Thursday, January 31, 2008

Return of the Saturday Film Forum

Yes, you have heard it here first! The Saturday Film Forum will return to the Huntington Beach Library starting on March 8th. Hopefully some of you made it the first Forum where I screened four wonderful Johnny Depp films. This time we will be going to France with the program: Cinema Fran├žaise: Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves. The films and schedule is as follows: March 8th, Chocolat (of course I will start with a Johnny Depp film!); April 12th, Charade; May 3rd, French Kiss and May 31st, Moulin Rouge! (the Baz Luhrmann musical). Fortunately, for this program I will able to use the Library Theatre; big screen, great sound, comfy seats! What’s not to love?? As before, the program will start at 2pm and I will be giving a short talk about each film prior to the screening. I am still trying to decide what sort of give away I will do but there will be some prizes involved! So mark your calendars and join us for our journey into cinematic France!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What a marvelous night for a: Sundance

Before we make our Oscar predictions (and I WILL be asking you for your top picks!), I wanted to mention the Sundance Film Festival. The Festival started on January 17th and just ended last Sunday, January 27th. Sundance continually makes the list of top ten film festivals in the world. Like Toronto, it showcases independent talent and world class documentaries.
This year the awards went to:
The Grand Jury Prize winner for U.S. Dramatic films , *Frozen River, centers on a woman in upstate New York struggling to provide food for her kids - until she is drawn into a smuggling ring carrying illegal immigrants from Canada through the Mohawk Indian reservation. The Grand Jury Prize for U.S. documentaries, Trouble the Water, focuses on Kimberly Rivers Roberts and Scott Roberts, a couple from New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward during Hurricane Katrina - and features footage shot by Kimberly on her camcorder as the floodwaters forced the family to seek refuge in the attic. I heard Kenneth Turan speak on both of these films. He says the mere description of plot doesn’t do either justice. Both were powerful films that are worth waiting to see in your local theaters!

In the World Cinema: Documentary category, the top honors from both the Jury and the audience were presented to Man on Wire, which chronicles French artist Philippe Petit's daring dance on a wire suspended between New York's Twin Towers and his subsequent arrest for what would become known as “the artistic crime of the century”.
Audience awards went to the documentary, Fields of Fuel about America's addiction to oil, and the drama *The Wackness about a teen drug dealer.

A Special Jury Prize was awarded to *Choke for Work by an Ensemble Cast (Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, Kelly MacDonald, Brad Henke). The film is an adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's (Fight Club) novel by the same name.

(* means the film has a distribution deal. Hopefully they all will get distribution now that they have won awards at Sundance!)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Heath Ledger – Too Young to Go

By now I am sure you have all heard that on a day that all film fans should be celebrating (the day of the Oscar nominations- more on that soon), we lost a talented and very young actor. HBPL Media department carries the following Heath Ledger films: 10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot, A Knight’s Tale, Monster’s Ball, Four Feathers, Brother’s Grimm, Brokeback Mountain and Cassanova. It is always sad when someone so young (celebrity or not) leaves us too soon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Intriguing Choices of Christian Bale

I don’t know how many of you tuned in last Sunday for the “press conference” that was the Golden Globes, but, good grief, was it boring!! Combined with the Writer’s strike and the lack of new programming, I am expecting many of you to be checking out lots of DVD’s from our Media department. Last weekend, I nabbed a copy of 3:10 to Yuma. Although I like Russell Crowe, the main draw for me was Christian Bale. He first came on the Hollywood radar as a boy in Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun. He then worked his way through films like Newsies and Swing Kids before changing his whole previous image with American Psycho. From “Psycho” on, he has made some very interesting choices! As far as I am concerned, he has been the best Batman of the franchise (he will be once again be Bruce Wayne in the upcoming Batman: The Dark Knight (due out this year). He has also given very compelling performances in Harsh Times, Rescue Dawn and The Prestige. My personal favorite (which was almost surpassed by 3:10 to Yuma) is The Machinist. The plot is twisted and bizarre (see my blog entry Friday, August 31, 2007 for description) but if you loved Memento, then The Machinist might just be for you! (All of his films except American Psycho are available from the HBPL Media department).

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Let The Games Begin!

For twenty-something years, I have had an Oscar bet with a high school friend of mine. We bet on almost every category (except short films). Sometimes he wins, sometimes I do; it makes watching the Oscars more interesting (than it already is!!). How do we make our choices? I try to see most of the films but I also pay attention to the other awards and guild nominations. If you want to get the pulse of the movie industry, have a look at some of these:

Golden Globes: Sunday, January 13, 2008
SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards: Sunday, January 27, 2008
Independent Spirit Awards: Saturday February 23, 2008
(As of January 2nd, the Writer’s Guild has NOT given a waiver to the Golden Globes. They have given them to both the SAG Awards and the Independent Spirits. According to the WGA, they will be picketing the Golden Globes. It will make it difficult for celebrities to cross the picket line to attend and without celebs…poor Golden Globes.)

And of course my “mother ship” of award shows:
Oscars: nominations announced: Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Oscar telecast: Sunday, February 24, 2008

Some of the film critics have already made their picks for the best of 2007:
New York Film Critics:
Best Picture: No Country for Old Men
Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Best Actress: Julie Christie (Away From Her)
Director: Joel and Ethan Cohen (No Country For Old Men)
Boston Society of Film Critics:
Best Picture: No Country for Old Men
Best Actor: Frank Langella (Starting Out in the Evening)
Best Actress: Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
Director: Julian Schnabel (Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
Los Angeles Film Critics:
Best Picture: There Will Be Blood
Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Best Actress: Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)
National Board of Review:
Best Picture: No Country for Old Men
Best Actor: George Clooney (Michael Clayton)
Best Actress: Julie Christie (Away From Her)
Director: Tim Burton (Sweeney Todd)

Two of the films that have some of the top nominations are already available at HBPL. Media currently has Away From Her and La Vie En Rose!
So as I like to say to my Oscar betting buddy: Let the Games Begin!