Thursday, December 1, 2011

Re: Awesome Soundtrack

So the Grammy Nominations came out yesterday, and while that may not necessarily be a huge deal to the movie industry, I wanted to take a look at best movie scores. As I suspected and predicted, the Tron Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk recieved a nomination, and could very well win. I hope they do (and accept the award wearing their robot helmets).

Also, wanted to give a shout out to Clint Mansell, for his nomination for his work on Black Swan. That movie was phenomenol (I love Aronofsky). The soundtrack to that film was something else, and I was a little disappointed when it didn't garner any Oscar love. Mansell has a long list of movies on his resume and his worked with Aronofsky many times, including: Requiem for a Dream, Pi, The Fountain, and The Wrestler. Apparently they always work together... because that's all of Aronofsky's movies... Mansell has also done soundtracks for Moon, Definitely, Maybe, Smokin' Aces, and Sahara, amongst others. This is Mansell's second Grammy nomination, his first being for The Fountain.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Biz: Moneyball

So this is going to be a pretty special feature, with this post appearing both here, on Cream City, but also on my baseball blog, Brewing Beerball. Never really though I'd get that fun overlap, but here we are.

So, I really wanted to see this movie. Largly because of my love of baseball and my enjoyment of the book, but also because of the awesome cast and crew that was rounded up for this feature. The director here is Bennett Miller, who isn't the biggest name in the world but did bring us the gem, Capote. Probably the biggest name here is Acadamy Award winner Aaron Sorkin, who wrote the screen play. The book here goes by the same title, and was written (and written well, seriously, read it) by Michael Lewis, who is also the man responsible for the book behind the film Blind Side. On the Cast side we start with Brad Pitt as the main character Billy Beane (the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics). Jonah Hill does a fine job as his assistant, Peter Brand, and Philip Seymour Hoffman supports as the A's Manager, Art Howe.

First, a rant. I'm generally opposed to whatever this trend in film is. I'm going to blame it on the popularity of stuff like "reality" television. This trend is, of course, making movies about current events. Two of the three I will complain about were Lewis', Moneyball and Blind Side. Now this isn't Lewis' fault, as his books were really almost documentary in form, with a fun to follow dialogue by the author. The third is Aaron Sorkin's other work, Social Network. All of these things are still happening... Billy Beane is still the GM of the A's. Mark Zuckerberg is still running Facebook and facing lawsuits. Michael Oher still playing in the NFL. The real problem is that people see these as true things, but they're not, they're fictionalizations. Aaron Sorkin commented on this himself regarding Social Network, that it's not a true story, it's a movie, based on a book, based on a story. People don't know this though and it bothers me. Rant over.

Moneyball follows Billy Beane through a baseball season with him at the helm of the generally broke Oakland A's. He realizes that considering the disparaging amount of resources at the disposal of different teams he must do something different. The movie chronicles what happened to him over the course of this season, and also looks back at Beane's own life.

The story overall, is great. The acting great. The visuals great. I think it does a pretty fine job of energizing what really isn't a whole lot of anything. It's people taking about baseball, and as much as I myself love to do that, making a movie about it doesn't seem entirely intriging. Michael Lewis' book was fun because it described in much more detail the people involved. Some of the players and secondary staff introduced in the movie have entire chapters in the book. So that was handled well. I saw the film with my mother, who is not a sports person. She like it even more than I did. I'll say that's because I happen to know more about baseball than the movie showed, and really the story of Beane is kinda old by now.

All things aside, this is a good "underdog" type story which enlightens the public on a lighten known, truly revolutionizing period in baseball. The film is well made in all regards. I need to give it a 3 out of 4 stars, and I really don't see a reason a person wouldn't at least enjoy watching this.

Side note: The Oakland A's really developed a fantastic run during the years depicted in the film, however, the A's are currently in a rut and have not been a winning organization for some time. The ending of the film shows a brighter outlook, and makes the viewer feel like Beane won, or accomplished something. But really it's an ongoing process. One of the reasons I love baseball.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Industry: Awesome Soundtrack

So, here is a musing I have been working on for some time. Has anyone else noticed the recent trend in a band, writing and creating entire soundtracks for movies? Now I will say that I cannot recall things like this happening some time ago, but I'm not old. I could use the input from some older people. However, I have noticed in the last several years this happening, and being both awesome and succesful.

Where the Wild Things Are--Arcade Fire and Karen O
Tron: Legacy--Daft Punk
The Social Network--Trent Reznor
Hanna--Chemical Brothers

"Wild Things" soundtrack was nominated for a Golden Globe
Tron was nominated for best soundtrack by the Central Ohio and Los Vegas Film Critics, but let's get serious, it was sweet (and had one of the cooler cameos I think I've ever seen...)
Reznor won the Oscar (I disagree with the choice myself, but still, it helps my theory here)
Hanna is still pretty new, but has already been nominated for a "World Soundtrack Award"

Another interesting thing to note is that some of the soundtracks are really great on their own, namely Arcade's work on Wild Things, and others, while balling with the movie, where "meh" independently. I left the theatre after Hanna super excited about the soundtrack, went home and got it, then decided I never needed to listen to it again (without the movie that is, which I bought).

So that's that for now. Throw some more out there if you know them, especially older older things, curious if this really is a new trend or if it's something that's happened before.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Biz: Ides of March

Now here is a big time Hollywood film about a subject that is pretty serious and heavy, and I don't think theres been something of this type, magnitude, and just pure drama out for some time. You couldn't ask for a better cast. Paul Giamatti, George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Thome... Not to mention this was (co)wrote and directed by Clooney himself. Also, on an interesting side note, Leonardo DiCaprio had an executive producer credit...whatever that means.

I haven't seen a movie that was that "sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat" dramatic in I don't know how long. This one was of those films. It follows a high level staffer (Gosling) on a presidential campaign who gets pulled into some serious stuff. This movie isn't really about a transition of a person, I think the timeline for all of that is too short (takes place over a time frame of something like 2 or 3 weeks), but there definitely is a change in Gosling's character over the realization of, well, lots of things. My only real issue with the story is that I feel that a person who is supposedly as good at his job as Gosling's character is probably should have seen some of these things coming.

Acting is top notch, overall the script is good. The visuals are pretty nice, with a generally dark tone that adds to the tense atmosphere. If you have ever worked in politics this is probably a film for you. Perhaps if you're a top level guy things in Ides will just seem silly, but me personally, whose worked some campaigns and lived in DC, I'm pretty sure I got some jokes that others didn't, such as repeated references to going back and working on K street, which for those of you who don't know is a main drag in downtown Washington DC.

I give this 3.5 out of 4 stars. A really must see for anyone who can appreciate a drama.

Also, what portion of people do you think who saw this film even know what happend on the Ides of March? Et tu Brute?


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Foreign Flicks: TrollHunter

Hello Everyone! As promised I have returned. This time with a dandy out of Norway, TrollHunter (Trolljegeren). This is a feaux documentary which works out rather well. I wouldn't call it hokey in the least. I won't lie, the plot isn't the most developed, but you can kinda get away with that when the movie was supposedly shot by a bunch of college kids... The characters are pretty good overall with some good lines (TROLL!!!! probably being the best). The title character, aka Hans, is a pretty cool guy, and well played. The Trolls, are pretty cool, no generic sci-fi channel kind of stuff. Not really important to the movie itself, but the scenary is beautiful, apparently Norway is just a country of gorgeous landscapes... A light and fun movie, it is definitely worth the watch. Three out of four stars.

I'm Back! Review: 13 Assassins

Hello everyone.

It's been a long time away. I took a break while finishing up school and then never seemed to get going again. Well here I am. Back to it and hopefully now things will be in the full swing again.

Review! Foreign Film! 13 Assassins!

This is a fairly new release from Japanese director Takashi Miike, perhaps most well known for his film Ichi the Killer. What to say. This is really your prototypical Samurai pick. The kicker here however is that instead of being made thirty to fifty years ago it's a modern piece, shot in col er, and shot well. The visuals are striking, it's gritty and real, to go along with great scenery and sets.

Being a samurai flick you get kinda what you're expecting. A somewhat slow pace ripe with duty and honor. Also, here you get one hell of a climactic ending. The final fight scene goes something like a half of and hour, and it's worth it too.

Really, nothing here to complain about. Perhaps a bit tedious in the middle, but as long as you pay attention and follow the story it's worth it.

Everything has been done well, a very effective film doing what predecessors did, but you know, better. Worth the watch for a follower of the genre, and probably not a bad intro to it either, easier to follow and with bright fancy colors to draw people in to what is truly a great style of film. 3 stars.

That's that for now. See everyone soon.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review: The Baader Meinhof Complex

This film was an Acadamy Award nominee last year (2009) for best foreign film and it should be fairly easy to see why. Overall a very good movie. I'll give it 3 stars, borderline 3 and a half... Directed by Uli Edel, an explosive coming out for a man who has been around for a while, but had yet to put out a big-time movie, largly doing TV flicks prior to this.

This movie follows a group of Leftist radicals in 1970's era West Germany. I understand that it is somewhat true to history. I enjoy the way it was done in that no side was really taken, and it did not seem to be propagandistic at all, just telling a story. Though this story is told from the point of view of the group members. The action is ripping and the story is gripping. As the story line follows this movement and the organization called RAF (Red Army Faction) from its origins through about a decade of struggle.

The acting was rather good all around, especially I think by the character Ulrike, played by Martina Gedeck, and the lead, Moritz Bleibtreu, was nominated for his work.

The main negative I have read and I definitely agree on is the lack of character development at some points. The story moves along at quite a pace, as the movie makers are trying to get a lot in (and this isn't a short movie, over two and a half hours (it starts to drag just a bit at the end)). There are points of conflict between major characters that are somewhat difficult to understand, and I think that's because the development there was sacrificed for more breadth of story. This film is obviously in German, but I was thrown for a loop a couple of times when English is randomly spoken, and all of a sudden the subtitles were gone...

This is worth a watch. There is quite a bit of violence, some of it rather graphic, but it is not really gorey or anything like that, but we'll be serious, you're going to see people get shot in the head.

Watch this movie. Overall extremely quality. A solid three stars for sure.