Tag Archives: cinematography

Trailer Thursday: “Kumiko the Treasure Hunter”

Every year around this time you hear some art house hipster complaining that the Independent Spirit Awards have somehow “gone Hollywood.” And while I can see how some people might think that — especially considering how much overlap there is these days between the Spirit Awards and the Oscars — actually, many of the films celebrated at the Spirit Awards are as freaking weird and independent as they come.

This year, there were two movies that got me excited enough to think about actually paying (!) to see them in a theatre. I know, shocking, huh? The first one was writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour’s B&W Iranian vampire spaghetti western A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night which, well, kind of had me at B&W Iranian vampire spaghetti western. So cool!

And the second movie was Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter. Starring Academy Award nominee Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) as a young Japanese woman on a quest to find buried treasure in the frozen American heartland, the movie looks just as cool as the concept sounds.

Scoring two Spirit Award nominations this season, one for Best Director (David Zellner) and a Best Actress nod for Kikuchi, Kumiko opens next month in select theatres and I, for one, cannot wait to see it. So, check out the badass trailer below and let me know what you think!

 

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Oscar Nominees 2015

OK, let’s just start with the biggest upset of the morning, no LEGO Movie Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature? What the hell?! To steal a line that has been tweeting around the internet all morning: everything is NOT awesome. Seriously, even the Best Original Song nomination for the film’s crazy-addictive “Everything is Awesome” can’t numb the pain of losing out on what many considered to be sure bet for Best Animated Feature. Wow…still totally shocked.

Also very disappointed to see Nightcrawler’s Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo overlooked in the acting categories. They both deserved serious consideration for their stellar work in the film, but, I am thrilled to see it score a Best Original Screenplay nod for writer/director Dan Gilroy. Nightcrawler was one of my favorite films last year and I’m definitely rooting for Gilroy to take home the gold, so, rock on, dude!

If I had one major gripe — aside from the two mentioned above — it’s that the Academy showered so much love and so many nominations on movies that, in my mind, were just OK. I mean, seriously, Whiplash and Foxcatcher for Best Picture? Yikes…

And while I’m delighted to see J.K. Simmons finally getting some Oscar love for his kick-ass turn in Whiplash, I gotta say, the rest of the movie is completely overrated. A total “actors movie” with a lot of showy stuff going on but not much else. Same thing with Foxcatcher. Again, very happy to see Steve Carrell finally snare a richly-deserved Best Actor nod, but, beyond the acting the movie was a mess and the fact that it scored Best Adapted Screenplay and Director nods is completely flabbergasting. Wow…

On the plus side, I actually yelped out loud (OK, more like screamed) when Laura Dern’s name was read in the Best Supporting Actress category. She gave an absolutely transcendent performance in Wild and if you ask me, this is her time to shine. She was the heart and soul of the film and literally lit up the screen with her powerful, soulful work. I think she was my favorite nomination this morning. Very excited for her!

I’m also totally stoked to see Boyhood continuing it’s climb to the top in a very chaotic award season. This movie has haunted me more than any other this year and I’m hoping it wins everything it’s nominated for. And yes, I know that means Patricia Arquette would beat Laura Dern in the Best Supporting Actress race, but, hey, there’s room for more than badass mother performance, so, I’m hoping for a tie!

Another cool surprise was the Best Original Song nomination for “Lost Stars” from another one of my favorite films last year, Begin Again. That movie was amazing and even if they didn’t get nominated for their performances in the film, I’m gonna pretend that Kiera Knightley and Mark Ruffalo’s Oscar nominations this morning — for The Imitation Game and Foxcatcher, respectively — were for that movie instead. Either way, glad the stodgy old Academy remembered this lovely film.

And speaking of memory (I know, nice transition here, sorry) I am so excited to see Julianne Moore in the Best Actress race for her career-best work in Still Alice. That movie devastated me and her performance is definitely the stuff Oscar gold is made of. And if you ask me, it’s about freaking time Moore takes home an Academy Award. No one even came close to her this year…she’s probably the one sure bet this season and she deserves everything she gets. Rock on, red!

And even though Guardians of the Galaxy missed out on a Best Picture nomination, it did score a Writers Guild of America nomination last week and picked up two Oscar nods this morning as well. One for Best Visual Effects, (go, Groot!) and one for Best Make-up and Hairstyling (go, Gamora!) so, I’m not complaining. On a related note, it was very cool to see something other than stuffy English period films in the Best Costume Design category with Maleficent and Inherent Vice picking up surprise and totally deserving nominations. Rock on, crazy Maleficent horns!

Speaking of Inherent Vice, even though I only liked the first hour of the film (which is perfect!) and it descended into total madness in the second half, I have to admit I am glad to see writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Knowing Oscar voters, who have a rich history of rewarding people for the wrong movies, Anderson, who should have won for Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood, will finally win an Oscar for his work here.

The bad news is that two really deserving writers got totally shut out in Anderson’s Adapted Screenplay category. Novelist Nick Hornby’s script for Wild was incredible and deeply moving. And though I haven’t seen it yet, Gilian Flynn’s adaptation of her novel Gone Girl is supposed to be pretty badass too. Sadly, their slots got taken by the likes of total groaners like Foxcatcher and Whiplash instead. Oy…makes me want to groan again.

And finally, even though Bradley Cooper knocked Jake Gyllenhaal out of the Best Actor race, Cooper gave one of the best male performances of the year in American Sniper and I was really glad to see the film pick up so many nods this year. It’s a really great flick with a, pardon my French, fucking doozy of an ending. Amazing!

OK, that’s all for now. You can find a complete list of this year’s nominees here. And, as always, I’m dying to hear what you guys think of this year’s crop of nominees, so, comment away!

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Date Night Movie: “Cloud Atlas”

The other day I realized that Hollywood award season is almost the only time of year that my wife and I see movies outside of the house. And when we see movies, we see a lot of them. Like, a whole year’s worth in two or three months. Then we’re burnt out and don’t see anything on a big screen again until summer. Thank God for Redbox!

So, I decided to highlight some of the movies we’ve been seeing lately in a new, hopefully regular, series I call “Date Night Movies”. Here I will blog about movies that I think are not only worth seeing on the big screen but, also worth dressing up and hiring a babysitter for. Now, before I get to the main event, let me touch on something we saw last month…

A few weeks back, Mrs. Yeti and I went to a screening of Argo and it was incredible. The acting, writing and directing was all first-rate and not only was the whole movie edge-of-your-seat thrilling, but it was also funny as hell, even if you don’t get all the insider Hollywood jokes. So, it’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you like to see all the possible Oscar nominees — judging by the reaction so far, Argo is sure to snare a Best Picture nod — before they get nominated.

That said, the movie I want to talk about today is Cloud Atlas. My brother and I went to a screening of Atlas the other night and, despite a few flaws, we loved it. Actually, I think the flaws made me like it even more because they highlighted the colossal effort it took to make something this bold. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the plot, but, as you’ve no doubt seen from the trailer, the movie is as big and epic as Hollywood movies get these days.

The acting is great, the writing and cinematography is gorgeous but the real star of the movie is the theme. Much of the pre-release chatter about Atlas has focused on the fact that Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and the rest of the cast play multiple parts in multiple time periods, which is cool, but, the message at the heart of the movie is much more interesting. The movie theorizes that everything is connected, love, hate, good, evil, life, death, every single thing we do in our lifetimes touches someone else’s life in ways we could never imagine.

I know what you’re thinking: great, an essay about life from the creators of The Matrix Trilogy and the guy who directed Run Lola Run. Well, in a way that’s kinda true. The movie is an essay, or, a love letter if you will, about the eternal, transcendent power of love. I know that sounds corny and mildly student-film-ish and maybe it is a little of both. I mean, honestly, there is a lot going on in this movie, and it does require a bit of patience on the part of the viewer. Hell, up until the half-hour mark, my brother and I were so confused and annoyed that we were ready to bolt. But then something happened — it was a different scene for both of us — that changed everything and from then on, we were caught up in the whole crazy-beautiful, time-tripping swirl of it all.

I don’t want to ruin the experience for you guys, so, I’ll stop gushing about it for now, but, if you’re on the market for a deep, heartfelt, truly original movie about ideas and emotions and the power of human connection, then this is the date night movie for you. As I said before, it might not be for everyone, as it is a little weird and challenging in spots, but, man, if you’re up for a little three-hour, mind-bending adventure, Cloud Atlas will rock your world!

Oh, and make sure you budget in some post-movie chat time afterwards because this is definitely a movie you’ll want to discuss. My brother and I have been dissecting it for two weeks now and our heads are still swimming!

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