Sunday, February 25, 2007

Kimball Bayles is da winner and champeen

Congratulations to Kimball Bayles, owner of Kimball's Twin Peak Theater, for handily beating our panel of expert Oscar pickers. In addition to a solid year of bragging rights, Kimball gets to have Warren spend a day sweeping up popcorn and peeling gum from the bottom of the seats.

As usual, however, the amateurs outdid the experts. In the Oscar-picking contest co-sponsored by Kimball's and the Gazette, two people correctly picked 16 categories. That's pretty darn good. So congrats to Ellen Jaramillo and Kathy Carson. I bow to your superior prognostication powers.

By the way, although I at no place or time claimed to be an expert, I did play along in Kimball's pool. I only got eight right. Nothing to shout about.

UPDATE - OK, Kimball is the winner. Sort of. In Sunday's paper, we ran picks from a group of local experts. Now, they were SUPPOSED to enter those same answers in Kimball's online pool. But they didn't.

Warren gave different answers in four categories (best picture, art direction, sound editing and original screenplay) which cost him two points. Bad Warren, bad! So, in the online pool, Kimball and Warren tied, but in the OFFICIAL Gazette pool, Kimball wins. And why Warren at any point thought "Little Miss Sunshine" would win best picture is beyond me.

Oscar blogging

A few thoughts from the red carpet to start things off....

Best softball
“The Oprah Winfrey Oscar Special” ­– It’s hard to beat Barbara Walters when it comes to lobbing it over the plate, but trust Oprah to innovate. She had celebrities… interviewing each other! Genius. Oprah should get some kind of special achievement in laziness award for getting an hour of network primetime without having to ask a single question.

Best pre-game
We watched Ryan Seacrest on E!, but that’s probably because we’ve been so fixated on “Idol” lately, we’ve forgotten what television is like without Seacrest. Truth be told, Joan and Melissa Rivers? Still pretty annoying, especially on the TV Guide Channel, where they’re sharing the screen with listings for all the more interesting programs airing right now.

Worst accessory
Toby Maguire’s goatee. Peach fuzz should wait until Spring.

And on to the ceremony!

That intro kept making me think of those Mac commercials: "I'm a Mac." "And I'm a PC." Stop talking Oscars and start talking peripherals!

Whoa. That is one extremely velourish suit Ellen's wearing. I used to have a couch covered in that. It's nice she's so upfront about wanting to host. Her voice sounds kinda small, maybe there's a sound problem.

There's Oscar hosts who play to the room and there's Oscar hosts who play to the viewers at home. Jon Stewart got dinged for not doing the former, Johnny Carson was an expert at mixing the two. Ellen seems to be completely ignoring the idea that there's a worldwide audience for this thing. She also seems to winging it -- or at least doing a bang-up job of pretending to wing it. Either way, it's not all that entertaining.

Warren - "I agree with you about Ellen's opening. She's great at being relaxed and working the audience, but she doesn't exude to the viewing public that this is a classy show the way Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal did .Oh, well."

I totally knew she was going to dance. When Ellen said she wouldn't it only made it a sure thing she would .

Art direction
Pan's Labyrinth. All four of our expert pickers picked that one, so no surprise.

Best 'fro
Will Ferrell was rocking the 'do. Although you gotta wonder about the wisdom of doing a bit called "A Comedian at the Oscars" in a year when "Little Miss Sunshine" was nominated for Best Picture. I'm pretty sure that film's plot came directly from "National Lampoon's Vacation."

Achivement in Makeup
Pan's Labyrinth. See "art direction."

Best couple
Abigail Breslin and Jaden Smith. Repeat after me, "awwwwwwwwwwwww." Jada Pinkett Smith tearing up made me tear up.

Animated Short
This wasn't one of our categories, so technically I don't care, but that clip for "Lifted" looked really cool (although it didn't win).

Live Action Short
Don't. Care. I wonder how the director feels getting his Oscar from a 6-year-old, though. Maybe not, "awwwwwwwwwwwww." I have in fact heard of the winning film, though. I hope to actually see it someday.

I notice they have Clint Eastwood sitting next to Steven Spielberg. If a lighting grid were to fall on that row, Michael Bay would have a shot at Best Director.

What's up with the sound effects choir? That's really, really weird. I mean, I guess it's impressive, maybe, but I'm pretty glad nobody asked me to pay to see it.

Sound Editing
Letters from Iwo Jima. If you're keeping score at home, that one puts Kimball and Kathryn up 1 over Warren and Robert. "Flags of Our Fathers" -- tosh!

Sound Mixing
I still don't know what the hey the difference between this and editing is. Why aren't these in with the technical awards?
"Dreamgirls" scores its first of the night. Our score is now: Warren 2, Kathryn 4, Kimball, 3, Robert 3.

Supporting Actor
They used to throw one of the acting awards at the top of the show, to kick things off with a bang. That was a good idea. Waiting an hour, not so good.
Alan Arkin.
Whoa. Seriously whoa. Everyone -- ever-ee-one -- had Murphy pegged for this. The Academy must be too snooty to give something to Murphy. Scores stay the same - all of our pickers went for Murphy.

Warren - "Can't believe Arkin got it. His character is the reason I can't let my kids watch that movie. "

BTW, Arkin's definitely in the running for "Worst Speech." I don't blame him for reading. I blame him for being fingernails-on-a-chalkboard boring.

The Best Song performances always lend some much-needed pizzazz to the ceremony. However, despite the fact that I am second to none in my contempt for the Grammys, the songs themselves are invariably like "Our Town" from "Cars" -- instantly forgettable schlock. If the songs were any good, they wouldn't be on a soundtrack. Dammit.

Huh. Back-to-back best song nominees. Go figure. The eco-tips behind Melissa Etheridge are freakin' hilarious. Yeah, let's use light rail here in the Springs.

Leonard DiCaprio and Al Gore. Which one of these men drives a Prius? Trick question, it's Leo.

Is it me, or is Gore's hair less wispy-thin than usual? Gotta love that special effects magic.

Props to Gore for the announcement joke (Leo asked him if he had anything to announce tonight and Gore started off “With a billion people watching, it’s as good a time as any. So my fellow Americans, I’m going to take this opportunity, here and now, to formally announce...," then got played off by the orchestra). Funniest gag of the night, if you ask me.

Best Animated Film
Happy Feet. That brings our score to: Warren 3, Kathryn 4, Kimball, 4, Robert 3. Getting tight!

Adapted Screenplay
The Departed
Warren gets back in the game: Warren 4, Kathryn 4, Kimball 4, Robert 3.

Best Costume
Having real examples of the costumes on display is a cool idea. Love the corgi.
Marie Antoinette. Is this an upset? I'm not really sure. Warren and Kimball take the lead: Warren 5, Kathryn 4, Kimball 5, Robert 3.
"I want to thank everyone who had anything to do with this movie." Can't get more to the point than that.

What'sherface with the honorary thing might get "worst speech," too. Teachers are the real heroes? I guess it's a blessing that she got out of the acting side of the biz.

Warren - "I loved the Ellen bit when she had Spielberg shoot her picture with Clint Eastwood for her MySpace... then criticized the picture and made him shoot it again... I got a nice laugh. You?"

Best Cinematography
Pan's Labyrinth. Duh. Our score: Warren 6, Kathryn 4, Kimball 6, Robert 3.

Warren - "Highlight of the show: Gwyneth Paltrow's stunning pistachio dress... or was it lime?"
Definitely some sort of foodstuff.

The commercials during the Oscars are really interesting. They're just like the Super Bowl commercials except without the, you know, interesting parts. Why go to the trouble? And where the hay is Robert Goulet? I want my Robert Goulet!

Best Visual Effects
This is my favorite, because it's the "Token Oscar for a Movie People Actually Saw." Of course having said that, I'm the only one I know who saw "Superman Returns."
"Pirates of the Caribbean." $1 billion in box office can't be wrong.
Score: Warren's love of the low-brow pays off: Warren 7, Kathryn 4, Kimball 6, Robert 3.

Best Foreign Language Film
Ken Watanabe is so cool. I want to be Ken Watanabe when I grow up. Or at least change my last name to Watanabe. Even the name is cool.

Warren - "What a beautiful tribute to foreign films by Giuseppe Tornatore. I might have thought it self-endulgent to include so much of his own film "Cinema Paradiso," but considering it's my favorite movie ever, I'll let it slide."

BTW, Warren - Cate Blanchett's dress is way better than Paltrow's.

"The Lives of Others" wins. That's got to be a monster upset. Somewhere in L.A., Robert V is dancing a little hula, or whatever they do in Germany. (I should explain that Robert put in a big plug for "Lives of Others," even though he thought "Pan's" would win. We had to cut that for space - maybe we should give him a bonus point?). Scores remain the same.

Supporting Actress
Jennifer Hudson. Finally, a non-surprise in one of the big categories. After "Lives of Others" and Arkin won, Jennifer had to be sweating this a little bit.
Scores - Warren 7, Kathryn 5, Kimball 7, Robert 4.

Best Documentary Short Subject

Jerry Seinfeld. I'm pretty sure he got that tux at the rental shop in the mall. Presenting documentary. That's called casting against type.
Why isn't he hosting this thing? He'd be perfect. I'm actually an Ellen DeGeneres fan (and I don't usually like Seinfeld), but I'm just not impressed tonight.
"These five incredibly depressing movies..." He's killing it.

Best Documentary
"An Inconvenient Truth" wins. The voiceover blamed Hurricane Katrina on global warming. Weird - I don't think Al Gore would go that far. Cause and effect is tricky.
Scores remain the same, 'cause all the pros know how much the Hollywood establishment loves Al Gore. (Hint: A whole, whole lot).

Clint Eastwood talkin' up "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is making me geek out. That's pretty much my favorite movie of all time. Greatest score ever. I'll have it stuck in my head for a month now. (The rest of Eastwood's speech totally blew, sadly).

You know, Ellen was talking about how international these Oscars are, but nobody thought to have subtitles set up? I'm guessing having Eastwood translate was planned, but it's kind of a waste of time. I did not know Eastwood's Italian was so good, though. I want to go to the Olive Garden with that dude.

Original Score
Babel. And speaking of scores... Scores - Warren 7, Kathryn 5, Kimball 8, Robert 4.

Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, Ellen changed outfits. This one's nice and shiny - completely unlike my couch.

Original Screenplay
Didn't we already do this one? Little Miss Sunshine. The writer was Matthew Broderick's assistant - is that what he was referring to when he thanked the producers for "saving my life"?
Scores - Kimball is really pulling ahead now: Warren 7, Kathryn 5, Kimball 9, Robert 4.

Warren: "I think Kimball has it sewed up. I think we all have the same picks for best actor, actress and director ... so even if I get best pix, he's got me, I think. ... next year, I go back to facing off against the monkey."

Is Jennifer Lopez an "excellent reason for high definition television"? I happen to be watching in HD and... eh. She's got a lot of makeup on. I might look halfway decent with that much makeup. Plus, she sounded bored. On the other hand, Jennifer Hudson's dress was, um, distracting in HD. I'll leave it at that.

Best song
Inconvenient Truth. A lot of people thought the three "Dreamgirls" nominations would cancel each other out, and I guess that's what happened.

Warren: "None of us saw Melissa Etheridge coming. You just don't think 'Inconvenient Truth' - great music.... but her song was terrific."

It was not.

Best Editing
The Departed. Interesting. None of our panel picked that one. Is it a sign of things to come for "The Departed"? Could be.

In Memoriam
I always find it interesting to who gets the most applause. Robert Altman was really the only one who got the crowd up. And I thought it was funny that the only one who got to speak was "Scotty" - James Doolittle. Although they really, really should have let him say "I canna doo it, Cap'n. I'm givin' 'er all I got."

Best Actress
Helen Mirren. Well, yeah.
This will probably win best acceptance speech:
"This is the best gold star I've ever gotten in my whole life."
"For 50 years, Elizabeth Windsor has kept her feet firmly planted on the ground. She's maintained her dignity... and her hairstyle."
Scores don't change.

Ellen vacuuming is a pretty good bit.

Best actor
Forest Whitaker. Well, yeah.

Best director
Martin Scorsese. Well, yeah.
Pretty good speech - "Everywhere I go, people are saying, 'He should win one.' I go to my doctor's office, 'he should win one.'

Best film
The Departed

Warren: "Congrats to Scorcese and to Kimball's for topping me this year. Way to go."

So, since all of our panelists picked correctly for Best Director, Best Actress and Best Actor -- and because all four blew it for Best Picture, Best Song and Best Editing -- our final score is Warren 10, Kathryn 8, Kimball 12, Robert 7. (I'll go through that again tomorrow and double-check my math).

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

B movies

This comment came from LadyBronco :

Have you ever thought about putting together a list of great B-movies?
I have several favorites that I always find myself dusting off and popping into the VCR (or DVD if I have found it on that medium!)

8:14 PM

I love B movies. Some classic B movies: "They Live," "Tremors," "Repo Man"....
Which raises the issue of what is a B movie and what is a cult film.

I think the two are different but can overlap.

A B movie, originally created by the studio stystem that would churn out cheap drive-in fodder for every major release, suggests movies that are low-budget, campy and pure escapism.

A cult film is a movie that garners a devoted, fanatical following (often by a narrow group of people) that gives it life beyond its initial opening.

Given those definitions, what are some of your favorite B films and cult films?

Movies that hit or miss

I recently showed "Me and You and Everyone We know" in one of my occasional PILLAR classes (which I do with local psychologist Ira Rosenbaum). It's one of those films I'm hesitant to recommend. A lot of people don't just dislike it, they want to jump on the box it came on and crush it.

Ira fell into that camp, which made for a fun discussion. I love the film, finding it a fragile beauty about the way we struggle to make connections.

One of my favorite scenes is about a guy who buys a goldfish for the family and accidentally puts in on top of his SUV when he drives off.

Drivers nearby see the doomed fish, and can't save it, but recognize value in trying. A poignant metaphore about our lives.

Ira thought it was a miserable film about miserable people.

OK, then.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Finally, The King arrives

OK, you can stop calling me and Kimball's

"The Last King of Scotland" will open Friday at the Twin Peak.

We'll have Roger Moore's review... of course, he raves about Forrest Whitaker's performance and gives the movie an A.

Now, when are we going to get the Dixie Chicks movie?

Friday, February 09, 2007

back-shelf picks

I'm sometimes asked for a complete list of recommended movies from my Back-Shelf Pick column. Here's all of the movies I've featured so far. (And check the comments for some great suggestions from readers!)

The Good Girl
Attack of the Bat Monsters
Better Than Sex
Me Myself I
Okie Noodling
One Hour Photo
The Sweet Hereafter
Midnight Train
Everything Is Illuminated
Minus Man
American Movie
East Is East
The Aristocrats
The Year of Living Dangerously
The World's Fastest Indian
Bagdad Cafe
Me and You and Everyone We Know
Touching the Void
The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition
A Slipping Down Life
The Cooler
You Can Count on Me
The Straight Story
Requiem for a Dream
House of Sand and Fog
Calendar Girls
Kingdom of Heaven
Saint Ralph
Clay Pigeons
The Big Kahuna
House of Games
The Missing
Plots with a View
A Love Song for Bobby Long
Love and Sex
The Quiet American
The Deep End
Rabbit-Proof Fence
Howl's Moving Castle
I Capture the Castle
Eve's Bayou
The Professional
A Walk on the Moon
Cop Land
Billy Elliot
Two Family House
Searching for Bobby Fischer
In the Bedroom
The Ref
Hear My Song
Green Dragon
Garden State
21 Grams
28 Days Later
Personal Velicity
To End All Wars
Dear Frankie
Truly, Madly, Deeply
The Tao of Steve
Danny Deck Chair
In America
Scotland, P.A.
Into the West
The Woodsman
Happy Texas
The Safety of Objects
Happy Accidents
Smoke Signals
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

I hope you find some movies here you like. I've tried to pick under-watched movies with the most wide appeal. I have plenty of favorites that are Italian, French, Japanese, Chinese ... But I know that so many moviegoers won't bother with subtitles.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I'm the best dad in the world

I took my 10 year old to see "Epic Movie," knowing it would be the dumbest movie-spoof film I'd ever seen.

I tried to dissuade him, telling him it got terrible reviews.

"It's going to be awful ... I mean, really awful," I warned.

No use. His friend told him it was hilarious ... so, there I was.

This movie makes reference to about two dozen popular films, from "Willy Wonka" to "Narnia," to "Pirates of the Carribean."

But the filmmakers think that allusions alone are funny. You dress a guy up like Johnny Depp in a pirate getup and have him talk in that same drunken Robert Townsend voice, and it's gold!


Aidan, of course, howled every time it moved on to another movie reference.

"So, Dad, wasn't it good," he asked as we walked out of Tinseltown.

"It was hilarious. Glad you insisted we go," I said, hoping the discussion was over. But when it comes to movies, Aidan is never done.

"It was funny when they came to Harry Potter, and he looked like he was just the same? But then he turned around and he was this old guy?" (I know these aren't questions, but, at this age, almost all his statements end on a high note, like they're questions.)

I smiled and nodded.

"And the part with Willie Wonka ..."

In about 30 or 40 years, this wonderful boy is going to visit me in a nursing home and change my diapers. It'll all balance out.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Where's the rest of Boulder?

My wife felt that after brutalizing her sensibilities by taking her to "Children of Men," I owed her a chick flick.

So we bypassed the darker films I'm dying to see -- "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Babel" and looked for light chick fare. My wife was leaning toward "Because I Said So" because we both liked the trailers and we're both fans of Diane Keaton. But the reviews were so relentlessly bad, I steered her toward "Catch and Release."

The Jennifer Garner and Timothy Olyphant love story "Catch and Release" had gotten middle-of-the-road reviews, but we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

One of the things I found interesting: It takes place in Boulder, and you'll recognize Pearl Street Mall and lots of other Boulder exteriors. But every time the film went into the wilderness, the folliage looked a bit too lush for Boulder. Sure enough, those scenes were shot in Canada.

Boulder apparently just didn't look Boulderish enough.