Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Birthday Boy: Aaron Paul


Aaron Paul celebrates his 35th birthday today. Just a couple days ago, he picked up his third Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series making him the youngest and only actor to win the award three times. He won it for playing one of the best characters in TV, Jesse Pinkman, who went from meth-head punk to sympathetic hero in the course of Breaking Bad's run. His character to many, including myself, became the heart of Breaking Bad especially towards the show's end and he and the show will be missed. I still remember that Labor Day weekend four years ago when I started watching the show and noticed Paul's talents.

Of course, I had seen Paul prior to his Breaking Bad stint most memorably in Big Love playing the love interest of Amanda Seyfried's character. He was also pretty good in Smashed alongside Mary Elizabeth Winstead. He also appeared in bit parts on a few TV shows and movies such as Veronica Mars, Joan of Arcadia, Mission: Impossible III, Get Real, and a whole bunch more. As for what his future entails, he starred in Need for Speed earlier this year and will be in Exodus: Gods and Kings. neither of those projects excite me. Instead, I look forward to next year for Fathers and Daughters which reunites him with Seyfried and John Hillcoat's Triple Nine which has an enviable ensemble (Winslet, Reedus, Harrelson, Affleck, Mackie, Ejiofor).


But really whatever he does now, he'll always be Jesse Pinkman and everyone will always want him to call them bitch. I know that's my dream.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The 2014 Emmys: The Winners


This morning I saw someone describe last night's Emmy Awards as "almost shocking predictability," which pretty much sums it up perfectly as the majority of winners went to those who have won Emmys before, most for the same category/roles they've won previously. In fact, all eight acting winners last night had won an Emmy before with only now 6-time Emmy winner Allison Janey winning for a new role. Meanwhile, Modern Family and Breaking Bad respectively won Best Series for a 5th and 2nd time fighting off buzzy newcomers such as Orange is the New Black and True Detective (both which a lot of people think were done in by category confusion).

It was a huge night for Breaking Bad in their last year of eligibility not only winning Best Drama Series but picking up hardware for all of its principal actors and for writing which went to only the third woman ever to win in this category for solely writing a TV script. True Detective did win Directing while Julianna Margulies won extending the wonderful streak of women from The Good Wife winning Emmys to five years. In the comedy side, it was no less predictable and yet more frustrating. Network TV stood tall here with Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, and Mom winning most of the awards while Louis C.K. (for his writing) and Veep's Julia Louis Dreyfus representing cable/premium. The latter by far had one of the best reaction to a win tonight as she got to hilariously make out with her previous Seinfeld beau Bryan Cranston on the way to the stage. Serious question though, when will the TV Academy tire of awarding Modern Family? With their win, they tied Frasier as the winningest comedy.

Fortunately/unfortunately, the miniseries/TV movie actually provided some surprises as presumed frontrunners Fargo and The Normal Heart only walked away with three trophies total including Best Miniseries and Best TV Movie respectively. The rest of went to Sherlock and American Horror Story: Coven. I actually went 0 for 4 in those Miniseries acting categories putting my overall prediction tally at 11 of 19 (with alternates 13 of 19).


The ceremony itself was okay even though there were a lot of skits and presenter banter/monologues that fell flat or went on too long. Unless you're Amy Pueblo (Poehler) or Julia Louis-Dreyfus, I don't recommend doing anything extra. Seth Myers was fine in his Weekend Update Late Night Show Host kind of way, but he really wasn't help by the lack of suprise winners or moments during the ceremony. The Weird Al performance of TV themes set to lyrics was equal parts genius and messy (would've help if they had provided captions). I also love Billy Eichner so his Emmy on the Streets routine was great, but I can see him being polarizing. The In Memoriam segment was beautiful and depressing and Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams was perhaps the highlight of the night for a lot of people. The lowlight, at least for me, has got to be Sofia Vergara being placed in a rotating platform as Academy president ironically talked about diversity on TV.

The complete list of winners from tonight (plus the guest acting winners from last week):

DRAMA
SERIES:
Breaking Bad (AMC)
ACTOR: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad (AMC)
ACTRESS: Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife (CBS)
SUPP. ACTOR: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad (AMC)
SUPP. ACTRESS: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad (AMC)
DIRECTING: Cary Joji Fukunaga, True Detective (HBO)
WRITING: Moira Walley-Beckett, Breaking Bad (AMC)
GUEST ACTOR: Joe Morton, Scandal (ABC)
GUEST ACTRESS: Allison Janney, Masters of Sex (SHO)

COMEDY
SERIES:
Modern Family (ABC)
ACTOR: Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory (CBS)
ACTRESS: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)
SUPP. ACTOR: Ty Burrell, Modern Family (ABC)
SUPP. ACTRESS: Allison Janney, Mom (CBS)
DIRECTING: Gail Mancuso, Modern Family (ABC)
WRITING: Louis C.K., Louie (FX)
GUEST ACTOR: Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
GUEST ACTRESS: Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

MINISERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIALS
MINISERIES:
Fargo (FX)
TV MOVIE: The Normal Heart (HBO)
ACTOR: Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock (PBS)
ACTRESS: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven (FX)
SUPP. ACTOR: Martin Freeman, Sherlock (PBS)
SUPP. ACTRESS: Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Coven (FX)
DIRECTING: Colin Bucksey, Fargo (FX)
WRITING: Steven Moffat, Sherlock (PBS)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Emmy Nominations and Predictions: Drama

Yesterday, I took a look at the comedy categories and talked about who the favorites are and who should've been nominated. With one day left until the Emmys, here are my thoughts and predictions for the drama categories.


BEST DRAMA SERIES
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men
True Detective


Last year, I was fine with The Good Wife not being nominated, but this year I'm just ANGRY. There's just no excuse for that show to have been left off the list this year after its mind-blowing fifth season. I guess I should be satisfied that there aren't any real dogs among the nominees (maybe Downton Abbey a little?), but how great would it have been to see something like Masters of Sex or The Americans (this show in particular was largely ignored by the TV Academy as well as Hannibal) in the lineup. Breaking Bad is the slight frontrunner here after snatching the reins from Mad Men last year and delivering a nearly flawless final final season, but True Detective (in the wrong fucking category by the way) is the buzzy new kid on the block starring the McConnaisance so it's not a lock by any means.

Prediction: Breaking Bad
Alternate: True Detective
Should Win: Breaking Bad
Should've Been Nominated: The Good Wife, Masters of Sex, The Americans, Hannibal

BEST DRAMA ACTOR
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Woody Harrelson, True Detective
Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

The Oscars should beat the Tonys at this year's Emmys. I mean, I've made my peace that Oscar winner McConaughey will win and not undeservedly so especially since Tony winner Cranston already has won three times prior, so it's all good. And to be brutally honest, I'm pretty much just anti-Daniels this year whose win last year still confounds and angers me (over Cranston? over Spacey? over Hamm?). So everyone else can literally win as long as it's not Daniels. With that said, did the TV Academy not watch Hannibal with its stunning season-long two-man standoff between Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy? Because wow.

Prediction: Matthew McConaughey
Alternate: Bryan Cranston
Should Win: Bryan Cranston
Should've Been Nominated: Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Matthew Rhys

BEST DRAMA ACTRESS
Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex
Claire Danes, Homeland
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Kerry Washington, Scandal
Robin Wright, House of Cards

The sheer happiness I felt when Caplan's name was called on nomination morning was tempered a bit when I realized that Elisabeth Moss was left out. Out of all last year's nominees, I would've pegged Moss to be the safest based on what she did on her show this season. Her non-nomination was one of those things that you didn't think about until it happened and then everything hurt. I am happy that Margulies came back after being left out last year, especially after such a brilliant season. I have no idea who the favorite is. Danes has won the past two years, but Caplan could surprise as could Golden Globe winner Wright. Write-in vote for Moss? Write-in vote for Tatiana Maslany! Who am I kidding? It'll probably be Jeff Daniels and I'll get angry all over again.


Prediction: Julianna Margulies
Alternate: Robin Wright
Should Win: Lizzy Caplan
Should've Been Nominated: Elisabeth Moss, Tatiana Maslany, Keri Russell

BEST DRAMA SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Josh Charles, The Good Wife
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

I actually still like Downton Abbey and Carson is a hoot, but Carter's nomination is just ridiculous especially in such a seriously competitive and stacked category already. Very happy to see Charles nominated here and it does lessen the sting of his character's loss in the show (and the show's snub... yes, still not over it). Previous winners Dinklage and Paul upped their level making it really easy to see and want either one in the winner's circle again. Voight is the wildcard as he could swoop in as the veteran Hollywood actor to get his first Emmy win. Dean Norris probably should've gotten nominated as well as a couple of my genre picks Jordan Gavaris and Dylan O'Brien.

Prediction: Aaron Paul
Alternate: Peter Dinklage
Should Win: Josh Charles
Should've Been Nominated: Dean Norris, Jordan Gavaris, Dylan O'Brien

BEST DRAMA SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Joanne Froggat, Downton Abbey
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

The good news is that I heart all of these actresses so even if I think a couple of nominations are lazy (Smith, Hendricks), the TV Academy couldn't really do much wrong here. I'm rooting for Gunn and Baranski in equal measure as I want the former to win for delivering just an outstanding tour-de-force performance and the latter to win to continue the awesome Good Wife streak to five years of kick-ass actresses winning the Emmy from that show. With regards to who should've been nominated, there are a few names, but most are from genre shows so I didn't expect them too much. Though what does Maisie Williams have to go to get in on the Emmy love for Game of Thrones? Pay attention, people!

Prediction: Anna Gunn
Alternate: Maggie Smith
Should Win: Anna Gunn
Should've Been Nominated: Maisie Williams, Lana Parrilla, Katheryn Winnick

And if you're still reading here are just my predictions for the Miniseries/TV Movies categories:


BEST TV MINISERIES: Fargo
BEST TV MOVIE: The Normal Heart
BEST ACTOR, MINISERIES/MOVIE: Billy Bob Thornton
BEST ACTRESS, MINISERIES/MOVIE: Cicely Tyson
BEST SUPP. ACTOR, MINI/MOVIE: Matt Bomer
BEST SUPP. ACTRESS, MINI/MOVIE: Julia Roberts

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Emmy Nominations and Predictions: Comedy

The Creative Arts Emmy were last Saturday. Fantastically, Allison Janney and Uzo Aduba picked up wins for Guest Actress for their amazing performances in Masters of Sex and Orange is the New Black respectively. I told myself that if those two wins actually transpired, I would be fine with whatever happens during the Emmys proper. But really, I have my favorites. So before the ceremony this coming Monday, I'm going to share with you my thoughts and predictions for the big categories. Today, I'll tackle the comedy categories and tomorrow the drama ones.


BEST COMEDY SERIES
The Big Bang Theory
Louie
Modern Family
Orange Is the New Black
Silicon Valley
Veep


The Emmys really showed their love for the little Netflix show that could, Orange is the New Black, and I'm super happy for it. It might actually be the favorite to finally unseat 4-time Emmy champ Modern Family, which would just be amazing. With that said, I'd also be tickled to see Veep win after such a strong third season. I am shocked to see Silicon Valley in this shortlist especially over the more buzzed HBO show Looking or Golden Globe winner Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But the Emmys just doen't love Mike Schur shows of late (sigh Parks and Recreation). Also RIP Enlisted and Trophy Wife.

Prediction: Orange is the New Black
Alternate: Modern Family
Should Win: Orange is the New Black
Should've Been Nominated: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parks & Recreation, Shameless

BEST COMEDY ACTOR
Louis CK, Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Ricky Gervais, Derek
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
William H Macy, Shameless
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

This category just makes me so depressed, but maybe it's because I've only seen two of the performances here. But also because they just keep picking the same names over and over again. What does Adam Scott have to do to get noticed? Or newcomers Jonathan Groff and Golden Globe winner Andy Samberg? Macy is a "new" name, but not really. His show made the switch from Drama to Comedy this year and he benefited from a weaker field. And Gervais? In Derek? Seriously? Parsons is the favorite probably, especially this year with his show as popular as ever and being double nominated (The Normal Heart).

Prediction: Jim Parsons
Alternate: William H. Macy
Should Win: I don't even care
Should've Been Nominated: Adam Scott, Jonathan Groff, Andy Samberg

BEST COMEDY ACTRESS
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black

I was really hoping that Emmy Rossum would breakthrough here after her show's category switch, but alas the only fresh name is Schilling and that's because her show is quite beloved as I already mentioned (and could help her cause to pull off an upset win). Another person I was hoping to be nominated was Mindy Kaling, but maybe next year if more people actually watches her show. Louis-Dreyfus is the favorite here and not undeservedly so, but I'm rooting so hard for Poehler to win her first Emmy since she didn't win last week for hosting the Globes. I love Louis-Dreyfus, but Leslie Knope CANNOT go un-rewarded like Michael Scott and Jenna Maroney.

Prediction: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Alternate: Amy Poehler
Should Win: Amy Poehler
Should've Been Nominated: Emmy Rossum, Mindy Kaling, Malin Akerman

BEST COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTOR
Fred Armisen, Portlandia
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Adam Driver, Girls
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Tony Hale, Veep

Modern Family is slowly loosening its grip on this category, so there's that. But actually this year I'm not too disappointed with their picks. The fact that they nominated Braugher is just stupendous and I'm hoping the 2-time Emmy winner will come out on top even if his show didn't get more love from the TV Academy. His biggest competition is last year's winner Hale (who has a great submission episode or, should I say, scene) and probably the Modern Family guys. Of course, I wish they showed more love to Parks and Recreation and Shameless or to two breakout actors from departed shows, Parker Young (Enlisted) and Albert Tsai (Trophy Wife).

Prediction: Tony Hale
Alternate: Andre Braugher
Should Win: Andre Braugher
Should've Been Nominated: Albert Tsai, Jeremy Allen White, Parker Young, Reid Scott

BEST COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Allison Janney, Mom
Kate Mulgrew, Orange Is the New Black
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

Last year's winner, Merritt Wever, isn't nominated so it's a pretty wide open race. Mulgrew (aka Captain Janeway forever) might be the slight favorite just because her show seems poised to have a great night, but Janney is an Emmy favorite and could win a second Emmy this year. It also seems likely that before their respective shows end that Bialik and Chlumsky will pick up hardware, so who knows? Despite a less than optimal final season, I really was hoping for Cristin Milioti from How I Met Your Mother to make it in since she was the best thing ever. Was also hoping for more Orange is the New Black and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Prediction: Allison Janney
Alternate: Kate Mulgrew
Should Win: Kate Mulgrew
Should've Been Nominated: Cristin Milioti, Danielle Brooks, Chelsea Peretti, Stephanie Beatriz


So in summary, the field isn't as heinous as in previous years mostly because Orange is the New Black is around. There's still a lack of fresh picks especially in the male actor categories, but at least some of the people I'm rooting for aren't complete long shots. Here's looking to you Braugher and Mulgrew. Join me tomorrow as I discuss the drama categories.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Predicting Guest Acting at Creative Arts Emmy Awards


I keep forgetting that the Emmy Awards are being held a whole month earlier than usual this year, which means the Creative Arts Emmys is happening this weekend, tonight specifically. It's their way of trying to handle the approximately 100 or so awards they have to give out. The only acting awards being given out tonight are those for Guest Acting, so here are my thoughts and predictions on those...

BEST DRAMA GUEST ACTOR
Dylan Baker, The Good Wife
Beau Bridges, Masters of Sex
Reg E. Cathey, House of Cards
Paul Giamatti, Downton Abbey
Robert Morse, Mad Men
Joe Morton, Scandal

I expected stronger showings for Mad Men and The Good Wife (and it's insane both shows don't even make it into Guest Actress). For the past two years, I kept wrongly predicting Michael J. Fox and I don't even think he submitted his name this year. That said I'm rooting for Bridges for his heartbreaking storyline, but they might give it to Morse or Giamatti. I wished Pedro Pascal had been nominated though for his fantastic work in Game of Thrones.

Prediction: Paul Giamatti
Alternate: Robert Morse
Should Win: Beau Bridges
Should've Been Nominated: Pedro Pascal, John Noble

BEST DRAMA GUEST ACTRESS
Kate Burton, Scandal
Jane Fonda, The Newsroom
Allison Janney, Masters of Sex
Kate Mara, House of Cards
Margo Martindale, The Americans
Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones

A bit annoyed that last year's winner (yay!) Carrie Preston didn't repeat especially in a category with the a few repeats (Fonda, Martindale, Rigg), but I actually don't care because this category is ALL ABOUT Allison Janney for me. Her character and her performance is my everything. I might hurt somebody if she doesn't win this. Spoiler alert: I have similar feelings in the comedy category. Also to all voters, did you watch Hannibal? I count four women easy on that show who you should've nominated.

Prediction: Allison Janney
Alternate: Jane Fonda
Should Win: Allison Janney
Should've Been Nominated: Gina Torres, Gillian Anderson

BEST COMEDY GUEST ACTOR
Steve Buscemi, Portlandia
Louis C.K., Saturday Night Live
Gary Cole, Veep
Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live
Nathan Lane, Modern Family
Bob Newhart, Big Bang Theory

This category is pretty boring, which is why I really wished they had gone nuts and nominated Prince for his bit role in New Girl. It's also boring because I think everyone knows that Bob Newhart could very well repeat his (deserved) win last year. I don't even have anyone I'm really rooting for among the nominees. Maybe Cole just because he's in the show I like the most from the options.

Prediction: Bob Newhart
Alternate: Steve Buscemi
Should Win: Gary Cole
Should've Been Nominated: Prince, Andrew Rannells

BEST COMEDY GUEST ACTRESS
Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
Laverne Cox, Orange is the New Black
Joan Cusack, Shameless
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
Natasha Lyonne, Orange is the New Black
Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live

I do love the TV Academy's love for Orange is the New Black and these specific nominations are pretty flawless. I would've even added Taryn Manning, but maybe that's a bit overkill. Of course even though her show change from Drama to Comedy, Cusack is still inexplicably in this category so whatever. But who cares because I'm putting ALL OF MY ENERGIES to making sure Aduba wins. Janney and Aduba are MUST wins. I will cry if they don't. I will throw pies. (If Laverne Cox wins, I'll be upset for like a second and then really happy though.)

Prediction: Uzo Aduba
Alternate: Laverne Cox
Should Win: Uzo Aduba
Should've Been Nominated: Taryn Manning, Romy Rosemont

Why I even make predictions in these categories is beyond me since year in, year out I've done horribly. I hope that doesn't jinx my picks. And just for kicks, three more random categories that will be decided tonight...

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
"No Trouble," A Christmas Carol - The Concert
"Les Mis," Key & Peele
"Home For the Holiday," Saturday Night Live
"Merroway Cove," Sofia The First: The Floating Palace
"Day Is Gone," Sons of Anarchy
"Bigger!" 67th Annual Tony Awards

Even though I haven't heard of any of the other songs, I don't really care because "Bigger!" from last year's Tony Awards really needs to win. The song is great, but the performance by Neil Patrick Harris is EPIC. Just watch:


BEST MAIN TITLE DESIGN
Black Sails
COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
Masters of Sex
Silicon Valley
True Detective

I would refer you to this post over at The Film Experience if you want to view all of these. I'm rooting for Masters of Sex, because it's just so fun (and to be honest I'm kinda over these deep, brooding title sequences that a lot of shows prefer to do now). And while it's not high art, I do love the fun and retro title sequence for Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

BEST SPECIAL CLASS PROGRAM
The 71st Annual Golden Globe Award
The Oscars
Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games Opening
The Sound of Music Live!
The 67th Annual Tony Awards

This will be interesting, because I think it's a fight of the Award Shows with Cool Hosts (who get the Emmys if their show wins). On the one hand, NPH's Tony show was great (see above clip) but Ellen's Oscar was a viral hit. On the other hand, Fey and Poehler made the Golden Globes a must watch. Of course, I'm also assuming that while The Olympics is always a threat, Sochi being Sochi will make them not likely to win and The Sound of Music Live! was a joke nomination, right?

Anyways, those are just a small percentage of the awards being given out tonight. I'm sure the pundits are hoping to see which shows win those technical categories to figure out which way the TV Academy is going. The Normal Heart should be a big winner, but the regular series race is actually up in the air. Last year, Breaking Bad had this race sewn up, but True Detective is a tough challenger. And could this finally, FINALLY be the year Modern Family loses (to Orange is the New Black)? We'll all find out next week for sure!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Birthday Boy: Roger Federer


Roger Federer celebrated his birthday today as he spent most of his tennis career, winning. He beat David Ferrer in Toronto to book his spot in the semifinals (his 8th SF or better result in 11 matches this year). He's actually the only top 4 seed through and the only member of the Big Four still around. Not bad for someone who just turned 33 years old.

Relative to his tough 2013, 2014 has been practically rosy. He's already won two titles and reached the finals of 3 big tournaments including Wimbledon where he lost to Djokovic in five sets. He's solidly ranked number 3 behind Djokovic and Nadal and still one of the most beloved players on tour. Oh yeah and he became a father of four earlier this summer when his wife delivered a set of twin boys to go with their twin girls from a couple years ago.

Happy Birthday Roger!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

So the kidnapper brought me back...

This post is part of Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series in which the participants must post a single image from a movie he or she deems as the "best shot" for any particular reason.

This week we actually had a choice of three short films by Canadian filmmaker Jamie Travis from his Saddest Children in the World trilogy. The tone of his films is quite Lynchian while the look is quite Andersonesque and I ended up really loving that hybrid of the macabre and the bright composition. My favorite film ended up being The Saddest Boy in the World because it's simultaneously his darkest (the opening and closing shot is a boy about to hang himself) and funniest film. There are a few shots in the film that highlights this contrasting combo, but I picked the one below as my best shot:


This whole sequence is when I realized how hilarious the film was and how much I quite loved it. Just the juxtaposition of the slur graffiti'd on Timmy's missing posters with Timmy standing there after his kidnapper returns him is the height of surreal absurdity that I can get behind. This shot also highlights Travis' queer sensibilities which he displays in his other Saddest Children films and my pick for runner-up shots (and best shots for their respective films).


There's the pink "good bye" cursively written in the mirror from a child wanting to escape an overbearing parent in Why the Anderson Children Didn't Come To Dinner.


And finally, there's all those rainbows in the background in The Armoire.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Looking Forward To...


Guardians of the Galaxy
Release: August 1, 2014
Distributor: Buena Vista
Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, John C. Reilly, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Zoe Saldana, Djimon Hounsou, Vin Diesel, Benicio Del Toro, and Glenn Close

I think I would categorize myself as a Marvel fanboy at least in terms of appreciating what Marvel has done to craft this shared cinematic universe. And while their first big risk in The Avengers paid off handsomely, everyone (including myself) agrees that Guardians of the Galaxy, finally opening this weekend, will be their biggest test yet in continuing this multi-billion dollar franchise. The film features characters such as a gun-toting, talking raccoon and a character that's essentially just a tall tree and while the general audience has been conditioned to accepting these sort of characters in Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, it's always still a sticky proposition (see John Carter).


Luckily, the marketing has been top notch from the gorgeous and cheeky teaser poster (above) to the earwormy and irreverent trailers which do a great job in not only introducing us to the characters, but also to the general tone of the film. Plus it seems some have already embraced the film and its characters as highlighted by the following impressive fan-made posters culled by Poster Posse (Phase 1, Phase 2):


Credits (l-r): Doaly, Sharm Murugian, Matt Needle

Monday, July 28, 2014

Marvel Should Love Lucy


Comic-Con, the annual gathering of the geek world, happened over the weekend and due to some personal stuff I haven't been able to really pay attention to alot of it. Granted it looked like there really weren't any super mind-blowing news. In fact, the huge DC and Marvel panels' biggest news were the new Wonder Woman looking like Xena and Guardians of the Galaxy's sequel already being green-lighted. Marvel's panel was the one I paid attention to all weekend since the last time the Avengers cast got together, it was a nirvana-esque experience for me but with Joss Whedon not in attendance and no big reveals (Josh Brolin as Thanos? We all knew that already!), something was lacking.

That something BTW was the inevitable (I thought) announcement of a Black Widow movie starring this weekend's box office champ Scarlett Johansson. This tweet of mine from Saturday morning pretty much summed up my feelings:


If box office is the key concern for why Marvel still hasn't green-lighted a female-led film (blatantly ignoring the recent successes of Hunger Games, Maleficent, and Frozen of course), then the fact that this R-rated original film, whose main character happens to be a woman, making more than $42 million should have eradicated their doubts. Not to mention that Marvel still has the #1 film in America with Captain America: The Winter Soldier with Johansson as Black Widow pretty much as the co-lead. But oh maybe it's already in the pipeline as one of the many untitled Marvel films already slated on the schedule the next five years and they may have wanted to announce it when Johansson would be available in person (Johansson was a Comic-Con no-show due to her pregnancy). Or not and Marvel is stupid. It's their shared universe, but it would be in their best interest to lock down Johansson since she's having quite the year starting all the way back to last September with Don Jon and then Her followed up by Captain America, Under the Skin, and now Lucy. Can't wait to see more from her, Black Widow movie or something else.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Do you want to look at me?

This post is part of Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series in which the participants must post a single image from a movie he or she deems as the "best shot" for any particular reason.


Even though I hadn't yet seen Jonathan Glazer's previous films, I still knew to prepare myself for a different kind of movie watching experience with Under the Skin. The film itself is elusive and alien like its "protagonist," a seductive alien wearing a Scarlett Johannson meat suit. Short in dialogue and exposition, the film and the character leave lots of room for the audience to fill in the blanks. To make up for that, we are treated to the dark, dangerous beauty of Scotland and Johansson's alien lensed thoughtfully by Glazer and cinematographer Daniel Landin.




The three sequences where Johansson leads the unsuspecting men to the black void that engulfs them are my favorites in the film as it nicely encapsulates the films themes of isolation and desire. And apart from a very early scene where Johansson is standing in a white void with a dead woman, those scenes are quite set apart from the rest of the film aesthetically speaking.

With that said, as easily as I could've picked my favorite shot from those sequences, I ended up choosing something else entirely. It's an image towards the very end of the film after the alien is forced to take off her damaged Johansson meat suit and it just stares at her former face:


We're of course not privy to its thoughts at that moment, but it all still feels very melancholic and human, the completely opposite of how the film begins. Plus I just thought the alien's dark silhouette against the dark beauty of nature is a striking image.