Random Thread for December


Happy 76th birthday to Woody Allen!


About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

65 responses »

  1. New York, NY – (December 1, 2011) – The National Board of Review has named HUGO the 2011 Best Film of the Year. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film was released on November 23rd by Paramount Pictures.
    Below is a full list of the awards given by the National Board of Review:
    Best Film: Hugo
    Best Director: Martin Scorsese, Hugo
    Best Actor: George Clooney, The Descendants
    Best Actress: Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
    Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
    Best Supporting Actress: Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
    Best Original Screenplay: Will Reiser, 50/50
    Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
    Best Animated Feature: Rango
    Breakthrough Performance: Felicity Jones, Like Crazy
    Breakthrough Performance: Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    Debut Director: J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
    Best Ensemble: The Help
    Spotlight Award: Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre, Shame, X-Men: First Class)
    NBR Freedom of Expression: Crime After Crime
    NBR Freedom of Expression: Pariah
    Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation
    Best Documentary: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
    Special Achievement in Filmmaking: The Harry Potter Franchise – A Distinguished Translation from Book
    to Film

    Top Films
    (in alphabetical order)

    The Artist
    The Descendants
    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
    The Ides of March
    J. Edgar
    Tree of Life
    War Horse

  2. Shits and giggles?:

    I will forever miss the over-engineered, nearly-perfectly-manufactured Canon XL2…

  3. Hey Filmman, you’re the guy I go to for info on Japanese serial killer films. Have you ever seen Cold Fish? Saw it today–kind of liked it, though it’s too long and the ending isn’t as good as the set-up.

  4. LA Film Critics Awards:

    BEST PICTURE, Winner: “The Descendants.” Runner-Up: “The Tree of Life.”

    BEST DIRECTOR, Winner: Terrence Malick, “The Tree of Life.” Runner-Up: Martin Scorsese, “Hugo.”

    BEST ACTOR, Winner: Michael Fassbender, “A Dangerous Method,” “Jane Eyre,” “Shame,” “X-Men: First Class.” Runner-Up: Michael Shannon, “Take Shelter.”

    BEST ACTRESS, Winner: Yun Jung-hee, “Poetry.” Runner-Up: Kirsten Dunst, “Melancholia.”

    BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, Winner: Jessica Chastain, “Coriolanus,” “The Debt,” “The Help,” “Take Shelter,” “Texas Killing Fields,” “Tree of Life” Runner-Up: Janet McTeer, “Albert Nobbs.”

    BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, Winner: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners.”Runner-Up: Patton Oswalt, “Young Adult.”

    I must admit I’ve never heard of Poetry–has anyone seen it? Rob?

  5. I hate to beat a dead horse in criticizing Jeff Wells, but man he is an arrogant prick. I think the thing about him I hate most is when people disagree with him, such as with awards, they are being “sheep,” and following the crowd, because obviously they can’t have sensible opinions that differ from his. The latest is his campaign against The Artist winning awards. I haven’t seen The Artist, and he may be right about its quality, but why can’t the man accept that he has a minority opinion? What a tool.

  6. Filmman reads Slim’s next to last comment and decides to *never* mention Black Swan again.
    Well played, sir…well played, indeed.

  7. In fairness to Wells with the “sheep” stuff … it’s true that he thinks The Artist is unworthy, but IIRC he had the same complaints last year when The Social Network was sweeping every critics’ award in sight. And he loved The Social Network.

    He just likes variety in year-end awards. I don’t really blame him. Case in point, the Yun Jung-hee win earlier today – that’s a performance that has no shot at major awards, but it’s very worthy of being highlighted like that.

    It seems like it wasn’t long ago that every major critics group had a different slate of awards, but it hasn’t seemed that way much lately. That’s probably my perception more than it is reality, but again, I can see where Wells is coming from.

  8. You know, looking at the NYFCC awards history, it’s amazing to me how conventional their choices for Best Film are. You’d think that they’d have a really varied and unpredictable history, just because so many more movies get shown there than anywhere else in the country.

  9. But the alternative is for critics to vote for different movies just to be contrary, which kind of defeats the purpose of the awards. If there’s a consensus of critics that thinks The Artist or The Social Network or any other movie is the best film of that year, so be it. “Well, the New York and LA critics voted for X, so I’ll vote for Y,” seems dumb, at least to me.

  10. Well, that’s the paradox here, isn’t it? If they’re all voting for the same stuff … what exactly is the purpose of these awards? Presumably they all vote in seperate little groups because the cultures of various regions/cities/niches lead to different perspectives and outlooks and a movie might not strike the same chord with one group as it does another.

    But if that’s not the case, why should I care? What good do endless announcements of praise for the same movie do me or you or anyone?

  11. But that said, I should add that this year seems nothing like last year so far. Last year really was depressing the way The Social Network dominated. This year at least a few different movies have broken through.

  12. Speaking of Wells, has he become seriously intense in his dislike of Spielberg (and inevitably ‘The War Horse’). Actually, it would be quite amusing to see his reaction if ‘The War Horse’ began sweeping all the critics awards.

  13. But if that’s not the case, why should I care? What good do endless announcements of praise for the same movie do me or you or anyone?

    Why should you care? There’s really no reason for you to care, other than the horse race aspect of it. I care because I find it interesting in the respect I find reading sports results interesting, and because I have fun figuring how this all means for Oscar.

    The reason for the awards is to get movie stars to come to their ceremonies so they can have a big, self-congratulatory banquet that doesn’t affect us 99 percenters one bit. It’s an orgy of flattery. They aren’t designed to amuse or satisfy me, you, or Jeff Wells.

    What bothers me about Wells isn’t that he complains about one movie winning, but that he assigns motives to the voters and declares them sheep, like he’s the only person out there who is an independent thinker. He’s just a blowhard egomaniac.

  14. The reason for the awards is to get movie stars to come to their ceremonies so they can have a big, self-congratulatory banquet that doesn’t affect us 99 percenters one bit.

    What bothers me about Wells isn’t that he complains about one movie winning, but that he assigns motives to the voters and declares them sheep, like he’s the only person out there who is an independent thinker.

    I feel like there’s some tension in these two statements. You seem to be “assigning motives to the voters” in the first that are much different and more cynical than “vote for the best”.

    Why should you care? There’s really no reason for you to care

    Because I like seeing worthy stuff highlighted and rewarded? Because I might be convinced to see a movie that I otherwise had dismissed or even learn about something I hadn’t heard of, as with you and Poetry? I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s a hard world out there for quality movies, and I really believe that these awards have some (probably small, but still) influence on how movies are funded and distributed.

    And seriously, if they weren’t meant for general consumption in some way, they wouldn’t exist. I’m clearly supposed to care.

    He’s just a blowhard egomaniac.

    Well, sure. And I agree that his “sheep” framework is about the least generous reading he could apply to the situation. But I understand the impulse he has to protest. And especially if this whole awards rigmarole is just a “self-congratulatory” wank, then that bullshit balloon needs to get punctured anyway, and fast.

  15. Not really any tension. Aside from the occasional Korean actress that wins, no matter who they vote for is some kind of movie star. The existence of the awards themselves are for promotional purposes and making studios happy, but as for the voters themselves, I don’t doubt the sincerity of their votes.

    Bullshit balloon? I think that was burst at the very first Academy Awards. It’s all bullshit. Pay attention to it or not, at your pleasure. I find it fun, many do not, and that’s perfectly understandable.

    Did you have this problem when L.A. Confidential swept every critics award in 1997? There weren’t as many websites up then (I’m not sure if Wells was writing for Mr. Showbiz back then), but as I recall nobody objected because everyone agreed it was the best movie that year (and then Titanic won the Oscar). Sometimes there’s a clear winner among critics, like The Social Network was last year. In my opinion, they all got it right.

    And you’re right, Wells has nothing to complain about. So far there’s been three big awards (NBR, NYFCC, and LAFCC) and it’s been three different movies.

  16. I doubt I was paying any attention in 1997, although I definitely remember thinking that L.A. Confidential was way overrated at the time. I never had a problem with Titanic winning the Oscar that year, and honestly, still don’t.

  17. I didn’t have a problem with Titanic winning, since it was a fait accompli, but LA Confidential was such a better movie that it’s not even funny. And we agree a lot?

  18. It’s not like Titanic was without its faults, some of them a little ridiculous, but what it did well it did extraordinarily well.

    I don’t think I’ve seen L.A. Confidential in over a decade, but I think I’ve seen it three times overall and I can’t really say the same about it. I’ve since come to like Hanson as a director but he’s out of his depth with that kind of story. He doesn’t have the chops to make that kind of throwback noir attitude really convincing, and I remember that the atmosphere and tone really felt forced. And you know how I’ve always felt about Kevin Spacey…

    It’s telling, I think, that Hanson never made a movie that got anywhere near the acclaim that Confidential did, while Titanic was often regarded as Cameron’s weakest effort, Academy plaudits aside, until the open season on Avatar started.

  19. LA Confidential is a masterpiece.
    The acting, cinematography, set design, editing, sound design, …the fucking aura of the thing.
    Easily one of the best movies of the nineties and easily in my top 50 of all time.
    Flat-out masterpiece.

  20. Man, am I conflicted about that poster, but it bears the mark of unmistakable genius.
    It turns the ‘hero complex’ of all comic book movies on its head. It makes the bad guy the winner, and shit, does my heart *break* at the broken bat mask.
    And Brian, I know you just hiccuped with anticipation responding to that last sentence, but yes, unabashedly, Batman means that much to me.

  21. “If I thought it would do any good, I’d put up a sign, right next to the one about the employees washin’ their hands.” #moviesthatchangedmylife

  22. A Better Life is decent (short review here), kind of a modern retelling of Bicycle Thieves, although it suffers from Bechir’s character being 100% noble all the time. Which, of course, kind of defeats the purpose of a Bicycle Thieves remake. I don’t have a problem with him being nominated, though, since he was very good.

    I’m not surprised about Dargis and J. Edgar, so disappointingly no funny face.

  23. I watched Raging Bull again the other day again, and was just writing my capsule review when I stumbled on the fact that Jake LaMotta is still alive. And not only that, he’s still active and apparently lucid at 90 years old.

    This blew my mind for a couple of reasons. First is that I know little about LaMotta outside of the movie, and the movie – which I now see was apparently made with the full cooperation and even enthusiasm of LaMotta himself – does not leave the impression that LaMotta is the kind of guy who will prosper in his old age. And second, how many boxers live into their old age, much less without severe degradation in their mental and/or physical capabilities?

  24. Okay, I have to question–what made you bring up Topher Grace? I don’t see him mentioned in this thread. He made a film earlier this year, Take Me Home Tonight, which kind of bombed.

  25. I was watching Valentine’s Day and he’s in it. I remember someone remarked about him some time ago on here.
    Wait…you KNEW he made Valentine’s Day and you wanted me to admit I was actually watching it…well played, sir…well played.
    Never even heard of Take Me Home Tonight.

  26. He was also in a movie that came out a few weeks ago with Richard Gere … don’t remember the name, not worth looking up.

  27. I was watching Valentine’s Day and he’s in it. I remember someone remarked about him some time ago on here.

    Wait–didn't you see Valentine's Day in the theater? And you're watching it again? What are you, some kind of masochist?

  28. I never said I wasn’t a masochist.

    Leaked version of new Batman trailer is on YouTube. Honestly……..as Kanye West said: “I got so much blues that I got no more room for no bad news”, and I’m pretty sure this movie is gonna be so genius that it’s going to ruin me.

  29. So I’ve been contemplating something Brian said a little while ago, that he felt Batman Begins was the superior film to The Dark Knight.
    So I watched them both again recently. (1080p, 60 inch plasma, klipsch reference speakers…FAR BETTER than I saw either in the theater)
    While the unmitigated genius of all parts of The Dark Knight are without doubt, with each film taken as a whole, I’m beginning to think Batman Begins is quite a step above The Dark Knight. Delving into the genesis and psychological underpinnings of the bat and the various nefarious characters in Gotham and the amazing look at Gotham as a city (the establishing shot of the Narrows filled my heart with such abundant joy) and even just the focus on Wayne/Batman…I really can see how Batman Begins could be somewhat easily be considered the superior film.
    Well played, sir…..well played.

  30. I’ve always thought Batman Begins was far better. If you poke around here, you can find my review of the Dark Knight that expresses how I thought it was a good film, but not a great one.

  31. Currently discussing the repressed homoerotic under-and-overtones prevalent in all of Tom Cruise’s work in the ’80’s and ’90’s, culminating in the penultimate example of Tom Cruise’s repressed homosexuality in his roles: Frank TJ Mackey
    Further discussing how remarkably TO-THE-POINT Paul Thomas Anderson got it. PTA is the best American artist working.

  32. Yup. The more I let Batman Begins sink in, the more I completely agree with you.
    I would posit that Spider Man 2 and Batman Begins both breathe rarified air and that not much further behind, The Dark Knight and Iron Man share the same space. ( You do not give enough credit to what was a movie that captured the ‘caricature’ of a comic book hero as well as Iron Man did.)
    You had fun at Batman Returns? One of the biggest letdowns of my movie-going life.

  33. Batman Returns was a great, big wankoff to the studios by an idiosyncratic, strange man who said ‘I never wanted to do a movie after Batman. Now you’re giving me space? I’m gonna make the ‘Frankenweenie’ of superhero movies. I hate to say it, but Peter Guber made Batman what it was. Just look at what Tim Burton’s Superman was gonna be.

  34. Nope, I disagree heartily. I liked Batman Returns better than Batman (that film was all attitude, and didn’t even had a coherent plot). I thought Pfeiffer, Walken and DeVito were great, and the death of the Penguin was Wagnerian.

    And you seem to imply that idiosyncratic and strange are bad things. My guess is that 99% of all film directors fit that description.

    Now, Batman Forever and Batman and Robin were horrible.

  35. Hey Filmman, you’re the guy I go to for info on Japanese serial killer films. Have you ever seen Cold Fish? Saw it today–kind of liked it, though it’s too long and the ending isn’t as good as the set-up.

    Slim, I’m a big Sono fan, actually. Finally got around to seeing Cold Fish this week and enjoyed it a great deal. Murata is a wonderful character. Wouldn’t be shocked to see it get picked up for a remake at some point with changes to the gore and final 30 minutes.

    As for the ending: I liked it, but I also know what to expect from a Sono feature. He’s like the Japanese David Lynch: he tends to overindulge in terms of runtime, nonsensical plot points and shock value, but even his lesser films are fascinating and worthy of analysis.

    Check out Noriko’s Dinner Table (my review here) which is on Netflix streaming or its predecessor Suicide Circle.

    Love Exposure, Sono’s previous film, just hit DVD this week and is probably his masterpiece.

    Speaking of which: Rob and Filmman – did you guys ever watch it?

  36. I’ll tell you what I thought of Love Exposure (from your recommendation) when you promise to watch Pontypool and tell me what you think.

  37. I have not watched LOVE EXPOSURE yet. And I can’t go a week without getting grief about it from somebody… I just need to accept it’s going to eat up an afternoon or evening and do it.

    I did just recently watch GUILTY OF ROMANCE though. Interesting movie, but a tough film to really enjoy or like.

    Favorite Sono films remain SUICIDE CLUB and EXTE: HAIR EXTENSIONS.

  38. I’m not sure what I think of the Prometheus trailer.
    I’m not ever sure it looks like a Ridley Scott movie.
    And what’s with the pseudo blond hair of Fassbender?
    Do we really need to subliminally know he’s a cyborg
    the entire time? Henriksen and that old guy in all
    the Shakespeare plays were way more natural

  39. Brian, I see you’ve got three to go to get to 150 films for the year. Are you going to make it? I’ve got one to go to get to 50, which I will do tomorrow with War Horse.

  40. I think I’ll make it. Planning on a Hitchcock double feature tomorrow. This has really been a slow month, though.

    If I don’t make it, I’ll at least start off 2012 with a flurry.

  41. So after a flurry of late activity – seven movies in the last four days – I’ll end 2011 with 154 movies for the year.

    Which sounds like a lot, but it’s easily the lowest total I’ve had since I moved to Chicago. Although the relatively low total is due to a slow beginning of the year; if I had kept the same pace all year that I had over the last four months, I’d be over 200.

  42. My record is 92 movies, in 1992, when I was working in New York City and had a decent income. But I don’t think I’d want to do that any more. Once a week is enough, especially with almost everything on DVD.

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