Begin Again Review

I should probably hop on the board again and what’s the better way to do it than review the film I think is one of the best ever made.

beginagainposterBegin Again (2013)

directed by John Carney
written by John Carney
starring Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley & Adam Levine

John Carney is an Irish musician. Yes, a filmmaker too, but like Begin Again and Once, man’s earlier hit (check it out, it’s alright too and even won an Oscar for the best original song AND was made only with over 100 000 €!) show, he has a passion for music. And while watching Begin Again, you can easily see how much he loves film too. After seeing this film, I actually might love this man.

Begin Again used to be called Can a Song Save Your Life and I think that was much more suitable name for this little gem. Begin Again is just lame. But never mind the name, the film itself is truly beautiful. You probably have to know what it is to have passion for something that over runs everything else to really understand this film but if you do, well, I don’t know, there should be no reason to not to like this. begin-againBegin Again is unbelievably uplifting yet authentic. I didn’t even for once feel this Hollywoodian “gimme a break” -feeling when there is something too much movielike happening on the screen. It was so easy to relate to everything happening on the screen even when there were Cee Lo Green.

Begin Again is about music. And love of the music. The original title says it all. And Keira Knightley sings herself. Not badly, I might add. And the songs. Oh, the songs. I loved the lyrics a lot. The most of the songs are written at least partly by lead singer of New Radicals, Gregg Alexander, a superbly fitting part of this film. Begin Again has same tones as this hit single of New Radicals:

nevergiveupOk, this review seems to be quite a rambling. But what I was trying to say was that the cast is great, especially Mark Ruffalo. The script is so good I couldn’t wait what the characters say next. The ending does not ruin it. The music is perfect. Keira Knightley can sing and play. New York is heaven and hell on earth and this film shows it. I miss that city so much and Begin Again did not make it any easier. I cried and laughed a lot but never because I was sad. I was almost flying when coming out of the cinema. And send sms to my wannabe musician roommate that “I will never ever tell you to stop playing that guitar again.” And I mean it. You should never give up on your passion.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

P.S. I was going to add the trailer here but I don’t want to, it’s not worth of this film. Don’t watch it, just go and see the film.

Films of the Week Vol. 9

I saw a couple of blockbusters this week. Another one was one of the best in genre, the other… not so much. Here are the reviews for X-Men: Days of Future Past and Godzilla. 

x-mendaysoffuturepastX-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

directed by Bryan Singer
written by Simon Kinberg, Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
starring Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page, Evan Peters, Shawn Ashmore etc.

I love this film. It has gotten everything right. It’s not perfect, it didn’t bunch me in the face or leave me heartbroken or specially exhilarated. Well, a bit. And a little more. Ok, it did leave me exhilarated. But it’s not perfect.

I know there are people who’ve read the comics and I’ve read that the scriptwriters have taken a quite a lot of liberties with the screenplay but I don’t care. I haven’t read the comics and even though I usually like that films stand on their own, I’m sure the clues in this one will be explained later. I’ve seen all of the previous X-Men movies except Wolverine’s own and I didn’t feel a bit that I was lost at any point. To me it was just good that everything was not explained. There’s a reason to see the previous instalments.

jamesmcavoypatrickstewart

So, firstly, I really liked the sound of it. It rocked my world. And the chairs of the cinema. And I love it! That is what a proper summer blockbuster should do! Take you out of your world and suck you into its. So good. And the beginning of the film is very intensive, no need for too much explanations, just dive in to the deep side of the pool. Cool. Cool is actually good word for this one. The cinematography and the CGI. They blended perfectly together. I’m not usually a big fan of artificial computer generated images but come on! in this one they just look so pretty. There is one scene involving Jackman, McAvoy, Fassbender and Peters that just blew my mind. Perfection, especially the song. You have to see it, I don’t want to spoil it. I just realised that the cinematographer is Newton Thomas Sigel who was responsible of cinematography of Drive that is by far the best cinematography I’ve seen. I think I mentioned him already in my post of the best cinematographers. 

jackmanfassbendermcavoyThe acting. Oh, the acting. Well, just look at the cast. That’s 15 Bafta nominations. 21 Primetime Emmy nominations with four wins. Or 22 Golden Globes nominations with five wins. And also ten (!) Oscar nominations with four wins. Quite normal amount of awards for a summer blockbuster, huh? Obviously the talent is there. From McKellen and Stewart to younger guys like Hoult or Peters (who by the way is hilarious!). But the show belongs to the trio of Jackman, McAvoy and Fassbender. It almost makes me cry right now how good those guys are. The scenes involving those three (and there are plenty) just melts the screen. I can’t describe how good especially the latter two are, or how amazing the scenes involving their dialogue are. Go and see it yourself.

And on the unprofessional side; how good-looking those guys are! Wow! There’s also naked Hugh Jackman, that body is inhuman. Dinklage is so charismatic it’s a bit hard to watch. McAvoy wears his long hair with an ease. And there is a scene of Fassbender walking with the hat on, it just made me squirm (in a good way) in my seat. Hothothot. Obviously there’s also Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique.

jennifer_lawrence_x_men_days_of_future_past-wide

 

 

P.S. Remember to stay after the credits. It is, after all, a Marvel film.

Rating: ****½ (out of 5)

 

godzilla-posterGodzilla (2014)

directed by Gareth Edwards
written by Max Boremstein & Dave Callaham
starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron-Taylor Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins & Juliette Binoche

I have to admit, I don’t feel like reviewing this now. Not after X-Men. Then again, I actually saw these two in two days. In this order. So, some of the things I didn’t like in Godzilla might go to the fact that I’ve just seen almost perfect blockbuster that is still, after five days, giving me chills. But in conclusion, Godzilla was not my cup of tea.

Apparently Godzilla bows a lot to the old movies of the subject. I don’t know, I have not seen them. If they do, I don’t want to see them. I’m not big fan of monster movies anyway and I kept comparing Godzilla to Jurassic Park and even though it’s done 20 years later is pales in comparison. Jurassic Park is so much more effective.

Let’s start with the same subject that in last review. The sound. It was bad. How come when there are bombs and huge monsters on the screen, the biggest noise that comes is from tanks? Really? That was just sad. CGI was well done, great monsters, and I did like the cinematography too but I did have a little higher hopes towards it, after all, the cinematographer is Seamus McGarvey, who definitely is one of my favourites of all time. godzilla-2014-2The music sounds like it could be from the older films but then again, I don’t think Desplat does a bad job. I’m very glad that the director, Gareth Edwards, was given this kind of chance, by no means, it’s not crappy job, but it’s not good either. It’s whatever.

The reasons to that it is whatever are the script (well, what can you wait from the guy who scripted all Expendables movies..?) and the total lack of charisma in the lead actor. And Cranston is not the one in the lead even though it might seem like it. Unfortunately. I just started to like Aaron Taylor-Johnson because he was quite good in Anna Karenina ja well, he is going to be in the next Avengers film. But omg, how totally completely blah that man can be. I kind of wished he would have died after five minutes of screen time… That was the main problem with the film, it didn’t feel catastrophic at all because I just didn’t care. And I’m usually fan of big summer catastrophes. I didn’t feel the danger, it would have been fine by me if the whole world would have stop existing. Whatever. I did yawn a lot.

aaron-taylor-johnson-hot

Rating: **½ (out of 5) and only because it does look good

Films of the Week Vol. 8

"only lovers left alive"That headline is a big lie. It should be more like “films of the month and some”. I’ve been horribly lazy to watch movies lately. I’ve been hooked to Friends once again and overly busy in real life. But let’s still review the ones I’ve seen in cinema since last time I reviewed a film.

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

directed by Jim Jarmusch
written by Jim Jarmusch
starring Tilda Swinton & Tom Hiddleston

only_lovers_left_alive_ver3_xlgThis is again one of those that I would probably have missed if not Tom Hiddleston (am I starting to sound too much of a fan girl?). But I’m still glad I went to see it. Only Lovers Left Alive is dark, kind of gloomy, very atmospheric and sophisticated looking film. The director, Jim Jarmusch, is by no means my favourite kind of director. Maybe he is too, I don’t know, smart for my taste? I do appreciate his sense of style but I don’t find it very appealing. And this one has the same problem. How do you identify to two ages of old vampires?

Only Lovers Left Alive has some poignant themes about the world and how we treat it but as Adam, our male lead, is annoyingly depressed and all the time longing for his better half, Eve, it gets a bit boring and at least I didn’t really care what happens to them. Their lives seemed irrelevant. Maybe that is the difference between humans and vampires, we thrive to actually live. There’s not exactly anything wrong with the film, it just too much is. Nothing is happening. I did enjoy the mood and if I’d had at least a glass of red wine (and maybe some illegal substances) it would have been more enjoyable. In cinema, I struggled to stay awake. But the mood is still superb. It kind of invites the viewer in. And the music works magic. And it doesn’t harm to see shirtless Hiddleston basically most of the time when he’s on-screen. And I admire Tilda Swinton, she’s so effortless yet somehow awkward at the same time.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Captain-America-2-PosterCaptain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

directed by Anthony & Joe Russo
written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Ed Brubaker, Joe Simon (comic book) & Jack Kirby (comic book)
starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson,  Robert Redford & Sebastian Stan

 

 

First I need to point out couple of things. I don’t do comic books, so all of the movies related to them are news to me. I don’t know what is about to happen and I don’t know how well they are executed from the original source. Secondly, I didn’t like the first part.

I don’t know what it is about the Cap. Or Chris Evans, perhaps. I’ve never actually liked him. I have nothing against him but there is just something missing but it is very hard to point out what. I did like this interview of him, though. I kind of hope they would stop making Captain America movies but because the last one has IMDb score of 8.2 and is in top-250 at #203, so I doubt they will stop. I just have to endure.

The movie is not bad. But it’s not good either. I actually gave it a better grade that I think it deserves now. I don’t remember much of it. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow has much more screen time than in previous films. But I don’t care that much of her character either, so… Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks very good. And it does have some nice gags but the tone in general is quite serious. And the Winter Soldier himself is okeish. I don’t know. It’s alright but nowhere near as entertaining as Iron Men or The Avengers. Or Thors. I need some Stark or Loki on my screen, I guess.

Rating: ***½ 

2615607-captain-america-the-winter-soldierNoah (2014)

directed by Darren Aronofsky
written by Darren Aronofsky & Ari Handel
starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Logan Lerman & Emma Watson

noah_posterA friend of mine detested this film. Noah made her really angry. I still don’t know why exactly. Guess she thought that Noah, as a character, is very much like those people today that justify their doings because God said so. I kind of understand her point but I didn’t see Noah as that black and white. In the end there is remorse, there is this wider picture of it all.

But as you can see above, Aronofsky has again done something controversial without actually trying too much. Usually when people want to do controversial stuff (Michael Moore, anyone?), it’s obvious but Aronofsky, as a director, just happens to do so. And for that, I admire him. But when it comes to Noah. Well, I don’t know. It goes to the same bunch with the previous ones (and please, don’t get me wrong, they’re totally different kind of films but all of them were quite meh), nothing spectacular here. It does beautiful_emma_watsonlook beautiful and I especially enjoyed the dream sequences. Crowe is good and they just are amazingly good couple with Connelly. Emma Watson has some very annoying mannerisms (check the scene in the end, that gazing…) but she’s very beautiful and I liked her hairstyle throughout the film.

All in all, the whole cast does a solid job. Technical aspects are not that solid though, CGI looks crap at some scenes. Really bad. Story is told like it is told in the Bible which is admirable, I think. So, yeah, watch it if you’re interested in the subject, otherwise you can skip it. Whatever. I don’t recommend it to people with ophidiophobia. I couldn’t put my feet down for the rest of the film.

Rating: ***

Spring Rambling

springGosh, it’s been forever since I posted anything! Over a month! But for my excuse, I’ve been awfully busy and also sick, so basically exhausted. I didn’t think of writing anything today but I read some of my favourite bloggers blogs for the first time for a long time and I realised how much I actually missed this world! So, thanks to all of you who write the best blogs ever. My e-mail is full of mails that reminds me to read your posts but I just haven’t had time to properly read them and I don’t want to do it in a glance. You all deserve proper attention.

I’m just going to ramble about life in general this time. I’ll get back to films the next time I’ll post something. :) As it has been that I’ve watched something like three films during the last month. All of them in cinema, thankfully, but still! THREE. Pathetic. But I’ve watched some “classy” television like The Vampire Diaries, Friends and Pretty Little Liars. Yeah, I know. But that shows how tired I’ve been. All of my energy has basically gone to the school work and actual work too. Too much of both of them. So, nothing educational to me. And that is also the reason why I haven’t started watching new season of Game of Thrones either. It also deserves proper attention. But I will, soon! I promise. gameofthrones

Thankfully, spring is here. Finally. It’s still a bit grey, we don’t have leaves on the trees yet but at least it’s been sunny for the last four days or so. It’s still a bit cold (7 degrees in celsius) but still definitely spring. And it means that the school year is coming to end. We have only two semesters here, so the end of the term is in three weeks. Yay! I just finished this big marketing report that we did for local arthouse cinema today. We started it already in October, so getting it done is a huge thing. I’m so relieved. So, only few more exams, couple of presentations and a lot of essays of international law and I’m done! And quite well, I have to admit, I got a lot more credits that is expected of me. But I need them to get to the exchange school I want to.

partyWork-wise I’ve been bartending a lot lately. My colleagues are taking their holidays and that means I’m filling up for them. A bit too much to think that I still have school. But I can’t wait to get to summer when I only have to think of pouring those beers. I also have a new roommate and even though I’ve known him for 10 years it has taken quite a lot to get our habits to work together. But it’s good now. We even had a party that celebrated his housewarming and my birthday (I’m actually 34 years old now… that’s a lot, huh?).

Yeah, I don’t know if this was interesting to anyone but I’m glad I wrote something. Stay tuned, I’ll wrote short reviews for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Only Lovers Left Alive (I didn’t get Hiddleston himself as a birthday gift but I did get a lot of messages including his pictures :D ) and Noah the next time. Thanks for reading this rambling!

P.S. I also managed to do one thing on my list of 101 Things; bought earrings and wore them for a day. In the spirit of Captain America:earrings

 

The Best of the Best – Cinematographers

As an amateur photographer the visuals of films have high importance to me. I can forgive a lot to a film if it looks great (eg. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug). And when a film looks especially great, I can even forget to follow the story and concentrate on cinematography. When done right, it’s a breath-taking experience. And that’s why I want to celebrate cinematographers on my new The Best of the Best list (previous ones you can find here: Actresses, Actors, TV Shows, Directors, TV characters, Films of 2013 & Future Husbands).

Like always, I want to mention a few bubbling unders; and remember these are my favourites, not the masters that have taken the field necessarily forward or something like that. No, they’re my favourites, so the most of them are guys (unfortunately, only men) that are still working today actively or even guys who have just started gaining reputation. If you’re interested in the masters, here’s list of 50 best by Total Film.

bbc_sherlock_mycroft

Scandal in Belgravia – Sherlock

Ok, so, the bubbling unders. These guys have gotten my attention but they’re lists of accomplishments are just not that long. Yet, I hope. Fabian Wagner has shot television, most notably Game of Thrones and Sherlock Holmes of BBC. Especially the latter has some unbelievably beautiful shots and he was nominated for Emmy for his work in the series. I already mentioned Desolation of Smaug, so I have to mention Andrew Lesnie who’s Peter Jackson’s choice for cinematographer, he has shot all Jackson’s Middle barry_lyndon_1975_7Earth movies. Beautifully. John Alcott was Kubrick’s regular. His best work can be seen in Barry Lyndon where they actually shot a lot of footage in candle light! That must have been a nightmare.

Another legend: Conrad L. Hall has shot eg. American Beauty (amazing work!), Road to Perdition, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and many more. He has been nominated for the Oscar 10 times and he won three of them. He has been mentioned in all of the great cinematographers lists as well. Robert Richardson is one to mention as well. His career has been amazing and it doesn’t look like he is going to slow down anytime soon. Just ask Tarantino, Scorsese or Oliver Stone, his regular collaborators. Him and Janisz Kaminski (Spielberg’s pal; Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln) should probably be on my top-10 but like I said, it’s my favourites and these guys just didn’t make it. But they really should have, they’re amazing. And the last one outside of my top ten, who is my number 11, is Greig Fraser, who seems very much upcoming with works like Zero Dark Thirty, Snow White and the Huntsman and especially Killing Them Softly.

Schindler's List

Schindler’s List

TOP TEN

10)

b_DRIVE_new-DPNewton Thomas Sigel

The most notably to me he is the cinematographer of Drive. And Drive is one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen. Ever. I was in tears in the cinema while watching it and at the same time it is brutally violent. Such an unbelievably great work. He has done a lot of “whatever” films too but just because of Drive, I love him. And he has shot the new X-Men film; I have quite high hopes for that.

9)

tinkertailorspy

Hoyte Van Hoytema

I just noticed that this sucks. I hadn’t put them in order yet and it’s really hard. He could be upper on the list because even though he hasn’t done a lot yet, what he has done, is impeccable. Låt den Rätte Komma In (Let the Right One In), Her and the best so far; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. If you haven’t seen the last one, just see it because of the cinematography. It’s so good. He has also shot Nolan’s upcoming Interstellar. Can’t be bad. I’m also glad he’s totally international, born in Switzerland, origins from The Netherlands and Sweden and studied in Poland.

8)

inside-llewyn-davis-15

Bruno Delbonnel

Here’s the man who inspired me to do this list. Inside Llewyn Davis is a masterpiece when it comes to cinematography. Dark Shadows and Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince also have beautiful cinematography. Delbonnel is specialised in darker subjects, he uses a lot of darkness with a hint of light. Or a lot of colours like in Amélie. Which ever way, he does it superbly.

7) 

Emmanuel Lubezki

A long time collaborator of Alfonso Cuarón just won the Oscar for Gravity. However his best work is in Children of Men (video above, sorry about the quality), it is unbelievably. Well, just see the video. He is also doing a lot of work with Terrence Malick and has gotten a lot of praise from Tree of Life that I have not seen. Lubezki is not exactly my taste but there is no denying his talent.

6) 

slumdogmillionaire
Anthony Dod Mantle

Slumdog Millionaire (for which he won the Oscar), Rush (which he should have been nominated), Trance, Dredd, Antichrist and 127 Hours. This man has his own view and it works. I hated Dredd but I can’t deny that the visuals were stunning. Next up another film with Ron Howard, Heart of the Sea, set in the sea, surprisingly. That’ll be a tough shoot.

5) 

Jeff Cronenweth

Fincher and Cronenweth are the couple here. And as you might know, I’m a big fan of Fincher and I guess that means I’m a big fan of Cronenweth, who in fact is the second generation cinematographer, son of Jordan Cronenweth who was also nominated for the Oscar. He was already part of camera department in Se7en and The Game and heading it in Fight Club (tribute above), The Social Network and The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. Next installment these two are cooking is Gone Girl. Another great one, I suppose.

4)

inception

Wally Pfister

He’s Nolan’s trusted guy. Inception (above), The Prestige, all batmans Nolan made and even Memento. He is not shooting Interstellar because he is making his directorial debut Transcendence which is on quite many film fans “most waited of 2014″ lists. And it’ll be out in a next month, we’ll see if he is as good director as he is as a cinematographer.

3)

Darius Khondji

My top three are all so good that I should not even try to separate them. Iran born Darius Khondji is a genius who can make even films like Wimbledon look cool. He has shot visually shining films like Se7en, Evita, Panic Room (scene in the video above, watch it, it’s marvellous!), Midnight in Paris and Amour (try watch that without flinching; I couldn’t even watch it all the times). Damn, he’s good! Upcoming is Magic in the Moonlight, again with Woody Allen, shot in France. Can’t be ugly.

2) 

Seamus McGarvey

Another video but look at that scene! It’s amazing. It makes me cry every time I see it. (And that remind me of that I should do a list of composers too, Dario Marianelli made brilliant work in that film too). McGarvey is regular collaborator with Joe Wright who is one of my favourite directors. His films are always so  beautiful and beside Atonement McGarvey has shot Anna Karenina, that is staged on the stage. But it works. And McGarvey has also shot We Need to Talk About Kevin that is full of visual storytelling. And The Avengers! Though that one I don’t know, I’m more of a “real” cinematography kind a girl instead of CGI. Next up is Godzilla, 50 Shades of Grey (that is probably rubbish but the name says that there is room for interesting visuals) and Pan with Wright again. Can’t wait!

1)

Roger Deakins

The greatest cinematographer alive. 11 Oscar nominations, no win. He’s basically nominated every year and for a good reason. He’s the best. I though he did the best in Skyfall but take your pick: True Grit, Revolutionary Road, Doubt, Prisoners, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Village, Beautiful Mind, Fargo… and so on. Maybe next year he will finally win when his collaboration, Unbroken, with Coen bros and Angelina Jolie will be released.

bond_daniel_craigWhile writing this post and trying to find suitable photos for it, I ran into this great blog of Beautiful Stills from Beautiful Films. Check it out!

Who are your favourites?

Inside Llewyn Davis review

insidellewyndavisInside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
Written by Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund & Justin Timberlake

No wonder Inside Llewyn Davis got no love from the Academy or in general. Llewyn Davis is quite an asshole. I was unbelievably irritated by his actions in the film. I know people like him. I can’t stand people like him. Not anymore. They tend to ruin everything around them. And they don’t usually think about anyone else except themselves. And so few of them really have that big break especially because they are unable to do compromises. I get all worked up just thinking about people like Llewyn Davis.

Bruno-DelbonnelDon’t get me wrong. Inside Llewyn Davis is again work of an art from always versatile Coen brothers. The cinematography is hauntingly beautiful, the most beautiful of all the films that I’ve seen since Drive. It even inspired me to do a list of my favourite cinematographers which I’ll be posting later this week. Songs of film are also good, especially Hang Me, Oh Hang Me that introduces us the character of Llewyn (and I would be glad to do that!). I’m not a big fan of folk music but for one film it’s tolerable to listen. All of the actors do nice job, especially Oscar Isaac in the lead and to me the character of Johnny Five played by Garrett Hedlund was enjoyable one. hotgarretthedlundBut then again, I’m biased, I like Hedlund quite a lot.

The script again is good one too. Coens still know what they do. It’ll be interesting to see how Unbroken will turn out when they’re the writers and Angelina Jolie is directing. At the moment I see quite a lot of awards potential. But then again, I would have seen some in Inside Llewn Davis too if I’d seen it before the Oscars this year. But I don’t know why Coens wanted to portray him like that; in all of our scriptwriting courses it’s repeated again and again that make your main character likeable. Llewyn Davis surely is not one.

 

Rating: **** (out of 5)

And the Oscars 2014 went to…

I’m re-watching the Oscars of last night (morning to us here in Finland) and Lupita Nyong’o, the Queen of the evening and Best Actress in a Supporting Role, is about to get her Oscar again. She was so graceful, so beautiful. Here is her speech if you haven’t heard it, it’s worth to listen (I’m so awfully tired that I’m crying here, again):

Let’s see what else happened.

The Best Picture went deservedly to 12 Years a Slave. That was the option number one according to Ellen and so it was. (Option number two was that everyone in the hall is Pitt and the rest of the cast including director and producer McQueen accept the Oscar for best picture at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywoodracist.) All in all I had 18 out of 24 correct because I took some chances, wrongly, against all odds. The winners were not surprising. And this year it was just fine. I kinda hoped that Leo DiCaprio would have won Best Actor in a Leading Role instead of Matthew McConaughey, especially after his acceptance speech, but because Dallas Buyers Club was great, I don’t mind. Cate Blanchett won Best Actress in a Leading Role. Besides Lupita, Jared Leto, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, gave great speech. See here:

Best Director went expectedly to Alfonso Cuarón and Best Adapted Screenplay, also expectedly, to 12 Years a Slave. And even though I had predicted that American Hustle would take Original Screenplay, I’m so unbelievably happy that it didn’t but Her did. For once it went right.

Frozen took home Best Animated Feature and Best Song, so I didn’t need to become angry at any time of the evening. John Travolta named Idina Menzel Adela Dazeem (that person has her own Twitter account now) who sang Let It Go of Frozen (unfortunately not so well as I hoped; it looked like she was nervous) and other singing acts did nice job in their performances. Especially Pharrell Williams who jammed with the front row:

The Best Foreign Language Film went to Italy, to La Grande Bellezza. And Best Documentary to 20 Feet from Stardom which was, to me, the most annoying price of the evening. They could have chosen something a bit deeper meaning… Shorts: Live Action went to Helium (I changed my prediction yesterday, before that I had Helium, how very annoying), Animation to Mr. Hublot (only real surprise to me but nice one because it was my favourite of the bunch) and Documentary to The Lady in Number 6 (again good acceptance speech). Ooooh, Cumberbatch is in telly! Thanks to The Academy for adding him to the show and thanks to him for photobombing U2:

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch jumps behind U2 at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood

Quite many people have been complaining about heros theme, I don’t. I liked it. It reminded me why they make movies and how many great, uplifting films there are. I need to watch my indys, bonds and potters again. And nolans, marvels and georgebaileys too. And In Memoriam, that was beautiful. I really liked Glenn Close’s short speech before the montage. Like was the tribute to The Wizard of Oz. And the fact that real Philomena and Captain Phillips were present. All in all, I  and rest of our viewing party was very happy. And kudos to Ellen DeGeneres for that, she did a great job!

Alfonso-Cuaron-Oscar-GravityBack to the trophies. Best Cinematography, Editing, Visual Effects (duh!), Sound Mixing and Editing and Score went to Gravity. I thought that editing might go to Captain Phillips but was not surprised that Gravity took it. Gravity was, with seven wins, the biggest winner of the night. But for sure, not the only one.

Dallas Buyers Club took home Best Make-up and Hairstyling (thankfully!) and The Great Gatsby both; Best Production Design and Costumes.

Here are all of the winners once more:

  • Best Picture “12 Years a Slave”
  • Direction Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”
  • Actor Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
  • Actress Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
  • Supporting Actor Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
  • Supporting Actress Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
  • Adapted Screenplay “12 Years a Slave,” John Ridley
  • Original Screenplay “Her,” Spike Jonze
  • Cinematography “Gravity,” Emmanuel Lubezki
  • Production Design “The Great Gatsby,” Catherine Martin and Beverley Dunn
  • Film Editing “Gravity,” Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
  • Visual Effects “Gravity,” Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould
  • Costume Design “The Great Gatsby,” Catherine Martin
  • Makeup “Dallas Buyers Club,” Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
  • Sound Editing “Gravity,” Glenn Freemantle
  • Sound Mixing “Gravity,” Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro
  • Score “Gravity,” Steven Price
  • Song “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
  • Foreign Language Film “The Great Beauty” (Italy)
  • Animated Feature “Frozen”
  • Documentary Feature “20 Feet From Stardom”
  • Animated Short “Mr. Hublot”
  • Documentary Short “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”
  • Live Action Short “Helium”

And finally, the best thing of the evening, crashing down Twitter with the most re-tweeted selfie ever (that’s 2,7 millions at the moment!):

ellendegeneresselfieoscar

And the Oscars 2014 goes to… Or so I hope

OSCAR PREDICTIONS – WINNERS
(and what I hope to win)

12-years-a-slaveBest Motion Picture of the Year

American Hustle (2013)
Captain Phillips (2013)
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Gravity (2013)
Her (2013)
Nebraska (2013)
Philomena (2013)
12 Years a Slave (2013)
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

I have seen all of the best picture nominees and I’m hoping 12 Years a Slave will win the Best Picture. The second favourite of mine was The Wolf of a Wall Street, quite surprisingly. I had a blast with it. Nebraska was my favourite of the last year films and I liked Dallas Buyers Club more than I expected. So basically if any of those wins, I’m alright with it. I just hope it won’t be American Hustle or Captain Phillips. In the end, the whole awards season has been great success.

wolf1Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale for American Hustle (2013)
Bruce Dern for Nebraska (2013)
Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

I do believe Matthew McConaughey will win but I’m going against the odds and betting DiCaprio. I think he finally deserves the win. And he was better than ever in The Wolf. All of the nominees were good.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Amy Adams for American Hustle (2013)
Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine (2013)
Sandra Bullock for Gravity (2013)
Judi Dench for Philomena (2013)
Meryl Streep for August: Osage County (2013)

cateCate Blanchett. Nothing more to say.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

letoBarkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips (2013)
Bradley Cooper for American Hustle (2013)
Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

It seems like I’m betting my own favourites. Well, what can you do? Leto was stunning in Dallas Buyers Club.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine (2013)
Julia Roberts for August: Osage County (2013)
Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle (2013)
June Squibb for Nebraska (2013)

jenniferAnother one that I’m betting against the odds is Jennifer Lawrence. I do hope Nyong’o wins but for some reason I have a hunch it’s gonna be J-Law. Maybe I’m wrong. I doubt anyone else will win. I haven’t seen Julia Roberts’ performance but she hasn’t got any preceding awards, so guess she won’t win.

gravityBest Achievement in Directing

Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity (2013)
Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave (2013)
David O. Russell for American Hustle (2013)
Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Alexander Payne for Nebraska (2013)

Cuarón. I think. I did like McQueen a lot too. Which ever.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

american-hustle-posterAmerican Hustle (2013): Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine (2013): Woody Allen
Her (2013): Spike Jonze
Nebraska (2013): Bob Nelson
Dallas Buyers Club (2013): Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack

I’m really torn in this category. I want them to give the statue to Her but is it too much? Is Jonze too much for the Academy? I was disappointed to American Hustle but maybe voters are not. And there were some witty writing or was it improvised? I’ll go with Hustle now. It could be Her or DBC too.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

12yearsBefore Midnight (2013): Richard Linklater
Captain Phillips (2013): Billy Ray
12 Years a Slave (2013): John Ridley
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013): Terence Winter
Philomena (2013): Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope

I loved Philomena’s script but it has to be 12 Years a Slave. Otherwise it would probably win only the Best Picture according to me and that’s not enough.

FROZN_014M_G_ENG-GB_70x100.inddBest Animated Feature Film of the Year

The Croods (2013)
Despicable Me 2 (2013)
Ernest et Célestine (2012)
Frozen (2013)
Kaze tachinu (2013)

Frozen. Got to be. It was my second favourite of the ones I saw last year after Nebraska. And we are watching it right now while awaiting to the actual show to begin. And everyone loves it! And btw, Frozen just went over billion bucks at box office.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012): Felix Van Groeningen(Belgium)
L’image manquante (2013): Rithy Panh(Cambodia)
Jagten (2012): Thomas Vinterberg(Denmark)
La grande bellezza (2013): Paolo Sorrentino(Italy)
Omar (2013): Hany Abu-Assad(Palestine)

the-great-beauty-

I have to admit, I haven’t watched any of these. But The Great Beauty has won most of the awards that hasn’t been won by Blue is the Warmest Color (and that is not nominated).

Gravity 1Best Achievement in Cinematography

Gravity (2013): Emmanuel Lubezki
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013): Bruno Delbonnel
Nebraska (2013): Phedon Papamichael
Prisoners (2013): Roger Deakins
Yi dai zong shi (2013): Philippe Le Sourd

I think Gravity will win because it looks amazing and The Academy tend to award one with the flashiest look. I like Inside Llewyn Davis’s cinematography the best. Just saw it today and it’s a beautiful thing to look at.

captain phillipsBest Achievement in Editing

12 Years a Slave (2013): Joe Walker
American Hustle (2013): Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers
Gravity (2013): Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger
Captain Phillips (2013): Christopher Rouse
Dallas Buyers Club (2013): Martin Pensa, John Mac McMurphy

The pace of Gravity was thrilling and that has to be partly thanks to editing. But Captain Phillips has been praised that much that it might win. Don’t know. I’ll go with this now.

gatsbyBest Achievement in Production Design

12 Years a Slave (2013): Adam Stockhausen, Alice Baker
American Hustle (2013): Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler
Gravity (2013)
The Great Gatsby (2013): Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn
Her (2013): K.K. Barrett, Gene Serdena

I loved the look of Her. It looks very convincing. Like the way that could be the future. But then again The Great Gatsby has this lavish look. It is sparkling one. And the easiest to recognise.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

THE GREAT GATSBYAmerican Hustle (2013): Michael Wilkinson
The Great Gatsby (2013): Catherine Martin
12 Years a Slave (2013): Patricia Norris
Yi dai zong shi (2013): William Chang
The Invisible Woman (2013): Michael O’Connor

Again, same reason to nominate Gatsby as the winner; it’s spectacle. But like I told in my review of Hustle, I loved the costumes of it. I hope it wins this.

beautiful-jared-letoBest Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Dallas Buyers Club (2013): Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2013): Steve Prouty
The Lone Ranger (2013): Joel Harlow, Gloria Pasqua Casny

Did you know Dallas Buyers Club had 250 dollars budget for make-up? That’s nothing. And very cool. It looked real.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

The Book Thief (2013): John Williams
Gravity (2013): Steven Price
Her (2013): William Butler, Andy Koyama
Saving Mr. Banks (2013): Thomas Newman
Philomena (2013): Alexandre Desplat

At first I didn’t like Gravity’s score that much but after listening to it quite a lot, I’ve come to like it. And it’s different. Philomena has beautiful music too.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Despicable Me 2 (2013): Pharrell Williams( “Happy”)
Frozen (2013): Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez(“Let It Go”)
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013): Bono, Adam Clayton, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., Brian Burton(“Ordinary Love”)
Her (2013): Karen O(“The Moon Song”)

This is the category that I will be most pissed off if something else wins. I’ve said it hundreds of times how much I adore Idina Menzel and Let It Go is great great musical number. And I’m gonna post it right here once more:

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Gravity (2013): Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013): Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick, Tony Johnson
Captain Phillips (2013): Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013): Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland
Lone Survivor (2013): Andy Koyama, Beau Borders, David Brownlow

I believe Gravity will win because it’s the biggest one in technical things but I really liked Inside Llewyn Davis’ sound. You could hear the mixing. And apparently Captain Phillips has great sound too but because of the grand size of Gravity, I’ll go with it.

gravity2

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

All Is Lost (2013): Steve Boeddeker, Richard Hymns
Captain Phillips (2013): Oliver Tarney
Gravity (2013): Glenn Freemantle
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013): Brent Burge
Lone Survivor (2013): Wylie Stateman

Same reason. And I think the silence works here.

debris-gravityBest Achievement in Visual Effects

Gravity (2013): Timothy Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, Neil Corbould
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013): Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds
Iron Man Three (2013): Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash, Daniel Sudick
The Lone Ranger (2013): Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, John Frazier
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013): Roger Guyett, Pat Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton

Is there any other possibility here? NO.

Best Documentary, Feature

actofkillingThe Act of Killing (2012): Joshua Oppenheimer, Signe Byrge Sørensen
Cutie and the Boxer (2013): Zachary Heinzerling, Lydia Dean Pilcher
Dirty Wars (2013): Rick Rowley, Jeremy Scahill
The Square (2013): Jehane Noujaim, Karim Amer
20 Feet from Stardom (2013): Morgan Neville

I’m gonna go with popular opinion here. The easiest subject. But I want The Act of Killing to win.

lady6Best Documentary, Short Subject

Cavedigger (2013): Jeffrey Karoff
Facing Fear (2013): Jason Cohen
Karama Has No Walls (2012): Sara Ishaq
The Lady In Number 6 (2013): Malcolm Clarke, Carl Freed
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall (2013): Edgar Barens

I haven’t wathed any of these but on paper The Lady sounds like winner.

mickeyBest Short Film, Animated

Feral (2012): Daniel Sousa, Dan Golden
Get a Horse! (2013): Lauren MacMullan, Dorothy McKim
Mr Hublot (2013): Laurent Witz, Alexandre Espigares
Tsukumo (2012): Shuhei Morita
Room on the Broom (2012) (TV): Max Lang, Jan Lachauer

Mr Hublot has beautiful animation but I liked Get a Horse! too and everyone has seen it.

The Voorman ProblemBest Short Film, Live Action

Aquel no era yo (2012): Esteban Crespo
Avant que de tout perdre (2013): Xavier Legrand
Helium (2014): Anders Walter
Pitääkö mun kaikki hoitaa? (2012): Selma Vilhunen
The Voorman Problem (2012): Mark Gill

Pitääkö mun kaikki hoitaa? is from Finland. So obviously it is my favourite. We don’t get that much Oscars coming to this way. But I go with The Voorman Problem because it has Martin Freeman in it.

American Hustle Review

American Hustle (2013)

Directed by David O. Russell

Written by Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell

Starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence & Jeremy Renner

american-hustle-poster

American Hustle was the last Best Picture nominee that I had yet to see this year’s Oscars. And I got to say, I was a little bit disappointed. I obviously had huge expectations but then again not because I know how Russell makes his films. They are not exactly these stories of great success. They are more about stories of tiny success, that kinda success that gets you through the life. But I was still a bit disappointed. I rolled (that’s what you do when you have the app) my IMDb starring back and forth between eight and seven and ended up giving eight because my parents, after seeing what were the other films that I’ve recently given seven, said: “Come on, it was much better that Little Miss Sunshine.” Guess it was.

The biggest problem in American Hustle is pace. It doesn’t flow. And it should flow especially because it is a con-movie. Con-movies should be as sleek as its characters. The characters sure were cool. Even Christian Bale with his hair-do. And belly (how that good-looking guy can look that repulsive; that’s a talent). Amy Adams did look f***able. And she and Bale were good as always. And it was so nice to see Renner in a good guy’s role for a change. Him and Cooper were good too, like everyone else. And like my mum said jenniferlawrencehustleafter the film: “That Rosalyn was my favourite, she was really good.” Yeah, Lawrence did a bit steal the show. Her character had the best lines and she delivered them. Though not in the Oscar worthy way, so let’s hope Nyong’o get the statue on Sunday (I don’t mind if J-Law gets it though, I still adore her).

It was really refreshing to see a movie with people who don’t watch movies the way I do. My parents, in this case. Another thing that my mum pointed out was that the film happened only in a few locations. If I would be a producer I would give money to Russell. He always delivers and he even though he spends big bucks to actors, his sets are always only few and inexpensive looking. And apparently he shoots his films very quickly (few weeks is what I’ve read). And I would think that these days actors are lining up to perform in his films considering his track record to get the Oscar nominations to his actors (11 nominations in three latest films; that’s A LOT). And his films are always good. Maybe not spectacular but good. So he is definitely worth of every penny that production company puts in. After watching THR’s directors roundtable, I’m a bit more in love with him, he seems very interesting.

american_hustle_lawrence_adams_costumesAmerican Hustle looks good. I loved hair-dos, make-up and especially clothes. I’d love to wear those outfits that Amy Adams’ character is sporting. If I’d had the guts. I don’t. It could win the costume Oscar but then again, The Great Gatsby looks stunning and the other nominees are not bad either. Otherwise I don’t know. I think I’ll go with Lawrence when it comes to the Best Supporting Actress but the script of AH is not good enough to beat the competition and in other categories too there are much better films. I’ll do the final predictions later tonight, we’ll see if I end up predicting American Hustle in any other category. I doubt it.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

NT Live Presents: Coriolanus

National Theatre Live Presents

Coriolanus

Directed by Josie Rourke
Written by William Shakespeare
Starring Tom Hiddleston, Mark Gatiss & Deborah Findlay

Coriolanus_2013_play

Short description: “Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare’s later plays; believed to have been written between 1605 and 1608 (the latter end of that scale being thought more likely). Like many of Shakespeare’s plays, Coriolanus straddles two genres; it is a tragedy, but it could also be described as a history play. However, it is labelled as a tragedy and is, in fact, Shakespeare’s last great political tragedy. Moreover, it is considered by some to be Shakespeare’s only ‘exclusively’ political play.

It tells of the life of Roman warrior and leader Gaius (Caius) Marcius, who is given the name ‘Coriolanus’ after his bravery during the siege of Corioli, a Volscian city (an event that is depicted within the play).” (Source)

This was my first time to see a play in cinema. And my second time to see an actual Shakespearean play, the other one being one played by high school students about 16-17 years ago and of course in Finnish. I have, of course, seen films based on Shakespeare, some of them even spoken in the original language. But I’ve never seen proper Shakespearean play on a stage. And of course, this was not actual theatre either but at least somewhat close to it. Kind of. I haven’t written theatre review since high school either so this might not have that much content but bear with me.

coriolanus1

I promised to write this review in my first post of Man of the Day and let’s admit it; I went to this play because of Tom Hiddleston. And thankfully I did so. If in the beginning of the play, I was a fan of Hiddleston the Loki, after the play I am a fan of Hiddleston, the great stage actor. He is truly good. I wept with him. This is quite weird considering that in a play you don’t usually get that close to the actors that you could actually feel the pain. At least I haven’t before. Then again, I felt for Coriolanus. To me the character is a misunderstood hero. I read some pieces of Coriolanus on the web afterwards and it seems that he is much debated. But as a huge fan of truth and outspokenness, I could not help but admire him. And Hiddleston portraits the character perfectly.

Deborah Findlay Volumnia Photo by Johan PerssonBecause I’m not that familiar with nuances of theatre acting, I’m not suitable to say if someone overacted or not. I liked the character of Aufidius portrait by Hadley Fraser and I hated the characters of Sicinia (Helen Schlesinger) and Coriolanus’ mother, Volumnia (Deborah Findlay) but I assume that when I bother to hate a character that must mean that the actors are doing a good job. Especially the mother made me angry. Leave your children be! People should make their own lives to count so they don’t have to live through their heir.

Besides the actors I liked the production a lot. The staging of this kind of a play could easily get very messy; a lot of war, blood, Roman accessories etc. Basically too much of everything. But instead of that, Rourke has decided to go to opposite direction and there are only latters and chairs on the stage. Very effective. Colours, written word and lights are used to underline the story. I liked it a lot. The music worked too.

TomHiddlestonCoriolanusTo me, the biggest problem was, obviously, the language. They have subtitles but unfortunately they are so low on the screen that if you want to read them it is hard to follow the faces of the players. So, I stopped reading them and after a while I did get into the flow of the language. Of course there were a lot of unknown words to me but “thee”, “thou”, “hast” didn’t sound so weird in the end. I should start reading those plays of the master that I have lying on my bookshelf.

This was a new experience in a familiar setting. And I enjoyed it a lot. I will go see another play this way again, I’m sure. And I’m also sure that I want to see some Shakespearean play when going to London in the end of summer. Any recommendations?

Rating: ****½ (out of 5)

P.S. As a fangirl note; have any of you ever noticed how perfectly shaped bottom Mr T Hiddy has?