December 28, 2007

DDL Does It Again

Someone we know said Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood was going to be the best movie of the year, and Cinecultist scoffed. But turns out we kind of have to eat our words, because PTA has made an incredibly tense and powerful film filled with gorgeous cinematography and spectacular performances, particularly the one by Mr. Method Daniel Day-Lewis. We also absolutely loved Johnny Greenwood's score, it creates the most intensely palpable tone of dread. The title tells you oh yeah, there will be blood, but Greenwood's score has you on the edge of your seat waiting for it. The only thing that made CC put it on our top 10 list in the number two spot was the lack of female characters. Weren't there any ladies of interest in independent oilman Daniel Plainview's life? This bleak story could've used an infusion of estrogen, in our opinion. But regardless of the gender imbalance, get thee to a theater to see this movie. It's going to be considered a classic and start sweeping the awards season.

You can read more about the film and a press conference Cinecultist attended at the Waldorf Astoria with PTA, DDL and the like a few weeks ago on Metromix.

December 26, 2007

CC Celeb Sights, Even In Menlo Park

Well, it's true: you can take the girl out of Manhattan, but you can't take the Gawker stalker out of the girl. Cinecultist is currently in lovely Northern California visiting our family for the holidays and went to Barone's, a favorite lunch place, for a panini and a latte on Sunday. Who should saunter up, decked out in sunglasses, heavy dark pea coat, navy knit cap, scruffy facial hair and attitude but James Franco. He seemed to be there for lunch with his extended family too (double GS points for spotting James's grandmother) and was trying to keep it mellow. CC gave him a few extra looks to cement our id, but hopefully he thought we just recognized him from high school or something.

The only problem with this thrilling sighting? Our less pop culturally literate family's luke warm response. No one really seemed to know who James Franco is, and were less than totally psyched when Cinecultist discovered via Wikipedia that he's just a year older than us and attended Palo Alto High School. James Franco is practically our peeps! We share that Menlo Park/Palo Alto/Stanford frame of reference with Daniel from Freaks and Geeks! As Bonnie Fuller says, celebrities really are like us.

December 23, 2007

Vacation Matinees With a Culinary Rat


The Cinecultist is on vacation this week in Northern California spending the holidays with the fam but if you're in the New York area and looking for some heartwarming cinema head to Queens. The Museum of the Moving Image will be showing vacation week matinées of Ratatouille, one of Cinecultist's favorite flicks of the year, every day at 1:30 pm. They are also organizing post-screening workshops for children to teach them the fundamentals of animation. So if you know any budding Brad Birds, age 6 and up, bring them along.

Tickets for the museum and the screenings cost $10.00 for adults; $7.50 for persons over 65 and for students with ID; $5.00 for children ages 5-18. Children under 5 and Museum members are admitted free. 35 Avenue at 36 Street in Astoria. Photo courtesy The Walt Disney Company.

December 21, 2007

More Awards, Best of Lists and Such

The Ah-ctors (aka the Screen Actors Guild) weighed in on their favorite films of the year, and like Cinecultist enjoyed Into the Wild's performances giving the ensemble cast a nomination, among others.

IndieWire's Critics Poll (a spin off on the now defunct Village Voice poll edited by Dennis Lim) is also out now. Our colleagues liked There Will Be Blood, Zodiac and No Country For Old Men as their top three. Cinecultist was not surprised to see Syndromes and a Century also near the top of the list. We know quite a few of the folks in the voting pool and they tend to go nutso for those obscure Thai films about memory and loss. We also now apparently need to find a way to see Secret Sunshine, a Korean movie they named the best undistributed film of the year.

Also, Cinecultist wants to mention we have such a burgeoning crush on Michael Cera. One of his next movies, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist just finished shooting here in New York, and according to the Longstockings is a great teen book. Maybe we'll add it to the winter vacation reading pile.

Posted by karen at 1:23 PM | indieWire, Michael Cera, SAG | Comments (0)

December 20, 2007

Manhattan Got Simpsons Jaundiced

simpsons_empire_state.JPG Cinecultist caught a glimpse of The Simpsons-ified Empire State building while heading home on Tuesday night and snapped this picture. If you didn't already hear, as a promotion for the release of The Simpsons Movie on dvd Dec. 18, the geniuses at Fox talked the historic building into changing the colors to Simpsons yellow. Cinecultist expects to be watching this movie at least a few times over the holidays with our spider pig lovin' little brother. Though if CC worked for News Corp. we would've already gotten a copy of the film for home viewing and wouldn't have to buy it, like some ordinary joe schmo. Boo. [More coverage of the marketing event on Gothamist.]

Other new dvds Cinecultist thinks are worth adding to the collection include the sweetly romantic musical Once, and the ultimate collector's edition of the sci-fi Ur text Blade Runner.

December 19, 2007

Linkage for Your Mid Week Blues

This week the Cinecultist weighed in on Alvin and the Chipmunks over at The filmmakers are pretty much pandering to the lowest common denominator when it comes children's entertainment, but we still think the fat, sentimental chipmunk Theodore is awfully cute.

Focus Films has launched a new website with tons of original content called FilminFocus. Check it out, there's lots to enjoy from features on Focus films like Atonement, a look back at film history from that corresponding week and interviews with smart movie bloggers like our friend Andrew Grant.

Have you gotten a $1 promotional movie ticket from Fandango yet? It's a sweet deal, you just send a text on Wednesdays and they text you a code. Could be good for some cheap seats during the holiday vacation.

The Backlash Has Begun, and You're Looking At Him

Run, Judd, Run.*

*This video is why Judd Apatow is sorta an evil genius. It's like he anticipated CC's bitchy/bored response to his saturation of the comedy landscape and cutesy viral marketing overload, then mocked it. Plus, the Paul Rudd eye candy combined with some self-deprecating Jewish jokes will always win Cinecultist over.

How about you, do you think you will ever get sick of Judd Apatow and his gang?

December 18, 2007

Happy Hobbit Holidays from New Line!

Hobbit_cover.JPGIt's the holiday season and all should be merry and bright. But say you are New Line pictures. And say you're kind of reeling from the abysmal box office receipts of your new fantasy franchise based on a best-selling British children's book, The Golden Compass. What to do?

Go back to the bargaining table and work out a deal with disgruntled Peter Jackson over a tried and true holiday season fantasy franchise! Done and done. Now that'll be not one but two!—piping hot Middle Earth epics for ya come 2010 and 2011, as Jackson and his team have now been granted permission to move forward on producing The Hobbit and a subsequent sequel. Ah, it really is a hobbity Hollywood holiday miracle. Rejoice. [via the MTV Movies blog]

Looking Back on 2007, Viewing-Wise

The Cinecultist has been slightly under the weather lately, so while trying to take it easy this weekend we constructed our top 10 list for 2007. Now granted, CC still have two weeks worth of screenings we could (and probably will) try to cram in, so bear that in mind when you analyze our choices. Looking back it's been a strong year for drama, full of dysfunctional families, cultural malaise and senseless violence at the movies. But, CC still managed to toss a musical comedy, a Western and a summer action blockbuster on the pile. Because basically that's how we roll, viewing taste-wise.

After the jump, we also listed the rest of the movies we saw this year divided into the categories stuff we liked, stuff that we are now indifferent to and stuff that is just painful to recall. When you watch this many movies in a year (nearly two a week, on average! and that's not counting dvds or repertory), sometimes you have to sit through utter garbage. But if Cinecultist didn't suffer a little, we know we'd never discover the hidden gems, those little features that make this delightful obsession all worth while.

1. No Country for Old Men
2. There Will Be Blood
3. The Savages $ @
4. Michael Clayton @
5. The Bourne Ultimatum @
6. The Wind that Shakes the Barley
7. Enchanted $ @
8. I’m Not There
9. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford $
10. Zodiac $
(special award) 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (saw this year, but comes out in January and it’s amazing.) @

$ = paid money to see
@ = didn’t watch alone

Saw and Enjoyed
Catch and Release. Jennifer Garner at a grieving granola chick in the Pacific Northwest kind of hit a cord for us.

The Lives of Others. East Berlin was not a happy place but this is a great movie.

The Namesake. Kal Penn rewards us for our long term support of Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. $ @

Blades of Glory. Funnier than you’d expect a one-note comedy about ice skating should be.

Black Book. Only Paul Verhoeven would dare make Nazis sexy.

The TV Set. If you’re lovin’ Juno, give Reitman’s other fellow second generation director Jake Kasdan's feature from this year a go.

Year of the Dog. How much do you love Peter Sarsgaard’s asexual vegetarian dog rescuer?

Hot Fuzz. Simon Pegg makes darn funny movies.

Waitress. $ The affection for Kerry Russell is not unfounded.

Fay Grim. Hal Hartley still makes movies that make us think.

Once. Bringing back the musical, one busking Irishman at a time.

Knocked Up. CC laughed until it hurt during our screening but we got tired of the over-enthusiasm and subsequent backlash against this movie.

La Vie en Rose. Marion Cottilard is a revelation in this one.

A Mighty Heart. @ Just pretend this isn’t an Angelina Jolie movie.

Broken English. This is how neurotic real New York single women are.

Ratatouille. $ Paris, this is my town baby.

Rescue Dawn. Christian Bale, you are the man. Steve Zahn isn’t too shabby either.

Sunshine. Like Solaris and 2001 but with Michelle Yeoh in it.

Exiled. Bad ass Asian gangsters but with a Western twist.

3:10 to Yuma. @ Better than we expected for a nouveau Western with Russell Crowe.

Into the Wild. Sean Penn brings out lots of great quiet performances and some gorgeous scenery.

My Kid Could Paint That. Quite well edited, and we’re not just saying that because we’re friends with the editor.

Lars and the Real Girl. $ @ Ryan Gosling does it again.

Gone Baby Gone. @ Amy Ryan is our favorite new discovery of the year.

Persopolis. A good, woman-centric story about life in a part of the world we want to know more about.

Juno. $ Ellen Page is great though the script has some overly cutesy moments to it.

Sat Through
The Water Horse
The Kite Runner
Alvin and the Chipmunks
The Golden Compass
Southland Tales $ @
Margot at the Wedding @
Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
Lions for Lambs
Bee Movie
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
The Darjeeling Limited
Transformers (saw on an airplane, okay?)
Sydney White
The Jane Austen Book Club $
The Brave One
December Boys
I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
The Nanny Diaries
Mr. Bean’s Holiday
Super Bad @
The Invasion
The Last Legion $
Becoming Jane
El Cantante $
No Reservations
Goya’s Ghosts $ @
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix $ @
License to Wed
You Kill Me
Ocean’s Thirteen $ @
Mr. Brooks @
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End $
The Wendell Baker Story
Home of the Brave
The Ex
Paris, je t’aime
Private Fears in Public Places
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters
The Host
300 @
Avenue Montaigne
Music and Lyrics
Blood and Chocolate @
God Grew Tired of Us
Run, Fat Boy, Run (comes out next year)
The 11th Hour
Hannah Takes the Stairs
Great World of Sound $ @
Dans Paris
Day Night Day Night @
East of Havana
The Wayward Cloud @
Tears of the Black Tiger

Want/Need to See Before the Oscars
Sweeney Todd
Charlie Wilson’s War
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Eastern Promises
Away From Her

Painful. Utterly Painful. That’s 2 Hours of Our Life We’ll Never Get Back
Because I Said So. Worst Mandy Moore movie ever. And that’s saying something. $ @
Exterminating Angels. This was an art house French film that was actually porn, but not in a good way.
Evening. Dear god, the cheesy flash back-induced pain. It still hurts.

December 17, 2007

Just Be Glad You Don't Live in L.A.

There aren't a lot of movies that Cinecultist has walked out of, but Robert Altman's Short Cuts is one of them. Our Dad took us, and our sister, to see it when it came out in the theaters in 1993 because it was playing at the local art house theater and M.A.S.H. was one of his favorites. But Short Cuts's a meandering 189 minute movie about a bunch of vaguely interconnected, dysfunctional people in Los Angeles, and understandably we were all bored. But as CC learned more about cinema, we'd always felt bad that we never appreciated this supposedly great Altman flick, so we put the Criterion version in the Netflix queue and finally watched it this weekend.

Fourteen years later, and with an arguably more worldly perspective, CC can see both sides of the story. Granted, it's still a long, convoluted movie. Plus with a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old in tow, it was pretty racy material for our movie going group. CC even remembers being shocked then by Jennifer Jason Leigh's bored housewife/phone sex operator dialog. No wonder our Dad was willing to leave. Then as the movie grinds on, you begin to wonder if any of these sad souls captured on screen are redeeming. They all seem so lost, depressed and mere moments from doing something immoral or illegal.

But then again, CC can see why it garnered Altman his fourth Oscar nomination for best director and won the cast a special ensemble award at that year's Golden Globes. To have that many distinct characters running around and for them all to seem like real people, not mere sketches, is quite a feat. It takes a real master like Altman was to orchestrate that much modern day malaise on screen, and you can understand why later directors like Paul Thomas Anderson so blatantly stole from his model. (Though PTA's raining Biblical frogs are obviously not as cool as RA's med flies and 7.4 earthquake.)

Maybe you have to be a certain age before "bleak" is an adjective that you can enjoy in a movie watching experience. Certainly some of our favorites from this year's roster, like No Country For Old Men, The Savages and There Will Be Blood, are decidedly unhappy films filled with unhappy characters. Or maybe CC just has more patience now at 30 for a 3 hour movie to unfold slowly and with little obvious purpose, than we had at 16. At 16 it's tough to understand why you'd want to spend 3 hours watching sad people live sad little lives in Los Angeles. At 30, it starts to look a little more like art.

December 14, 2007

More Opinions on Kiddie Movies

Over on, Cinecultist has been weighing in on the new releases for the youngsters. We gave Enchanted 3 1/2 stars, and The Golden Compass 3 stars (out of five), 3 stars for Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium because we have a soft spot for living toys and Jason Bateman, and a less-than-buzz-worthy review for Bee Movie. Har dee har har.

All of this kid flick viewing has reminded CC that we've got a sentimental interior, masked by our high heel-wearing, Eee Vee-dwelling cynical exterior.

There Will Be Blood at the Golden Globe Announcements

Watching the announcements of the Golden Globe nominations yesterday, Cinecultist was struck by the sheer inappropriateness of Quentin Tarantino as an announcer. Dude, it may have been too early in the morning for you to get a stylist to comb your hair but seriously, keep your opinions to yourself. We don't want any of your mini-commentary, jeez. See the full video for yourself but at the announcement of Diablo Cody's nomination for her Juno script he cheered (1:35) then every time he mentioned Paul Thomas Anderson's movie, he said the title in an increasingly more ridiculous voice (:45, :03). A cross between a circus barker and a wrestling match announcer, CC couldn't decide if snarky QT was offering homage or mockery. "There Will Be Blooooood!" Though of course, Cinecultist is now compelled to also say that movie name in that very same voice every time we use it.

Maybe QT is just miffed that PTA beat him to the punch on that excellent title. Although if Tarantino ever named one of his movies There Will Be Blood, the obvious response from his fans would have to be, "really? well, duh."