Monday, 25 June 2012


Brave, 2012
Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell

Brave is Pixar's first original non-sequel film since Up back in 2009. It's also Pixar's first female protagonist, and the first character from Pixar to be feature in the Disney Princess line. So it's a little bit of a first in many way.

I remember first seeing the trailer and realizing that it wasn't telling me very much about what was going to happen in the film (besides that Merida would "fight for my own hand!") so I came into the movie not really expecting anything at all, though I had heard the bears were pretty prominent. So, sitting down in the theatre I was expecting an pretty funny, predictable, mother-daughter movie. Which I got, but it was a lot more funny, a lot less predictable (though still predictable), and a lot of mother-daughter.

As you've all heard, Merida's hair is pretty much worth the price of admission. If you go only to see her hair, that's a pretty good reason. Her hair is beyond cool, especially in the scenes of her as a young girl. Additionally, her three younger brothers were infinitely hilarious, always causing mischief and are so adorable. Her father is hilarious and fun-loving too. However, the mother-daughter relationship is what guides this movie along. Merida is constantly exasperated at her mother, telling her a princess does this, a princess doesn't do that and Merida is frustrated to the max when 3 other clans arrive, with 3 suitors trying to win her hand. Merida does not want to get married. After shooting for her own hand at the archery competition, Merida's mother Elanor has had it. Her daughter is reckless and unladylike and embarassing. The two fight and Merida finds herself in a witches cottage, and with a spell to change her mother. But in a way that Merida doesn't expect.

The movie took a turn at this point which I didn't see coming, but is altogether interesting, though was a bit cheesy at first, but came into it's own and played it's part in the mother-daughter bonding thing really well. While it doesn't hit older audiences as much as the Toy Story movies did, Brave has some great lessons for young children about the importance of having a good relationship with your mother. The two of you may be at odds all the time, but you need to listen to each other if either of you want to get anywhere.

Additionally, the visuals and the score were completely amazing in this movie. While it probably would've been best to see it in 3D (which I didn't), it was still brilliantly gorgeous. And usually I'm not a big fan of Patrick Doyle, but I absolutely loved the score he did.

While many have said it doesn't have the brilliance of past Pixar movies, doesn't hit older audiences as well as younger ones, and plays it a little safe, I say that you shouldn't go into this movie expecting any of these things. They're all very true, but if you're expecting this movie not to be the next Finding Nemo, Toy Story or Up, you'll be vastly disappointed. However, this was something I expected, and knew from the beginning. It was a warrior princess movie which involved mothers, archery and bears, and the importance of listening to your parents. And while it doesn't have the things of what made Monsters Inc and the original Cars so good, Brave has it's own qualities to love about it. And that's how Brave should be viewed, a medium of it's own, not in comparison to other Pixar movies. Brave had some extremely hilarious moments, some mischevious little boys, some awesome red hair, cool Scottish accents, and a strong-willed young woman who learns about changing her fate. Brave is a story of its own. And while not brilliant, it was definitely worth watching, and will be worth watching again.

Overall, I liked the movie. It wasn't the worlds best animated movie, it was just good, and had a lot of laughs and adorableness coming from the three younger brothers, little Merida, Merida's hair, and the appearance of some very small cute bears. It was a fun movie, with awesome accents and nice to look at. We're not looking at a masterpiece here, but it's definitely a nice family movie, and great for fairytale fans. Does it have the chance to bring back Pixar to the Best Picture race? Honestly, I'd say no. While Brave was great, not everyone liked it enough, nor was it brilliant enough, I thought. It's definitely going to be a contender in Best Animated Feature, Best Score and Best Original Song.


Sunday, 24 June 2012


Marty, 1955
Directed by Delbert Mann
Nominated for 8 Oscars, Won 4
Up Against: Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, Mister Roberts, Picnic and The Rose Tattoo

Marty is a unique film. The movie is based upon a "teleplay" also called Marty, and is one of only two films to win both the Palm d'Or at Cannes Film Festival, and Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Marty is the story of a 34-year old man named, well, Marty. He still lives with his mother. He comes from a big family, with many brothers and sister, and all of them are married. So Marty certainly feels pressure to find a girl. However as he himself puts it, "I'm a fat and ugly old man". When his cousin and his wife come over to convince Marty's mother to ask her sister to come live with her (she is making life very hard for Marty's cousins wife), his cousin says Marty should go to the Stardust ballroom as there are tons of "tomatoes" there. Marty gets upset when his mother tells him to go because he's been hurt by women dozens of times before, and has never found a girl there before, but would go just to make his mother happy, telling her the night would endure tons of heartache. But, of course, he meets a girl. She's come with a blind date who's not interested in her, and he tries to blow her off. Marty comforts her, and the two have a nice evening together. However, as the next day comes, it comes out most of the people he knows don't like her because she's not that attractive and Marty "could do better".

In this day and age, where we hear about Hollywood's obsession with marriage, love, sex, dating, we forget that there are tons of people who are "older" that haven't found love and gotten married. No, I'm not quite talking about George Clooney here. That's a different story. We see it all the time, even if we don't like to look or don't recognize it. Not everyone finds love, and that's something hard to deal with. People ignore that fact that some people just don't ever find love.

But the story of Marty is that he did find love. He found it in a girl that his friends said wasn't attractive and that Marty could do way better than her. There's a scene right near the end of the film, the day after Marty meets Clara, and he's sitting around the house with 3 friends. One of them is looking at a "girlie" magazine (if you know what I mean), and the others interrogating him about Clara. Whether they're jealous of Marty finding a girl while they're all still single, they try to convince him not to call her. They're surprised when Marty says he "didn't try anything" and that they just talked. One replied that she must've been a good talker since he looks to be about 40 years old. The other, still looking at his girlie magazine, starts saying that he wished he knew where he could find girls like these. And, for some reason, Marty buys into it. He doesn't call Clara like he said he would. Though eventually realizes she's someone who makes him happy.

I think that's a very interesting look, and is something that is so wrong with our society today. Just because a woman isn't like the girls in those "girlie" magazines (or well, other mediums, today) it means they aren't worth anything. Marty's friends hardly knew her, didn't really speak to her, they only saw her. And that's something that seems to be so wrong with society today. I could go on and on about the objectification of women, how so many men seemed to be so focused on physical beauty, and how that is probably why divorce rates are so high, but I'm sure you get the picture. Marty is a glimmering hope in cinema that tells the story about a man who finds a woman who makes him happy. She's nice, and funny, they had great laughs together and talked all night long. And just because she wasn't "pretty" didn't make her less of a woman in Marty's eyes, and that's something so valuable in him. What we can learn from Marty is that beauty is definitely not everything. Some of the most gorgeous people can also be the worlds worst people, the most unintelligent, and the most vain.

However, enough with the moral lessons on this movie (I could talk about it for so long, I think I'm starting to become an advocate for how woman are more than their bodies and their looks, and society is ruining itself by focusing on it). I found the movie to be quite short, and felt it could probably have gone on a little longer. It's the shortest running Best Picture winner at only 1hr and 30 minutes. Ernest Borgnine was great as Marty. He was socially awkward, and desperate, and very unconventional. Sometimes he was just so hard to watch and listen to, but he nailed it in such a good way. There's not a whole lot else to brag about for this movie. Not that it was bad, but because there wasn't too much in the way of Art Direction, Costumes, Score, etc. The acting was fine, and the screenplay was good. The storyline involving Marty's cousin and wife, with their terror of a mother, and Marty's mother invited the mother (her sister) to stay with her was a little unnecessary and quirky, but overall the film was a good one. It's not a story people like to tell, so it's often not told. It's not a cute romance like The Notebook, it's a real one, and it's awkward and quirky, but that's life isn't it?

Acting- 8/10 
Directing- 7/10 
Screenplay- 8/10 
Visuals- 7/10 

Music- 7/10 Emotional Connection- 8/10 
Entertainment- 8.5/10 
Rewatchability- 8/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 8.5/10 

Overall Package- 7.5/10     
Total: 77.5/100

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence Of Arabia, 1962
Directed by David Lean
Nominated for 10 Oscars, Won 7
Up Against: The Longest Day, Mutiny on the Bounty, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Music Man

Lawrence of Arabia is one of those classics. Everyone knows of the movie, but not many people have actually watched it, or really know what it's about besides it being about a man named Lawrence in a place called Arabia. That was me included. I'd heard of Lawrence of Arabia, but had no clue it was set in WWI. I had thought it was set way earlier in time, and had nothing to do about a war. And I had no idea it was a true story either.

Lawrence is a young solider, stationed in Cairo in 1916, drawing maps. Most of his superiors dislike him, calling him insolent and disrespectful, talking when he shouldn't be. He's eventually given a mission, to go to the desert and investigate how the Arabs revolt against the Turks are doing (For those who don't know, Turkey fought on the side of Germany, and they had "control" over several Mideastern countries, such as the Arab tribe). Once he arrives, he is told to keep quiet in front of Prince Feisel, by another officer there. But as we come to understand about Lawrence, he doesn't follow the rules. Prince Feisel, after his tribe being attacked, wants to retreat to Yenbo, but Lawrence suggests pushing ahead to Aqaba, to capture that city, something the soldiers back in Cairo didn't think could be done. From here, Lawrence shows just how different from other soldiers he is. He embraces Arab culture, leads 50 men across the dessert that the Arabs said was impossible to cross, and organizes a guerrilla army, launching attacks on the Turks for 2 years. As Lawrence says to his guide when he arrives in the desert "No, I'm different."

This movie is a little tricky to review. But then again, any more that is almost 4 hours in length is tough to review. It's almost like reviewing 2 movies at once. First off, Peter O'Toole, who went on to be nominated for 8 Oscars, this was one of his first roles, and was certainly his first "big" leading role. And wonderful he was. Lawrence was a complex and different guy, and he carried Lawrence beautifully. Additionally, Alec Guiness was almost unrecognizable as the Arab Prince Feisal. And Omar Sharif, as Sherif Ali, was additionally brilliant, and earned an Oscar nomination for the role.

The film itself was gorgeous, and understandably won Best Cinematography. The landscapes of the Arab desert were gorgeously filmed, even if sometimes it did go on a little too long.

The story itself is a little slow and drawn out (well it is four hours long), but you really get a scope of who Lawrence was, what he did, and why he was so successful, and how the media portrayed him. Lawrence was a complex man, and was so unlike any other  soldiers.

Similar to Bridge Over the River Kwai, Lean does something interesting. This is set in WWI, but we don't get much mention to trenches in France, and whatever else we associate with WWI. Instead it's solely focused on the story of  Lawrence, and the things happening in Arabia, that most people probably didn't know happened during that same time. It's a funny thing to think that War Horse and Lawrence of Arabia are set during the same time period. They seem just so far apart from each other.

While the movie is a classic, I found it hard to sit through. A lot of the movie wasn't explained (why the Arabs should be revolting against the Turks, what going to Aqaba would do, etc). I found myself asking my boyfriend a lot of questions while we watched (He's majoring in History in University, so could answer all my questions). Additionally, everything was very drawn out. Almost an hour was spent crossing the dessert to get to Aqaba (a lot of landscape shots, people falling off camels at night, etc). Yes, it was an interesting story, but I find it just a little overly drawn out. However, this is in big part due to the fact that I have grown up in a "short attention span" era of movies. Movies that are 2 hours or under, with fast action, little talking, etc. I live in an era where things like Transformers are the popular movies. I'm not accustomed to sitting through a 4 hour film that is slow-paced.

And now, I'm introducing a new rating system breakdown, to shown exactly what I liked and didn't like about the film, and scoring out of 100.

Acting- 9/10 
Directing- 9/10 
Screenplay- 7/10 
Visuals- 10/10 

Music- 9.5/10 Emotional Connection- 6/10 
Entertainment- 6.5/10 
Rewatchability- 5/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 7/10 

Overall Package- 8/10     
Total: 77/100

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Best of the Best: The Kings Speech vs. The Artist


I've decided to try something new here at the Oscars Project. It's something I've entitled "Best of the Best". I'm going to pit 2 Best Pictures against each other, and lay out who I think would win. I'll try to make it as random and unbiased as possible. Sometimes I'll pit similar films against each other, sometimes old vs recent, sometimes I'll randomly select 2 films.

To start it off, I thought I'd do something recent, and relevant. The King's Speech (2010) vs. The Artist (2011). To me these 2 films are, in a way, similar. Both are about a man struggling with finding his voice. While Bertie, in the King's Speech was thrust into the limelight or being a King, George, in the Artist, was highly regarded and was suddenly cast down. Both are about a man's journey as he finds where he's meant to be, and finds their voice. Both learn to "speak".

The King's Speech was met with critical acclaim. It was first shown at the Telluride Film Festival, but really got it's start just a little bit later in September at the Toronto International Film Festival where it got a standing ovation and won the People's Choice Award. From there it picked up steam. However, when it came to awards season, there was another movie that came along. The Social Network. Most of the awards were pretty split between TKS and TSN. However, many called The King's Speech an Oscar-bait film, being a period piece, a true story, and about British Royalty, with a dab of WWII. It was also deemed a "feel good" film, many people saying it is a good thing, and others, not so much. While it sits with a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, many also felt it was the "safe" choice that year, beating out edgier films like The Social Network and Black Swan.

Aside from that, the King's Speech gave some incredible performances. Colin Firth picked up his first Oscar for the performance, and rightly so. He played the stuttering future King Bertie to perfection, and made us feel empathetic. He was able to capture the humor, but also the sorrow of the situation delightfully. Geoffrey Rush was also nominated, and did a splendid performance as Bertie's speech coach, Lionel. He was quirky and spunky, but was brave and honest. Helena Bonham Carter was charming and a bit snooty, but very loving. Also nominated.

The Artist, on the other hand, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2011 and is a silent, black and white film. Jean Dujardin won the Best Actor Award, and the film was nominated for the Palme d'Or. The film was popular in many Film festivals, and when it came to Awards Season, the movie picked up tons of awards, with no real "second place" movie. It sits with a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. And while it was extremely popular, many called it "gimmicky", because of it being a silent films, shot in the aspect ratios of the 20s/30s, and being in black and white. They said the story was a mix of Singin' In the Rain, and A Star is Born, and that it wasn't very original, and was predictable. Another film that was deemed Oscar-bait, for being different and not being "very daring".  However, the music, the performances, the costumes, were all praised. Jean Dujardin spent most of the season in a tight race with  George Clooney for Best Actor, but won out on Oscar Night.

Being silent, the performances and the music were on a pretty high expectation. The music would have to carry the film in a way that sound movies don't. And the actors would have to express everything without talking. However, these worries were quickly set aside. Jean Dujardin, who plays the charming George Valentin, looks as though he really is from another era. He has the most expressive face, and has such a smile. And his little mustache! You'd think you were actually watching a movie from the 1930s. Berenice Bejo, additionally, was so phenomenal. She was perky and peppy (excuse the pun), and just a bubble of fun. You'd believe she really was a film star from the silent days.

But who wins? Both films had similar complaints laid against them. They were too feel good, they were too safe, and the performances were stronger than the story line. The films were even nominated for the same things. The Artist, having 10 nominations, and the King's Speech having 12, all 10 that The Artist was nominated for, The King's Speech was too (the only difference being screenplay and supporting actor).

What the King's Speech has going for it is the performances. Colin Firth is thrilling and perfect, and Geoffrey Rush is great. What the Artist has going for it is the performances, and the fact that it's a silent film, in black and white.

Verdict: I think the Artist is going to take this one. (Though I enjoy The King's Speech more than The Artist, though I love them both)

Not only was it more loved than The King's Speech, but it also had no other competition that year, like The King's Speech had The Social Network. The Artist is a lot more different than The King's Speech, and it did something unique. How can a cute, well-acted and directed film, that's silent and b&w lose? It's something that sticks out in your mind a bit more than a period piece about a British Monarch. However, I'd say that Colin Firth would beat out Jean Dujardin. Dujardin was great, but Firth truly, truly nailed it for me.

Sound off in the comments if you agree/disagree. Did I pick the right winner? For the right reasons? Or was I completely off? You let me know!
Or if you have suggestions for next time's Best of the Best, write them down there too.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Like Crazy

Like Crazy, 2011
Directed by Drake Doremus

Jacob, an American, and Anna, a Brit, meet at college in California and fall in love. When Anna overstays her Visa, the two find themselves seperated.

After the first viewing of the trailer a long time ago, I was excited to watch it. It was a romance film, but it was also receiving good reviews from critics, and was winning film festival awards. So I knew it'd be a little bit better of a film than something like Dear John. And between watching that trailer and reviewing it now, I've watched this film four or five times.

This film is pretty unique in a few ways. It was shot on a DSLR camera. You know, like one of those Canon T2i ones. So it already has this indie hipster feel. Additionally, most of the dialogue between Anna and Jacob was improvised. Drake Doremus gave the general direction of what he wanted to happen in each scene, but Anton Yelchin (Jacob) and Felicity Jones (Anna) did the rest mostly improve. So that being said, this film would either be pretty stiff and awkward, or it would be very natural and realistic. And it was definitely the latter that came through. The two of them have funny little conversations, and really seem to think through the questions they ask each other, like they would in real life. It's cute, and believable, and makes it seem like you're watching a real couple. It doesn't sound at all scripted, because they aren't saying anything cliche or poetic. It's just them, and it's really neat to watch.

Felicity Jones, who portrays journalist and fashion writer Brit Anna, continually broke my heart throughout this whole movie. Felicity Jones won a few small awards for her portrayal as Anna, including the Sundance Special Jury Best Actress, National Board of Review Breakthrough Performance, The New Hollywood award from the Hollywood Film Festival, and breakthrough awards at both the Empire and Gotham awards. Needless to say, Felicty Jones was pretty flawless in this film. She was confused, and heartbroken, and obsessed. She couldn't let her first love go. And just seeing her cry as Jacob leaves her at the airport, kills you, as it does Jacob ("oh man, you're really killing me..." as he cries as well).

Anton Yelchin, on the other hand, won nothing for his portrayal as Jacob. To me, his performance is severely underrated. Jacob is so different, yet so similar to Anna. They're both quirky, like Paul Simon, and is just really goofy, yet really artsy too. But Jacob tries to move on when they decide to. He knows he still loves Anna, but he tries to go on with his life, whereas Anna is a lot more tied to the past and their history. Not to say Jacob doesn't love Anna, because he does, but he shows it in different ways. Anton really balances the conflicted side of Jacob, and the fun-loving goofy side, and also the sensitive side.

Overall, I love this film so much. The music is gorgeous, and while it's made up of so many montage scenes, they also don't feel scripted either. They're goofy, and unconventional, and you really think these 2 people are in love in their quirky ways.

The ending, while some people were unsatisfied, it so portrays the way things end in real life. I won't say much more, but I'll say I respect the direction Drake Doremus chose to go and how to end it. It's heartbreaking, yet so believable.

Yes, I love this movie, and pretty much everything about it. It's sad, it's cute, it's comfy, it's a tearjerker, but overall, it's lovely, with hearbreaking performances (and also a nice little Jennifer Lawrence in it!).


Young Adult

Young Adult, 2011
Directed by Jason Reitman

Young Adult tells a story about that girl we all hated in high school. That really mean one, but somehow she's still popular. Okay, I've never really met anyone like her, but we've all seen Mean Girls, and various other American High School movies. This is the story of that girl, all grown up, except she hasn't really grown up at all. Mavis Gary is stuck in the past. She writes young adult fiction, she wears Uggs and sweat pants, and only tries to look good when she's going out at night. After receiving an email from her high school ex-boyfriend Buddy, that he and his wife are now parents, Mavis decides to return to Mercury, Minnesota (her hometown & where Buddy lives) and to try and get him back.

Initially, watching the trailer, I thought this movie would be awesomely hilarious, and that Charlize Theron would give a super awesome performance, and it would be unique. I was partly right about this thinking. This film was way less funny than I imagined it was going to be, but I don't consider this a bad thing.

Mavis Gary is a complex person. She's stuck in the past, filled with bitterness and regret. She longs to be back in high school where she was still hooking up with all the guys, picking on all the girls, and just loving life and being popular. Mavis seemed to learn the hard way that the way you live in high school just doesn't cut it in the real world. Eventually you need to grow up and become a real person. And that's something Mavis never seemed to learn. She's still the mean girl, who flirts with other people's husbands, is rude to people she doesn't know, and drinks whenever she can.

Charlize Theron really knocks it out of the park in this movie. She's everything we all hate in those mean girls, and we feel so little sympathy for her. She's mean, she's vain, and she's slightly crazy. Really, she's still that mean girl, still a teenager, and not ready to grow up. Charlize hits all the right notes with Mavis.

Many people have compared Bridemaids' Annie (Kristen Wiig) to Young Adult's Mavis (Charlize Theron). They are similar characters in various ways. They're both filled with bitterness, lash out at others, and are just extremely immature and mean. But Mavis is definitely the winner in this character contest. Mavis is over the top and mean, whereas Annie is just bitter and spiteful. Mavis pushes the boundaries everywhere she can whereas Annie only seems to toe the line in comparison.

Now, I can't forget Patton Oswalt. Oswalt plays Matt, a boy Mavis had a locker next to in high school. He got beat up in the woods by jocks because they thought he was gay. They smashed his leg with a crowbar, and he's never walked the same since. Matt is the exact opposite of everything Mavis is. Matt is in a crappy situation but he doesn't complain, and he accepts what he's been dealt in life. Mavis is in a pretty good place, being beautiful and having made it out of Mercury, yet she constantly complains about everything around her.  Patton Oswalt plays Matt with such a sympathy, yet with a hint of humor. He's a nice guy, and Patton Oswalt plays him quite well.

While I really enjoyed the performances, I felt the story could've had way more to offer. The end and the solution came all too quickly, and didn't offer very much. We'd constantly see Mavis pulling out bits of her hair, talking about depression, etc, and nothing seemed to come of these possible outcomes. The ending was quite dissatisfying. Additionally, I'd have loved to seen more of Mavis with old high school friends, instead of just with Matt, or with Buddy. It'd have been interesting to see how her old clique had grown up, maturing, unlike Mavis.

However, it was still quite an enjoyable film, and it's a big shame Charlize didn't get nearly as much attention for her role as Mavis than she deserved. I'd have loved to see an Oscar nomination for this quirky part, but alas.