed true. Raj Kumar Gupta has written and directed a whole film, based on true events but told through a fictional character, a character that plays a big part in the film. Is that not a bit odd?

I’m a little glad I found out that afterwards, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it wondering what else was made up. I didn’t go in expecting a documentary on the case, but I would have thought they would try to stay as true to the facts as cinematically possible, given how high profile the case was.

The film floats between being good and being Bollywood-good. In its best moments (rare as they are) it’s hard-hitting realistic drama, in an almost foreign art house way (okay, not quite). Occasionally it drops into being good, but in a Bollywood way, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not what they were going for here. There are movies, lots of them, many of which I love, that are full-on Bollywood melodramas, and it works brilliantly with the right subject. What this film really needed was the lack of that, and more like something a Vishal Bhardwaj protégé would do, or as Kiran Rao has done in Dhobi Ghat (which comes out in two weeks).

Vidya Balan is excellent, which everyone already knew. I do wonder what the actual Sabrina Lall will think, given that she’s portrayed as terribly dull and nerdy, and walks into five star hotels in a baggy striped t-shirt. One of my favorite moments of her, and the film, which I hope actually happened, was a little outburst of laughter in the courtroom. A little moment of perfection. 

Rani Mukherji was also good, and its great to see her on the big screen again, and especially not in a Yash Raj Film, and something that is different. But after a year and a half, I expected a little more. The role was kind of like Madhuri Dixit in Aaja Nachle, in that she was good, and everyone will love her, but she’s not exactly crucial to the story, her character just floats around what’s going on. That might be the me-knowing-her-character-is-fiction talking. I also felt that the role was too clichéd. If they were going to create a role for her in the movie, why go for a loud mouthed, swearing, smoking journalist? Why not something that might seem a little less like a stereotype?

Amit Trivedi’s music is awesome, and truly makes some scenes in the movie. ‘Yeh Pal’ over the candle was rather touching. I didn’t think the background score was always appropriate to the mood of the scene, but it was good nonetheless. I’d also like to mention that it’s great to see Indian movies trying something different with title credits. I quite liked the whole newspaper thing they had here, even though it didn’t look like it was too hard.

Despite my reservations over Gupta’s story-telling methods, No One Killed Jessica is a very good and brave effort in terms for an Indian film, but it also shows that Bollywood still has a way to go in certain genres. Hopefully whatever Gupta makes next he will learn from his mistakes.