So now that the Oscars race has been announced, you damn well know I'm going to speak about it. It goes without saying that this year's race brings with it the milky whitest nominations list in recent history. And I love how the new President of the Academy is a black lady, a woman who has served on the board of the AMPAS for over twenty years. Prez Cheryl Boone Isaacs cringed and winced her way through some interviews recently about the topic, but honestly, to go from the last few years of finally having advances in recognizing and awarding people of color in the industry, it just felt a tad shallow this year...and not just for the lily white nominations cast. I could digress but rather, let me just send you a link of that blindingly bright list…sigh… http://oscar.go.com/nominees
One more thing…in a bit I'll review the new Bradley Cooper flick American Sniper, but first, allow me to bitch for a second. Can someone please tell Bradley Cooper that he needs to stop the face-work...and a damn fake, Toy R Us baby? For THAT scene...for real? Check this snippet out: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2918836/American-Sniper-used-dolls-instead-babies-key-scenes-Oscar-nominated-movie.html I mean, oh my nerves...and still the nominations out the wazoo and hardly anything for Selma?! Oh…it’s an Eastwood movie. Meh.
Okay, I know you chirren are mostly here for reviews, so I start today on home turf with the latest foray into Spanish-produced and directed sci-fi...starring...wait for it…wait for it! Wait for it...Antonio Banderas AND Melanie Griffith, well Melanie in human form only a while but her hair in the film is insane...so is her oddly-shaped jaw structure, fairly reminiscent of Glenn Close's...or the new Bruce Jenner while we're at it. The film is directed by Gabe Ibañez, a newbie in the directing industry (he helmed the 2009 lite horror/thriller film Hierro) and much like that film, his latest Automaton starts off with an insanely great premise...and then results in a lackluster affair. Truth be told, I was enamored by the film's sensibility and the fact that it’s the last thing of the couple we’ll ever have for viewing pleasure…plus the way they exit her human character is hilarious. But I also have to admit that I rather dug the film’s look and feel. However, as it wore on, the chutzpah simply began lacking. Still, in a way, something moved my jaded side while watching this film. For sheer cinematic appeal, sci-fi aficionados should check this one out. Here's hoping Ibañez's next and third outing will finally be his charm. ##-1/2
The weekend also brings with it another film hailing from European cinema, this one a British war import, a drama called ’71. It is stellar. A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed The Fury, and I’m happy to say that this is another fantastic battle film…with a twist. The story is set against the backdrop of the IRA drama of the early 70s and finds lead character Private Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) being sent to Northern Ireland to aide in quelling the fighting and obvious anti-English sentiment. But when he gets separated from his platoon and forced to hide out, tensions only become more frayed and the story takes a twist into historical thriller overtones. This film is not only remarkably well done, but it sets a tone that is so visceral and real in its storytelling. Quite frankly, while The Fury ran the gamut of really attempting to be THE war epic, this film does as much, if not more, on a tighter budget, a fresher cast, and a superb script. An absolute triumph of a film by newish director Yann Demange. ####
Now…American Sniper…Might Clint Eastwood be on the precipice of retirement? Hmmm. Is he a conservative Republican? Yes…in fact, he gave the keynote speech welcoming Mitt Romney at the 2012 National Republican Convention. You remember, don’t you? That speech where Mitt Romney acted out a conversation with Barack Obama using an empty chair as a stand-in Obama? While I don’t like to say it, after so many amazing movies in his oeuvre, with this film, the mark has been sharply dropped in my opinion. Yes the movie revolves around an undoubted hero who was also one of, if not the, sharpest marksmen in US Army history, but I’m afraid to say the energy of the film is littered in trite, US-American dogma. Please forgive me for sounding an ass, but any critic who claims the film is stellar and worthy of Best Picture territory…when so many other movies from 2014 were equally if not more deserving…is simply giving a hat tip to Eastwood and US patrimony. Again, while you’ve read my jokey comments above, it is hard to watch this nicely directed film with bulky Cooper doing his thang and Sienna Miller doing the best acting (and American accent) of her career and still not think…this shite is a bit too much like propaganda. It focuses on a Navy SEAL, Texan Chris Kyle who leaves his life as a rodeo hand to join the army and fight the bad guys after 9-11. What Eastwood serves us is a grisly and wannabe heroic portrayal of a fellow who was, in all essence, a good ol’ boy. I was born in Texas, so I know and I assure you, you can’t swing a dick down there without hitting one of them there “good ol’ boys.” I digress, excuse me. The film is well done, no doubt as it comes from a master, but apart from adding more nominations to two people who have both done better work in spades, this will only serve to give Sienna Miller some extra Hollywood street cred. Good job, chica. ###...(film opens in February here in BCN)
Lastly this week comes a slight return to Guy Ritchie-styled action crime/comedy capers, and it comes to you by Brits via Lithuania…yay!!! Lithuania! The thing that intrigued me most and finally enticed me to watch the film (I mean, besides this blog, naturally) was the fact that Vinnie Jones’ name was on the marquee for it. The film is called Redirected and well…perhaps the name says it all. I’m only slightly joking there, but the plot of the film is rather hard to explain or…shall we say…navigate? Involving a cheap casino robbery gone awry by a band of misfits, a friend of theirs and token amiable shmuck (Scot Williams) is forced to be in a situation not of his making, which winds him and his idiot friends pulling off said robbery…and well…you can probably guess the rest. As the film was a Lithuanian-production, the chums find themselves there in the L to the I to the thunia. Throw in a friendly prozzy and you have a mad caper of a film, right?! WRONG! Lackluster direction of a flimsy script and damn Jones’ aging means a ‘No thank you!’ to this film. I lovingly spent the hour-and-a-half watching this to tell you not to! #
Enjoy the weekend, my dears and remember…you can never wear enough hats, gloves and scarves.