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85th Oscars: Re-cap

I originally planned to avoid most of the Oscars, only to tune in for the acceptance speeches and the performance of Skyfall.  But between one friend’s company and the fact the host was actually churning out some good jokes, I remained invested.  While the show did drag towards the end, I think it was an overall good watch–and certainly better than any episode of Family Guy.  Those who know me know that the fact I’m not condemning MacFarlane is a double-take-worthy surprise in and of itself.  Let’s just say the reason why is because the jokes had context, reason and place during the show.  But no one cares about that any more, what we care about are the awards handed out.  Here are my thoughts:

The show got off to a great start with Christoph Waltz winning Best Supporting Actor (again).

First upset of the night was Brave winning Best Animated Feature; seriously, does anyone even have to argue the fact that almost all of the other nominees were more deserving?

Life of Pi’s many wins were well deserved.  I’m especially glad that Ang Lee took home the Best Director award and am glad my concerns for John Williams snatching Best Score were misplaced.  It should’ve won Best Film Editing too, but I’m fine with Argo grabbing a couple small accolades.

Am I the only one who wasn’t that engaged with Adele’s performance?

The tie for Best Sound Editing was a surprise (thought it was a joke at first).

Lincoln winning Best Production Design was the second upset of the night for me.  Everything looked good and authentic, but The Hobbit was more imaginative and creative while Les Miserables was at least interesting to look at.

Best Foreign Film, Best Original Song, Best Supporting Actress and Best Lead Actor.  One word: Yawn.  I would’ve loved to see anyone besides Daniel Day-Lewis win just so everyone would be thrown off (and because it wasn’t the best performance from last year).

Bringing the film students out and not letting any of them speak I found pretty short-changing.  So much for “helping present the awards.”

Jennifer Lawrence winning Best Lead Actress made the night for me.  Also, Doug Walker (aka Nostalgia Critic) said he wanted Quavenzhane Wallis to win just so she could say “I’m the man!”  I got no argument against that.

The acceptance speeches from Daniel Day-Lewis and the crew of Argo were both great; the other acting acceptance speeches were short but good and earnest.

A couple upsets and boring choices aside, I think this was a great Academy Awards.  They might be expected, but upsets are upsets.  Would’ve liked the surprises to come in the form of awards that were actually deserved, but you can’t win them all.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Blog, Film, Movies

 

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Looking Forward To: 2013

2013 might already be 1/12 the way done, but if Gangster Squad is the best we’ve been treated to thus far, then the good has yet to come.  Okay, so the recent Star Wars announcement was pretty sweet and, in all honesty, I now have no reservations about it.

But whether we’re talking film-related stuff or not, there are some things which the current year has me trembling to get.  So here we go, some of the things I’m curious to see what 2013 holds.

Star Trek Into Darkness

I’m still kicking myself over not catching The Hobbit in IMAX so I could catch the Star Trek Into Darkness prologue.  At the very least, this ties for my most hotly anticipated film of 2013.  To my surprise, 2009’s Star Trek was something I instantly fell in love with, and the first two trailers for Into Darkness had no trouble selling me.  Like a kid who first saw Harry Potter, I’m driving myself mad wanting to see what this sequel will actually provide.

The Place Beyond the Pines

Some might say Limitless was Bradley Cooper’s initial attempt to be taken seriously, but it wasn’t after Silver Linings Playbook that he actually had me convinced.  Now we have The Place Beyond the Pines, where he shares the screen with Ryan Gosling, Ray Liotta and Eva Mendes.  After seeing the trailer, I really wish I had the chance to go to TIFF last year.  Thankfully, the film isn’t far away from its wide release and it’s already looking like a Top 5 contender for me.  Hopefully it will deliver a similar effect to something like Mystic River did in its accomplishment at giving your mentality a true cage beating.

Catching Fire

I (finally) read The Hunger Games around the turn of the new year, and in a nutshell, I though the first 310 pages were solid, but those last 60 pages…I felt strangled.  If there’s anything Suzanne Collins is an expert at, it’s leaving you wanting more.  The book ended in such a way that it rattles me apart to not pick up and read Catching Fire before the film comes out, much less the first teaser.  Unfortunately, I already know how the book ends (thanks a lot, Cracked and Amazon), but I’m also interested to see how this ending will be led up to.  And the pain of not (further) ruining the movie for myself proves tougher and tougher every day.

Evan Williams CInnamon Reserve

In the status update for my blog, I showed interest in covering and reviewing alcoholic beverages.  Specifically, I’d be talking about spirits and cordials.  One company that’s recently caught my attention is the generally affordable Evan Williams.  I’ve already tried their “spiced” eggnog, which felt a tad harsh was while still being tasty, as well as their Honey Reserve, which is a surprisingly decent option.  And wouldn’t you know it?  While browsing for recipes to use my bottle on, I found they’re releasing a Cinnamon Reserve variant, which will make for a trio of Reserves thanks to Cherry Reserve (that’s a lot of Reserves).

Saivon Lapsi by Eternal Tears of Sorrow

Set aside the name and Eternal Tears of Sorrow are a fairly conventional, yet enjoyable, group.  Though they’ve slipped since the excellent A Virgin and a Whore, there’s still some symphonic/melodic fun to be had with their sound.  The released music video for their new album is definitely more akin to their 2010 release which, though not bad, isn’t nearly as inspired as I’d like them to be.  Still, they tend to deliver some good material amidst less inspired parts, so hopefully Saivon Lapsi won’t skimp out too much.

Ethera by VIsions of Atlantis

Congratulations, Visions of Atlantis, you’re finally getting a second album out with the same lead singer!  When I brought up this group to the heavy metal club at my college, our president immediately compared them to Lacuna Coil.  I see a bit more Nightwish, but hey, to each their own.  Either way, the band gives us some very cheesy stuff; though to be fair, that’s to be expected with power and symphonic acts.  I thought Trinity and Delta were both fun works in spite of these inherit shortcomings, so hopefully we’ll get plenty of the energy much of Delta offered up.

Circle by Amorphis

I seem to fall back on bands who, though I definitely like, have trouble releasing truly great material as of recent.  Amorphis slipped after the excellent Silent Waters on Skyforger, and The Beginning of Times left little to no lasting impression.  The band’s core sound does still work, but it seems like many of the times they experiment it produces very mixed and forced results, at best.  Hopefully Circle will harken back to Silent Waters and maybe a bit of Eclipse, which I’d compare to Dream Theater’s Images and Words.  Why?  Because it’s metal while being relaxing, two things that normally shouldn’t go hand-in-hand, but somehow both groups pulled it off.

Bioshock Infinite

The last time I could really game passionately was my first two years of college, back when financial stability was some sort of a reality for me.  But between game prices, an all around overemphasis on (online) multiplayer and generally stagnant progress, gaming has essentially been kept on my back-burner.  But Bioshock Infinite just might be the next new release I purchase, the last one being Halo 4.  I’m a huge fan of the first Bioshock and the second, though I haven’t finished and not as good for what I’ve played, is still solid.  The previews for Infinite look terrific and hopefully the elevated location won’t compromise a lack of linearity for eye candy.

Grand Theft Auto V

Just going to come out and say it: I’m not a GTA fan.  I really like Saints Row, but GTA has never honestly struck that chord I wish it would.  The GTA games have always been games more of curiosity than complete and utter enjoyment to me.  So yes, the trailers and announcements for GTA V have me interested, but I want to know just how FUN the game will actually be.  GTA IV played and handled so sluggishly that it made entertainment more scarce than it needed to be.  I honestly got more fun out of seeing my character fly out of vehicles and get splatter than I did actually playing any of the missions.  Hopefully GTA V will have a more refined feel as opposed to being, well, GTA IV.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2013 in Alcohol, Blog, Film, Movies, Music, videogames

 

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Coming Soon (Late Summer to Early Fall)

Marathon Reviews: Monster Cereal

Marathon Reviews: Milky Way

Marathon Reviews: M&M’s

Critical Consensus with a Crate of Salt

More Epic Movie Scenes

The Blossom Experiment

Blu-ray’s We’re Still Waiting For

And many more!

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Blog, Uncategorized

 

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Casting Calls That Could Have Been…

Most of us know the movie industry well enough to realize that initial casting choices are like kids and vegetables: They seldom stick.  Recent news that Leonardo DiCaprio was considered for The Riddler in The Dark Knight Rises has become the latest in many publicized could-have-beens.  Some might even remember that before Keanu Reeves, Will Smith was sought for the role of Neo in The Matrix.  Stretches like these happen quite frequently, which are generally…interesting to stumble upon.  So to find out just how bewildering initial considerations were, here’s a list of various roles that could have gone to somebody else.

Spider-Man: Leonardo DiCaprio and James Franco as Peter Parker.

The suit must be surprising comfortable.

While we’re on the topic of Leonardo DiCaprio and superhero films, he was actually one of the actors considered for the part of Peter Parker in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man.  And in a twist of heroes and (semi) villains, James Franco, who went on to play Harry Osborn, was also among the screen tested actors.  Leo sure seems to shrug away from superheroes.  He’ll play a full-on retard and controversial, supposed homosexual, but isn’t up to being a comic book hero or villain?  Where’s the fun in that?

The Shawshank Redemption: Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp and Kevin Costner as Andy Dufrense.  And Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman and Robert Redford as Red.

Prison does things to a man.

Yes, there were quite a few potential combinations for the roles of Andy and Red in The Shawshank Redemption.  Those who’ve seen the film know that Andy is a very subdued character, so I’m really flabbergasted that Nicolas Cage came to be considered.  But hey, maybe a transition Vampire’s Kiss to one of the few subtle Stephen King stories isn’t as much a jump as I suspect.  Though in all seriousness, Johnny Depp and Clint Eastwood playing together in the famous roles sure sounds interesting.  Maybe that way Clint could warn Johnny to back away from Tim Burton a bit earlier and keep his resume from molding up.

Titanic: Matthew McConaughey and Macaulay Culkin as Jack Dawson.

I know, right?

DiCaprio’s role as Jack Dawson in Titanic probably isn’t one that he’d label as self-defining.  But hey, it probably brought on a big, fat paycheck and plenty of attention-paying teenage girls; hard to complain with that!  And Matthew McConaughey has always struck me as a guy trying to be charming or suave, so I can understand his consideration.  Then there’s Macauley Culkin.  Who’d have thought Home Alone’s own Kevin could’ve followed up losing his family (twice) by dying on the infamous ship’s maiden voyage?  The kid hasn’t exactly had a brag-worthy career either; maybe he’s got some relation to Bad Luck Brian.  In all honesty, his twig of a body probably wouldn’t have endured past hauling Kate Winslet over the stern of the ship.  Can’t win ’em all.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Bill Murray, Steve Martin and Robin Williams as Captain Jack Sparrow.

Someone else playing me?  Hand up the rum.

Pirates of the Caribbean sat in development Hell for over a decade, with the story originally being pitched for Steven Spielberg to potentially direct.  At the time, the colorful lead character was pondered on quite a bit; and guess what?  Most of the initial actors lean(ed) towards silly, comedic roles!  Given the shaky track record Steve Martin and Robin Williams have, it’s weird to imagine them as the wobbly but strangely thoughtful captain.  As for Bill Murray, he just seems to come off as dryly sarcastic, so I’m not sure how colorful and upbeat he’d be.  I think this is just one more instance that the final choice is one we can agree was for the best.

Air Force One: Kevin Costner as President Marshall.

Surely the make-up wouldn’t be THAT bad?

Oh the many, many actors we’d rather see as the President of the United States.  Many people (including myself) absolutely loved Harrison Ford as the fictionalized President in Air Force One, a film light on plausibility but heavy on entertainment.  Although any movie where the President is a decent individual–let alone a badass who does things himself–has no realism in this day and age.  Then there’s the insanely inconsistent Kevin Costner.  I might be alone here, but I think the man is talented and is given too much flak.  I could see him playing the President quite well, though I doubt his voice would command nearly as much as Ford did.  But hey, this role wasn’t such a waste; I’m sure The Postman will live on with much more respect and recognition.

Alien: Veronica Cartwright as Ripley.

Switch roles?  You got a face-swap for us?

Right now one might make an argument the Alien franchise has hit the point of being milked.  Even so, throughout the course of over thirty years now, the role of Ripley in each Alien movie has become a bit of an icon.  And with a character this memorable, you can be sure a lot of it has to do with the actress, to which Sigourney Weaver proved to be likable in each film.  Now, looking back, could we see another actress tackling and sticking with the role?  One of the other Alien stars, Veronica Cartwright, was actually considered for the key role.  I for one could see her playing Ripley in Alien, but I’m not so sure about the sequels.  But thanks to the way Weaver handled her speech at the end of Alien, she ultimately got (and stuck with) the role.

Sandra Bullock as Maggie in Million Dollar Baby

We’re not convinced.

Here’s one we can shrug aside in hindsight, since both ladies in question were given an Academy Award.  But at the time of Million Dollar Baby’s release, you’d have to wonder even more just what Maggie could have been like.  I won’t hide that I’m not the biggest Sandra Bullock fan, finding her to essentially be a more famous Linda Hamilton.  She has talent, but I’m glad that Swank was chosen, since I always find her to be a versatile actress–precisely what the role called for.

Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder as Queen Ravena in Snow White and the Huntsman

Angelina gets to play a make-up and costume-drenched freak after all.  Happy seasons!

For one of these actresses, I can definitely see why they were considered.  For the other, I can’t imagine it.  But given the final choice, I’m thankful.  Angelina Jolie seems to be an immediate go-to actress for these big, tough female characters.  And I might risk what little reputation I have already, but she can never suspend me.  I feel that her as the Evil Queen wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting, but it’s probably more than what I can say for Ryder.  She’s certainly a likeable actress, but as the intimidating villain?  Sorry, but her child-like face just doesn’t scream evil or queen-like in any way.

Chloe Grace Moretz and Shailene Woodley as Katniss in The Hunger Games

Does this face scream bows, burns and harsh survival?

Here are two young actresses I’m quite fond of, despite having only seen one or two performances by each of them.  Chloe Grace Moretz of Hugo and Kick-Ass has already established herself as more adaptable than most adult actresses.  And Shailene Woodley turned out to be perhaps the biggest, most pleasant surprise of The Descendants.  That said, this is another instance that I must say I’m content with the final choice.  Jennifer Lawrence is another still-rising actress who’s impressed me with her filmography thus far.  For the role of Katness, I think she pulled it off better than the others could since she seems more physically adept (please don’t take that out of proper context).  The performance likely would have been great if any of the other two were chosen, but Lawrence just looks the part so much more.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Film, Movies

 

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