All posts tagged: Oscars

No Concessions: “I’m Pat Fucking Tillman!”

The Tillman Story is an outstanding story of heroism—not, however, the one you were told. Or rather, sold. You remember the official story. How in the wake of 9/11 Tillman, a star player with the Arizona Cardinals, left football behind to join the Army Rangers with his brother. How in April 2004 he died a hero, fighting the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan, and received a Silver Star, a Purple Heart, and a promotion to corporal for his valor. How, not long thereafter, following saturation media coverage that towed the government line, the circumstances of his death were revealed to be a lie, that Tillman was killed by friendly fire. For most of us that was that, a bitter end and another reminder that neither our leaders nor our pundits can be fully trusted to tell the truth when a more inspiring story that “fits the narrative” can be spun. For the Tillman family, however, it was the just the beginning of a frustrating process to uncover what really happened that terrible day, and …

No Concessions: Wonderlands–Tim Burton’s, Matt Damon’s, and “A Prophet’s”

The Wizard of Oz has influenced every movie made since it opened in 1939, or so I’ve read. Off the top of my head I’m not so sure: On the Waterfront? There’s Something About Mary? Alice in Wonderland, though, has surely left its imprint on everything in sight, from The Matrix to every cop and spy movie where a character says “we’re going through the looking glass on this one,” not to mention every film with the name Alice in the title (like Woody Allen’s) or even a character named Alice, like Resident Evil. With this lineage to take advantage of you’d think Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland might amount to something special, but all it comes down to is…Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. That’s not as appalling as Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes (the filmmaker has no flair for science fiction) yet it’s nothing special, certainly not as unexpected as, say, the excellent blur of fact and fantasy that is the Dennis Potter-written Dreamchild (1985). It’s a by-the-numbers Disney blockbuster, lacking the eccentric …

DVD Review: Oscar Losses Don’t Deflate “Up in the Air”

One of the few upsets at this year’s tepid Academy Awards was Precious beating Up in the Air for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film had won scripting awards from the Writers Guild of America, the National Board of Review, BAFTA, and the Golden Globes—but there was some backstage turbulence, which director and co-writer Jason Reitman unintentionally draws attention to on the DVD. He begins by saying that the disc’s commentary track was recorded on Dec. 7, two days after the movie’s limited release, and before the Pearl Harbor that had allegedly broken out between him and co-writer Sheldon Turner went public. Reitman, who shares the mike with cinematographer Eric Steelberg and first assistant director Jason Blumenfeld, says that his wife helped him on the script, but Turner’s contribution, perhaps tellingly, goes unmentioned. Now, it could be that Oscar voters read the novels on which Precious and Up in the Air are based, paid close attention to how the films compared, and made an informed choice. Yeah, right. The likelier scenario is that the rumors hung …

DVD Review: “Revanche” is a Disc Best Served Cold

Note to self: Sentiment outranks everything else when picking a Best Foreign Language Film winner in the Oscar pool. I’m not-so-secretly pleased that the stone-cold, auteurist-approved White Ribbon didn’t blue-ribbon it, despite critical hosannas. But my favorite, A Prophet (Un prophète), didn’t make it, either. The Academy has no problem nominating tough-minded movies for the category, but the codgers who largely vote are a bunch of old softies when it comes time to decide. When reviews of this year’s winner, Argentina’s The Secret in Their Eyes, noted that it has a sentimental side, I should have known better than to bet against it. By the same token, last year’s nominee from Austria, Revanche, had no chance against Japan’s tear-jerking Departures. But Revanche has had its revenge, being issued as a typically impressive Criterion Collection DVD (a two-disc set) and Blu-ray. Justice runs hot and cold in the movie, however. Writer-director Götz Spielmann has been making films since 1984 (his award-winning student short, Foreign Land, is included on the second disc of supplements) but is pretty …

No Concessions: An Open Letter to Sandra Bullock, and Her Reply to Me

Almost three years ago to the day I posted on my blog an open letter to my long-time crush object Sandra Bullock. The news was not good. Read on… Dear Sandra, I’m afraid it’s time to have a serious talk about our relationship. Your latest film, Premonition, got off to an OK start at the boxoffice, but you didn’t have to be clairvoyant to foresee the reviews (“sloppy and absent-minded,” raved The New York Times). I must confess to you that I skipped the press screenings, and won’t be a paying customer. I haven’t even dropped it into my Netflix queue, where your last unstuck-in-time whackadoodle, The Lake House, currently languishes near the bottom of the pile. Sandra, what happened to us? We started off so well. I remember where it all began, in L.A., fall 1993, where, with a few hours to kill, I went to see Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes slug it out in Demolition Man. There you were, so perky, so delightful, reciting TV commercial jingles, stealing the film—and my heart. …

No Concessions: Why I “Heart” Jeff Bridges

If the Oscars are truly serious about slimming down the Academy should just mail Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique their supporting performer awards. Or hand them over at next Tuesday’s nominations ceremony and not even bother announcing the other nominees. They’ve won every other award in lockstep and all that’s left is to star in a mash-up, Inglourious Precious, where Mo’Nique’s Mary Lee Johnston takes boards Waltz’s aging, scalp-less Hans Landa and hijinx ensue. (“Mary, it’s a BINGO!” “Hans, GET ME MY CIGARETTES!”) But seriously… This year’s winner for Best Actor has to be Jeff Bridges. For Crazy Heart he has a SAG award, his after two prior nominations, to go along with his Golden Globe, which he won after three times at bat. His winning an Oscar on his fifth try, at the world-wise age of 60, would be perfect. Who doesn’t want to see this happen? All I can say is if I ever buy a car again it’ll surely be a Hyundai, so persuasive his voice is when selling them on TV. If …