Monday, December 30, 2013

The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-ManThe gist: a young Peter Parker is raised by his uncle and aunt after his parents have to flee in a hurry.  As a teenager, he finds some documents left behind by his dad that hold the key to some important scientific research.  While investigating this research he gets bitten by a genetically engineered spider that confers to him supernatural powers.  He starts using these powers as a masked vigilante known as Spider-Man who will have to face down both common and supernatural enemies.

This is Andrew Garfield's first outing in the titular role and he certainly impresses and charms with his good looks and acting skills.  Emma Stone as our hero's love interest is well cast as well, vulnerable and strong in equal parts.

It was interesting to see the detours the script takes from Spider-Man's classic tale by disclosing Peter Parker's real identity to his love interest, her father, and his aunt so early in this first chapter of the comic's reboot.

The Bottom Line: the reboot gamble certainly pays off and we're treated to a new take on the web slinging superhero that enthralls and scares with impressive claustrophobic sequences.  Awesome visual effects.

Grade: 7

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Under the Dome

Under the DomeWe started watching this show because we had little to watch this past summer and also because I really like Stephen King’s stories.

While at first it seemed like the show was in good hands, with interesting twists and turns, as time went on things started to get too ridiculous to be believed.  Characters started doing things that strained the plausible and events happened for no reason other than to shock or fill time.

Also, while the producers promised that by the end of the season (it wasn’t known if it would get picked up for season 2) they would reveal the Dome’s origin and meaning, instead of dragging it for several seasons a la Lost, we were cheated of an explanation and the season finale was totally underwhelming.

Even Mr. King himself was wondering how they would be able to keep the show going for many episodes and apparently they resorted to spinning their tails.

It’s still up in the air whether we’ll be back for season 2, although Mike Vogel and Alexander Kock certainly make for a compelling argument.

Grade: 6

Dexter

DexterThe end of a beloved show always feels like the death of a dear friend.  Even now, while I try so hard to cut back on the amount of television I watch to free up more of my time, I know I will miss a show like Dexter, which I had come to consider one of my favorites.

It is not an easy task to make a serial killer so sympathetic to the audience that we actually root for him not to get caught by the authorities and to always prevail in any match with the bad guys he targets to tame his deepest instincts and darkest needs.

Dexter certainly had its share of ups and downs in terms of quality of seasonal arches, but I felt it was always compelling.  I also have to appreciate the decision to put an end to it before it started running out of plausible scenarios in which to place our flawed hero.

Ultimately, the final season is well developed and very original in the layers it adds to the character and his relationship with his inner Dark Passenger and the people around him.  Also, I found very satisfying the way the show-runners decided to end the story, which is again something very tricky that often leaves the fans either hating or loving a show’s final moments.

I don’t want to spoil anything for those who never watched the show and are wondering whether it’s worth a look.  Let me assure you that Dexter is a very original show that will entertain you for many hours.

Grade – Final Season: 8

We’re now at 17!

New MexicoThe New Mexico Supreme Court has just ruled unanimously in favor of gay marriage, making it the 17th state to offer equal rights to all its citizens.

From Towleroad:

We conclude that the purpose of New Mexico marriage laws is to bring stability and order to the legal relationship of committed couples by defining their rights and responsibilities as to one another, their children if they choose to raise children together, and their property.

Prohibiting same-gender marriages is not substantially related to the governmental interests advanced by the parties opposing same-gender marriage or to the purposes we have identified. Therefore, barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution.

We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law.

Monday, December 16, 2013

In Memoriam

Two greats left us this past weekend:

Peter O’Toole (1932 – 2013)

Peter O’Toole Peter O’Toole rose to fame with a magnetic performance in the 1962 epic film Lawrence of Arabia and became one of his generation’s most accomplished and charismatic actors.  He unfortunately holds the record for number of Academy Award nominations with no wins: 8, all for Best Leading Actor.  He did earn an Honorary Oscar in 2003, but those don’t count towards one’s final total.

I remember him in The Lion in Winter, The Last Emperor, Troy, and The Tudors.  I will have to watch some of his most acclaimed work.

Joan Fontaine (1917 – 2013)

Joan Fontaine Olivia de Havilland’s younger sister, Joan Fontaine had a lucrative career in both movies and theater, and even dabbled in some television productions.  While her sister achieved fame before her, Ms. Fontaine’s star eventually outshone her sister’s.  She was nominated for 3 Academy Awards and won one.

I remember her only for Rebecca.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Three More Join the Fold

I know I’m late with this post but the news just kept pouring in and I’ve been very busy with work and life…

Anyway, three more states have joined the marriage equality club, New Jersey (via court ruling), Illinois and Hawaii (both legislatively).

new-jersey illinois

Hawaii

From CNN:

As Hawaii and Illinois join the list of states approving same-sex marriage, the United States crosses a big mark on the issue: More than 1 in 3 Americans will live where same-sex marriage is legal.

It's a dramatic shift in a short period of time -- one not seen on other social issues.

Great news indeed.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Behind the Candelabra

Behind the candelabraThe Gist: Behind the Candelabra tells the story of famed performer Liberace as seen and lived by Scott Thorson, his longtime lover and boy-toy.

Although I have very little knowledge of Liberace’s oeuvre, I wanted to know more about him and I sure was impressed by his talent from the few performances presented.  The man was a great pianist and was clearly born to entertain and perform.

The source material is obviously one sided, but I suspect that it’s not too far from the truth, considering the times Liberace lived in and the high stakes involved in his forbidden homosexual relationships with a series of men he liked to consider and treat like his properties.

Michael Douglas and Matt Damon do a spectacular job and the movie is worth a look even just for their performances.

The Bottom Line: A well made biography of one of the most revered and famous entertainers the world has ever seen.  Great performances and a good script seal the deal.

Grade: 8

The Big C Hereafter

The big C hereafter The Big C Hereafter concludes The Big C and brings closure to all who have followed the hilarious and dramatic adventures of Cathy and her family during her fight against a deadly form of melanoma.

The show has always been extremely well made, dealing with a very touchy subject with the utmost care, and that level of quality is in full display here, for the conclusion of Cathy’s journey.

As one might well expect, the end of the show doesn’t bring any surprises, but I was impressed by how well it was handled.

Laura Linney is one of my favorite actresses and once again does an excellent job.  So do the supporting players, Oliver Platt, Gabriel Basso, John Benjamin Hickey, and Gabourey Sidibe.

Overall a great show that is not for everyone but that should be watched by all because of the veraciousness it brings to the topic of fighting cancer.

Grade – Last Season: 9

True Blood

TB6_Poster_3.inddSeason 6 of True Blood was the first one without creator Alan Ball behind the scenes, a potentially worrisome development.  Add to it that season 5 ended with Bill transformed into something of a God, and therefore seemingly unstoppable, and there was certainly a lot to be concerned about.

Fortunately, the new show runners didn’t mess up too much, even though the overall quality of the season was lower than previous ones.

I was intrigued by the “humans fight back” storyline, followed by the concentration camp-like events, and the final resolution, and I was pleased by how they nicely tied the Warlow and Lilith stories together, making them cohesive.

However, I was quite bored by the secondary stories: the one about Terry and Arlene, the one about Andy and his fairy daughters, the one about Sam and the teenage crusaders, and the one about Alcide and his pack.

As you can see there were quite a few and were clearly just used to carry each of those characters’ stories forward.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough there to make us care about them, and I always felt like they were actually bringing momentum to a halt.

Anyway, the show has been renewed for another season, so our favorite vampires will be back next summer, and I for one cannot wait.

Grade – Season 6: 7

Falling Skies

Falling skiesSeason 3 of this rather original show about alien invaders doesn’t disappoint.  A new species of aliens, the Volm, has been added to the mix.  The Volm are on our side though and apparently sworn long-time enemies of our invaders, the Espheni.

The big question is can we trust them or will they turn against us once the Espheni are defeated?

Both the acting and writing are strong suits of this show and the visual effects are a nice addition to the whole.  Spielberg’s brand clearly still means quality.

Grade – Season 3: 8

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards Nominations

Emmy_statueAnnounced today and presented on September 22nd:

Outstanding Comedy Series
"The Big Bang Theory" (2007)
"Girls" (2012)
"Louie" (2010)
"Modern Family" (2009)
"30 Rock" (2006)
"Veep" (2012)

Outstanding Drama Series
"Breaking Bad" (2008)
"Downton Abbey" (2010)
"Game of Thrones" (2011)
"Homeland" (2011)
"Mad Men" (2007)
"House of Cards" (2013)

Outstanding Miniseries or Made for Television Movie
"American Horror Story" (2011)
Behind the Candelabra (2013)
"The Bible" (2013)
Phil Spector (2013) (TV)
"Political Animals" (2012)
"Top of the Lake" (2013)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin for "30 Rock" (2006)
Don Cheadle for "House of Lies" (2012)
Jason Bateman for "Arrested Development" (2003)
Louis C.K. for "Louie" (2010)
Matt LeBlanc for "Episodes" (2011)
Jim Parsons for "The Big Bang Theory" (2007)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Hugh Bonneville for "Downton Abbey" (2010)
Bryan Cranston for "Breaking Bad" (2008)
Jon Hamm for "Mad Men" (2007)
Damian Lewis for "Homeland" (2011)
Jeff Daniels for "The Newsroom" (2012)
Kevin Spacey for "House of Cards" (2013)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Benedict Cumberbatch for "Parade's End" (2012)
Matt Damon for Behind the Candelabra (2013)
Michael Douglas for Behind the Candelabra (2013)
Toby Jones for The Girl (2012) (TV)
Al Pacino for Phil Spector (2013) (TV)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Laura Dern for "Enlightened" (2011)
Lena Dunham for "Girls" (2012)
Edie Falco for "Nurse Jackie" (2009)
Tina Fey for "30 Rock" (2006)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus for "Veep" (2012)
Amy Poehler for "Parks and Recreation" (2009)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes for "Homeland" (2011)
Michelle Dockery for "Downton Abbey" (2010)
Elisabeth Moss for "Mad Men" (2007)
Connie Britton for "Nashville" (2012)
Vera Farmiga for "Bates Motel" (2013)
Kerry Washington for "Scandal" (2012)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Jessica Lange for "American Horror Story" (2011)
Laura Linney for "The Big C" (2010)
Helen Mirren for Phil Spector (2013) (TV)
Elisabeth Moss for "Top of the Lake" (2013)
Sigourney Weaver for "Political Animals" (2012)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell for "Modern Family" (2009)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson for "Modern Family" (2009)
Bill Hader for "Saturday Night Live" (1975)
Ed O'Neill for "Modern Family" (2009)
Adam Driver for "Girls" (2012)
Tony Hale for "Veep" (2012)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jim Carter for "Downton Abbey" (2010)
Peter Dinklage for "Game of Thrones" (2011)
Aaron Paul for "Breaking Bad" (2008)
Jonathan Banks for "Breaking Bad" (2008)
Bobby Cannavale for "Boardwalk Empire" (2010)
Mandy Patinkin for "Homeland" (2011)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
James Cromwell for "American Horror Story" (2011)
Zachary Quinto for "American Horror Story" (2011)
Scott Bakula for Behind the Candelabra (2013)
John Benjamin Hickey for "The Big C" (2010)
Peter Mullan for "Top of the Lake" (2013)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik for "The Big Bang Theory" (2007)
Julie Bowen for "Modern Family" (2009)
Jane Krakowski for "30 Rock" (2006)
Jane Lynch for "Glee" (2009)
Sofía Vergara for "Modern Family" (2009)
Merritt Wever for "Nurse Jackie" (2009)
Anna Chlumsky for "Veep" (2012)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Morena Baccarin for "Homeland" (2011)
Christine Baranski for "The Good Wife" (2009)
Anna Gunn for "Breaking Bad" (2008)
Maggie Smith for "Downton Abbey" (2010)
Emilia Clarke for "Game of Thrones" (2011)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Sarah Paulson for "American Horror Story" (2011)
Imelda Staunton for The Girl (2012) (TV)
Ellen Burstyn for "Political Animals" (2012)
Charlotte Rampling for Restless (2012) (TV)
Alfre Woodard for Steel Magnolias (2012) (TV)

Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series
"The Colbert Report" (2005)
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (1996)
"Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (2003)
"Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (2009)
"Real Time with Bill Maher" (2003)
"Saturday Night Live" (1975)

Outstanding Reality Competition Program
"The Amazing Race" (2001)
"Dancing with the Stars" (2005/I)
"Project Runway" (2004)
"So You Think You Can Dance" (2005)
"Top Chef" (2006)
"The Voice" (2011)

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program
Tom Bergeron for "Dancing with the Stars" (2005/I)
Anthony Bourdain for "The Taste" (2013)
Cat Deeley for "So You Think You Can Dance" (2005)
Ryan Seacrest for "American Idol" (2002)
Betty White for "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" (2012)
Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn for "Project Runway" (2004)

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
"Girls" (2012): Lena Dunham("On All Fours")
"Glee" (2009): Paris Barclay("Diva")
"Louie" (2010): Louis C.K.("New Year's Eve")
"Modern Family" (2009): Gail Mancuso("Arrested")
"30 Rock" (2006): Beth McCarthy-Miller("Hogcock!" / "Last Lunch")

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
"Boardwalk Empire" (2010): Timothy Van Patten("Margate Sands")
"Breaking Bad" (2008): Michelle MacLaren("Gliding All Over")
"Downton Abbey" (2010): Jeremy Webb("Episode 4")
"Homeland" (2011): Lesli Linka Glatter("Q & A")
"House of Cards" (2013): David Fincher("Chapter 1")

Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Behind the Candelabra (2013): Steven Soderbergh
The Girl (2012) (TV): Julian Jarrold
Phil Spector (2013) (TV): David Mamet
Ring of Fire (2013) (TV): Allison Anders
"Top of the Lake" (2013): Jane Campion, Garth Davis

Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series
"The Colbert Report" (2005): Jim Hoskinson
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (1996): Chuck O'Neil
"Late Show with David Letterman" (1993): Jerry Foley
"Portlandia" (2011): Jonathan Krisel
"Saturday Night Live" (1975): Don Roy King
"Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (2003): Andy Fisher

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
"Louie" (2010): Louis C.K., Pamela Adlon("Daddy's Girlfriend")
"Episodes" (2011): David Crane, Jeffrey Klarik("Episode 209")
"The Office" (2005): Greg Daniels("Finale")
"30 Rock" (2006): Jack Burditt, Robert Carlock("Hogcock!")
"30 Rock" (2006): Tina Fey, Tracey Wigfield("Last Lunch")

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
"Downton Abbey" (2010): Julian Fellowes("Episode 4")
"Breaking Bad" (2008): George Mastras("Dead Freight")
"Breaking Bad" (2008): Thomas Schnauz("Say My Name")
"Game of Thrones" (2011): David Benioff, D.B. Weiss("The Rains Of Castamere")
"Homeland" (2011): Henry Bromell("Q & A")

Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Behind the Candelabra (2013): Richard LaGravenese
"The Hour" (2011): Abi Morgan
"Parade's End" (2012): Tom Stoppard
Phil Spector (2013) (TV): David Mamet
"Top of the Lake" (2013): Jane Campion, Gerard Lee

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series
"The Colbert Report" (2005)
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (1996)
"Portlandia" (2011)
"Real Time with Bill Maher" (2003)
"Saturday Night Live" (1975)
"Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (2003)

Mister B. Gone, by Clive Barker

Mister B. Gone, by Clive BarkerWell, this was a curiously written book for sure.  I had never read a book in which the protagonist speaks to the reader as if he were alive in the pages of the book itself.  An original approach for sure.

Now, the protagonist in this book is a demon, so you can see how right away we get past the physical impossibility of such a thing as a person in a book actually being alive.

The book is not bad, but it does drag on at times, especially when the demon keeps asking you to burn the book and him within it over and over and over again.

Doug Bradley, the performed, does a very good job however, and the book isn’t very long, so it’s not so bad.

Grade: 6

Sepulcher, by Kate Moss

Sepulcher, by Kate MossRight after reading Ms. Moss’ Labyrinth, I decided to pick up Sepulcher, which was written after Labyrinth, to see whether her style had improved with time.  I’m happy to report that it has (her long winded descriptions are still there but they seemed less frequent, shorter, and more to the point) but I also have to say that she still makes decisions that boggle the mind.

For instance, in Sepulcher, which has nothing to do whatsoever with Labyrinth in terms of story or time period, Ms. Moss decided to introduce a couple characters from Labyrinth.  Why?  No idea.  I honestly cannot understand why she would make that decision.

Sure, both books use the two-timelines storyline, that is we are transported back and forth in time between two stories that eventually connect in some way, but that’s as far as it goes in terms of similarities.  Furthermore, one of those two characters was a key character from Labyrinth who carried a very important secret.

The reason why this sort of thing counts as a negative, in my opinion, is that if you’ve read Labyrinth, when these characters are introduced you first start questioning why this character is here, then you start analyzing the timeline to see if it even makes sense that they are here, and finally you start wondering how the two books are connected, what is the meaning behind their introduction, whether this is actually a sequel, what other characters might come into play that you already know, and so on.

All those distractions are unnecessary and detract from the enjoyment of the book you’re presently reading.  I can say all this for a fact because I actually went through the stages outline above.  This cost me time and was ultimately completely useless because there is no link whatsoever between the two books.  The characters that appear in both bring no added value to Sepulcher from Labyrinth and could have been just as easily brand new characters.  Had Ms. Moss suddenly run out of imagination and couldn’t figure out how to write her new book without making use of old characters that didn’t belong there?  Very odd and ultimately annoying.

The story per se isn’t bad.  A young teenage girl in late 19th century Paris lives through some unforeseen and unfortunate events because of her brother’s love interest’s connection to a very bad guy.  The whole story is gradually unraveled by a woman in our time who eventually discovers her connection to that young girl.

Sepulcher isn’t a bad book but I cannot give it a better grade because of the complaints outlined above.

Grade: 6

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead 3Season 3 of this terrific show brought us more scares, more drama, more thrills, more excitement, and more great entertainment.

The conflict between Rick’s people and the Governor takes center stage and becomes more terrifying with each episode.  A downward spiral that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The Walking Dead is one of my favorite shows of all time and it never disappoints.  If you’ve never checked it out, you should definitely do so.

Grade – Season 3: 9

England and Wales

Yesterday, Queen Elizabeth II signed into law same-sex legislation that made gay marriage legal in England and Wales:

uk_colour_map%255B1%255DWith little fanfare or controversy, Britain announced Wednesday that Queen Elizabeth II — hardly a social radical — had signed into law a bill legalizing same-sex marriages in England and Wales.

Official word that the queen had approved the bill drew cheers in the usually sedate House of Commons.

“This is a historic moment that will resonate in many people’s lives,” Equalities Minister Maria Miller said in a statement. “I am proud that we have made it happen and I look forward to the first same sex wedding by next summer.”

There were British political figures and religious leaders vehemently opposed to gay marriage but the opposition never reached a fever pitch, in part because the same-sex marriage bill had broad public support and the backing of the leaders of the three major political parties. In fact, it was Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of the tradition-minded Conservatives, who proposed the legislation in the first place.

The public seemed to take it for granted that gay marriage should be a part of British life. It was perhaps a sign of how Britain has evolved in past decades into a much more cosmopolitan nation than its starchy, traditionalist image would suggest.

“The opposition seemed restricted to a very small number of people very vigorous in their views,” said Stephen Fielding, a political scientist at the University of Nottingham. “It was restricted to the back benchers of the Conservative Party. It wasn’t shared across the political spectrum. It was an issue whose time had come. To oppose it seemed slightly strange.”

The law was also written in a way that allowed the Church of England — which is opposed — to sidestep the controversy since it is explicitly barred from conducting same-sex marriages.

(From The Washington Post)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Being Human

Being HumanSeason 3 of Being Human reinforces how good the American remake of this British show is.  Aidan, freed from his earthly grave, finds himself starving and unable to feed because of a virus that doesn’t bother humans but is lethal for vampires who feed on infected blood.  Josh finds himself having to deal with the reality of dating a werewolf while he no longer is one.  And Sally is still looking for a way back from limbo.

Naturally, things get complicated for everyone involved and many new characters come on the scene while some others exit it.

All in all this supernatural show has become one of my “lesser” favorites, way less exciting than, say, True Blood, but definitely worth watching.

Grade – Season 3: 7

Game of Thrones

Game of ThronesI couldn’t wait for this show to come back, and even before it ended I was already longing for the next season.  Game of Thrones is a fantastic show that seems to never run out of gorgeous sets, enthralling storylines, and engaging adventures.

Thanks to George R. R. Martin’s seemingly boundless original material, the screenwriters delight us to intrigue, twists, and machinations at every turn, and because of Martin’s sprawling cast of characters one is never really sure who will be the next to be offed in some gruesome and inventive new way.

Season 3 was the adaptation of the first half of Book 3, while season 4 will take on the second part of that book.  The production has stated the desire to produce 7 seasons in all as a way to set an end date for the entire saga, which already makes me sad Sad smile.

Lastly, season 3 will forever be etched in my memory for its famous Red Wedding episode which is arguably one of the most shocking scenes I’ve ever seen on a screen.

Grade – Season 3: 10

Veep

Veep-Season-2-PosterSeason 2 of Veep managed to avoid any sophomore slump by delivering funny and engaging episodes all dealing with different topics but nicely linked together.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is brilliantly hysterical as the politician who can be clueless and astute at the same time and always tries to stay a step ahead of current events when she’s actually three behind…

Grade – Season 2: 8

Nurse Jackie

nurse jackieSeason 5 of this medical dramedy doesn’t disappoint and that’s quite the accomplishment considering they had done a 360 in season 4 with Jackie getting treatment for her drug addiction.

This season Jackie is clean and trying to piece her life back together.  She even gets a new love interest!!

I won’t spoil any main plot points except to say that I was very sad to see Eve Best (Dr. O’Hara) take a hiatus (hopefully she’ll be back in the future) and to praise the production and writing teams for the smartly handled secondary storyline involving Gloria Akalitus.

Very often these “plot B” stories are either boring or simply ridiculous, but this one felt organic to the show, had its own raison d'être, and was resolved well.

Grade - Season 5: 8

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Death of Prop 8 and DOMA

supreme courtOn June 26 2013, the United States Supreme Court handed gays and lesbians their biggest victories in a decade by striking down Article 3 of DOMA, which allowed the federal government to ignore all legal same-sex marriages performed in the country, and by dismissing the proponents of Proposition 8 (California’s Constitutional Amendment that blocked gay marriage in 2008 after a brief period during which it was legal) for lack of standing.

californiaIn a nutshell, after the California Supreme Court unanimously declared gay marriage legal in the state effective immediately, gays and lesbians started to marry while our opponents started gathering the signatures to pass a Constitutional amendment to limit marriage to heterosexual partners.  They succeeded in November 2008 when same-sex marriages were blocked.

Soon after, AFER (American Foundation for Equal Rights) sued the state to overturn Prop 8 because it effectively took away a right that had been deemed fundamental by the Supreme Court according to the state Constitution.  We won the first time when a federal judge, Judge Walker, declared that Prop 8 was unconstitutional.

Our opponents appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals when the new California Governor and his Attorney General both declined to defend Prop 8 because they too considered it unconstitutional.  Their appeal was allowed to proceed at the Circuit court level after the Supreme Court of California declared that they had the right to defend their championed proposition if the legitimate governmental entities declined to do so.  Unfortunately for them, we won a second time when the Ninth Circuit Court sided with us and substantially upheld Judge Walker’s decision.

Unsatisfied, Prop 8’s proponents appealed to the US Supreme Court, which has now declared that they had no standing to defend the proposition in court in the first place, thereby invalidating the Appeals Court’s decision, and rolling history back to Judge Walker’s ruling, officially and permanently ending the travesty that was Proposition 8.

171538738The Appeals Court didn’t even wait for the customary 25-30 days after a Supreme Court’s decision before lifting its stay on gay marriages in the state of California, so just 2 days after the ruling, on June 28, gays and lesbians started to marry again, and the first marriage was performed by none other than the Attorney General herself!!

While ecstatic for the state of California and what it means to re-add the most populous state in the union to the column of the Equality States (now 13 plus DC!!), our personal biggest joy came for the death of Article 3 of DOMA.

DOMA, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, was passed to prevent the federal government from recognizing gay marriages.  It was passed by a panicked GOP when it realized that gay marriage was becoming a reality and signed by a panicked Bill Clinton who, I believe, signed it only to avoid the possibility that a constitutional amendment would be passed instead, something that would have been much harder to undo.

DOMA’s Article 3 held that the federal government didn’t have to recognize any legal same-sex marriage for any federal purpose.  This is utterly unconstitutional and was found to be just that by a 5-4 Court decision that declared it null because it infringed upon our equal rights and due process, and also because of federalism issues.

2vtdoma062713With this ruling, the federal government can no longer withhold federal benefits from legally married same-sex couples.  This brings us well over a thousand federal benefits that were previously denied, including social security, taxation, inheritance and immigration.

DOMA is not completely defunct but its Article 2, which states that individual states don’t have to recognize other states’ same-sex marriages, infringes upon another US Constitution article, and will therefore be struck down as well once it reaches the Supreme Court.  That’s the next battleground.

Ray and I, the death of Article 3 means that my legally wedded husband can now file a green card petition on my behalf just like any straight couple would be allowed to do.  This is something we’ve been waiting for almost 16 years to happen.

After jumping from one visa to the next just so that we can stay together, we’ll finally be able to plan our future without having to worry if it will be here in the States or somewhere else.  I will finally be free from the yoke of uncertainty that has shackled me for all these years.

originalThis momentous decision for gay rights in America means that our family is finally safe from the possibility of getting splintered in just over a year when my work visa would have run out.

Our joy and relief was expressed in tears, hugs, kisses, and boundless joy that lasted for days, and can still be felt.

Our application has been submitted and we know for a fact that it will be approved.  That, my friends, is the meaning of happiness.

Here’s a video compilation put together by AFER about the events surrounding June 26.  Keep the Kleenexes handy:

In Memoriam

Cory Monteith (1982 – 2013)

Cory Monteith

I did not watch Glee, the TV show that made Monteith a TV star, but from all I’ve read and heard about him, he was a good actor and a pleasant guy to work with, and when someone this young leaves us so unexpectedly and suddenly, it’s always very hard to accept.

Unfortunately, he had dealt with the demon of drug addiction for many years, and it looks like it finally won the battle.

R.I.P.

Monday, June 24, 2013

In Memoriam

James Gandolfini (1961 – 2013)

FILM JAMES GANDOLFINI 2

Gandolfini usually acted in supporting roles until he found enduring fame as Tony Soprano in HBO’s masterful The Sopranos, a tough-talking, hard-living crime boss with a stolid exterior but a rich interior life for which he will always be remembered.

He died suddenly at 51 while travelling in Italy of cardiac arrest.

In Memoriam

Ray Harryhausen (1920 - 2013)

Ray HarryhausenUnarguably the father of the visual effects industry that dazzles us in virtually every cinematic creation nowadays, Harryhausen was also a writer and a producer.  He created a form of stop-motion model animation known as "Dynamation":

In the pre-computer-generated-imagery era in which he worked, Harryhausen used the painstaking process of making slight adjustments to the position of his three-dimensional, ball-and-socket-jointed scale models and then shooting them frame-by-frame to create the illusion of movement. Footage of his exotic beasts and creatures was later often combined with live action.

(From Towleroad)

The last one for a while?

One more US state, the 12th (plus the District of Columbia), has joined those already allowing marriage equality.  Minnesota voted for equality about a month ago (I’ve been neglecting my blog for a while, so now I’ll try catching up).

minnesotaWith the vote for marriage equality, Minnesota became the first state in the Midwest to approve marriage equality legislatively rather than being forced to do so by a court order.

We are still holding out hope for Illinois to join the party, but to date it hasn’t happened yet.  Hopefully before the summer is over.

Thank you Minnesota!!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Another Friendly State

Delaware has become the 11th state to pass marriage equality, the 2nd in a week.  Who will be next?

Delaware

A big thank you to all those who worked so hard to make this possible and to all the politicians who stood up for what is right.

As of now, over 50 million people, or one sixth of the United States’ population, live in states that recognize the rights of all their citizens!

Friday, May 03, 2013

1 Country and 1 State

Well, the march towards equality delivered more good news.  Last week France approved same-sex marriage (and gay adoption), albeit not without plenty of controversy, which unfortunately turned violent at times.

france

And just yesterday, Rhode Island became the 10th US state to approve marriage equality after many years of trying.  We now had a favorable Independent Governor, who pushed hard to get the law passed and signed it with pride.

rhode island

Once again, thank you to all those involved for making equality a reality for thousands more gay and lesbian couples!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

2 More Free Countries

Recently Uruguay passed marriage equality, and now New Zealand has joined it and the other free countries of the world in recognizing all of its citizens’ right to the freedom to marry the person you love.

uruguay

new zealand

From Towleroad:

New Zealand has legalized same-sex marriage in a 77-44 vote on a third and final reading of the bill.

The bill will take effect in mid August and comes 27 years after New Zealand decriminalised homosexuality.

Same-sex marriage supporters at the Campaign for Marriage Equality party in Wellington cheered loudly and applauded as the bill was passed into law.

New Zealand joins Uruguay, The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, and Denmark as the 13th nation to offer its citizens nationwide marriage equality.

Brazil, Mexico, and of course, the U.S. offer it in parts of the country.

Thank you!!

Monday, April 01, 2013

Predators

PredatorsThe Gist: A group of people whose line of work involves killing human beings is parachuted on an alien world where they quickly realize they've now turned into the hunted at the hands of highly evolved and merciless creatures. They're now just preys for the local predators.

The locations are absolutely fantastic, both on the planet and in the sky, and made me wish we had a similar array of moons and worlds crowding our skies. Makeup and visual effects are also excellent, as one would expect, but what impressed me most were, unexpectedly, acting and screenplay.

While we have seen other Predator movies before, this version has an original premise that makes it intriguing (even though they never really explain how our group of misfits reached their current destination). The absence of gratuitous, totally absurd, and/or ridiculous events is also a blessing.

The acting is quite good for a “popcorn” movie such as this and goes to show that if you hire people who know how to act, even a light and silly movie such as this can turn out pretty good.

The Bottom Line: I would absolutely recommend this movie to those who love action, sci-fi, or horror movies, especially if you are a fan of the Predator franchise.

Grade: 7

Hotel Transylvania

Hotel TransylvaniaThe Gist: Count Dracula, fearing the demise of all monsters at the hands of humans' cruelty, builds a majestic hotel/residence in a remote location known only to other monsters. His goal is keep them safe, including his only daughter, who has now grown into "adult" age.

The Bottom Line: A fairly entertaining animated movie that is ultimately quite light on its feet, as well as quickly forgotten, Hotel Transylvania doesn't necessarily disappoint either.

Grade: 6

Total Recall

Total RecallThe Gist: A blue collar worker suddenly finds himself hunted down by his wife with no idea of the reasons. His memories also start feeling mixed up with those of a life he doesn't remember living.

I appreciated this movie even though I usually shun remakes as useless wastes of precious resources that could have been put towards creating something original. At first I thought that this was going to be a full on recreation of the cool Arnold Schwarzenegger version from 1990 but thankfully they updated some key aspects of the story and made it somewhat original.

The only problem with the new Total Recall is really just that if you have seen the original, you know the main twist and won't be surprised when it's revealed. This detracts a lot from the overall effectiveness of the final product, unless of course this is the first time you see the movie.

The Bottom Line: A fast-paced, action-packed, visual effects-laden sci-fi movie that is enjoyable and overall well made.

Grade: 7

The Birds

The BirdsThe Gist: A lady with a penchant for mischief follows a man she finds intriguing to Bodega Bay just when all types of birds seems to start behaving badly.

Alfred Hitchcock at his best certainly knew how to create tension and keep it going. His camera work is fantastic, the score jaggedly haunting, the acting good (even though it feels quite dated when judged by today's standards) and the technical aspect (costumes, makeup, sets) very good.

The only gripe I would have is that the visual effects, while obviously good for the time, made me feel jaded because they made me smile more than feel impressed. A sign of the times we live in I guess, a time when pretty much everything we see in a movie feels so unbelievably real, we can hardly doubt it.

The Bottom Line: The Birds is a Hollywood classic for a reason. The story is compelling and the whole movie is artfully and professionally crafted from beginning to end with the utmost of cares. A must-see.

Grade: 8

Labyrinth, by Kate Moss

Labyrinth by Kate MosseThis book left me wanting and a bit disappointed. The story is interesting for sure, but the final product leaves a lot to be desired, especially as far as the writer’s style is concerned.

The book tells the story of the Grail, which has been recounted in many different ways. Labyrinth offers its own take and it is quite ingenious and original, almost plausible, so definitely a step up from like Raiders of the Lost Ark, which saw the Grail as what we all think of, the cup of Christ from the Last Supper, which gives eternal life to all who drink from it.

I won't spoil what the Grail is in Labyrinth of course but I will say that the story follows two heroines in two timelines.

I liked the events occurring in both and the unfolding of the plot is well laid out by the author, and yet, I was not a fan of all her literary flourishes. She clearly loves France and the towns described in the book, but she often gets lost in needless detailed descriptions of streets, lampposts, benches, storefronts, hats, clothes, trees, rivers, clouds, etc… I got the feeling that she strived to paint a picture for the reader as if we were there with the characters, but it is just too much and too long winded. So many times I was thinking, "Alright, I got it, now let's move on with the plot please."

I still remember a whole description of the area surrounding one character's apartment that must have been several pages long on paper (almost half a chapter it seemed) and was ultimately useless to the plot. That kind of detour is not really my thing in a book.

The other issue I had was with the (blessedly) few head-shaking moments when I would go, "Come on, how is she not seeing that!" or "Well, that would never happen in reality…"

Unfortunately, those negative aspects would bring down the level of any work and that is a pity because, like I said, the basic idea and the general construct are solid for sure, so much so that I started reading another book by Ms. Moss that I own.

Grade: 6

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern WildThe Gist: A little girl living in the Louisiana bayou is faced with the need to grow up quickly because of her father’s ill health and alcoholism and the constant threat to their lives posed by the powerful and capricious weather.

While I usually reserve judgment whenever child actors are involved, Quvenzhané Wallis as the little Hushpuppy comes across as a fantastic actress.  It will be interesting to see how her career evolves and where she will be 20 or 30 years from now.  And while it might be a boon for her future work chances, I have the feeling that in a few years it will feel scary and intimidating to already have a Best Actress Academy Award to her name, not to mention the need of having to prove herself.

The screenplay is certainly very original, the acting good across the board, and even in the technical department the movie is quite well made.

The Bottom Line: While I appreciated the acting and the originality of the story, I was quite surprised that a movie like Beasts of the Southern Wild would be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.  A little slow here and there and at times even esoteric, its pick left me even more puzzled than An Education’s did a couple years back.  This is a very artistic- and independent-like movie, so it’s not for everybody.

Grade: 7

Monday, February 25, 2013

The 85th Annual Academy Awards - The Winners

This year’s Oscars ceremony just ended and I have to say I couldn’t be more pleased with both the ceremony itself and the overall winners.

Seth MacFarlane, at his first hosting gig for pretty much anything, was funny, energetic, and had great timing.  His voice over for the skit of his Ted and Mark Wahlberg was great, he used his very beautiful and sultry voice for some very funny songs (his closing one with Kristin Chenoweth is a case in point), and he was never out of pace, boring, or awkward.

The stage was beautiful and used very effectively and dynamically.  I was amazed to find out that the live orchestra this year wasn’t actually in the Kodak theater but in another building across the street.  Everything went down without a glitch.

I liked:

  • Seth’s initial zinger to the Academy about snubbing Ben Affleck for Argo.
  • His song “We Saw Your Boobs” interspersed by some of the actresses’ reactions.
  • Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum’s dance routine, as well as Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s.
  • The dresses of Octavia Spencer and Jennifer Lawrence (the latter looked like a princess at the ball).
  • Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy’s routine, as well as that of the five guys from The Avengers.
  • Nora Jones’ performance of her song for Ted.  Not only was it good, but it was also perfectly placed, injecting some needed energy this late in the telecast.  It also explained the apparent snub of having only Adele perform her song.  Given that Les Misérables’s song had already been performed earlier in the ceremony, evidently the producers couldn’t secure the original performers for the other two songs and opted not to have them performed by someone else instead (a wise choice in my opinion).  The clips from the movies were very satisfying.

I loved:

  • The tribute to the 007 franchise, both the montage and the performance of the great Shirley Bassey (damn those are powerful pipes!!).
  • The tribute to the musicals: Catherine Zeta-Jones was great, Jennifer Hudson (that voice!!) was phenomenal, and the cast of Les Misérables almost brought me to tears and gave me goose bumps.  I can’t wait to see that movie now.
  • Adele’s performance, even though there were some sound issues and at times her voice felt suffocated (the song was also inexplicably shortened here and there).
  • The Gay Men’s Chorus.
  • Barbra Streisand, who sang a wonderful tribute to her beloved Marvin Hamlisch, a great composer who left us suddenly and too soon.  When she appeared at the end of the In Memoriam montage, right under Hamlisch’s portrait, it became clear how the producers had managed to convince her to sing at the Oscars after 36 years.  She was clearly overwhelmed by his memory.  A really memorable and classy performance.  She almost felt mystical.
  • Michelle Obama’s appearance at the end of the telecast and her announcing the Best Picture winner.  A remarkable feat pulled by this year’s great producing team!

So it is without further ado that I present the list of winners with some interspersed commentary:

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Winner:
Argo: Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, George Clooney
So glad that Ben Affleck’s movie triumphed.  It is the best revenge for having been snubbed in the Best Director category and his speech was very nice.


Other Nominees:
Amour: To Be Determined
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Michael Gottwald
Django Unchained: Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone
Les Misérables: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh
Life of Pi: Gil Netter, Ang Lee, David Womark
Lincoln: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy
Silver Linings Playbook: Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon
Zero Dark Thirty: Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow, Megan Ellison

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Winner:
Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
Likely the most inevitable winner of the night, Day-Lewis gave a gracious and funny speech and quite surely deserved the win.  It’s still a little upsetting to thing that while last year it seemed like such a big deal to hand out the third Oscar to Meryl Streep (a woman), this year no one even mentioned the fact that Day-Lewis (a man) would have brought home his third Oscar.  Go figure…

Other Nominees:
Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook
Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix for The Master
Denzel Washington for Flight

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Winner:
Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
Another win that seemed inevitable, I’m happy for her because from what I have seen of her work she’s a very good actress with a brilliant future ahead.  I just wish it had gone to Naomi Watts, another fantastic actress who will not likely come upon many other chances to the home the little bald guy.

Other Nominees:
Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty
Emmanuelle Riva for Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts for The Impossible

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Winner:
Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
One of the night many upsets, I had expected Tommy Lee Jones to win this category.  Waltz is now 2 for 2, but he’s really a wonderful actor, so I’m not that bitter.  I’m just glad it didn’t go to Robert De Niro, whose chances had lately gone up substantially, given that this onetime great actor hadn’t done any appreciable work in over 2 decades!!

Other Nominees:
Alan Arkin for Argo
Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master
Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Winner:
Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables
The second most inevitable win of the night after Best Actor, Hathaway finally took home her long sought after Oscar.  She gave a nice speech and was gracious as always.  I can’t wait to see her in Les Misérables.

Other Nominees:
Amy Adams for The Master
Sally Field for Lincoln
Helen Hunt for The Sessions
Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook

Best Achievement in Directing

Winner:
Ang Lee for Life of Pi
A big upset by Ang Lee over Spielberg, who was somewhat considered the shoo-in given Affleck’s absence in this category.  My friend Vittorio and I are convinced that there was some sort of software glitch in the online voting that assigned all of Affleck’s votes to other candidates (likely Haneke and/or Zeitlin).  Either way, from what I’ve heard of Life of Pi, this win was well deserved.  Lee is now the first director in the history of the Oscars to have won 2 Best Director Oscars without his movies taking home the top prize.
UPDATE: I stand corrected!  I had jumped on this bandwagon before verifying the information and it looks like Ang Lee is far from the only director to ever win 2 Best Director Oscars without the corresponding movie taking Best Picture.  From The Film Experience:
He is not however the only director to win twice despite having never directed a Best Picture winner. That trick was also performed by Frank Borzage in the late 20s/early 30s (his two wins: Bad Girl lost to Grand Hotel, and Seventh Heaven lost to Wings), George Stevens in the 50s (his two wins: Giant lost to Around the World in Eighty Days and A Place in the Sun lost to An American in Paris). [Note: John Ford actually won Best Director without winning Best Picture THREE times. But for How Green Was My Valley he won Best Director and the film also won Best Picture]

Other Nominees:
Michael Haneke for Amour
David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen


Winner:
Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino
What can I say, I’m not a fan of the guy.  Some of his work I enjoy, other I just don’t get or detest.  He sure looked like a slob on stage.

Other Nominees:
Amour: Michael Haneke
Flight: John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty: Mark Boal

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published


Winner:
Argo: Chris Terrio
From what I heard, Terrio adapted the whole movie from a magazine article about the whole Iranian ordeal.  Quite the feat!

Other Nominees:
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi: David Magee
Lincoln: Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook: David O. Russell

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Winner:
Brave: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Another upset, give that Wreck-It Ralph was the heavy favorite, but a win for Pixar is always welcome in my book.  Mark Andrews in that kilt looked totally hot!

Other Nominees:
Frankenweenie: Tim Burton
ParaNorman: Sam Fell, Chris Butler
The Pirates! Band of Misfits: Peter Lord
Wreck-It Ralph: Rich Moore

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Winner:
Amour: Michael Haneke(Austria)
Given Amour’s nomination for Best Picture, a prize it could never win, as well as other main categories, no other movie really had any chances here.

Other Nominees:
War Witch: Kim Nguyen(Canada)
No: Pablo Larraín(Chile)
A Royal Affair: Nikolaj Arcel(Denmark)
Kon-Tiki: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg(Norway)

Best Achievement in Cinematography


Winner:
Life of Pi: Claudio Miranda

Other Nominees:
Anna Karenina: Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained: Robert Richardson
Lincoln: Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall: Roger Deakins

Best Achievement in Editing


Winner:
Argo: William Goldenberg

Other Nominees:
Life of Pi: Tim Squyres
Lincoln: Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook: Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers
Zero Dark Thirty: William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor

Best Achievement in Production Design


Winner:
Lincoln: Rick Carter, Jim Erickson

Other Nominees:
Anna Karenina: Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent, Simon Bright
Les Misérables: Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson
Life of Pi: David Gropman, Anna Pinnock

Best Achievement in Costume Design


Winner:
Anna Karenina: Jacqueline Durran

Other Nominees:
Les Misérables: Paco Delgado
Lincoln: Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror: Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman: Colleen Atwood

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling


Winner:
Les Misérables: Lisa Westcott, Julie Dartnell

Other Nominees:
Hitchcock: Howard Berger, Peter Montagna, Martin Samuel
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Peter King, Rick Findlater, Tami Lane

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score


Winner:
Life of Pi: Mychael Danna

Other Nominees:
Anna Karenina: Dario Marianelli
Argo: Alexandre Desplat
Lincoln: John Williams
Skyfall: Thomas Newman

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song


Winner:
Skyfall: Adele, Paul Epworth("Skyfall")
So happy for Adele and she got so emotional even though her win was totally expected.  It just goes to show how “real” she is deep down.  GO ADELE!!

Other Nominees:
Chasing Ice: J. Ralph("Before My Time")
Les Misérables: Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer("Suddenly")
Life of Pi: Mychael Danna, Bombay Jayshree("Pi's Lullaby")
Ted: Walter Murphy, Seth MacFarlane("Everybody Needs a Best Friend")

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing


Winner:
Les Misérables: Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Simon Hayes

Other Nominees:
Argo: John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, José Antonio García
Life of Pi: Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Drew Kunin
Lincoln: Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, Ron Judkins
Skyfall: Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, Stuart Wilson

Best Achievement in Sound Editing


Winner:
Zero Dark Thirty: Paul N.J. Ottosson
&
Skyfall: Per Hallberg, Karen M. Baker
Witnessing an actual tie is such a rarity that this prize became an immediate sensation!

Other Nominees:
Argo: Erik Aadahl, Ethan Van der Ryn
Django Unchained: Wylie Stateman
Life of Pi: Eugene Gearty, Philip Stockton

Best Achievement in Visual Effects


Winner:
Life of Pi: Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik De Boer, Donald Elliott

Other Nominees:
The Avengers: Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, Daniel Sudick
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White
Prometheus: Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley, Martin Hill
Snow White and the Huntsman: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Phil Brennan, Neil Corbould, Michael Dawson

Best Documentary, Features


Winner:
Searching for Sugar Man: Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn

Other Nominees:
5 Broken Cameras: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi
The Gatekeepers: To Be Determined
How to Survive a Plague: To Be Determined
The Invisible War: To Be Determined

Best Documentary, Short Subjects

Winner:
Inocente: Sean Fine, Andrea Nix

Other Nominees:
Kings Point: Sari Gilman, Jedd Wider
Mondays at Racine: Cynthia Wade, Robin Honan
Open Heart: Kief Davidson, Cori Shepherd Stern
Redemption: Jon Alpert, Matthew O'Neill

Best Short Film, Animated

Winner:

Paperman: John Kahrs

Other Nominees:
Adam and Dog: Minkyu Lee
Fresh Guacamole: PES
Head Over Heels: Timothy Reckart, Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly
The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare: David Silverman

Best Short Film, Live Action

Winner:
Curfew: Shawn Christensen

Other Nominees:
Asad: Bryan Buckley, Mino Jarjoura
Buzkashi Boys: Sam French, Ariel Nasr
Death of a Shadow: Tom Van Avermaet, Ellen De Waele
Henry: Yan England

So that concludes the 2013 Oscar marathon.  The ceremony went grossly overtime but it was so entertaining I could have sat there another hour!!

My only disappointment is that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a movie that’s technically impeccable, went home empty handed.  Hopefully the dragon that will take center stage in the second chapter will bring some gold to the trilogy.

It’s a wrap, see you next year!!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Chronicle

ChronicleThe Gist: Three teenagers find an underground cave hiding a mysterious crystal that confers amazing telekinetic powers on them.  The three play with their newfound abilities at first, developing them gradually like any other muscle, but after a while things start to go seriously wrong.

Many Hollywood productions stand to learn a lot from this obviously bite-size budget movie.  While the visual effects are impressive for this level of production, it’s the simple and well structured screenplay that ultimately makes it a success.

The eye candy provided by Michael B. Jordan and, above all, Alex Russell doesn’t hurt…

The Bottom Line: A very interesting take on superhero-style powers and what can happen when they are bestowed upon regular folks.  Don’t dismiss it as a sci-fi movie though, it’s has nothing to do with the comic book fare plaguing us of late.  It’s original and cool at the same time.  A good movie overall.

Grade: 7

The Sword in the Stone

The Sword in the StoneThe Gist: A young orphan stumbles upon Merlin, a great wizard, who teaches him to become more than he thinks he is and more than everyone around him thinks he can be.

I knew the story of the boy who is able to pull the sword out of the stone when no one else could and is automatically made King of England, but I had never seen the movie version.

I found it well made but I also found a few scenes to be gratuitous in that they almost felt like they were put there to have an extra song or make the feature a bit longer.

The Bottom Line: Definitely a safe movie for the whole family.  The story is interesting and even funny at times.

Grade: 7

So God Made A Gay Man

Another great video from Towleroad:

So God Made A Gay Man (from CrewMagazine.com) from Crew Magazine on Vimeo.