Oscar Nominated Shorts 2013 – Live Action

Shorts HD has released a program comprised of all the Oscar nominated shorts. Locally, only Carolina Cinemas is carrying it. At our theater, the animated and live action shorts have been combined into one epic program (three and a half hours long). Unfortunately the only time they showed the documentary shorts was Wednesday at 11 a.m. My wife had to work and I devoted my day to the Die Hard marathon at The Biltmore Grande.

The Live Action Shorts program runs about two hours and contains all five of the Oscar-nominated films. For once I thought all five films were Oscar-worthy.

Asad: Asad is a startling offbeat tale of a young boy in Somalia, torn between fishing and piracy.

Buzkashi Boys: This is a great slice of life tale of two young boys set in Kabul. Buzkashi Boys actually has a fair amount in common with Asad.

Curfew:  This was an inventive story with backgrounds that begged to be expanded on. We are dumped right in the middle of an ongoing, rather depressing, story. The ideas are good as are the questions raised.

Death of a Shadow: I loved Death of a Shadow. The setting, backstory, and steampunk style were all marvelous. Unfortunately they saddled it to a main storyline that was rather trite. I would love to see the same people handle a similar topic as a feature film.

Henry: I have to pick Henry over the other stories. While the plotline becomes clear fairly quickly (second only to Death of a Shadow in obviousness), the way it is told is very heartfelt. I’m not ashamed to say that Henry had me crying by the end – Les Miserables did not give me even the slightest sniffle.

My Wife’s Take: We saw all five shorts at the theater this weekend.  My pick for best? Henry, a story told from the point of view of a man whose losing his memory.  I cried like a baby (as did Marc, and many others in the theater).  Also worth catching:  all the rest of them.  Most were flawed (Death of a Shadow was most disappointing in that it might have been great, instead of being merely good), but all were worth a look.

Oscar Nominated Shorts 2013 – Animated

Shorts HD has released a program comprised of all the Oscar nominated shorts. Locally, only Carolina Cinemas is carrying it. At our theater, the animated and live action shorts have been combined into one epic program (three and a half hours long). Unfortunately the only time they showed the documentary shorts was Wednesday at 11 a.m. My wife had to work and I devoted my day to the Die Hard marathon at The Biltmore Grande.

The animated shorts program ran an hour and a half and showed the five nominated animated shorts as well as several worthy entries to pad out the running time.

Adam and Dog: This is a decently told story with a decent watercolor feel but not much more than that. I do not understand why this was nominated over Pixar’s La Luna or at all really.

Fresh Guacamole:  Guacamole is a visual delight that might be worthy of an Oscar but it is only two minutes long and is just about making Guacamole.

Head Over Heels: This was charming but not as charming as Paper Man. I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more had I not already seen Sesame Street’s Upside Downton Abbey.

Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare: This was an excellent short that was full of wonderful Simpsons humor. I loved it BUT I did not find it inventive.

Paperman: This is my pick for the Oscar. I loved this short when it played in front of Wreck-It Ralph and I found it just as charming the second time.

My Wife’s Take: My pick(s) for best: Fresh Guacamole and Paperman.  My guess is that Paperman will take the prize, if only because Fresh Guacamole is 2 minutes of watching someone making guac.  One of the entries baffled me because it didn’t seem to be anything overly special: Adam and Dog.  The illustration was interesting (a different style than typically seen in the US) but the story wasn’t compelling.  Another case of “what if they’d done something more with this”.

Catch the Oscar Films Locally – Regal and AMC

Fresh off their Die Hard marathon, Regal Cinemas is offering a number of Oscar marathons

On Friday 2/15, Sunday (2/17), Tuesday (2/19), and Thursday (2/21), Regal is offering

12 noon Beasts of the Southern Wild

1:50 Life of Pi

4:20 Les Miserables

7:20 Amour

9:50 Lincoln

On the intermediate days Saturday (2/16), Monday (2/18), and Wednesday (2/20), Regal is offering

12:15 Django Unchained

3:20 Silver Linings Playbook

5:45 Zero Dark Thirty

8:45 Argo

A two-day pass is $50, a one-day pass is $30. With either pass you get a coupon to get a medium soda and popcorn for $5

We don’t have an AMC theater locally but they are doing a similar marathon.

On Saturday 2/16, AMC is offering Amour, Les Miserables, Argo, and Django Unchained for $30

On Saturday 2/23, AMC is offering Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty for $40

Select AMC theaters will also have a stamina marathon, showing all nine films beginning at 10 a.m. on 2/23 and running until about 10 a.m. Sunday morning. Even I am not that hardcore. Besides which, even if you made it through that one-day marathon, how would you be in any shape to watch the Oscars that evening?

As usual AMC is offering various buck promotions through its Stubs program. Not having an AMC theater, I can’t really comment on their Stubs program.


Valentine’s Day – I Love My Mummy!

I love my wife dearly. We never do much on Valentine’s Day and when we do, it is often low-key or unconventional. We loathe the ridiculous crowds and jacked-up prices of the holiday. One disastrous Valentine’s Day (when we were much poorer), I took her to Taco Bell and then to see Resident Evil. That was where I first learned that my wife is terrified of zombies.

This year, I hired one of The Montford Park Players to go to her work and read her one of Shakespeare’s sonnets (#116 if you must know – the one about Love being constant). My wife made me a book of “100 Memories & Things I Love About You” – she bound it herself and included a crisp dollar bill in between each page.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Tonight we are going to the Thursday Night Horror Show at The Carolina. Ken is playing a double feature of Universal’s The Mummy’s Ghost and The Mummy’s Curse. I wonder if it will be crowded for Valentine’s Day or empty – either way we will enjoy ourselves.

The Mummy’s Ghost (1944)

“An Egyptian high priest travels to America to reclaim the bodies of ancient Egyptian princess Ananka and her living guardian mummy Kharis. Learning that Ananka’s spirit has been reincarnated into another body, he kidnaps a young woman of Egyptian descent with a mysterious resemblance to the princess. However, the high priest’s greedy desires cause him to lose control of the mummy..”.

The Mummy’s Curse (1944)

“An irrigation project in the rural bayous of Louisiana unearths Kharis the living mummy (Lon Chaney Jr.), who was buried in quicksand 25 years earlier. “

Woot! Woot! Die Hard Times Five!

Nothing to report today as I am spending my day watching Bruce Willis perform his duties as a New York police officer by killing terrorist thieves in Los Angeles then killing terrorists in Washington at Dulles (check out the Pacific Bell phones though – doh!) before returning to New York to stop some more terrorists and then some more. Having eliminated all U.S. terrorists, he apparently has to go to Moscow in the latest installment.

I will be thoroughly enjoying this twelve hour odyssey of death, destruction, and one-liners with an absurdly large Coca-Cola and a platter of mini hot dogs.

Epic Cinema Displays – Burt Wonderstone and Jack

While I may occasionally complain about our local Epic cinemas (their large soda and popcorn are equivalent to the medium size at my beloved Carolina, their customer service is uneven at the best of times – the counter help is polite but the ticket sellers are flat out rude, their rewards program is a joke), I have to grant that they set up the best movie displays.

Here’s one for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (I am in the middle being skewered by the marvelous Steves, Carell and Buscemi). My wife and I enjoyed the trailer so I’m sure we’ll catch this one.

Jack the Giant Slayer has a great display but I didn’t care for the trailer. On the other hand, the director is Bryan Singer whose work can be fantastic – The Usual Suspects, X-Men, X-Men 2, Apt Pupil.

More February Films on ‘Flix

Another slate of films for instant Netflix – a fair number of them foreign. The most notable is probably John Cusack in The Raven.

Action: The Collectors and The Survival Games

Comedy: Deal of a Lifetime and Doughboys

Documentary: Biebermania!, Elvis – Summer of ’56, and Chase the Stars, 1428

Drama: Sorted, 3 Backyards, Favorite Son, Blackbird, Headhunter: The Assessment Weekend, Stellina Blue, Mona Lisa Smile, Compliance, Jack & Diane, Happy Birthday, Year of the Fix, and Amber Alert

Faith/Family: John Wooden: Values, Victory, and Peace of Mind, Owd Bob, and Mia and the Migoo

Fantasy & Science Fiction: Dark Planet and Timelock

Foreign: Tezz, Bangkok Love Story, 8000 Miles, Punch Lady, Baby and Me, Girl Scouts, and Wu Dang

Horror: Vampire Diary, Curse of the Puppet Master, The Raven (2012), The Guard Post, Stories of Appartition, and The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus

Television: Tanked and Bob the Builder: Teamwork Time!

Time for a Star Wars Marathon!

I try not to get into too much personal detail on my blog but there are two days I take off every year.Today, February 10th, is one of those days. We celebrate the life of Poppa – Jenny’s father, Beth & Moira’s grandfather, world-class astronomer who visited the South Pole four times, and wonderful curmudgeon – by watching a Star Wars marathon.

I also take off September 11th every year and have a superhero movie marathon in honor of my friend Patrick (those were his favorite films even if the last two he saw were X-Men: Last Stand and Superman Returns. Both of these well-loved and terribly missed parts of our lives passed away from cancer in the past decade.

Always take care of the people you love and remember those that have passed.

The Golden Raspberry Awards – Worst Supporting Performances

Here are the streaming Netflix moves that feature the worst supporting performances (according to the Razzies). I’ve omitted any that I’ve discussed the last three days.

Worst Supporting Performance 1984 – Brooke Shields in a mustache in Sahara (not the Matthew McConaughey one)

“After her father dies, American heiress Dale disguises herself as a man and takes his place in a 1927 international car race through the Sahara. During the course of the event, Dale gets caught up in tribal warfare when she’s abducted by a thug.”

Worst Supporting Performance 1995 – Madonna in Four Rooms

“One mad New Year’s Eve, an overwhelmed bellboy copes with witches and diabolical children, gets caught in the middle of a sour relationship and settles a bloody bet for members of a superstar’s entourage.”

Worst Supporting Performance 2003 – Demi Moore in Charlie’s Angels 2: Full Throttle

“In this reboot of the TV classic, the Angels are tasked with finding a pair of missing rings encoded with the personal information of people in witness protection. As informants are bumped off, the trio targets a rogue agent who may be responsible.”

Worst Supporting Performance 2010 – Jessica Alba in The Killer Inside Me

“West Texas Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford is harboring a dark secret. Though the small town’s residents think he’s a bit dense, Ford is, in fact, afflicted with a “sickness” that turns the mild-mannered peace officer into a brutal, psychotic killer.”

The Golden Raspberry Awards – Worst Actress

Netflix streaming has three of the Razzie’s Worst Actress performances. In addition to previously mentioned Gigli (Jennifer Lopez) and Shining Through (Melanie Griffith)

Worst Actress 1994: Sharon Stone in Intersection

“In the wake of a terrible car wreck, award-winning architect Vincent Eastman (Richard Gere) sees his life in flashbacks, recalling his separation from his beautiful but aloof wife (Sharon Stone) and his affair with a joyful and passionate journalist (Lolita Davidovich). With the help of ace cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, director Mark Rydell crafts a glossy, star-studded update to the 1970 French romantic drama Les Choses De La Vie.”

Since there was only one new performance, I thought I’d list one of the funnier Golden Raspberry Awards. Back in 1998, they had an award for Worst Movie Trends of the Year.

The losing nominees were:

* Trailers that give away the film’s entire plot

* Longer movies, shorter plots

* THX deafening audio

* Mega-zillion-dollar cross-promotional overkill

and the winner for Worst Trend was:

* 58-year-old leading men wooing 28-year-old leading ladies