Here Come the Swans

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I like balsamic vinegar.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

"If you tolerate this..."

This is my new YouTube video addiction:

Manic Street Preachers: "If you tolerate this, then your children will be next."

Yeah, I know this song is over ten years old, which reminds me of this annoying habit my father had of "discovering" a song years after its release. It's not a big deal now, thanks to YouTube/eBay/Amazon, but back in the 1970s and 1980s, it could be a big pain in the ass because we couldn't find the song through the avenues available back in the day. Music quickly went out of print, and then my father would get obsessive if he couldn't find what he wanted, and we were off on wild goose chases. (Back then, it would take detective work figuring out what the song was he was looking for, like freaking Name That Tune. Again, it wasn't like we could Google lyrics.)

Here's a sample of those sought-after-by-Dad songs:
John Paul Young, "Love is in the Air"

Bertie Higgins, "Key Largo"

When he succeeded in finding what he wanted, my dad would then play the song over and over and over and over, so we all wished that our detective work hadn't been so freaking successful. Also, on a trip down to the Florida Keys, we HAD to stop in Key Largo, to see where "we had it all/Just like Bogie and Bacall." We spent the night in a roach-infested, disgusting hotel room. Thanks Bertie Higgins. Thanks a lot.

Anyway, back to the Manic Street Preachers...I've read ALOT about this band in the British music magazines, but this is the first song of theirs that really caught my attention, so I'll try to check out more of their stuff.

I'm also obsessed with this song:

"Male prostitution seems to be my only option." Jemaine is so cute!

Okay, I promise I'll discuss the Oscars in the next post. I was 24/30 on my predictions. The one that threw me (and probably countless others) was the snubbing of that Batman movie.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Oscar prognostication

Okay, I'm going to try my hand at this Oscar nomination prediction game. On the 22nd, you can laugh at how wrong I was. By the way, these are my predictions, NOT my personal preferences. If I had been going by preference, there's no way "best" and "Benjamin Button" would appear in the same sentence, except to say something like "Best movie for insomnia." And I'm just going to cover the major categories, so no Live Action Short Film.

Best Picture:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire

Despite its universal (and totally deserved) acclaim, WALL-E will have to be happy with its Best Animated Oscar. I still haven't seen that Batman movie, but I'm not naive enough to believe it won't get a nod. Plus, it has to be better than that Ben Button movie. Of the five listed, I think that Frost/Nixon's spot is the most tenuous. Of the four I've seen, Slumdog Millionaire is my favorite, with Frost/Nixon and Milk close behind.

Best Actor:
Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

I really, really, really want Richard Jenkins to get a nod for his superlative work in The Visitor, but I see this category as too deep this year for that to happen, especially with a late charge from Oscar fave Clint. I'd love to see Michael Sheen be recognized in place of Langella, but that ain't gonna happen either. Heck, Langella might end up getting bumped by Leo DiCaprio. If you could see me through the computer screen, you'd see my eyes rolling at the thought of the Brad Pitt nomination.

Best Actress:
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road

This is the category I've been weakest at predicting in past years. I'm calling a surprise nomination for Melissa Leo, but she will probably be bumped either by Angelina Jolie (for Changeling) or Kristin Scott Thomas (for I've Loved You for So Long) or even maybe Oscar fave Cate Blanchett (for Ben Button). Still, I have to root for those ex-Homicide cast members. People who know me IRL are aware of my Kate Winslet hate, but I think the Globe win sealed her nomination. Hawkins will get the Mike-Leigh-rocks-at-directing-women nod (see also Brenda Blethyn, Marianne Jean Baptiste and Imelda Staunton).

Best Supporting Actor:
Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire

Heath Ledger will win the Oscar for this category, so I think it will be more interesting to see who is nominated rather than who wins. Can Dev Patel ride the Slumdog love wave to a nomination? Will Downey Jr. get nominated for a rather vulgar--but very, very funny--comedy? Which Milk cast member will get the nod? (Personally, I'd pick Franco, but I'm leaning towards Brolin as far as the Academy's pick.) I'm a big fan of PSH, but he was the weak link in Doubt.
Possible spoilers? I keep hearing about Michael Shannon's performance in Revolutionary Road, but save Kate's work, that film seems to have slipped off a lot of radars. Ralph Fiennes might be nominated for The Reader.

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
Kate Winslet, The Reader

Rebecca Hall should be there instead of Cruz, IMHO. I don't think both Doubt supporting actresses will get in, and usually, I root for hard-working character actresses like Viola Davis to get recognized for their work, but I'm annoyed by Oscar "cameo" nominations. Amy Adams was impressive in a much more substantial role. Still, I'm calling it for Davis. Oh, yeah, there's Kate again. *smirk* Henson's performance was my personal highlight of Ben Button.

Best Director
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Opie, Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant, Milk
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight

Yeah, I know, Best Picture = Best Director, and Oscar rarely matches five-for-five, but that' my prediction and I'm sticking with it!

Friday, January 09, 2009

A post about movies? (Some YouTube stuff, too.)

I just watched this delightful movie called Jump Tomorrow, starring TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe, who has a future in screwball comedy if this alternative music gig of his doesn't work out. I'm a sucker for films shot in my old Western New York haunts ("Hey! There's Fantasy Island amusement park!"). Jump Tomorrow combines a few genres: comedy, road movie, romance and buddy film. It's an unmistakenly American indie with a multi-culti flair--a soon-to-be married Nigerian-American meets a suicidal Frenchman and a loquacious Latina with a limey boyfriend, all near the Canadian border. I haven't been this excited after seeing a movie in forever.

Here's my favorite song off TVOTR's new long player, "Dancing Choose"

Stupid song censorship: The word "bumps" in the line "Now you need three bumps before you cut" is bleeped on this video. Seriously?!?!

The other half and I also saw a few of those films that will be in running for those Oscar thingies:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button / mixed
This film wastes Tilda Swinton more than that wacky Teknolust did. There are other problems as well, most notably a premise that doesn't deliver and a pace that can only be described as glacial. Looks great, though.

Slumdog Millionaire / pro
Unlike Ben Button, this film's narrative structure delivers. Best game show-themed film since Quiz Show. Some of the secondary characters are quite flat, but the protagonist's journey is quite memorable.

Doubt / pro-
I know there are some who would argue that "stagey" is an unfair criticism of a stage-to-screen adaptation, but this is a stagey film. So there. But that's not always a bad thing since Doubt is more of an actor's showcase.

Frost/Nixon / pro
I *heart* Michael Sheen.

Milk / pro
I don't want to take away anything from this film and Sean Penn's performance, but honestly, having seen the fantastic documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, I felt a sense of deja vu throughout the film. Still, Penn is great and Emile's 'fro wasn't too much of a distraction--actually, I was more distracted by thinking about his role in The Mudge Boy.

More TVOTR ("I Was Your Lover")

Saturday, January 03, 2009

(Photo taken in St. Maarten.)

I'm home!
Although we didn't go to Jamaica, here's a video that reminds me of the vacation I just took:

Clicky here for some Amazulu

The better half and I have seen five movies in the past week, so we can have a somewhat informed opinion about the Oscar contenders. If I weren't so tired, I'd write more about them. But I am tired, so those write-ups will have to wait.