Category Archives: martin scorsese

My Oscar Picks for This Year

Okay, first off, yes, I have been lax this year with The Oscars. I am hesitant to admit this, but I really haven’t even taken a good look at the nominees until earlier this week. Nevertheless, I will take a shot a predicting the Academy Awards – both what will win, as well as what should win. And just to remind all you other latecomers, check out the nominees here.

Best original Screenplay – I want Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris which I thought was brilliant, but it will probably go to The Artist.

Best Original Song – Of the choices, it’s “Man or Muppet.” Only two songs nominated? Really?? And only one from The Muppets??? What about the songs in Captain America or Bunraku?

Best Animated Film – Nothing deserving was nominated, and the three I saw were abysmal. For the first time in quite a few years, I don’t care about this category.

Best Supporting Actor – Is it time for Nick Nolte to win this year? Plummer and von Sydow deserve it, but I think it’ll go to Nolte, just a hunch.

Best Supporting Actress – I looove Janet McTeer, and would love to see her get this, but I think one of the ladies from The Help will take this one.

Best Actor – I only saw Clooney and DuJardin, but I’m still going to say the latter.

Best Actress – Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady. It’s her turn again.

Best Director – If Martin Scorsese doesn’t get this for Hugo, it will be a crime. Not only will the Academy admit they know nothing about direction, they nothing about film either.

Best Picture – The Help and Midnight in Paris were my favorite movies of the year in this batch, The Artist and Hugo are wonderful love letters to film itself, but I’m going to say they give it to The Help.

Check back later and see how I did. What are your picks?

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Shutter Island

Shutter Island ~ This film is an anomaly for me. It looked good in previews but it also appeared to give everything away in the previews as well. I shouldn’t have worried. Martin Scorcese is a film god after all. Even if the script might be lacking, it would still be visually stunning and shot perfectly. And it is.

I have to say I like the skinny kid Leo DiCaprio much better than the beefy man Leo. The kid is just more believable to me. I don’t know how to explain it any other way. Leo’s character, Teddy, is very complex, both engaging and enraging at once. It may have changed my mind about young Leo vs. older Leo. His partner in this one, Mark Ruffalo, actually reminds me a lot of a young Robert Blake here. Him I like.

In the 1950s a dangerous patient escapes from an island prison hospital and federal officers (DiCaprio and Ruffalo) come to investigate. Everyone involved is less than cooperative. Sitting squarely in the villain roles, the head doctors are played by two of Hollywood’s finest – Max von Sydow and Ben Kingsley.

A great cast, twisted plotting, stunning visuals and an appropriate and menacing score by various make Shutter Island a surprising flick for me. It’s not what you think. Recommended.

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Boardwalk Empire

HBO does it again. Do they ever make programming that is not the best out there? No, and how can someone not like a television series that film god Martin Scorsese has his hands in? He actually directed the pilot episode, the one that got this series renewed after only one airing, if that tells you anything about its quality. It was fabulous. For me, Scorsese working on the small screen is the equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci doing a comic book – lower rent yes, but the hand of a genius on a format smaller than their mind – a spectacular effect.

“Boardwalk Empire” takes place in 1920 Atlantic City and follows the exploits of Nucky Thompson as played by Steve Buscemi. Again, Buscemi is someone suited for the big screen and therefore rules the small one. It is good to see him finally in a role that matches his abilities. His character is based loosely (or closely, depending on your perspective) of Nucky Johnson who was treasurer of Atlantic City of the time, a famously generous and equally infamously corrupt personage whose work behind the scenes has become legend.

While Nucky’s name is altered to protect both the innocent and the guilty, there are other real life folks floating around “Boardwalk Empire.” Stephen Graham’s Al Capone and certainly Vincent Piazza as Lucky Luciano are notable for their appearances here, but the real real life tour de force is Michael K. Williams as African-American gangster Chalky White. You might remember him from his role as Omar in “The Wire.”

And speaking of fantastic performances, serious props go to Kelly MacDonald, Gretchen Mol and especially to Michael Pitt as Jimmy. The latter is the real star here in my opinion, and will walk from here to much bigger and better things, if that’s possible. And Michael Shannon is particularly scary as the IRS agent pursuing Thompson.

Final word, this is damn good television, right up there with other HBO alum like “The Sopranos” and the aforementioned “The Wire” as well as stuff like “Mad Men” and “Dexter.” “Boardwalk Empire” is do-not-miss television.

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Woodstock

Woodstock ~ I had seen this once years ago, in an edited form, unfortunately, on a late night UHF channel. Hmmm, I guess that kinda indicates just how many years ago that was. But this is the first time I’ve seen the whole thing. Although, seeing how VH1 Classic is showing it in full frame, I guess you could say I’m really only seeing half of the whole film. The director’s use of split screen techniques makes this even more painful.

My first memory of the Woodstock film is a review in my big sister’s college newspaper called the Common Sense. It had the very cool and dated tagline of “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” and over a decade later I would write for it, but that’s another story. The reviewer said that the guy who made the movie sure liked sunrises and sunsets, man, and that’s pretty much all he said. That stuck with me because I was confused, and because I thought Woodstock was about music.

And it is about the music. Early on, The Who’s music from “Tommy” and especially their version of “Summertime Blues” is electrifying and yet the later bit by Sha-Na-Na is just puzzling. Sly and the Family Stone, Ten Years After and Santana give good music, although I wonder if Sly was upset Roger Daltry was wearing the same outfit as he was. And of course the most inspiring moment was Jimi Hendrix playing the crowd awake with “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Regarding Joe Cocker’s amazing performance of “With a Little Help from My Friends,” sometimes when someone does a parody of something, you tend to forget the original and only think of the parody. Trust me, after you see the real thing, you will forget John Belushi’s brilliant Joe Cocker imitation forever.

A positive perspective is kept throughout the film, even when things fall apart, which is probably for the best. Much effort is also put forth to illustrate what the experience of being there was about, something not often done with concert films. Woodstock was a logistic nightmare that worked out simply by serendipity – or peace and love, if you prefer. As has been proven more than once, this kind of thing could never happen again. This is a great time capsule to a happier simpler time, and an excellent concert film – and yeah, there are a lot of sunrises and sunsets, man.

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