Emma Stone

February 27, 2017

2017 Academy Awards: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Biggest Night in Hollywood! The Night The Stars Shine! The Night People Wear Suits and Dresses! The Night White People Dance Awkwardly! The Night That Never Ends! The Night Trump Thinks Is Overrated! The Night, The Night, The Night!

So we close the book on another culmination of cinema, and all the bitching and moaning, and whining and complaining that goes along with it. The 2017 Academy Awards was a decent enough event this year with buffoonery, self-indulgent jokes, a run-time that just wouldn’t quit, and, oh yeah, some pretty nice moments as well. Here are just some of the Blondie, Angle Eyes, and Tuco moments from last night’s BIG EVENT!

  
A good amount of movies got some love last night. While “La La Land” took home six awards (I mean they were up for 14), films like “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Manchester by the Sea,” shoot, even “Suicide Squad,” yes, “SUICIDE SQUAD,” took home an Oscar! Leonardo Dicaprio and “Suicide Squad” now have the same amount of Oscars. Martin Scorsese and “Suicide Squad” now have the same amount of Oscars. Al Pacino…well, you get it…

305 Standup! It was a big night for “Moonlight.” Mahersala Ali took home the award for Best Supporting Actor, Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney took home the Adapted Screenplay Award and after one of the most awkward moment’s in Oscar history, took home the award for Best Picture (more on that later).

The Supporting Actor categories in this year’s show were some of the best in years, and I wouldn’t have been mad about anyone winning, but seeing Ali, and afterwards, Viola Davis winning, it was a sight. This is the first time that I can say I was with the choices 100%. However, there is an argument to be made whether Davis should have been in the Best Actress hunt. She dominated the screen-time in “Fences.” But at that point, who do you bump out of Best Actress. My pick would have been Meryl Streep, who already stole a spot that should have been Amy Adams’. Oh well, either way, I’m okay with the decision.

  
I’m over this notion that an award show has to be an extension of another show. This horrible trend started with Ellen DeGeneres and her selfies, and giving food to celebrities, and just this idea that we have to cater to celebrities who are already being catered to at an awards show. Enough! But this year brought things to a new level where we brought in people off the street with their selfie sticks and just general weirdness. It’s not bad enough that most celebrities don’t know how to act around people who are normal, ie, the general population, and say what you will, but Denzel Washington looked relatively bored and had of the face of “are you fucking kidding me?!” But that’s just me. Stupid skits tack on time to an already over-bloated show.

It’s embarrassing that people who win awards can’t be there to accept an award because of the “President of the United States.” Asghar Farhadi won the award for Best Foreign Language Film but wasn’t attending the Oscars because of what people don’t like to call the “Muslim Ban,” even though it actually is, let’s call it what it really is people. While Roman Polanski can’t attend because he’s a pedophile, Farhadi couldn’t attend because he wasn’t allowed by Donald Trump….YOUR President, America! There were also some shades of 1973’s Ceremony as well.

Me, personally, it’s pretty ugly to keep beating a dead horse. Yes, Hollywood, we know, you don’t like Donald Trump, but it gets to a point where, yes, we get it. The fact that big award shows keep giving this guy, Trump, a platform, and keep bringing him up, over and over again, BY NAME, is just stupid at this point. Tweeting him in the middle of the show with #merylsayshi is just dumb. How about this; concentrate on the actual show, and don’t give this narcissist a platform. The people who accepted the awards did a good enough job bringing up substantive content without our “fearless” host having to stop the show dead in it’s tracks to tweet an idiot. Sheesh!

The bungle that was Best Picture was an ugly clusterfuck of epic proportions. Sure, at the end of the day it made both “La La Land” and “Moonlight” look great, but everyone involved looked stupid, and at the end of the day it looks like it wasn’t Bulworth’s fault. But man, how do you mess that up, especially with tensions already at a boiling point. The knee-jerk reaction was, “oh Warren Beatty is a racist.” No, just no. Other people thought it was a sick joke, and laughed and wrung their hands in the air over Beatty’s screwy excuse (I was one of those people). It was just awkward and ugly, but a few handled it with grace under fire, and at the end of the day, winners emerged, but Jesus, how do you mess that up?!

Overall, still a fun show with some great people winning, and it’s always fun to see people argue about who should have won, and “La La Land” is overrated; stop people, just stop. Being edgy to be edgy is so 2016. 

January 5, 2017

Why ‘La La Land’ is Going to Clean Up this Awards Season

*Post Oscar Update 2-27-17*

*I was partially correct, 14 nominations and six wins isn’t too shabby, and even after the Best Picture snafu, “La La Land” came out in the wash clean as hell.*

Hollywood award season is upon us with the Golden Globes set for this coming Sunday, January 8th, 2017. After the snafu that was #OscarsSoWhite and the conclusion of the drama about Leonardo DiCaprio receiving his first Oscar, we might have an Oscar telecast with a little more diversity, but we’ll see how that goes.

While 2016 provided us some great films with minorities in the lead role such as “Moonlight” and “Lion” and female-driven fare like “Edge of Seventeen” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” there is one film heads and tails above the rest, and it will be heavily rewarded this award season, and that film is “La La Land.”

This is not me saying that “Land” is bad; it’s not; its utterly fantastic, I nearly wept during the opening dance number it was so beautiful, (hopefully Another Day of Sun is up for Best Song at the Oscars). However, if history has anything to do with anything, the deck is stacked in favor of “Land,” and here are some of the reasons:

1) Hollywood loves to pat itself on the back. “Land” for the most part is a throwback to old Hollywood. It’s dancing set-pieces will leave you in awe, the music is infectious, (as I listen to the soundtrack of course) and it’s a classic story of following your dreams, despite the hardships and trials and tribulations. This is the classic Hollywood story.

2)  Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are pure and utter joy. This is their third, and for my money best, collaboration. They are natural fits for one another and play off each other so well it’s a mesmerizing things to watch. Gosling has always had stage presence and after “The Nice Guys” there’s no doubt about his comedy chops. Stone has gone from “hmmm, okay, she might be good one day,” to “oh man, she’s really good.” The more I think about it, Stone is more of the revelation where she carries a greater weight in this film and her story hits harder when it comes to actresses in the Hollywood system. She was good in “Birdman” but she’s great in “Land.”

3) It was a struggle to get this film off the ground. It took Damien Chazelle years to get this film going, and it will be commended when the time for awards comes around. Not to forget to mention the fact that while the film is a classic Hollywood film, making of the film is nearly as classic. It’s about as Hollywood as it gets.

4) The soundtrack is wonderful. If “Hamilton” was the hit soundtrack of Broadway in 2016, “Land” is the hit soundtrack of Hollywood in 2016. “Land’s” soundtrack is an experience and will be awarded as such.

5) The final point is going to piggyback on my first point. In the past seven years at the Oscars the Academy has awarded films well when it comes to films paying homage to Hollywood; “The Artist” in 2011, “Argo” in 2012 and “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) in 2014. While “Birdman” takes more shots at how Hollywood treats actors, nonetheless, it’s a film about Hollywood and all press, is good press.

“The Artist” was at least to me a gimmick film. A silent film made in the day and age of loud Hollywood blockbusters. While I’m not a huge fan, I can understand how people can feel nostalgic for a bygone era.

“Argo” was the ultimate way for Hollywood to fellate themselves. No, I am not saying “Argo” is a bad film, in fact I loved it and it was the catalyst for the re-rising of Ben Affleck’s Q Rating (even though the writing was on the wall with “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town,” previously). However, the film is about Hollywood people saving the lives of people in a foreign country overtaken by “the bad guys.” It’s a whimsical tale of how Hollywood saved the day in a story that seems almost too Hollywood to be real…yet, it was.

“Birdman” did it’s best to shit all over the way that Hollywood tosses out old actors after they are done using them up, but despite that, it was impossible to ignore the painstaking process of making this film. The acting was great, the direction was great, the message, while I’m sure it miffed Hollywood, had to be commended for what it was; a film that was hard to make and a technical achievement.

“Land” fits the bill as the film to beat. In a year that was full of despair and woefulness, “Land” is the silver lining. It’s got comedy, tragedy, dancing, singing, some great acting and it hits on the idea that you can still go to Hollywood and have all of your dreams come true, but it adds that bittersweet touch. It appeals to idealists, dreamers, and pessimists; it appeals to humanity in these unsure times where a dream is still something to hold onto. Thus, “La La Land” will be your big winner come this award season, and for good reason.

April 22, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

CLUTTERED

Okay look…The Avengers broke the internet man.  And what I mean by that is, their film changed the way comic book movies will be done forever…or at least the foreseeable future.  That is why The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is, at best, a CLUTTERED mess.  Almost as CLUTTERED as that god-awful poster above.   It’s a hippy who needs to cut their messy hair.  It’s a fat person who could be much healthier if they just cut down on the sweets.  It’s greedy for more when less would actually make it so much stronger.  All because The Avengers broke the internet.

Every money hungry studio (I could have just said studio and the meaning would still be the same) wants a shared universe franchise of their own.  On the surface, you’d think that’d spell doom for Sony, seeing as they only own Spider-Man.  Fortunately for them, Spider-Man has the most character rich universe in all of comics other than maybe Batman.  Unfortunately for them, all the patience in crafting and carefully cultivating those characters went out the window when the world saw Earth’s Mightiest Heroes save New York from the Chitauri on half a billion screens across the globe.  Sony and Fox and Warner Brothers don’t want to follow the same model Marvel Studios used because IT’S THEIR MONEY AND AND THEY NEED IT NOW!  This collective impatience is why Man of Steel 2 is now called Batman Vs. Superman Guest Starring Wonder Woman, Flash, and Dick Grayson.  It is why X-Men: Days Of Future Past has EVERY SINGLE X-MEN CHARACTER JAMMED INTO IT.  It’s why a collection of Spidey villains known as the Sinister Six are getting a film for a yet to be determined purpose.  And it’s why The Amazing Spider-Man 2 just feels like 10 pounds of plot in a 5 pound bag.

Think I’m being unfair to them?  Why?  It’s not like they don’t realize this.  They do.  They know they’re sacrificing story for what they think people want.  I know they know because Batman Vs Superman has already been delayed a year to give them just enough time to finish their over-stuffing.  Days Of Future Past cast then cut then put back in several big name stars just to keep their films stuffed. (Hello, Goodbye, Hello Rogue)  Hell, Divergent star Shailene Woodley won the role of Mary Jane for Amazing Spider-Man 2, shot scenes and then was cut out FOR GOOD.  This is on top of the fact that Spidey has to deal with THREE underdeveloped bad guys and a now restructured love story and a friendship with a supposed best friend that is dropped in our lap with all the ceremony and subtlety of a wet fart.  That screams CLUTTERED story to me.  And sad to say, that is exactly what this film gives you.  

Shut up and tell us exactly what the film is about already DJ!  Well, it’s about Peter Parker still assuming the mantle of New York’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.  It’s also about how Peter struggles to keep a promise to stay away from his on again off again girlfriend Gwen Stacy.  It’s also about Peter finally finding out the first film’s promised untold secret left by his parents.  It’s also about Peter reuniting with his NEVER BEFORE SEEN best friend Harry Osborn and the secrets behind the Osborn company.  It’s also about a slighted Spider-Man fanboy who gains a power that he believes will make him special.  See what I mean by cluttered?

The biggest complaint I had with the first Amazing Spider-Man was that it felt like a Spider-Man film seen through the eyes of someone who didn’t give a crap about Spider-Man, resulting in him crushing every ounce of heart the Spidey world should have in order to appeal to the more moody and overly cynical society we live in now.  This movie is not as bad as that.  Instead, it is a good film pulled in so many different and ultimately pointless directions that it becomes a thin waste of time.  Every moment I tried to give the film credit for something it did right, my praise would immediately be undermined by the film doing something stupid, convoluted, or gutless.  Example?  Not to get too spoilery but the final fate of a certain character winds up being extremely true to the comic book and a very ballsy move in this cinematic day and age.  Just when I’m about to applaud the testicular fortitude, the film rushes past the emotional impact of that fate with a sloppy time lapse and a hurried happy ending.  When you watch it you can almost hear the studio executive shouting “Uplifting ending damn it! So what if emotionally sad endings worked for Smaug and Catching Fire and even the first Spider-Man!  I need a happy ending!”

Now I don’t think Andrew Garfield is a bad actor.  I believe his moody/neurotic/goofy/douchey portrayal of Peter Parker in the first film falls more on bad direction.  Thankfully, his character comes off way more likable this time around.  His overall chemistry with Emma Stone, the first film’s one bright spot, was so good that the two became an item off screen.  That chemistry is still there.  Sally Field, one of our finest living actresses, FINALLY gets a scene to justify her casting.  Even Garfield’s rapport with new addition Dane DeHaan is pretty damn good.  As I watched all of these relationships, however, I got agitated from the fact that they were being rushed to make more room for action set pieces with inconsequential villains.

For all the criticism I lob at director Marc Webb, I can give him credit for one thing.  He really understands and utilizes all of Spider-Man’s powers.  His strength especially.  Webb does this even more so than Raimi did.  Webb loves to show off every ability Spidey has in the most jaw dropping ways possible.  The action set pieces, though pointless at times, are well designed and beautiful to look at.  I just wish they were placed in a better overall story.  Webb also deserves credit for trying to rectify the faults of the first film.  But again, it all comes down to the story he is trying to piece together.  All the cosmetics in the world can’t make a bloated pig pretty.

This year, we’ve already been fortunate enough to see one of the best comic book films ever made.  By comparison, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is just not up to snuff.  Sure, it will make its money.  However, will it be remembered with some of the greats?  Not a chance.  Will it be remembered a few hours after you leave the theater?  I highly doubt it.  Follow your Spidey Sense…don’t forget Max Dillon’s birthday cake…try not to Spidey-Stalk your girlfriend…look out for leering Leary…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

July 19, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

DESPERATE 

DESPERATE to keep the property at Sony to thusly prevent a possible Spidey sighting in Avengers 2, which would thusly lead to Marvel Studios earning an estimated BAGILLION dollars. (I Rounded Up)

DESPERATE to win over the hipster/Twilight audience with its emo, big haired, recluse, douche hero and his “Ready To Turn My Back On Everything, Including My Own Self Worth” love interest.

DESPERATE to make the film grim and dark like The Dark Knight, but sadly only accomplishing to make it poorly lit and soulless.

DESPERATE to be special and different with a highly promoted yet LAME half-baked Spidey secret origin, which they abandon before the film’s midway point.

DESPERATE to not be like the first trilogy while poorly attempting to steal things from it.

DESPERATE to cast great actors but then relegating them to being only exposition spewing wallpaper.

DESPERATE to redefine the hero’s core mantra but only managing to debase it into a vague, poorly delivered shrug of a purpose.

Some say the greatest inspiration is often born through desperation…good words.  I, however, don’t see inspiration here.  I see a middle aged hoodlum, who managed to get a gun, trying to hold up a liquor store.  Unfortunately the cops showed up too fast and he is now using an old Korean woman as a human shield, desperately holding on to what little semblance of hope he has of escaping.  A slew of dumb ass decisions piling up to result in a chalk outline on a splotchy linoleum floor.  THAT is The Amazing Spider-Man.  If you waste your time and watch it, you’ll be hard pressed to…tell me I’m wrong.

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