What Lisa and Erin Watched Last Night #63: Bring It On (dir. by Peyton Reed)


Last night, my sister Erin Nicole (a.k.a. Dazzling Erin) and I watched the classic 2000 cheerleading movie Bring It On on AMC.

Why Were We Watching It?

Seriously, how can you not watch Bring It On?

Back in high school, while I was doing my goth ballerina thing, Erin Nicole was a cheerleader and, though she denies it, she pretty much was Kirsten Dunst back then.  Anyway, Erin usually refuses to watch Bring It On because she says she had already had to sit through it a few hundred times by the time she turned 17.  For this reason, I always make it a point to let Erin know when Bring It On is on TV and to try to trick her into watching it with me.

But last night, to my surprise, she was the one who saw the movie listed in the guide and started watching it because, according to her, there was nothing else on.  (Personally, I think Erin was feeling nostalgic but she denies it.)  I joined her shortly after the movie started and, according to Erin, I spent the next two hours jumping around and acting all hyper.  That’s not quite the way I remember it but Erin’s the cheerleader so I’ll take her word for it.

What’s It About?

Torrance (played by Kirsten Dunst) is the new captain of her high school’s cheerleading squad and is determined to lead them to yet another national title.  However, Missy (Eliza Dushku), a new member of the squad, reveals that the squad only won those titles by stealing routines from an inner city cheerleader squad.  Torrance now has to create an original routine while dealing with her cheating boyfriend (Richard Hillman) and flirting with Missy’s brother (Jesse Bradford), who looks a lot like Paul Rudd and is skeptical about whether cheerleading’s really all that important in the grand scheme of things.

What Worked?

Let’s just come right out and say it: Bring It On is one of the greatest high school movies ever made.  It’s fun, it’s funny, and best of all, it’s real.  The film’s director, Peyton Reed, the film’s writers, Jessica Bendinger and Stephen White, and the film’s cast all perfectly capture just how important the little dramas are when you’re a teenager.  The film even manages to say something very important about issues like race and economic inequality.

Plus, as Erin and I both agreed last night, Jesse Bradford is HOT!

According to Erin, she has flashbacks and starts laughing uncontrollably  whenever she hears the line “These are spirit fingers!”

What Didn’t Work?

It all worked.  Seriously, if you can be critical of a film like Bring It On then you’re probably taking life too seriously.

“OH MY GOD!  Just like Erin!” Moments

Last night, I finally got Erin to admit that she liked Bring It On because it reminded her of her cheerleading days but Erin added, “But I wasn’t as bouncy as Kirsten Dunst is in this movie.”  To that, I can only smile and say, “Whatever,” because, as everyone knows, the Bowman Girls are always bouncy.  That’s a part of our charm.

Lessons Learned

If you’re going do it, then bring it!

Trailer: Pacific Rim (Official CES)…and Jaeger Designs


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I think Guillermo Del Toro’s upcoming giant robots vs giant monsters summer film will either fail to live up to the hype it’s been gathering since the very first teasers and images were released or the film will blow people’s minds away. This looks to be a film that will not brook any middle-of-the-road reaction. Some will either love it and some will absolutely hate it. Already there’s people who have been dismissing it as nothing but a jumped-up-Michael Bay rip (like that’s even possible) or dismissing it just because it’s a summer blockbuster, special-effects heavy film and not a barely-funded, arthouse, indie foreign film about the meaning of life, existence and the ennui that befalls all.

I, for one, am hyping this film up to beyond what’s safe to hype a film up for (yeah that doesn’t make sense but still deal with it). I’ve been a fan of Del Toro since I first caught his imaginative and inventive take on the vampire myth with Cronos. While he’s earned geek cred for his genre projects he is also once of the few filmmakers who have also gained the respect of the arthouse indie crowd with such films as The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth.

Enough gushing over the man. It’s all about the new trailer which premiered at this year’s CES over in Las Vegas. One wouldn’t think of CES as a place to premiere new footage about a summe rblockbuster, but as one can spy in this newest trailer it looks like Qualcomm paid some cash to get itself named in the film even if it’s just in the background. Also, just to show just how awesome this film will be there are also the design blueprints of five of the giant Jaegers that we’ve caught glimpses of in the trailer.

          U.S. Jaeger Gipsy Danger          Australian Jaeger Striker Eureka                 Russian Jaeger Cherno Alpha          Chinese Jaeger Crimson Typhoon

Japanese Jaeger Coyote Tango

What If Lisa Marie Determined The Oscar Nominees…


With the Oscar nominations due to be announced this week, now seems like a good time to indulge in something I like to call “If Lisa Marie Had All The Power.”  Listed below are my personal Oscar nominations.  Please note that these are not the films that I necessarily think will be nominated.  The fact of the matter is that the many of them will not.  Instead, these are the films that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for deciding the nominees this year.  Winners are listed in bold.

For those who are interested, you can check out my picks for 2010 by clicking on this sentence.

Meanwhile, my picks for last year can be seen by clicking on this sentence.

Best Picture

Best Picture

Anna Karenina

The Avengers

Bernie

The Cabin In The Woods

Django Unchained

Les Miserables

Life of Pi

The Master

Silver Linings Playbook

Skyfall

Ang Lee

Best Director

Drew Goddard for The Cabin In The Woods

Ang Lee for Life of Pi

Richard Linklater for Bernie

Quinton Tarantino for Django Unchained

Joe Wright for Anna Karenina

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Best Actor

Jack Black in Bernie

Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook

Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln

Matthew McConaughey in Killer Joe.

Joaquin Phoenix in The Master

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Best Actress

Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone

Greta Gerwig in Damsels in Distress

Kiera Knightley in Anna Karenina

Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook

Michelle Williams in Take This Waltz

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Best Supporting Actor

Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook

Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master

Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained

Sam Rockwell in Seven Psychopaths

Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

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Best Supporting Actress

Rebecca De Mornay in Mother’s Day

Dame Judi Dench in Skyfall

Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables

Zoe Kazan in Ruby Sparks

Sarah Silverman in Take This Waltz

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Best Original Screenplay

The Cabin In The Woods

Django Unchained

The Master

Ruby Sparks

Take This Waltz

Bernie Bearing Gifts

Best Adapted Screenplay

Anna Karenina

Argo

Bernie

Life of Pi

Silver Linings Playbook

"BRAVE"

Best Feature-Length Animated Film

Brave

Frankenweenie

Paranorman

Pirates!  Band of Misfits

Wreck-It Ralph

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Best Foreign Language Film

Barbara

Headhunters

The Raid: Redemption

A Royal Affair

Rust and Bone

Ai Weiwei never sorry film

Best Documentary Feature

Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry

The Central Park Five

First Position

The Queen of Versailles

2016: Obama’s America

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Best Original Score

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Brave

The Dark Knight Rises

For Greater Glory

The Master

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Best Original Song

“For You” from Act of Valor

“Yo No Se” from Casa De Mi Padre

“The Sambola! International Dance Craze” from Damsels in Distress

“Ancora Qui” from Django Unchained

“Abraham’s Daughter” from The Hunger Games

“The Baddest Man Alive” from The Man With The Iron Fists

“Razor’s Out” from The Raid: Redemption

“Big Machine” from Safety Not Guaranteed

“Skyfall” from Skyfall

“Anything Made Out of Paper” from West of Memphis

Les Miserables 

Best Sound Editing

Chronicle

The Dark Knight Rises

End of Watch

Les Miserables

Skyfall

Les Miserables2

Best Sound Mixing

Chronicle

End of Watch

Killing Them Softly

Les Miserables

Skyfall

Anna Karenina

Best Art Direction

Anna Karenina

The Avengers

The Cabin In The Woods

Cosmopolis

Les Miserables

Skyfall

Best Cinematography

The Hobbit

Lawless

Life of Pi

Moonrise Kingdom

Skyfall

looper

Best Makeup

The Hobbit

The Hunger Games

Les Miserables

Lincoln

Looper

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Best Costume Design

Anna Karenina

Django Unchained

The Hunger Games

Lincoln

Moonrise Kingdom

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Best Film Editing

Anna Karenina

The Cabin In The Woods

Django Unchained

The Master

Silent House

Life of Pi

Best Visual Effects

The Avengers

The Dark Knight Rises

Life of Pi

Looper

Men In Black 3

List of Films By Number of Nominations

8 Nominations — Django Unchained

7 Nominations — Anna Karenina

6 Nominations — Les Miserables, Life of Pi, The Master, Skyfall

5 Nominations — The Cabin In The Woods, Silver Linings Playbook

4 Nominations — Bernie

3 Nominations — The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, The Hunger Games, Lincoln, Take This Waltz

2 Nominations — Brave, Chronicle, Damsels in Distress, End of Watch, Moonrise Kingdom, The Raid: Redemption, Ruby Sparks, Rust and Bone

1 Nomination —Act of Valor, Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry, Argo, Barbara,  Beasts of the Southern Wild, Casa De Mi Padre, The Central Park Five, Cosmopolis, First Position, For Greater Glory, Frankenweenie, Headhunters, Killer Joe, Killing Them Softly, Lawless, Looper, The Man With The Iron Fists, Men In Black 3, Mother’s Day, The Pirates! Band of Misfits , The Queen of Versailles, A Royal Affair, Safety Not Guaranteed, Seven Psychopaths, Silent House, 2016: Obama’s America, West of Memphis, Wreck-It Ralph

List of Films By Oscars Won

2 Oscars — Anna Karenina, Brave, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi

1 Oscar — Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry, Bernie, The Cabin In the Woods, Looper, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom, The Raid: Redemption, Ruby Sparks, Rust and Bone, Skyfall, Take This Waltz

Film Review: Dead End (dir. by William Wyler)


Originally released in 1937, Dead End is a gangster film with social conscience.  Based on a Broadway play and featuring a screenplay by the iconic progressive writer Lillian Hellman, Dead End is a crime film that’s more interested in the root causes of crime than in crime itself.

Dead End takes place over the course of one day in the slums of New York City.  While tenement children spend their time swimming in the East River and idealizing gangsters, wealthy people live in high-rise apartments and depend on the police and their doorman (played, naturally enough, by Ward Bond) to keep them protected from the poor people living next door.

Among the poor is Drina (Sylvia Sidney), who divides her time between marching on a picket line and trying to keep her younger brother Tommy (Billy Halop) from hanging out with the local street gang, the Dead End Kids (Huntz Hall, Bernard Punsly, Leo Gorcey, and Gabriel Dell).  Drina’s childhood friend is Dave (Joel McCrea), an idealistic architect who is having an affair with a rich man’s mistress (Wendy Barrie).

Complicating things is the arrival of Baby Face Martin (Humphrey Bogart).  Like Dave, Martin grew up in the slums.  However, while Dave is trying to escape by making an honest living, Martin has already escaped by choosing a life of crime.  Now, he’s viewed as a hero by Tommy and his friends and with wariness by Dave and Drina who know that Martin’s presence will eventually lead to the police invading their home.  Martin, however, is more concerned with seeing his mother (Marjorie Main) and his ex-girlfriend (Clare Trevor), who has become a prostitute and is suffering from syphilis.

For a film that was made close to 80 years ago, Dead End holds up pretty well.  Is this because it’s a brilliant film or just because the connection between poverty and crime has remained one of the constants of human history?  It’s probably a combination of both.  Considering that Dead End was filmed on a Hollywood backlot, it’s a surprisingly gritty and realistic film that only occasionally feels a bit stagey.  The film’s entire cast does a good job of bringing this particular dead end to life, though the obvious star of the film is Humphrey Bogart.  As played by Bogart, Baby Face Martin is both sympathetic and despicable, the epitome of the potential that can be found and wasted in any American city.

Dead End was nominated for best picture but lost to The Life of Emile Zola.  The film also received a much deserved nomination for best art design but lost to Lost Horizon while Clare Trevor lost the race for best supporting actress to Alice Brady, who won for In Old Chicago.  Perhaps most surprisingly of all, Humphrey Bogart did not even receive a nomination for his excellent work in Dead End.  Meanwhile, the film’s tough gang of street kids proved to be so popular that they, as a group, were cast in several other films.  Originally credited as the Dead End Kids (and later known as the Bowery Boys), they ended up making a total of 89 films together.  With the possible exception of Angels With Dirty Faces, none of those films are as highly regarded as Dead End.