keeping up with the kawamuras

Footnote (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

Footnote (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
2/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (Joseph Cedar).
Watched June 1, 2013.

Footnote is an interesting Israeli film full of comedy and family drama.  The story of the film is fairly boring, but perhaps that is what makes it so good.  Despite the fact that it is a foreign film, the story is so every-man and ordinary that the circumstances, both comical and heart wrenching are relatable for even yours truly.

It was not my favourite film, but it borrowed techniques of humor and story telling from some of my most beloved styles that I appreciated it for what it was.  The wonderful camera work communicates the extensive family drama.  There is even  an arch nemesis.

It is the story of a father and his son, Eliezar and Uriel Shkolnik who are both scholars in the same field.  Uriel has been significantly more successful than his father, whose life’s work was stolen from him and published directly before Eliezar was set to release his Talmudic Studies work.  As such, his only published acknowledgement is in the footnote of another noteworthy scholar’s book.  Eliezar has studied the same thing his entire life, and although he has been nominated every year to receive the Israel Prize, he never receives it.  In turn, he is very critical of his son’s work, which is much more philosophical and less grounded in fact, as he believes.  Despite this, Uriel has been exceedingly successful in his career.

The rest of the plot I will leave for you to discover.  The characters are very interesting.  Uriel always feels as if he has to overcome his father’s poor reputation in the scholarly community, while Eliezar  believes that he himself is one of the most knowledgeable scholars.  He will publicly criticize his own son, despite his own failings.  The marriages and father-son relationships are strained and cyclical.

Yes, I did say that there is a comedic element to this film.  It is constantly teetering between character implosion and circumstantial humor that makes it a somewhat stressful viewing experience.

The film is beautiful, the acting is wonderful, and the characters are deeply complex.  It is the story that I found as slow as molasses.  I believe that Footnote is worth one viewing, but after that I would rather spend my hours on something else.

If you generally enjoy foreign films and don’t mind a slower pace, this is something that I would recommend for you.  Otherwise, I would recommend viewing something else.

(WARNING: Trailer contains major spoilers!)

Comic Con!

[This post originally went live on July 23, 2013 at 12:14 pm.]

Long time no see, Oscarites!  If you’re curious what is going on in my life and why there have been some lulls in reviews, my husband and I are moving!  We have a family vlog channel on YouTube where you can check out all the happenings.  Once we are all settled in our new place, I will be taking a serious look at my schedule and will figure out how to make time for this amazing project that I began over a year ago.  I miss my Oscar flicks!

In the mean time, Kurodo and I were gifted a couple passes to this year’s San Diego Comic Con by a family friend.  A blog post with photos will be up shortly, but here is the video of our experience.  Enjoy!

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012) Review | Jamie Daily

The Pirates!  Band of Misfits (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
1/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film (Peter Lord).
Watched March 14, 2013.


The Pirates! Band of Misfits is like a bad Saturday cartoon, only with much better animation.


I couldn’t sit still through the film and kept my eye on the clock, which is worse than watching water boil because the film was an hour and a half long.  When your favourite part of the film is the end credits, there is something significantly wrong with the story.


The Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Jackman) has been trying for years to win the Pirate of the Year award, and has lost every time.  It’s not hard to see why when his competitors fly in on waves of booty with excessive Pirate pizzaz.  Although his crew of misfits–albinos and “surprisingly curvaceous” pirates among them–stand behind him wholeheartedly, their luck never seems to come, until they ironically discover Charles Darwin out at sea.  He excitedly points out that their parrot is actually an “extinct” Dodo bird and talks them into going to London to win an award for scientific discovery.  Although Queen Victoria is a well known pirate hater, The Pirate Captain can’t see reason and thus makes the trip to London, crew in tow.  All is well and good, with good laughs and all, until around this portion of the film, where everything seems to get confused and I got lost among the plot points that began sprouting out of nowhere.


The plot kept going and going–circling back in on itself and exploring areas that had already been revealed and discussed.  The bad guy keeps resurfacing, the good guy somehow always fails miserably until the opportune moment, and you’re never quite sure how many movies you are watching–be it one or seven.  By the end of this film, I wanted to rip my eyeballs out… or run around the block a couple times to get my impatience out.  While the claymation was great, the redeeming qualities were few and the film as a whole was absolutely terrible.  Despite all of this, I ended up watching almost the entire end credit sequence because it tied all of the plot lines together in minute shorts that were more funny than the rest of the movie put together.


There were hilarious supporting characters voiced by even more amazing actors.  The Aardmans have such an incredible reputation for producing some amazing claymation stop-animation films with hilarious stories and wonderful charters, but unfortunately I found much to be desired in this film and am not surprised that the film fell short of an Academy win.


Personally, I would not recommend this film.  However, your kids might like it, and I have read several reviews in which adults quite enjoyed the film as well.  Perhaps my patience with meandering stories has been frayed lately, but I doubt I will ever watch The Pirates! Band of Misfits again.


Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
2/5 Stars
Nominated for 3 awards.
Nominated for Best Sound Editing (Ethan Van der RynErik Aadahl), Best Sound Mixing (Greg P. RussellJeffrey J. HaboushPeter J. Devlin), and Best Visual Effects (Scott Farrar, Scott BenzaMatthew E. Butler, John Frazier).
Watched March 11, 2013.


“‘Dark of the Moon’ is one of the few recent 3-D movies that justify the upcharge.  Mr. Bay clearly enjoys playing with the format, which is also to say that he takes it seriously.” (NY Times)


Unfortunately, I did not see Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 3-D.  I saw it in 2-D, once in theaters and once in my home.  Both times I came to the same conclusion–the third film in the series is leaps and bounds better than the second, but despite its amazing effects and sound, it cannot touch the first, and nor will any of the three ever be on my Top 10 list.


The cast in this film is pretty stacked.  From the reoccurring Shia LeBeouf as Sam Witwicky (who is always the same, but I love him) and the hilarious John Turturro as Simmons, to the new Patrick Dempsey (Dylan), John Malkovich (Bruce Brazos), and Ken Jeong (Jerry Wang).  Megan Fox was fired for her mouth and the new girlfriend is Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly.  Like Fox, she’s not a very good actress, but Michael Bay tends to care more about aesthetics than talent in the Transformers flicks.


Once again, the Autobots must save the world from the Deceptecons, but this time they almost flatten the whole city of Chicago.  The plot is simple, but it meanders while trying to get from point A to point B.  Sam is struggling to find a job out of college and is bitter that he can’t fight alongside the Autobots.  Inevitably, after something Decepticon inspired goes down at his new office, he weasels his way back into the middle of the fight and ends up rallying everyone together to save the day by the end.


Carly only serves the purpose of looking good and being a distraction for Sam, both in the fight and in normal life.  His parents make an appearance (this time in a Winnebago and matching track suits), the incredible Alan Tudyk has a small role as Dutch, and the list goes on.  Despite the small story, the experienced actors bring life and humor to their roles and I enjoyed them individually.


The special effects combined with the sound were beyond breathtaking.  Few instances appeared contrived, even when a whole building was collapsing on its side and being eaten by a Decepticon.  President Obama even makes a brief appearance (and by an appearance I mean that he was completely animated).  Subtleties are not Bay’s directorial strong point, but his attention to effect details is paramount to the success of his vision.  Despite this achievement, the story and many times the acting do not measure up to the aesthetic feast on screen.


I know a few people who absolutely swear by the Transformers franchise and would watch the films night and day if they could.  If you are one of these people, I don’t need to suggest that you see the film because you probably already have it memorized.  If you enjoy amazing special effects, or can appreciate a good sound mixing, this could be the meal you have been waiting for.  If story is more your thing, I would look elsewhere, unless you are planning on spending the next two and a half hours turning your brain to mush.