Saturday, December 29, 2012

CANON OF FILM: "THE HUSTLER"

THE HUSTLER (1961)

Director:Robert Rossen
Screenplay:Sydney Carroll and Robert Rossen based on the novel by Walter S. Tevis



I once wrote a short screenplay about a pool player after soon after watching “The Hustler.” (Not a good one, unfortunately.) I'm surprised "The Hustler" doesn't get more recognition as one of the great American films; few movies I’ve seen contain such memorable dialogue and have such an emotional impact. When Fast Eddie (Oscar-nominee Paul Newman) and Charlie (Myron McCormick) walk into Ames, Eddie says the place is like a church; Charlie says it’s a morgue with tables as slabs to lay the stiffs on. With seedy backroom sports, these are the two correct comparisons. Fast Eddie plays a game with the best pool player around, Minnesota Fats. Fats, played by Jackie Gleason, earning him his only Oscar nomination, is all presence. He says only a few words, but the moment he enters the pool room, his fills the movie. After losing the game, Eddie befriends a lame, drunk girl who spends her days at the train station named Sarah (Oscar-nominee Piper Laurie). One look at her says tough life. She’s drunk most of the time, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays she goes to college, although mostly because she can’t handle being drunk seven days a week. It’s kind of odd that this film gives her character full weight and not just as a hanger-on girlfriend of the main character. It's unusual in it's depth, and actually, multiple characters given much more time than they normally would to develop. That's the thing about the best sports movies, they aren't about the outcomes, but about the characters Telling Sarha's story helps us to learn about Fast Eddie. After losing, he gets recruited by Bert Gordon, (Oscar-nominated George C. Scott) who’s a“gambler,” as he puts it, and a very successful one. He watches with a quiet determination at his investments. The same way that Fast Eddie doesn’t look like a Hustler, Gordon doesn’t look like a personification of Satan, but even his hairline looks like devil horns, hidden in plain sight by dark sunglasses. Unassuming at first, but then his presence gets bigger and bigger throughout the film. Fast Eddie finally agrees to let him be his manager, after certain manipulations. Still, Sarah, Eddie’s girl has to come along, but she’s no match for Gordon. How Gordon manipulates her is so diabolical and methodical, we don’t even realize what he’s doing until it’s way too late. I’ve already revealed too much of the storyline of the film, but I will note this that the movie isn’t about winning a final game like most sports films, or getting a girl, or any other cliché, this movie is run on emotions, and how they make us act, how they can help us and how they can backfire. Skills that we may have and the realization that they can only take us so far.

The movie was directed by Robert Rossen, a communist who at first refused to name names to HUAC, but then turned in 57 people in order to keep working. “The Hustler,” subtextually, is about his sadness of having made such a decision. To have to live life, forever knowing, you've betrayed your own principles. If Elia Kazan’s “On the Waterfront,” was an explanation of why he named names. "The Hustler" is a sad film, more than most sports films. Sad in mood, as much as outcome. The movie became a prototype for sports movies. In fact, the original Walter S. Tevis novel, was adapted on more than one occasion, after "The Hustler," most famously, with the game changed from pool to poker, in "The Cincinnati Kid". 25 years later, the sequel to "The Hustler", the Martin Scorsese directed "The Color of Money", earned Paul Newman, his only Oscar.

Gordon: …I saw you shoot the other night at Ames. You got talent.

Fast Eddie: So, I got talent, so what beat me?

Gordon: Character.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

THE 2ND ANNUAL OYL AWARDS! HONORING THE BEST IN FILM FROM THE YEAR BEFORE LAST! Presented by David Baruffi's Entertainment Views and Reviews"

(Drumroll)

ANNOUNCER
Welcome Everyone, to the 2ND ANNUAL ONE-YEAR-LATER AWARDS!

(Drumroll ends, theme music plays, Host comes out, Applause!)

HOST
Thank you, Welcome!.

(Theme music end, applause dies)

Welcome to the 2nd Annual One-Year-Later Awards, or the OYLs, as we like to call them, just to confuse people.

(Small laugh)

Yes, the OYLs, a strange name for an Award. An Award by the way, we have still not yet designed.

(Laughter)

We've worked on it a little. We thought about making Awards out of actual, oil, it didn't really pan out. A big friggin' mess, everywhere. We do give Plax though, to the winners. Not plaques, the Award, Plax, the mouthwash, you know the one with the minty smell....

(Small laughter)

I told Bruce Vilanch that joke wouldn't work, he said go with it. Alright, we're here, to honor, the best in Cinema, from last year, as oppose to the many great films, because, unlike the Oscars, we like to make sure we get it right.

(Laughter, then applause)

Thank you. We've taken the time, seen all the movies, from last year, Well, not all of them, 242 from last year, alone. We would've seen more actually, but that meant it would've cut into out TV watching time, and we needed to vote on "The Voice".

(Mild laughter)

With the rest of the spare time, we were reading "Fifty Shades of Gray".

(Laughter)

We're still in the middle of that actually, we're getting closer, it's a bit tough read. Got to takes periodic breaks after some of the more erotic passages.

(Laughter, groans)

No, it's not what you're thinking, we're just masturbating.
(Groans, laughter)
And, that's a line that you'd never hear Billy Crystal say at the Oscars.

(Applause)

Thank you, and with that, let's go on to the first presenter, and literally, we have presenters this year.
Yes, true. Presenters. We got a big budget year, in our minds. Not enough to get people to allow for speeches, but, enough for presenters this year.

(Slight laughter)

Presenting out first Award of the evening, the woman who won the first ever OYL Award for Best Supporting Actress last year, for "Black Swan", Mila Kunis!

(Mila Kunis walks out to a podium)

MILA
Their are nine nominees this year in the Best Supportin Actor category. Among their parts, are a legendary actor, a legendary director, a legendary writer, an old man who's coming out as gay, a straight man who was a victim of a gay bashing, a cult leader, a Mafia don, a discipliarian father, and a monkey.

(Slight laughter)
Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actor:

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh-"My Week with Marilyn"
Albert Brooks-"Drive"
John Hawkes-"Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Sir Ben Kingsley-"Hugo"
Patton Oswalt-"Young Adult"
Brad Pitt-"The Tree of Life"
Christopher Plummer-"Beginners"
Andy Serkis-"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
Corey Stoll-"Midnight in Paris"

And the OYL Award, goes to...

(Mila opens Envelope)

... BRAD PITT, for "The Tree of Life"!



(Applause, "Siciliana Da Antiche Danze Ed Aria Suite III" by Ottorino Respichi plays.)

ANNOUNCER
Presenting the Best Ensemble Casting Award, a 2-time OYL Award nominee last year for "Mother and Child" and "The Kids Are All Right", Annette Bening!

(Annette Bening walks out to podium as Mila Kunis walks off)

ANNETTE
This is the first time, the One-Year-Later Awards have chosen to honor, the ensemble casting of the picture. The Award is in recognition for the Outstanding Acting Achievements of a film's entire cast, and is presented to the film's Casting Director, or in one of our nine nominees case, the films executive producer and producer. The nominees are:

BEST ENSEMBLE CASTING
The Artist-Heidi Levitt
Contagion-Carmen Cuba
Crazy, Stupid, Love-Mindy Harin
The Descendants-John Jackson
Hugo-Ellen Lewis
Margin Call-Tiffany Little Canfield and Bernard Telsey
Midnight in Paris-Stephanie Foenkinos, Patricia Kerrigan DiCerto, and Juliet Taylor
A Separation-(Ex. Pro.) Negar Eskandafar; (Pro.) Asghar Farhadi
The Tree of Life-Vicky Boone and Francine Maisler

And the OYL Awards goes to...

(Opens envelope)

...Stephanie Foenkinos, Particia Kerrigan DiCerto ,and Juliet Taylor, for "MIDNIGHT IN PARIS".

  


(Applause, "Let's Do It" by Cole Porter plays.)

(Host comes back on stage clapping, as Annette walks off.)

HOST
We'd like to introduce you to our next presenter, but he's not here.

(Slight laughter)

Actually he might be for all we know, but we don't know who he is, so even he was here, we wouldn't recognize him. So, joining us, by satellite feed, from an undisclose side of a building somewhere, an OYL Awards Nominee for Best Director last year and the OYL Award Winner for Best Documentary, for "Exit Through the Gift Shop," Banksy!

(On a giant screen that's just been lowered, a snowed screen undissolves to find Banksy, hidden in shadow and a hooded sweatshirt hiding his face. Big applause from the audience. When he speaks, his voice is heavily distorted.)

BANKSY
Thank you. This year, the OYL Awards have honored ten films, the maximum, amount of nominees in the Best Documentary category. The award goes to the film's Director(s) and Producers(s), and they are...

(As they begin the montage of nominees, Banksy turns to a nearby wall, in a darkly lit area, and begins spraypainting.)

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest-(Dir.) Michael Rapaport; (Pro.) ATCQ, Robert Benavides, Debra Koffler, Eric Matthies, Frank Mele, Ed Parks, and Erika Williams
Conan O'Brien Can't Stop-(Dir.) Rodman Flender; (Pro) Rachel Griffin and Gavin Palone
The Interrupters-(Dir./Pro.) Steve James; (Pro.) Alex Kotlowitz
Into the Abyss-(Dir.) Werner Herzog; (Pro.) Eric Nelson
Life in a Day-(Dir.) Kevin MacDonald; (Pro.) Liza Marshall
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory-(Dir./Pro.) Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky; (Pro.) Jonathan Silberberg
Pearl Jam Twenty-(Dir./Pro) Cameron Crowe; (Pro.) Kelly Curtis, Andy Fischer, Barbara McDonough, and Morgan Neville
Pina-(Dir./Pro.) Wim Wenders; (Pro.) Gian-Perro Ringel *[NOT OFFICIAL NOMINEE]
POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold-(Dir./Pro.) Morgan Spurlock; (Pro.) Keith Calder, Jeremy Chilnick, Abbie Hurewitz, and Jessica Wu
Project Nim-(Dir.) James Marsh; (Pro.) Simon Chinn
Tabloid-(Dir.) Errol Morris; (Pro.) Julie Ahlberg and Mark Lipson

(Banksy turns back around to the camera from the wall.)
And the OYL Award goes to...

(Banksy exits camera left. Offscreen, he turns on lightstand, pointed directly at the wall, where a big elaborate picture of the logo, of the winning film is prominently displayed)

...LIFE IN A DAY.



(Applause, "A Day at a Time" by Abbie Goulding plays)

ANNOUNCER
To announce the first ever OYL Award for Best Editing, an OYL Award nominee for Supporting Actor last year, for "Winter's Bone," and a nominee again tonight for "Martha Marcy May Marlene", John Hawkes!

(Screen rises back up as John Hawkes comes out. Applause!)

JOHN
(Half-hearted, comically)
Congratulation, Brad.

(Audience laughs, before John smirks slyly, before going back to the teleprompter)

When they choose to give out an OYL Award for Editing, they didn't intend for the category to have, the maximum, of ten nominations, but it does. Good movies, or all kinds require exceptional editing to tell the story, whether it's a comedy, action, drama, biopic, horror, even documentary, all of those are represented in the category tonight. Here are the nominees...

BEST EDITING
The Descendants-Kevin Tent
Drive-Mat Newman
Hugo-Thelma Schoonmaker
Life in a Day-Joe Walker
Margin Call-Pete Beaudreau
Moneyball-Christopher Tellefsen
A Separation-Hayedeh Safeyari
The Tree of Life-Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber and Mark Yoshikawa
We Need to Talk About Kevin-Joe Bini
Young Adult-Dana E. Gluberman

And the OYL Award goes to...

(Opens Envelope)

... "THE TREE OF LIFE".
(Pause)
Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezends, Billy Weber and Mark Yoshikawa.

(Corwin not pictured)


 



(Applause, "Siciliana Da Antiche Danze Ed Aria Suite III" by Ottorino Respichi plays.)

ANNOUNCER
To announce the OYL Award for Best Animated Feature, a Best Actor nominee last year for "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll", and a Best Supporting Actor nominee earlier tonight, for "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," Andy Serkis!

(Big applause and Andy Serkis walks on stage and John Hawkes walks off)

ANDY
I know a lot about animation, most of my performances seem to be animated.

(Laugh)

This year, the five nominees in the Best Animated Feature category, are not just CGI, but also use motion-capture, and even traditional hand-drawn animation, and also tell stories as varied as a Cuban love story, to a world-traveling adventure, to western, to martial arts action film, to a family drama involving a jewel theif. The Award goes to the films director(s) and producer(s); here are the nominees!

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The Adventures of Tintin-(Dir./Pro.) Steven Spielberg; (Pro.) Peter Jackson and Kathleen Kennedy
A Cat in Paris-(Dir.) Jean-Loup Fellicoli & Alain Gagnol; (Pro.) Jacques-Remy Girerd
Chico & Rita-(Dir.) Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba; (Pro.) Santi Errando, Christina Huete, Martin Pope and Michael Rose
Kung Fu Panda 2-(Dir.) Jennifer Yuh Nelson; (Pro.) Melissa Cobb
Rango-(Dir./Pro.) Gore Verbinski; (Pro.) John B. Carls and Graham King

And the winner is...

(Opens envelope)

...RANGO! Gore Verbinski, John B. Carls and Graham King.



(Applause, "Rango Theme Song" by Los Lobos plays. After, Host walks back on stage.)

HOST
(Clapping hands)
What do you know, two years in a row, we match the Oscars in that category. One of the few. Our next presenter, also won his OYL Award last year, to go along with his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, for "The Fighter". Ladies and gentleman, Christian Bale!

(Christian Bale enters from across the stage. Big applause)

CHRISTIAN
This year, there was incredible difficulty in narrowing down the nominees in each of the Acting categories, with Supporting Actress being no exception.

(Unexpected applause)

Yes, let's clap.

(Applause continues)

There are the maximum, ten nominees this year in the Best Supporting Actress category, and the nominees are...

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Elena Anaya-"The Skin I Live In"
Sareh Bayat-"A Separation"
Berenice Bejo-"The Artist"
Jessica Chastain-"The Tree of Life"
Dagmara Dominczyk-"Higher Ground"
Judy Greer-"The Descendants"
Keira Knightley-"A Dangerous Method"
Melissa McCarthy-"Bridesmaids"
Carey Mulligan-"Shame"
Shailene Woodley-"The Descendants"

And the OYL Award goes to...

(Opens envelope)

...hmm...ELENA ANAYA, "The Skin I Live In"!



(Surprise upswell, followed by big applause. Shades of Marble by Trentmuller plays)

ANNOUNCER
Announcing the award for Best Foreign Language Film, a Best Actress OYL Award nominee last year for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", Noomi Rapace!

(Noomi Rapace walks onstage with slight applause, as Christian Bale walks off to the side.)

NOOMI
The eight nominees in the Best Foreign Language Film category, spread over three continents, and eight different languages, and includes topic ranging from father/son dramas over career success, a shoeshiner who starts taking care of a young African muggler, a lonely journalist with a violent sexual desire, and a house of prostitution. A Grandmother trying to fight Alzheimer's, a family trying to survive a divorce, A teacher trying to teach a grief-stricken elementary school class, and, eh, whatever "Uncle Boonmee..." was about.

(Laughter)

The Award goes to the films' director(s); the nominees are...

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Footnote-Joseph Cedar (Israel)
House of Pleasures (aka House of Tolerance)-Bertrand Bonello (France)
Le Havre-Aki Kaurismaki (Finland/Germany)
Leap Year (aka Ano Bisiesto)-Michael Rowe (Mexico)
Monsieur Lazhar-Philippe Falardeau (Canada)
Pina-Wim Wenders (Germany) *[NOT OFFICIAL NOMINEE]
Poetry-Chang-Dong Lee (South Korea)
A Separation-Asghar Farhadi (Iran)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives-Apichatong Weerasethakul (Thailand)

And the OYL goes to...

(Opens envelope)

...A SEPARATION, Asghar Farhadi.



(Applause, "A Separation" by Sattar Oraki plays. Host comes out on other side as Noomi Rapace walks off, he claps.)

HOST
Congratualations Asghar, and to Elena Anaya, I just lost $50 in the pool because of her.

(Laughter)

I'm kidding, very happy for you.
(Slowly talking as though he doesn't mean.)
Ver-ry happy for you. Not gonna miss that money at all.

(Laughter. More laughter after Host delays speaking a second, still visibly upset)

Our next presenter won both the OYL Award and the Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay for "The Social Network", which is good because unless you count all 51 of the other Critics Choices, Emmys, WGA, and stuff, he hadn't won much until then.

(Laughter)
Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. Aaron Sorkin!

(Big applause for as Aaron Sorkin comes out on the side of the stage.)

AARON
Looks like I'm ahead in the pool.

(Slight laughter)

While I won this Award last year for Adapted Screenplay, I certainly know how difficult it is to write original work, and this was an incredible year for original screenplays, and the nominations include a great and eclectic group of writers, across all genres. Here are the nine nominees for Best Original Screenplay...

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Artist-Michel Hazanavicius
Leap Year (aka Ano Bisiesto)-Lucia Carreras and Michael Rowe
Margin Call-JC Chandor
Midnight in Paris-Woody Allen
Rampart-James Ellroy and Oren Moverman
A Separation-Asghar Farhadi
Shame-Steve McQueen and Abi Morgan
The Tree of Life-Terrence Malick
Young Adult-Diablo Cody

It's my honor, to announce that the OYL Award goes to...

(Opens envelope)

...Diablo Cody-"YOUNG ADULT"!



(Some surprise gasps and groans before a big applause. "The Concept" by Teenage Fanclub plays)

ANNOUNCER
To present the OYL for Best Adapted Screenplay, a 3-Time OYL Award nominee last year, for Producing, Directing, and last year's OYL Awards winner for Best Original Screenplay for "Inception", Christopher Nolan!

(Big applause as Christopher Nolan goes walks onstage, right as Aaron Sorkin walks off.)

CHRISTOPHER
In many ways, it's actually tougher to adapt a screenplay from a previous work, because many in the audience, already know what's going to happen, or what should happen at least. Sometimes, they change it completely, other times, they must trust that the original work will be strong enough, and that it will continue to excite the audience, even if they know which direction the story's going. Either way, the six nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay had to have been deeply inspired by the original work itself, to create such strong screenplays for these films. The nominees are...

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
A Dangerous Method-Christopher Hampton
The Descendants-Alexander Payne, and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Drive-Hossein Amini
Higher Ground-Carolyn S. Briggs and Tim Metcalfe
Hugo-John Logan
We Need to Talk About Kevin-Lynne Ramsay and Rory Stewart Kinnear

And the OYL Award, goes to...

(Opens envelope)

...THE DESCENDANTS! Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash.
(Applause, "Leahi" by Gabby Pihinui plays)



(After a few moments, Nolan walks off. Backstage, we follow Nolan walking out, he passes Host, Jesse Eisenberg and Colin Firth. Host is mediating an argument between the other two.)

HOST
Okay, that's enough! We have to announce, the Award so, I'm gonna settle this, right now, alright.

(Host takes out coin)

Winner gets to pick which Award, he gives out, Actress or Picture, alright?

(Colin First and Jesse Eisenberg, reluctantly agree)

Good, Colin, call it in the air.

(Host about to flip coin)

JESSE
Hang on, why does he call it?

HOST
Fine you call it.

COLIN
Hang on, you said I can call it?

JESSE
Is that a fair coin, it's looks it two heads?

HOST
(Frustrated)
It's a fair coin. Look-
(Shows both sides of the coin)
Heads, tails. Here, I'm flipping the coin, one of you call it, alright.
(Host flips coin)

JESSE
Heads.

(Coin falls on floor)

HOST
Jesse called heads. It's heads.

JESSE
Yes! Actress.

HOST
Well, go out now, and present it. Keep it moving.

JESSE
See-ya Colin.

(Jesse runs off towards the stage)

HOST
Go! It's an Award show, we're already running two hours long! Jees. He does know that none of the actresses are here to accept the Award, right?

COLIN
(Slight pause)
Did I forget to mention that to him?

(Laughter)

(Back to the stage)

ANNOUNCER
Announcing the OYL for Best Actress, one of last years's OYL Award Winners for Best Actor for "The Social Network", Jesse Eisenberg!

(End of laughter, then applause, as Jesse Eisenberg comes out on stage)

JESSE
For the second-straight year, the OYL Awards has given the maximum of ten nominations in the Best Actress category. They say there's no good parts for women these day, but these women are proving that wrong, with parts ranging from a mother who's no good husband suddenly dropped dead, a mother who's son shot up his college, a mother who's son killed his family and his shot up his high school, a mother going through a tough divorce, a mother, struggling with her own evergrowing religious beliefs,

(Laughter)

a grandmother fighting oncoming Alzheimer's, a journalist who's suicidal and oversexual, a teenager runaway who joins a cult, a former prom queen turned trainwreck, and Marilyn Monroe. See, they weren't all mothers.

(Laughter)

The nominees for Best Actress are...

BEST ACTRESS
Maria Bello-"Beautiful Boy"
Monica Del Carmen-"Leap Year (aka Ano Bisiesto)"
Vera Farmiga-"Higher Ground"
Jenna Fischer-"A Little Help"
Leila Hatami-"A Separation"
Elizabeth Olsen-"Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Tilda Swinton-"We Need to Talk About Kevin"
Charlize Theron-"Young Adult"
Michelle Williams-"My Week with Marilyn"
Jeong-hie Yun-"Poetry"

And the winner is...

(Opens envelope)

...CHARLIZE THERON for "Young Adult"!



(Big applause. "The Concept" by Teenage Fanclub plays)

ANNOUNCER
To present the Award for Best Actor, a Best Actress nominee tonight for "My Week with Marilyn", and last year's OYL Award winner for Best Actress for "Blue Valentine", Michelle Williams!

(Big applause, as Jesse Eisenberg walks off stage, and on the opposite side Michelle Williams walks on, not caring at all that she just lost in her category a minute ago.)

MICHELLE
Congratulations, Charlize. Just like the Lead Actress category, this year, the Best Actor category for the first time, reached the maximum of ten nominees.

(Applause)

Yes, and they were as varied performances as a silent film star to a movie stunt driver, from a father, struggling through his divorce, to a father, dealing with his wife's coma. A father dealing with the horrify act his son did, to a father, trying to raise his son despite being an illegal immigrant. A struggling alcoholic, to a struggling sex addict, to a corrupt L.A. policeman, who's a master circumnavigate a lawful system, to a baseball owner, trying to find a new system for winning. And, the last two were also fathers.

(Slight laughter)

It's my honor to announce the OYL Award for Best Actor. Here are the nominees...

BEST ACTOR
Demian Bichir-"A Better Life"
George Clooney-"The Descendants"
Jean Dujardin-"The Artist"
Michael Fassbender-"Shame"
Will Ferrell-"Everything Must Go"
Ryan Gosling-"Drive"
Woody Harrelson-"Rampart"
Payman Maadi-"A Separation"
Brad Pitt-"Moneyball"
Michael Sheen-"Beautiful Boy"

And the OYL Award goes to...

(Opens envelope. Pauses before talking)

...GEORGE CLOONEY, "The Descendants".



(Very big applause. "Leahi" by Gabby Pihinui plays.)

ANNOUNCER
Last year's winner of the OYL Award for Best Director for "The Social Network", David Fincher!

(Big applause as David Fincher walks on stage, as Michelle Williams walks out.)

DAVID
Before anything else can happen, a director must have a vision, and he must capture it on film. This sounds simple, but it's not, and there are dozens of ways that this can be done, and in the midst of the chaos of a film set, it won't be obvious to most people, just how they're telling a story, until the finished product. The nine nominees for Best Director couldn't be more different from one another, and it's a safe bet that none of them, would've told each others stories, the same way they did. Here are the nominees for Best Director.

BEST DIRECTOR
Woody Allen-"Midnight in Paris"
David Cronenberg-"A Dangerous Method"
Asghar Farhadi-"A Separation"
Terrence Malick-"The Tree of Life"
Alexander Payne-"The Descendants"
Lynne Ramsay-"We Need to Talk About Kevin"
Jason Reitman-"Young Adult"
Michael Rowe-"Leap Year (aka Ano Bisiesto)"
Martin Scorsese-"Hugo"

And the OYL Award goes to...

(Opens envelope)

...TERRENCE MALICK-"The Tree of LIfe"!



(Big applause! "Siciliana Da Antiche Danze Ed Aria Suite III" by Ottorino Respichi plays. Host sneaks back onstage, clapping as Fincher walks out)

HOST
You know, even in a fake Awards ceremony like this one, I have a hard time imagining that Malick's gonna show up next year to present.

(Laughter)
Guy makes one movie every decade maybe, and he's been photographed maybe twiced, I don't think he'll show up.

(Laughter)

Well, we have just one category left everyone. To present Best Picture, by way of losing a coin toss, last year's Best Actor Oscar winner, and one of two OYL Award winners last year for Best Actor for "The King's Speech", Mr. Colin Firth!

(Scattered laughter during Host's introduction turns into big applause as Colin Firth enters and heads to the podium.)

COLIN
As always, there are ten nominees for Best Picture, and it's time like these where you realize how different movies can be from another. One takes place in 1920s Paris, the other travels back in time to 1920s Paris. There's a comedy about a man who's wife in a coma, and a psychological horror about a mother who's son is a sociopath. One takes place during cinema's transition from silent to talkies, another takes place, at a Wall Street boardroom, and one takes place, in a young journalist's Mexico City apartment. One's about a woman going back to her hometown, another's about a family falling apart, and another, is about no less than life itself. And the nominees are...

BEST PICTURE
The Artist (Pro.) Thomas Langmann
The Descendants (Pro.) Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor and Jim Burke
Hugo (Pro.) Graham King, Martin Scorsese, Johnny Depp and Tim Headington
Leap Year (aka Ano Bisiesto) (Pro.) Edher Campos & Luis Salinas
Margin Call (Pro.) Robert Odgen Barnum, Michael Benaroya, Neal Dodson, Joe Jenckes, Corey Moosa and Zachary Quinto
Midnight in Paris (Pro.) Letty Aronson, Jaume Roures and Stephen Tenenbaum
A Separation (Pro.) Asghar Farhadi
The Tree of Life (Pro.) Dede Gardner, Sarah Green, Grant Hill, Brad Pitt and Bill Pohlad
We Need to Talk About Kevin (Pro.) Jennifer Fox, Luc Roeg and Robert Salerno
Young Adult (Pro.) Diablo Cody, Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick, Jason Reitman and Russell Smith

(Drumroll)
And the One-Year-Later Award for Best Picture goes to...

(Opens envelope, pauses)

..."THE TREE OF LIFE"!





(Drumroll ends. Big applause! "Siciliana Da Antiche Danze Ed Aria Suite III" by Ottorino Respichi plays.)

(Colin Firth walks off stage as Host goes on.)

HOST
Well, that's our show. Congratulations to all the Winners! And Sorry to all you losers. Come back next year, and don't forget to watch the Oscars to see if they frig it up again. Good night!

(Theme songs plays again. Credits roll)

ANNOUNCER
(Over credits)
All vote tabulations are done by the accountants working at "David Baruffi's Entertainment Views and Reviews." The results of those tabulations are kept secret until the envelopes are opened on the night of the Awards.

Lawyer's Note: "David Baruffi's Entertainment Views and Reviews", denies all existence of the One-Year-Later Awards and disputes all claims of any bribery or blackmail claims regarding the results of se non-existent Award show. They also denies all claims that any person, host, announcer or celebrity appeared at the OYL Awards broadcast, that doesn't exist, and that no celebrity was forced against his/her will through acts blackmail, kidnapping, bribery, torture, ransom, or otherwise coaxed into attending  through these or any other supposedly illegal means, which they didn't appear at because the show didn't exist.

All celebrities who attend received gift bags sponsored by Plax Mouthwash.

The OYL Awards is a "David Baruffi's Entertainment Views and Reviews" production.
In association with Midnight Green Studios.

*While "Pina", wasn't viewed in time to be eligible for the OYL Awards, had it been viewed in time, it would've been nominated, hence, the after-the-fact notation. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

POLL UPDATE: "TEN GREATEST TV SHOWS OF ALL-TIME!": HAPPY HOLIDAYS! CURRENT RESULTS, BUT NOT AS MANY BALLOTS IN THIS WEEK?!



Happy Holidays Everyone! I'll be giving a special treat for this latest update on the poll to find the "TEN GREATEST TV SHOWS OF ALL-TIME"! I'll be giving a rare look at the complete CURRENT RESULTS of the POLL, so far. Right now, as Christmas is fast approaching, there's currently been 42 ballots submitted, which is good. It's well-short of the 100, that I'm aiming for, but it's good. Only five new ones came in this week, that's a little short of my quota, so that's worrying me, however, it was enough to have a major impact on the current results. And there was no shortage of no shows either. The number of shows that have gotten at least vote, has passed the 200 number. Clearly, your ballots are pretty diverse. Here's the list of the latest ballots that have been submitted, most of them are from Annette's Debates, and the members of these Facebook group, have been wonderfully participatory, and I can't say enough about them.

BARB MACNEIL
1. The Carol Burnett Show ('67)
2. American Bandstand (oka Bandstand, aka "The New American Bandstand 1965--->...)
3. Laverne & Shirley
4. Roots
5. The Civil War
6. Deadwood
7. The Untouchables ('59)
8. Columbo
9. Dalls ('78)
10. Perry Mason ('57)

DANIEL COATS
1. The Walking Dead
2. Dexter
3. Family Guy
4. American Dad!
5. Breaking Bad
6. Monty Python's Flying Circus
7. Sanford and Son
8. Married... with Children
9. Key and Peele
10. South Park

DESTINY THEWOMBAT GRIMM
1. Doctor Who ('05)
2. The X-Files
3. Freakylinks
4. Firefly
5. Monk
6. Penn & Teller: Bullshit!
7. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
8. Arrested Development
9. Monty Python's Flying Circus
10. The Whitest Kids U'Know

ZOE MATULONOS (Entertainment Consumers Exchange)
1. Topper ('53)
2. The Carol Burnett Show ('67)
3. The Dean Martin Comedy Hour (aka The Dean Martin Show)
4. The Andy Griffith Show
5. Happy Days ('74)
6. American Bandstand (oka Bandstand, aka The New American Bandstand 1965--->...)
7. The X-Files
8. The Young and the Restless
9. The Twilight Zone ('59)
10. Sesame Street ('69)

ALFRED LAURENCE
1. Battlestar Gallactica ('03 Miniseries ---> '04 Series)
2. Family Guy
3. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
4. Monty Python's Flying Circus
5. Damages ('07 Series)
6. Married...with Children
7. Saturday Night Live
8. The Universe
9. The Blue Planet
10. Ancient Aliens

Okay, all the new votes have been counted. There's hasn't been a lot of change in the poll, but there's been some. The magic number right now, is 7. Every show that has gotten 7 votes so far, is in the Top Ten. There are 3 shows that have 6 votes that have just missed the current cut, and everything else is behind them.

CURRENT RESULTS
1. M*A*S*H
2. Seinfeld
3. All in the Family
4. Cheers ('82)
5. The Simpsons
6. The Sopranos
7. The X-Files
8. Sons of Anarchy
9. Monty Python's Flying Circus
10. The Twilight Zone ('59)

The top of the poll, hasn't changed much in the last few weeks. "M*A*S*H", has 13 votes, and is 2 ahead of "Seinfeld" with 11. "All in the Family" has 10, and "Cheers" is barely in fourth with 8. The rest have 7 votes, with "The Simpsons", edging out "The Sopranos," due to the tiebreakers. The biggest jumper into this Top Ten, was definitely, "Monty Python's Flying Circus", getting to the magic number of 7, with multiple votes coming in for it. The tiebreakers were due to rankings. Remember, I don't require the polls be ranked, but right now, with 6 shows with 7 votes, it's making the difference.

For those who haven't participated, I don't know why you haven't yet, it's real simple. For the last few months, I've been conducting a poll to determine the "TEN GREATEST TV SHOWS OF ALL-TIME!" I'm using the "Sight & Sound"-model, the one they use for their once-a-decade poll to find the Best Films of All-Time, only with television. My goal is 100 ballots, a nice round, hopefully feasible number that seems likely to create a relatively legitimate poll. I would ask all the leaders and major names and critics of television to participate, and in some cases I've tried, but we're still an upstart, so I'm opening the poll up to everybody.

If you would like to submit a ballot, there's two rules that the poll has.

RULE #1: As long as it originally aired on television, it's eligible for the poll, regardless of genre. There's no limit on what can be picked, it's all allowed. Sitcom, drama, soap opera, reality, variety, talk show, news magazine, cable, broadcast, documentary, miniseries, TV movie, TV specials... etc. As long as it originated on TV, it's allowed. (ie. You can vote for "M*A*S*H", the TV series, you just can't vote for "M*A*S*H", the original movie, because that was shown in movie theatres).

There's been a few tough calls involving that rule. For instance, "Monday Night Football", was declared eligible, but random sporting events aren't. "Tom & Jerry", in their original form, were declared ineligible, because they were shown in movie theatres, (Although some later shows involving the characters are eligible) and a few other things that have come up, but I'm throwing as wide a net as possible.

RULE #2: You must vote for 10, and ONLY 10 shows. No voting for more, no voting for less.

A couple other notes, no anonymous ballots will be accepted, so have your name somewhere, and all ballots will be published, so I can't help you if people see that you really like "The Care Bears", or whatever, embarassing show you may vote for. Oh, and try to be specific, a lot of times, multiple TV shows, have the same title. For instance, there's been multiple reincarnations of "The Twilight Zone" over the years, so specify which one, usually it's the original '59 series. If I do need a clarification of some kind, I'll do my best to contact you.

Well that's it. You can submit your ballot, in many ways. I'd recommend either in the Comment Section, under this blogpost, or anywhere on my blog, I will read it. Also, in the Comment Section of the Facebook link to this blog, there'll be a lot of them in a few different groups, but you can always check my Facebook wall to find one. You can also vote on twitter, @DavidBaruffi_EV, although nobody's done that yet, and that can get tricky. However you can get ahold of me to submit your ballots, I'd recommend doing it. Whether you want to make sure one of the leaders win, or you want to submit some votes for shows that might not have that many votes at all, submit your ballots, and let your voice be heard!

Oh, and once again, Happy Holidays!






Friday, December 21, 2012

MOVIE REVIEWS #51: "LIFE OF PI", "BRAVE", "PROMETHEUS", "AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY", "2 DAYS IN NEW YORK", "360", "STEALING LAS VEGAS" (Conflict of Interest Alert), and MORE!

I figured, I'd get a couple choice words from people for my posting a Canon of Film blog on "Bowling for Columbine", but honestly, I was taken back, by a couple criticisms I got by those, who claimed that all of Michael Moore's movies since "Roger & Me," were not only bias, but left-wing propaganda. Well, first of all, every documentary is bias, including "Roger & Me," which I consider especially bias. I mean, it's a whole movie about how one guy was a piece of crap, how is that not bias? The left-wing propaganda claim really confused me. For one, I generally think of propaganda as advertising, or any medium that is trying to change one's mind through some sort of deception, like misleading facts, or statistics, for instance, or confusion. It doesn't have to be that, to be propaganda, so I guess Moore's films qualify, but they also tend to lean towards a particular point-of-view. Which is ironic, 'cause one of the reasons I posted on "Bowling...", is that it's one of his movies where I don't think he is leaning us towards a particular point of view at all. His movies are essentially structured like essays, that examine a certain subject, sometimes they're pointed pro and anti-something, but "Bowling for Columbine," is more of an overall analysis than a critique. He examines America's obsessions with guns, through numerous prisms, the main one being, in the aftermath of the Columbine Massacre, and unlike his like other film, there doesn't seem to be a particular answer that he's trying to convince us of. Let me also say this, I'm pretty far on the left-wing politically, and frankly, we don't have much propaganda. I mean, we do, but we tend to just use facts. It's already accurate, so we don't have to make anything up, and besides that, most of the time, we're right. I went to wikipedia.com to look up propaganda, and while I was there, I decided to also type in "Left-Wing Propaganda", and to my surprise, it didn't have a page. I could've named ten pieces of left-wing propaganda off-the-top-of-my-head, but they didn't have one. (I looked up, "Right-wing propaganda", and sure enough, it didn't have a page either) I did find a piece on "Propaganda film" where Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" is discussed, and I found this curious blurb on it:

From wikipeida:
...A classic example of 21st century propaganda, Fahrenheit 9/11 is overtly political and never tries to hide the director's anti-war agenda. He omits footage of the planes striking the Twin Towers, cutting directly to the aftermath and destruction.

Okay, first of all, if you're gonna mention "Fahrenheit 9/11" propaganda, and boy you could've mentioned so many points of the film that were propaganda, but "Omits the footage of the planes striking the Twin Towers, cutting directing to the aftermath and destruction?" What?! First of all, not only have, presumably, all of us seen the footage of the planes hitting the towers (In fact, it's in "Bowling for Columbine" by the way) but that part isn't propaganda. There was no attempt at deceiving the American Public that the destruction was caused by, let's say Bush for example, not to appease those morons conspiracy theorists, but because the movie is more anti-Bush than anything else, but it never claimed it was caused by anybody other than those who did it. They literally picked the one thing in the movie that wasn't propaganda, to describe the propaganda in the film. So, now I'm more confused than ever on this subject.

It doesn't matter much to me anyway. I labeled the post as controversial, so I guess I should've expected this. I tend to identify propaganda by it's inaccuracies, which most of his films aren't usually. (There's some obvious camera angles to disguise a crowd size in "The Big One", to name one of Moore's inaccuracies.) In "Bowling..." there's at most a call to action, but he doesn't tell us what exactly to do. Even with that caveat, "Casablanca," was propaganda, I mean, if we're really gonna discuss whether something being propaganda is a basis for not liking a film, then let's start with the best ones, and whether is a piece of propaganda or not, doesn't mean it isn't good, and in this case, in the Canon of Film, as far as I'm concerned. As a film, I don't care if it's bias or propaganda as long as it's good. As far as propaganda, I only care if it's accurate and factual.

Alright, enough talk about that. Let's get to this week's Random Weekly Movie Reviews, starting with a SPECIAL REVIEW, of "Life of Pi"!


LIFE OF PI (2012) Director: Ang Lee

5 STARS



A writer who is never named (Rafe Spall), is interviewing a man in his living room in his Canada home. He's written one novel, but his second failed to get published, but he's been told that the man he is interviewing, a man named Pi, (Irrfan Khan), he has a story that claims "Will make you believe in God." You couldn't come up with a more loftier expectation, in a movie, maybe ever. Now, I have not read the famous Yann Martel novel that "Life of Pi" is based, which was until now, considered by most, and rightly so, unfilmable, but I had only heard the broad outline in the story, and heard from many people who hate 3-D, telling me to go see this movie in the theaters  and in 3-D. When somebody who doesn't like 3-D, is telling you to go see it in 3-D, you should go see it. I'm one of those people who hates it, and I'm telling everybody now, go see "Life of Pi," in 3-D! Pi, who's actual name is Piscine (1st-timer Suraj Sharma), the French word for swimming pool, but eventually got shortened to Pi in middle school , grew up in his father's Santosh's (Adil Hussain) zoo. He spent most of his childhood looking over the animals, which come from all over the world. When he's a teenager, he's informed by his mother, Gita (Tabu) and father, that they're moving to Canada, they'll be closing the zoo, and will be going on a ship, to help transport the animals. It's then that the ship sinks, during an amazing thunderstorm, that eventually ends up with Pi, living on a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker, and how he survived for hundreds of days on this amazing adventure. The animals in this movie, look real, and sometimes they are, other times they're CGI, and I'll be damned if I could tell the difference. There's a crucial opening scene that showed just how vicious that tiger is, when a young Pi (Gautum Belur) gets caught trying to feed Richard Parker, and his father makes him watch Richard Parker devour a live goat. The journey they go on, I don't want to reveal all the details, you gotta experience it, and you got see it, and I can't stress enough, see it in 3-D. Ang Lee, has shown once again, he is the ultimate chameleon, you never know what film he's gonna do next, but here, he tells an unbelievable story, and uses every trick in the book to do so. After that amazing shipwreck sequence, with the 3-D, my mouth did not close for ten minutes after that scene. That is one of the most amazing sequences I've ever seen in cinema, and I'm not being facetious. It's truly one of those rare moments, in film, where I'm not judging, I'm not analyzing, I'm not comparing it to other films, I'm just thinking "How the hell did they do that?!" It's that special, the whole movie is that special. He uses 3-D, correctly, to emphasize the nature scenes, and really exemplify the background, and he does it sparingly, but correctly, it took my breath away. I don't think watching it, without 3-D, is going to give a viewer, the same effect, so that's why I'm pressuring this; the movie will be far more special this way. Either way, it's a special story, that you're gonna love. It's the kind of fable, that you're not gonna be into on film, unless it's spectacular. The tale of a teenager and a Bengal Tiger, stuck in the middle of the Ocean, it'll only work on film, a medium that presents the truth, if it was this spectacular. The more Ang Lee films I see, the more I realize, I should never, ever doubt any of his ideas, and also, young Suraj Sharma, this is gonna be an acting performance that people, are gonna forget a bit, but realize, that he is basically acting by himself, for most of this movie, it is an impressive job of keeping us interested in this film. I don't know if "Life of Pi," made me believe in God, but boy, Ang Lee sure can tell an amazing story.


BRAVE (2012) Directors: Brenda Chapman and Mark Andrews

4 STARS


I was concerned for a while watching "Brave," that Disney-Pixar's latest colaboration was going to be a major disappointment, by taking a mythical Scotland land, with a natural archer and fighter character, Merida (Kelly MacDonald) and instead, turning the movie into another Princess film, about how she doesn't want to get married. Well, to a certain extent it is, but-eh, they did eventually find a new twist to it, one I'm reluctant to discuss because they clearly went to great lengths to hide it in previews. "Brave" is clearly the most traditional story from Pixar, so far, but that doesn't make it bad. Just, a little disappointing considering the standard. Merida is a Scottish Princess, who relates much more closely to her father, Fergus (Billy Connolly) than to her mother, Elinor (Emma Thompson). Her father's a life-of-the-party old-school brawler kind, who, as we famously see in the prologue, lost his leg to a legendary bear, Mur'du. Her mother, however, is teaching and preparing for her daughter's betrothal. There's a story of four kingdoms in this land, that all descended from four sons of an old king, who pulled a King Lear, with strangely better results. Not perfect results, but better.At the competition, Merida defies her mother, and runs off into the woods where she finds The Witch (Julie Walters) who bakes a cake, which a spell that is intended to change Merida's fate of marriage, by changing Elinor's mind. Of course, you can predict a little bit what happens here that's not according to plan. "Brave" got some attention for being Pixar's first feature with a female protagonist, and mainly human characters for the cast. It's also there first Princess movie. I'm wondering if for Disney's next project, instead of their typical Princess stories, maybe they should do an animated remake of "Roman Holiday," that's the one Princess story I don't think they've tackled yet. I do like that this film has a mother-daughter relationship at it's core, I haven't seen that in an animated film in a while. The filming was fraught with peril as original director Brenda Chapman, was replaced on set by Mark Andrews (and there's actually three directing credits in the film, as Steve Purcell is credited as a Co-director, as well), his first feature-length directing gig, after working mainly in the storyboard department for awhile. He did the Oscar-nominated short "One-Man Band" years ago, along with his brother Bryan. (Note: I met Mark Andrews once as he came to speak at an old class of mine. Fun guy, very talented) It's hard to say "Second-tier Pixar," but "Brave" is in that category, but it's still a helluva category to be in. I'm highly recommending it, 'cause it got to me at the end, and there's enough stuff here. Maybe their next one will be stronger.

PROMETHEUS (2012) Director: Ridley Scott

3 STARS

There are moments in "Prometheus," especially early on, where the imagery is so special, that I thought "Wow!" and "Man, I bet this looked really amazing in a movie theater  It didn't take too long though before it started to devolve from there. Well, that's a little mean, it didn't exactly devolve but, it always annoys me. Ridley Scott, will start with an interesting concept, and idea, and then shove it continuously through a movie. It's all about the theme and metaphor, and what it ends up doing, is stops the action dead in it's track, just to spill off onto something, that may be visually spectacular, and underlines and re-underlines whatever theme he wants to portray. His best films "Thelma & Louise," "Black Hawk Down," "American Gangster", and "Matchstick Men," for instance, either spend the movie telling a story straightforward, with action, or if there is some blatant symbolical themes or emotions, it occurs naturally in the story, and within the natural flow of action. There's a scene in "Prometheus" where a character, is on his own, about midway through the movie, where he finds himself in the middle of a spectacular image that seems to be some kind of super-projected holographic image, that's probably an echo of people who were once on the planet earlier. In of itself, the scene is okay, but before and after, that, was some scenes involving a crew member who's life may be in danger. Why is he stopping in the middle of this critical action scene, to show us this, when it could've easily been placed in one of a number of other areas of the film? Ridley Scott does it, and I wish he wouldn't. He starts off with a good idea, and then beats you over the head with it so much that by the end of the movie, you're literally just a talking head now. It's a shame 'cause the idea is a really good one. It was used in the greatest of all sci-fi exploration movies, Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey". In numerous cave paintings found all over the world and date back through different time periods and civiliazation, the same images of the humans worshipping a combination of stars which only match one known place in the universe, gets repeated. The archaeological team of Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) lead a corporation-backed spaceship, "Prometheus" to the star system, where there's a planet that's somewhat similar to Earth. From a recording by Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce under all that makeup) of Weyland Corporations, we learn about their goal in searching for this world, where they suspect, that not only to humanity actually comes from here, but possibly, it was made by another species, before being sent to Earth. Can I just say something though, why can't a corporation in one of these movies, ever actually just, want to go to some distant planet for the hell of it, and not just for, some ulterior selfish, usually profitable motive? I know what corporations do and how they act, but still, the minute the Charlize Theron character opens her mouth, you know that, as the corporations representative on the ship, she's at some point going to get in the way of action, just because of a greater need for her company, whether it makes any logical sense or not. It is the future you know, you can change that? It's seems tiresome, and I haven't even gotten to the "Alien" comparisons I can make, especially with some of the creatures that they find, and there's a great scene involving Rapace, where she is suddenly pregnant, (something that she wasn't supposed to be able to do) and has to get into a machine that's built to perform any kind of medical procedure possible, and have it removed and stapled back up, in her white underwear of course, so she looks a little bit like Ellen Ripley. As for references to the other overrated sci-fi classic in Ridley Scott's canon, "Blade Runner", one member of the crew, David (Michael Fassbender) is some form of Data-like android, who's been training for years to go on this mission, and for some reason, has an affinity for "Lawrence of Arabia". So, there's your replicant creature. There's also a good performance by Idris Elba as Janek, the Captain of the ship, who doesn't care as much about the origin of life that seems to have overtaken Elizabeth's entire world, but is trustworthy when you need him to be. There's too much for me not to recommend "Prometheus," but I can't quite say I like the movie either. It's not one of his really bad films like "Gladiator" or "Robin Hood", but this feels like a disappointment, all the pieces are here for something special, and I came out of it thinking, that it's, just another decent sci-fi movie, and confused by some of the high praise other critics had given it.

AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY (2012) Director: Alyson Klayman

4 STARS

Ai Weiwei is a conceptual artists, but his symbolic value is far more critical in China, where he openly fights, confronts and criticizes the repressive government. He helped design "The Bird's Nest", Olympics Stadium in China, before protesting the games after the Sichuan Earthquake. The poorly-built government schools, he claimed were responsible for the deaths of over 45,000 children. As a project, he started collecting names of all the kids who were killed, and lined the walls with the names. He was attacked in the Province, by the state police, which was caught on camera, which they denied. When the injuries forced him to have brain surgery, while showing an exhibit in Germany, he posted the photos on twitter, stating that he now had proof. "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry", is a fascinating portrait of arguably, the most important artist of our day. He's a concept artist, who now has numerous volunteers, with his work, and a popularity in China that, even the Chinese government can't seem to be able to repress. Just an announcement of him going to lunch, leads to people showing up to eat with him. He throws a party for the destruction of his art studio, which the government was shutting down. He paints Coca-Cola logos on priceless Han vases, which he also destroys for his art. He spent time in New York, where he was during the Tienanmen Square protests. (They don't show it, but I wonder if he saw the lone protester scene, few in China have). He's a close friend with Liu Xiaobo, the jailed human rights advocate. He was one of the first people in China to announce, via twitter (Which isn't under the Chinese internet block) that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize. His art is confrontation, and conceptual. It Often involves him giving the finger, in places where such action might result in him getting shot to death. After the Earthquake, he has begun making documentaries himself of his exploits, including filming himself filing a complaint with the police who attacked him. He even finds the officer at one point, when he's apparently somewhat more civil. He's married, although he has a kid out of wedlock. He talks in profanity often, but is quite observant and profound. He's human, but like all artists, he seems to be controlled by emotion. He's making giant statements in a country that forbids them. Sometimes they come in the form of a song, sometimes in the form of a middle finger. One of his first major art shows was called "Fuck All" (Not in China, but everywhere else it was). Ai Weiwei is unusually fearless as an artist. The movie chronicles his work, for years, includes the attack, his work on many projects, including the Earthquake project, and even after he was released from prison after being detained and missing for almost three months, supposedly for tax evasion. It's the only time, he is reluctant to talk with reporters. The gag order was eventually lifted. I just checked his twitter account, which has a profile picture of his work "Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn". His last tweet was four hours ago. I wish I knew how to translate on Twitter, to see what he said. (There's some process for it, I'm sure but....). "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry", is a strong and important profile of an artist. As a movie, it's intense. Almost like you're constantly waiting for him to suddenly disappear. Somehow, I think the government knows that silencing him could be catastrophic. Hey, one guy in Tunisia got his food scale taken away, and it led to the Arab world turning towards Democracy. Weiwei is already a symbol, any destroying him could topple an empire.

2 DAYS IN NEW YORK (2012) Director: Julie Delpy

4 1/2 STARS

It's been five years since Julie Delpy's directorial debut "2 Days in Paris," where Marion (Delpy) took her boyfriend to Paris to meet her eccentric family, while he just wanted to scream under the elevated train where Marlon Brando had in "Last Tango in Paris," and see Jim Morrison's grave. Now, she's back home in New York, had a kid, but she's also left her old boyfriend, and is now with her Village Voice co-worker, Mingus (Chris Rock, which is both an improvement on actors and characters from Adam Goldberg in the first film) who also has a kid from one of his previous marriages, and works on a couple jobs, including a few high-profile radio shows, and occasionally lets out his frustrations by talking to a cardboard cut-out of President Obama. They've been happy until now, but her family's flying in from Paris this weekend, the weekend of her first show, where among other projects, she's selling her soul. Um, literally selling her soul by the way; I'll get to that. Her mother's passed, but now her father Jeannot (Albert Delpy, Julie's real-life father) is still as exuberhant and rambunxious as ever. However, her sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) is in town, and they are already combustible components when brought together, and now, she's brought her sometimes-boyfriend, Manu (Alex Nahon), who are both stoners, which gets them in trouble with practically everybody, but he's also one of Marion's exes, and he wasn't exactly invited to begin with. "2 Days in New York," is a far better movie that "2 Days in Paris," maybe partially because I now know what to expect, but I think the main strength is that, while the first movie focused on a relationship that was already a little in trouble, this one starts with an established relationship, family, household, pattern of life that suddenly gets blistfully interrupted by potheads, sex-obsessed fathers who barely speak English and try to smuggle dozens of pounds of sausages, and an annoying sister who walks around the house naked, and makes Mingus's name sounds a lot like, eh, a particularly woman-pleasing sex act. She's also apparently a nymphomaniac, possibly was once possessed by the devil as a child, oh, and believe it or not, her profession is a child psychiatrist, and now her and Marion start getting into one fight at the dinner table, and by fight, I mean, hair-pulling and punching, and by dinner table, I often mean, at a restaurant. This is a clash of cultures and family that lead to numerous comedic scenarios, and almost all of them made me laugh. It's Delpy's strongest film as a director so far. Far more observant and depthful than "2 Days in Paris," and more grown-up. Oh, and as to her, having to sell her soul in the middle of all this, it's apart of her photography exhibition that her family's in town for (and they are just as critical as everyone else), and as an art project, she's selling her soul, to the highest bidder, which she immediately regret and tries to by back naturally (and there's no way in hell, I'm revealing who bought it, or where he kept it, but you'll believe me when I say, it's exactly who you'd imagine would buy a soul). One of the many sudden pitfalls her family coming into town produces. Delpy has always been one of the best and most interesting of all actresses, but now, she's really coming into her own as a filmmaker, after her intriguing 2nd and 3rd films "2 Days in Paris," and "The Countess", this one shows true personal vision. "2 Days in New York", is one of the first really good comedies I've seen from 2012.

360 (2012) Director: Fernando Meirelles

3 1/2 STARS

Fernando Meirelles has been making amazing films since his worldwide hit, the masterful "City of God", about the drug war in Rio. He made a similarly-styled kinetic film about the pharmaceutical industry in "The Constant Gardner," but has since been making some interesting choices that are almost at the opposite approach to his original styling, challenging himself to make more artistic and paceful films. I was one of the few who loved his last film feature, the allegorical, "Blindness". Now, he's made a Peter Morgan-penned remake of "La Ronde", one of the first hyperlink movies, where we meet one character, which then takes us to another, and then another, and so-on, until we finally come back around again. The movie begins in Vienna where a Slovakian would-be prostitute, called Blanka, whose real name is Mirka (Lucia Siposova) after getting a job, meets her first Client, a British businessman, Michael Daly (Jude Law) who changes his mind, after she shows up, but not before he's blackmailed by the other company's businessmen, for having called the prostitute. Meanwhile, his wife, Rose (Rachel Weisz) is a magazine editor, who's calling off an affair she's having with a photographer, who's also married, and his wife, finds out, and leaves for America, where she meets an old British man on the plane, John (Anthony Hopkins), who's a recovering alcoholic going to America to identify a body that might be his long-lost daughter. There's another character, played by Ben Foster, who's also at the airport, who's a struggling sexual predator, but who's calling for help from a counselor Fran (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), as he's seduced by a young woman, who clearly isn't aware of his past. He's trying to fly to a possible job in Knoxville. Forgive me, for not getting some of the actors' names here, like I normally do, I really can't adequately recall who played who, even with looking at their names on the imdb.com page, so I'm focusing on the actors I knew from this movie. This is hardly the best hyperlink or multi-narrative film, but like almost all of them though, some sections, characters and stories are going to be more interesting than others anyway. These movies, you really have to look at as a book of short stories, and if most of the stories are interesting, I recommend the movie. Rarely are all of them gonna be good, and it's nice that the stories do go "360" around, although that's really, kind of an add-on that didn't need to be there. It's well-executed, and even the weakest stories in "360," kept me watching as the movie continued on. It's a disappointment as a fan of Meirelles, 'cause I expect more, but that said, I enjoyed "360", despite it's flaws; there's enough interesting characters and stories. I wouldn't recommend it as your first Meirelles film, or first hyperlink/multi-narrative, but it's more than enough to recommend.

STEALING LAS VEGAS (2012) Director: Francisco Menendez

2 1/2 STARS

(CONFLICT OF INTEREST ALERT!!!!) Many of the people affiliated with this film, are friends and/or acquaintances of mine, of friends/acquaintances thereof, including the film's director Francisco Menendez, who was, and still is, the head of the film department at UNLV, where I got my B.A. in Film Studies and I had a class or two, and a few conversations with him, as well as a Professor I had a lot of classes with, Michael Tylo, who's one of the actors in the film, and taught me a great deal, in many classes. He looks like an imposing presence, on and offscreen, but he is an excellant professor and a great actor. Also, among the many people I know who were involved in the film, is one of this blog's followers. (Yes, I have followers, 16 of them, and if you can scroll down, you can find follow me too, thank you. I know there's more than 16 people who read this, so follow me; the more followers I get, the more attention gets paid to my blog.) Diana Eden, who is also a facebook friend of mine, was the film's costume designer, and btw, she has her own wonderful blog, "Costume Training with HollywoodMentors.co"; she doesn't update nearly as often as I do, but when she does, there's some wonderful anecdotes about her many years in the entertainment industry, designing costumes for a lot of famous people. She worked with Bob Mackie, Ann-Margaret, Diana Ross, Penny Marshall, Larry Hagman..., the list goes on; she's designed costumes for many TV shows and movies, and has a lot of great insider advice, and teachings, so the link to her blog is below, so check her out, and in case you're wondering, she never asks me to promote her, I just want to, because I can, and I recommend her blog, and her work, very highly.

http://costumetrainingwithhollywoodmentorsco.blogspot.com/

Now, onto the film, "Stealing Las Vegas," believe or it not, despite my bias, is the first film I've seen from Francisco Menendez, (Sorry, Prof, I'll work on seeing the rest soon.) and this is the first one he's made with Roger Korman producing him, so it's a straight-to-DVD, low budget schlocker, that's not exactly original. It's a casino heist movie, although I must say, few casino heist movies I've seen, have so many strippers. Not exactly complaining, but just an observation, that breasts are basically used as cutaway shots in this film, and frankly, we could probably use a lot more of that in film. The movie begins with Nick Davis (Ethan Landry), a former baseball prodigy, who blew out his knee on a suicide squeeze, and tried to rush the injury back with steroids, so now, he doesn't have insurance for surgery, and instead, works repairing light bulbs at the Olympus Hotel, and stealing money from his roommate, Maria's (Kristen Terry) "Tits" jar, (Which he later learns actually said "Tips", not tits; although living in Vegas, I've seen just as many tits jars, as I've seen tips jars, so it's not as stupid a mistake as you'd think) to try getting rich quick off some staged MMA fights that his boss Mo (Anthonio Fargas) runs. Soon though, the evil hotel owner, Alex Stratholme (Eric Roberts), decides to announce a $20million dollar, giveaway, which one lucky gambler will win. How did he get that money, well, naturally, he's going to fire much of the non-essential personnel, but also, raid them of their insurance and health benefits. He also, has a nasty habit of taking photos, usually of women, and in the case of Stacy (Annabella Casanova), Nick's friend, he apparently took photos, after drugging her, and probably date-raping her. You'd think somebody that rich, good looking, and living in Vegas, and constantly frequenting strip clubs, wouldn't need to go through all that trouble, but that makes it more despicable  So, the heist is on, and not to give much away, but this one involves a large vacuum-like tube, and some manipulating of doors, vaults, entrance cards, and apparently some very distracting strippers. I hate going back to the strippers, but the film, often kept going back to the strippers, where during the heist, Alex is patiently bemused at the strip club, just waiting to be robbed it seems like. I think I would've preferred a bigger contrasting regular life for the Alex character, just to mix it up a bit. Although, that would've likely meant fewer strippers, so I'm a little torn on that, but.... Well, I can't exactly say I recommend the movie. It is clearly low-budget and the dialogue is a little hokey at times, although it's delivered well, but some of the lines are obviously redubbed later. There's an occasional voice-over from Nick, comparing the caper he's about to pull to baseball strategies, which, while I love baseball, I'm not sure that's exactly the right sport to use metaphors with, in this case, but overall it's entertaining for what it is. It's not realistic at all, but it's a nice little heist movie. I do wonder though, if there's ever gonna be a new way to shoot a heist movie, 'cause the typical formula, seems manipulative and old for me sometimes. Building up the reasons why, seeing the seemingly random scenes of preparation in the middle, and then seeing, how they're all apart of the elaborate heist in the end, and then seeing in flashback all the parts of the heist we didn't see or get before. I think the formula could some use some rigging to it, but that's a general question, on the genre.

THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1924) Director: Raoul Walsh

2 1/2 STARS

"The Thief of Bagdad", is one of those movies where the movie is about, how amazing the sets are. The sets, the costumes, to some extent, the special effects. Well, at the time, to a great extent, the special effects. It was the most expensive movie of it's time, and a lot of it does look amazing on screen, even today. It ranked #9 on AFI's Top Ten List of Fantasy Films, a few years back. (That was the screwy year, where they were doing Top Tens in subgenres. You know, animation, epic, courtroom drama, western, sports movie, etc.) It's hard to think nowadays, that these movies were some of the biggest hits of the silent era. These lavish costume and action pieces. I tend of think of these films, not starting to get their groove 'til much later in the century, after sound, and handheld camera, allowed for actions that extended beyond movie sets. The Bagdad, in the movie, isn't Iraq (Which is spelled with an h, in the middle) ; it really isn't anywhere, actually. It might as well exist in Middle Earth. They had Arabian-clothing and the sets and the idea, well a ready-made vehicle for Douglas Fairbanks, the lowly thief, well, maybe not lowly, he's actually skilled and adventuresome, but the lowly thief, who hopes to soon win the honor of marrying the Princess, (Julianne Johnston). After first gaining enough trust, and sneaking in to even become a competitor for her honor, he must go search for a grandest of treasures to bring back to her, which are naturally, guarded by, some kind of monsters and death-defying leaps and adventures. This movie, sounds more entertaining than it is. It's way too long, over two and a half hours. It's probably a little sacrilegious to criticize a classic, but I can really only pay attention to how great the costumes were for so long. I think the story works better being told, than it is being seen, at least scene here. When Roger Ebert wrote his Great Movie review of "The Thief of Bagdad," he wrote it on the 1940 remake, which was also a special effects spectacular of its time. Despite the innovations, I really struggled to keep interest watching "The Thief of Bagdad". I don't know why, or who's fault it is, but I can't really recommend it as a film. Probably should be viewed as a piece of cinema history, but I tend to think, the silent movie era was the period of Chaplin and Keaton comedy, and the German Expressionist, horrors, and the birth of the great D.W. Griffith epics. Douglas Fairbanks was a great screen star, but he might be more famous now, if he was a star, back in the forties or fifties, or even today, but he was unfortunately birthed in the wrong era of cinema for his talents.

THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING (1988) Director: Philip Kaufman

5 STARS

For much of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis), the Czech surgeon who life comes easy to, seems to flirt, with every word he says. Successfully, I might add. I'm not sure a movie has had the phrase "Take off your clothes", uttered so often, and with the end results, being, somebody taking off their clothes. The time is Prague, '60s, right before the Soviet Invasion. Tomas's is dating,-, well, dating's a strong word, but he's seeing two women. One of them is an artist Sabina (Lena Olin), who wears a hat, and not much else, most of the time, and is just as liberal with sex as Tomas. They're pretty much soulmates, joined at the,-, well I'd rather not say what parts of the body their joined at, but they're joined at it often, and in many surprising ways, usually involving a mirror. Tomas also starts seeing a young bartender, Tereza, (Juliette Binoche) who he meets at a college one day out of town, but she suddenly shows up, at his home, later. Tomas still constantly sleeps around, and often with Sabina, who he convinces to help get Tereza a job as a photographer. Tomas, doesn't get much into politics, but he does write an article that gets published, where he compares the Soviets to Oedipus, and how they should have their eyes plucked out. Soon after, despite his own code, Tomas has let Tereza move in, and soon, in maybe the strangest wedding ceremony I've seen, involving a pig wearing a tie, they get married. They also leave Prague for Geneva, after the invasion. Tereza's smuggled her photos out of Prague, and gotten them published, but Tomas's desire for sex, which he contends has nothing to do with love, is unnerving for Tereza. She tries multiple attempts to break free, and try to be with other men, and other women, at one point, but devotion and love are just too intertwined for her. The word "Lightness" in the title, refers to Tomas, but the heaviness is the burden for Tereza. Yet, when she suddenly moves back to Prague, after the Invasion, he follows her back, which changes the movie from an erotic love triangle, to a story of how two personalities, strive to survive in Communist Czechoslovakia, without giving in to the other's or the Soviet's principles. When Tomas, who is widely considered one of Europe's best surgeon, can't get a job, because he refuses to retract his old story that he wrote, you almost think, he would've gladly signed the paper, if he thought the story was important. "The Unbearable Lightness..." was considered one of the most erotic films made since "Last Tango in Paris", when it came out, and frankly, considering how little erotic and sexual movies Hollywood makes, you might argue it's their last truly erotic film. It was directed by the great Philip Kaufman, who's one of those filmmakers who probably should be more well-known, and his films seen more, considering his resume. The previous film he made, was the epic "The Right Stuff", about the Mercury astronauts, which received numerous acclaim and awards, but was a flop by the studios. After this film though, he films went from traditional to these erotic tales. He made the first NC-17 film "Henry & June," based on Anais Nin's diary. He then made a forgettable action film, "Rising Sun," based off of a Michael Crichton novel, before returning to the strong R, erotic period pieces, with "Quills". His did the HBO film "Hemingway & Gellhorn", just last year. He's fallen out of favor in Hollywood, but his ambition is certainly grandiose. "The Unbearable Lightness..." is really a special film. I'm amazed it didn't get any acting nominations, especially for Binoche and Olin. Day-Lewis, I've observed, as great an actor as he is, when he's in as little makeup as possible, it's harder to realize how good an actor he is. I don't know why that is exactly; I wonder if he's more comfortable, hiding and disguising his characters beyond recognition, like his latest performance in "Lincoln", or his Oscar-winning work in "My Left Foot," and "There Will Be Blood". He still amazing, but I think it might be his looks. Especially with hair, he's so astonishingly handsome, that it might be hard to take him seriously. Perfect for this role though. A forgotten gem, but I'm glad I finally got around to it.

8 WOMEN (2002) Director: Francois Ozon

1 1/2 STARS

Francois Ozon's "8 Women", is a movie about how the costumes everybody wears makes their cleavage heave during times of stress. There's some sub-par Agatha Christie, Murder Mystery Weekend-type story going on as well, but really, it's a movie about women, who apparently only have a change of clothes, when they're typical dowdy, hair-up, eyeglasses, bookish look, gets changed into the heaving bosom dress, which are apparently well-stocked in the closets of one of the eight women who live in the house, that looks like an abandoned set of "Ten Little Indians". (Maybe it's a set of "The Women", but that play's better with a bare set, so I doubt that; it might have been left over from some bad soap opera.) Oh, and did I mention this was a musical? Actually, the music was one of the better parts of the movie, but consider how odd and awkward they came up, that's a definite backhanded compliment. It's 1950s, in a secluded extravagant winter home in the France countryside. There's been a snowstorm, so everybody locked-in for the day, and apparently, somebody has killed the master of the house, Marcel (Dominique Lamure, rarely seen). With nothing to do but insult each other and occasionally sing a strange dance number. With the police, snowed in and unable to come, they're determined to find out, which one of the eight did it. This is based on a play by Robert Thomas, which I didn't have to look up, I would guess it was play, and frankly, Ozon isn't hiding that well. Normally I enjoy Ozon's work, especially "Under the Sand," and "Swimming Pool", but sometimes, I'm not as impressed, as in "Time to Leave". "8 Women," almost feels like, a TV teleplay you'd find on public television, and frankly, it's hard to take it seriously as a movie, even with a who's who, of great French actresses. Emmanuelle Beart, Isabelle Huppert, Catherine Deneuve, Ludivine Sagnier. It's almost like all these women just came together and decided to just, put on this play as a lark or something. For a movie like that, you'll never top Louis Malle's masterpiece "Vanya on 42nd Street". Forget same ballpark, "8 Women," isn't even in the same atmosphere as that film. It's a gorgeous-looking fake set, some beautiful exhuberant costumes, except on the characters who aren't wearing them, like the maid, Mamy (Danielle Darrieux), who figures out and then get shot, kinda, not really. Not the other maid, Suzon (Virgina Ledoyan), who probably has the most seductive of outfits. It doesn't feel so much like actresses here, as it does, working models. To some extent, it's one of those movies, that's such camp, that you can almost claim that it's so bad, it's good, but not quite for me.

SEXUAL LIFE (2005) Director: Ken Kwapis

2 STARS

Kew Kwapis should really stick to television directing. He mostly forgettable forays into feature films just straddle the line of mediocrity, the most famous of these recent ones being, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants", and "He's Just Not That Into You". The best of the bunch is probably "He Said, She Said," about competing columnists who fall in love. "Sexual Life", which didn't get a theatrical release. is a hyperlink movie, that begins with a prostitute named Lorna (Azura Skye)-, actually, this is second movie I've seen this week, after Meirelles's "360," that's based on Arthur Schnitzler's play "La Ronde". Actually makes a somewhat interesting little auteur theory study, as "Sexual Life", starts with a prostitute, and goes from her latest client, Todd (Tom Everett Scott), with whom she likes, but still mostly thinks about finishing her crosswords during her work. She leaves a present that her friend Terri (Carla Gallo) gave her with Todd, who hides it from his very new girlfriend Sarah (Elizabeth Banks, who even in this movie, the more I see her, the more convinced I become that she's one of the best actresses in all of Hollywood). She's still, unbeknownst to Todd, still trying to break things off with her co-worker, Josh (James Le Gros), who's trying to pretend that he's still in love with his wife Gwen (Anne Heche), who knows the spark in their relationship is gone, so with the help of her mother, Joanna (Shirley Knight), tries to meet up with her old college flame David (Steven Weber), but hooks up instead with the hotel's clerk, who's also named David (Eion Bailey).... and around and around we go, 'til we meet up with the hooker again, who strangely meets up with Todd, at the wedding of Jerry (Dule Hill) and Rosalie (Kerry Washington), after working his bachelor party the night before. Whew! I'm glad I was able to get this figured out, but it doesn't really mean much. Another conencting thread in the film, is voice-over. All the character have their inner monologue, either before, during or after they've just had sex. Not exactly new, I think Woody Allen invented, that, but he was fresher, and him, and many others before Kwapis's film, were funnier. "Sexual Life" sounds better when I describe it, but it doesn't really add up to much. I'm gonna have to check out "La Ronde" at some point; apparently it's influential enough for multiple films with talented actors and filmmakers to be apart of it, and be inspired by it. In the meantime, I'd recommend "360" over "Sexual Life", despite some interesting performances from actors, the story is fluff and too light as a feather to have any long-lasting impact or meaning. At least "360", went around the world; "Sexual Life", maybe goes around the block a couple times.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

CANON OF FILM: "BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE"

BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE (2002)
Director/Screenplay: Michael Moore




A lot of you guys know that the majority of these “Canon of Film” blog entries I write are pre-written, many of them, I wrote years ago. This was the opening of my Canon of Film entry for “Bowling for Columbine” when I first wrote it:   

Earlier this year, one of the strangest moments in the history of the country occurred when V.P. Dick Chaney while quail-hunting, accidentally shot a man, a friend of his, in the face. The man luckily survived. Then, a few days later, a moment that was even stranger occurred, when the victim held a press conference where he apologized to the Vice-President, and his family, for having put them through so much trouble. Did anybody else just catch that? The man who was shot apologizes to the man who shot him! (I have to thank the comedienne Paula Poundstone for pointing out this absurdity on her last stand-up special) Sounds like the perfect moment to go back to take another look at “Bowling for Columbine,” arguably Michael Moore’s best film. Maybe not his most important, which belongs to “Fahrenheit 9/11,” but I’d argue his best, and the one which earned him the Oscar for Best Documentary.

Obviously, with the current social environment going on now, I am posting my blog for “Bowling for Columbine” for very different reasons, and no, it isn’t coincidental. It’s not just the Newton Massacre either. I actually had drafted an outline to discuss gun control in light of Bob Costas’s statements, where he quoted Kansas City Star Columnist Jason Whitlock, on the murder-suicide of NFL player Jevon Belcher and his girlfriend. Not only because I agreed with him, but also because the media, particularly Fox News, no surprise, was lambasting him, for daring to state any kind of remotely political opinion in the middle of a sports program, as though it’s some fricking travesty that sports fans would have to sit through a political lecture, which Costas’s statements weren’t, to begin with, and that how dare we discuss gun control, right after a high-profile murder-suicide, where guns were used?

To continue with my original Canon of Film entry:

Mainly because unlike “Fahrenheit…” and “Roger & Me,” Moore doesn’t quite know who the true villain is, and therefore there’s no pointed blame, none that can be completely pointed towards at least. There are villains in the films, like James Nichols, the northern Michigan farmer who was arrested but released in connection with the Oklahoma City Bombings, his brother was Terry Nichols, and the Michigan Militia with which Nichols and Timothy McVeigh were at one point members of. And then of course, there’s the film’s famous ending where Moore talks to NRA President Charleton Heston about his need to carry firearms in the house when he’s never himself felt victimized or threatened and lives in a gated community so peaceful it could be confused for Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. There are also funny and absurd moments in the film. Such as when he visits Littleton, Colorado, the home of Columbine High School. Now I knew that Littleton was a suburb of Denver, but I didn’t know it was home of the largest weapons producing plant in the world, and nuclear weapons at that. (A B-22 bomber stands outside the city as a work of honor). I also didn’t know that the NRA formed the same year the KKK were named a terrorist organization. Or that Littleton, Colorado was the city that influenced former Columbine High Schoolers Trey Parker and Matt Stone to create “South Park.” I think Moore blames the media most for all of the violence, especially when compared to how murders are covered in the United States compared to the news in Canada, where as one breaking news reports, “New speedbumps!” despite the fact that Canadians own as many guns per household as the United States, they have at least one-tenth the handgun crimes. In a stunt at the end of the film, Moore and two Columbine victims go to K-Mart, where the bullets Clebolt & Harris used were bought, and went to K-Mart executives to ask for a refund, and to everybody’s surprise, including and especially Moore’s they promised to end the selling of ammunition and handguns. A victory that actually leaves Moore speechless. However, it still doesn’t solve the greater question of why do Americans keep killing Americans with guns? Moore searches far and wide, but for once, he doesn’t have an answer, because it’s the culture of America. I’m reminded of a famous speech Laurence Fishburne gives in “Boyz N the Hood,” that would be a good compliment to Chris Rock’s argument for bullet control. 

(For those who don’t know the scene from “Boyz…” I’m referring to, the link is below.)


I still agree with everything I wrote there, including the part about not knowing who the true villain is, and the answer isn’t as simple, as get rid of the 2nd Amendment, or let every gun be available to everyone. We’ve ostracized cigarette smokers, drunk drivers, hate crimes, simply because it was for the overall public good, and I agree with doing it, but why are we reluctant to do it with guns? If you will all permit me, a brief moment, to do what Costas did, and allow me some time on my bully pulpit to say that, I don’t know whether a ban on assault weapons, or tighter gun laws would’ve stopped the Newton killer, or any of these other mass murderers from what they did, but I know damn well, it would’ve been harder for them to do it. We might have stopped him, or caught him beforehand or not, but either way, the one thing it shouldn’t be for the guy is, easy. The guy took assault weapons from his mother’s house, which she bought legally, shot up a kindergarten and didn’t have to reload. At least if there was every tight restrictions on guns you can think of, and they were enforced to the letter, and he still pulled it off, at least I’d credit his ingenuity, but no, that’s not what happened. That’s not what happened in any of these shootings, and irrelevant of the media, which Moore is still right on, we need to refocus it away from sensationalism, but, if nothing else, making it hard as humanly possible to make anything like this happen again. One more thing, if the NRA has any sense at all, they should be in favor of tough gun control legislation, for that specific reason, and also so that only the so-called “responsible” gun owners, are actually the ones who possess guns, and not these people.

One more observation: Watching the film again, it's amazing how many videos Moore includes of people, actually getting killed, and how they're far more disturbing than I ever see in regular films.