35th Annual Razzie Nominations [2015]

razzies-head

Hype today is of course all over The Oscars, but let’s not forget all the crap that was released in 2014. We do like to stay positive around here as much as possible. But sometimes you have to smell the glove. That said, even The Razzies are trying to give us all a smile with a new category this year: the redeemer award; given to those that have won Razzies in the past but are now on top of their game.

As for me personally, the most positive thing I can say is that I am proud that outside of Trans4mers, I saw none of the performances or films mentioned in these nominations. Thanks to Film Junk for allowing me to copy and paste their list.

WORST PICTURE
Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas
Left Behind
The Legend of Hercules
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Transformers 4: Age of Ex-STINK-Tion

WORST ACTOR
Nicolas Cage / Left Behind
Kirk Cameron / Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas
Kellan Lutz / The Legend of Hercules
Seth MacFarlane / A Million Ways To Die in the West
Adam Sandler / Blended

WORST ACTRESS
Drew Barrymore / Blended
Cameron Diaz / The Other Woman and Sex Tape
Melissa McCarthy / Tammy
Charlize Theron / A Million Ways to Die in the West
Gaia Weiss / The Legend of Hercules

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After the Hype #81 – The Amazing Spider-Man 2

amazing-spider-man-2-trailer-electro

 

Bryan and Jon are back after a week off and ready to delve into Sony’s THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. They discuss Jamie Foxx’s interesting take on Electro, as well as one of the more iconic scenes in comic book history. There’s a lot to talk about here so strap on your web-slingers, grab some cold medicine, and get ready to be hit in the face with a sewer cover. Hrm. That sounded better in my head.

 

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87th Annual Academy Award Nominations [Oscars]

Good day! Welcome to another year of attempting to live blog the annual Oscar Nominations! We’re going to be posting the 2015 nominations for the 87th Academy Awards right here on this page (almost) as quickly as they are announced – and you can watch the presentation in the video above.

The Academy is doing something new this year. Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs will take the stage along with actor Chris Pine and directors Alfonso Cuarón and J.J. Abrams to present all 24 categories live on stage. Previous years only had the major categories being verbally announced while the rest were posted on the web site a couple hours later.

I’ll be trying to keep up with them as best I can at least the major categories as they (very very quickly, traditionally) announce the titles and names for the nominees.

You can check out all of the nominees printed below soon after they’re announced. See anything interesting or surprising? Anyone snubbed or is anything garnering undeserved attention? Comments will be turned on Thursday morning so you may make your thoughts/rants known!

The award winners will be announced on Sunday, FEBRUARY 22nd at 7pm ET live on ABC at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

 

TOTAL NOMINATIONS COUNT:
Birdman 9
The Grand Budapest Hotel 9
The Imitation Game 8
Boyhood 6
American Sniper 6
Foxcatcher 6
Interstellar 5
The Theory of Everything 5
Whiplash 5
Mr. Turner 4


 
 
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Trailer: The Audition

Audition

OK, this looks like too much fun: A movie where Scorsese invites his two muses, DeNiro and DiCaprio, to the gambling city of Macau Manila and then pits them against each other for winning a part in an upcoming Scorsese movie. This high concept is something that Lars Von Trier would dream up, and then make it mean-spirited. Alas, it’s a piece of advertainment, a short film, and not a bonafide feature. Too bad. (Also: Note the Brad Pitt cameo in the trailer.)

Trailer: The Amina Profile

Amina

This Sundance selected documentary on Amina Arraf, a pretty Syrian-American revolutionary who’s having an online affair with Montrealer Sandra Bagaria, looks interesting. Arraf launched the provocatively named blog, “A Gay Girl in Damascus.” back in 2011, as the Syrian uprising gains was gaining momentum. Amina’s subsequent abduction that sparked an international outcry to free her. Playing out like a detective story, The Amina Profile involves American intelligence agencies, major global media outlets, and a host of activists and sympathizers. But what started as a love story becomes the tale of an unprecedented media and sociological hoax, infotainment, deceit and betrayal.

Carrying forward the ‘texting and social media’ on screen aesthetically is as much of interest to me here, as the socio-political aspects. Sundance has a way of picking their docs in a larger hit-to-miss ratio than their features. Even if there seems to be a fair number of talking heads here, I’ve got my eye on this feature from Sophie Deraspe.

The Sundance Film Festival runs from January 22 to February 1, 2015. The Amina Profile has multiple screenings over the festival.

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Review: American Sniper

Director: Clint Eastwood (The Rookie, Unforgiven, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, A Perfect World, Flags of our Fathers)
Writer: Jason Hall
Producers: Bradley Cooper, Clint Eastwood, Andrew Lazar, Robert Lorenz, Peter Morgan
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller,
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 132 min.

 

 

My original posting of this review can be found HERE

 


If there are two things you can’t fault Clint Eastwood with it would be his ability to get films out fast and his willingness to stretch himself into a myriad of genres. He’s delivered seven films in as many years and they’ve covered areas as wide as a biographical rugby drama with Nelson Mandela as one of the leads to a supernatural fantasy about the afterlife which featured a stunning tsunami sequence. Of course the caveat would be that not all of these films are good, and in recent years it’s been true that he’s had more misses than hits, but 2014 saw him deliver two films in the same year for the third time this century and one of them is the best he’s given us in over half a decade. Staying true to his surprising ability to upend expectations, the first of the two was the summer musical Jersey Boys, based on the hit stage show. That was the not-so-good one. The better of the two sees him in an entirely different genre with American Sniper — another true story, this one of Texas boy Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL sniper who has been credited with the most kills in U.S. military history.

Based on Kyle’s own autobiography, American Sniper charts the man’s devoted service to his country over four tours on the battlefield in the Middle East, while at home his wife Taya longs for the day when he hangs up his rifle and doesn’t leave her and their children again. But after taking so many lives and spending so much time sheltered in blood and war, how much of Chris is actually going to be left by the time he calls it quits? That’s the running theme of American Sniper, and if it sounds like a familiar one that’s because it is. In truth, there’s not a lot to Eastwood’s film that is particularly new or groundbreaking in terms of how the effects of war have been portrayed on film many times over the decades, but there’s still enough here to make it a worthwhile entry in the crowded herd. Chief among the film’s noteworthy attributes is star Bradley Cooper, whose passion and care for Kyle’s story has seen him ride this film through several different directors on its way to the screen but his commitment has been the one constant and it’s no surprise that he shines the brightest now that it’s finally been brought to life.

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Blu-Ray Review: Ganja & Hess

Director: Bill Gunn
Screenplay: Bill Gunn
Starring: Duane Jones, Marlene Clark, Bill Gunn
Producer: Chiz Schultz
Country: USA
Running Time: 113 min
Year: 1973
BBFC Certificate: 18


Eureka released Blacula – The Complete Collection (http://blueprintreview.co.uk/2014/10/blacula-complete-collection/) in October and not long after are releasing another African-American take on the Dracula story, Ganja & Hess. There is little else connecting the two films though as Bill Gunn’s Ganja & Hess is a wholly different animal than the earlier campy, badass blaxploitation film.

Producers first approached Gunn to make something that would cash in on Blacula’s success, but the director had no desire to make a cheap bit of exploitation. He had wanted to make a film about addiction though, so decided to take this idea and infuse it into a vampire story. The result is a film with much more artistic and profound ambitions than Blacula and although it came at the height of the blaxploitation boom, it didn’t really fit the mold, eschewing the flares and kung fu for experimentation and symbolism. This didn’t impress the money men of course, who swiftly handed the print to ‘film doctor’ Fima Noveck, who chopped the near 2 hour film to 78 minutes and retitled Blood Couple (along several other names as it did the runs around the world), adding previously excised exposition to make something more closely resembling the exploitation flick they’d wanted. It bombed, although the furious Gunn took his original cut to the Cannes Film Festival where it screened in the Director’s Week. It was better received there, but still the film disappeared into obscurity until more recent years when Gunn’s version was restored for modern audiences. This is what is being released here by Eureka.

Ganja & Hess sees Dr. Hess Green (Night of the Living Dead’s Duane Jones) stabbed by an ancient ceremonial dagger by his unstable assistant George Meda (Gunn himself). This makes Hess immortal but also addicted to blood. After Meda commits suicide, his wife Ganja (Marlene Clark) appears at Hess’ mansion looking for him. She falls for Hess’ charms and after they marry and Hess passes his ‘gift’ on to her, the two form an unusual, bloody relationship.

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Trailer: Effie Gray

Effie

Funny how these things happen.

Before last week I’d never heard of John Ruskin and then his name came up in a conversation regarding Mike Leigh’s excellent Mr. Turner and here we are, only a few days later, with a trailer for a movie about Ruskin and his marriage to his young wife, the titular Effie Gray.

Directed by long time British TV director Richard Laxton, Effie Gray is written by the wonderful Emma Thompson who also stars in a supporting role but this is the Dakota Fanning show as the talented young actress stars as Effie opposite Greg Wise’s John Ruskin. Julie Walters, Tom Sturridge and Robbie Coltrane also star.

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Cinecast Episode 376 – 2014 in Review: Ski Lifts & Psychological Rape

 
We needed a referee. Seriously. And unless it’s Jesse “The Body” Ventura, we might as well not even bother. The rampages on 2014-in-film are epic: Battles are fought, won, lost and lines are drawn in the sand (Cross this line, you DO NOT…) Also, Jim Laczkowski from The Director’s Club Podcast is here to help us figure out Inherent Vice. Is it “pure shit” or “something that needs to be seen 18 times to enjoy”? And where does Matt Gamble come down within the argument? Shortly after tackling the critical darling that seems to be Selma, we look at all of the trends and highs and lows of 2014: from lack of strong female performances to computer desktop horror to the importance of ski lifts and dog revenge. Everything culminated in our annual top ten list and figuring out the odds (or lack thereof) of best picture winner.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

 

 
 

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