Sunday, March 13, 2005

Return of the Screening Log...

As promised this Blog will be just that (plus other random tidbits) while the site gears up to return for the spring

Wednesday (03/09) through Saturday (03/12) viewings:
The Upside of Anger (in the theater)
I predicted this for two Oscar nominations a year in advance and that wasn't even wishful thinking since I hadn't seen the movie when I did. Nevertheless it's self prophetic because I will now be royally pissed if Joan Allen isn't nominated. She is magnificent. An "A" performance all the way and better than her Oscar nominated work in The Contender. As forcefully dramatic as her most famous performances PLUS terrific comedic timing. The movie as a whole is much better than Mike Binder (writer/director/co-star)'s other work would have you believe. It is a little unfocused and overreaches with some subplots that feel tentative or unsure of what they're there for... but overall it's a sharp, insightful, and even original (!) family dramedy. Allen and her four teen/20something daughters don't look like they're related but the chemistry is good and the film is reallyfunny. I could see it doing decent box office with some support from New Line in marketing. I think it will have good w.o.m. And Allen had better be nominated in January 2006. (B)

Robots (in the theater)
I was more consistently entertained that I thought I might be (I didn't like The Ice Age at all from this studio) but it's only a day later and it's already a little fuzzy in my memory. I've had enough of Robin Williams shtick to last a lifetime but otherwise the jokes were funny and the production design was also noteworthy. I only wish they hadn't thrown in stupid anachronistic stuff like a long sequence of fart jokes and the Britney Spears spoof (they're anachronistic because everything else is completely true to that robot world. But comparing noises to old men's farts doesn't make any sense when there aren't any humans in your world --duh! And spoofing on a singer might make some sense except for in the context in which it appears). Still it has it's moments. And at least one "wow" visual moment --which is always good. (C+)

La Strada(on DVD)
I had never seen this particular Fellini film ---I've still got many left to go, chief among them is La Dolce Vita. I've seen 8 1/2, Satyricon, Roma, and the first time I ever saw one was when I was 18 in college in a film history class and I still can't remember which one it was but remember I loved it. I'm thinking I Vitellonior Nights of Cabiria, maybe?) The La Strada DVD is from the Criterion Collection so I was disappointed that there were a lot of sound problems (lots of out-of-synch lip stuff) with the transfer. But it's a beautiful movie. As usual the visuals are the key thrill with Fellini. My favorite two moments were Gelsomina unexpectedly meeting an invalid boy in his room and Gesolmina watching the tightrope act: lovely nearly wordless sequences.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (on Broadway)
I'm not happy about the film-to-stage thing that's happening regularly on Broadway now. It's not that I disapprove of cross-pollination. It's just that I find people are pretty unimaginative about it. This transfer, like the Full Monty, is practically just lifted off the screen and plopped down on stage. Same plot points, plot sequence, ending, etc... only with music! Like they didn't really rethink. BUT. It is really funny and in addition to the famed comedic talents of John Lithgow, it has the comic and emotional joy of Sherie Rene Scott and Norbert Leo Butz onstage together. These two aren't that familiar to out of towners but they're awesome and they co-starred together in one of my favorite all time shows, Jason Robert Brown's off-Broadway The Last Five Years (which has quite a cult following of which I am a proud member).

I expect that this show will do at least as well as The Full Monty and being that it's funnier may last even longer. But back to the transfer. The best change is the addition of two characters (who will probably be looking at featured actor and actress nominees come May at the TONYs) and, of course, Sherie Rene Scott who is lighter than air in this show (For Broadway followers Sutton Foster's headlining of Little Women finally has some real competition for Best Actress at the TONYs). Scott's characterization is an improvement from the film version of Ms. Colgate, who is the American ingenue and principle target of the two conmen who drive the plot.


adam k. said...

Well, Joan Allen's prospects seem brighter in light of the fact that:
a) she's actually really good in the film
b) she's in a comedy and thus has a great shot at globe recognition to get the ball rolling
c) she also has "Yes" coming out this year (forgot about that)

So yeah, maybe she will be nominated. Depends how strong the competition is. But once she's in the game at globe time, it seems likely her momentum will build. So perhaps she'll be nominated after all. But I still say no on Kostner.

adam k. said...

OK, and on the subject of Joan Allen... why was she not nominated for Pleasantville? Seriously. I was just looking her up, and she apparently won the LA, Southeastern, Boston, and online critics awards, as well as the BFCA award for that role. How did they forget about her? I guess that was before the new age of BFCA precursor dominance, but still... bizarre.
I forgot how great Joan is. Even with her 3 noms, she deserved another, and probably a win somewhere along the line. She's pretty overdue.

Anonymous said...

1. Joan Allen, NBR Actress of the Year? Upside of Anger, Yes and Off The Map...? That certainly makes sense? I've been making a few NBR predix lately - and none of them will come true, i'm sure.

2. I, too, think Joan could scoop a nod and while a win may be harder due to the release date, if New Line plays the whole "four time nominee" angle (after she gets nom'd for Anger) then she could definitely be in a big shot. That's what Kate's people should have at least TRIED to play up. Costner, i doubt. But one of my own Oscar prediction keys is, if a prior nominee/winner, who has been out of it for a while, finally gives a good performance then they will reward them. See; Hilary Swank.

3. Is it wrong of me to not like "La Dolce Vita"? I mean, the whole movie is 3 hours of watching Boring, rich, monotonous Italians be boring, rich and monotonous and, well, it turned out I thought the movie was boring and monontonous (it looks rich too!). Love the fountain sequence but I thought it was a bigger part of the movie, it's tiny. it's like you'd barely even notice if you turned away for a bit.


I did like "Roma" however... or, most of it. Parts were just strange, others were magical.


Anonymous said...

Adam just posted the Pleasantville comment as I was typing and did not see it. And all I have to say it: AMEN, BROTHER (i'm not black, sorry)

Pleasantville was my #1 movie that year and Joan was my #1 Supporting Actress. I was shocked when I was looking at its IMDb awards page and saw it did not get not her nominated despite all her wins/nominations.

Man, she was just phenomonal in that movie (sorry, but I love that movie more than words can express). And it totally had a big oscar bait clip, the whole "It'll go away." "I DON'T WANT IT TO GO AWAY!!!menacingscowl!!!" bit.

It still saddens me today.


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