January 30, 2010

Q&A With Adrian Grenier

I apologize for the shaky camera. I was filming with a little digital thing, and the stability wasn't the best. The audio is pretty good though.

Post Sundance Pow Wow

That was a fun day! I was successful in getting into both of the movies I intended to see, which meant showing up like three hours before hand to wait in line, but, whatever. It was worth it. It was a great experiencing the festival and all the craziness and fun that comes with it. Chatting up fellow movie goers in line is a treat. I talked with a few people about the films they had seen, and then, before I knew what had happened, the topic of conversation had switched to a graffiti artist that had tagged a few places during the festival. It was awesome. The movies weren't half bad either.

Welcome to the Rileys
Welcome to the Rileys begins with a marriage on the verge of collapse after a tragic accident that took the life of their daughter. Doug (James Gandolfini) is a philandering, depressed man, worried sick of his own immortality. Lois (Melissa Leo) is an agoraphobic shut in. When Doug goes to New Orleans for a convention he meets a down on her luck, under age stripper named Mallory (Kristen Stewart). Sensing a chance to play the father figure again, Doug stays in New Orleans to rehabilitate and take care of her, while Lois attempts to overcome her own fears to be with her husband. After a painfully boring opening act, the movie really picks up, and gives you the chance to really invest in the characters. All three of the leads imbue each of their performances with a good measure of pain, sadness and anger, especially Stewart. I'm not full of shit! Kristen Stewart can act well, when the material that she is presented is not drawn from one of the worst books ever written. Sure, some of the stuff she has to say could be boiled down to a constant slew of curse words, but she brings such energy to the role, that you can forget all about Bella Swan. Her trademark, biting of her bottom lip, angst ridden style is perfect for this role. Gandolfini and Leo as the married couple are also a match made in heaven. Gandolfini is great as the sad Doug, bringing a lot of anger to the role, but keeping it repressed until it comes boiling over. Leo also fairs well. Initially, she's stuck with the comic relief, as the scenes of her attempting to start her husbands car are quite funny, but these scenes are quickly done away with a series of moving scenarios that show her overcoming her fears in order to make her marriage work. It's great. The director, Jake Scott (son of Ridley) starts off the film at a snails pace, but quickly picks up momentum when he tosses Stewart on to the screen. With help from a truly minimalist score that does a great job capitalizing on the bleak existence of the characters, he has created a solid piece of work that could not be more different then that of his father's. He is hamstrung by the aforementioned slow start and an occasionally weak script, but he manages to transcend them. It's not a perfect movie, but one that you won't regret seeking out when it comes to theaters. If anything, you'll see that I'm right about Stewart.

Jake Scott following the Q&A

Teenage Paparazzo
On a very different note, Teenage Pararazzo. Directed, and narrated by Entourage star, Adrian Grenier, this documentary examines celebrity and the public's fascination with it. It all starts with Grenier's discovery of a teenaged, paparazzi photographer who is obsessed with the lifestyle and the thrill of chasing celebs. Grenier follows him around, hoping to get the inside scoop on the paparazzi and what it is that makes them tick. Along the way, he reveals big truths about how the public view celebrities, It's an interesting little doc that will probably have a small run on HBO, and then fade into obscurity. If it's on, I'd say it's worth a look, but it's not going to speak to any big truth. I filmed the Q&A with Grenier following the screening, which should give you a better sense of what the film is about then I can. It's good, but not great.

The crown at Teenage Paparazzo

So. Two films. Not bad, considering I had nary a ticket in my hand when I woke up this morning. Had I been here for the whole festival and not one little weekend, I'd have seen a whole ton of other movies. Top of my list to see when it comes out in theaters is Hesher, starring my love, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays the sociopathic, mean spirited title character. I've heard great things about it, and I can't wait to see what my boy can do again. Next on the list is Howl, with James Franco as Alan Ginsberg. Reviews of this one have also been stellar, and, c'mon, it's a film about Alan Ginsberg. What's not to like. Also on my list is The Runaways, starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning as rockers Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, and The Company Men, starring the likes of Ben Affleck and Tommy Lee Jones as men trying to survive a year of corporate downsizing. All these films, given the pedigree of the people involved will most likely be bought by studios and receive wide releases; The Runaways is already slated for a March 19th release date. I'm just glad I got to experience one day of the Sundance life. It's great, and I can't wait until I can fully take in the whole deal.

In Line... Again

Got out of Welcome to the Rileys about an hour ago. It was good. I'll go into more detail when I am near a keyboard that won't give me carpultunnel. Had lunch with mother and her friend, and now I'm 6th in line at Prospector Sq. for Teenage Paparazzo. I like my chances. More to come.

- Posted from my phone. Ain't technology grand?


- Posted from my phone. Ain't technology grand?

In Line...

I'm standing in line right now, at 9:30 in the AM, mind you, for Welcome to the Rileys. This is the first time I've sent a post from my phone, so I don't really know how it's going to turn out. Anyway... I'm around the 20th person in line? And the movies not for another two hours, so... fingers crossed. I'll keep you posted.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

January 29, 2010

Amongst the White Stuff

I'm very excited right now. You can't tell, but I'm jumping up and down in anticipation. I just landed in Park City, where the Sundance Film Festival is winding down, and I'm very much looking forward to my day tomorrow. I don't have any guarantees of getting into the two movies I'm hoping on seeing, but I'm getting up at a ridiculous hour to get in line as soon as possible to increase my chances. First on my list is Welcome to the Rileys, starring James Gandolfini and Kristen Stewart. I've heard good things about this one. While is a little overblown and pretentious, (what indie film isn't?) much praise has been heaped on the actors, especially Stewart. This festival will no doubt do wonders for her career, showing the world what I've been saying since Twilight. Yes, Stewart is a serious actress, and a good one at that, and her association with that vampiric festival of mediocrity should not perturb anyone from checking her out in other things. After that, I'm hoping to get into a documentary called Teenage Paparazzo, which is directed by Entourage star, Adrian Grenier. It is supposed to examine the parallels between celebrity and society as seen by Grenier and his teenage companion, but whether it accomplishes this is anyone's guess. We'll have to wait and see. No guarantees however. I'm putting a lot of hope on the fact that the festival is in it's last days, and all the people who wanted to see these movies saw them already. Of course, there could be a whole bunch of people with the same plan as me, so, you never know. Follow up to come tomorrow night. See ya then.

January 24, 2010

In A Just and Right World...

Nomination ballots for the Oscars were due yesterday. This year is shaping up to be a particularly tricky one to predict the outcome of, what with the ten best picture nominees and such. I didn't vote; the Academy doesn't even know I exist (story of my life). Even so, I feel the need to list off who should get nominated if the world behaved the way I saw fit.

Locks Are In Bold (These movies will get nominated.)
Probable Winners Are Bold and Italicized (These movies will get nominated, and most likely win. These may or may not be my preferences in the matter, just what I've observed thus far!)

Best Picture:
The Hurt Locker (It's too tricky to tell who will win, The Hurt Locker or Avatar, but, it's between those two.)
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
Up In The Air
Inglourious Basterds
An Education
District 9
(500) Days of Summer
Where the Wild Things Are

Best Director
James Cameron (Avatar)
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) (Again, it's too tricky to tell between these two!)
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
Jason Reitman (Up In The Air)
Neill Blomkamp (District 9)

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
Colin Firth (A Single Man)
George Clooney (Up in the Air)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt ((500) Days of Summer)
Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) (Completely undeserving, but there it is.)
Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia) (May challenge Sandra, but doubtful.)
Carey Mulligan (An Education)
Gabourey Sidibe (Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire)
Zooey Deschanel ((500) Days of Summer)

Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) (It's not even a contest any more.)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Woody Harrelson (The Messenger)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Stephen Lang (Public Enemies)

Best Supporting Actress
Mo'Nique (Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire)
Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air) (The deserving winner.)
Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air)
Julianne Moore (A Single Man)
Marion Cottillard (Public Enemies or Nine, I don't care which.)

I don't know. To be honest, these awards are always a crapshoot! I guess we'll see how on the money I am in a few weeks when the noms are announced. Until then, my non-existent readers...

January 17, 2010

Globes Follow Up

Well, that was a bit of a cockslap... but only in some respects. The 67th Annual Golden Globes just finished airing, so, as always, I'm going to give you my lowdown on how the night turned out. Avatar came out as the big winner of the night, winning both Best Picture-Drama, and Director. James Cameron was very gracious and indeed a little surprised that Kathryn Bigelow didn't win for The Hurt Locker, as was everyone else. I'm not that surprised myself. It was always going to come between Bigelow's war drama and Cameron's sci-fi epic. Inglourious Basterds, Precious, and Up In The Air didn't have the critical praise and relatable topic of The Hurt Locker or the commercial and critical success of Avatar. Besides, if I had to choose, I would pick Avatar anyway. Don't get me wrong, The Hurt Locker is a great movie, and if any film is going to challenge Avatar for its practically assured Oscar win, it will be that one. But Avatar has was just a better movie-going experience. It was revolutionary; you can't deny that now. But, I'm not gonna dwell on that anymore. It's between Avatar and The Hurt Locker for the big win, and I will be fine with either one winning. On to more interesting categories. There are three film awards that have me in a righteous fury right now. First off: Best Picture-Musical or Comedy, which The Hangover won. What? How the fuck did The Hangover win over (500) Days of Summer? How can anyone say that Todd Phillips' R-rated flick is better then Marc Webb's amazing rom-com, and keep a straight face? It's like comparing a fresh baked chocolate souffle, and one from a box. Both are good, but one is significantly better then the other. Since we're on the subject of lock of (500) Days of Summer love, let's move on to Best Actor-Musical or Comedy. Robert Downey Jr. won for his kickboxing badass turn in Sherlock Holmes. Again, what? Sure, Downey was entertaining, and one of the few good things about Holmes, but how could you say it was better then Joseph Gordon-Levitt's heartbreaking performance in (500) Days? The other nominees never stood a chance. Michael Stuhlbarg, for A Serious Man, hasn't garnered any buzz at all this awards season. Neither has Matt Damon, for The Informant. Daniel Day-Lewis would have stood a chance had Nine not failed with the critics and at the box office. So, it was between Gordon-Levitt, whose film has the critical praise, and Downey Jr., whose film boasts the big box office numbers. Guess the HFPA went for quantity over quality this year. On that note, let's move on the Best Actress-Drama. Sandra Bullock won for The Blind Side. Uggg. I don't get why people are so in love with The Blind Side. Sure, it's an uplifting story with a good message, sort of, but, as with most Hollywood movies, it makes it heavy handed and pretentious. Bullock does a good job, but, of all the people in this category, she was probably the worst, with the exception of Helen Mirren, who was only nominated because she's, well, Helen Mirren. This award should have gone to Carey Mulligan, for her marvelous performance in An Education. She has no chance of winning on Oscar night now, since she has been continuously snubbed by Bullock and Meryl Streep. On Oscar night, it's gonna be between those two. So, yeah. Those are my thoughts. On other notes, Ricky Gervais did a great job as host, and I'm thrilled that Glee won for best TV Show-Musical or Comedy. I don't know how Jane Lynch didn't win, but, at least the show was recognized somehow. Expect more coverage on the awards season as we get closer to March 7.