Thursday, February 26, 2009


Sorry to all those hoping to read my musings this week.
Whitney and I are covering the Cinequest Film Festival for Film Threat.
We'll be back soon. Check in at Film Threat for our reviews and bloggings.

To find out more about Cinequest, visit their website.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Gift for Whitney

Sunday, February 22, 2009

How Did Mr. He Shot Cyrus Fare?

Tonight, I went 19/24 at the Oscars. Here's a little something on the ones I missed.

Cinematography: I went with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on the recommendation from Whitney. This advice came before we watched Slumdog Millionaire (and I still have seen Button). Right before they announced the winner, I thought about switching but stuck to my guns. Mistake. Glad Slumdog won, it was a beautifully shot film.

Sound Editing: Went with Slumdog. Why not? I couldn't tell you the difference between editing and mixing so I chose both in case of a sweep.

Foreign Film: Ghetto High School movies are my specialty. Sad to see The Class lose. I was absolutely sure it would win. It was the French entry and it taps into the vein of Au Revoir les Enfants and Dangerous Minds. Harumph.

Short Documentary: Doesn't The Conscience of Nhem En just sound like an Oscar winner? Cleft lips creep me out...I know that's terrible but they do. I hope Smile Pinki (the winner) makes enough of a difference to put an end to cleft lips. Forever.

Best Actor: Chose Rourke. Felt he should have won. Penn won. Probably shouldn't have. Acceptance speech. Best part of the ceremony. Loved it. Downloaded it. Quoted it. Shared it. Loved it.

Side Notes:
1. Hugh Jackman doesn't have a strong
singing voice but that didn't make me
want him to stop singing.
2. Diane Lane and Amy Adams stole my heart.
3. I'm extremely happy I saw Slumdog
before the show today.
It would have been a drag not having seen it.
4. Where were all the celebrities?
Was Jack Nicholson even there?
Maybe I missed him.
5. Meryl Streep loves patting her chest.
6. Anne Hathaway wants to be a princess so bad.
7. First musical number: great.
Second musical number: bleh.
8. Seeing Michael Shannon there was awesome.
9. Melissa Leo should have won.
10. For only winning three awards
didn't Benjamin Button seem to
win over and over the whole night?
11. As mentioned before, Sean Penn's
acceptance speech:
best part ofthe ceremony.
12. As Paul Arrand Rogers pointed out,
"Thank you the academy.
Thank you the company.
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto"
was a close second.
13. NO speeches cut off by music.

The Best Moment of the Oscars

"…For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect, and anticipate their great shame, and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone. And there are these last two things. I’m very, very proud to live in a country that is willing to elect an elegant man President, and a country who, for all its toughness, creates courageous artists, and this is in great due respect to all the nominees, creates courageous artists who despite a sensitivity that sometimes has brought enormous challenge, Mickey Rourke rises again, and he is my brother."
Sean Penn's Acceptance Speech
2009 Oscar Ceremony

Best Picture? Hardly.

Here's what this post is trying to say: there are a lot of undeserving producers with Oscar statues on their mantles. Take a look back at what's won Best Picture, it's pretty ridiculous in some cases. Not as ridiculous Cary Grant never winning and Oscar and Alfred Hitchcock never winning Best Director, but still...

2000: Gladiator
[What it Beat: Chocolat, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,
Erin Brockovich, Traffic]
[What Should Have Won: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon]

If you were half as blown away as I was by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and half as underwhelmed by Gladiator, then you understand my dismay concerning the 2000 Oscars. Do you remember the first time you saw Chow Yun-Fat running up through the trees? It was incredible! But it wasn't just the special effects that made CTHD the most deserving nominee that year, the story was deep and powerful, and every performance was delivered impecably. I'm saying this fully aware of how many friends I have that love Gladiator but it just did nothing for me. Even the fight scenes, and in my younger years, I loved me some fight scenes, bored me. Russell Crowe is one of the least captivating leading men this side of Kevin Sorbo. Sorry to all those who love Gladiator but if the academy hadn't pawned Crouching Tiger off on the Best Foreign Film category, we would have had a different winner.

2001: A Beautiful Mind
[What it Beat: Gosford Park, In the Bedroon,
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, Moulin Rouge!]
[What Should Have Won: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings]

Don't get it twisted, I am NOT a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies. At all. The first film was a torturous experience for me, the second literally put me to sleep, and the third has still be sucessfully avoided. That being said, while I didn't personally enjoy the movie, I wholeheartedly respect it and can recognize that it deserved to win Best Picture in 2001. I really enjoyed A Beautiful Mind when it was released, but if you go back and watch it, you'll realize just how cheesy, conventional, poorly written, and nearly unwatchable it really is. Out of the five films nominated, ABM really should have come in dead last. I understand not wanting to give out three Best Picture awards to one trilogy, but if the award is truely going to the "best" movie, then give the statues to those films which truely earned the title.

2002: Chicago
[What it Beat: Gangs of New York, The Hours,
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist]

[What Should Have Won: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers]

Here's where my emotions are split. I wanted Chicago to win that year. I loathed The Two Towers. After much consideration, I have to maintain my same logic used with 2001's nominees. A film on such a grand scale, with an attention to detail unmatched by nearly any filmmaker (except for maybe Gilliam), filled with convincing performances and an awe-inspiring visual style is probably going to deserve to win Best Picture. That being said, Chicago, in my opinion, is an almost equally impressive film. One year after proved that musicals still held their place in mainstream Hollywood, Rob Marshall's film knocked it out of the park. Everything the musical should be, Chicago is. Thankfully, I didn't have to make the decision of choosing a winner. The academy chose the film I wanted over the film over the film that should have won.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
[What it Beat: Lost in Translation, Master and Commander,
Mystic River, Seabiscuit]
[What Should Have Won: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King]

Same logic as before. The Lord of the Rings films...I hate them. Cannot stand them. That being said, they're fuckin' impressive. My vote would have went to either or Lost in Translation or Mystic River. How the hell did Seabiscuit get a nomination? Even Finding Nemo could have (and should have) kicked the piss out of that damn horse. Blech.

2004: Million Dollar Baby
[What it Beat: The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways]
[What Should Have Won: Sideways]

Fuck Million Dollar Baby.

2005: Crash
[What it Beat: Brokeback Mountain, Capote,
Good Night and Good Luck, Munich]
[What Should Have Won: Brokeback Mountain]

I'm not even going to try to lie about how much I love Crash. There are just too many people who would call me on my shit. When I first saw Crash, it hit me like a ton of bricks (in a good way). Why people don't like...actually despise is a better word, this movie makes complete sense. It's the opposite of subtle, it's over-the-top at times, and screams when it should whipser. BUT...for myself, personally, this was the film I needed at that time. kick-started my interest in studying racism, American history, the Civil Rights movement, etc. Looking back on Crash, it wasn't as good of a movie as Brokeback Mountain (the most-deserved winner) but I'll always appreciate it and its Tony Danza cameo.

2006: The Departed
[What it Beat: Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima,
Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen]

[What Should Have Won: Hustle and Flow]
It's better than Babel.
It's better than Letters from Iwo Jima.
It's better than Little Miss Sunshine.
It's better than The Queen.
Want to know what it's not better than?
Hustle and Flow.
Hustle and Flow
got screwed over. No screenplay nominations. No picture, directing, actress, cinematography, or editing nominations either. Three 6 Mafia won Best Original Song though. Thanks academy.
[Edit: My research team has been fired. Hustle and Flow was actually released the previous year...where it earned all of the awards it should have. Suddenly, my day just got a little better. In closing, Hustle and Flow is still better than all the movies previously listed.]

2007: No Country for Old Men
[What it Beat: Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood]
[What Should Have Won: No Country for Old Men]

Damn, what a great year for American cinema. I didn't understand why Michael Clayton was nominated but at least Tom Wilkinson almost picked up Best Supporting Actors. This slot clearly should have went to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. And say what you will about Juno, it deserved its nomination. It didn't deserve to win, but it deserved its nomination. But overall, 2007 saw the best films nominated in more than couple years.

No Country for Old Men took two viewings for me to fully appreciate its innovation and its various strengths. The second viewing allowed me to forget that Josh Brolin gets to sleep with Diane Lane every night and that Woody Harrelson still gets acting parts. Learning to love the ending was difficult at first but after seeing the film again and discussing the film with my MA Westerns class, it became clear that No Country for Old Men was the best film of the year (slightly edging out TAOJJBTCRF and There Will Be Blood which completely falls apart in the third act).

This brings us to 2009. Tonight is the Oscars ceremony.
I'm about to go see Slumdog, saw Milk last night, hated The Reader.
The Wrestler wasn't nominated.
If Slumdog isn't as good as the hype has made it seems then it looks like we're back to normal.

Why Not

2009 Oscar Predictions

Best Picture
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Foreign Language Film
The Class

Best Animated Feature

Best Documentary Feature
Man on Wire

Best Documentary Short Subject
The Conscience of Nhem En

Best Animated Short Film
La Maison en Petits Cubes

Best Live Action Short Film

Best Actor
Mickey Rourke

Best Actress
Kate Winslet

Best Director
Danny Boyle

Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz

Best Cinematography
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Best Original Screenplay

Best Adapted Screenplay
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Costume Design
The Duchess

Best Art Direction
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Best Score
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Original Song
Jai Ho (from Slumdog Millionaire)

Best Film Editing
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Sound Mixing
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Sound Editing
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Visual Effects
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Best Makeup
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Milk: Or How I Learned to Stay Mad and Say "Fuck You, You Prop. 8 Biggots"

Saw Milk tonight.

I loved, loved, loved the movie.
That being said, my first draft of this post was almost nothing more than a rant about Proposition 8 (an anti-gay rights proposition recently passed in California) and those who supported it (a religious organization I used to be affiliated with).
Perhaps, one day, I'll get back to sharing my thoughts on Gus Van Zant's incredibly moving and socially poignant film.
But today, I'm too mad.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


The Oscars are usually one of the highlights of my year. This year, I'm throwing a party just to get myself excited. Part of the reason I'm underwhelmed by the ceremony is because I've hardly seen any of the nominated films. I doubt I will either.

Justify FullApparently, Slumdog Millionaire is the cinematic equivalent of Christ's second coming. My reaction to both events are the same: I'll get around to checking it out...probably.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: [INSERT STANDARD "I'VE ALREADY SEEN FORREST GUMP" JOKE] I just haven't been in the mood for a rehashing of an over-rated Oscar champ. Maybe that'll change after next year's Hindenburg, a moving tale about a poor naval officer who meets an upper-class debutante aboard a German rigid airship headed towards disaster.

I will see Milk before Sunday. Besides The Wrestler and Frozen River, Milk is the only Must-See nominee in my opinion. I knew an extra in the candlelight vigil scene. She said watching James Franco cry was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen.

Mark my words: Frost/Nixon is this year's Michael Clayton. In two months, no one will even remember it ever existed.

Somehow, I did end up watching The Reader. Haha. You can read my review here. I think it sums up my thoughts about this "Best Picture" nominee.

"An uncontrollable Meh."
That's how I feel about this year's Oscar's ceremony.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Wrestlemaniac (2006)

For myself, this is one of those "Why Didn't I Think of That" movies. Want the synopsis? Here's the synopsis. A group of young "filmmakers" and "actresses" head on down to Mexico to shoot an "adult-themed" "film." Trouble brews when a mystical Mexican luchador (or professional wrestler) starts ripping their faces off. I'm gonna leave you with some pictures. Quite a few, actually. If they don't make you want to watch Wrestlemaniac, there's just no hope for you.

Just so you don't spend a great deal of time wondering, yes, that is #13 from Deal or No Deal (a.k.a. Leyla Milani). She plays Dallas, an energetic little porn star with a knack for car mechanics. She's actually the third most famous person (as far as I'm concerned) in this straight-to-DVD horror flick.

Before we get too far, let me point out the
Best Opening Title Sequence Ever Recorded In Film History.
Old Mexican wrestling footage while this weird song plays over them.
Oh yeah.

Irwin Keyes (The Warriors, Intolerable Cruelty) plays The Stranger who wisely advises the crew not to venture down that road. He's really the reason I checked out this movie. I'm really glad I did because it was an entertaining eighty minutes. Too bad Keyes is only apart of five of them.

This is Rey Misterio Sr.
Father of Rey Misterio Jr.
Trainer of Rey Misterio Jr.
Trainer of Psicosis (my favorite wrestler of all-time).
Cool, huh?

Okay, sorry this is so boring. Let's get to the good stuff.


Sweet damn, this is a fun movie.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Joaquin Phoenix Memorial Video

Watch until about 9 1/2 minutes in.
It's like seeing a postmortem performance, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bad Neighbors

I hate inconsiderate neighbors. I've had lots of 'em. The sound of bass coming through my wall can be likened to Gary Busey fisting me while making me watch The Gingerdead Man. Once, I lived next to a roaming sack of afterbirth named "Utters." Utters used to play her stereo everyday, long and loud with her bass turned up high. It made me want to choke a dolphin. Everyday, bass bass bass bass bass bass bass bass BASS BASS BASS. Fuckin' ridiculous. Nothing I tried (asking her to stop, calling the landlord) worked. You're probably wondering why I'm writing about this in a movie blog. Well, it's because I saw Lakeview Terrace today.

After a few people told me Lakeview Terrace was better than the trailers made it look, I decided to check it out. Plus, Neil LaBute (The Shape of Things, In the Company of Men) directed and for the most part, I trust him. After watching it, yeah, it's a victim of of bad marketing. But if you don't have a strange obsession with evil neighbor movies, I wouldn't recommend it. I do! Here's a list of movie characters I may or may not want live next door to.

Mom/Woman and Dad/Man
from The People Under the Stairs
They kidnapped children and cut out their tongues when they talked back but is that really the worst quality for a neighbor? I know they were terrible people but would living next to them be all that bad? Yeah, probably. Just imagine borrowing a cup of sugar from these psychopaths. First, they'll sick the dog on you. Then they'll make the staircase all flat and slide you down to their monster teens. Then, because this is just how sick they are, they'll give you a cup of SALT instead of sugar and you won't even realize it until your Grandmother calls you and tells you that your salty cookies raised up Grandpa' levels and the funerals on Friday.

Bad Neighbor Rating: 4/5

Mrs. Connelly
from Duplex
Who can hate this old lady? She looks like Snarf. Sure, a she's nosy, pain in the ass, con artist but I'd rather live next to her than these douchebags.
Bad Neighbor Rating: 2/5

Carter Hayes
from Pacific Heights
This is the Glitter of neighbors: avoid at all costs. Movies like Pacific Heights make me really anxious because it's the sort of thing that could really happen. If a sadistic madman moves into my spare bedroom and decides to wreak havoc on my life, what am I gonna do? He's got the law on his side, I can't prove a damn thing, and I know that one of these nights, I'm gonna wake up with cockroaches in my bed linens. I've already promised two of these real estate predators the deed to my house. I'm hoping they fight each other, leave me lone for awhile, and both die from massive head trauma before they talk me into signing the final contracts.

Bad Neighbor Rating: 5/5

Lars Thorwald
from Rear Window
By far the best neighbor on the list. I keep to myself. He keeps to himself. Who he kills on his own time is his business. Who I get the idea. On top of that, I don't even like my blinds open, I've never broken my leg, and the closest thing to binoculars that I own are two empty paper towel roles. This is the guy I want living across the courtyard.

Bad Neighbor Rating: 1/5

There's my list. Who would be your least favorite movie neighbors?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Looks Like Someone Had a Baby

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Reader (2008) (Spolier Edition)

Welcome to the first Special Spoilers Edition of He Shot Cyrus movie reviews.
Today, we're talking about The Reader.
If you're planning on watching this film
and don't want to know everything that happens...stop reading now.

Act One: 40 Minutes of Kate Winslet Boning a 15-Year-Old
Hanna Schmitz (Winslet) is a German illiterate working in public transit. She can't read or write but she can seduce a high school sophomore like it was old-hat. After said sophomore catches a pesky case of Scarlet Fever, the two meet and start boning like skeletons. Michael runs to her house everyday after school and nudity ensues. And boy, does it ensue! The Reader makes that one scene in Titanic (1997) look like Kate Winslet Wears a Turtle Neck Sweater and Baggy Sweat Pants (1996). I've seen more of her chest than her personal chestologist. And...that's pretty much the first act.

Act Two: 40 Minutes of Kate Winslet on Trial for Auschwitz Murders

As the sexcapades diminish, the War Crimes colloquy develops. In short, less humping--more Holocaust. As it turns out, before working as a ticket-taker job on the bus line, Hannah joined the Schutzstaffel (a.k.a. those march-loving, Jew-hating, tiny mustache-wearing Nazzies.) and worked at the most infamous concentration camp this side of the Mississippi. Years later, she ends up on trial for the murder of a group of prisoners. The courtroom climax comes with the introduction of a report supposedly written by Hannah. Michael, who's now a law student, watches the trial anxiously.

Here's where the film takes a dramatic turn. Michael spent too much time bumping uglies and reading aloud to his mistress to realize that she can't read or write. We (the audience) realize she's illiterate about two seconds before the movie starts. Not Michael...he has a "oh shit!" moment about an hour in, smacks himself in the forehead, and interrupts the proceedings with an audible "DUH..." She can't read or write! How could she have written that report? Thrilling! But here's the snafu, Hannah's shame keeps her and Michael from getting her off the hook. Life sentence!

Act Three: Kate Winslet Learns How to Read to Nearly Guarantee Herself an Oscar Nomination, Hangs Herself, and Leaves Michael to Right Her Wrongs
In act three, Kate Winslet's character learns how to read which just screams "Oscar nomination, please" but then she hangs herself instead of exiting back into the real world after writing a will asking Michael to right her wrongs. He tries to do so...for nearly half and hour. The movie should have ended with "Life sentence!"

So there you have it, folks. Boobs and Penis, Law & Order, Made-for-Oscar Ending.
The Reader.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Red Cliff: Parts One and...One?

John Woo is in the process of directing China's biggest feature ever, Red Cliff. This will be the epic to end all epics. The film is adapted from "Romance of the Three Kingdoms," a 14th century Chinese novel which is made up of 800,000 words, features over 1,000 characters, and is considered one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature. This will be the epic to end all epics. Too bad we won't be able to see it.

Asia (The Lucky Continent as will be referred to as from this point forward) gets to watch all 4+ hours of Red Cliff, albeit in two parts, but anyone not fortunate enough to live there only gets to watch 2 1/2 hours of the world's greatest epic. That's right, if you plop down your nine American dollars at a local picture house, you'd better make plans for the rest of your night because you'll be out on the streets one-hundred-and-fifty minutes later (give or take a couple minutes for previews) trying to decide if Denny's has better specials than IHOP and what sort of crowds you'll have to fight at this time of night. And no respectable filmgoer should be forced to make such a decision at this day in age.

Here's my question: what's the point of seeing the World's Most Epic Epic if you're only going to see half of it?

Popular Before My Time

Here's how "Popular Before My Time" works.
I name three actors/actresses/directors
who were really famous before I really got into film.
There are people whose careers I never dove into
and whose popularity I never understood.

Here's where you come in.
Tell me which of the three most deserves special attention,
the one who most deserves their fame and success.
Tell me which of their movies are most worth watching.
I'll watch them and report back later.

Contestant #1:
Melanie Griffith

Films I've Seen: Night Moves (1975), Pacific Heights (1990), Now and Then (1995), Celebrity (1998), Crazy in Alabama (1999), Cecil B. Demented (2000),

Films to Watch: Body Double (1984), Something Wild (1986), Cherry 2000 (1987), Working Girl (1988), Nobody's Fool (1994), Buffalo Girls (1995), Lolita (1997), Another Day in Paradise (1998), RKO 281 (1999)

Contestant #2:
Sharon Stone

Films I've Seen: Stardust Memories (1980), Irreconcilable Differences (1984), Total Recall (1990), The Specialist (1994), The Quick and the Dead (1995), Casino (1995), Sphere (1998), Antz (1998), The Mighty (1998), Broken Flowers (2005)

Films to Watch: Action Jackson (1988), Basic Instinct (1992), The Muse (1999), Alpha Dog (2006)
Contestant #3:
Jane Fonda

Films I've Seen: Nine to Five (1980), Jane Fonda's Low Impact Aerobic Workout (1986), Searching for Debra Winger (2002), Monster-in-Law (2005)

Films to Watch: Barefoot in the Park (1967), Barbarella (1968), They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), Klute (1971), Julia (1977), Coming Home (1978), The China Syndrome (1979), On Golden Pond (1981), The Morning After (1986)

Alright, time to vote.
Whose career will I be an expert on soon?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Wrestler

Sorry Planet B-Boy, you've been bumped to Number Two. Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler is my favorite film of 2008. Caught a screening last night and despite all of the hype, I wasn't even slightly disappointed. Believe what you hear, it's that good. It's so much more than "Mickey Rourke's Comeback Movie." If a local theater is cool enough to pick this up, thank them by paying the seven bucks and maybe a couple more for Red Vines or whatever sugary/salty/liquid snacks you like best.

Before a real-life friend calls me out on this, I have a confession to make. I love pro wrestling. I did in high school, anyway. Backyard wrestling too. That being said, I still have all my own teeth, literacy is a skill I possess, and NASCAR's appeal has yet to work its charms on me. And even with all of spandex, chair shots, and predetermined winners, wrasslin' happens to be something I know quite a bit about.

Besides the impressive squared-circle scenes, the film captures life outside of the ring just as precisely. Rourke plays Randy "The Ram" Robinson (brought to you by the letter "R"), a washed-up has-been with a broken body and a van that doubles as a bedroom when he can't pay the bills.

There's already been so many parallels made between the actor and the character he's playing. I'll toss in my two cents and agree with those comparisons. He used to be a pro boxer with a laundry list of concussions and broken bones. He stopped acting and fell out of the limelight with plenty of people praying for his return. And I'm sure there were plenty of nights where Rourke slept in his car.

It's incredible that the role wasn't written for him specifically. Nic "Bangcock Dangerous" Cage was originally attached to star which, in my opinion, would have drastically hurt the film in ways that only repeated viewings of Con Air could explain.

Go see The Wrestler, it's the best film of the year.
Even if you don't like wrestling, go see The Wrestler.
Even if you only see it for all the Marisa Tomei boobage...
I've said too much.
Go see The Wrestler.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Raashan Ahmad - Give Thanks

New Raashan Ahmad video.
Check it out and learn something new
(like that Raashan Ahmad is your new favorite emcee).