Posts Tagged ‘Oscar’

Fabricated Truth 3.0

Freitag, Januar 18th, 2013

When I started this blog, more than five years ago, I had no idea where it was headed. I wrote about all manner of things, but mostly about film. I wrote literally hundreds of what I called “Minute Movie Reviews”, starting with Bottle Rocket and culminating, years later, with The Good German. I wrote about other things as well, but that was merely a sideshow. It was all about film. I wrote about the writers’ strike in Hollywood. I wrote about the Award Season (And for those that read German, I urge to again remember why the Golden Globes are no indication for the Oscars and are actually worthless.) . I wrote about films I particularly liked and even tried a more scholarly approach to them, once. The first Fabricated Truth was all about film.

This lasted for nearly three years. Three happy, fruitless years of consistent movie watching and misery. After which time, I went to Australia. The language of the blog changed to German and I wrote about my life on the other side of the world. I wrote about my travels. I wrote about my jobs. I wrote about my personal life. Or lack thereof. I even wrote about my struggles with depression and other, even more tedious forms of mental illness. A blog that had been about something I loved had turned into one about something I lived. The second incarnation of Fabricated Truth was all about myself.

I left Australia months. I came back to my native Germany six weeks ago – almost to the day. And on here, it has become quiet. Not a single word was written, let alone published. Well, this is about to change. (In roughly three minutes as I write this, once I click “Publish”.) It is time for Fabricated Truth 3.0, for the third attempt at this blog (not a blog, I’ve written others before and since). I’m not sure what it will be like. I’ll try to write about this and that. I’ll try to switch between languages every now and again. I might even add a third one, if things work out as planned. (Which they won’t, but still; it’s nice to dream.) I won’t make any promises I can’t keep, but I’ll try to write something at least twice a week. Not on a fixed schedule. Not to a deadline. Not with a word count to strive for. Just whenever and whatever springs to mind. There will probably be some stories of my trip(s) which have never made it on here. There will be the occassional movie review, if I feel the need to add something to the noise. And there will be a reprise of something that was a part of the first Fabricated Truth: fiction. I’ve written stories before, and some even on and for this blog. That’s something I want to do again. And hopefully, that will contribute to a new dawn for this little corner of the internet. It’s time someone switched the lights back on around here. And since I’m the only one with a key, it has to be me. I hope you are prepared for it.

(weiterlesen …)

Rain Man – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, Oktober 1st, 2010

Review:

Not exactly successful car dealer Tom Cruise isn’t very sad when his father dies. But when he hears that he left all his money to a formerly unknown brother, who is severely autistic, Cruise more or less kidnaps his brother to get at the money. But naturally, things don’t quite work out this way in this classic drama about brothers, life, autism and Dustin Hoffman’s acting abilities. Though not quite as brilliant as I remembered, the film still holds up reasonably well more than twenty years after its release.

Random Observations:

Rain Man at the IMDb

In the farm house scene, where they go to watch “People’s Court”, Beth Grant plays the mother. I honestly did not recognize her. How embarrassing.

Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar for his performance, the starting point for the famous “full retard” speech from the solid comedy Tropic Thunder.

I was inspired to watch this film again by the casino/card-counting scene from The Hangover, that was a clear homage to this film.

It’s funny what you remember from films that you haven’t seen in many years. I completely forgot about Cruise’s girlfriend and I could have sworn that the last scene was different – but the scene in my mind was only alluded to throughout the film. “Dad let’s my drive slow in the driveway. I’m an excellent driver.”

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit – Minute Movie Review

Montag, September 20th, 2010

Review:

Life is all about second chances. You give them to people. People give them to you. And sometimes – not very often, mind you – you offer them to a film. I first saw Were-Rabbit back in its theatrical run in 2005 and I was less than impressed. But after watching the recent Wallace & Gromit short A Matter of Loaf and Death and enjoying it immensely, I thought it was time to revise my judgement. Sadly, I was mistaken and my judgement still stands. Sure, the film has some outrageously funny scenes, some inspired ideas and is beautifully animated. (Claymated? That doesn’t sound right.) But ultimately, there are just not enough jokes or plot to sustain a feature film. The shorts are hilarious, but the film is somehow less. It’s by no means bad, but it’s just not great, with the story becoming increasingly silly (and not in a good way) and many of the jokes falling flat. And seriously, Gromit’s eyes are impressively expressive, but there is only so much one can take of them. In summary: it’s a good thing that Aardman went back to making short films – it’s where claymation belongs.

Random Observations:

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit at the IMDb

The film took half a decade to make, with only 3 seconds of footage being produced on most days. Stop motion animation is a lot of work, doing the whole thing with clay even more so.

It’s nice that the studio and director/creator Nick Park managed to retain Peter Sallis as the voice of Wallace. Some better known actor would have been a horrible choice.

The first third of the film, before the plot gets really under way, is easily my favourite part of the movie.

A Streetcar Named Desire – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, September 15th, 2010

Review:

Faded Southern Belle Vivien Leigh comes to New Orleans to stay with her sister Kim Hunter and brother-in-law Marlon Brando. She labours under a good many delusions and can’t deal with the fact that her sister married (and loves) a working class man. He, meanwhile, can’t stand her and just wants her out of the apartment. Naturally, things come to a dramatic end. Tennessee Williams’ famous play was adapted for the screen by much of the same people who first made it a hit, including director Elia Kazan and large parts of the cast. Personally, I couldn’t care less for any of the people involved, but it’s a gripping story that is well told, so I guess that makes it a good film.

Random Observations:

A Streetcar Named Desire at the IMDb

Three people won acting Oscars for this film, including the two female leads and the always glorious Karl Malden. But it was really Brando who made the film, bursting onto the scene with his method acting and raw naturalism that changed cinema forever.

Seriously, Brando is so good, you almost forgive him for being the villain.

The film is also really interesting as a case study about the Breen Office, the League of Decency, and Censorship in Hollywood. The DVD Special Edition features a nice little extra about that, especially explaining about the last minute changes the League demanded.

Ryan’s Daughter – Minute Movie Review

Donnerstag, August 12th, 2010

Review:

In a small Irish town in 1916, resentment over the British occupation is growing. Rose Ryan, meanwhile, is unhappy with how boring life in the town is, wanting something more. She marries the school teacher (Robert Mitchum), a widower who loves her dearly. But still, life isn’t as interesting as it should be, so it’s only natural that she engages in an affair with a British officer – something that surely can’t end well. Director David Lean was criticized for making a terribly expensive film about essentially nothing, but that misses the point. It is actually a beautiful, slowly paced film about love in its many variations, an engaging drama with a plot that keeps you interested despite – or because of – long stretches of nothing much happening. The Irish freedom fight simply serves as the backdrop and catalyst for the story, which is probably how it actually appeared in many of the small towns far removed from the struggle.

Random Observations:

Ryan’s Daughter at the IMDb

The film, or rather it’s negative critical reception, especially by Pauline Kael and the likes, pretty much ended David Lean’s career, prompting him to stop making films for 14 years. It’s a real shame, for if there is one director who knew how to make a truly epic film, it was him.

And yes, this film is not of the same quality as Lawrence of Arabia or The Bridge on the River Kwai, but it’s still very good.

John Mills won an Oscar for his painfully realistic portrayal of a mute, mentally handicapped men who is mistreated by the entire village – and who is one of the five men who love Rose, each in their own way.

This is a film that one really should see on the big screen, preferably the original 70mm print. But since this should be close to impossible, the DVD transfer is actually of decent quality and gives an idea of the beautiful cinematography.

The story is based on or at least very similar to Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, an excellent book that I remember very little of.

Two films (in this review cycle) ago, Mitchum played the adulterer, now he is the loving husband who sticks with his wife despite her adultery. And yes, he manages to convince in both roles.

An American in Paris – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, Juli 16th, 2010

Review:

Gene Kelly is an American painter in Paris, barely scraping by. Things change, however, when a rich young woman becomes his sponsor – and romantically interested in him. Meanwhile, he falls for a girl that is, unknown to him, already engaged to another man. Along the way, they song Gershwin songs while Gershwin music plays and dance a little, before the film appears headed for a dramatic ending, at which point everything stops for fifteen minutes for the most elaborate dance sequence of all time, at the end of which Hollywood gets its happy ending. The film features great music and some nice scenes, but overall it is tiresome, boring and that last sequence actually put me to sleep. Instead of the light entertainment that musicals can be, this tries to add gravitas, but fails spectacularly.

Random Observations:

An American in Paris at the IMDb

This concludes the first week of our studies of American Cinema of the 1950s. What have we learned so far? Mostly that 1951 most either have been a horrible year for film or that the Academy was seriously whacked when it awarded this film the Best Picture Oscar. Just a hint: some great movies were made in 1951.

The final dance sequence (which actually clocks in at over 15 minutes, I was not exaggerating) is impressive, with spectacular sets and amazing choreography, but unless you are a fan of interpretative dance, you will be bored beyond belief.

First film for Leslie Caron, who was discovered by Gene Kelly while in Paris, and got the part for her actually being French.

The film was shot entirely on set, except for some aerial footage of Paris.

A Man for All Seasons – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, Juli 2nd, 2010

Review:

When King Henry VIII., in his desperate search for an heir, seeks a divorce from his first wife to marry another woman, everyone in England eventually goes along with his plan, leading to the split from the Catholic Church. The only one who doesn’t agree is Sir Thomas More, who stands on his principles no matter the cost. This film version of Robert Bolt’s stage play, perfectly portrays a man willing to sacrifice everything for his convictions. You may not agree with More’s stand, but you can’t help but admire him for it, which this expertly made film clearly intends.

Random Observations:

A Man for All Seasons at the IMDb

The dialogue, while certainly (unlike the events) not historically accurate, is simply superb, especially when More is asked to account for his silent opposition.

The film won a boatload of Oscars. Even back in the 1960s the Academy was a sucker for costume dramas…

Vanessa Redgrave plays Anne Boleyn, the woman the King seeks to marry, in an unpaid and unbilled cameo appearance.

A very young John Hurt has a part in this film (as Richard Rich, a name so silly it has to be true). It’s very odd to see him as a young man.

Tootsie – Minute Movie Review

Montag, Mai 31st, 2010

Review:

Unemployed and unemployable actor Dustin Hoffman decides to dress up as a woman in order to get work. Surprisingly, this works out as he is given a part in a daytime drama (those things commonly known as “daily soaps”). Through it, he discovers the sexism of men, the advantages of being a woman and the gentler side in himself. Too bad that he falls in love with one of his co-stars… The film, directed by the legendary Sidney Pollack, is both extremely funny and an engaging examination of gender roles. Hoffman is utterly brilliant as both a man and a woman and with a great supporting cast he makes this film truly memorable.

Random Observations:

Tootsie at the IMDb

This continues Dustin Hoffman Week. Two more instalments to come!

Bill Murray plays Hoffman’s room-mate – his name was omitted from the opening credits so that audience wouldn’t think this was one of his typical comedies. He is also extremely funny, playing the straight man to Hoffman’s antics.

“I was a better man with you as a woman than I ever was with a woman as a man. Know what I mean?”

This was the first film for Geena Davis, who went on to an illustrious career (and less appearances in her underwear).

Kramer vs. Kramer – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, Mai 28th, 2010

Review:

One day, Meryl Streep just abandons husband Dustin Hoffman and their little son. For fifteen months, Hoffman struggles with being a single father, doing his very best. Then, Streep returns and wants custody of her child back, an issue both will fight in court (Hence the title!). The 1979 film is a compelling drama about divorce and the effect it has on people, but it’s also the story of a workaholic father learning to take care of his child. Great performances all around – especially from the father and son duo – make this a moving story that seems to be taken right out of real life.

Random Observations:

Kramer vs. Kramer at the IMDb

One of the reason for the realism of the film is that many people involved, including Hoffman, had lately dealt with divorce themselves, and thus had plenty of experience to draw from.

The film won the “Big Five” Oscars – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress.

Justin Henry was also nominated as a supporting actor for his incredible turn as the son.

I can not stress enough how incredibly touching the scenes between Hoffman and Henry are. Great acting, great writing, great everything.

Despite the very dramatic nature of the story, the film has some lighter elements, mostly due to Hoffman’s struggles with being a “mommy”.

See, I promised this would be Dustin Hoffman Week!

Capote – Minute Movie Review

Donnerstag, Mai 20th, 2010

Review:

Despite the title, this is not your regular biopic, instead just telling the story of how Truman Capote become involved in the murder story in Kansas that served as the basis for his extraordinary true crime fiction book In Cold Blood. The film is a bleak retelling of history, somewhat elevated by the interesting subject and a superb performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman in the lead role, who has no qualms about depicting the vile nastiness and arrogant narcissism of Capote – a portrayal that garnered him a (arguably long overdue) Best Actor Oscar. This awesome performance also is the film’s biggest weakness, for together with the brutal killers it takes centre stage, meaning that no character the viewer could identify with is left. More sympathetic figures like Harper Lee (the always reliable Catherine Keener), Capote’s boyfriend Jack Dunphy (Bruce Greenwood) or police investigator Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper) are reduced to little more than cameo appearances.

Random Observations:

Capote at the IMDb

You know how all famous people know each other? Watching this film, you could almost believe that is true.

I always knew Capote was a nasty piece of work, but if his depiction in this film is correct, he hardly qualified as a human being. That doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a great writer, but still.

I like the story Capote tells about shooting a film with Humphrey Bogart and John Huston. Those two men are as close to being my idols as anyone.