After only correctly guessing 4 of the 14 Golden Globe movie categories, I was surprisingly still optimistic about my Oscar guesses. I suppose I shouldn't have been, since I only guessed 9 out of 24 of the Oscar categories correctly. My picks are marked in bold italics below and the winners are marked with *asterisks.*
"Hell or High Water"
"La La Land"
"Manchester by the Sea"
"Arrival" - Denis Villeneuve
"Hacksaw Ridge" - Mel Gibson
**"La La Land" - Damien Chazelle**
"Manchester by the Sea" - Kenneth Lonergan
"Moonlight" - Barry Jenkins
**"La La Land"**
Best Animated Film
"Kubo and the Two Strings"
"My Life as a Zucchini"
"The Red Turtle"
Best Foreign Language Film
"Land of Mine"
"A Man Called Ove"
Best Original Song
"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" from "La La Land"
"Can't Stop The Feeling" from "Trolls"
**"City Of Stars" from "La La Land"**
"The Empty Chair" from "Jim: The James Foley Story"
"How Far I'll Go" from "Moana"
I revisited Cloverfield after watching 10 Cloverfield Lane to see if there was any overlap between the two films (there is not). I remembered Cloverfield starting slow and it does. It takes about 15 minutes for the first blackout to happen, along with an earthquake of sorts, and then things get interesting – as long as you ignore the 20-somethings' relationship nonsense.
Cloverfield is a found-footage monster movie comprised of two storylines, one from a couple heading to Coney Island which bookends the film, and the other that features our main characters. It all begins with a party and ends with the destruction of Manhattan.
All the characters are completely forgettable. There aren’t even any recognizable actors to root for. So whose side are we on? If this is a monster movie and we’re supposed to root for the monster, shouldn't we be able to see him once in awhile?
The monster in Cloverfield is a Godzilla-type monster, but we only see glimpses of it. The story does not take place on the front lines of the battle. It’s as if that’s an action movie happening elsewhere, and we only get snapshots of it, as our protagonists attempt to rescue their friend and get out of the city while staying as far away from the monster as possible.
The character named Rob carries the emotional weight of the story, but it’s not much to write home about. Most of those emotional moments feel forced, and the film even stalls once or twice waiting for some action to finally urge the characters out of their melodramatic woes and on towards their inevitable deaths in Central Park (or Incident Site US-447, as the film refers to it).
The climactic apartment sequence is quite good however, and I loved the effect of the camera’s auto focus struggling in the climactic Central Park sequence.
When I first started writing movie reviews, I kept them short. Really short. Haiku short. I thought about writing this review in that style, but didn’t want to do a disservice to the picture, because I think it is fantastic. So I not only wrote a haiku, but I also wrote a few lines of a review, and also included a tanka poem, which has a 5/7/5/7/7 syllable style. According to Poets.org, the first three lines of the tanka are the origin of the haiku. The quote I use in the tanka isn’t a direct quote, but it hints at something the film surprises us with in the end,
The opening music of Wild Parrots is a lot like an episode of Full House, but you can’t hold that against it. And don’t mistake the film for a light hearted, fluffy sitcom. There's a real story here
Mark has been living homeless in San Francisco for 15 years. Over time, the parrots of Telegraph Hill become his life. He feeds them, and cares for the sick and injured.
Mingus bobs his head
Connor is the lone blue crown
Mark cares for them all
We witness some bizarre bird behavior and hear about the urban legends of how the wild parrots came to this location. There they are haunted by hawks, disease, and injuries. Mark is haunted by the threat of having to leave his birds to move elsewhere.
We spend a lot of time with closeups shots of the birds so we can enjoy them as Mark does. The camera also employs an incredible zoom that’s frankly amazing.
Mark has no money
but all the time in the world
Buddhism and birds
“I never think of myself
as an eccentric heart throb.”
The film is heartfelt and heartbreaking, and it has a surprise ending that is so honest and perfect, I hope you will take the time to see it for yourself.
What happens when the inmates take over the asylum? That’s what Werner Herzog’s Even Dwarfs Started Small sets out to show us. Along the way it blurs the line between documentary and fiction in a unique and disturbing way. While parts of the film feel scripted, others feel like the actors were caught in a mean-spirited moment, which is a bit uncomfortable to watch.
A lot of my discomfort with the film has to do with the animal cruelty on display. Chickens play with a dead mouse, we see a cockfight, one legged chickens, dead chickens, and girls cracking eggs in the dirt looking to see if there are baby chicks inside. This all is shot and edited in a way that makes it look very real, so when a pig dies and a monkey is crucified, we feel even more uneasy, as if we are complicit in it. And the scene with the camel at the end made me incredibly uneasy, especially with the maniacal laughter that accompanies it.
So if the characters in a film are mean-spirited, does that make the filmmaker mean-spirited as well? It would be different if this were a Hollywood film, but because it’s done in this documentary, cinema verite style, it was too difficult for me to separate the truth from the fiction.
To their credit, the actors do a fantastic job of convincing us that they are indeed, quite mad. And the film is full of great long takes, and the camerawork of the car sequence is fantastic. But would I recommend it to a casual viewer? Certainly not without a warning.