academy awards nomination

La Luna (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

La Luna (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
1/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Short Film–Animated (Enrico Casarosa).
Watched January 4, 2013.

La Luna was an interesting short, but not one of my favorites from Pixar.  Quite the contrary, actually.  There was very little plot or development, very little attachment to the characters, and was more of an exercise in animation than something that should have been up for an Academy Award.

 

Written and directed by Enrico Casarosa, the creator of Up, La Luna is a coming of age story about Bambino, who is being introduced to the family business for the first time.  He is rowed out to sea with his father and grandpa, who anchor themselves to the moon instead of the ocean floor.  They then climb a ladder and Bambino finds himself on the moon’s surface, where it is covered with golden, glowing stars.  His father and grandpa, who seem to always be at odds, teach him that they must sweep, rake, or mop up the stars, depending on their tool of choice.

 

This is essentially the entire plot.  There was zero depth and although the animation was gorgeous and Bambino was cute, there was nothing else to endear me to the story and therefore I am pretty unimpressed with the seven minutes I spent watching it.  The next time I want to watch a short from Pixar, I can guarantee you I will be watching something else.

 

Unless you can find this one for free (I suppose it will accompany Brave, because this is the film it was released with in theaters), I would not suggest searching it out.

 

Sources: Whoa, This Is Heavy!IMDBRotten Tomatoes411maniaPaste MagazineReeling Reviews

Advertisements

Two Arabian Knights (1927) | Jamie Daily

Two Arabian Knights (1927)
1st Academy Awards 1929
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Directing-Comedy Picture (Lewis Milestone).
Not yet released.

 

As far as I could find concerning Two Arabian Knights, it has not yet been released on DVD.  If you know any different or are aware of where I could find the film except for in the possession of Turner Classic Movies, I would greatly appreciate the information.  Apparently the film was assumed lost until the death of Howard Hughes in 2004 when a print was restored at the University of Nevada.  Here is an original review from when the film was released in 1927 by Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times:

 

“Two Arabian Knights,” the current picture at the Paramount Theatre, is a genuinely clever comedy in which the principals scorn the usual fractious tactics and rely on intelligent acting. The two actors who supply the fun in this bright piece of work are William Boyd, the hero of DeMille’s “Volga Boatman,” and Louis Wolheim, a stage and screen nortrayer of choice villainy who figured as Captain Flagg in the play, “What Price Glory.”

This production has been expertly handled by Lewis Milestone, who has performed his task with a degree of sanity that is most welcome. Who knows but what this photoplay may serve to discourage silly and boisterous efforts and encourage this same restrained type of comedy? This film is filled with splendid photographic effects that have evidently been made at no small cost. Where a number of men are needed to add to the impression of a sequence, Mr. Milestone has not stinted himself, for he shows an imposing array of “extras,” all suitably costumed.

It is only toward the end of this subject that the adventures assume a fantastic aspect. There are then scenes wherein the two heroes scale walls and invade a Bey’s palace somewhere in Turkey. In view of what has preceded this, one is, however, willing to pardon such actions, for they are not without true humor and moreover none of the incidents are dependent upon the subtitles for the fun they create.

“Two Arabian Knights” succeeds where “Tin Hats” failed. It is a yarn dealing with two American soldiers who are taken prisoner. Mr. Milestone starts his ball of fun rolling in an initial scene where Private W. Daingerfield Phelps (Mr. Boyd) and Sergeant Peter McGaffney are discovered in the slough of a shell hole. When Phelps observes that his companion is his hated top sergeant he wants to have it out with McGaffney before a shell comes along and cuts off their existence. Eventually the deep hole in the muddy earth is surrounded by Germans, and Phelps and McGaffney are captured.

There are some realistic scenes of the German prison camp in snow-covered Northern Germany, and others that are concerned with the escape of the two men, who, while they still have no particular liking for each other, don’t want to be alone. It is set forth, that their Khaki uniforms in the snow stick out like a sore thumb, and finally, after an encounter between two Turks, the Americans help themselves to the white cloaks of their victims. Subsequently the two adventurers find themselves on a train bound for Constaninople, and after reaching that city they are sent aboard a ship, on which they meet the heroine, Mirza.

A little thing like having no ready cash is settled by Phelps’s diving into the purser’s cabin and binding and gagging that officer. There is dismay on McGaffney’s countenance when Phelps reappears with a fistfull of paper money.

Through purely natural expressions on the faces of the sturdy pair the Paramount audience yesterday afternoon was thrown into a high state of glee. And by the skillful and gradual way in which Mr. Milestone unfurls his episodes, there is a distinct element of suspense.

Mr. Wolheim is capital in his portrayal of alarm, annoyance, anger, satisfaction and relief. Mr. Boyd also contributes in no small way to the gaiety of this piece. In fact although it is a comedy Mr. Boyd’s acting in this screen effort is even better than his serious work in other productions. Mary Astor is seen as Mirza and she, too, is deserving of her share of credit, and so is Ian Keith, who figures as a Turkish officer with a sly sense of humor.
TWO ARABIAN KNIGHTS, with Louis Wolheim, William Boyd, Mary Astor, Michael Vavitch, Ian Keith, DeWitt Jannings, Michael Visaroff and Boris Karloff, written by Donald McGibney, directed by Lewis Milestone; “The Barber of Seville,” with stage effects by Paul Oscard; “Moonlight,” a Bruce sconic; “Florida,” staged by Jack Partington. At the Paramount Theatre.

 

Sources: NY Timesultishare

The Shore (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

The Shore (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
1/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award, which it won.
Won Best Live Action Short (Terry George, Oorlargh George).
Watched October 19, 2012.

 

Unlike many of the critics, and the Academy itself, I was not such a fan of The Shore, particularly after seeing Raju last week.  The imagery of the film is absolutely breathtaking, but the script and acting were fairly lacking in comparison.

 

Joe (Ciarán Hinds) has been living in the States for the last twenty-five years and has not been back to Ireland since “the trouble.”  He finally brings his grown daughter back with him after his wife passes away.  Everyone is incredibly pleased to see him, but it is soon revealed that his daughter Patricia (Kerry Condon) doesn’t know much about her father’s past, like the fact that he was in a band, or that he hasn’t spoken to his best friend since he moved away.

 

The story with Joe and his daughter is so slow moving and dialogue driven that it throws off the pace of the entire short.  Condon’s acting doesn’t help the situation.  Joe tells the whole story of how he lost his best friend, Paddy, and how his secret ex-fiancé is now married to his ex-best friend.  Patricia then convinces him that he should visit Paddy and set things right.

 

My favourite aspect of the film (I prove that I am a huge romantic, yet again) was the relationship between Paddy (Conleth Hill) and his wife Mary (Maggie Cronin).  There is no doubt that they have an amazing amount of passion in their marriage.  Their chemistry is out of this world, which in turn casts a blinding light on the lack of chemistry between Hinds and Condon.

 

The Shore is a half-hearted comedy and a half-hearted drama–it never successfully scores in either direction.  The timing is off, most of the characters have little depth, and the lines are so transparent, it’s a wonder the actors could pull anything remotely Oscar worthy out of Terry George’s winning piece.

 

If your opinions tend to be more in line with the Academy when it comes to shorts, or if you would like to catch a glimpse of Ireland’s beauty (which is expertly captured, might I add), then by all means you should search out this film.  Otherwise, I would not recommend it.

 

Sources: Album ArtIMDBRotten Tomatoes411maniaOpinionlessPaste MagazineReeling ReviewsSmells Like Screen SpiritThe Independent Critic

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
1/5 Stars
Nominated for 2 awards.
Nominated for Best Picture (Scott Rudin) and Best Supporting Actor (Max Von Sydow).
Watched September 6, 2012.

 

My emotions about this film are so all over the place, I don’t think that I can write a proper review.  Originally I had refused to see it in theaters.  I worked at a Regal at the time and the fact that I wouldn’t see something that I could get into for free was odd for me.  For the purposes of this blog, I had to watch it , but I did in four sittings and cried the entire time.  9/11 is always something that hits me hard, especially on the day of.  I will be the first person to admit that I wear my emotions on my sleeve and am the type to cry at a Hallmark commercial, so my tears are no surprise, no matter what the content is.  However, I will do my best to step away from my own lens and look at the technical side of this interesting interpretation of September 11, 2001.

 

It is about the World Trade Center, and it isn’t.  It is more about life, and death, and how we deal with our humanity.  Most importantly, it is about how children deal with heartbreak and tragedy, and how they heal from it.  How do you make sense of something like a man flying a plane into a building?  You can’t, because it doesn’t make sense, which is something that Linda Schell (Sandra Bullock) says emphatically in the film.  Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) is her socially awkward son whose dad (Tom Hanks) was more than his father and more than his friend.  From the opening seconds of the film I was gripped by a stunning sequence of shots showing a man falling, not through dust and smoke and debris, but through blue sky.  Thomas Schell was a jeweler, because being a scientist wouldn’t have made the money to support his family.  He was constantly inventing adventures for his son so that he could step outside of his comfort zone and grow.  He knew how afraid Oskar is of almost everything – trains, planes, smoke, loud noises, strangers.  For a boy who claims he can’t talk to people, he spends a lot of time doing it.

 

When Thomas dies in one of the twin towers, Linda becomes barely a presence in Oskar’s life.  He spends the first year in a sort of daze, knowing that his “eight minutes” with his dad are almost up.  But then, he finds a key that he is sure his dad left for him–another adventure and another clue that he has to follow.  Most of the film follows him as he runs around New York trying to find the lock that the key unlocks, and who the key belongs to.

 

I almost feel as if the film tried too hard.  The sequences where Oskar opens up and reveals his secrets, primarily to The Renter (Max Von Sydow), the mute man renting a room from his Grandmother, are over the top and exaggerated.  The editor used a lot of jump cuts* to emphasize the chaos and disorder of Oskar’s raging mind.  Things do not flow smoothly when you are trying to make sense of your father’s death.  There is a lot of chaos implied by the editing in this film, especially when Oskar reveals his fears to the audience or is overwhelmed by emotion.  The slow quiet moments are when he is with his mother and her hurt is a constant ache that hangs over the entire scene – the ache of her loss and the ache of her son’s loss.  They both wish it had been her in the tower, not him.

 

I’m not sure about my thoughts and feelings on this film.  They are so very clouded by my emotions toward the original event that I cannot separate the two.  I gave it one star because I rarely voluntarily watch something that makes me cry so much.  I cannot make a recommendation that you do or do not watch Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  That is a choice I leave entirely up to you.

 

 

*jump cut
noun Movies .
an abrupt break in the continuity of a scene created by editing out part of a shot or scene.

noun
an immediate transition from one scene to another

 

Sources: IMDBRotten TomatoesNew York TimesLA TimesMSN EntertainmentFox NewsNPR

The Help (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

The Help (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
5/5 Stars
Nominated for 4 awards, of which it won 1.
Nominated for Best Picture (Brunson Green, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan), Best Actress (Viola Davis), and Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain).
Won Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer).
Watched August 23, 2012.

 

It is  the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi.  Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone) is just returning from college to realize that she has not only outgrown her friends-turned-housewives, but that the maids she has known and loved her whole life are not happy members of her bridge club society.  To pursue her dream as a writer in a southern belle culture that still supports stay-at-home mothers over a working woman any day, she takes a job at the local paper writing the cleaning column.  Knowing nothing about cleaning, Skeeter enlists her friend Elizabeth’s maid Aibileen (Viola Davis) to help.  From cleaning columns to civil rights stories, their relationship and project takes a drastic turn when Skeeter gets the idea to tell the story of Jackson through the point of view of “the help.”

 

This comedic drama was not something that hit me right away when I initially saw it in theaters.  However, after rewatching it I discovered the emotional depth and the sadness of the maids’ internal dialogues.  The Help has so many integral characters that you would think their stories and personalities might become lost or muddled, but Tate Taylor does an excellent job of bringing Kathryn Stockett’s book to life on screen.  Aibileen has always been a maid–she has raised 17 white children who start out so beautiful and innocent, but then grow up to be just like their racist, segregationist parents.  The Civil Rights Movement is happening all around the country, but the middle class town of Jackson is still chugging along in what other states would have considered the past.  It was a way of living that contradicted the segregation laws of the time–living in harmony with one another while being required to stay apart.

Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer), Aibileen’s best friend, knows the dangers surrounding her and her family more than most, but still stubbornly stands up for herself when abused by her employer, Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard), the steamy villain.  Hilly, who is the epitome of a segregationist, believes in living completely apart from the maids, which includes but is not limited to having designated toilets depending on one’s race.  After Minny pretends that she has used Hilly’s toilet, Hilly immediately fires her in fury.  This leads to one of my favourite pieces of the film–Minny is hired by Miss Celia Foote (Jessica Chastain), the outcast woman who the others consider white trash because she married one of “their” men.  In a display of acting so powerful, comedic, and emotionally heartbreaking, these two nominees battle time appropriate stereotypes together and build a relationship that Hilly would have found repugnant.  It is a display of love and friendship that I had not expected from The Help anywhere else than between Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny.

 

There is not a single performance in this film that should be singled out to be knocked down.  Emma Stone’s usual comedy is dialed down to show a depth and an actress so in tune with the emotions of her character that I forgot immediately that she was the diabolical star of the recent Easy A and the wonderful Hannah in Crazy, Stupid, Love.  Skeeter has an innocence and determination that she must have been born with, but then cultivated  in college, away from the influence of her home town.

 

The film deals with not only segregation, but also young love and heartbreak, a miscarriage, and cancer.  Despite Hilly’s best efforts, the love that is shown between so many characters truly makes this a wonderful piece.  More than anything, I would recommend this film to you if you have somehow overlooked it.  It is much more than what many would perceive as a “chick flick,” but is a genuinely wonderful period piece full of humor, fear, and maybe slightly over-the-top villainy.

Don’t forget to Like Jamie Daily on Facebook and Follow on Twitter for more interaction and updates!

Sources: moviefone Dream Works StudiosRotten TomatoesIMDBKids TV Movies on About.com New York TimesRope of SiliconEntertainment Weekly