The rants and raves of a teenage cinephile who is just a little bit obsessed with Catherine O'Hara and Hayao Miyazaki.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe?


Hey everyone! You must forgive me for being a bit distant recently - I'm traveling to Atchison, Kansas next week to play a solo piano recital (hence the above song, sung wonderfully by Judy Garland from the movie "The Harvey Girls"), and I also have a music scholarship thing I have to mad practice for, and along with all that and schoolwork, I'm kind of swamped at the moment.

So, please, if I take a long time to post or reply to your comments, or comment on your blogs, believe me, it's not because I hate you, it's because I'm so busy! I promise I read all your comments and that I'll reply as soon as possible. After next week, posting should return to semi-normal...for a while. Teehee!

Incidentally, if I may take this moment to do a bit of shameless self promotion...I'm playing several solo recitals in the coming months so if you're at all interested in classical music or piano or my real-life-persona, you can see my schedule of events at this here link.

OKAY! Complaining and advertising over. Enjoy your day! :) Haha.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some Oscar Predictions...

Okay, so I very much enjoy the Oscars, and I do like reading other people's predictions, but sometimes I feel like I don't really have the knowledge or do enough research to formulate my own. But! I'm going to try anyway, just for fun. And I think some of these pics are stupidly risky, but hey! I might be right. So, here we go...

Best Picture
127 Hours
Another Year
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids are All Right
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Let me explain something. I did not include "Toy Story 3" because, though the general consensus is that it's going to get nominated...I just have this feeling about it. Like...neither of the other Toy Story movies were nominated for Best Picture before. And the only other "third movies" that have been nominated were "The Godfather Part III" and "LOTR: ROTK", and, Toy Story ain't one of those. But, hey. It'll probably happen and all of my denial will be for naught. Moving on...

Best Director
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Mike Leigh, Another Year
Christopher Nolan, Inception

Pretty obvious here. Veterans, best-picture-frontrunners, the works.

Best Actress
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Lesley Manville, Another Year
Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Naomi Watts, Fair Game

Hm, I feel really good about the top four, but I struggled to pick the last...there are so many possibilities. I went with Watts because her part seems somewhat baity. Plus, her role is a bit different - Bening, Manville and Moore are in lighter, indie movies that I think will keep Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence out. So, Watts it is. Plus, we mustn't forget that Watts has had a good year, with a hilarious turn in "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" and giving an absolutely heartbreaking performance in "Mother and Child".

Also, I don't think that Diane Lane can be compared to Sandra Bullock any more. Sandra had WAY more unexpected buzz last year and "The Blind Side" unbelievably got some amazing reviews. "Secretariat" is kind of dead, at this point.

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours
Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter

Jesse Eisenberg is really wishful thinking, though I think he definitely has a shot. Firth and Franco, I think, are definitely in. Wahlberg and Bridges look good on paper, but it depends on the movies. So we'll just wait and see.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham-Carter, The King's Speech
Macy Gray, For Colored Girls
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jackie Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Ha! This may seem way too weird to actually happen, but I think that the five I chose actually all have a pretty good shot. Amy Adams and the Academy get along well, and they'll surely like that she's playing "off-type" (unless Leo steals her thunder). I cannot WAIT for Helena, she will surely be nominated. I chose Macy Gray because she's getting some early good reviews, and this would be the perfect category for a singer-gone-actress to catch a surprise nom. I'm curious about Steinfeld, but it was between her and Barbara Hershey and I figured that they'll only choose one crazy matriarch (Jackie Weaver, who's got a great campaign).

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Vincent Cassell, Black Swan
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

These are just some weird guesses. I really want Garfield and Ruffalo to get in, so hopefully it happens. Rush is fo-sho. Cassell is interesting, and maybe they'll go for it, you know, to spice things up. And I'm not a big Bale fan but if he's good it's a baity role...

SO that's it from me for now. I might predict some of the smaller categories later if I get inspired. But what do you think? This is my first time making predix so advice and comments are appreciated as always! :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

A few thoughts on films I haven't yet reviewed

For some reason or another, there are a few movies from the year so far that I haven't quite been able to write a full fledged review about. So, here are just a few ramblings on said films. Enjoy!

Alice in Wonderland

It's soured in my mind since I saw it months ago. It had some interesting visual moments, but the 3D ruined it. Mia Wasikowska was a bit boring, but Helena Bonham-Carter kicks butt and steals the movie! (5/10)

Greenberg

I really like Noah Baumbach. "The Squid and the Whale" is one of my favorite movies (I wonder what that says about me...?). So, needless to say, I very much enjoyed this one. Many people have said that it's trying too hard to be "indie", and at times it definitely comes across that way, but ultimately it's really effective and charming. Greta Gerwig was stellar, Rhys Ifans was very, very good, and Ben Stiller was surprisingly fantastic. Anyway, quite good. (8/10)

The Kids Are All Right

This movie affected me on such an emotional level. It was so wonderfully genuine and though it's a bit quiet throughout, when it's over I realized how deeply I was touched by it. The ending is pitch perfect. Obviously, Julianne Moore and Annette Bening were BRILLIANCE. Just wonderful, and wonderful chemistry. Mark Ruffalo is as good as everybody says. Not exactly perfect, but it's very genuine. And a GREAT soundtrack. (8/10)

The Runaways

Okay, I really liked this one. I'm a big fan of musically-related movies, and I love the music of The Runaways, and the music/music culture aspect was handled perfectly. HOORAY FOR K-STEW! I'm not going to say she was brilliant or anything, but she was really good. And as you guys know, I care about her. Haha! On the other hand, Dakota...hm...not completely convinced. She was a little one note in my opinion. The supporting cast (and I'm not just talking about Michael Shannon, but also the rest of the Runaways) was quite fabulous as well. Stylish and fun, though nothing particularly deep or important. (7/10)

Well there you have it. Have you guys seen these films, and what did you think? As always, comments below! :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Please excuse me while I go over here and hyperventilate.


OH my gosh everyone. So today the headphone jack on my stupid computer broke for some reason, and now I can't plug in headphones to the computer. And since the majority of my movie watching and music listening is done in the nighttime hours while the other members of my residence are asleep, this incident is obviously a big deal. So, until my computer gets fixed or I figure out some solution to this problem, I may be without movies for a bit. I will try to survive.

If anyone has any advice regarding what I should do in this situation, please let me know. I mean, like, literal, technical advice. If you've ever broken your headphone jack, please give me some tips on how to...remedy the problem.

And I surely sound like a whiny brat but this is quite a sad day for me nonetheless. And sometimes, you just have to go to the internet to vent all your sadness.

So anyway, thanks for listening to me whining. You may now continue with your regularly scheduled activities. ;)

Mother (2009)


Joon-ho Bong's "Mother" is a film that intrigued me ever since it became Korea's submission to the Oscars last year and its exciting trailer started circulating the blogosphere. Then, I watched (and heartily enjoyed) Bong's prior, more famous film "The Host". Enjoying that film so much made me extremely interested in seeing what he would do with such an interesting and actressy concept. Being matched up with it for the Film Community Potluck at Anomalous Material finally gave me the incentive to watch it and I was not disappointed.

Hye-ja Kim plays the titular character, an elderly woman who loves and lives alone with her son, Do-joon (Bin Won). She is completely devoted to Do-joon, and her entire world (which is pretty much solely based on her role as his mother) is completely torn apart when he is convicted of the murder of a young girl in their small village. Convinced of his innocence, she begins her own rogue investigation of the crime. But not everything is as it seems and soon the story grows more and more twisted.

"Mother" is really a masterfully written spin on the age old plot device that is being wrongly accused of a crime. As each layer of the story stacks up perfectly the audience is left in awe and suspense, all with beautifully rounded characters. Bong avoids the problems that I feel he encountered in "The Host" - "Mother" is much more focused (though it does admittedly drag a bit in the second act) and the humor is executed flawlessly, not awkwardly.

Speaking of execution, "Mother" is a stylistic masterwork. Bong's direction is sharp and tense, and with very little score he is able to make single shots excruciatingly suspenseful. The film is also beautifully shot - the cinematography is often breathtaking. The opening and closing shots in are particularly memorable in their beauty and motivic significance.

Of course, the most stunning achievement of this film is Hye-ja Kim's performance. She truly is a tour-de-force. Her love for her son is unbelievably strong, almost to an unhealthy level that Kim is absolutely not afraid to explore. One word that kept coming to mind in regards to her work is "operatic". The fearless, unhinged and raw emotion so often seen in opera is rarely found in film (simply due to the differences in the mediums), yet Kim's work is nothing short of operatic, and it's breathtaking to watch her.

Joon-ho bong has truly created a classic to be in the crime genre. Though it may not be a perfect film, it is crafted so skillfully that it is impossible to ignore. Hye-ja Kim's performance alone can simply not be praised enough - it is unique and brilliant. I absolutely recommend "Mother"...don't wait like I did, watch it ASAP!

9/10

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I Finally Saw "The Social Network"!

I know, I know, I'm always behind everybody else. But, hey, I saw it a couple days ago, and I loved it! It lived up to the hype, and then some. It's intelligently written, witty and complex without being cold, it's thrilling and engrossing without losing the human spirit at its center. The ensemble acting is fabulous, Jesse Eisenberg gives his best performance since "The Squid and the Whale" and Andrew Garfield was just wonderful. So much heart. I also want to mention that Rashida Jones was lovely, in her teeny-tiny role. Besides that, I can't really say much more that hasn't already been said, except that I also found the score very, very notable. It was unique, interesting and modern - one of my favorites of the year so far. Anyway, if you haven't seen it yet, go now, because it lives up...and this is going to sound cliche, but seriously, you'll never look at Facebook the same way again! Muahahaha.

9/10

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Healing Power of Weeds

For those of you who have gone or are going through senior year of high school, you know how freaking stressful it can be. There's SATs, college apps, school, and for me, intense piano practicing for conservatory auditions which is probably the most stressful thing of all.

And sometimes, you just can't do it all. So this past week, I had a bit of a mental breakdown, and instead of doing one of the productive things above, I sat down and watched the entire first season of Weeds on Netflix, thanks to the recommendation of a friend.

I'd never seen Weeds before, but I LOVED it (I mean, I did sit and watch it all the way through, after all). Mary-Louise Parker is simply fantastic, and it's very fun and well written. I'm hoping to start Season 2 - obviously I'm a little behind. What is it now, season 6? Yikes.

Anyway, after I watched it, I felt super reinvigorated and ready to go out and practice and do college stuff. So yea!

So have any of ya'll seen Weeds? What do you think? It's addictive! Muahahaha.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Catherine O'Hara Filmography: Speaking of Sex (2001)

All Melinda (Melora Walters) wants is to save her dissolving marriage with Dan (Jay Mohr) who, though he has trouble being intimate with his wife, had an affair with a waittress. So, the two visit Doctor Emily Paige (Lara Flynn Boyle), who is intrigued by the couple. She sends Melinda to a depression expert, Dr. Roger Klink (James Spader), who then has an affair with Melinda. Disgusted (and with an agenda of her own), Dr. Paige convinces Melinda to sue Dr. Klink, and from there things get crazy.

"Speaking of Sex" isn't a HORRIBLE movie, but it's really not very good, either. There are a few good things about it (especially the tantalizingly European-sounding score), but overall it's a big failure. It attempts to be some kind of classy, yet over-the-top farce but neither the director nor the actors know how to pull it off. Had it been made in Europe, maybe it would have worked, but alas. Which is truly sad because you can just feel the "good movie" hiding beneath the surface.
Text Color
The worst thing of all is really the acting. Mohr is occasionally adorable but more often intolerably one-note. Spader is neurotically annoying. And Melora Walters gives what has to be one of the most emotionless, unnatural, robotic and weird performances ever (even though this technique does work in maybe one or two scenes).

The three really big stars in this movie (Catherine O'Hara, Bill Murray, and Megan Mullally) each have upsettingly small roles, considering they're the best acted in the movie Murray plays Klink's lawyer, O'Hara plays Melinda's lawyer, and Mullally plays Klink's soon-to-be-ex-wife. Mullaly is especially great - she's got a couple of scenes (especially her last) where she just nails it, giving her character WAY more dimensions than necessary and being really funny.


Oh, but back to Catherine! She's just fine. As I mentioned before, this movie tries so hard to be over the top and goofy, which is something we all know O'Hara is brilliant at doing, but she actually acts really restrained and low-key, since her character is really more down to earth than the others. She has a couple of really funny lines, but otherwise, she doesn't get much to do and the way this movie can stifle talent sadly catches her in its clutches as well.

O'Hara's best scenes are when she is with Bill Murray. The two have great chemistry together and get a little romantic subplot that brightens the movie up. It's small, but they both make it work really well despite everything going against them. It's really fun to watch them work off of each other!

Anyway, it's a whatever movie. It's harmlessly bad, and there are enough good things to make it tolerable. Had the material been handled better it could have been something really special, but alas. At least they cast Catherine O'Hara! Haha.

The Movie: 5/10
Catherine: 6/10 (eek that's a low score...sorry Catherine!!!)
Best in Show: Really nobody...except Mullally. She was great.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Birthday Girl, Kate Winslet!

Well happy birthday to the lovely Kate Winslet! Her work in "Little Children" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" are a couple of my favorites of the decade and she's always wonderful in everything else. So...yeah! In case she ever reads my blog, she'll know that I wanted her to have a wonderful bday. Lawlz. Okay! As you were everyone.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger...


Poor Helena (Gemma Jones). Her husband, Alfie (Anthony Hopkins), has just left her to go pursue a more youthful existence. Psychologically unstable, she begins visiting a psychic, who gives her exactly what she wants to hear, much to the satisfaction of her daughter Sally (Naomi Watts), who is falling in love with her boss Greg (Antonio Banderas) as she deals with her own struggling marriage with failed author Roy (Josh Brolin), who believes that the lovely Dia (Frieda Pinto), who lives across the street, is his muse. Bring in Alfie's new actress/prostitute girlfriend Charmaine (Lucy Punch), and you've got one wonderfully kooky and messed up web of people!

There's a lot that goes right with Woody Allen's latest. The dialogue is witty and very sharp, and the screenplay weaves together all of the film's many subplots very well. On that note, each of the characters and their stories were very interesting, intriguing, and fleshed out, making it all very fun to watch. Oh, and the narration wasn't unbearable like it was LAST TIME! In fact, it was quite effective!

Oh, and the acting is very good as well. Gemma Jones is wonderful, giving her character the perfect amount of sincerity and parody, and Lucy Punch is hysterical (and surprisingly multi-dimensional) as the over-the-top hooker. Watts, Brolin and Hopkins are also very, very good, making their characters both very funny and very sympathetic. Pauline Collins hams it up in her small but crucial role as the psychic, delivering some of the film's best laughs.

So even though on paper, the film does everything right, there's still something so vital missing. It's hard to place exactly what's wrong with it, besides the fact that nothing quite feels new. Structurally, it ends up being really similar to Vicky Cristina Barcelona - for example, remember the recurring guitar tune that made Rebecca Hall swoon in VCB? Well, it exists this time too. Except, instead of Albeniz, it's Boccherini; and instead of Hall, it's Brolin.

And, really, the films are different enough that this might not have been a problem - what the film is truly missing is the spice and flair of some of Allen's past work (especially VCB). By the end of the film, even though everything in it was good (and by no means boring), you sort of forget about it simply because it was just so flavorless. It's very well made, very well acted and very enjoyable, but overall, really nothing outstanding.

7/10

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I'm a LAMB ya'll!

Guess what everyone, I'm finally a member of the LAMB! Hooray!