Posts Tagged ‘Up’

Showbiz Kids: The Oscars, Charlton Heston and Steely Dan

February 3, 2010

Before we begin, there are two important things to remember about the Oscars. The first is the Charlton Heston Rule. That rule is that the Academy is made up of a lot of people like the late Charlton Heston—old fogeys with traditional tastes. Wonder why Crash beat out Brokeback Mountain or There Will Be Blood didn’t take best picture in 2008? It’s not a hard or fast rule, but think about what your grandmother might vote for. There are a lot of retired actors and techies out there who have a say in what wins.

The second rule has been inaugurated this year. It’s the Steely Dan Rule. What do the ‘70s jazz-funk duo have to do with the Academy Awards? You might remember in 2001, their disc Two Against Nature beat out stiff competition from Radiohead’s Kid A. The reason commonly given was that the producers, engineers and other tech-heads who made up the Recording Academy wanted to recognize the painstaking approach Fagen and Becker took in the studio. Two Against Nature didn’t win because it was filled with great tunes like “Do It Again.” It won because, to a group of voters who use their ears for a living, it sounded great.

It’s this latter rule which makes me think that James Cameron is going to have a good night. Avatar is pretty much a turkey as far as movies go and a staggering display of kitsch. There’s no denying, however, that legions of effects people have spent a lot of time making it look good. That effort will, Squally thinks, be honored by the Academy. Cameron also gets the credit for marshalling that effort. Say what you want about Avatar. Like Titanic it took a guy with a genuine Napoleon complex to put it on screen. The Hurt Locker may be the better movie, but it’s still a more modest achievement—especially in terms of box office. At least Kathryn Bigelow gets a chance to work again, which nobody was expecting after The Weight of Water Avatar’s victory, though, is somewhat bittersweet. That the movie should be honored with a best picture nod when wiser heads understood that its acting and script were somewhere around the level of that Tucker Max flick is a pop culture crime of the highest order.

So now onto the rest …


Oscar Nominations: The Long List

February 2, 2010

Well, it’s been a learning experience. Apparently when Anne Hathaway reads out the Oscar nominations, she doesn’t have to sully herself with announcing the titles in the Best Animated Short pack.

The only real surprises here are a mixed bag for the Best Supporting Actor role (Did The Lovely Bones ever get released?), which Christoph Waltz is now a dead-cert to nab. Then there’s the Best Actor nomination for Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner (well-deserved) and In the Loop getting a Best Adapted Screenplay nod. The Yanks really liked that movie.

Here were the nominations read out at this morning’s press shindig. The list will be updated shortly.

UPDATE: The complete list of Oscar nominations is as follows. Predictions and commentary will take a little bit longer.


The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up in the Air


James Cameron (Avatar)
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
Lee Daniels (Precious)
Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)


DVD Debut: Up, The Ugly Truth

November 10, 2009

UPexclusiveBigIt’s up, up and away with DVD Debut over at

If life had turned out different, square-jawed Carl Fredrickson might have been a jungle explorer like the heroes of his youth. Now the modern world is closing in on this retired balloon-seller. Then one day his house takes to the skies with the help of a few thousand inflatables. That’s the beginning of a wild adventure into the tropics, where Carl and a stowaway both have lots to discover. It’s Pixar, so as well as talking dogs and breathtaking vistas, there’s an emotional wallop packed away in the suitcase, too. Bring a hankie.

The Hustler (Robert Rossen, 1961)

June 8, 2009

The Hustler

Sometimes the expectations that you have color your reception of a movie. Up was a perfect example. Warned about the film’s dark content, I came to the conclusion that protagonist would die at the end. I also became convinced that the sequence at Paradise Falls was a dream, and that the movie would end with Carl waking up in a ruined house. That made watching the movie quite thrilling. But the non-realization of any of these notions was just a little disappointing.

So it was that when I watched The Hustler for the first time in a dog’s age, I was convinced that Fast Eddie Felson loses in the final contest with Minnesota Fats. The sense of impending defeat makes the movie an even rawer experience.


Trailerama: Up

March 12, 2009

Old man moves from a monochrome world to a technicolor one, from Andrew Wyeth to Henri Rousseau. His house flies and also gets tied to his back. The “talking animal” cartoon conceit is gently tweaked. Don’t ask what’s happening at the end. If Monsters Inc. was Pixar doing Keaton, this might be their tilt at Bunuel.