Monday, December 30, 2013


(Backstage at OYL AWARDS, DAVID BARUFFI and CONAN O'BRIEN are in Green room, at the catering table. Conan's getting a cup of coffee, when David walks up, also looking to refill his cup.)

Oh, hey Conan, thanks for hosting by the way. I normally did this in the past, but I think a real professional, name host is-eh really gonna help the OYL Awards grow.

Hey, as long as I'm getting paid, it's my pleasure.

That's no problem.

(Conan's about to put the pot of coffee back on the coffee maker, but David interrupts.)

Can I have the-eh,-

Oh, here.


(Conan hands David the coffee. David grabs a cup and begins pouring while Conan, holding his cup of coffee, looks over the table, which is mostly cookies, doughnuts and other assorted pastries. After David pours, he puts the coffee back. He then grabs the nearby milk. As he fixes his coffee, he begin to unconsciously start humming the old "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" theme. After pouring the milk, he starts continuing the theme by do-doing the theme with his mouth as he grabs five or six sugar packets which he tears open two at a time, and pouring into his coffee, and his humming and do-doing gets louder. After he finishes, he turns to Conan as he stirs the coffee, who has a pissed off expression.)


Really? This again.


Humming "The Tonight Show" theme, that was four f***ing years ago, man. C'mon!

I didn't mean-, I mean, it was stuck in my head.

(Conan slams down a pastry)

I'm outta here, screw your damn show.

(Conan starts walking out, pissed!)

I swear, the band was playing it earlier; it's been stuck in my head.

(David starts following Conan)

I'm sorry, I really didn't realize it! You're still gonna host right? Right?!
We'll pay extra?! I can do the Conan theme!

(David starts mumming the "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" theme song as he runs offscreen. The humming of the theme song, eventually morphs into the opening theme of the OYL Awards!)

Welcome to the 3RD Annuals, ONE-YEAR-LATER AWARDS!

(CROWD applauds. We pan over them, eventually moving behind the curtain, where David is pleading with Conan to stay and host the show. Conan is steadfast in not doing it, despite his desperate pleas. David then produces a comically oversize bag of money, the kind with a dollar big dollar sign on the side of it, like in an episode of "DuckTales" and hands it to Conan. After physically thinking considering it, he finally accepts it, right as ANNOUNCER, offstage introduces him.) Conan holds the bag of money under his arm.

Ladies and gentlemen, this year's host of the OYL Awards, Conan O'Brien!

(Conan enters with applause, still holding the money bag.)

Thank you, thank you very much!

(Soon, applause dies down.)

(Looking stage left)
Andy, can you bring this to my trailer.

(ANDY RICHTER appears from offstage and runs out)

Yeah of course.

Thank you, here.

(There's applause for Andy as he enters stage left and takes the moneybag from Conan and then exits stage left. As applause dies down, Conan goes into his monologue.)

Welcome Everyone, to the 3rd Annual ONE-YEAR-LATER AWARDS!

(Slight applause)

Yes, the OYLs as there called, they're the single laziest award show, ever conceived.


Not only, do they wait a full friggin' year to give out there awards, they don't even bother naming them. The One-Year-Later Awards, how lazy is that.
(In mock evil nerd impression)
Yes, we're gonna give them out, a year later, yes. And that's what we're gonna call them! The One-Year-Later Awards.
(Nerd impression evil laugh)

(Big laughs)

(Normal voice)
Yes, that's exactly, how it happened. Little nerd, with the thing.- They're so lazy, they never even designed the Award. They've done the Award show, for three years, they've never actually given out an Award, and they still haven't designed it, they're a new level of lazy, folks. They can't see the movies in time, and they can't be bothered to design the award.
(Back to nerd)
(evil laugh)
we're gonna take our time,
(Fakes marijuana puff)
yes, and watch everything.
(Fakes another marijuana puff)
Taking our time
(Fakes another marijuana puff)
Make sure we saw "Bel Ami" before making up our minds.
(Fakes another marijuana puff)
We'll see "Newlyweds" even when no one else will, you never know.
(Fakes another marijuana puff)

(Crowd bursting in laughter, cut to close-up of KERRY BISHE in crowd, laughing at the "Newlyweds" joke.)

They call it taking their time, it's just laziness folks. Another thing they're lazy at, is that none of the winners, even though they're here, and they'll be collecting their awards many of them, the awards that don't actually exist,- we should go down to the Hollywood dump and find some of those Kids Choice Award blimps that Nickelodeon gives out,-


I mean, they were honored, they showed up, give them a cheeseplate or something.
(Laughing at self)
That'd be weird if they gave cheeseplates as Oscars, I don't think anyone would take it seriously.
(Over-the-top sophistocated voice)
Daniel Day-Lewis, great as Lincoln, here's your cheeseplate!

(Audience laughs)

No, but not only that, but the winners will not be giving speeches at these awards.

(Audience awes)

I know. You just come up here, we hand you a cheeseplate
(Pause for laughs)
You stand there looking like an idiot for a bit, and then you walk off. It's sad, the reason we're not having speeches is because the entire rest of the country got together and bribed the producers.

(Audience laughs)

Yes, the only time the country has agreed on anything since 2008. You shouldn't be that surprised by this, how did you think they were able to afford to have me here.

(Audience laughs)

Actually, I'm not here, just for the money
(Long pause for audience laughter. He laughs and smiles, too. Weird voice)
No, not jus-st-t, for the money!
(Switches back to normal)
No, I was asked to host, because last year a documentary was made about me called "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop",-

(Interrupted by audience applauds)

Yes, thank you. I had nothing to do with it. Just some other guys filming  me with a camera, really. Anyway, the film got an OYL Award nomination for Best Documentary last year, and I was proud and honored, to have my film, still remembered and talked about, so long after it's release. You see however, when you go back and look at the official results from last year, you'll notice that, there's an extra nominee from what was there originally, the film "Pina", the Wim Wenders documentary. You see, that film was nominated for an Oscar, which is a guarantee that the film is gonna be watch for the Awards, but the film wasn't released on DVD, until after the Awards last year, so when it was finally released, they didn't change the results, although we didn't win anyway, but, if you can get a shot of the website on the screen showing last year's awards, please?

(A zoomed in shot of last years Awards webpage is shown.)

they added a caveat that, had the film been viewed, it would've been nominated. Now, there were ten nominees, the maximum for the category, so one of the films that was nominated last year, would technically have not been nominated. Now, I can't completely confirm this, but, a little birdie told me, that yes, had "Pina" been viewed before the awards last year, it would've knocked out, my documentary, "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop". Yes folks, in a ten-movie competition last year, my movie, would've finished, eleventh.

(Audience, mix of laughs, awes, and gasps.)

That's why I'm here tonight, because they felt so sorry for me, they decided, as a consolation prize, that I would host the OYL Awards, the next year. Yes, I almost wasn't nominated, last year, so they, at "David Baruffi's Entertainment Views and Reviews", which by the way, is way too long a name for a movie blog, decided to make up for it, by having me, work. It is official folks, the OYL Awards, are indeed, the Laziest Award Show EVER!

(A bell starts ringing uncontrollably, and in bright happy colors blinking across the bottom of the screen reads in big bubble letters:


and balloons, streamers and confetti come down, all over Conan, as noisemakers, and loud celebratory party music is heard, as clearly, the OYLs are celebrating their new status as the Lazies Awards Ever! After a few moments, and a stage filled with balloons and confetti, Conan looks around, wondering what's gonna come of this mess. Andy Richter and 6 P.A.s come in pushing brooms and frantically pushing all the confetti off the stage, where more P.A. are collecting everything in trash bags or sweeping off what falls from the stage to the audience. Conan starts laughing as the scenario, as they hurriedly try to clean and clear the stage for the Awards.)

What did you guys think was gonna happen, by the way? That you guys were just gonna drop a buttload of confetti and half-inflated balloons on the stage, and then somehow, magically, it'd all be cleared in like a minute?

(Audience laughing)

That's like getting front row seats to Gallagher and being shocked that you're hit with flying watermelon.
(Imitates deranged Gallagher slug-a-matic bit)
Is there a Jeannie that can clean this.
(Imitates an exaggerated Jeannie's cross-arm blink a few times, pause)
Alright, are we almost done, Andy?

We're almost there.

The guys, going down  the aisles with the trash bags of confetti. Man, this is not the Oscars.

(Applause. The crew finally finishes cleaning the stage)

(Shaking his head is disgust)
The laziest Awards, and the biggest time waster of the Awards. Okay folks, we're finally gonna begin. To present the OYL Award for Best Supporting Actress, a 3-time OYL Award nominee last year, a nominee for Lead Actor for "Moneyball" and a 2-time OYL Award winner last year as a producer and Best Supporting Actor for "The Tree of Life", and even with the kids, his life makes all other men in America want to kill themselves, ladies and gentleman. Mr. Brad Pitt!

(Crowd applause and music plays as BRAD PITT enters stage right and approaches the microphone.)

You guys missed some confetti around here
(Pointing behind him)
By the exit, nevermind.

(Audience chuckles)

For the first time ever there are ten nominees in the Best Supporting Actress category, and the roles range wildly. From cult leader to an MI-5 operative. From an alcoholic sister-in-law to a oversexed sister. From a prostitute to a fast food employee, to a mother who'll do anything to get out of the trailer, to the daughter she uses as a sexual pawn. To a woman married to a serial killer, to a woman married to the President. Determining the best performance, from so wide a range, is by no means, an easy or even a wanted process. Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actress:

(A video package pays, with voiceover of Brad, saying each name as they're showcased. Audience clapping after each name package is completed. [A similar package is played before each list of nominees are announced)

Kerry Bishe-"Newlyweds"
Dame Judi Dench-"Skyfall"
Sally Field-"Lincoln"
Gina Gershon-"Killer Joe"
Anne Hathaway-"Les Miserables"
Nicole Kidman-"The Paperboy"
Brit Marling-"The Sound of My Voice"
Sarah Silverman-"Take This Waltz"
Juno Temple-"Killer Joe"
Dreama Walker-"Compliance"

(Finishing clapping himself, envelope in hand)
And the OYL AWARD goes to...-
(Pause, opens envelope)

-...GINA GERSHON, for "Killer Joe"!

(Audience applauds as Tyler Bates's "Rabbit Scream" is played as GINA GERSHON gets up and walks onstage to accept her Award. There's no explanation as to how there's suddenly an award for her to pick up. She and Pitt walk off stage-right after a minute.)

(As she walks onstage)
This is Gina Gershon's first OYL Award win and her first nomination!
(Long pause, after they walk off)
To announce the first ever OYL Award for Best Cinematography, a 2-time OYL Award Best Actress Nominee for "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and "I Am Love", Tilda Swinton!

(TILDA SWINTON enters stage left and approaches the microphone. Applause)

As any actress knows, if you really want to make sure you look good in the movie, sleep with the cinematographer. 
(Audience slightly laughs)
No, don't do that. But, without Directors of Photography, we couldn't do too much. Film is a world for the imagination, and without lighting, we couldn't create them out of thin air. These artists managed to create worlds, some as grand as outer space, to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, to dark cities of criminals, and let's not forget, give us new looks at the past, both as recent as the '60s in New England, to post-war California, to the Civil War era, and even they can even give us, a whole new look, at ourselves in this modern world. Here are the ten artists, the Directors of Photography nominate:

The Dark Knight Rises-Wally Pfister
Django Unchained-Robert Richardson
Kon-Tiki-Geir Hartley-Andreasson
Life of Pi-Claudio Miranda
Lincoln-Janusz Kaminski
The Master-Mihai Malaimare, Jr.
Moonrise Kingdom-Robert D. Yeoman
Prometheus-Dariusz Wolski
Samsara-Ron Fricke
Skyfall-Roger Deakins

And the OYL Award goes to...
(Pause, Opens envelope)


(Mychael Danna's "Pi's Lullaby" plays as CLAUDIO MIRANDA calmly gets up from his seat and approaches the stage quickly as the audience applauds. Tilda hands him the OYL.) He whisper graciously Thank you before turning to the audience, and then walking off stage right with Tilda. Conan appears from stage left.)

Before I announce our next presenters, for no reason, I'm going to do the string dance.

(Audience laughter as Conan goes into his famous string dance, including the cutting of the string.)

Thank you. We couldn't figure out any way to get that in the opening, so we put it there. To introduce the Award for Best Animated Feature, a nominee earlier tonight for Best Supporting Actress for her work in "Take This Waltz", and an evil, sick, twisted dog-murdering ass**** disgrace of a human being who makes Michael Vick look like a saint! Ladies and gentlemen, Sarah Silverman and Seth MacFarland!

(Audience laughs as SETH MACFARLAND and SARAH SILVERMAN walk out stage right, as they approach the microphone. Seth is looking over at Conan, annoyed, unable to believe the introduction. Sarah is remaining her stoic self, as though she's got something sneaky she's about to say, or just said something offensive.)

(Long pause, looking back and forth towards Conan)
Really, worst than Michael Vick? First of all, I brought him back to life,-

You did?

(Turns to Sarah, shocked)
Yes, in last weeks episode.

Oh, I stopped watching after you killed Brian, that was f***ed up, man.

(Audience laughs)

It was an animated dog, he's not real to begin with. Michael Vick, actually killed dogs, I didn't.

Is that why you're here? You killed a dog, and now you're presenting an award?

No, I-

Are you dying? Is this a last hurrah!-

(Audience chuckles)

I'm not dying. This bit is, but- no I'm here, because I voiced and created the most successful animated character from 2012, Ted, the loveable foul-mouthed teddy bear, right, remember?

(Some of the audience claps.)

Yeah, you all liked Ted. And, I hosted the Oscars last year and this is one of the few places that praised my performance, so that's why I'm here presenting.

So, you weren't nominated for anything.

(Audience laughs, pause)

Not, for an OYL, no. An Oscar nomination for Best Song, but they don't have that category. Can we go to the Award now.

I don't know, this still seems fishy. You, hosting the Oscars?

(Audience laughs)

(Ignoring any implications from Sarah)
There are five nominees for Best Animated Feature and the Award goes to the film's directors and producers, and the nominees are...

(In the video package, Seth and Sarah alternate announcing the nominees)

Brave-Dir.: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, Co-Dir.: Steve Purcell; Pro.: Katharine Serafian
From Up on Poppy Hill-Dir.: Goro Miyazaki; Pro.: Tetsuro Sayama, Toshio Suzuki and Chizuru Takahashi
ParaNorman-Dir.: Chris Butler and Sam Fell; Pro.: Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner
The Secret World of Arrietty-Dir.: Hiromasa Yonabayashi; Pro.: Toshio Suzuki
Wreck-It Ralph-Dir.: Rich Moore; Pro.: Clark Spencer

You see, it was an animated character, but it wasn't an animated film, that's why I wasn't nominated. It was one computer-generated character.

Whatever dude, you suck. 

(Audience laughs)

And the OYL Award goes to..
(Opens envelope, excited)

Alright we won! "WRECK-IT RALPH"! Yeah!

(Buckner & Garcia's "Wreck-It, Wreck-It Ralph", plays RICH MOORE and CLARK SPENCER get up and head towards the stage, as the audience cheers, particularly those closest to their seats. As they collect their awards, they each hug Sarah and shakes hands with Seth, before they all eventually exiting stage right.)

(As they walking up.)
These are the first wins and nominations for Clark Spencer and Rich Moore. Moore is also nominated tonight for Best Original Screenplay, and Spencer is nominated for Best Picture as a producer, both also for "Wreck-It Ralph"!
(Long pause, until after they exit stage right.)
A nominee tonight for Best Actress for "Rust and Bone", and a winner last year as a member of the cast of "Midnight in Paris", Marion Cotillard!

(MARION COTILLARD enters stage left, as she approaches the microphone, and gets an applause.)

As the Announcer said, while I was a winner last year as a member of the cast of "Midnight in Paris", the OYL Award for Best Casting Ensemble was more specifically designed to honor the casting directors of a film, who's amazingly difficult job it is, to find the right actors for the right roles. Sometimes, it's matching the perfect couples to get the perfect chemistry, often it's getting big named stars and egos to work together, sometimes, it's the sheer amount of roles they have to cast and cast quickly, or sometimes, it's finding the right person for those trickiest of roles that will only work with the right person in the part. They have a lot of work to do, often in a short amount of time, and we honor them now, as much as the incredible casts that somehow the managed to put together. The ten nominees for Best Casting Ensemble are...

Argo-Casting by Lora Kennedy
Cloud Atlas-Casting by Lora Kennedy and Lucinda Syson
Django Unchained-Casting by Victoria Thomas
Killer Joe-Casting by Denise Chamian
Les Miserables-Casting by Nina Gold
Lincoln-Casting by Avy Kaufman
Moonrise Kingdom-Casting by Douglas Aibel
The Perks of Being a Wallflower-Casting by Venus Kanani and Mary Vernieu
Silver Linings Playbook-Casting by Lindsay Graham and Mary Vernieu
Stand Up Guys-Casting by Deborah Aquila and Tricia Wood

And, the OYL Award goes to...
(Pause, opens envelope)

"LINCOLN". Avy Kaufman, casting. 

("The People's House" by John Williams plays as AVY KAUFMAN gets up and walks onstage. Some of the actors from Lincoln, who are present are standing and cheering in support, although TOMMY LEE JONES isn't standing, he's smiling and clapping as Avy accepts her award, and then  they exits stage right. )

(As she's walking up.)
This is Avy Kaufman's first award and first nomination!
(After she leaves)
To introduce the Award for Best Editing, a Best Actor nominee tonight for "Barrymore" and a past Best Supporting Actor nominee for "Beginners", Christopher Plummer!

(CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER walks out on from stage right, passing Avy and Marion, to applause, music, and a standing ovation.)

(Pause, waiting for applause to die down)
Yes, thank you, thank you.

(Audience soon sits and quiet down.)

Yes, I'm old, and now to talk about editing.

(Audience slightly laughs)

There's many different ways to get random miles of film footage, or nowadays, half a USB drive, to cut them together and make a true piece of art. It is the art of movies after all, the cutting and rearranging of film. Here are the ten nominees for the OYL Award for Best Editing...

Argo-William Goldenberg
Cloud Atlas-Alexander Berner and Claus Wehlisch
Django Unchained-Fred Raskin
How to Survive a Plague-T. Woody Richman and Tyler H. Walk
Life of Pi-Tim Squyres
Moonrise Kingdom-Andrew Weisblum
Premium Rush-Derek Ambrosi and Jill Savitt
Samsara-Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson
Skyfall-Stuart Baird
Zero Dark Thirty-William Goldenberg and Dylan Tichenor

And the OYL Award goes to...
(Opens envelope. Somewhat long pause)

Oh, we have a TIE. 

(Audience groans)

The first winners are, for "CLOUD ATLAS", Alexander Berner and Claus Wehlisch

(The "Cloud Atlas Sextext for Orchestra" by Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil plays as ALEXANDER BERNER and CLAUS WEHLISCH come up on stage to receive their awards. They pause for a moment before heading stage left, but staying behind before exiting as Christopher Plummer approaches the microphine)


And the other winner is "SAMSARA", Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson

(RON FRICKE and MARK MAGIDSON are partially shocked as they get up to lots of applause and "Geisha" by Lisa Gerrard and Marcello Di Franchisi plays. They get onto the stage and get their Award before joining their co-winners stage left before all four exit with Christopher behind them. Conan's back on stage a little befuddled.)

(As Fricke and Magidson walk up onstage.)
This is only the second tie, in the history of the OYL Awards! It's the first nominations for all four nominees, and "Samsara"'s win marks the first time a documentary has won an OYL Award for a category outside of Best Documentary"!

How the hell is there a tie at an Awards show with a voting committee of one!

(Audience laughs loudly at Conan's frustration, which turns into laughter)

A tie? Well, we know this now, at least one of those four winners, has bribed somebody. It might've been an accountant, but he bribed at least one of them. Maybe all of them. Alright folks, to present the Award for Best Supporting Actor, last year's OYL Award winner for Best Supporting Actress for "The Skin I Live In", Elena Anaya!

(ELENA ANAYA enters stage right to applause and music. She approaches the microphone.)

Thank you.
(Speaking in Spanish)
A veces los mejores papeles son, en efecto, los papeles secundarios, y por segundo año consecutivo, los diez nominados al Premio OYL al Mejor Actor de Reparto, han demostrado que, con lo que el carácter vivo que van desde un senador radical que lucha por los Derechos Civiles, a un operador político que esquemas para conseguir votos. Para el propietario de una plantación de extravagante, a su confidente esclavo más confiable, al dentista convertido en asesino a sueldo, a hacer un trato con ellos. Desde un adolescente gay que oculta un romance secreto con un adolescente genio de la música con problemas de drogas, a un líder de culto, a un líder de los scouts, incluso a un viajero del tiempo. Estas piezas han tomado en un viaje salvaje, a lugares y mundos que normalmente no ir y no sería lo mismo sin ellos.

(What she says is translated on the screen below as she talks.)

Sometimes the best roles are indeed, supporting roles, and for the second-straight year, the ten OYL Award nominees for Best Supporting Actor, have proven that, bringing alive character ranging from a Radical Senator fighting for Civil Rights, to a political operative who schemes to get votes. To a flamboyant plantation owner, to his most trusted slave confidant, to the dentist-turned-hitman, out to make a deal with them. From a gay teenager hiding a secret affair to a teenager musical genius with drug problems, to a cult leader, to a scout leader, to even a time-traveler. These parts have taken on a wild ride, to places and worlds we wouldn't normally go and wouldn't be the same without them. )

(In English)
Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actor...

Leonardo DiCaprio-"Django Unchained"
Mark Duplass-"Safety Not Guaranteed"
Philip Seymour Hoffman-"The Master"
Samuel L. Jackson-"Django Unchained"
Tommy Lee Jones-"Lincoln"
Ezra Miller-"The Perks of Being a Wallflower"
Edward Norton-"Moonrise Kingdom"
Matt O'Leary-"Fat Kid Rules the World"
James Spader-"Lincoln"
Christoph Waltz-"Django Unchained"

And the OYL Award goes to 
(Opens envelope slowly)

CHRISTOPH WALTZ. "Django Unchained"!

("Who Did That to You" by Brother Dege plays as CHRISTOPH WALTZ, humbly smiles while he gets up and walks to the stage. He gets his award, as the audience applauds for a moment and then exits stage left, right.)

(As he walks up)
This is the first OYL Award and nomination for Christoph Waltz. His win marks the 2nd time in the 3-year history of the OYLs where the Supporting Actor OYL Award winner coincided with that year's Oscar winner in the category!
(As he leaves)
A nominee last year for Best Documentary, for "Into the Abyss", Werner Herzog!

(WERNER HERZOG enters from stage right, to a rousing standing ovation. He tries to quiet down the audience with hand gestures but he's unsuccessful at first.)

Thank you, thank you.

(Finally, the audience calms)

Some of you might be wondering why I'm here. Well, I wasn't supposed to be, they had wanted the winner of the Documentary category to announce the winner like last year, but-eh, Mr. Kevin MacDonald, he's been nominated again this year for the Award.
(Werner motions to KEVIN MACDONALD in audience. Audience begins clapping briefly.)
Yes, clap, yes, wonderful filmmaker.
(Audience claps a little louder in the direction of Kevin.)
However, after that became an impossibility, they wanted somebody recognizable, and somebody with a distinctive German accent.
(Pause for audience laughs)
And I have both of those things, and I'm known to make documentaries, and there were some spectacular ones this past year and all ten of these great films, are proof of that.They want me to say also that the award is given to the Directors and Producers of the films, and they should, and so without further ado, let's go through the nominees for Best Documentary...

Bully-Dir./Pro.: Lee Hirsch; Pro.: Cynthia Lowen
How to Survive a Plague-Dir./Pro.: David France; Pro.: Howard Gertler
The Imposter-Dir.: Bart Layton; Pro.: Dimitri Doganis
The Invisible War-Dir.: Kirby Dick; Pro.: Tanner King Barklow and Amy Ziering
Marley-Dir.: Kevin MacDonald; Pro.: Charles Steel
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God-Dir./Pro.: Alex Gibney, Pro.: Kristen Vaurio and Jedd Wider & Todd Wider
The Queen of Versailles-Dir./Pro.: Lauren Greenfield; Pro.: Danielle Renfrew
Samsara-Dir.: Ron Fricke; Pro.: Mark Magidson
Searching for Sugar Man-Dir./Pro.: Malik Bendjelloul; Pro.: Simon Chinn
Wish Me Away-Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf

(As he opens envelope)
And, the OYL Award, it goes to...

"SAMSARA". Director Ron Fricke, Producer Mark Magidson.

(From just offstage, Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, still holding their OYL Awards from earlier in the evening, enter from stage left, and collect their second awards, holding the second ones in the alternate hands, as "Geisha" by Lisa Gerrard and Marcello Di Franchisi plays. They stand there partly befuddled and amazed as the crowd give them a huge applause. They exit back stage right.)

(As the come from backstage)
These are the second OYL Awards tonight for Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson for "Samsara", winning earlier for Best Editing. Fricke was nominated for Best Cinematography earlier, and is a nominee for Best Director.
(As they exit)
The only person to be nominated for five OYL Awards, all in the same year, and last year's winner for Best Foreign Language Film for "A Separation", Asghar Farhadi!

(ASGHAR FARHADI enters stage left to applause and music as he approaches the microphone.)

(In Persian)
این گرایش به فیلم های به زبان خارجی همه با هم فکر می کنم در یک گروه، حداقل من این گوش در امریکا وجود دارد وجود دارد. اما، هیچ دو فیلم یکسان هستند، و این ده نامزدهای بهترین فیلم زبان خارجی، هیچ تفاوتی ندارد. یکی از رمز و راز موسیقی آنارشیستی است، یک فیلم انیمیشن در مورد جن، یکی در مورد زندگی یک زن و شوهر است، چرا که آنها مبتلا به زوال عقل مبارزه، یکی دیگر از زیر مبارزات در یک زن و شوهر، پس از قطع عضو، یک سفر مغزی از طریق سینما به خودی خود است، در حالی که یکی دیگر از واقعی سفر در سراسر اقیانوس آرام، در یک قایق. یکی دیگر از روز در زندگی یک معتاد به هروئین، دیگری در مورد رابطه بین یک مرد جوان، و دوشیزه یا زن جوان که او را از خانواده اش به نزدیک تر است، یکی دیگر است در مورد یک بچه مشکل و زن جوان در تلاش برای مراقبت از او، و یک بیشتر، فروش یک انقلاب به مردم است.

(Again, translation is below:

There's a tendency to think of foreign language films all together in one group, at least I hear this in America there is. But, no two films are the same, and these ten nominees for Best Foreign Language Film, are no different. One's an anarchistic musical mystery, one's an animated film about fairies, one's about the life of a couple, as they struggle with dementia, another follows the struggles on a couple after amputation, one's a cerebral journey through cinema itself, while another's an actual journey across the Pacific Ocean, on a raft. Another is a day in a life of a heroin junkie, another's about the relationship between a young man, and the maid who he's closer to than his family, another is about a troubled kid and the young woman trying to care of him, and one more, the selling of a revolution to the public.)

(Continues in English)
The award goes to the film's directors. Here are the nominees, for Best Foreign Language Film

Amour (Austria)-Michael Haneke
Holy Motors (France)-Leos Carax
The Kid with a Bike (Belgium)-Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne
Kon-Tiki (Norway)-Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg
No (Chile)-Pablo Larrain
Oslo, August 31 (Norway)-Joachim Trier
Rust and Bone (France)-Jacques Audiard
The Secret World of Arrietty (Japan)-Hiromasa Yonabayashi
Sound of Noise (Sweden)-Ola Simonsson & Johannes Stjame Nilsson
A Simple Life (Hong Kong)-Ann Hui

And the OYL Award goes to...
(Pause, Opens Envelope)

"RUST, AND BONE," France.

(JACQUES AUDIARD rises from his seat  and walks onstage to loud applause as Bon Iver's "The Wolves (Part I and II)" plays. He accepts his award and pause for a moment, seemingly joyful, but not overly so before he and Asghar exit stage right)

As he walks to the stage. This is the fourth nomination for the country of France, including two tonight, more than any other country in the Foreign Language category, and the first win for the country and for Director Jacques Audiard. He's nominated three more time tonight for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and as a producer, all for "Rust and Bone"!

Well,  that concludes the "No American Allowed" hour of the Awards.

(Mild laughter)

And now, to bring us back to America, here's a former stripper. A Two-time OYL Award nominee, as a Producer and last year's winner of the OYL for Best Original Screenplay for "Young Adult", Diablo Cody!

(Diablo Cody enters from stage left to music and applause as she approaches the microphone.)

Some people don't realize how hard it is to adapt something, from one art form, to another. Some stories, if it even is a story they're adapting, they were often created in the art form they originate from, for a reason, and things that may work well in that art form, might not naturally work in film. It's hard to get inspired too, from someone else's work. That's what makes this year's crop of nominees, all ten of them, the maximum, so special. Here are the nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay...

Argo-Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild-Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
Cloud Atlas-Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski
Killer Joe-Tracy Letts
Les Miserables-William Nicholson & Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg & Herbert Kretzmer
Life of Pi-David Magee
Lincoln-Tony Kushner
The Perks of Being a Wallflower-Stephen Chbosky
Rust and Bone-Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain
The Sessions-Ben Lewin

And the OYL Award goes to...
(Opens envelope)


(Backstage Jacques hasn't even gotten his last OYL Award engraved completely as he turns back somewhat stunned that he's won this Award. He walks back onstage, stage right, and meets THOMAS BIDEGAIN on stage, who's come up from the audience to collect his Award as Bon Iver's "The Wolves (Part I and II)" plays again. They get their awards, the audience applauds for a bit before they all exit stage right again.)

(As they head towards the stage.)
This is the first OYL Award and nomination for Thomas Bidegain, and the 2nd OYL Award tonight for Jacques Audiard. This win marks the first time a Foreign Language Film has won in the category, and only the 2nd time one has won, in any category, outside of Best Foreign Language Film!
(As they exit the stage)
To announce the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, one of last year's OYL Award winners for Best Adapted Screenplay, Jim Rash!

(JIM RASH enters stage left, to some applause, music and fanfare as he approaches the microphone.)

Hi Everyone. In case you're wondering, why I'm the only one here, eh, Alexander Payne, claimed that he's out promoting his newest film "Nebraska", although I know for a fact that he doesn't like promoting and tries to avoid it as much as possible,
(Pause for brief laughter)
so, I'm pretty sure he said to just send Jim. And Nat, Nat Faxon, claimed he was busy making more episodes of "Ben and Kate",
(Longer pause, more laughs)
which I'm pretty sure was cancelled, although they've been saying that about my show for five years, so who knows?
(Laughter, and some scattered applause)
I also host "The Writer's Room" now on Sundance, and they thought me alone, would be appropriate enough, to hand out the Best Original Screenplay OYL Award, so here are the nominees...

Amour-Michael Haneke
Django Unchained-Quentin Tarantino
End of Watch-David Ayer
The Kid with a Bike-Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne
Moonrise Kingdom-Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
ParaNorman-Chris Butler
Safety Not Guaranteed-Derek Connolly
Wreck-It Ralph-Screenplay by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee; Story by Rich Moore, Phil Johnston and Jim Reardon
Zero Dark Thirty-Mark Boal

And the OYL Award goes to...
(Opens envelope)

WES ANDERSON and ROMAN COPPOLA, "Moonrise Kingdom"!

(WES ANDERSON and ROMAN COPPOLA rise from their seats and walk towards/onto the stage as the audience applauds and Alexandre Desplat's "The Heroic Weather Conditions of the Universe (Part 1: A Veiled Mist)" plays. Onstage, they pause after accepting their awards, and then exit stage left.)

(As they walk to the stage)
This is the first nominations and wins for Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola. Anderson is also nominated tonight for Best Director and as a Producer of "Moonrise Kingdom"!

(Conan's back on stage.)

The presenters for the Best Actor and Actress OYLs are George Clooney and Charlize Theron, and after much consideration, and thousands of hours of scientific research analysis, it's been determined that no matter what I say about them, they'll still be George Clooney and Charlize Theron, and I'll still be me.


Yeah, there really isn't much I can say about them. It's be like spitting on the Mona Lisa and then bumping your head on the glass casing covering it. So, without ado, here's last year's OYL Award winner for Best Actress for "Young Adult", Charlize Theron.

(CHARLIZE enters from stage left to music and great applause as she approaches the microphone.)

For the second straight year, there's the maximum, of ten nominees in the category of Best Actor, and that shows just how difficult it is to distinguish between the best performances and the skill involved in creating them. Which is harder to play, a former slave-turned-hitman, or a former convict who's still on the run? A fun-loving undertaker-turned murderer, or a bullhead fighter-turned-caring father and lover? A man fighting his bipolar tendencies or a young boy, stuck on a raft with a tiger? A legendary drunk actor, or an actor who's lives multiple roles in the history of cinema in his own life. Or playing our greatest president, or a man who cares for his beloved maid? And how well did these great actors, create and perform these characters. These are not easy decisions for the voters, and in some wishes, we wish we didn't have to make them. The nominees for Best Actor are...

Jack Black-"Bernie" 
Bradley Cooper-"Silver Linings Playbook"
Daniel Day-Lewis-"Lincoln"
Jamie Foxx-"Django Unchained"
Hugh Jackman-"Les Miserables"
Andy Lau-"A Simple Life"
Denis Lavant-"Holy Motors"
Christopher Plummer-"Barrymore"
Matthias Schoenearts-"Rust and Bone"
Suraj Sharma-"Life of Pi"

(There's applause from the audience after the montage. Charlize is also clapping while holding the envelope.)

And the OYL Award goes to...
(Opens envelope)

HUGH JACKMAN for "Les Miserables"!

(HUGH JACKMAN is stunned at first as he slowly stands up. The crowd somewhat startled itself but immediately moves into a rousing ovation as he finally stands up and walks towards the stage as Anne Hathaway's version of "I Dreamed a Dream" starts playing. He accepts the award and gets a standing ovation, still surprised by his win. After a moment he finally walks off stage left, passing GEORGE CLOONEY as he enters.)

(As he walks towards the stage)
This is the first win and first nomination for Hugh Jackman!
(As he exits)
To present the OYL Award for Best Actress, last year's winner for Best Actor for "The Descendants", George Clooney!

(George Clooney walks out to big applause and music, which he visibly jokes off as though it's too much. Then he encourages more of it, comically, which the audience complies, but then, he asks that it's calmed down, which they eventually do as he approaches the microphone.)

Alright folks. Best Actress. Nine amazing performances this year, by nine stunning women. As much as Charlize said about the great Best Actor nominees, we have to echo that, maybe moreso with Best Actress this year.
(Pause for audience cheers)
Yes, yes, applaud that. I'd have a toast to them, but Quvanzhane can't drink yet.
(Audience laughs)
So who should win. The performance of a tough six-year-old surviving in Louisiana swamps, or a determine mother, surviving a typhoon in the South Pacific. A determined CIA operative, searching for the world's most infamous terrorist, or a damaged whale trainer struggling with the loss of her legs. A young widow falling in love with a bipolar gentlemen, or a a young journalist, fascinated with an obsessed time traveler or a young woman, dealing with a dangerously troubled adoptee. A woman, having dealing his her old ex-husband for one memorable meal, or a fast food manager, dealing with one insistent police officer over the telephone. Here are the nine amazing nominees for Best Actress

Jessica Chastain-"Zero Dark Thirty"
Marion Cotillard-"Rust and Bone"
Cecile de France-"The Kid with a Bike"
Ann Dowd-"Compliance"
Jennifer Lawrence-"Silver Linings Playbook"
Aubrey Plaza-"Safety Not Guaranteed"
Lea Thompson-"The Trouble with the Truth"
Quvanzhane Wallis-"Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Naomi Watts-"The Impossible"

(Crowd cheers along with George who also claps briefly before turning to the microphone and his envelope)

And the One-Year-Later Award for Best Actress, goes to...
(Opens envelope. Waits before talking, with a sly smile)

MARION COTILLARD for "Rust and Bone"!

(Surprised, Marion needs a moment, before finally realizing she needs to get up from her seat and walk up the stage. Audience is slightly shocked, but soon applauds loudly, and some even stand as Bon Iver's "The Wolves (Part I and II)" plays again. She makes her way onstage, whispers something to George who laughs as she gets her Award. She then exits stage right. George strangely stays behind.)

(As she walks up)
This is Marion Cotillard's second OYL Award. Her first was last year as a member of the Casting Ensemble for "Midnight in Paris".

(Pause for a few moments)
Ah, yeah, I'm still here.

(Audience laughing and a little confused)

Yeah, and that's because...-
(Puts hand in his jacket pocket, searching for something)
...they asked me...-
(Pull out another envelope)
to do a little extra work.

(Audience applause partly)

Yeah, Terry Malick, doesn't show up, for these things when they're real awards, so we asked Woody Allen, and he's late getting here.

(Audience laughs)

No,-eh, they asked me, to also announce Best Director, because they thought I knew enough about that, to be qualified to present the Award. I told them, present to one of the great, nine nominees; I don't think I'm worthy. They said, "We know, but you're the best we got."
(Slight pause for audience laughter)
So, this time, we are gonna toast, to these nine nominees, these nine nominated films, these, eleven, ladies and gentlemen, who's vision inspired us, to help them make the films, and the rest of us, who are simply in awe, at their amazing work and talent.

Wes Anderson-"Moonrise Kingdom"
Jacques Audiard-"Rust and Bone"
Kathryn Bigelow-"Zero Dark Thirty"
Stephen Chbosky-"The Perks of Being a Wallflower"
Ron Fricke-"Samsara"
Ang Lee-"Life of Pi"
Steven Spielberg-"Lincoln"
Quentin Tarantino-"Django Unchained"
Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowsky & Lana Wachowski-"Cloud Atlas"

(George has now put the envelope down on the podium, and has miraculously produced a champagne bottle, two champagne glasses and a knife.)

(Placing the glasses on the podium)
Do not ask me, how I snuck these in here.
(Audience laughs, he gets the knife and bottle, ready to open to the side of the stage.)
Alright, that'll be the direction.
(He picks up the envelope, pauses, slyly smiling while starting to rip it open. One more pause for tension)
And the OYL Award goes to...,

And I hope you'll share this drink with me, Mr. ANG LEE! "Life of Pi"!

(Ang lee smiles, greatly as he gets up and heads towards the stage, with big applause and a standing ovation. George pops the champagne bottle, with champagne spill onto the side of the stage, before pouring what's left into the two glasses. Mychael Danna's "Pi's Lullaby" plays as Ang gets his award in one hand, and glass of champagne in the other. Ang and George cling glasses before drinking followed by brief congratulations before exiting stage right. Conan then reappears on stage, looking confused and stunned at the champagne on the floor of the stage. Before he can get a word in, Andy Richter and a few of the P.A.s come in with loads of paper towels and begins cleaning the mess. The audience starts laughing as down Conan who has hand over his face as he laughs at the absurdity of the scene.)

All that for a friggin' comeback.

(Conan looks over to Andy Richter and the P.A.s as they soon finish soaking up the stage, and then soon scurry off.)

It's been a long night folks, but it's almost over. One more Award, and it's the big one, and luckily, for some strange reason, the biggest name has nothing left to do tonight, so he's here to present the OYL Award for Best Picture, a two-time OYL Award nominee, once tonight for Best Director for "Lincoln" another last year for Best Animated Feature for "The Adventures of Tintin". Ladies and gentlemen, it's an honor, Mr. Steven Spielberg!

(STEVEN SPIELBERG enters stage left. He approaches the podium all smiles to music and a standing ovation from the crowd.)

Thank you, thank you.
(Observing the champagne bottle on the podium)
Didn't leave any for me?
(Pause, looking offstage)
Oh, well. Congratulation, Ang by the way. Alright,  last one folks. As always there are ten nominees for Best Picture, and there's not much else left so here we go, the nominees are...

Cloud Atlas-Pro.: Stefan Arndt, Grant Hill, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski
Django Unchained-Pro.: Reginal Hudlin, Pilar Savone and Stacey Sher
Les Miserables-Pro.: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh
Life of Pi-Pro.: Ang Lee, Gil Netter and David Womark
Moonrise Kingdom-Pro.: Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven Rales and Scott Rudin
The Perks of Being a Wallflower-Pro.: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, and Russell Smith
Rust and Bone-Pro.: Jacques Audiard, Martine Cassinelli and Pascal Caucheteux 
Safety Not Guaranteed-Pro.: Derek Connolly, Stephanie Langhoff, Peter Saraf, Colin Trevorrow and Marc Turtletaub
Wreck-It Ralph-Pro.: Clark Spencer
Zero Dark Thirty-Pro.: Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison


And, the OYL Award Best Picture, goes to....
(Opens envelope)

(Long pause)
Ang Lee, Gil Netter and David Womark Producers 

(Ang Lee, comes back from just offstage, entering stage right, as GIL NETTER and DAVID WOMARK approach the stage through the crowd. Applause from the crowd and Mychael Danna's "Pi's Lullaby" plays, while Ang meets his co-producers arrive onstage receiving their OYLs and then soon walking off. Conan is back onstage.)

(As they head towards the stage)
This is Ang Lee's second OYL Award tonight after winning for Best Director, and second total nomination. These are the first wins and nominations for Gil Netter and David Womark.

Well, that's our show Everyone, I had an extremely ambivalent time hosting. Have a Happy New Year Everybody, and don't forget to watch the Oscars, the highest-regarded OYL Awards Predictors,-
(Stops reading teleprompter)
Really? That's how you see yourselves?
(Pause, frustrated sigh)
I'm gonna find Clooney with the alcohol. Goodnight, Everybody.

(Music exits out, as credits role highlights of the night.)

(During credits)
All vote tabulations are done by the in-house accountants 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. Some departing nominees will receive consolation prizes provided by...,

(Commercials for Plax Mouthwash, ACE Hardware, Netflix, Voku, The Olive Garden, The Green Door, and Station Casinos, are played)

LAWYER'S NOTE: "David Baruffi's Entertainment Views & Reviews", denies all existence of the One-Year-Later Awards, and disputes any/all claims of certain bribery, blackmail, racketeering, growing of two different crops side-by-side, kidnapping and ransom, in regards to the Awards themselves, and any subsequent parallel activities to the awards, nor has there been any illegal proprieties involving the sponsors or potential sponsors, up to and including any of the above crimes, or any supposed violations of the Mann Act. And none of this matters since the awards don't exist. Oh, and all celebrities appearances at the awards are fictitious, no matter what Conan O'Brien or anybody else claims we may or may not have done to him personally, or otherwise at, before or during the Awards that didn't exist.

Gift baskets provided by ABC, sorry about the "The Neighbors" Season One DVD.

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

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Hope Everyone had a happy holidays! Before I begin, I wanted to say that, if anybody has anything from my blog that they want to look up, or something, and aren't finding it using the google search bar above, let me know, and I'll find it for you. I myself have been disappointed by that thing over the years. I used to think, it'd just be easier than adding extra buttons and whatnot, but I'm finding my own search results using that untrustworthy at times. So, I'm on Facebook, I'm on twitter, or you can comment on the blog below, there's a bunch of ways to get ahold of me just let me know. In the meantime, I'm gonna try to work on ideas to make this blog somewhat easier to navigate. For instance, in the near future, I might reluctantly start putting tags on these blogposts. I wasn't really in favor of that, 'cause there'd be so frigging many, but, if it helps others, let me know, and let me know if there's something you want me to tage now or in the future, please. Thank you .

Now, onto one other thing I was hoping to avoid this week in entertainment, the thing about Phil Robertson of "Duck Dynasty", (Rolling eyes) was asked about his views on homosexuals, a journalistic decision I will never understand, but anyway, he went on a hate-filled rant, and apparently, everybody freaked out about it, as though that was shocking, and a lot of people were trying to defend what he said, as free speech, because A&E suspended him for two weeks from his show. How anybody can get suspended from a reality show, is something I'd like to have investigated frankly. First of all, A&E is a private company, they're allowed to suspend their employees for practically anything they want, including saying something stupid. And yes, what he said wasn't personal Christian beliefs it was ignorance. He's not the Rosa Parks for the far right or something like that, and by the way, a few politicians actually compared to Rosa Parks; I'm not making that up. Now, I've never watched "Duck Dynasty," and don't particularly plan to in the near future, although I thought part of the appeal of a show like that, was that we're fascinated with the fact that people like Phil Robertson still exist, and that documenting they're ass-backwards beliefs was apart of the entertainment? Maybe not, I don't know. Either way, this got way too much attention when it shouldn't have. The question shouldn't have been asked, we shouldn't have been surprised he answered the way he did, and we certainly shouldn't have been martyring the guy or idolizing him, for-whatever. I didn't care what he thought before, I don't care now, and the people who found something heroic or inspiring in what he says, you people are complete morons.

Anyway, now that I sorta got that outta my system, let's move on. It's the last edition this year of my RANDOM WEEKLY MOVIE REVIEWS! So let's enjoy and move onto them!

PACIFIC RIM (2013) Director: Guillermo Del Toro

3 1/2 STARS

When Rita Rapunzel crash-landed on the moon after barreling through space and began restarting her quest to destroy Earth,...- Oh, seriously, like you weren't making "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" during "Pacific Rim"? Alright, it's a lot better than that, but you got admit, it's a little bit Godzilla vs. Megazord. (Was it zord or sword? Eh, I've thought too long on that.) Basically, in the near future, ancient seamonsters called kaiju, are somehow gonna rise from the Pacific Ocean and begin their assault on all the coastal metropolises. They start with San Francisco, but then they attack more often, and more violently, killing thousands each time. With the world, seemingly under attack, the countries came together and began developing weapons called jaegers, who are the waterwalking behemoth robots that are manned by a two-person team, in order to fight off upcoming kaiju attacks. It starts out well at first, but eventually, the kaiju begin outsmarting them, and lesser and lesser pilots begin getting hired, and soon, the once-prominent program becomes a renegade group of decommisioned robots, and pilots, that intend to prove that the new walls they're building aren't gonna help. During one mission with star jaeger pilots Raleigh and Yancy Beckett (Charlie Hunman and Diego Klattenhoff, and why they didn't just have Hunman play a dual-role here I don't know, but I would've sworn he did if I didn't read Yancy gets killed while he was still in the drift. This is complicated to explain, but the machines are controlled through the mind and their memories and the reason you need two pilots is to help control the right and left hemisphere of the brain, and essentially, while you're tuned into the jaeger, you're essentially sharing each other memories at the same time. I think that's right, or something other kind of "Inception"-influenced nonsense. Anyway, the threat is that is to not get too caught up in your memories or your partners, and be able to control the jaeger, which hopefully has enough weapon power and skills to destroy the oncoming kaiju. This is something that Raleigh's new partner Mako (Rinko Kikuchi, you might remember her from "Babel") is still learning, which is part of the reason why General Pentecost (Idris Elba, I think he's a general? [shrugs]) doesn't want her controlling the kaiju. Meanwhile, there's conflicting theories about how to defeat the kaiju once and for all, both somewhat involve a nuclear weapon, but Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) represents the military, logistical view, while Dr. Geizler (Charlie Day) has a theory about the kaiju that treats them as though they're human almost, and hypothesizes about drifting into a kaiju brain as a way to figure out their weakness. For that, he needs a kaiju brain, which are sold on the black market by Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman, in a classic great Ron Perlman performance). I'm about 99% certain I'm missing something, having only seen the most on DVD, and not in the theater with the 3-D, which I did hear was better than average, and it should be with a director like Guillermo Del Toro at the helm, but, on the other hand, the movie and the visual effect seem so mechanical. Impressive, but there nothing like the Daliesque stylistic touches we got from Del Toro in "Pan's Labyrinth", or even from the "Hellboy" movies; I prefer those effects instead of these, slightly better than "Transformers" look. Actually, that's mean, it's a lot better than "Transformers", and "...Power Rangers" while we're at it, despite similarities, but overall, while I am recommending it, I was disappointed quite frankly with "Pacific Rim". He was always surreal before, and now he went, traditional.

STORIES WE TELL (2013) Director: Sarah Polley

4 1/2 STARS

My mother's currently working on a side project to document as much of the family history as possible. I wish I could be/get more excited about it; I actually don't have the deepest of knowledge about where I came from, but I don't know about a few of the exciting, but honestly, it is a little tough for me to pay that much attention. I try, but staring up at my family tree, seemed at daunting as staring up at a redwood to me. Sarah Polley's new documentary "Stories We Tell", is sort of about looking up and investigating your past, but it's a little more about the way she goes about it, and storytelling. The verbal history and recollections that people have, and how each persons' versions and perspectives may differ from one another, but ultimately through these interviews, we can find,- well, not necessarily a truth, but we do find certain things out. I hope most of you are familiar with Sarah Polley's amazing work before this film. A great actress from films and TV shows like "Go", "The Sweet Hereafter", "Avonlea", "Splice" "Exotica," "John Adams", "The Secret Life of Words", etc.... but recently, she's been moving behind the camera, very impressively at that. She got an Oscar nomination for her screenplay of her directorial debut "Away From Her", and now, with "Stories We Tell", we get a really personal look at her family's past. Her family, is one Canada's great acting families. A family of Storytellers as she calls it. Her brother John is a producer, her brother Mark is an actor, her father Michael Polley, is a legendary stage actor and narrates the film, which is shown with footage of Sarah directing her Dad. (Some might remember him from the great Canadian sitcom "Slings & Arrows", which Sarah also acted in. He one of the two who sings the show's ending theme song "Call the Understudy". [If you're a Shakespeare buff, look up at that show, great series]) and her mother was stage actress and casting director Diane Polley, who passed away when Sarah was 12. The youngest in the family, born very late in life, she was almost aborted, by Diane. She was conceived when Diane was performing a show in Montreal, and there remained some occasional concerns that manifested later in life, about Sarah's parentage. It was often a joke in the family that she didn't look like the rest of the family, and much of what she remembers of her Mom's life, was her illness. Soon however, names and suspicions arose, as suddenly stories kept getting told. One from her brother about a mysterious phone call her mother made, to someone, concerned about the baby. Other speculations were abound as well, as one of Diane's co-stars in the play she was doing, at the time, has similar features to Sarah. She interviews as many people as she can, all about her mother, and each version of the stories seem to be different from person to person. What was important, what parts were hidden and not told, what was rumor and innuendo, etc. They also say to never trust an autobiography, because they're always lying, but sometimes, it just perspectives are completely different. People forget, then suddenly remember, or they recall things that others don't. Who started what joke, when and why. How do these family traditions start. That's the real crutch of "Stories We Tell", and it's quite absorbing. It even ends on a cliffhanger, that gives us more questions we want answers to. In terms of these personal documentaries, while Polley's work is certainly above, when I compare her to someone like Doug Block who did the wonderful "51 Birch Street", it isn't as entertaining, but there is other things going on here. This investigatory dive into remembering and storytelling itself is truly intriguing. Her first film was about a old woman, losing her memory, now here's a movie that analyzes how one remembers. She's got an interesting point of view, and an interesting family, thankfully.

BLACKFISH (2013) Director: Gabriela Cowperwaithe

4 1/2 STARS

Well, I wouldn't say it was celebrated, but just a couple months ago, here in Vegas, it was the tenth anniversary recently of Roy Horn's injury on stage, at the paws of Montecore, one of their famous white tigers which Siegfried & Roy performed with. I never saw them perform live, although I've videotapes of them, and they're quite amazing. I've seen the tigers in the Mirage those many times, and even more often than that, I've seen the dolphin exhibit there. Everybody who grew up in Vegas has, at some point or another, seen the dolphins, at least twice. Just on field trips alone, I know I've seen them at least three times, and we've shown the tour to visitors at least as much. Nobody's ever heard, from my knowledge, a bad thing said about the treatment of the animals at the dolphins exhibit, and especially not the tigers here. Believe me, Roy wouldn't allow it, even as he was bleeding to death in the ambulance, he was telling the paramedics to make sure nothing happened to the tiger. That said, it's no particular surprise that such mistreatment does happen elsewhere. We've seen it zoos and circuses, sea parks particularly SeaWorld were probably doomed to be the next target. I say doomed, and not predestined, because while clearly their treatment of the magnificent killer whales has some very questionable practices, and many of decisions that were made that were just plain irresponsible, I always wonder if it was ever actually possible to train or cage, or- those are terrible verbs for this sentence, but to someway keep normally wild animals in a equitable and hospitable environment that isn't necessarily free, but is enough of an equivalent-, basically, I think like most everybody, we'd like to be able to go see these whales without the awful things we end up having to do to them to see it. OSHA suing SeaWorld currently, insisting that there years of treatment are inhumane and that it's not safe, even for human to be in the water during shows, (or elsewise) with the whales. The whales are taken and kidnapped from the wild, often, many of there family are killed in the process. They shriek when a whale is separated from his family. We learn that they're incredible sentient, more capable of feeling and being effected by emotions than humans are. This is proven, when we study they're minds, they have an extra part of the brain that humans don't that gives them this overdeveloped emotional connection to treatment. They're incredibly friendly, but with recent deaths at SeaWorld, and hundreds of incidents at their parks and others, many of which used SeaWorld whales, the movie's case makes it very clear. It's a given that killer whales should certainly be in the wild, but that SeaWorld irresponsible practices have contributed to the deaths and the deranged mental psyche of the whales. Many former trainers speak out, a job that I was amazed required remarkably little marine biologist education and training. Almost anyone that can swim well, seems eligible for the job. The whale that killed Dawn Brancheau, which SeaWorld, ludicrously tried to blame on her ponytail of all things, had, unknown to all the employees had killed two other trainers before. He's still performing with the show, barely. He's been in captivity for over thirty years (Which is longer than SeaWorld claims they even live, which is a known lie) and is kept separated from other whales, and used for sperm. He's father practically half of the other whales in captivity at SeaWorld and other waterparks. Frankly, while some think he should be freed into the ocean, I think it's a little too late for poor Tillikum, his mind perverted from years of mistreatment, and seeing his family slaughtered and weighted to fall down into the ocean, an act that one of the capturers called the worse thing he ever did, and he's been apart of violent overthrows of governments. We see movies like this a lot, "Blackfish" is one of the better ones, perhaps because of the subject matter. Even under the best of circumstances, it's impossible for things like the incidents shown in the movie, to ever stop completely, but, under the worst of circumstances.... "Blackfish" is the evidence of a crime, literally and figurative, and in some ways, naturally. Like the courtcase, SeaWorld's desperately tried explaining and denying the claims in the movie. They lost the case with OSHA, but they're still appealing. I think they lost the case against "Blackfish" as well.

42 (2013) Director: Brian Helgeland


Years ago, I saw the original "The Jackie Robinson Story" with Robinson playing himself, which he was too old to play, especially in those scenes with him and Branch Rickey. He wasn't a natural actor, he was a high-strung proud man, who was a great and aggressive ballplayer, especially on the basepaths where nobody could touch him. College-educated, a former soldier in the Army, and from an athletic family. (Many people don't know, his older brother was faster than him, an Olympic Silver medalist in the 200m in fact.) It's a new generation, and I guess they can benefit from a new telling of his story. To most sports fans, and frankly most history buffs, they've probably long ago looked up and heard some most of the details that are gone over in "42". Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) was the star shortstop for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues, and Dodgers owner Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) was looking to not only to win, but also to break the longstanding gentlemen's agreement that kept African-Americans, officially out of baseball previously. (Although at the turn of the century there were some African-American players, many of them hid their ethnicity claiming to be Caribbean or something like that.) Rickey handpicked Robinson, and sent him to Montreal for a year with the Triple A team, to get used to the torture and abuse he would get across the country, and from other players and teams. They tried to arrest the team in the south, got thrown at enough to lead the leagues in HBPs,.... I mean, he was getting it, directly or indirectly, more than most of us, who didn't live through the Civil Rights era can truly imagine. The big turning point in the movie is when Phillies manager Ben Chapman (Alan Tudyk) walks out onto the field during Jackie's at-bats and begins spewing a racist diatribe, partially to keep him off-balance at the bat, mostly for the sadistic pleasure. Occasionally, there's a good exchange or two Jackie has with Wendell Smith (Andre Holland) the Pittsburgh reporter who became his biographer as he followed him year round in '67. There's a good performance by Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher, who was suspended for the year for having an affair with a married actress, so Burt Shotten (Max Gail) had to be convinced out of retirement by Branch to manager the Dodgers for the year. The script by writer/director Brian Helgeland, usually a better writer, but it's weak here. Lots of prophecy-fulfilling lines, meant for us to say "And that did happen". Harrison Ford's been getting a publicity push to try to get a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his work, most of which has probably properly been ignored, although he is good here, and has been criminal overlooked by the Academy, throughout his career. (His only nomination was for "Witness" back in '87) It's a good performance, not a special one, and this isn't really a special movie in general. It's a very by-the-book biopic, of a story that can be told much better, probably through sports documentaries than it was here. It's a recommendation, it's not bad, it's a story that needs to be told more often, but truth-to-be-told, it's a toss-up but I think I preferred the original version.

THIS IS THE END (2013) Director: Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen


The Hollywood Hills are on fire, a sinkhole is engulfing the entire town of Hollywood, and the demonic mangoat that is Satan has arrived as the Apocalypse takes out Los Angeles, as the dreams of a thankful nation have finally been answered! (Had to throw that Aaron Sorkin joke in there) Based on their short film "Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse", "This is the End" starts out at as Seth Rogen's (Seth Rogen) friend writer/actor Jay Baruchel (Jay Baruchel, you know, I'll just make this easy here, everyone's basically playing exaggerated versions of themselves) is back in town from New York. They were friends up in Canada, but Rogen's become, Seth Rogen and he struggles to get the neurotic hipster Jay fully accepting of his new friends and pals. Anyway, after a day or two of getting high and other shit, they head out to James Franco's house where he's throwing a huge party. It's pretty cool party. Jonah Hill's really nice but Jay can't stand him. Franco's a regular old crazy nut that's somewhere between his "Pineapple Express" character mixed with, whatever he was on when he co-hosted the Oscars that time. Mindy Kaling trying to fuck a coked up Michael Cera, who's getting blowjobs from a couple random girls, and being an all-around douchebag in general. Suddenly, beams of blue light start taking people away, and demons start killing everyone who doesn't fall into the giant hole in Franco's front lawn. (And Cera gets impaled) Eventually, it's just Franco, Jonah, Seth, Jay, and Craig Robinson, locked up in Franco's house, with a little house, little water, and a shitload of drugs. And eventually Danny McBride, who wasn't invited to the party but passed out in the bathroom anyway, wakes up, unaware of the Apocalypse. Needless to say, most of what happens is fairly funny, I particularly enjoyed the cameo from a pissed off Emma Watson, who finds her way to the house after surviving in a sewer drain. I don't know though, the movie started waning on me after awhile; it's way too long, and eventually, the joke about them, playing themselves, getting high, and trying to think of things to do, it got tiresome. It was funny, but there was a lot of waiting around for something to happen. You know, Gene Siskel used to judge a movie based on whether or not it was as hearing the actors talk over the lunch table, or having dinner. I think I'd like to have dinner with all of these cast members, but I don't know if I'd want to spend the end of the world with them. Well, not for too long anyway. I'm recommending it, I laughed, I like a lot of the in-jokes, it was fun seeing them spoof themselves, but I found it a little too hollow, and ran a little too long; I got tired, I would've left the party early if I could.

PRINCE AVALANCHE (2013) Director: David Gordon Green

3 1/2 STARS

Alright, before I say anything else, um, just a word of advice in the future for David Gordon Green and all other writers out there. If a major character is gonna often have his named yelled or screamed out during the movie, um, try to avoid using Alvin, for the name, unless you're purposefully making an "Alvin and the Chipmunks" joke. Just-just a heads up, try to avoid that, anyway, moving on...-

Based on the Icelandic film "Either Way", Green's latest film "Prince Avalanche", is an introspective piece set around the Bastrop, Texas area, where two brothers-in-law, Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsch, playing younger than I think he is.) are working at a solitairy Summer job of painting/repainting yellow lines in the middle of the highways all through Summer. Alvin's a hard worker, and is doing the job despite having a long-suffering girlfriend at home. His girlfriend brother Lance, is one of those kids who has a bad habit of talking before he thinks sometimes. He's somewhat lazy and more cerebral; brags about his ability to pick up chicks, stuff like that. There isn't too much that unpredictable here. We get some of the old DGG back, with the ethereal landscape and human nature, the Malickesque southern gothic style that he so long ago mastered, he seemed to be bored and shifted his focus, in nearly the complete opposite direction with stoner comedies like "Pineapple Express" and "Your Highness", with heavily mixed results. They occasionally run into a friendly trucker (Lance LeGault) who they have a converation with and occasionally share a beer. In the meantime, much of the film is the relationship between Alvin and Lance, and the way both characters eventually grow with each other, going from boss-employee to mentor-mentee, and eventually to being two good friends, both of whom have struggles and troubles with the women in their lives, who they're both miles away from as they camp out in the middle of nowhere. Normally I have an affection for films like these, but I gotta be honest here for a second. After I watched this movie, returned it to the library, where I usually watch two or three other movies at any given time, and usually I take copious notes on which films I've seen that particular week, so I can make sure I review them, and after couple days and after watching about three or four others movies, none of which I'd consider standing out one way or another, I finally realized that I had forgotten to write down that I had seen "Prince Avalanche," and had already long-starting writing these reviews on other films by the time I remembered. It's a very weird thing for that to happen to me, with a movie and a filmmaker that I normally go out of my way to see and enjoy. I don't know why that happened, but after I did finally recall and reflect on the film, I realized that this is a simpler and smaller movie than most of the more interesting films of this nature and that the friendship itself, and the characters, are, kinda weakly drawn. I wonder if someone like the Dardenne Brothers perhaps, would made this film somewhat more interestingly. It has the look of Green's earlier work, but his earlier films were richer and more detailed, and not just about the landscape, but about the people and the lives his characters led, even when they revolved around more traditional stories like, the fact that the Patricia Clarkson character in "All the Real Girls" worked as a clown at kids parties for instance, details like that, that helped his films stick out more than most. It's not really one of his old visions, maybe he isn't interested or capable of making a film like that anymore? That'd be sad. I'm still recommending "Prince Avalanche", but it is just a few grains of sound from a mountain.

SIGHTSEERS (2013) Director: Ben Wheatley

2 1/2 STARS

Before deciding to do research on the movie before writing my review, this was about the tone that I was gonna start my reviews of "Sightseers":

"Was this intended as a comedy?! I hope it was, 'cause it either was that, or these are either the angels of merchants of death, and I obviously missed a lot of symbolism, (I must presume at least that I missed some symbolism, 'cause if there wasn't...-) "Sightseers" is one of the most disturbing films I've seen in a while, and stars two of the most unlikeable characters in film history! And I don't just mean, there acts; movies are filled with cold-blooded killers we'd love to have a beer or fall in love with, or both, no, these are two people who, if I wasn't sure they were just gonna kill me anyway, I would've taken my own life for having to be near them for anything longer than a busride through England's countryside!"

A lot of that, is still true. I looked it up afterwards, and sure enough, it was supposed to be a comedy. The characters, of Tina and Chris were started by Alice Lowe and Steve Oram through improv sessions, and sketches, eventually evolving into this film. We meet them as Tina is trying to show off Chris, a seemingly nice young man to her sickly mother Carol (Eileen Davies), who doesn't like Chris. As they head off on a road trip, the mother mentions something about a murder that Tina committed, which she claims was an accident. Soon, there's more gruesome deaths, starting with Chris backing up over a guy who refused to pick up a wrapper he dropped on the bus, with his camper, attacked to the back of his truck. This one, at least seems like an accident at first. Soon, there's more deaths and almost deaths, most of which, seem like clear accidents at first. Tina accidentally impales a dog, which is either names Poppy or Banjo depending on who you ask, by having him go fetch. It seems like a run of bad luck, but the deaths happen more frequently. Meanwhile, the young couple are in love, at least Tina seems to think she is. They're both relatively short-tempered and dumb as a box of bricks. They have rough sex, often, which Chris often takes pictures of in their camper. He also is a sexual predator, and he often is onto another girl, the second Tina's back is turned, and then later killing that girl's husband. Repeat a few times. Occasionally a person's run over for being a pain in the ass, or stuck up or,- anyway, they run into someone, and soon, somebody gets killed by them, whetther it's intentional on their part or not, they do it anyway. They're two despicable people, who, maybe in a sketch situation, not shot with this much sardonic and dark realism, might be funny. He's a serial killer, she bends over every which way for him. She's a flouncy like girl, he's abusive creep, neither one of them has any real sympathy towards any of there actions, nor any real control it seems. The ending, feels tacked on, as there long vacation through England comes to a close, and as does the relationship. I understand why people are recommending this film, so heavily. The film won the BiFa Award for Best Screenplay, they're the British equivalent of the Spirit Awards for independent film, and the movie was a hit here. In the filmmaker's defense, after careful thought, except for the very end,  I don't think they could've made a better movie with these characters and this material. That said, I also don't think I would like these characters anymore with repeated viewings, nor laugh at the dark humor. I like the attempt at turning gruesome self-centered murderers and turning that into a morbid comedy, but if these two people we're running a McDonald's they'd probably be just as disturbing and vile to hang around. I'll admit there's some talent at work here, but I can't recommend the movie.

POST TENEBRAS LUX (2013) Director: Carlos Reygadas


The only Carlos Reygadas film I had seen previously was a film I absolutely despised called "Battle in Heaven", which, if I read the film correctly, (And I'm pretty sure I did) it insinuated that no matter what one did in life, once we go to heaven, men will spend eternity getting a blowjob, and women will in turn spend their afterlife giving that blowjob. (If you think I'm kidding or exaggerating, go find and watch that movie, that's literally the opening and closing image of the film.) He's had other more successful and well-regarded films like "Japon" and "Silent Night", some consider him the Terrence Malick of the New Mexican Cinema movement from the nineties that includes Cuaron, Inarritu and Del Toro among others. It's not particularly surprising for to me than that "Post Tenebras Lux", which is Latin for "After Dark, Light", (or "Light After Darkness", an old chant from the Calvinist movement) is almost completely indecipherable. The movie begins with a child running through fields, and then, the devil shows up at night. I guess he's the devil, some animated creature that seems to wander around at night. The main couple, appears to be Juan and Natalia (Adolfo Jimenez Castro and Nathalia Acevedo). At one point, Juan gets so pissed off at one point, he beats his dog to death. There's also preparations for what seems like a rugby game on the other side of the world, or maybe right next door. Juan and Nathalia seem normal enough, with two kids, Rut and Eleazar (Rut Reygadas and Eleazar Reygadas, the director's own kids.) In what is no doubt the movie's most infamous sequence, involves the couple going to a spa where everyone, including themselves is naked. The image I recall most is Nathalia, with her head in the lap, of another woman while getting fucked. I interpreted this to be a combination of an attempt to fulfill both sexual desires and the desire to still be a child and taken care of in the arms of a mother figure. In some ways, the subtext of the movie is the struggle of fulfilling those deep desires, of adults, while also dealing with the relative freedom and hopefulness of childhood. (Hmm, maybe the devil is adulthood?) I'm beginning to formulate my own theory on Reygadas's film. It took me a couple viewings, although I'm not sure I'd care for much more. There's an autobiographical aspect to the movie, and I think, while Malick is the obvious comparison, the randomness of images from different countries and autobiographical undertones, I think the proper comparison is Tarkovsky's film "The Mirror". (Another film, that I ironically didn't care much for.) Overall, the movie is a quixotic mess, that isn't the transcendent experience I'd prefer movies of this sort be, but it kept me fascinated enough, and it's interesting enough to want to interpret, even if it isn't completely possible. It's a recommendation, despite the movie being way too insular, it's interesting enough.

IN THE HOUSE (aka DANS LA MAISON)  (2013) Director: Francois Ozon


A writer writes a story about a writer, who trying to write about a guy who who take another's life. The problem is that he hasn't taken a life before, so he can't write about the experience, so he goes out and kills a man, and then writes about it in the book, which becomes a massive success. Which writer was I talking about, the one in the novel of the one writing the novel? Or both? Or neither?

While you work out that classic conundrum/puzzle, here's a movie that essentially deals with the same sort of problem/conflict between art and truth and where that line might be, or if a line exists. "In the House" or "Dans la Maison", the latest from Francois Ozon, ("Under the Sand", "Swimming Pool", "Ricky", etc.) and based on a play by Juan Mayorga, "In the House" gives us this scenario, once again, and it's a nice little twist on it for awhile. When essentially know the only real ways that the story can go, so it start to splurt a bit after awhile, but it's still a good recommendation. A French high school teacher Germain Germain (Fabrice Luchini) is frustrated at the numerous lackluster papers he reads, as I'm sure most failed novelist/high school writing professors are. He finally finds one coherent paper from Claude Garcia (Ernst Umhauer) who wrote about trying to get into a classmate's house. The classmate, Rapha Artole (Bastien Ughetto) who seems to be a kid who has what Claude wants. An upper class home, two good cultured parents (Denis Menochet and Emmanuelle Seigner) and soon, he manages to earn the family's trust as Rapha's math tutor. Soon, Germain starts tutoring Claude on his writing. He's a natural, and he continues to write about his experiences in Rapha's home. Fantasizing about his mother having a bath, watching his parents have sex, rewriting Rapha's papers and articles if needed, etc. While he becomes comfortable on the couch, Germain becomes increasingly concern about the more sociopathic tendencies in Claude's writing, especially as events from his writings seems to be occurring with continued frequency and disturbance. His wife Jeanne (Kristin Scott Thomas, who seems to be working in French as much as English nowadays, if not moreso) looks on as Germain becomes obsessed with Claude's work, and concerned over the well-being of Rapha and his family, as Claude becomes more ingrained into the ecosystem of that house. In some way, I imagine Claude as a young Tom Ripley, fascinated with human behavior and emotion, but unable to comprehend any of it. Ozon's a bit of an erratic director, when he's on his game, he can be the best out there, when he's not, it be drastically bad, like "8 Women" for instance, "In the House", is in-between. It goes a little overboard near the end, and like I said, there's only so many scenarios, so while we aren't sure which will happen, we've already thought of most of them, and their variables. Entertaining enough for the first hour though.

RENOIR (2013) Director: Gilles Bourdos


Last week, I mentioned the record number of movie reviews I had for my last Movie Review post, and it was a lot, but believe it or not, it was also a rare occasion where I didn't get to review every film I had seen. So, apologies ahead of time, if I seem a little blank on this review of "Renoir", it was supposed to be in last week's post, and unfortunately, I just couldn't get to it in time. Anyway, it is a beautiful and interesting film, based on the true story of Catherine Hessling, who was an artistic muse for both of the most famous members of the Renoir family. Known as Dede (Christa Theret, Hessling was eventually her stage name), she originally started working and eventually living in the luschious wooded home of Pierre-Augustus (Michel Bouquet) she would become one of his last muses, and modeled for the great painter, currently in his seventies and wheelchair-bound, but still full of life and energy, certainly enough to take in the pleasures and perks of being a well-known artist that works with nude women all day. She's already confronted by some of his other kids about the inevitable-ness of her eventually having an affair with Augustus, which in there world is normal. Soon however, Renoir's son Jean (Vincent Rottiers) comes home from fighting in the war. His leg's injured, leaving him with a minor limp, and he's still unsure of what to make of his artistic life. It's well-known that Andree was Jean's first wife, and starred in his first feature, "Backbiters", when she decided to become an actress, so it's not surprising that they start a relationship here. The movie does a decent job at being about this complex love triangle-muse relationship, where Andree is a both lover and muse to two men, who happen to be father and son, and the movie, like Renoir's paintings is often stunning. The photography by Ping Bin Lee is quite good here, but I just struggling a bit to fully recommend this. It's a good concept, but it also feels a little bit of a contrived by-the-book bio-story, and it doesn't really reflect well in hindsight . It's also a little too slow and drags at the end a bit. I'm going back-and-forth but I am recommending it, for Bouquet's performance, which I think is the best in the film, and some of the other reasons I mentioned. I think there's a good story here, but I'm not sure it's a full film. It captures a very brief period in time for these characters, and I actually think it might have only been a part one of a good story. I think a more interesting film, would've been to start here, and then dive into the marriage and life of Jean and Andree as he begins his film career after coming back from the re-enlisting in the war, for a nice contrast perhaps. There's enough here, but there could've been more.

LUV (2012) Director: Sheldon Candis


In some ways, I imagine a film like "LUV" will have some familiarity to certain people. However, that said, I question the direction the film chose to take. I think it took the easy way out, and yet, there's something powerful about the film. Young Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.) reminds me a bit of Caine from "Menace II Society", a smart kid cursed by environment and drew the unlucky card when it came to his parents. His mother, a strung-out junkie living in another state, and his father Vincent (Common) just out of jail after a decade. He thankfully seems like he's determinate to fully integrate himself into Woody's life, and become a suitable member of society. He's got a plan to open a crabshack along the bay, something that the banker wonders if they really need another of in Baltimore, but it's symbolic enough that when Woody breaks open his first crab by himself, we feel that this is a life-changing moment in his life. The movie takes place over a single day, as a drive to school, then suddenly, Woody's spending the whole day with his father. He's going to some of his old friends, hangouts, fellow drugdealers and other such underworld figures, formerly and possibly still ongoing. He also buys Woody a suit, since he's going to the bank to try to get a loan for his crab shack. They're interested, but after eight years in prison, there's mortgage on the property, and he has until Monday to pay back the mortgage, about $22,000, so he's now got to circumnavigate a mindfield of the past, all with Woody by his side. Why exactly? Probably because it's all he knows. It's his past, and he feels that his past should be passed onto his son, so that he has some memory of him? He could've taken him back home dozens of times over throughout the day. This is a tough film to review. In a way it's powerful, but it's also inevitable. What it does, and why it does it, it does it well, but that said, couldn't this film have been better served if, say a father who's been released from jail after years, spends a day with the son he never knew, and, nothing happened other than that? Really, just, two people getting to know each other, trying to break down the wall between them. Maybe succeeding, maybe failing, but why does there have to be all this old shit getting in the way? I guess that's another movie, and maybe I'd prefer that one. I've seen films with Common where he's such a likeable good guy, particularly in romantic leads, I think I naturally want to see him in the role. It's also good to see great actors like Charles S. Dutton, Danny Glover, and especially the criminally underused Dennis Haysbert, in good supporting parts. I'm on the fence on this one, but I'm gonna recommend it, with strong reservations that this film, has issues, and I think it was a bit of a wasted opportunity. This isn't a film that gonna make you feel good afterwards, and the irony of the title, is frankly, a little lost on me.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (2012) Director: Genndy Tartakovsky


(Blows raspberries) Bland, generic, boring, dull, and other adjectives as well. That's about all I can really muster out of myself in regards to "Hotel Transylvania". And you, know, I know there's some appeal to these bringing together of classic movie villains in this case, or heroes in others; it's not a new idea, Abbott & Costello did it like, 70 years ago, but honestly, unless it's a "Celebrity Deathmatch" (and even then, really), I'm not sure it completely works. Not that that's the real problem with "Hotel Transylvania", which has a Dracula (Adam Sandler) who reminds me more of Count Chocola than Dracula, and is just as terrifying and better with milk as he is, owns the biggest monster resort hotel in Transylvania, a place where Frankenstein (Kevin James), The Invisible Man, Quasimodo, and all the other terrifying villains can spend a few weeks relaxing each year, instead of having to be hiding from the dangerous humans that once went after them with pitchforks and torches. Also, the dates coincide with Dracula's daughter Mavis's (Selena Gomez) birthday every year. Today, she turns 118, and like all frustrated centen-nar-i-an-teen-agers? That can't be right; hold on-! (Musak of Heart's "Magic Man" plays. "C'mon wikipedia." Huh, okay, cool. Musak turns off) ... like all frustrated supercentenarians, (Yeah, look it up.) she wants to finally get out of the house and explore the world, despite her, being a vampire who's can only see the world half the time, and also the dangerous humans that Dracula's brainwashed her with over the years. The gates are heavily guarded, and the hotel is well-hidden, but sure enough, on her eighteen birthday, somehow Jonathan (Andy Samberg) finds the hotel, a human hippie/yuppie hi-bred, you know, the kind that "Really loves nature" and goes hiking and things like that? Anyway, if you can't reasonably guess what's gonna happen in "Hotel Transylvania" after the first ten minutes of the movie, well, to say it nicely, in the poker table of life, you're the sucker. This could've been really inventive, but it's just doesn't hit on any note that you wouldn't fully expect it to. It's a tiresome cliche, even for animated movies. There's been a lot of parent-child relationship in American animated films recently, this is one of the worst. I mean, think about something like "Brave" and then watch "Hotel Transylvania", and it's so clear which of those films has actual meaning and something to say about teenagers and parents and expectations, and love even, and this-, I mean this could've been a ten-minute cartoon on the Disney Channel- in fact, it probably would've been better if it was. This is the ultimate, for-profit, for-marketing, animation film. Let's get all the monsters together in a hotel, and after a week of thinking about that, someone finally says, "Hey, we should have a story, too, maybe."

THE HOUSE I LIVE IN (2012) Director: Eugene Jarecki


Most of what's detailed in "The House I Live In" I frankly presumed to be public knowledge. Maybe some don't see it that way, as those interviewed who thought the term "War on Drugs" stopped being fought after Nancy Reagan stopped saying "Just Say No." I hope that's the minority of people who think that, but most of the educated know that the system is long-broken, and that the "War on Drugs" is really a "War on the Poor". Well, the poor, the Blacks, in the seventies and especially the eighties, actually earlier than that, or the Mexicans in the '50s or on Chinese in the '20s, or on the powhitetrash now with crystal meth, today. The answer is clearly obvious, spend the money we put towards the war on drugs onto treatment, which even President Nixon, yes Nixon, knew was the better approach. When he railed against drugs in his campaigns, and coined the term "War on Drugs", and started the war, he spent 2/3s of the money on treatment, it was when the African-Americans were vilified in the '80s and the rise of crack cocaine where that tough on crime crap, led to an overpopulation of non-violent drug offenders in jail from time periods that would normally only be reserved for murder beforehand. I really hope none of this is news to all of you readers, 'cause I've had the time to go over and analyze this stuff for years before, and I'm tired of going over and discussing it or explaining it to the less-informed. To them, I'd simply say to watch this movie, or one of numerous other films out there. There's two things in the movie that really did surprise me. One, was that police officer are often bankrolled by the money they find when they take the cars and persons of people they arrest, and that's perfectly legal, and that most of what police, officers and stations make comes from overtime, and that, one arrest on the street leads to getting paid to take the perpetrator into holding, and then getting him ID and fingerprinted, and then filling out the paperwork on the case for a couple hours at the desk, and each hour is another hour in pay, so there's just one of many people who have an incentive to keep arresting, although the majority of them are tired and dismayed that they keep fighting this war on drugs. They know it's not worth fighting anymore and they do more harm than good. The other is director Eugene Jarecki's family housekeeper Nannie Jeter, who's own life was shattered by drug abuse when her son was arrested, and is still in jail for marijuana possession. "The House I Live In" takes a comprehensive investigatory look at how we got here. Similar to what Jarecki did with the military industrial complex with his previous film "Why We Fight". It gives us all angles and perspectives, and the real story. So for that reason alone it's worth watching, the fact that it does it well helps. The only thing I really regret is that movies like this have to be made, because too many people out there don't know all this before the movie. Well, if it takes movies like this to inform them, then I guess I'm glad they're made.

FROM UP ON POPPY HILL (2012) Director: Goro Miyazaki

3 1/2 STARS

The second feature film from Goro Miyazaki, after "Tales from Earthsea," but the first time he's collaborating with his famous father Hayao Miyazaki, one of the latest Studio Ghible efforts, "From Up on Poppy Hill", was the highest-grossing movie in Japan in 2011, and just like his father's work, the film is amazing to look at, and that mostly makes up for some of the weaknesses in the film's story. The film takes place in '63, and Poppy Hill is the area of Yokahama where Uni lives with her grandmother and three sisters as well as an eclectic mix of tenants. She has a tradition of raising naval flags facing the local harbor, which she's been practicing since before her father died in the Korea War. Her mother, is currently in America studying. She goes to a high school, where in the local paper, the Latin Quarter Weekly, named after the eccentric boys-only clubhouse/building where the male side of the class often hangs out and creates clubs, mostly for sciences and some of the more educational and liberal arts, asks about her practice, anonymously. She investigates the decrepit building, where she finds Shun, one of the more headstrong members of the Latin Quarter, who are fighting to protect it from it's demolition. Tokyo's hosting the Olympics in 1964, and across the country, there's plans to tear down many old buildings, including the Latin Quarter and replace it with new more modern buildings, like many of the ones that currently overpopulated Tokyo now. Shun and Uni clearly have a chemistry connection, one that I'm troubled to reveal describing in too much detail, but let's just say that it's a platonic relationship and involves both of them, having to investigate long-held secrets in both of their pasts. This, while they struggle to save the Latin Quarter, mostly by cleaning it up and giving the building a new look and dimension than one that seems to have not had an interior designer who previously only worked tree houses. I saw "From Up on Poppy Hill" shortly after I made out my nominations for the OYL Awards, and had it replace "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" as a nominee in the Best Animated Feature category. In other years, it might not have gotten into that category; while it's a good film, it's a movie that probably wouldn't get a three-star rating if it wasn't animated. The characters are fairly thin, and the way they handle the revelations about themselves, I didn't buy completely. Also, the story and plot, are a little too simple for me; we've seen this story before, and like many other versions, it just doesn't quite have the majestic power that it needs. "From Up on Poppy Hill" is a minor entry in the Ghibli canon, but that's like saying something a minor Shakespeare, so it's a recommendation, but they can do better.

LAY THE FAVORITE (2012) Director: Stephen Frears


(CONFLICT OF INTEREST WARNING! I do casually know a few people who worked on this movie.)

LOL, anybody who tells you they're a professional sports bettor, or are able to predict games with 70-80% accuracy, they're full of shit. I don't care if there's a paid program where they make their picks and advertise their 800 number, or if those programs still exist. When Dink (Bruce Willis) says that he only needs to right 55%, of the time,  he ain't bragging about it, that's a professional bettor. I would've said 53% in fact, which is the number I always heard, and in case you're wondering, an average bettor who knows the sportsworld and thinks they can beat the odds, maybe they 30% if they get lucky. I've tried it, I know. I was about 23% picking the NFL one year, against the spread. One great year, I almost went .500 at the NCAA playoffs, and considered that a great accomplishment. Based on the true story/novel by Beth Raymer, "Lay the Favorite" is one of those, "Only in Vegas" stories. Beth (Rebecca Hall) is a private dancer in Florida, the kind of strippers who are hired out for places, which is a fine profession in Vegas usually, given the tourist industry, but outside of that, it's a bit riskier, and she decides the best thing for her to do is quit her job, move to Vegas and become a cocktail waitress. Her father Jerry (Corbin Bernsen) also thinks that's a good idea, and encourages her. When she comes to town, she's spotted as a newcomer quickly, after she begins her gambling enterprise by playing Flip-It. (Ah, Flip-It, one of the great casino cons of yore; I don't think I've seen a flip-it machine in ten years at least.) She asks about the cocktail job, only to find out that she has to wait until an older broad dies so she can join the Union. (This movie knows Vegas; don't fuck with the Culinary Union.) Instead, her newly-made stripper friend Holly (Laura Prepon) suggests working with Dink as a bet-placer, and because she knows numbers strangely enough. She can also take any word and rearrange the letters so that they're alphabetical in record speed in her mind. Other than that, she's a bit of a flimsy but lovable airhead, kinda like this movie, flimsy but lovable. What Dink does is watch the lines on games and make bets accordingly. I'm gonna dive into some inside knowledge here so, basically if somebody we're to suddenly bet $10,000 dollars on a game, that's say, -3 one way, the line will then move the opposite way, say to -2 1/2 because he took the favorite, (Which is close to true btw for most of these games) so what Dink does is watch the odds move, and how quickly they move, and find the place where the odds didn't move and make the bets there, before they move the line too far, 'cause betting lines aren't predictions, they're created with the intent of getting enough action both side so that the casinos break even at least. Anyway, enough of high school statistics class. There's a red herring subplot about Dink's wife Tulip's (Catherine Zeta-Jones) jealousy as Dink and Beth do become a little too close, which she mistake for a relationship, when it's really closer to the same father-daughter relationship she has with her dad. Eventually, she ends up working for one of Dink's rivals, Rosie (Vince Vaughn) who runs an illegal bookmaking operation in New York, although has plans to move to the Cayman Islands, but is way too reckless. "Lay the Favorite" is a minor entry for the great Stephen Frears, who can make any kind of movie it seems like. I've never seen a bad film from him, but finding a through-line of his work is almost impossible with great films like "The Queen", "Dirty Pretty Things", "High Fidelity", "The Grifters", "Dangerous Liaisons" "My Beautiful Laudrette" in his filmography, but even his minor entries like "Cheri", "Mrs. Henderson Presents", "Tamara Drewe" and this film, all have good reasons to take a look at them. "Lay the Favorite" is a light-hearted movie but that doesn't make it inaccurate. It knows the world it's talking about, and it's just fun, so I'm recommending it.

NOT FADE AWAY (2012) Director: David Chase

2 1/2 STARS

Before I went into screenwriter, I like every teenager boy thought that maybe I could be musician and play the coffeeshops on an acoustic guitar or piano, like my musical icons, Jewel, Melissa Etheridge, Tori Amos, Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, etc. (I grew up in the Lilith Fair era, and tuned out to music, basically since Britney and the boy bands came. Sorry, every year of this century's music, but it was better then.) Well,  I never even started to learn to play, nor could I read music, but I did write lyrics for awhile, I wanna say about 200 songs in total, back then. I still occasionally write them, even consult on lyrics with musicians friends of mine, but one day, I was reading the lyrics to Bob Dylan's song "Hurricane", and knew I was never gonna top that. I didn't literally quit that day, or even that year, but I knew my writing became mental masturbation at that point, and most of it, wasn't even good masturbation. I wasn't serious at it. The New Jersey teenagers in "Not Fade Away", titled after the Rolling Stones first hit song, which was Buddy Holly cover, aren't going to be the next Mick and Keith. We're told that from the beginning by the film's narrator Evelyn (Meg Guzulescu) the younger sister of Douglas (John Magaro) who begins trying to start a band, shortly after the Beatles hit and The Rolling Stones are on "The Dean Martin Show." He starts a band in high school, and they start to get gigs, and are relatively successful locally. Then, like all stories of the sixties, politics  and art seem to submerge, and soon, Douglas is quitting school and doing his best "Don't Look Back"-era Dylan impersonation around the dinner table, much to the chagrin of his simple hard-working father, Pat. (James Gandolfini, in one of his last roles.) There's numerous setbacks. Lead vocalist changes, breaks between gigs, disconnections between the band members. At one point, they get a gig in a couple months in front of a major music executive, and they're barely played at all in a year. It's the final straw for Douglas, who's ready to quit and reconsider his other artistic love, television. (He also seems to watch,  on top of rock'n'roll performers is "The Twilight Zone".) The movie is the first feature film attempt from legendary TV producer/writer David Chase, most famous for creating "The Sopranos", but you can take that out of his resume and still get one of the highly-respected TV writers around. The film is clearly autobiographical for him, and the movie ends, in a strange sequence that probably would've fit in more clearly in one of the surreal Sopranos episodes, or "Twin Peaks" maybe. It's an interesting journey through the '60s, but we've seen so many of them, it's hard to treat this one with the same respect. It's basically a good flashback to a time and place that we've seen plenty of in movies before. I always think of the miniseries "The '60s" as a good, pseudo-definitive version of an overview of the decade. I don't know, "Not Fade Away" didn't quite work on me. It strained after a while, and while occasionally there were interesting developments, a lot of it just felt like waiting for the movie to finish, or John's life to start, or both. I think it's a nice little personal memoir for Chase, who was in a band before switching over to television, but, I might've guessed this as his background already from his previous work; I'm not sure I needed it documented.

BEFORE NIGHT FALLS (2000) Director: Julian Schnabel


I'm still backtracking through Julian Schnabel's filmography, and it's becoming clear what inspires the painter to jump to the genre of film most; he's fascinated by those who strive and manage to create art, despite their dire circumstances. Well, not always art like in "Miral" but certainly the strive for overcoming, and the desperation involved in a man who would do anything just for get his beliefs out there, even and especially when it would so clearly be easier for him, to simply not. His first film was about the doomed painter "Basquiat", who spiraled out from drugs into madness, after already going from poverty to the heights of the art world. His best film is "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", about a man, who wrote an autobiography using only his left eye to communicate after a debilitating stroke made him paralyzed on most of the rest of his body. His second feature film, "Before Night Falls" is about Reinaldo Arenas (Oscar-nominee Javier Bardem) who managed to write eight or nine novels, most of which weren't released in his native Cuba, but were smuggled out, oftentimes while he was in prison for being a counter-revolutionary. Strangely ironic, for the man who once fought alongside Castro and the rebels. They took him in after leaving home, where he beaten by his father when his teacher said that he had a gift for poetry. After the revolution however, he was dismayed by Castro's treatment towards artists and towards homosexuals. Arenas was gay, but he also excessively so. He claimed to have slept with approximately 5,000 people. It could be construed that he was a sex addict. He wasn't alone in Castro's Cuba who was gay, but others hid it, like a military officer named Lt. Victor (Johnny Depp). A lot of this, was him, simply refusing to hide of be sneaky and clever. He'd attend numerous outdoor parties and gatherings, that were illegal, and trials of his would be on national television. In many ways, he simply spent his adult life, revolting against Castro in his actions, before he finally got sent to America as a troublemaker among other hardcore criminals and deviants that left for the U.S. in '79. He would live in New York, where he'd commit suicide in '90, after struggling with AIDS. "Before Night Falls" was his memoir, which he started writing in prison, and was published shortly after his death, and while it's a good movie, I don't know if it's a great one, and I would've preferred to have just read his novels instead of his story. Schnabel's clearly a great artist though, and he might be the best director I've ever seen with POV shots. There's quite a few special ones in "Before Night Falls", but my favorite is from the point of view of an ax as it's chopping a tree. There's always something inventive and amazing on the screen. I would've liked that the movie have been made in Cuba, instead of Veracruz doubling for it, but this was probably the best film that could've been made from the material. It also helped introduce Javier Bardem to an American audience.