Monthly Archives: June 2010

Changes…

Fiddling with themes a little. I kind of like this one. Any thoughts on the matter?

The favorite

It all began when I saw a picture of him, a publicity photo for Virtuosity, back in ’94 or ’95. “Wow, that’s a really handsome guy,” I thought, “never heard of him.” I eventually saw the film, either rented or cut-up on television, about four years later,  and while it was really rather terrible, the villain was charismatic, magnetic, and utterly, terrifyingly, insane. That scary young man, Russell Crowe, would, in a few years, become one of Hollywood’s notable bad boys, heir apparent to the talents and troubles of such actors as Brando, Burton, Harris, and Reed. In 1997 he gave something of a break-out role in the excellent L.A. Confidential, and two years later would earn his first Oscar nomination in the Jeffrey Wigand biopic The Insider. I, not being much of a movie buff at the time, had largely forgotten about him and knew nothing of his successes until that first trailer for Gladiator. I was completely excited about the movie, in part because it looked really good, and in part because that guy I had drooled over in a magazine was now starring in an epic. The rest, for Russell Crowe and me, is history.

As I’m sure you know, Gladiator went on to the biggest hit of 2000, making a proper star out of Crowe, and winning  5 Oscars, one of which was Crowe’s (moderately deserved – more on that later) Best Actor. More nominations, collaborations with big-name stars and directors, and tabloid stories followed, and today, Russell Crowe has a somewhat skewed reputation: that of a difficult, temperamental guy, something of an “asshole” in the common eye, who nonetheless takes his art seriously and generally makes really good movies, at least from a critical, if not a monetary, perspective.

For my part, Crowe has become my favorite actor, someone whose involvement in a project will guarantee my seeing it, and possibly a driving factor in my general interest in movies. Ask anyone who knows me, and I guarantee you that they may not know my birthday, or the name of my hometown, but they can probably tell you my #1 movie star crush. Sad, but true. To date, I have seen 25 of Crowe’s films. I can only think of one out of those 25 that I really just didn’t enjoy. Some were really good, some were only so-so, and in some, Crowe might’ve only had 10 lines, but he never disappoints, and I am always interested in what’s coming next.

What do I like about him? I like his charisma – even when he’s playing some fat, pasty, jerk (Body of Lies);  you really can’t take your eyes off him.  I like that he often disappears into roles. From The Insider to Gladiator to A Beautiful Mind, it’s difficult to wrap your mind around those men all being the same person. I like his intensity, I like his range, and, well, I guess I just think he’s really dreamy.  Yes, even still. To each his own, no?

So, there you have it. Just to get it out of the way and get on with other movies and other actors — I totally love Russell Crowe. I really don’t care about his personality, or what the critics think of him, or his movies. That’s a lie, as anyone who knows me can tell you, actually: I ranted and raved when Robin Hood came out and lots of folks out on the Internet tried to call him fat. Ridiculous. Anyway. The point I was going to make is that what we like and are convinced by is most often totally subjective. I find Crowe to be absolutely convincing 99% of the time, but I know plenty of people who don’t.  I, for one, will look forward to anything he tries his hand at, and with my (our?) track record, I’ll probably like it. So, here’s to Russell Crowe. May he have a long and illustrious career, if he wants it.

In the future, I will write some posts about my favorite Crowe films/performances. I was going to do it all in one post, but that seemed slightly too epic, and I figured I’d help myself out down the road. In addition, you can look forward to a review of the film I just watched the other day, Proof, not to be confused with Proof of Life.  Very different. I promise.

Trailer: HP 7/8ish

Why do I still get positively giddy over these? The shine has long ago worn off for me, mostly … I’ve read and re-read most of the books half a dozen times (still need to get back to that last one) and seen all of the movies at least once …but man, any time there’s a new trailer, I am so totally pumped. So, here it is:

Trailer’s a bit busy … too many flashed scenes makes it hard to follow. That could just be my mental state these days, of course. But, as always, the look/feel is fabulous, and it’s just s’darn exciting!

I am slightly less than thrilled about the whole two-parter thing, but I suppose it’s better than a 4 hr movie, right? My main hope for these last two movies is that Rickman as Snape finally gets his due. Now, understand me, I am actually very anti-Snape. I loathe the character. I find him to be a completely deplorable “human being” … which, I admit, means Rowling did a great job on him, and they got a truly great actor to play him, but he hasn’t really had a whole lot to work with yet. Well, Snape-man, your moment has come. Let’s hope they give it to you … I will be looking forward to THAT performance.

Also: needs more Neville.

Still … yeah, sorry, gotta say it … SQUEE!

Choose your nemesis

As was previously mentioned, I loves me some Robert Downey, Jr. However, this does not mean that I think everything he does is brilliant, as well-evidenced by last year’s Sherlock Holmes. Yes, I am a fan of the literary Holmes, and yes, I was concerned about Guy Ritchie’s take on Victorian England. And actually, I thought that part worked rather well. Overall, the movie just dragged somehow and just wasn’t … that good. But, of course, this being Hollywood, we can look forward to a sequel sometime soon, and this time, supposedly, we will meet Sherlock Holmes’ great nemesis … Professor Moriarty.

In the early days, it was widely rumored that Brad Pitt would be playing the mysterious professor. I have no problem with Brad Pitt per se; in fact, I think he’s a pretty decent actor. But as Moriarty? No. Wrong look, wrong abilities, and honestly, one faux British accent is enough. However! The rumor mill has begun churning again, and this time, I’m liking what I’m hearing.



Yes. Daniel Day-Lewis. He’s British, he’s aristocratic and intellectual-looking, he’s got more than the requisite amount of acting ability, and really, the only question is whether not he’d want to do it, since he’s notorious for being rather an odd duck and only doing pictures once every few years. But besides, that, brilliant! That is a movie and a pairing that I think audiences would flock to see- myself included. On the chance that DDL says no, however, we do have some alternative names floating around out there in the ether. Also under suspicion (ha) are Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, and Gary Oldman. Let’s discuss.

  • Sean Penn: Meh. I don’t have a lot to argue about here, but I just don’t like him, and I don’t think that he would be a draw on his own the same way that DDL would. Also, he’s a good enough actor, but he doesn’t have the charisma and on-screen presence that RDJ (and Jude Law, for that matter) does, and I think that would hurt the film overall.  And again, why not get an actual Brit? It’s not like there aren’t a ton of them running around. Next?
  • Javier Bardem: I love Javier Bardem, and I wish he would do more movies that I actually wanted to see instead of incredibly depressing dramas. However, I think that this particular idea is all wrong. He’s got the wrong look, never mind the notion of Moriarty with a Spanish accent. Besides, can you really picture Bardem as some kind of professor/scientist/whatever in Victorian England?  No, I don’t think Moriarty needs to be a beefcake, any more than Holmes himself does.  In formulating this argument I realized that it successfully eliminated my original #1 pick of Russell Crowe. Alas, I stand by the assessment. Holmes and Moriarty are really very similar, and so you want someone who is close to RDJ in terms of look, appeal, etc., but who is still markedly different. Where Holmes is kind of a mess, Moriarty is calm, cool, and collected. Moving on.
  • Gary Oldman: This is the best option after DDL. British, right look, acting chops … my only real concern is that Oldman has sort of turned into a character actor, and I think I like him that way. His only big starring roles have sort of turned into scenery-chewing caricatures (see: Dracula, The Fifth Element). Additionally, Oldman almost always plays the bad guy. Yes, DDL has done a few villain turns as well (impressively so) but he’s much more varied in his choices, and this would be a fascinating one.

So what do you think? I am firmly on the Daniel Day-Lewis train at this point, and I really hope something comes of the rumors. There are lots of villain character actors out there, a la Mark Strong and Gary Oldman, but for Moriarty, you need a star. Moriarty isn’t just some other villain: he’s the villain. Daniel Day-Lewis has the star power. He would bring in his own fans, he would give Robert Downey, Jr. a definite run for his money, and, well, he’d just be awesome. Anybody you’d rather see?

Trailer: Tangled

I’m an “old-school” Disney fan. You know, the classic stuff: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood…I have most of them on VHS. And when I saw something about their newest, Tangled, the other day, I thought “Huh. They really haven’t already done the whole Rapunzel story? Wow.” Well, they have now, and there’s a trailer out. Check it:

It looks … cute? Apparently the voice talent features Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi (the male lead, who looks disturbingly like Adrien Brody), Ewan McGregor, Steve Martin, and Ron Perlman, which is not too shabby. One wonders if they couldn’t actually get Brody?  I like that Disney has moved away from the traditional “damsel in distress” roles, even if the “spunky girl” is starting to become a cliche of her own, and I am definitely in the “Mandy Moore is really likable” camp.  So there’s that. I also think I like the notion that the hero is not a prince, although he’s probably a “prince among men,” bearing resemblance to Aladdin in more ways than one. Yeah yeah yeah, Disney blah blah blah evil blah blah blah bad stereotypes for kids yadda yadda yadda. Laying down our agendas for a second, it looks fun. It will bear hearing what the critics have to say, and I certainly won’t go see it in the theater, but maybe I’ll ‘Flix it eventually? We shall see. Your thoughts?

Beginnings…

Just what the world needs, right? Another person on the Internet who thinks they can write, thinks they can speak authoritatively about a given subject, thinks their opinion might be something other people will want to read. Well, since I’ll be claiming “no nonsense,” I guess I have to say that those assumptions are fairly correct. This blog will be all of those things. But maybe, just maybe, it’ll also be fun.

For my grand opening act, what I’m going to try to do here is give you a broad outline of why I’ve started this blog and what I’ll likely be discussing. Ready? Here we go.

First things first … the title. While I have just learned that there is, in fact, a substance called banana oil, my reference is a term, apparently coined by Milt Gross, a comic book artist, designed to “deflate pomposity and posing”. It is used, more in the sense of “Nonsense!” in two of my very most favorite movies (more on these later), and so I thought of it as a title for this blog. Add to the fact that I hope to write about movies and related subjects with little “pomposity and posing,” (read: nonsense) and it seems appropriate. You could also apply a deeper meaning, employing sarcasm, and see it as a comment that really, movies (and talking about them) are all just so much nonsense. Hopefully, this blog will not take itself, or its subject matter, seriously. Moving on…

Why this blog? I’ve come to the realization that I love movies. I watch a lot of them, I engage in movie-viewing projects, I read books about movies, I talk about movies, I read other movie blogs, I read critiques of movies … get the point? Additionally, I have long been a citizen of the interwebs, and I’ve never managed to come up with something to truly blog “about”. And finally, I am sort of hoping to hone my writing skills and find my “voice,” and hopefully writing here will facilitate that.

So … what will I be writing about? Well, besides movies? I shall attempt to elaborate.

  • Movie-viewing projects: I have a few of these. They range from ambitious to just silly. I’ll tell you about them!
  • My favorite actors/actresses/movies/etc.: Here’s a list. You can expect more on the following: Old-style musicals, rom-com, sci-fi/fantasy (including some comic-book movies), literary adaptations (sometimes), Gene Kelly, Julie Andrews, Russell Crowe, Robert Downey, Jr., and many more.
  • Books about movies: I’ve read a few in the past couple of years, and I plan on reading more. Biographies of movie stars, books about the social impact of certain types of films, and so on.
  • Reviews: Wouldn’t be a movie blog without them, would it? Reviewing movies is going to be a writing exercise for me.
  • Movie news: I try to keep up, and I almost always have an opinion, so this might be a place to rant or celebrate from time to time.
  • Lists: Sometimes I’m good at lists, sometimes I’m not. This’ll be an exercise in getting better, perhaps. Favorite movies, whatever! I’m open to suggestions.

I hope I will come up with more general categories of things to post about in the future … you’ll just have to stay tuned to see what happens!

And finally…what I won’t be writing about. I am reasonably picky about my movie viewing. I do often go out of my comfort zone, but I also know what I like and don’t like, and just because I’m starting a blog does not mean that I am going to go out there and watch things/people I don’t enjoy. So, a short list. You will probably not read about Will Ferrell, what I call the “new brand” of comedy a la Apatow, et al., anything having to do with Quentin Tarantino, overly serious/dramatic films (again, I watch these sometimes, but they’re not the norm), or horror flicks. I just don’t enjoy them, so I don’t watch them. But trust me – there are still plenty of things I do watch and enjoy, in whatever degree, and you shall hear about them if you are so inclined.

So that’s it! This is my movie blog. I’m hoping for one solid post a week, plus any sort of news or random thoughts that pop up from time to time. I hope you’ll read, and comment, and enjoy!

**Cosmetic changes will be taking priority over posting, for the time being, but I hope you’ll stay tuned anyway.

Stay tuned…

For movie nonsense!