Sunday, February 22, 2009


It's Oscar night tonight, but important things surrounding them are already afoot. Yes, I'm talking about the annual Supporting Actress Oscar Smackdown at StinkyLulu, which he was gracious enough to allow me to participate in, along with himself and seven other fantastic bloggers. Click over here to read our takes on each of the five nominees, and discover who came out on top. (You might want to take a little detour on your way there, though: Nathaniel at The Film Experience has been imagining this fight going down for real and he's shared it with his readers.) Supporting Actress is apparently one of the first announced at the ceremony tonight, so you won't have to wait long to find out who AMPAS themselves give the prize to.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oscar Predictions

I wish I could up with something exciting and original to post... but I am currently lacking imagination, so you'll have to settle for these. How thrilling, etc.

Will win: Slumdog Millionaire.
Should win: I'm sure you've heard it's quite a dreadful year. So I won't go on. Milk by quite a way.

Will win: The Boyle TM.
Should win: Gus Van Sant even though it's hardly his best work and for me he was the weakest link. But OH WELL.

Will win: Could go either to Rourke or Penn. And indeed consensus has not been reached. I will go for... Mickey Rourke.
Should win: In an amazing coincidence, the two duking it out for the prize are the two supreme performances in this category (pending Richard Jenkins whose DVD is sitting suspiciously next to me). In the tightest squeeze, I'll go for Sean.

Will win: Kate Winslet is finally going to win and I'm not happy about it? What is the world coming to.
Should win: Anne Hathaway, with Melissa Leo not far behind.

Will win: I forget his name. Heath somebody...?
Should win: I'm going to have to throw my hands up and admit that Heath does indeed deserve this one and if he doesn't win I'll be joining the lynch mob.

Will win: People have been shifting around on this one but I'm still betting on Penelope Cruz.
Should win: I'm perhaps a bit too fresh on Penelope having only seen her yesterday BUT I'll give it to her since Viola Davis has faded just a little bit. But apart from (the lovely) Taraji P. Henson, this is a top-notch category. (Which I'll be profiling along with other brilliant bloggers at StinkyLulu tomorrow- don't forget to check it out!)

Will win: I'll be daring and go for Martin McDonagh's In Bruges. (You FOOL.)
Should win: I'll go for Dustin Lance Black's slightly worthy but lively, witty and incisive script for Milk.

Will win: Somehow Simon Beaufoy will walk off with the prize for his shallow scripting on Slumdog Millionaire. (I hear it's better than the book though so SCORE.)
Should win: This category is utterly, utterly dreadful. You know this when the best option to take is... Frost/Nixon.

Will win: Shiny, flashy romanticization of those slums always gets 'em [/gross generalization]. So it's Anthony Dod Mantle for Slumdog Millionaire.
Should win: Wally Pfister's dark, moody and electrifying work on The Dark Knight.

Will win: Chris Dickens' lively cutting on Slumdog.
Should win: Elliot Graham's measured amalgamation of the fictional and documentary footage on Milk.

Will win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, since it covers several thousand decades.
Should win: Revolutionary Road.

Will win: The Duchess, 'cause those duds is large.
Should win: The Duchess.

Will win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 'cause is that Cate Blanchett under there?
Should win: The Wrest- I concede that- of the nominees- Benjamin Button actually deserves this one.

Will win: A.H. Rahman for Slumdog Millionaire. Because even I liked the music.
Should win: Danny Elfman's low-key but pleasant work on Milk is the winner in a rather dull field.

Will win: Slumdog's "Jai Ho".
Should win: I like "Jai Ho".

Will win:
I don't know. Slumdog.
Should win: Wanted totally deserved these nominations. Now that I've said that, I'll admit that despite all my reservations about it, Wall-E's sound was really rather special.

Will win: Wall-E. Gotta give the ickle robot something. (Oh, I haven't done Animated Film yet, have I?)
Should win: Wall-E.

Will win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, because who knows where Brad Pitt ends and computers begin?
Should win: I couldn't care any less. The Dark Knight.

Will win: Wall-E, because it is written. Wait, wrong film.
Should win: I haven't seen Bolt which I hear is pretty good as these things go, but I'll continue my season-long blasphemy and say Kung Fu Panda. Yes, you heard me.

Will win: Um. The Class?
Should win: I've only seen Waltz with Bashir and The Baader Meinhof Complex and am a fan of neither, but Waltz is slightly better as these things go. I have hopes for the others, however.

Will win: Why break with tradition. Man on Wire.
Should win: I've only seen Man on Wire and it's perfectly acceptable.

Will win: The Conscience of Nhem En

Will win: Presto (which is much better than the film it preceded so THERE.)

Will win: Manon sur le bitume

Friday, February 13, 2009

I only came to, er, check your boiler.

Would you like to spend an evening in the company of yelling, screaming bourgeoisie people with problems-a-plenty? Well, you're in luck. Out in cinemas at the moment are not one but two, yes two!, movies detailing the ups and downs of just such people. What's that you say? You'd love to go, but the credit crunch means you only have enough for one? What a shame. I'll try to give you all the help I can.

If you like your bourgeoisie with a little bit more repression, then why not take a trip back to the white-collar world of the 1950s with Revolutionary Road? There waiting to welcome you with folded arms are the Wheelers, a man and wife with two children (they're around... somewhere. But don't worry if you don't like children because they know they're best not seen or heard.). Frank works in the city, but that's all very constricting and straight-laced so he generally spends his time skiving off, getting drunk and fucking secretaries. (Hey, if it's good enough for those Mad Men, it's good enough for you.) Don't tell his wife April, though. It'll only give her more ammo to sling at him when he tries to explain why he's just not as adventurous or distressed with his life as she is.

But it's April you might be into spending more time with... if you like free spirits that is. Try and tell her what to do or box her in and she won't take it well. She wants to get away you see. Paris, maybe, but anywhere to the East will do. If she's a little distant, just feel her out, and watch her open up. That's all she wants, see. Freedom. All this repression gets to her, and there's no telling what she'll do if all gets to be too much.

Still, she's the more relatable one, and the one they want to sympathize with. I think. See, this film's a bit odd, really. A bit Greek. (Did you see that film last year? It's a bit like this. Only this is a little softer.) Only problem is this tragedy starts going round in circles. Like depression? Good, because this film can't get away from it. The circulation gets a bit boring, really, starts drowning in its own fatuousness. All these people are pitched on different levels and when they bash together it's like a comedic farce meeting a stripped-back realist drama. Be careful treading into this world, because the tectonic plates won't stop shifting. C+

If you're of a more modern mind-set, however, Rachel Getting Married might be just the ticket for you. They're all a bit bohemian here, all kooky and a bit eclectic, although the returning former drug addict sister of the titular bride-to-be is welcomed back with mixed feelings. Daddy loves her; Sister's a bit more wary. So she should be. There's some dark shit in these people's pasts, but don't worry: there's no po-faced deceptions going on here, just natural familial dynamics playing out in improvised, documentary-like fashion- that camera never rests, see, barely lets itself have a break except when one of these people starts monologuing, and even then it's still gloriously open, checking out reactions from people you know and people you don't, drawing people together. You're a person. You're drawn in too. They want you to be a part of this, right? You might find some of their dishwasher antics a bit bonkers but this is warts and all, man. Take the good with the bad, the dark with the light.

Take Kym, for example- the former drug addict sister. She looks a bit messy, like she hasn't washed her hair for a while, and she smokes like a chimney- Mom doesn't like that, but then what jurisdiction does she have anyway, she's never around- and she always wants everything to be about her. Check out her rehearsal speech. I'm sure the good intentions of honouring the happy couple were there somewhere, but like the best of us the only one on Kym's mind is Kym. Fair enough, really, she's been shoved off to the end of the table- not really a place for family members. But anyway, yes, light and dark. This is a woman- a girl, still, maybe- who recognises her own failings, pities herself, has illusions that somehow she can make them funny, and as she stumbles her way through her words you're not sure whether to laugh, cry or hide behind your own fingers. But at least now you have the option- all those Wheelers want is for you to leave with tears streaming down your face. B+

What's that you say? You'd rather see nuns be outrageously ambiguous? Sorry, I don't think there's a film like that showing right now...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Old news, I know...

... but why is Kathleen Turner in Marley & Me?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Undoubtably Not Very Good

Cuddle the ambiguity. Bathe in it. Hell, you might as well have sex with it while you're there, because that's what John Patrick Shanley is doing. He's so in love with ambiguity he's built it it's own house so he can visit it on weekends. There's really nothing better than not knowing a fucking thing about your characters, is there? I mean, I, for one, like nothing better than leaving a cinema knowing nothing more than when I entered it. Such unilluminating storytelling is what everyone dreams of participating in. Meryl Streep knows this. Philip Seymour Hoffman too. They know you don't need to fully understand these characters, or have them make any coherent sense. That's why they shout; it dilutes your brain function, wills you into submission.

Oh, I'm sorry. I think me and sarcasm got a bit too involved there. But I've kicked him out in his underpants now, so don't worry. It's perfectly obvious that Doubt relies on ambiguity like a crutch, but the problem is that it does it in all the wrong places. Check Shanley's trash, because I'm sure that somewhere in there he's disposed of a checklist of all the Big Points that he runs around checking off within the film. Gender politics, check. Racial tension, check. Sexuality, check. Modernity versus tradition, check. Some of these points are so broadly telegraphed that it's almost absurd, and worse, removes the actors even further from any kind of full characterization. Streep and Hoffman eventually give in entirely to this idea, maybe because in the second half the film basically becomes a yelling duet between the two of them. Not hard, since the film famously only really has four characters of any substance whatsoever, and Amy Adams' precocious young nun has already vanished and Viola Davis' mother already swooped in for her one remarkable powerhouse scene.

You can't blame the two headliners too much, though. I hate to point the finger of blame, but this is Shanley's film and Shanley is the problem. For all I know, his original Broadway play is an utter masterpiece, but Shanley is all too conscious that this is a film and he is all too set on opening it out. Intense focus on wild, dangerous weather is alarmingly foregrounded and feels utterly pointless, while his gathering use of canted angles makes the dialectics feel even more self-consciously unbalanced than they already do. One repeated trope of shouting- both from Hoffman and, in her most interesting scene, Adams- blowing the bulb in Streep's office feels particularly blunt in its intended irony. Since Shanley adapted his own stageplay, too, it's easy to blame him for the script's shortcomings.

But even Shanley knows that this is an actor's film, and therein lies both success and failure. Problems with Streep and Hoffman do not, sadly, lie solely in their denigration into a shouting volley- the accent she adopts easily tends towards hamminess, and too often that's the route Streep takes. Hoffman flips so sharply between the kind, caring and hip priest and the verbose, bellowing self-righteous priest that he's basically a priest with a split personality. But Philip, where's the ambiguity?!

But at least we have some superior people to back them up. Amy Adams is given a thankless role; or rather a thankless task, because where at first Doubt might even seen to be about her precocious, confused young nun, it throws her overboard with such sudden flippancy that it's sad to see such strong work go to waste. Adams' struggling against the script's continual insistence that Sister James is a wholly innocent fool mangled into suspicion by Streep's Sister Aloysius doesn't always come off, but it's fascinating to watch her embuing some depth to the character, shading ordinary moments with a more subtle approach that brings to mind, if in a much lighter way, Sally Hawkins' lauded Poppy from Happy-Go-Lucky.

And then there's Viola Davis. I could give you some romanticized backstory about how I already loved this formidable character actress, but I'll just throw out the title Solaris and be done with it. I think the nub of why the part of Mrs. Miller works as well as it does- and that's very well indeed- is because there's no hankering after ambiguity here. Indeed, it's the opposite- what we get from Mrs. Miller is a truth so surprising and naked that it takes both Sister Aloysius and the audience aback. Which is not to say that there is no ambiguity, no subtlety in Davis' performance itself. Mrs. Miller is warring with herself, wondering at first what the Sister wants and then what she should say in response. And further- this performance succeeds where the others don't, where Shanley doesn't, in anchoring the film in a recognisable universe, in a world we can connect with and understand. In Davis' remarkable ten minutes there are embued histories- of racial struggle, of gender struggle, of family struggle- and they are all mingling together as we watch her. It's hard not to tend to hyperbole when remembering this scene, because it sticks out so boldly, and although this is its design it is no less effective.

But sadly, once Mrs. Miller vacates the film, Shanley's muddy ambiguous wallpaper starts to curl up and he basically abandons Streep and Hoffman to try and yell it back onto the wall. Alright, so enough with my bizarre metaphors and whatnot, but I was actually alarmed by how, in pursuit of such delicate ambiguity Doubt could end up being so crashingly unsubtle. Maybe if Sister Aloysius existed as a coherent character beyond one scene I'd care. Maybe if you made any attempt to anchor this school in a world that doesn't function like a horror movie, I'd see these dilemmas as real. But maybe you're relying on Viola Davis a little too much, eh? She can't hold both ends of your wallpaper. C-

Sunday, February 08, 2009

BAFTA Liveblogged

18:58: Welcome. Thank you for joining me for this evening. I'll be attempting to be your witty and debonair host for the evening. We're here for just over half an hour of red carpet first, then I'll be nipping out of the room for a few minutes to check that those entrees aren't burning. Then back at 8:00 for two hours of the ceremony itself, where both BAFTA and I will be ignoring that they've already released all the winners. And trying to put up with Jonathan Ross' inane but edited scriptural annoyance.

19:02: It's Claudia Winkleman. Hopefully since this is BBC3 she'll be allowed to go completely nuts on these stars' asses. (Lady GaGa here joins the pantheon of montage musicians. I bet we hear Duffy tonight.)

19:03: It's Bond and his woman. He's presenting Best Actress, aka Kate Winslet. Oh Christ Claudia's asking kids' questions. Bond doesn't have any pets. Good, he'd probably give them martinis.

19:04: Claudia's gone all soft and concerned for the first of the Best Film profiles (Milk). Time to wax lyrical. Emile Hirsch looks a bit rough in his interview section. Wash your hair, man, you're a film star. (Well, you will be.)

19:06: Claudia is chatting to Wossie. How much better is she than him? They're obsessing over the Cruz. Wossie tries hard to seem interested until the completely bonkers question makes him go childish and insane. He's informing us about an apparent Sheen / Frost double-act.

19:08: She's captured Jolie and Pitt. He looks remarkably old. Angelina laughs generously at Claudia's aggressive charm. Yes, Claudia, let's go for the old "rivalry" question. They won't have heard that before. Aww, Brad takes the chance to be sweet about Angelina. And Claudia takes the cue to introduce the Benjamin Button bit.

19:11: Dress montage. Nice to see Thandie Newton still gets to come to this thing. First Kate appearance of the night there, and Dev Patel is nice and reserved about his posh togs.

19:13: Claudia is striking a nice balance between professional and her trademark crazy. I love this woman. She's currently taking us around the "style suites", where we get a bitchy remark on Paris Hilton. Ha.

19:15: It's Goldie Hawn. She "loves it". At least these kids' questions are offbeat, although to be honest I could see Claudia coming up with them herself. The crowd love Goldie! She's wearing a very large silver necklace. I'm not precisely sure why she's here.

19:16: Ron Howard is hard to hate just because of Arrested Development. It's just not possible. And he seems like a nice guy. (Plus he has red hair. Although I hope I don't end up looking like him- i.e. bald.) He links to his film's bit.

19:20: Gemma Arterton has strapped her body firmly in a rather plain tight black necked dress. (Vintage Dior, apparently.) She's presenting Sound. Gemma is basically one of the crowd who's managed to cross over.

19:21: Kate! Claudia wants to lick her shoulder. Don't we all, Claudia, don't we all. Kate's still "really excited to be here". Ooh, Claudia's asking her to pick which role she wants to win for! Kate obviously evades that question. She hasn't written a speech. Panic stations, people.

19:25: Claudia's going to boss Mickey Rourke around. Not to be juvenile, but he is very cool. He looks coolly around as he chats. Claudia asks after the dogs, one of which is sick, apparently. Aww. Claudia agrees with me on the cool front. (We are totally soulmates.)

19:26: Holy crap, Penelope Cruz! She looks HOT. She gives the Kate spiel about being happy to be here, and then tries to run off! Claudia has to hustle her back. And then obviously brings back horrid childhood memories about being called "antelope".

19:27: Ugh, Danny Boyle. He may be fifty but he looks like a kid who's been given fifty Christmas presents. Yada yada yada. Don't waste my time, you'll have your moment later.

19:32: Claudia's got Dev Patel, who looks like he's about to explode. His eyes are alarmingly wide. Yada, more Slumdog love-in-ness. No, I'm not jealous that Dev is only eighteen and on the BAFTA red-carpet with a Best Actor nomination. How dare you suggest such a thing.

19:33: Cleverly, Claudia tells us what channels the actual show is on as the screen tells us otherwise. She is, however, the correct one. Well, folks, the red carpet is over already (well, it's been over for ages), so join me back here in twenty-five minutes for the ceremony itself.

19:59: We're back online. Get ready for Jonathan and NO CONTROVERSY.

20:01: Noel Clarke is officially an idiot. He wants Brad Pitt (for Benjamin Button!) and Slumdog to win. Well, you know what Noel, I hope you LOSE. Which you will. Is Michael Cera here?

20:02: I know they have to say that it's been "another amazing year" for film, but I'm beginning to discover just how untrue that is. Old news, I know, but there we go. And, yes, Christian Bale's rant has already come up.

20:04: Nice dig at Kate's double and their unfortunate effect on Wossie's speech impediment. It's hard to hate Ross since he's been edited. It's also hard to care. But we can all appreciate a Pierce Brosnan dig.

20:06: Aww. Ross has given all the winners free licence to do whatever they want... within 30 seconds. Kate takes the joke with an adorable chuckle. First appearance in the clipreel goes to... Heath Ledger. Shall we take bets on that now? I'll go for Christopher Nolan.

20:09: (Thanks to Lisa, my first commenter!) Oh Jesus, there was a clip of Jumper in that montage. I never thought I'd have to remember that film again. First award is for... Music. (If Mamma Mia! wins this we may as well kill ourselves now.)

20:10: Everyone's favourite Brit- er, Australian, Kylie is presenting. Nice coup. (Mamma Mia! gets an alarmingly loud round of applause.)
I predict: Slumdog Millionaire
Winner: Slumdog Millionaire

20:12: Indeed it is. A.R. Rahman seems quite shy. He keeps it short and sweet. Next up is Sound. Gemma Arterton's dress is more sparkly that it looked before.
I predict: Slumdog Millionaire
Winner: Slumdog Millionaire

20:14: Generous applause for the sound men. Everything's "fantastic" for the one two who gets to speak, and they thanks everyone in concise fashion. Next is Make-Up, Hair and Prod. Design.

20:16: I feel like I haven't seen Emily Mortimer for years. She's presenting with the "Darcy-licious" Matthew MacFayden. Production Design goes first.
I predict: The Dark Knight
Winner: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

20:18: Slumdog loses for the first time. Donald Graham Burt can't be there, but the other one (apologies!) gives most of the speech over to him anyway. Make-Up and Hair:
I predict: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Winner: ^ (Like Emily, they can't believe that someone made Brad look old. It's not hard. The BBC managed it earlier.)

20:22: The producer accepts for them and says thank about twelve times. And gets off sharpish. Next up is Cinematography, one of the most interesting categories that will sadly be won by the most uninteresting nominees.
I predict: Slumdog Millionaire
Winner: Slumdog Millionaire

20:24: Anthony Dod Mantle looks unkempt and slightly like Grayson Perry. He's very... handsy. Danny Boyle is held to rapt attention, as Dev looks upwards gaping like a lunatic.

20:26: Amy Adams is presenting Best Adapted Screenplay, looking lovely in blue and NOTHING LIKE A SQUIRREL. She reads with a tilted head. Fix your neck, love. Slumdog gets the usual whoops.
I predict: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
Winner: ^

20:28: Will there come a point where a Slumdog win is greeted not by gasps and excitement but quiet acceptance? Doubtful. Except on this end. Beaufoy rabbits about how he had a fake BAFTA. Freida Pinto looks pretty and vacant. (Just like in the movie.)

20:30: The lengthily titled Carl Foreman Award For British Filmmaking (or something along those lines) is presented by Thandie Newton is a slinkie. Oh wait, that's her dress. She doesn't read from the screen but from an ickle card.

20:32: That may be the first time a clip from Of Time and the City is actually allowed to feature Terence Davies' plummy vocals.
I predict: Steve McQueen for Hunger
Winner: ^

20:33: Excellent. First win I can actually get behind. He's wearing a kilt! He keeps it short and sweet. Next up is Outstanding Contribution to British Filmmaking. Obviously this is slightly different from the previous award. Jason Isaacs looks debonair and explains that they're not honouring a person but two places: Pinewood Studios and Shepperton Studios.

20:38: The CEO, accepting this award, has evidently memorized a speech. Meryl Streep, for some reason cut to, looks bored. This guy is rather dry. I know these studios are wooden, but really. Get on with it. Emma Watson, ever-present, also looks like she's being slowly bored to death.

20:39: Next up is Original Screenplay, otherwise known as the Safe Haven Category. Michael Sheen and David Frost, your moment is here. Such a thing is hard to resist. I'd laugh if it weren't so ludicrously obvious and rehearsed. (Although hearing Frost say "Come on baby, do the fornication" might have made it worth it.)
I predict: Martin McDonagh, In Bruges
Winner: ^ (score!)

20:43: Brendan Gleeson accepts. He's such a lovely guy. He apologises on Martin's behalf to the people of Bruges, who I'm sure are all watching with rapt attention. Costume Design is next, and Ross takes the opportunity to make a salad joke. And, oh dear, here are the Slumdog kids. Are they still kids?
I predict: Michael O'Connor, The Duchess
Winner: ^ (I really based that prediction on the surprisingly enormous cheer that got. I'm a cheat.)

20:46: Some funny business as O'Connor kisses Freida twice. Although she seemed to be the one insisting. Since Keira is evidently absent, we cut to Dominic Cooper, which is a fair trade-off if you ask me. A wide shot does O'Connor no favours as we see Ross and the kids shuffling impatiently. Wrap it up, O'Connor. Next up: Film Not in the English Language. Try guessing this one.

20:48: Marisa! You're here! Excuse me while I enter The Rapture momentarily. She leans casually in her off-the-shoulder slinky slivery number. These awards now hold no meaning.
I predict: Persepolis (eh, why not?)
Winner: I've Loved You So Long

20:51: Really, BAFTA? Really? The guy doesn't speak good English, says he. And gets off quickly. Does this prefigure a KST win? She looks nice in the audience.

20:52: Sharon Stone is here to present Outstanding British Film- and, yes, Girls Aloud have entered the great pantheon of background music. Sigh. Anyway. Sharon's doing odd things with her neck as she talks. And doesn't blink. And can't read properly. Slumdog may be nominated here but since that's winning the big award I'd be absurd for it to win here. Now watch me regret not going for Hunger.
I predict: In Bruges
Winner: Man on Wire

20:55: Well, at least it wasn't Mamma Mia!. Actually, this is probably the best of the nominees, so hooray! A deserved win. They rush through the speeches because they haven't prepared one. Graciously, they thank Phillippe Petite (however that is spelt), and Ross announces that we're moving to BBC1. This won't hurt a bit...

21:02: The channel split means that we basically get the same opening montage of red carpet stuff we've already seen. And Ross does his own intro, and we are forced to endure a montage of the (mostly) rubbish films that this organization think qualify for the category of "Best". And I think I've now seen Sean Penn say "No. But god knows we keep trying!" so many times I'll be mouthing those words along with him tomorrow evening.

21:05: Supporting Actress is first. Since Viola is conspicuously absent, this category surely belongs to Marisa. No? (Penelope can have it, I can't judge yet.) But Tilda Swinton? Freida Pinto? Please. Even James McAvoy can't make these selections comprehensible.
I predict: Penelope Cruz,
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Winner: ^

21:08: Penny gives new bestie Kate Winslet a big smacker just before she steps on stage (Kate is right at the front, natch). Gracious, Kate looks like she's about to burst with pride. What a wonderful friendship to consider. Penny dedicates the award to the other nominees, all of whom smile without any apparent malice. I'm not sure that Amy Adams is capable of that emotion...

21:10: Oh, THAT's why Emma Watson is here. She's presenting Special Visual Effects. She appears to be wearing muscle shells on the top of her dress.
I predict: The Dark Knight
Winner: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

21:12: Excuse the language, but shit on a stick. I typed that first. First Guy's wife is already weeping. Give over. And I can't believe I only just noticed that Brad Pitt has a moustache.

21:14: Ross seems to think that the fact that Goldie Hawn gave us Kate Hudson is a good thing. Jonathan, I know you're an idiot, but... Anyway, Goldie's presenting Supporting Actor. She makes a smashing moment over her inability to read. "Oh my god, I can't read any more!" Maybe you had to be there.
I predict: Christopher Nolan
WinnerAcceptee: Who's this guy?

21:17: Goldie chokes as she reads out Heath's name. This is the inevitable downbeat moment of the night. Whoever is accepting is quick and gracious. And BAFTA takes this moment to continue the sadness and play the clipreel of people we've lost.

21:23: It's the Rising Star Award. Ross says "interesting", I say "predictable". I'd be surprised if Michael Cera doesn't pick this up (see: Shia LeBeouf, who's presenting), and I don't think he's even here. Why isn't Gemma Arterton nominated for this? She might've stood a chance. (Watch Michael Fassbender win now or something.) Not that I begrudge Michael Cera anything.

21:25: Noel Clarke? Oh frick. I did NOT say that stuff earlier. Erase it from your memories.
That done, what the fuck? Noel Clarke is annoying. Go away. And take off that stupid cravat or whatever it's called. And stop trying to be Barack Obama.

21:26: Next up is Best Director. Step forward Danny Boyle. It's Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart! Amazing. They take the chance to plug 'Waiting for Godot'. You can't be mad at them. Their voices are too sonorous. Couldn't you listen to them talk all day? If I do bald I want to look like Patrick Stewart.
I predict: The Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Winner: ^

21:30: This is getting very boring. Keep it short, Boyle. Oh dear, he's rabbiting about David Lean and his father and electrics... Dangerous territory, going near the "young actors", Danny, haven't you been reading the news? His son, a twat, yells out "I love you dad!", but it's less charming and more yobbish.

21:32: Leading Actress now. This is Kate's unless a vote-split lets KST in, and since those two are the best in this category (in the absence of Anne and Melissa), I won't complain. And even if Meryl wins at least she gives good speech. (Bond is the presenter, by the way.)
I predict: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Winner: ^

21:35: You could barely hear which film she won for there. As if it matters. Daniel knows. Kate's already breathless. She's pawing at the award like it might escape her grasp. She shares it win Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack, which is a nice way to curtail any weeping... Is it just me or does her dress actually have a W built into it?

21:37: Marion Cotillard still exists! What a shame. She's presenting Lead Actor. She drags out her spiel in excruciating fashion. Brad Pitt recieves an uncomfortably warm round of applause, as does Dev Patel. Please say no.
I predict: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Winner: ^

21:40: Excellent. Keane's "Spiralling" might be too dangerous a choice for this moment. Mickey admires the trophy, and Mickey is bleeped! Got to love the bleepage. Does this make Mickey the Oscar frontrunner now? Mickey is getting the best laughs of the night. And for an unknown reason he dedicates it to Richard Harris. Wait, what?

21:42: Ross makes an actual funny joke! He says that Mickey is now suspended for two months. Mick Jagger, for whatever reason, is going to give Slumdog it's final award of the night (Best Film). Is anyone keeping count? Mickey's opened the floodgates for swearing as Mick jumps on board. Mick makes some jokes about how various actors are engaged in an exchange programme with musicians- including the entire Pitt family doing The Sound of Music. The Pitts lap it up. Good thing someone funny has arrived to ease the pain.
I predict: Slumdog Millionaire
Winner: ^

21:46: Big applause for Slumdog. Producer Christian Coulson reaffirms Slumdog's "fairy-tale" status as the camera flits around the various people involved. Well, that was a fun evening, was it not? Personally, I forgot that there was only one film released last year. Wait, Slumdog was released this year? What?

21:48: To end the night, Jonathan Price- who is NOT one of our "best stage and screen actors", Ross- is giving the Fellowship award to Terry Gilliam. If only for Twelve Monkeys, I am perfectly okay with this award. Jeff Bridges gets a video slot and shows how fun and bonkers he is.

21:55: You want a great Brad Pitt performance, watch Twelve Monkeys. This is what this long clipreel tells me. Big applause- although not as big as for Slumdog- and I am almost ready to wrap this thing up. Finally.

21:58: Terry makes good speech and produces a hilariously long list of the "little people" who "never get thanked" that he doesn't actually read because then we'd be here all night. Vociferous applause as he leaves, as though the audience too can't wait for this to end. Come on, Ross, wrap it up already.

21:59: And we're done. Almost. Quick clips of the other awards that aren't important- Short Film, Short Animation (Wallace and Gromit!), Editing (wait, this isn't important? Slumdog won this one too), and Animated Film (Wall-E).

22:01: Now we're done. This was both boring and fun at once, but it was certainly an experience for me. Thanks to Lisa for commenting, and you for reading, and goodnight.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Bow Your Heads

For today is the birthday of our lord and saviour.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

It's A Slum Dog Life For Us

Actually watching Slumdog Millionaire- after my expressions of pre-formed hatred- was a strange experience, because it meant I actually found legitimate reasons to dislike it. And, perhaps, come to terms with the fact that it wasn't quite as dreadful as I was expecting.

I mean, don't get me wrong. It was still bad. Dreadfully cliched and inconsistently photographed. Inanely predictable and dully acted. But it was hard to get riled up against. One of the friends I went with was repeatedly checking her watch for the last half hour or so (and she liked it!), which basically points towards the inevitable conclusion: it was boring. Sure, all the rubbish about destiny might have got up my nose, but it also robs the film of any impetus: of course they're going to end up together, and of course he's going to win, because it is written. And when you don't particularly care about the characters- which it's hard to do when Dev Patel and Freida Pinto (okay, so she's pretty. And?) play them so uncharismatically (the preceding child actors were mostly good, though- why not award them?).

Structurally, there are big problems. If it had gone strictly down the route of THIS is where I got THIS answer from, it might've been easier to swallow the laughable generalizations and alarmingly shallow dips into this cultural pool. You can't throw it tidbits about child labour or gangster's whores or whatever without also expressing where these things come from. According to Simon Beaufoy, it seems, they simply come from the world's desire to kick poor Jamal's ass as hard as it possibly can (so you love him so much more). It's a fable, maybe. But it can't also throw it obviously real details like that early attack on the Muslims and still use the fable excuse. How shallow and naive do you want to be? You might as well have killed his mother via spontaneous combustion.

Early on the energy is good. Some of the camera framings are alarmingly clumsy and I didn't really appreciate the subtitling going all over the map (is this a comic book? No!), but the sharp, frenetic editing kicks the film off at a marvellous pace. The score- bar some awkward placement issues with M.I.A.'s marvellous Paper Planes- also adds to this hyper-kinetic feeling. But it also dissipates as we progress through the story with the second versions of the kids. It's hard to pinpoint where, exactly, but everything just slipped away. If I could've fallen asleep, I probably would've (uncomfortable cinema alert). And when that phone call occurs- was anyone surprised? I figured it out as soon as he said he was phoning a friend. It was probably easy to figure it out as soon as the phone was passed to the recipient of the call (this is me being deliberately vague).

And there's the nib. It may be written, but in that case why do we need to watch it? (I did like the dance at the end, though. Fun.) C-