Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wiped Out

I think part of the lesson of The Challenge is teaching me that when you commit to something, you keep at it despite being exhausted: emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted. You put one foot in front of the other and finish the task. Tonight- I'm seeing the live action Oscar Shorts.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Spelling it Wrong

I asked my fellow movie-goer, and another player in 'The Challenge' if he thought they titled the movie 'Biutiful' because ironically it wasn't. What a rough watch that was, and I've sat through some rough watches this season.

I drove home desperately wanting some warm milk to calm my stomach. I hoped fervently to fall asleep and dream of anything but the sights from that movie. I kept waiting for a resolution at the end of the film... a happy one, a sad one, a hopeful/balanced one. There wasn't any. I was left staring at the screen at the as the credits rolled, doubled over in hysterical laughter because any other response would have sent me looking for an oven to stick my head in. I'm sorry, that's awful, but that's how strongly I reacted to this movie.

In an effort to be open-minded, I attempted to look for the positives. When I couldn't find any, I attempted to understand why film festivals and the Academy were drawn to this offering. Firstly, Javier Bardem is amazing. Any actor able to carry a film like this and shoulder the burden of this intense material (and still look handsome through it) deserves some major awardage. Secondly, I think the film is such a wake-up call, to many who feel our crosses are heavy, that it could be so much heavier. In developed countries, without educating ourselves, we have NO idea of the traumas suffered daily by those in underdeveloped and corrupt areas if the world.

I would love to pursue an education in world cinema. I am missing a body of knowledge that helps me understand the random, multiple storylines and morose auras of foreign films.

It's in moments like these that I begin to question why I am doing The Challenge at all.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011


I began my morning at 4 a.m. today and watched "Rabbit Hole" starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart before the sun came up.  My wondering here is why Kidman was recognized with a nomination for her role, but not Eckhart?  Is it harder to play restrained than emotional?  Is it harder to forgive than rage?  As I told I friend, it is very hard to figure out which character to empathize with when the subject matter is so unthinkable that you hope you'll never be able to feel empathy for their situation.

I followed RH with a viewing (finally) of "Exit through the Gift Shop."  I love the title almost more than the movie, because it says so much to me.  I, like many I'd imagine, am not a fan of the way amusement parks give you an exciting and fun experience, and then rob you of it by commercializing that experience as you exit through their gift shop.  I would think that my irritation at that commercialization is only a fraction of the anger these street artists feel at their craft being hijacked by an opportunistic weirdo.

Count as of today in The Challenge:  25 out of 56 films seen, 4 categories viewed in its entirety.  Seeing "True Grit" will help me close off 6 more categories.  I'm not sure why I'm delaying viewing that particular film.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


... saw "The King's Speech."  Beautiful film.  I could watch Colin Firth on the screen for much longer than an hour and 51 one minutes, stammer or no stammer.  It didn't, however, hit me with a 'wow' factor.  I wasn't disappointed in the film at all, but it didn't leave me as breathless and teary as I had hoped it might.  Geoffrey Rush was wonderful.

That's all I've got tonight, folks.

Monday, January 31, 2011


Not much time to type tonight.  I had to, however, detail the double feature I took in yesterday.  Finally saw "127 Hours" and "Blue Valentine."  Each of them contained much-hyped scenes that I found weren't that sensational.  Yes, there was a lot of blood in the amputation scene of 'Hours' and yes, the apparent NC-17 scene in 'Valentine' was steamy...  but neither of them (the scenes) left me awestruck.  The films were two of the best I've seen so far.

"127 Hours" was the first movie at which I've gotten emotional.  I'll admit I choked up a little at the end.  "Blue Valentine" offered the first soundtrack that I have wanted to purchase in a long time.  I'm stumped at how Michelle Williams managed to get an Oscar nom when it seems that, as my friend Seán pointed out, it was Gosling who made the biggest transformation for the film and within the film.

What struck me most about "Valentine" however was how differently it was viewed by three different people.  One of us said "It was her fault."  One said "No, it was his."  And the third said "Neither is to blame, it's just how it unfolded."  This is the beauty of film, friends.

You'll see from my list below that I'm making fairly good progress, and I've researched where to find most of the remaining pieces.  The biggest challenges will be "The Tempest," "The Illusionist," the foreign films and the short docs.  I think I've got much of the rest covered (to some extent).

Sunday, January 30, 2011


That's all I can think to title this one after watching "Salt" with Angelina Jolie and "Dogtooth" the foreign film from Greece.

"Salt" was a fine movie, but I haven't ever really liked Angelina Jolie in anything since "Girl, Interrupted."  It's not her fault, I don't think, I'm just not a fan of the work she is apparently drawn to.

"Dogtooth" reminds me of why the category can be called "foreign" and demonstrate several meanings of the word.  It was such an unusual and uncomfortable film for my tastes...  but the poignancy of Christina finding escape through movies was not lost on me.

I am hoping to catch at least two more movies in the next several days.  I've also been advised the Oscar Shorts are on their way, so I am SUPER grateful for that.  My score sits at 20 out of 56 with just 25 or so days to go.  I have not knocked out any one whole category, but the key films that would help me with that are "127 Hours," "The King's Speech," and "True Grit."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Early Day(s)

I am yearning for bed, but needed to post this baseline blog so that I had a starting block from which to begin the race.

The Oscar Noms were announced SO early and by now it's been beat to death in the blogs that Nolan was robbed. I wonder how he feels about it all.

For me, I am better off than last year, but still have so far to go. Marathon, not sprint. I have seen 18 out of the 56 nominated. I have another 5 in my Netflix queue, and another 4 I can knock out at the theatres. When the Oscar Shorts come to town (around 2/11) I'll wrap up an easy 10. The harder work will be in finding films out of the theatre and not on DVD until March. Less hard but still a chore will be arranging field trips to the cities to see films like "127 Hours" "Biutiful" and "Blue Valentine."

My immediate work begins tomorrow with "Salt." Kudos to my friend Seán for calling that nod back in the fall.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Culminations, Nominations

Tomorrow is the big day. It starts early for us Pacific Time Zone folks. I'll be watching at 5:38 a.m. to see what films and performances are nominated, and pursuant to The Challenge, how many I've seen prior to tomorrow's announcements.

It will also be do or die time as I set about trying to see the films I haven't seen, which will include foreign, animated and live shorts, short docs and a couple of feature docs. Oh yes, and "The King's Speech." A movie I've been wanting to see since Labor Day.

Bring it.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Guilt and Getting Somewhere

It has reached that point in The Challenge where I begin to feel guilty for all of the efforts I put into getting somewhere with film-viewing. I'm constantly running out on the family to catch a show or double feature, I get home after they are asleep and I rack up expenses as I buy ticket after ticket (although $5 movie night is saving my ass this year!). As much as I hate the guilt, I love seeing my 'seen' list start to match up to the 'to be seen list.'

Most recently I saw 'Inside Job' and 'The Fighter' back to back. The documentary was okay, but most that I've seen this season have paled in comparison to last year's 'The Cove.' Sean and I got a ride from my mom (you heard me) after the doc and saw 'The Fighter.' You don't need me to tell you it was a great movie with excellent performances- the awards shows are proving that. What you do need to hear (that only I can tell you) is that it was quite entertaining to see Marky Mark and my favorite Newsie cussing and raising all kinds of hell together.

Solo, I went to see 'Black Swan' and I refuse to post any spoilers here. I will divulge that it was the only other film this year at who's viewing I exclaimed: 'Holy Crap!' 'Inception' earned my other exclamation.

In unrelated related news, my friend and I went to see 'From Here to Eternity.' Initial reactions included thinking Frank Sinatra as Magio was as skinny as Christian Bale playing Dicky... and that the themes of film, and love in reality, never seem to alter with time.

Coming up in The Challenge: 'Fair Game' at the State, 'True Grit' on $5 movie night and several docs on Netflix...and of course the NOMINATIONS bright and early on the 25th.

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