Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Good Day To Die Hard [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

I love the Die Hard franchise. The original, Die Hard, as well as Die Hard with a Vengeance are two of my favorite action movies of all time. Combining the wit of Bruce Willis with whoever he's paired with in a given movie is a great recipe. Humor filled thrill rides occur no matter what era of Die Hard you're watching. A Good Day To Die Hard is almost no exception with it being a step up from Live Free Or Die Hard. The presumed last movie of the franchise sends John McClain out with a bang..and with his son, Jake aka John McClane Jr, by his side. 

A Good Day To Die Hard follows the story of John McClane (Bruce Willis) as he travels to Moscow, Russia, to rescue his son Jake McClane (Jai Courtney) form a corrupt Russian official. Jack is caught in the middle of a legal squabble between Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov), the corrupt Russian official, and former billionaire Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch). Yuri won't give up a secret file that has evidence to put Viktor away. Jake is willing to testify on Yuri's behalf for a shorter sentence as he is put on trial for assassination. John learns of all this and travels to Russia to save Jake. The two see each other for the first time in years after Viktor blows up the courthouse, freeing Yuri and Jake, trying to catch them. John rescues Jake and Yuri after an explosive car chase on the highways of Moscow, escaping Viktor and his men. John learns that his son is actually with the CIA and that he blew a three year operation. The three are forced to run as Viktor's men had caught up to them yet again. This explosion filled thrill ride continues and no one in the group are who they claim to be. All of this started out as a typical day in Russia with John McClane on vacation.

I came into this not expecting Oscar-worthy performances and wanting to see a high octane action movie. In that respect, I was not disappointed. Almost from the opening bell were are hit with a well planned assassination scene. Followed by a massive, car destroying chase on the highways in Moscow. There starting scenes are well worth the watch alone as they set the absurd tone of the movie from the get go. The action scenes were explosive, massive and over the top. But not to the point where it was unrealistic, to an extent. I'm looking at you Michael Bay. Bruce Willis is still excellent as John McClane and Jai Courntey was a great on screen compliment to him. There is no character development with the rest beyond, "He's an ally," "He's a bad guy," and "Here's a funny Russian cab driver." Bruce Willis still plays John as the lighthearted death machine with a quick wit. While Jai Courtney complements it well as the CIA agent who is much more by the book than his father. The dialogue moved the story along when it needed to. The one liners between the father and son duo were pretty solid as well. Speaking of story, this as a fairly standard one. Father saves son from Russians amidst massive amounts of gunfire. For any other movie, I'd complain more, but this is Die Hard, so come on.

The things that make me like this installment are also the things that don't distinguish it from the pack. Or even films from it's own franchise. The action is over the top and flashy, but none of it was eye popping as the movie drug on. Explosions repeated themselves as the movie developed. You can only crash a helicopter into a building so many times without it losing some luster. The car chase was the best part of this movie and it was out of the way early. With movies like this you have to keep me wanting more. This is not a story driven movie, so it won't happen on that end. The direction ranges from pull out explosions to slow motion helicopter crashes. John Moore has made two stinkers recently in The Omen and Max Payne. Had this not been Die Hard, this would've been another strike on his resume. While at times it shines, he has to make Skip Woods' lackluster screenplay and story LOOK good. That doesn't happen more often than not unfortunately. There are scenes that make me wonder why they were even written in. Thank God this wasn't a long movie and nothing felt draggy because Skip Woods' screenplay wan't even close to the best in the franchise. Bruce Willis and, relative newcomer, Jai Courntey can't carry a movie on their own. No one was able to keep up with them and it felt like it was a two man show. Even though Mary Elizabeth Winstead reprises her role as McClane's daughter, she doesn't add much. The rest of the cast who is actually involved in the story don't add much either.

It's never good in a review when I can tell my "bad" paragraph is longer than my "good" one. While I can still give this a re-watch someday, I'm not sure a lot of people can get behind this even just once. Much less multiple viewings. A Good Day To Die Hard is a send-off for John McClane and looks like a passing of the torch film of sorts. While I wouldn't like a spin-off with Jai Courntey, with the success of the franchise I wouldn't doubt them doing this. If you like high class action that doesn't involve Micheal Bay and robots, you'll be into this to an extent. Bruce Willis and his unique brand of humor infused with action was just enough to get me into one last John McClane action sequence.

Movie 43 [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Ho-boy. Movie 43 is well..something. When I first saw trailers for this last year I was kinda excited to see it. I love comedy, so getting a great one to start of the year really appealed to me. Not to mention the start studded cast that it had accrued.  The basketball sketch, heavily shown in the trailers, looked to be the best bit of this headlining movie. This was slated to be a laugh riot, but then it came out. It made just 4 million it's opening weekend and got hammered by critics. Movie 43 is one of the worst received movies of all time. As much as I looked forward to this, once I watched it, I grabbed my pitchfork and torch as well.

Movie 43 follows the story of a man, Charlie Wessler (Dennis Quaid), pitching the worst movie in the world to movie executive Griffin Schraeder (Greg Kinnear) and his manager Bob Mone (Common). The comedy film being pitched is an anthology of 11 short films (and two faux-commercials). All of the shorts deal with some form of edgy and shock value humor. Such as a woman going on a date with a man with balls on his neck and a couple who is planning to have one defecate on the other out of love. When Wessler gets annoyed that Schraeder isn't buying into his ideas, he pulls a gun. This Howard the Duck-esque film may be bullied into actually being made.

I don't wanna spoil any of the awful shorts, in case people out there still wanna see this. But, for me, only one of these was even remotely funny to me. I'll start with that as "Victory's Glory" got the most laughs outta me. That's not saying much, as I'd already seen a lot of the funniest parts of this from the trailers. Terrance Howard leading a basketball team against an all white team for the first time in the 1959. Only motivating them by drilling into their heads that "they're white, you're black" was a good-ish concept. I can only recall laughing two other times in this and that's in two other shorts. Once in "Homeschooled" when the kid looks at the fridge and then in "The Proposition" when JB Smoove was on-screen with Chris Pratt. In a comedy movie I'm supposed to laugh right? I mean, was I missing thing, or forgetting what I thought was funny? No. I love edgy and shock value humor. When it's done right that is. Aside what I pointed out above, this is fully devoid of comedy in all its forms.

I'm racking my brain to come up with a full paragraph to go here that doesn't just consist of "Why did all these actors agree to this" or "Holy Jesus, this is the worst movie of all time." Honestly it would just be easier to leave it at this. I understand actors and actresses just wanting to have a good time on set sometimes. Everyone deserves a break. But it boggles my mind that someone like Halle Berry or Kate Winslet would want to do this. This is far from the worst movie in my mind. Movies like Transformers 3Epic Movie and Wicker Man are worse to me. But this is just plain bad cause it's the first outright TERRIBLE movie I've seen in a long while. By comparison, I also gave Gangster Squad a one out of ten. I couldn't even finish that movie and somehow it's still better than this. Peter Farrelly has made some stinkers in his time, but this is easily the worst he's ever done, and maybe the worst movie ever shown in theaters. I'm sick of breading this awful film at this point, and I'm sure I'm just being plain repetitive.

Instead of my normal conclusion paragraph, I'll be doing this. This a full list of on-screen talent from Movie 43. From unknowns and NBA stars to Oscar winners and comedy mainstays. My only question is still, what where they on when they agreed to be apart of this awful movie.
[Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Common as Bob Mone, Charlie Saxton, Will Sasso, Odessa Rae, Seth MacFarlane, Mike Meldman, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Julie Claire, Katie Finneran, Roy Jenkins, Rocky Russo, Anna Madigan, Jeremy Allen White, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Alex Cranmer, Julie Ann Emery, Anna Faris, Chris Pratt, J. B. Smoove, Jarrad Paul, Maria Arcé, Aaron LaPlante, Kieran Culkin, Emma Stone, Arthur French, Brooke Davis, Josh Shuman, Cathy Cliften, Cherina Monteniques Scott, Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Jack McBrayer, Aasif Mandvi, Zach Lasry, Darby Lynn Totten, Marc Ambrose, Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Bobby Cannavale, Kristen Bell, John Hodgman, Leslie Bibb, Will Carlough, Katrina Bowden, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloë Grace Moretz, Patrick Warburton, Jimmy Bennett, Matt Walsh, Gerard Butler, Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Esti Ginzburg, Halle Berry, Stephen Merchant, Sayed Badreya, Snooki, Caryl West, Ricki Noel Lander, Paloma Felisberto, Jasper Grey, Benny Harris, Zen Gesner, Terrence Howard, Aaron Jennings, Corey Brewer, Jared Dudley, Larry Sanders, Jay Ellis, Brian Flaccus, Brett Davern, Evan Dumouchel, Sean Rosales, and Logan Holladay, Mandy Kowalski, Eric Stuart, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Duhamel, Emily Alyn Lind, Michelle Gunn and Christina Linhardt.]

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Warm Bodies [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

I love zombie movies and it's probably my favorite sub-genre of horror. From the original (and remake) of Dawn of the Dead to comedy inspired ones like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, I'm a fan of zombies. I can agree with people who criticize that the zombie genre is over-done, but if you find the right movie, zombies can bring life to a good flick. There are a ton of bad zombie films lately. So going into one that turns the genre into a rom-com, well, it had me apprehensive. But Warm Bodies is a breath of fresh air to what can be a very "zombie" genre.

Warm Bodies follows the story of a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult). Since the zombie apocalypse R spends his days pondering about his new life as a zombie while wandering around an airport. He lives in abandoned airplane and even has a friend, M (Rob Corddry). One day, he leads a pack, very slowly, in search for food. R and the rest of the zombies crave human brains, and when they eat brains they get the memories of who they eat. The pack runs into a group led by Perry Kelvin and Julie Grigio (Dave Franco and Teresa Palmer) with their friend Nora (Analeigh Tipton) with them too. They are sent out to scavenge for supplies from the leader, Colonel Girgio (John Malkovich), Julie's father, as they now live in a walled of city. R sees Julie and is strangely attracted to her. Perry shoots R in the chest, which prompts him to attack and eat Perry's brain. This only makes his infatuation grow and R rescues Julie from the rest of the horde and takes her back to his airplane. R could be regaining his once human form, and in this wasteland, Julie may be his unlikely cure.

I really liked this movie and it all started with the way they portrayed R as a zombie. They kept him zombie-like (obviously), but gave him an inner monologue. Which turned out to be a great addition to this movie. R was funny when it needed to be and got to the point when R needed to as well. From explaining what happened to the earth to start out the film, to thoughts and information about his emotions throughout, R was made perfectly. Hats of to Nicholas Hoult for his portrayal as well. More of that to come though. The character development was more or less limited to R and Julie (to an extent Perry). But that's really all you needed in this movie. Julie and R's relationship is the meat of this movie. Even with R not having much out-loud speaking, the gestures (and grunts) by R combined with the intuitive nature of Julie, make this relationship work. With the more subconscious development going to Perry as R remembers Perry's memories. The story is pretty original, and kinda gooey (in more than one sense of the word). But this is still a completely standard romantic comedy. Julie loses Perry, is "saved" by R, she leaves R and then they a reunited in the end. It's even got the teen-esque "father forbidding the relationship" story-line we've seen in a ton rom-coms over the years.

Johnathan Levine did a great job in directing this film and the scenes were done well. Zombies look, well like zombies. With the blood and gore, while scaled back, looking good on-screen. I liked his previous two films in The Wackness and 50/50 but this is still his weakest of his three latest. His screenplay adaptation of the book, by Issac Marion, leaves something to be desired. Everything was done well, but this is full of unnecessary stuff. There were a lot of times I felt myself bored and just wanting the story to continue. This isn't a long movie, but you don't want it to feel like a long movie either. But that's another one of the problems that occurs here. The movie is brought back by the acting of Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer. The on-screen chemistry between the two is great. Nicholas Hoult, in both acting and the voice-over thoughts, gives the strongest performance of the movie. Teresa Palmer also gives the love interest a little bit of spice as she does well as the lead actress in this. Rob Corddry was a great supporting comedy role and Dave Franco was good as the deceased ex-boyfriend. John Malkovich was a good protective leader with Analiegh Tipton filling in as Teresa's best friend well enough. The acting, while not outstanding aside from Nicholas Hoult, could've done a way worse job in a movie like this.

This is the first real toss-up for me this year I think. While Warm Bodies leaves a lot to be desired, it's a fresh take on the stale genre. With good to great performances by the the entire cast, this is crippled by unnecessary stuff littered throughout. I think it was made for guys who wanted to go on a date night. The zombies, action and violence keep the guys involved, while letting the ladies get into the emotional parts of the movie. Overgeneralization here, I know, forgive me. This has a lot funny moments as well as a good story. It think if you can get into this early, it'll carry over to the rest of the film. But if you're like me at all, a lot of the dragging stuff will leave you wanting to be a zombie yourself.

Stand Up Guys [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

I knew I was gonna watch this a few weeks ago now from the first trailer I saw from it. Christopher Walken, Al Pachino and Alan Arkin are three of the best actors or all time. So getting them together for Stand Up Guys was like an All-Star Game. While not the most enthralling movie, the three give great performances and it's one of the few decent enough movies of 2013 so far.

Stand Up Guys follows the story of Val and his partner Doc (Al Pachino and Christopher Walken). Val has just gotten out of prison after spending the last twenty plus years in there after taking a fall. Doc picks him up from jail under the job tasked to him by Claphands (Mark Margolis) and must kill him immediately. Not wanting to just up and do it just yet, Doc gives Val till the next morning, before he does the deed. From hijacking a car with a kidnapped woman in the trunk, Sylvia (Vanessa Ferlito), to rescuing an old friend, Richard Hirsch (Alan Arkin), from a nursing home, the trio go out on the town. Val takes too many Viagra to sleep with woman at a "whore house" run by Wendy (Lucy Punch) and then has to go to the hospital where Richard's daughter Nina (Juliana Margulies) works. The last night of what Val presumes to be his last night alive, becomes a crazy ride that in which the three do more living than most do in their entire lives. 

Fisher Stevens has done is fair share of acting over the years, and a few directing jobs to boot, but this seemed to be a challenge at times. While a lot of the time the faults fall to a director if the movies is bad, the writers and producers have just as much to do with a movie. Noah Haide wrote a tale of two half movies here. There was a lot of out of place comedy with Pachino in the first half. With the second half settling into a much better action-comedy hybrid involving all three of the leads. That being said, the writing goes along with that thought. The story is pretty good, but it crippled by a ton of early scenes that leave you wondering why they're even there. But once you get past that a nice story with a decent ending occurs. The characters are pretty good I guess, though there's only a few you really can get into. Doc is a lighthearted man that only wants to do right by both his job and friends. While Val is is a man who has just got out of prison and wants to have a good time before his untimely, yet scheduled, demise. With Richard, Wendy, Nina and Alex providing some great, but smaller, supporting and leading characters.

The acting is pretty solid, being lead by the duo of Al Pachino and Christopher Walken, with Walken giving one of my favorite performances. Al Pachnio is soiled by the early goings where he has a lot of weird comedy. As well as scenes where you'd never think you'd see him doing bits. He does pick-up a lot once Vanessa Fertilo, Alan Arkin and Addison Tomlin enter the mix, and the character comes into his own. Christopher Walken carries this movie though as Doc. You see glimpses of true friendship, leadership and emotion poured out in this performance. Scenes with his granddaughter in the diner as well as ones with Richard and Val there are great scenes. Those scenes throughout made this this one viewing I have given it, worth it for me. Alan Arkin comes in and is a great comedic role for the middle part of the movie. With Juliana Margulies playing a good supporting role, a very nice surprise from Addison Tomlin and some decent comedy from Lucy Punch. To round this out the action, when it came to it, was pretty cool. From hand to hand combat and shootouts, to middle of the night car-chases and shake-downs, the action in this isn't just thrown in for no apparent reason. The comedy in this is pretty good too, and when Walken or Arkin hit their strides, it's some laugh out loud stuff.

If this seems like it hasn't been my most inspired looking review, it's cause it's hard to get too excited over a film that doesn't live up to it's potential. I went into Stand Up Guys hoping for a great movie led by the likes of Al Pachino and Christopher Walken. But it ended up being more of a mess that settles into itself. I love crime films and the comedy genre is probably my favorite of all time. But this is a mix of unneeded scenes, with a story that, while good, doesn't really kick in till the middle portion of the movie. Only average direction on the part of Fisher Stevens and lackluster writing (at times) from Noah Haide equates to a movie worth a watch. But not really one good enough if you wanna go revisit it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fat Jesus's 85th Annual Academy Awards Recap

Well the 85th Annual Academy Awards in the books, it was an exciting night for movie fans everywhere. Questions were answered and awards were given as Seth MacFarlane hosted the biggest night in film. The show was pretty solid and a decent hosting job was done by Seth. His sometimes "edgy" jokes and one-liners about every aspect of Hollywood were pretty good. Of course some jokes did fall flat, but it was a lighthearted night all around. The original songs done by Seth were good as well, with one of the most memorable ones have Seth list out whose boobs we've seen in films over the years.

Speaking of singing there was a ton of it throughout the night. Jennifer Hudson tore down the house while Adele followed suit as she won the Best Original Song Oscar. The cast of Les Miserables did a pretty solid performance of one of their songs from the movie as did Catherine Zeta Jones with her song from Chicago. Also the Goldfinger theme after The 50 Years of Bond tribute was nice. With Barbra Streisand and her nose giving a good performance during the In Memoriam section. The song and numbers were in full force all night, but none of it was bad or out of place.

There were a lot of surprises when it came to winning tonight as well. There was also a lot of predictability. I did a write up and straight up predicted 11 out of the 14 categories I went over correctly. With me getting 13 out of the 14 categories correct in either (or both) "Who I Wanted To Win" and "Who Would Win" predictions. There is only one I got completely wrong ant that was the Best Original Screenplay category. Boy was I glad I did. I wanted Moonrise Kingdom to win but picked Zero Dark Thirty to take it. To my excitement, Quentin Tarantino blew everyone away and took the Oscar for Django Unchained!

Most of the rest of the night went as expected. While many thought Lincoln would take best picture easily, Argo had been considered a contender for months now. So after a rousing introduction by First Lady Michelle Obama, Argo was awarded the Best Picture Oscar. Prompting one of Ben Affleck's finest moments as he gave a great speech accepting the award as star, director and co-producer of Argo. Daniel Day Lewis won the Best Actor Oscar for his leading role in Lincoln. Following the win with one of the best and funniest acceptance speeches of the night. While Jennifer Lawrence won the Best Actress Oscar for her leading role in Silver Linings Playbook and was in a bit of shock as she stumbled on the steps as she went to get her award.

Argo also won the award for Best Adapted Screenplay and it was well deserved as well. Adding onto Argo's accolades. Best Director was a toss up between Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg. In the end Ang Lee added a fourth award to Life of Pi's accolades. There was a tie (yes a tie) in one of the categories with BOTH Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty winning the Best in Sound Editing Oscar. The Best Animated film category came and gone as Brave beat out Wreck-It Ralph among others to win. With the Best Animated Short Oscar going home with Paperman this year. Finally we come to the last of the "big" awards. The Best Supporting Actress Oscar went to Anne Hathaway for her performance in Les Miserables. She beat out her only other real competition in Amy Adams for The Master. Last but certainly not least Christoph Waltz beat out Tommy Lee Jones' Lincoln performance with his one as Dr. Schultz in Django Unchained. It gives him his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar  from a role in a Quentin Tarantino film.

It was a great night, and I'm highly sick of writing about the Oscars this year haha. I'm already looking forward to the Oscars next year and what the rest of 2013 in film has in store for us. Below I'll be giving you a complete list of winners tonight. So thanks for reading, and I can't wait to write about all this again next year. So until then, this is Fat Jesus saying "Deuces" to the 85th Annual Academy Awards.



Daniel Day-Lewis for "Lincoln"

Jennifer Lawrence for "Silver Linings Playbook"

Anne Hathaway for "Les Miserables"

Christoph Waltz for "Django Unchained"

Ang Lee for "Life of Pi"


"Django Unchained"



"Skyfall" from "Skyfall" (Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth)

Mychael Danna for "Life of Pi"


"Life of Pi"

"Searching for Sugar Man"

"Life of Pi"

"Les Miserables"

"Anna Karenina"


"Zero Dark Thirty"

"Les Miserables"





Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fat Jesus's 85th Annual Academy Awards Preview and Predictions

I love movies and this is the biggest night for them! The 85th Annual Academy Awards, now dubbed The Oscars by ABC, is here! 2012 has really been a great year for film. I've seen well over 50, probably close to 60 films, that came out in 2012. While I'm no film expert, I know what I like and I'm decent enough at following films trends on the road to tonight. Below are 14 categories that I've either seen most (or all) of the nominees. Some are big categories, like Best Picture and Best Actor. Some are smaller such as Best Visual Effects or Costume Design. In each section I'll be giving you the nominations, thoughts and ultimately my wants and predictions on who will win tonight. So without further adieu, here's me blathering on about The Oscars.

Best Picture
(Link to review of all but "Life of Pi" if you click the title)
Life of Pi

This was a good year for film and movies in general. Six of these nine movies are above average for me and three of them will be ones I'll probably have repeated viewings of over the years. The logical choice for me if I ran the Oscars would be to give Django Unchained the award. For me this is my highest rated film of these nominations and my favorite of the movies here. The story, characters, action and overall writing made it one of my favorite films of the year. Then again, I don't run the Academy, so Django isn't even gonna come close to winning. The more logical choices to win are Lincoln or Argo. While Ben Affleck didn't even get the nod for best director, Argo has been getting a head of steam at awards ceremonies all this season. You have to also throw Lincoln into the mix because of the amazing directing, writing and performance by Daniel Day Lewis.

Who I Want To Win

Who Will Win

Best Actor (in a Leading Role)
Bradley Cooper - "Silver Linings Playbook"
Daniel Day-Lewis - "Lincoln"
Hugh Jackman - "Les Misérables"
Joaquin Phoenix - "The Master"
Denzel Washington - "Flight"

This category is a fairly easy one for me as there is no one in the league that Daniel Day Lewis went to for Lincoln. While Joaquin Phoenix was awesome in The Master, he was outshined by his cast members in my opinion. The same kind of thing happened with Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables as well. Denzel Washington was pretty solid in Flight while Bradley Cooper was okay in Silver Linings Playbook. No one touches the depth that Daniel Day Lewis does in Lincoln. From the performance he gives a whole, to all the little nuances he taps into, Lewis is by far the best choice to win this award.

Who I Want To Win

Who Will Win

Best Actress (in a Leading Role)
Jessica Chastain - "Zero Dark Thirty"
Jennifer Lawrence - "Silver Linings Playbook"
Emmanuelle Riva - "Amour"
Quvenzhané Wallis - "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Naomi Watts - "The Impossible"

This category is a little less cut and dry as it's counterpart, cause there is a nice duo of women that could both easily take the award. While Emmanuelle Rivera and Quvenzhane Wallis are on both ends of the age spectrum, they did give great performances. But not to the level of the two that should be considered the favorites. Jessica Chastain delivered a great performance in an otherwise ho-hum movie, Zero Dark Thirty. She kept me thoroughly into this until the meat of the movie kicks in. While I think the consensus to win is Jennifer Lawrence's performance in Silver Linings Playbook. To me it's not better than her performance in 2011's Winter's Bone though. It is still one of the better jobs she's done this year and in her career as a whole.

Who I Want To Win

Who Will Win

Best Actor (in a Supporting Role)
Alan Arkin - "Argo"
Robert De Niro - "Silver Linings Playbook"
Philip Seymour Hoffman - "The Master"
Tommy Lee Jones - "Lincoln"
Christoph Waltz - "Django Unchained"

The supporting role categories can be tricky because a lot of the time the actor (or actress) can over take a lead role. This happens, or at least "ties" so to speak, the performances of their counterparts quite often. Robert De Niro is one of the best actors of all time, so he took over in the scenes he's involved in, in Silver Linings Playbook. Philip Seymour Hoffman completely overtakes Joaquin Phoenix in The Master so it's too bad he's going up against these other powerhouses this year. Alan Arkin was great in Argo, and it's another case of being the underdog. Christoph Waltz's performance in Django Unchained was probably one of my favorite performances of the year and I'd love to see him win this. But, Tommy Lee Jones dominates his scenes in Lincoln. Though he wasn't near as great as Daniel Day Lewis. He did good enough to deserve the Oscar by virtue of keeping up with Lewis.

Who I Want To Win

Who Will Win

Best Actress (in a Supporting Role)
Amy Adams - "The Master"
Sally Field - "Lincoln"
Anne Hathaway - "Les Misérables"
Helen Hunt - "The Sessions"
Jacki Weaver - "Silver Linings Playbook"

This is much like the best actress category, where for me it's almost cut and dry on who I would like to win and who will most likely take who the Oscar. Jacki Weaver never blew me away with her performance in Silver Linings Playbook, but I respect her career as a whole. Sally Field did great in Lincoln and I wouldn't be surprised if she took the Oscar. Amy Adams was the one who held Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix's performances together in The Master. This is probably my favorite performance of Amy Adams behind The Muppets and Sunshine Cleaning, so it would be cool to see her win. But Anne Hathaway's performance in Les Miserables was the best woman's performance in the film. Not to mention her singing was the best in the film too, we all know the Academy loves singing.

Who I Want To Win

Who Will Win

Best Animated Feature Film
"Brave" - Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
"Frankenweenie" - Tim Burton
"ParaNorman" - Sam Fell and Chris Butler
"The Pirates! Band of Misfits" -Peter Lord
"Wreck-It Ralph" - Rich Moore

There is only two movies that I would even throw into the ring for winning this award this year. Wreck-It Ralph is hands down my favorite film of the year. From the story, voice acting and nostalgia is brings me, it's the best film of the year in my eyes. So if this takes best animated film it'll make me mighty excited. While Wreck-It Ralph should win, Brave, a good film in it's own right, will probably win. I don't like Brave near as much, but it's story, design and music are all pretty good.

Who I Want To Win

Who Will Win

Best Cinematography
"Anna Karenina" - Seamus McGarvey
"Django Unchained" - Robert Richardson
"Life of Pi" - Claudio Miranda
"Lincoln" - Janusz Kaminski
"Skyfall" - Roger Deakins

This definitely isn't a huge award by any means but I love the surroundings and locations that go into making a film. From snow capped mountain landscapes to rugged western towns and plantations, Django Unchained was never hard on the eyes. But Life of Pi has this beat in a lot of ways. It think it'll take the win because of the plethora of places the movie went. From a zoo set in India, to the open ocean and a lost exotic island. Another dark-horse would be Lincoln as the government settings and battlefields are done expertly. Life of Pie is set to win, but Django Unchained or Lincoln could be a nice surprise.

Who I Want To Win

Who Will Win

Best Costume Design
"Anna Karenina" - Jacqueline Durran 
"Les Misérables" - Paco Delgado
"Lincoln" - Joanna Johnston
"Mirror Mirror" - Eiko Ishioka
"Snow White and the Huntsman" - Colleen Atwood

This is another one of those afterthought categories, but it goes hand in hand with cinematography category. The style of a movie can ruin, or make it, very quickly. That doesn't happen for me with Lincoln in the slightest. The costumes are done perfectly. Whether it's army uniforms or government officials everything is ascetically pleasing. It's my choice to win easily, but Anna Karenina is the front-runner to win this. Admittedly I haven't see this movie, but I've done a bit of research on the costume design. Everything looks vibrant and extravagant, which is another thing the Academy always seems to like.

Who I Want To Win

Who Will Win

Best Director
"Amour" - Michael Haneke
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" - Benh Zeitlin
"Life of Pi" - Ang Lee
"Lincoln" - Steven Spielberg
"Silver Linings Playbook" - David O. Russell

There were a ton of great directors this year, and one of the big snubs was Ben Affleck, who I'd have easily put in that first spot down below. But you can't deny all the great effort that Steven Spielberg put into Lincoln. From wearing a suit on set, as not to feel under-dressed, to going the extra mile for props that sounded exactly like they did back in the day. He's my personal favorite to win. But Ang Lee did a superb job with Life of Pi in his own right. The direction, especially on the art and effects side, is an easy choice to take this if Spielberg doesn't.

Who I Want To Win

Who Will Win

Best Music (Original Song)
"Before My Time" from Chasing Ice - Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
"Everybody Needs A Best Friend" from Ted - Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
"Pi's Lullaby" from Life of Pi - Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
"Skyfall" from Skyfall - Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth 
"Suddenly" from Les Misérables - Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

There is only one song that can and will win this year. It might've been the "Do You Hear The People Sing" from the middle and closing of Les Miserables, but of course they didn't choose that one. Nor did they choose any of Anne Hathaway's stuff from the movie. So good job. But Adele singing "Skyfall" during the opening of Skyfall was pretty haunting. Combine it with the opening credits sequence, which is the best part of Skyfall, and you've got the best original song of this year.

Who I Want To Win

Who Will Win

Best Short Film (Animated)
"Adam and Dog" - Minkyu Lee
"Fresh Guacamole" - PES
"Head Over Heels" - Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly
"Maggie Simpson in 'The Longest Daycare'" - David Silverman
"Paperman" - John Kahrs

I wrote a review piece of all five of these films. I wanted to watch all the documentary and feature live action shorts, but these are all I could readily watch. I liked all of these, with Head Over Heels being my worst rated one. That being said The Longest Daycare was the funniest and really gave me a good feeling after watching it. Also the one I want to win, Paperman, was just as great as when I saw it in theaters. But Adam and Dog is quite well done, and with the story and art style, it should easily win this year. It's not a bad thing and you should still watch all of these.

Who I Want To Win

Who Will Win

Best Visual Effects
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" - Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
"Life of Pi" - Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
"Marvel's The Avengers" - Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
"Prometheus" - Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
"Snow White and the Huntsman" - Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

This will be short and quick here. I love the look and feel of a movie and if CGI is well done, it really makes me happy watching a film. I wanna highlight my favorite superhero movie of the year, and maybe the best of all time, in The Avengers. I would like nothing more than to see it take the Oscar in the one place it's nominated. It's going up against the "favorite" in Life of Pi, which is phenomenal, as the scenes on the ocean and island are amazing.

Who I Want To Win

Who Will Win

Best Writing (Adapted Sreenplay)
"Argo" - Written by Chris Terrio
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" - Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
"Life of Pi" - Written by David Magee
"Lincoln" -Written by Tony Kushner
"Silver Linings Playbook" - Written by David O. Russell

We're coming to the close of this long post, and if you've made it this far, reward yourself with a cookie or something.  This is a fairly easy category for me. While Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook have remarkable adaptations, they don't touch Argo. Argo from start to finish is the best written movie of the year. That's hard to say too as Lincoln had Spielberg directing and Daniel Day-Lewis killing it. It's too bad that at this aspect Ben Affleck and Chris Terrio are better, so to speak.

Who I Want To Win

Who Will Win

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
"Amour" - Written by Michael Haneke
"Django Unchained" - Written by Quentin Tarantino
"Flight" - Written by John Gatins
"Moonrise Kingdom" - Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
"Zero Dark Thirty" - Written by Mark Boal

I think this is Katherine Bigelow takes an Oscar for her movie. But it's not what I want to see. Quentin Tarantino is usually snubbed at the Oscars, so even though I adore Django Unchained, I won't win here. Moonrise Kingdom on the other hand is one of the best "surprise" movies for me to see this year. Highly original story, with great characters and dialogue. Unfortunately this is the USA, and every chance we get we like to bring out that patriotic pride. Whats more American than taking down Osama bin Laden? The answer is nothing and the winner is Zero Dark Thirty.

Who I Want To Win

Who Will Win

Friday, February 22, 2013

Argo [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

I first remember hearing of Argo from seeing the initial theatrical trailer before, I believe it was, The Dark Knight Rises. But don't hold me to that. I only remember being highly intrigued by this great looking trailer sitting there before a movie. I've always liked Ben Affleck, though he does receive a ton of hate from critics and such. Maybe it's because I'm a Kevin Smith fan that I have a soft spot for him. After The Town a couple years ago now, I knew that Affleck could write, direct and produce a damn good movie. The initial viewing I had of Argo was in October and it was just an okay watch for me. Not great, but not terrible either. I decided to go back to it after all this Oscar hype and I can honestly say, that this is a movie (for me) that got better the second time around.

Argo follows the story of Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) who is assigned to rescue six people in Iran. Riots broke out in November of 1979 and the US embassy is sized by Iranians. They are furious because the US sheltered their recently deposed Shah, who they want to try and execute. But, as stated before, six people; Robert Anders (Tate Donovan), Cora Lijek (Clea DuVall), Mark Lijek (Christopher Denham), Joe Stafford (Scoot McNairy), Kathy Stafford (Kerry Bishé) and Lee Schatz (Rory Cochrane) escape. They are being sheltered at the Canadian Ambassador, Ken Taylor's (Victor Garber), home. The CIA supervisor, Jack O'Donnel (Bryan Cranston), lets Mendez run free with his plan to make a fake movie set in Iran and train the six to "become" Canadian filmmakers. Once they learned their covers, they could presumably fly out of Iran. With the help of Hollywood make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and a veteran movie producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin), they acquire everything needed to produce this fake film. Very quickly, the fake film is becoming more real by the day. They have a movie poster, a pinned script named "Argo", along with fake passports and a once in a lifetime plan. Tony Mendez travels into the heart of the enemy to attempt to rescue the six people, before the Iranians get to them first.

I got into this very quickly since I knew what I was expecting so to speak. The story, while embellished in a ton of ways, makes for an exciting story. This is based on a true story, so I'm sure Affleck and the crew took some liberties to make it more exciting for the viewer. There are a few parts, that if you do a little research on, can find out did not really happen, yet fit in the movie so well. The writing, by Chris Terrio, was great. Though he had some good books to adapt his screenplay from in; "The Master of Disguise" and "The Great Escape" by Tony Mendez and Joshua Bearman respectively. Even in the little amount of time, you really do invest in a lot of these characters. Most don't get a lot of screen-time behind Mendez, O'Donnel or Siegel and Chambers, so to be able to invest in everyone is a endeavor I liked. From a dialogue stand point as well this was done great, as the humor between the Hollywood people are great. The urgency between all the US government workers are done well. With the apprehension and fear of the Canadians and hideaways delving you deeper into everyone involved.

This is a two hour movie, that I felt could've been cut down a bit. The opening scene, highlighting briefly the history of Iran did nothing for me. While some of the scenes set with the CIA or the White House could've been cut or at least trimmed down. There were no dragging scenes persay either, more scenes that wouldn't have ruined the movie if they were removed. The cinematography was pretty great at times. Highlighting some of LA's biggest sites and fly-over shots of the city set back in the early 80s was a cool touch. The big thing for me in this is the acting. Ben Affleck has to carry this movie, as Tony Mendez, and he does. When there needs to be humor he rolls with it and when the serious needs to set it, he brings to stoic tone. The roles played by the six stuck in Iran were pretty good too, with standouts for me going to Scoot McNairy, Clea DuVall and Tate Donovan. Those three held the six together and gave the best performances out of them. The supporting roles were great as well. Bryan Cranston never felt out of place, John Goodman is always a good on screen presence and Alan Arkin delivers a fantastic performance as Lester Siegel. The acting is great all around, but when you have six or more people giving an outstanding performance a movie can come together that much more.

Argo is a movie I'm highly glad I went back to and really does deserve to be in the best picture nods this year at the Oscars. Ben Affleck has produced, directed and starred in what now is probably his best film to date. The storytelling is phenomenal and will keep you on the edge of your seat. This movie never makes you worry either. It's a thriller, full of tension and drama (when needed), that a lot of the time is covered in a lighthearted and hopeful tone. The acting is great, while the score, length, cinematography is done well to follow. This is easily one of the top three films of the year, with Django Unchained and Lincoln, if we're looking at strictly nominations. But for me, while it is an exceptional movie, it fails to grab me and convince me it truly is the best movie of 2012.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

85th Academy Awards "Best Animated Shorts" Nominees [Fat Jesus Movie Reviews]

Basically these are short reviews, clever eh, of all the Best Animated Shorts for this years Oscars. I figured I do this cause for the most part I liked all five and wanted to give a little bit of my thoughts on each before my main 85th Annual Oscars post. So here are my thoughts on each movie and I've proved a video link to each short. You can watch all five in less than an hour. Please do enjoy!

Adam and Dog is an animated short that follows the story of Adam and Eve, told in the first three chapters of Genesis, but from a dog's perspective. Dog is shown in the garden of Eden exploring when he runs into Adam for the first time. The story of the beginning of the earth (as told in The Holy Bible) is shown through one of the first canines eyes.

Adam and Dog was definitely one of the better of these five shorts. The art style was great. Bringing the infamous garden of Eden to life while capturing the thoughts, so to speak, of a dog living there. The story was great as it conveyed happiness, loneliness and sorrow. Adam and Dog is a good short by Minkyu Lee that captures great storytelling and emotion.

Fresh Guacamole is a stop motion animated short that follows the story of a man making guacamole out of what seemingly are ordinarily objects. As he cuts and prepares fresh ingredients such as a pool ball or a hand grenade, a wonderful bowl of fresh guac is made before your eyes.

Fresh Guacamole is the shortest of the nominated films, but it's also the most innovative in my opinion. The animation looks great and Pes makes great use of stop motion. Everything is sharp, vibrant and colorful.  Fresh Guacamole is short sweet and to the point as objects are turned into a fine appetizer before your eyes.

Head Over Heels is a stop motion animated short that follows the story of an older couple. They have grown apart over the years to the point where Walter lives on the floor and Madge lives on the ceiling. One day Walter tries to bring them both back to the same romantic level and is messes with their whole equilibrium. 

While I know Head Over Heels is done well, and I'm not denying it isn't, this just didn't do it for me. The story was pretty original and cute, I just wasn't as into it as say Adam and Dog or Paperman. The stop motion is done well, but even this "old couple" charm and the great design isn't enough to make me really like it.

The Longest Daycare is an animated short that follows the day of Maggie Simpson. She has been dropped off at daycare for the day by Marge. She is enthralled by a butterfly that is quickly killed by Baby Gerald. Maggie comes across a cocoon that Baby Gerald wants to kill as well. It becomes a mad dash by Maggie to save this new butterfly's life.

I really liked this. I came into this having a like for The Simpson's TV show, so I knew I'd like the humor in this. The story was pretty good with a lot of funny moments involved. The animation is just like the show, so it's done really well. Probably my second favorite out of all of these shorts, as for me, it had a nice bit of charm to it.

Paperman is a Disney animated short that follows the story of a businessman in 1940s New York City. While waiting for the train he meets a woman who is hit in his face by one of his pieces of paper from a work folder. She gets on a train while the man is thinking about her. While at work he spots the woman across the street and spends the day trying to get her attention by throwing paper airplanes from his office to her.

This is probably my favorite out of all the nominees this year. It's helps that this is one of the shorts I actually saw in theaters. Paperman has a charming story, great design and a good humor about it. You got into the businessman's character in such a short time and was more or less rooting for him. You wanted to see him complete a once in a lifetime chance of meeting a the girl of his dreams.