Wednesday, February 28, 2007


The boys showed why the winner will be a woman. In fact, I think 3 of the top 4 will be women this year.

"Batboy" got better reviews than he deserved, he should go home soon.

The Twindian was terrible but will be around thanks to all the Indian telephone product support people voting while we're on hold.

Sunshine saved himself by singing an easy song. He has no range.

The kid from Taunton was also overly well-reviewed by the judges. He has no range and should head home soon, but not this week.

Jared is weak. I think he's in danger.

Sligh and the Family Hair was good this week and redeemed his dis of Simon.

Brandon is in trouble. "Time After Time" is actually a good song melodically, but he showed no emotional range and will be forgettable to the voters.

AJ is also forgettable and could be in trouble.

Beat Box Boy is pretty good. He sang an extremely difficult song very well. He may be one of the last boys to remain.

I hate Chris Richardson's music, but he has the most potential as a pop star among the boys.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Let's start off with the show itself. It was long. Still too long. I like Ellen, she's amiable and funny, but not cutting-edge. Imagine if John Stewart hosted again? Or Stephen Colbert (in character)? Or Borat in character? I liked the shadow dancers but it took too long. The montage of famous foreign films should go, and the parade of the dead is always death to the show. The lifetime achievement awards are too long. Of course, I deal with these same issues at the CAS and MPSE shows, and sometimes there's just no way you can make everyone happy.

No film came away a clear winner, although DEPAHTED won four awards, none of them deserved, some of them predicted. Scorsese got his Lifetime Achievement Award, and so did Thelma Schoonmaker for editing. (She is extremely well-respected in the industry.) Picture should have gone to PAN'S LABYRINTH which was not even nominated. Adapted screenplay should have gone to CHILDREN OF MEN (or maybe BORAT, which I will finally see when it comes out on video in two weeks).

PAN'S LABYRINTH got three awards for Art Direction, Cinematography and Makeup. (Cinematography should probably have gone to CHILDREN OF MEN.) PAN was robbed of not only Best Picture, but Foreign-Language film to LIVES OF OTHERS (DAS LEBEN DER ANDEREN). Don't get me wrong, that's a great film too, and any other year would have won, but PAN is one of the best films I've seen in many years.

DREAMGIRLS got Supporting Actress as predicted, then when Jennifer Hudson sang on the Oscar show, proved that it was a fluke performance. She was terrible, and Beyonce blew her away. It also won Sound Mixing for Mike Minkler, Bob Beemer and Willie Burton, all of whom won last week at the CAS Awards.

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE won two, for Supporting Actor (which I predicted) and Original Screenplay.

INCONVENIENT TRUTH also won two; Best Doc, as expected, and Best Song. Almost a year ago in 242 class I predicted it would get nominated. When it came down to the wire, I did not think it would win, but I was wrong. Melissa Ethridge gave a better performance on the Oscars than she did on the recording, it was MUCH more emotional.

Score went to BABEL. I liked that score, but it wasn't an Oscar score.

Sound Effects Editing also matches the MPSE with LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA winning. Vis FX went to PIRATES, which was flashy, but the effects in SUPERMAN were actually harder because they had to be more realistic.

Actor and Actress were as predicted and deserved. Animated feature went to HAPPY FEET which was just OK. MONSTER HOUSE should have won.

I've yet to see MARIE ANTOINETTE but will this week.

My former student Ari Sandel won for Best Short and gave one of the best acceptance speeches of the night.

Overall Oscar did a good job of spreading out the awards and many were deserved, but I can't get over DEPAHTED winning four, all undeserved.


THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED is an extremely well-made and very important film about the MPAA rating system in the US. It's almost impossible to imagine what the filmmakers risked in making a film that names not only the members of the judging panel on the MPAA, but also the names of members of the appeals board, who all turn out to be industry executives. In addition to being an important document, the film is also well made, with great title and animation sequences, fun montages of film sex throughout the ages, and great song and music choices. This is a must-see film for anyone who works in the film industry and for serious fans of film so that you know what you are missing.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


I posted this about a month ago originally, but people have asked about my predictions, so I've updated and re-posted it. My track record for predictions, even in the sound category, is terrible because I always allow my personal preferences to affect my predictions. This is why I don't enter Oscar pools.

I'll go by category and make comments about the nominations. I'll skip the short categories since I haven't seen any of the nominees.

BABEL and THE DEPAHTED do not belong. Replace them with CHILDREN OF MEN and PAN'S LABYRINTH, which would be my choice for winner. LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE is the best comedy I've seen this year (although I still haven't seen BORAT). I wish comedies were in a separate category, like the SAG or Golden Globes.

THE QUEEN is deserving of a nomination, but not a win. Based on the other awards, it looks like it's Scorcese's turn for Best Pic. I don't like the idea of lifetime achievement awards being given for Best Picture, especially when there are other, better nominated films.

I'm not at all upset about DREAMGIRLS missing. Eight nominations, but... three are for song. It's a musical. That leave five; noms for Art, Costume and Sound Mixing are primarily considered tech awards. How many times has a film that won Art Direction won Best Picture? That leaves two deserved creative awards, for SUPPORTING actor and actress (not even the leads). Neither deserves to win. It does not deserve a BP nom. Sorry.

The only thing I like about the Golden Globes is that they separate Comedy/Musical from Drama. I also like the SAG category for best cast. But among the Oscar noms in acting, they are pretty good.

Ryan Gosling is an excellent actor, but HALF NELSON is not an Oscar film. I haven't seen HAPPYNESS yet. (It looks putrid in the trailers.) Of the others, I'll be shocked if Forrest Whittaker does not win for LAST KING OF SCOTLAND. It's the performance of a lifetime. I love Peter O'Toole, and he is excellent in VENUS, but this is not his year. Leo is OK in BLOOD DIAMOND, but not deserving.
Actress: I'll also be shocked if Helen Mirren does not win for THE QUEEN. I love Judi Dench, but she was over the top in NOTES ON A SCANDAL. The other noms are deserved. Meryl Streep was very good in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, but should not win. Penelope Cruz in VOLVER and Kate Winslett in LITTLE CHILDREN were good but should not win.

Supporting actor: Alan Arkin in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE and Jackey Earl Haley in LITTLE CHILDREN were both excellent. I'd be happy seeing either win, but I expect Arkin to take the trophy. How is Djimon Hounsou in BLOOD DIAMOND a supporting actor? His part was bigger than Leo's. But it was one-note. Marc Wahlberg, whom I usually like, was awful in DEPAHTED. Eddie Murphy was amusing in DREAMGIRLS, but, Oscar? I think not, although SAG thinks so, and there are more actors in the Academy than there are any other profession; they make up about 20% of the voters.

Supporting actress: no question who deserves it most, Abigail Breslin. An absolutely amazing, intelligent, layered performance from an 11 year-old. Seeing it twice confirmed this. Also, seeing her as a normal kid on Letterman... she was really acting. Adriana Barraza was very weak In BABEL. Rinko Kikuchi was better but still a very weak film. Cate Blanchett was as over the top as Judi Dench in NOTES ON A SCANDAL. The award will probably go to AMERICAN IDOL castoff Jennifer Hudson, who would be my second choice.

Clint Eastwood's deserved nomination trumps Martin Scorcese's Lifetime Achievement Award Nomination, but Scorsese will win. Left off are the two foreign directors who deserve it more: Guillermo del Toro or Alfonso Cuarón. Stephen Frears is unlikely, but Paul Greengrass did an excellent job with the under-appreciated UNITED 93.

Again it would be nice to judge comedies separately.

BABEL should not be nominated. The screenplay categories often play like "runners-up" to Best Picture, so it could win even though I thought it was weak. More likely LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE or possibly PAN'S LABYRINTH will win.

In adapted, I still haven't seen BORAT. (No guild screenings!) DEPAHTED and NOTES ON A SCANDAL don't belong. CHILDREN OF MEN *should* win, but I can't predict this one.

If you haven't noticed, I LOVE animated films. CARS was by far the weakest of the three films but will probably win. MONSTER HOUSE deserves to win. HAPPY FEET has lost steam and has a very weak third act.

will probably go to PAN'S LABYRINTH, which would be my choice.

Of the four I've seen, it should go to PAN'S LABYRINTH. LIVES OF OTHERS (DAS LEBEN DER ANDEREN) is a close second and any other year would win. DAYS OF GLORY is competent but not original enough. WATER should not have been nominated. Haven't seen WEDDING.

should go to PAN'S LABYRINTH or CHILDREN OF MEN, which had superior work but was not as obvious as PAN. THE BLACK DAHLIA, ILLUSIONIST and PRESTIGE should not even be nominated.

Haven't seen POSEIDON (nor will I ever) but SUPERMAN was a lot better than PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.

Didn't see MARIE ANTOINETTE, but I'd be surprised if CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER does not win. DREAMGIRLS could win, but PRADA and THE QUEEN are unlikely.

I've only seen three; of those, JESUS CAMP is by far the best. However, the PowerPiont presentation INCONVENIENT TRUTH will almost certainly win. (MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY is also good). I hope to see the others soon.

BABEL will win because it's non-linear. (BFD.) It could also go to DEPAHTED simply because the editor and director are very popular. Of the nominees, I preferred UNITED 93 (which was one of the best films of the year).

Best score of the year was Tom Newman's score for THE GOOD GERMAN. It may win, as it's very old-fashioned.

Even David Letterman is making jokes about the fact that a doc about global warming got nominated for... BEST SONG, which I predicted quite a while ago. One of the songs from DREAMGIRLS should win, but they may split their own vote, leaving Randy Newman to win for CARS.

PAN'S LABYRINTH is most deserving. APOCALYPTO was OK but nothing special. I see why CLICK was nominated for make-up. They have to make Henry Winkler look young in flashbacks (mostly through creative cinematography and visual effects) and make Sandler look old in flash-forwards, but PAN was much better.

The Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Award for Sound Effects/Foley Editing AND for Dialogue/ADR Editing both went to LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, which bodes well for its Oscar chances in Sound Effects Editing.

The Cinema Audio Society Awards for Sound Mixing on a Feature film went to DREAMGIRLS, and was well deserved also. The only other Oscar possibility in my estimation is APOCALYPTO, which was not nominated for a CAS award. Re-recording mixer Kevin O'Connell is a perennial bridesmaid at the Oscars, having been nominated 18 times in the past but has never won (a record).

I know I said I'd skip this, but I wanted to mention that a former student, Ari Sandel, was nominated in this category for his thesis film made while at USC, WEST BANK STORY, which is a musical. I'm thrilled for him and wish him the best.

Also in the animated short category, my good friend Gary Rydstrom is nominated. It's his 14th nomination (he's won 7) but this is his first as director. I wish him the best of luck as well.


JESUS CAMP is a documentary about Pentecostal Evangelists teaching children. It's one of the best documentaries I've seen this year. It's nominated for the Oscar, and of the three nominees that I've seen, it's far and way the best of the three.

This is a movie that will make you squirm. The children are practically brainwashed. The adults constantly defend themselves by saying "terrorists teach children to use bombs," without realizing the irony that they themselves are being just as manipulative of the children. Some of them are home-schooled and taught in the same sentence that "evolution is stupid" and "global warming is not an issue." I'm not sure I understand how global warming is a religious issue, but it's astounding that no one explains to them that their assertion that "a .6 degree per year increase is unimportant." There are plenty of arguments against the data that you could make logically, but if they accept that there's a .6 degree increase, that means when that kid hits Social Security, the average daily temperature will be well over 100 degrees. It's just astounding that no one explains causal effect, the scientific method, or even just linear logic to these kids. I feel so sorry for them. These are kids that will never be given a chance in life.

Oh, and they claim that 25% of the country now identifies itself religiously as Evangelist. That might not sound like much, but if it's true, it's an increase from the 2001 Census from 2%. It would make them as large as the Catholic church in America. Much of the film is spent describing the relationship between the growth of the religion and the religious nature of George Bush.

The movie takes a bizarre turn when the children attend the ministry of Ted Haggerty. You may remember him as recently being "cured" of his homosexuality after his fall from grace when he lied about paying a male prostitute with drugs. This movie was made long before that, and it makes him look extremely creepy as he is introduced looking into the camera saying "I know what you did last night."

This movie is available via rental on Netfilx; I very highly recommend it.


This has been a very busy week just dealing with the awards shows. The CAS awards were last Saturday, MPSE ballots were due Wednesday, we screened the MPSE student nominees Friday night at USC (Kevin Klauber at right), and the awards show was held last night.

The Golden Reel Awards for Sound Effects/Foley Editing AND for Dialogue/ADR Editing both went to LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, which bodes well for its Oscar chances tonight. The show sounded great.

Clint Eastwood was on hand to accept the Filmmaker's Award. He was very supportive of sound editors and was very friendly. He's a genuinely nice guy.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


None of the rejects were unexpected or undeserved. The only memorable moment of the night was introducing Quincy Jones and then cutting him off after one word.


The men were terrible, the women were much better. To make an even bigger generalization, the black women were the best of the lot.

I was a big fan of the goofy Sligh until he opened fire on Simon (as though Simon should be ashamed of being involved with one of the biggest-selling children's albums of all time).

LaKisha was better than Jennifer Hudson, who will probably win an Oscar on Sunday.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY is a great little independent film about life after death in a world populated by suicide victims. It's part comedy, part romance, and all different. It has a great cast of mostly unknowns, and a few cameos by better-known actors like Tom Waits, Will Arnett (Gob from ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) and my friend Abe Benrubi from E.R.

It's definitely NOT a film for everyone, but if you like quirky independent films, I highly recommend it.

Monday, February 19, 2007


There's a lot of great work in THE PAINTED VEIL. Although it's slow getting started, the majority of the film is a fascinating character study between a married couple who learn to hate each other.

The cast is fantastic. Naomi Watts and Edward Norton are good leads (although Norton's English accent is clearly overly affected). If there was any doubt as to how good Toby Jones was as Capote in INFAMOUS, seeing him as a completely different character here proves his range. (As Capote, it never occurred to me that he was a British actor playing American). Liev Schrieber and Diana Rigg are also good.

The cinematography and music are excellent. I'm surprised Alexandre Desplat wasn't nominated for his beautiful score.

Definitely recommended.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


I love the Aardman films, but something is amiss in FLUSHED AWAY. Only a few minutes into it, everything feels wrong. Wallace & Gromit are distinctly British, but it seems like a movie about rodents in the sewers should have American characters in New York. Hugh Jackman is not a great voice for the lead, although Kate Winslet is very good as the female lead and Ian McKellan is excellent as the villain. Many of the other British characters sound too similar.

They say that they are mice, but the main characters sure look like rats. One thing Uncle Walt got right is that for a mouse to be a hero, he has to be cute. This movie missed the boat on that one.

The pacing of the film is completely messed up. The second act starts much too quickly (we have no chance to like the main character because we don't even know who he is). It takes too long to get to the bad guy and the female lead, and just when you think the film is wrapping up, the third act starts. Then somehow it still ends with a short running time.

I like making fun the the French as much as anyone, but wow, it's almost sad how much they make fun of the French in this film. Someone has some issues to work out.

Overall, the humor seems to be missing, and Roddy the Rodent is not much of a hero. The clever action of all the Wallace & Gromit films, or even CHICKEN RUN, is completely absent here.


Congratulations to the CAS Award Winners!

As newly elected Vice President of the organization and co-editor of their CAS Quarterly magazine, I was on hand (with Pete Damski) to present the Technical Achievement Award to Digidesign for their Pro Tools version 7.2 software. Digidesign was a double nominee, also nominated for their Icon control surface. The award was well-deserved.

The award for Sound Mixing on a Feature film went to DREAMGIRLS, and was well deserved also. I was surprised to learn that it was Mike Minkler's first award, especially since he is former President of the organization and a Career Achievement Award winner. He has also won Oscars for CHICAGO and BLACK HAWK DOWN. His win bodes well for his Oscar chances this year. The only other Oscar possibility in my estimation is APOCALYPTO, which was not nominated for a CAS award. Re-recording mixer Kevin O'Connell is a perennial bridesmaid at the Oscars, having been nominated 18 times in the past but has never won (a record). This may be his year.

The Filmmaker Award was given to Gil Cates, who is one of the nicest guys in the film business. He has directed Tony Award-winning plays, Oscar-nominated movies, and has produced and directed many Emmy-winning TV movies. He's former president of the DGA, former Dean of UCLA's films school, and managing director of the Geffen. Most of all, he has produced the Oscar telecast 13 times, which means he has to be able to deal with dozens of huge egos in a relatively easy-going manner. (Plus he's Phoebe Cates's uncle!)

Ed Greene was given the Career Achievement Award. Ed is tied for the most Emmy nominations in history with James L. Brooks. I forget the exact number, but it's in the 40s. He does sound mixing for major live broadcasts including the Emmys, Oscars and Grammys, plus the Kennedy Center Awards. He's worked with Gil a lot, so it was a nice tie-in.

The show was hosted by Robert Wuhl, who was funny and kept the show moving even with the lengthy tributes.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


OVER THE HEDGE is a fun, funny and intelligent animated film based on the comic of the same name. I've always wondered why the SAG awards don't have a voice performance category. If they did, the ensemble award would go to this film, which includes Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Steve Carell, Wanda Sykes, William Shatner, Nick Nolte, and Thomas Haden Church.

The only thing weak about the film was the awful songs by Ben Folds, which stuck out like a sore thumb. Otherwise, there's a lot of fun for both kids and adults.

It did remind me of a film I saw last summer before I started writing blog reviews, THE ANT BULLY. Both films have exterminators as main characters, both wearing orange hazard suits, and both having similar faces. Even weirder... the exterminator in HEDGE is played by Thomas Haden Church; in BULLY he's played by Church's SIDEWAYS co-star Paul Giamatti. Both actors were nominated for Oscars in SIDEWAYS. I guess that was a Dreamworks in-joke?

is also a fun film, but is much more geared towards the younger set.


AMERICAN IDOL has been a complete waste this week. Who cares who gets cut, when you don't see them sing??? They must have had some real problems with this material to edit it so weakly.

I hope it gets better next week.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


THE PROPOSITION is a bizarre film. It's an Australian western, extremely violent, written by musician Nick Cave, and with a stellar acting cast including Guy Pierce, John Hurt and Emily Watson. Hurt and Watson have minor roles but, they steal their scenes even when they do nothing.

The film certainly has its flaws; it takes itself way too seriously; it's paced weakly until the third act, and the Ozzie accents make the plot hard to follow at times. However, it's worth a rental just to see the actors. Hurt's final scene and Watson's final scenes are wonderfully acted.


After stretching the bad auditions out for what felt like an eternity, they sped through the next round at a lightning pace. I'd have like to have seen more of these auditions. We didn't even get to see the female Twindian sing again before she got cut. Nor did we see her brother, who moved on.

I'm really glad Charo got cut. Getting to Hollywood went to her head. Ditto for the Jersey Girl.

Robyn Troupe (misspelled Robin Troup on A.I.!), the winner of the Grammy contest, got cut in the first round and deserved to be, she was really nervous. I don't understand how she sang so well at the Grammys and so poorly for Simon and Paula!

The boy band was... incredible. I've never seen another group sound this good on the show.

Monday, February 12, 2007


STAR TREK aired one of my favorite episodes last night, THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE. It's really good. I had never noticed how many VisFX shots were in the episode until they were all redone. I believe this is the only episode where they chose to redo all the view screen shots as well.

Even with the updated FX, it's really clear that the episode works for other reasons. The writing, editing and music are all top-notch, and more importantly, William Windom's performance as Commodore Decker is the backbone of the show. A less talented actor would have taken the character into insanity. He comes off as surprisingly sympathetic for a man who is clearly losing his mind.


We've gone to the Grammys four out of the last seven years. Each time it's been worth it; you get to see a lot of the best acts in different genres all in the same night. Sometimes you'll see act's you'll never see anywhere else. It's not usually worth watching on TV. The dynamics are not the same as seeing it in person.

Tonight, the show opened with the Police reforming. Next, Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder shared the Collaboration category for a song Wonder wrote when he was 17 ("For Once in My Life"). Wonder thanked his mother, who recently passed away, and Bennet thanked "Target, for being a great sponsor."

The Dixie Chicks won five, and three were major categories. I'm happy to see that, as I've mentioned before, they are a much better group now that they've stopped worrying about making the radio stations and their record label happy.

Seeing Smokey Robinson and Lionel Richie was cool, but they were outdone by newcomer Chris Brown. Christine Aguilera stole the show with her blues performance homage to James Brown. I've seen her sing twice in person and both times she's blown me away. She is SO much better in person than in the recordings she has done. Gnarls Barkley and Shakira were also entertaining.

American Idol winner Carrie Underwear sang a couple of songs quite well, including "Desperado." She also won three Grammys, including New Artist. Last year Kelly Clarkson sang at the show and was just plain awful.

The Grammys had their own version of American Idol, with most of the auditions taking place long before the show, and judged by professionals, with viewers able to pick from the final three during the course of the show. I'm assuming they had clips on the web site to judge as otherwise you're just picking a pretty face. It was a little weird that all three finalists looked a LOT alike. They were all thin young black women with similar hairstyles. The winner Robyn Troupe (misspelled Robin Troupe on A.I.!) sang several songs with Justin Timberlake, and wow, she was amazing. WAY better than most of the American Idol winners.

All in all, the show was good, but not great. It ran quite long. We left after 3 1/2 hours when there were still two categories left. The star quotient was not as high as in the past when we were lucky enough to see Paul McCartney, Eminem, Madonna, and U2. For the first time, the house mix was terrible. Frequently the announcers were completely inaudible. Once, a presenter was cut off in the middle by what sounded like playback of a previous announcement. The bands were VERY loud, louder than usual for the venue, and very muddy sounding. Finally, it seems as though the number of ad breaks has doubled in the last few years (which may account for why the show is so long now).

Nonetheless, it was a great time. Next year is the 50th show, it's expected to be great. We'll be back.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


HALF NELSON is a very weak film. Ryan Gosling is an excellent actor, but I think the Academy was wrong in nominating him for this film. The standout performance in this film was 18 year-old actress Shareeka Epps (playing 13). The script is weak, cliched and predicable, with an inner-city teacher who HAS to be a crack addict because, you know, that's what happens in inner-city schools. Gosling's best performance is still from THE BELIEVER.

Friday, February 09, 2007


THE DEAD GIRL is one of those Indie films that thinks a film is good only if everyone in it is miserable. This film takes itself WAY too seriously; even worse, it's incredibly predictable. The dialogue is as bad as a daytime soap.

Most of the cast rises above the material, particularly Brittany Murphy. Giovani Ribisi is terrible, but the script doesn't give him much to work with.

Don't waste your time on this one.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Jack Black's screen persona can salvage even a very weak script (although even he could not breathe life into KING KONG). TENACIOUS D and the PICK OF DESTINY is perhaps one of the dumbest movies ever made, and even a first-time screenwriter should have been able to do a clean-up draft to make this film 1000% better, but nonetheless it is still watchable and has a few laugh-out-loud moments. The songs are surprisingly weak. Another day and a rhyming dictionary would have helped significantly. But if you're a rock fan, you'll get enough laffs to make it worth the rental.


I really went into APOCALYPTO wanting to hate the film. Mad Mel is an anti-Semite, a sexist, a conservative Christian so conservative that he had to create his own church, and worst of all, a lover of violence. The film is indeed ultra-violent to the point of repulsion.

The film is interesting in that it uses little language and most of the story is told visually. When he sticks to that formula, the film works surprisingly well. Unfortunately, the first act relies on reading a lot of subtitles, which means I'm not looking at his visuals. This was more acceptable in PASSION because we don't really need to read those subtitles to know what's going on. In this film, it's a little confusing.

The third act of the film works the best; it's essentially one long chase sequence that's pretty exciting. Perhaps the only flaw is how awful the animal puppets are. One sequence is so clearly edited around the animal that you can't even tell what kind of animal it was supposed to be.

The violence is also part of its undoing. There's no reason for this level of graphic violence in a film. It's certainly not entertaining.

It's too bad Mel can't use his powers for good, instead of evil.

The movie did sound great, though.


Adam Sandler movies are perfect for video. You can put it on, not pay attention, and not miss very much of the ridiculously predictable plots. Occasionally you'll notice something funny, like Sandler farting in David Hasselhoff's face in CLICK. Ha, ha.

The cast is pretty good. Henry Winkler and Julie Kavner are well-cast as his parents, and Kate Beckinsale is definitely worth looking at. Christopher Walken is well cast.

However, like many movies this year, it has major third act problems, takes itself too seriously, and overstays its welcome by a good 20 minutes.

I see why it was nominated for make-up. They have to make Henry Winkler look young in flashbacks (mostly through creative cinematography and visual effects) and make Sandler look old in flash-forwards.


Some surprisingly good leftovers on tonight's show. Otherwise, I really look forward to Hollywood.

Ebony (the skater chic) was exceptional.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


They have taken the first round of auditions WAY too far. Tonight there were more good voices than I expected, including the girl they gave a second chance to and the kid who looked like Reuben. The blond girl has a big future.

Tomorrow there's yet another first-round audition night, then finally next week we go to Hollywood.

College Hoops

USC has leaped to #19 on the AP poll. There are only 7 games left in the season, and USC plays five of them away. Good luck to them!


THE PRESTIGE is a film with numerous similarities to to the other magician film of the year, THE ILLUSIONIST. However, there are more differences than similarities. ILLUSIONIST was a love story, which is what made me like it more. PRESTIGE is a revenge story, which made me dislike all the characters. It also seems obsessed with the machinations of the tricks themselves instead of the characters. The Tesla reference was also a poor misdirection; an attempt to turn magic into science fiction that just didn't work at all.

The cast was pretty good, particularly Hugh Jackman, David Bowie, and of course Michael Caine. Christian Bale and Scarlett Johansson both seemed a little of out place doing cockney accents.

The movie also has huge structural and pacing problems. It's cut in two different timelines to the point of confusion, and it overstays its welcome by at least 30 minutes.

Monday, February 05, 2007


I started my blog after seeing these two films, but they are both nominated for various awards so I'll post a quickie review of them.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST is a very weak film. I liked the first film a lot, mostly because it had a good sense of humor about itself, and Johnny Depp gave one of the most creative performances of the year. The second film in the series takes itself MUCH too seriously. Depp has much less screen time, and the writing is very weak. It did not make me want to see a third one.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 was terrible. The whole series has been weak, and this is the weakest of the three. You'd think the addition of a good actor like Philip Seymour Hoffman would make a positive difference, but the writing was so weak, he had nothing to bring to the film. The direction was also very weak. You'd think a scene with a guy dangling from an airplane would be scary, but when you shoot it all in close-ups, any threat of falling is removed.


I was not a big fan of the first ICE AGE movie. I did not like the writing, and the voice casting was weak. I don't like Ray Romano or Dennis Leary, and the most annoying thing about John Leguizamo is his voice. So it's no surprise that I liked ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN even less. Queen Latifah was a nice addition, and I like Scrat, but aside from that, there's very little good to say about this movie. Even the animation was surprisingly weak.


With the Superbowl over, now begins the longest, slowest, darkest time of the year for football/baseball fans, as we wait for March 1st and the start of Spring Training games. Sure there are potential trades and roster moves before then, and player show up for training in about 10 days, but until the first game starts, it's a slow time for fans.

I was never a hockey fan (I couldn't skate) and last year's strike dropped them off the sports radar. Finals aren't until late April anyway.

Pro Basketball playoffs aren't until the same time frame. I've never really been able to force myself to root for the Lakers, having grown up in Boston. The Clippers are good underdogs but are having major problems this year after making it to the finals last year.

College Hoops are looking fun this year, with USC being unexpectedly good. They are tied for 2nd in the Pac-10, which has been a very tough division this year. USC had broken into the top 25 last week, but lost to Stanford and dropped off. Then they upset #9 Oregon this week, so they may bump back up as high as #20 when the rankings are listed tomorrow. So here's one sport I can follow for the next few weeks. However, the playoff system is "March Madness" for a reason, so the real excitement is a few weeks off.

February instead is a month of movie screenings and awards shows. Right now it looks like we'll be going to the Grammys next week, the Cinema Audio Awards the following week (where I'll be presenting!), the Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards on the night before the Oscars (where I'm a nominee!) and finally the Oscars, when we'll probably be going to a party.

That's a lot to do!

As for the game today, I had been rooting for Chicago, and predicted them to win by 7. At least the opening kickoff was exciting. I don't think either team played that well; the rain couldn't have helped, but Payton Manning finally got the ring he deserves. Next year, I'll be rooting for the Patriots again.

The ads this year were surprisingly weak. The best ads were actually in the pre-game show with a series of ads for Geico featuring their Caveman character.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


THE BLOSSOMING OF MAXIMO OLIVERO is a Filipino film about an effeminate 12 year-old boy who falls in love with a policeman who is investigating the boy's family. It's nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Foreign Film. It's not a terrible film, but it's a very poorly made film, with virtually no production value and acting that appears for the most part to be complete amateurs. However, there are reasons to watch. It's an interesting glimpse into another culture, and the performance by the child actor Nathan Lopez is outstanding.

Unfortunately the plot does not live up to his performance.


QUINCEÑERA is a great character-driven independent film about a 14 year-old Mexican American girl who becomes unexpectedly pregnant, and the story of her gay cousin. They both end up living with their 84 year-old great-grand-uncle.

Although the movie is generally well written and well acted, the movie is stolen by the effortless performance of Chalo Gonzalez, whose screen credits date back to THE WILD BUNCH. He's a complete natural as an actor, and it's amazing that we haven't seen much more of him in film. I hope someone finds another role for an octogenarian Latino, before it's too late.

Definitely worth the time.

Friday, February 02, 2007


AMPAS needs to fix their Foreign Language category again. WATER is the Indian Hindi film nominated for the Oscar... from CANADA. (RANG DI BASANTI was India's submission. It was also a better film.)

This film should not have been nominated for several reasons. First off, it's bad. The first 20 minutes introduce us to a child bride whose husband has died, and she, at age 7, must become a social outcast, as is the tradition for widows. This story is moderately interesting, albeit horribly paced, but it's completely derailed when she meets another widow who breaks tradition by growing her hair long and looking really hot, plus she works as a prostitute (with a heart of gold).

A wealthy Brahman falls in love at first site with the hooker and the whole movie descends into melodrama with three major characters dying before the third act even begins. The movie tries so hard to be Hollywood, there's actually a scene at the end with a woman running after a man on a train leaving the station (complete with music swell).

Skip it.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


12:08 EAST OF BUCHAREST is a Romanian black comedy about a call-in show's questions about the 1989 revolution which removed Communism from the country.

It's a very interesting film in many ways. Almost half of the film takes place in a single scene, most of it from the same camera angle, which is deliberately badly shot. It's a fascinating study of three simple characters. But it's not a film for everyone.

Last year there was a fantastic film from Romania called THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU. This is undoubtedly one of the most depressing films ever made. It shows in almost real time the case of a man who calls for an ambulance and is bounced from hospital to hospital under the terrible health care system in Romania (which is not that much worse than the uninsured in the U.S.), until the title becomes inevitable. Because different awards have different rules, last year it won the Independent Spirit Award (quite deservedly), and this year it was submitted for the Oscar, but did not get nominated. If you don't mind a depressing film, I would highly recommend watching it; it's one of the best films I've seen in years. But be warned, you will be emotionally drained at the end.


AMERICAN IDOL: L.A. stank. The only singer worth the time was the 65 year-old; not for his sob story, but for his chutzpah in auditioning at all.

The backup singer was technically fine but as bland as mayonnaise. He's going to have to show more emotion and range of style if he wants to get to the finals.

They are REALLY stretching the "bad singer" auditions thin. They are doing yet another show next week. PLEASE get on to Hollywood!