Archive for February, 2009

Academy delivers accolades to its brightest

Posted in Festival/awards on February 20, 2009 by Steve Mesa

The award season comes to an end on Sunday night when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences present the 81st Academy Awards. The famous faces of the film industry will come to find out who will become the new recipients of the little golden man known as Oscar.
While I still feel that the Academy is out of touch since the best film of the year, The Dark Knight, was not nominated for most of the major awards, here are my predictions on who will go on to win the Academy Award on Sunday night.
2008 became the year of the movie Slumdog Millionaire.
The first major award that the movie will receive on Sunday will be for achievement in directing. Danny Boyle has been receiving endless awards for directing Slumdog Millionaire, including the Director’s Guild of America award. I believe there is no chance that any of the other nominees will receive the Oscar here.
Slumdog Millionaire is about a young man named Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) from the slums of Mumbai who is on the verge of winning 20 million rupees on India’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”
When he is suspected of cheating, he is taken to a police station and interrogated by a police inspector. Jamal reveals how he got the answers as he tells the inspector that each question he answered on the show was a key element to his life story.
Slumdog Millionaire has managed to win every major award for best film from the Golden Globe, Critics Choice Award and the National Board of Review. There is no doubt that this movie will receive the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of 2008.
Moving on from Slumdog, we have the Best Supporting Actress category, which is definitely a toss-up between all five nominees.
In the first place, all of the candidates are worthy of the honor of being nominated. While Amy Adams and Viola Davis were truly amazing in the film Doubt, their nominations will all but cancel each other out.
This will make it a three-way race to the Oscars. Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei turns in an amazing performance in The Wrestler as a stripper who falls for a broken-down professional wrestler.
Taraji P. Henson has an amazing turn in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as Benjamin’s (Brad Pitt) adopted mother and manages to keep her performance top notch when she ages from 18 to 80.
I believe, however, the Oscar will go to Penelope Cruz as the suicidal and hot-headed wife of a Spanish painter in Woody Allen’s latest film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Her performance is truly outstanding and she manages to steal every scene from her co-stars.
No disrespect to any of the other nominees for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, but Heath Ledger absolutely deserves and will get the Oscar. Some say that Ledger will get the award out of pure sympathy because this was his last completed film role and the Academy wants to give it to him posthumously.
However, Ledger still would have deserved the Oscar because he managed to become the best part in the biggest movie of the year. He was dark and unpredictable with a wicked sense of humor. Oscar night will be the night that Ledger will rightfully earn his first Oscar.
In the Best Actress category there is a battle of the old school vs. new school. You have an established Oscar-winning Meryl Streep facing multiple time nominee but never winner Kate Winslet.
Streep is a veteran who has been honored with Oscars wins for both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, as well as being nominated for several other roles. She manages to command the screen with her performance in Doubt as a strict nun at a Catholic school who accuses a priest of molesting a young boy.
Despite her great performance in that film, I believe the Oscar will finally go to Kate Winslet.
Since being nominated for the first time in 1995 for her role in Sense & Sensibility, Winslet has gone on to receive six nominations, but has yet to win.
I thought she would have been nominated for her role in Revolutionary Road, but instead she was nominated for her role in The Reader, where she plays a woman who has a relationship with a man half her age and is put on trial for committing war crimes as a Nazi.
Two men who started their careers in the 1980s face off in the Best Actor category, historically the main event of the Oscar ceremony.
In 2003, Sean Penn finally got his first Oscar as a grieving father looking for justice in Clint Eastwood’s film, Mystic River.
This year, Penn is nominated again as Harvey Milk in Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the United States, who was tragically gunned down by a disgruntled supervisor after a falling out occurred between the two men.
His main competition is Mickey Rourke, whose career had gone off the tracks along with his personal life in recent years.
However, he has made an amazing comeback with his role as a retired professional wrestler looking for redemption in The Wrestler.
With this showdown on the horizon, I think Rourke will come out on top as the Best Actor.
The Cinematic is a weekly column about all things movies. Look for it every Friday.

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Friday the 13th pays homage, brings clichés to theaters

Posted in Reviews on February 13, 2009 by Steve Mesa

The hockey-masked killer with mama issues is wreaking havoc on the unluckiest day of the year in the re-imagination of the 1980 classic horror film, Friday the 13th.
The film opens in black and white on Camp Crystal Lake in 1980, with a woman being chased by someone brandishing a machete. The woman turns out to be
Pamela Voorhees, who held the camp counselors responsible for her son Jason’s accidental drowning.
In the middle of Mrs. Voorhees’ rambling on why she is doing this, a terrified camp counselor fights back and beheads Mrs. Voorhees. Alive and living in the woods,
Jason sees this and vows to avenge his mother’s death by killing anyone who gets near Camp Crystal Lake.
Two decades later, a group of college kids settle in a cabin near the lake to have a great weekend of sex, booze and drugs. When a lonely traveler (Jared Padalecki) stops by their cabin in search of his missing sister, things take a turn for the worse as Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears) goes on a legendary killing spree.
The film’s writers, Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, manage to create a different mythology for the Jason Voorhees’ evolution by taking different aspects of the first three original Friday the 13th movies and putting those references into the remake. They manage to take everything that Jason fans love about the franchise, whether it’s the grisly kills that befall unlucky victims or gratuitous sex scenes.
References to the franchise include Jason covering his head with a sack as in Friday the 13th Part 2 to a climactic showdown in a barn which is a homage to Friday the 13th Part 3. The screenwriters manage to keep the same formula that made the Friday the 13th franchise famous: If you have sex or take drugs during the movie, it is guaranteed that you are doomed beyond all recognition.
The acting in the movie is average, but by the time it reaches its climax, the performances dwindle down to people screaming, crying and being on alert for Jason.
Eventually, it becomes acting that you would expect in any other horror film, no matter what franchise it is.
The characters in the film are cliché as they are the same kind that would usually show up in a movie like this. They range from the slutty girl who likes to take off her clothes to the comedic relief of the movie, who happens to be a pothead.
The first 10 minutes of the film feature Jason dispatching a group of unlucky campers in a brutal and ruthless sequence to watch.
The movie continues at a slow pace as another group of characters are introduced. The pace eventually picks up when Jason resumes gruesomely picking out the college kids one by one.
An element that makes the film more intense than its predecessors is the rejuvenation of Jason Voorhees. In all the Friday the 13th films that Jason appeared stalking his prey, he would walk slow and eventually catch up to them. This time around, he is a lean, mean killing machine and moves as fast as a NFL lineman.
Even if you were trying to outrun Jason, there would be no escape because he can move as fast as you can, which is really scary.
He can also maneuver throughout Camp Crystal Lake via a built-in tunnel system that gives him an advantage in hunting his target. Jason dispatches his prey in a ruthless and realistic fashion, even going as far as using hunting equipment – bear trap and bow and arrow – to kill those who trespass the ground he lives and feeds off of.
Though this film has typical cliché characters and barely passable acting, Friday the 13th manages to conjure up inventive kills, pay tribute to the first three Friday the 13th films and make Jason Voorhees scary again.
FRIDAY THE 13TH: 3.5 stars out of 5