Here’s The Trailer For Gemini Man!


Young Will Smith tries to kill Old Will Smith in …. Gemini Man!

At least, that would appear to be the plot of this upcoming sci-fi film.  To be honest, it sounds kinda generic and it’s definitely hard not to look at that plot description and think, “Okay, so it’s Looper but instead of time travel, it’s just clones.”

Well, here’s why you maybe should be kinda sorta interested in seeing Gemini Man:

It was directed by Ang Lee!

Honestly, I will watch anything that Ang Lee directs.  He could release a three hour documentary about dermatology and I would totally ask someone to buy me a ticket.  Everyone seems to pretty much agree that Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain should have been named Best Picture over Crash.  To be honest, I would argue that, even more than Brokeback Mountain over Crash, Life of Pi deserved to win over Argo.  If nothing else, Lee certainly earned both of his directing Oscars.

(How forgotten is Argo?  I actually had to remind myself that it was the film that defeated Life of Pi at the Oscars.)

So, will Gemini Man see Ang Lee returning to the Oscar conversation?  Hmmm …. well, probably not.  I mean, it’s an Ang Lee movie but it’s also a Will Smith science fiction film. I mean, the last time that Lee tried to do a “genre” film, the end result was the Hulk, which wasn’t really appreciated until nearly a decade after it was initially released.

Still, anything is possible!  One could argue that the recent nominations of Get Out and Black Panther have proven that the Academy is no longer totally biased against well-made genre films, especially if those films have the type of thought-provoking subtext that a director like Ang Lee can bring to a project.  As always, we’ll see what happens.  For now, here’s the first trailer for Gemini Man:

Back to School Part II #34: The Ice Storm (dir by Ang Lee)


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The 1997 film The Ice Storm is kind of a schizophrenic film, which makes sense since it’s set in 1973 and, just from what I’ve seen in the movies, it appears that the early 70s were kind of a schizophrenic time.

It’s a film that deals with two sets of people who all live in an upper class Connecticut community.  One part of the film deals with parents who are freaking out about suddenly being adults.  The other part of the film deals with the children, most of whom seem destined to make the same mistakes as their parents.  It’s a film that is occasionally bracingly realistic and relatable, one that reminds us that being directionless in the 70s isn’t necessarily that different from being directionless in 2016.  At other times, the film feels a bit too studied for its own good.  This is one of those films that features a Tobey Maguire voice-over and, as good an actor as Maguire has always been, he’s always at his worse when reciting a pseudo-profound voice over.  And then there are other times when the film feels a bit too cartoonish for its own good.  Elijah Wood’s a stoner.  Sigourney Weaver walks around with a bullwhip.  David Krumholtz shows up as a character named Francis Davenport.

Fortunately, the film is directed by Ang Lee and Ang Lee is probably one of the few filmmakers who can overcome tonal inconsistency.  Lee is so good with actors and is such a good storyteller that even his lesser films are usually worth watching.  The Ice Storm would just be another silly sin-in-the-suburbs film if it had been made by any director other than Ang Lee.

The main adult in the film is Ben Hood (Kevin Kline).  Ben is married to Elena (Joan Allen) but he’s having an affair with his neighbor, Janey (Sigourney Weaver).  Elena may be upset when she finds out about the affair but she’s still willing to accompany her husband to a key party.  A key party was a 70s ritual in which husbands would throw their car keys into a big punch bowl and then the wives would randomly pick a key and have sex with the owner.  Basically, anytime a TV show or a movie takes place in the suburbs during the 70s, there has to be at least one key party.

And The Ice Storm‘s key party is kind of fun to watch.  Kevin Kline and Joan Allen both give really good performances and Ben is such a loser that it’s fun to watch him freak out when Janey gets a key other than this own.  Elena, meanwhile, ends up going off with Janey’s husband (Jamey Sheridan, pretty much looking the same in this 1997 film as he did in Spotlight and Sully) and they share a really good scene together, one that reveals that none of the film’s adults are really as mature or liberated as they claim to be.

While the adults attempt to play, their children attempt to find some sort of meaning to their empty existence.  Ben and Elena’s daughter, Wendy (Christina Ricci), wears a Richard Nixon mask and enjoys sexually teasing her classmates, especially Janey’s youngest son, Sandy (Adam Hann-Byrd).  Ben and Elena’s oldest son, Paul (Tobey Maguire) is in New York, hoping to lose his virginity to Libbits (Katie Holmes) despite the fact that Libbets is far more interested in his boarding school roommate, Francis Davenport (David Krumholtz).  Paul also compares his family to the Fantastic Four so, assuming Paul survived both the 70s and 80s, he’s probably still living in Connecticut and telling everyone who disappointed he was with last year’s film.

And, of course, there’s Mickey (Elijah Wood).  Mickey is Janey’s oldest son and he’s permanently spaced out.  When the ice storm of the title occurs, Mickey is the one who decides to wander around outside and appreciate the beauty of nature’s remorseless wrath.

Needless to say, the ice storm is also a really obvious metaphor for the way all of these very unhappy (but very prosperous) characters tend to view and treat each other.  Despite all the attempts to pretend otherwise, everyone has a frozen soul.  Nobody’s capable of maintaining any sort of real emotional connection.  Of course, someone dies and everyone’s forced to take a look at the sad reality of their lives and the film ends with a sudden and spontaneous display of actual human emotion.  It’s one of those ideas that probably works better as a literary conceit than a cinematic one.

That said, The Ice Storm is flawed but very watchable.  I enjoyed it, even if it did occasionally seem to be trying way too hard.  It’s well-acted and, if nothing else, I enjoyed getting to see all of the amazingly tacky clothes and the interiors of all those big houses.  These people love their wide lapels and their shag carpeting.  The Ice Storm is not Ang Lee’s best but it’s still good enough.

Here’s The Trailer For Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk!


When I originally heard that Ang Lee’s new film was going to be called Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, I was super excited because I assumed it was a baseball film and my sister loves baseball and I’m kind of obsessed with finding movies for my sister to not only watch but to enjoy watching as well!

(If I love you, that means I’m going to obsessively try to find a movie that you’ll love as much as I love Upstream Color.)

However, as I expressed my excitement to the TSL’s own Jedadiah Leland, he mentioned to me that apparently halftime is a football thing.

So, this is not a baseball film!  In fact, judging from the trailer, it’s not much a football movie either.  Instead, it’s a war film.  Or at least, it’s kind of a war film.  Apparently, it’s also a coming home film. Judging from the flag that appears in the background of one of the scenes, it’s also a Texas film.  That can be either good or bad.  Movies never get my home state right, especially when those movies are attempting to make some sort of statement about American foreign policy.

(Seriously, Hollywood: Oregon has its share of jingoistic assholes as well.  Go make a movie about those jerks, for once.)

But — and here’s the reason why I am optimistic — Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk was directed by Ang Lee, who is one of my favorite directors!

In fact, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is being described, by some, as the film for which Lee may finally pick up an Oscar for best picture.  (He has two Oscars for directing but none of his films have ever won the big prize.  Adding insult to injury, one of them actually lost to fucking Crash.)

Anyway, I kinda lost my train of thought so, instead of going on and on, I’ll just post the trailer for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

(Damn, that’s a long title…)

 

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: Sense and Sensibility (dir by Ang Lee)


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I just finished watching the 1995 best picture nominee Sense and Sensibility on TCM and, despite the fact that I’ve watched it several times in the past, I’m glad that I took time to rewatch it.  Sense and Sensibility is one of those very special films that you should rewatch every few months just to be reminded of how good it is.  There’s no CGI in Sense and Sensibility.  Instead, there’s just some very good writing, some excellent performances, and some lushly wonderful images of the English countryside, courtesy of director Ang Lee.  It’s a deliberately paced film, one that proves the virtue of a subtle touch.

The film tells the story of the Dashwoods.  As Mr. Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) dies, he tells his son by his first wife, John (James Fleet), to take care of his second wife (Gemma Jones) and their three daughters, Elinor (Emma Thompson), Marianne (Kate Winslet), and Margaret (Emilie Francois).  Naturally enough, John does the exact opposite and soon the Dashwood sisters are forced to leave their large estate and fend for themselves.

The film centers on the practical Elinor and the passionate Marianne.  Elinor meets and falls in love with Edward (a surprisingly restrained Hugh Grant), an aspiring clergyman who is also John’s brother-in-law.  Edward comes from a wealthy family but will be disinherited if he marries someone who has neither money nor social prominence.  Marianne, meanwhile, has fallen in love with John Willoughby (Greg Wise), who is handsome, dashing, rich, and a bit of a cad.  (Cad is such a cool word.  People should start using it more.)  Marianne is so in love with the unworthy Willoughby that she misses the fact that the kindly Col. Brandon (Alan Rickman) has also fallen in love with her.

Sense and Sensibility is based on a Jane Austen novel and, in its very British way, it’s a wonderfully romantic film.  Tonight, when viewed in the shadow of the recent passing of Alan Rickman, the scenes featuring Col. Brandon were even more poignant than usual.  His love for Marianne is perhaps the most pure and selfless love to be found in the entire film.  There’s a scene where Col. Brandon is speaking to Elinor and Marianne, inviting them to his estate.  Marianne ignores him until Brandon mentions that Willoughby is also inspected.  Suddenly, Marianne looks up and smiles and Alan Rickman allows just a hint of pain to enter his voice.  It’s a masterful performance.

But really, the reason why I love this film is because it’s about sisters. I am the youngest of four sisters and, whenever I see this film, it’s hard for me not to see the Bowman sisters in the Dashwood sisters.  There is so much about Marianne that I relate to, from her passionate pursuit of “true love” to her artistic sensibility to her somewhat dangerous habit of wandering around in the middle of thunderstorm.  You never doubt for a second that Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet could be related and this film always makes me appreciate my own sisters.

Sense and Sensibility was nominated for Best Picture of 1995 but it lost to a film that is its total opposite, Mel Gibson’s Braveheart.

Lisa Marie Picks The 50 Best Films of The Past 3 Years


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As of this month, I have been reviewing films here at the Shattered Lens for 3 years.  In honor of that anniversary, I thought I’d post my picks for the 50 best films that have been released in the U.S. since 2010.

Without further ado, here’s the list!

  1. Black Swan (directed by Darren Aronofsky)
  2. Exit Through The Gift Shop (directed by Banksy)
  3. Hanna (directed by Joe Wright)
  4. Fish Tank (directed by Andrea Arnold)
  5. Higher Ground (directed by Vera Farmiga)
  6. Shame (directed by Steve McQueen)
  7. Anna Karenina (directed by Joe Wright)
  8. The Cabin In The Woods (directed by Drew Goddard)
  9. 127 Hours (directed by Danny Boyle)
  10. Somewhere (directed by Sofia Coppola)
  11. Life of Pi (directed by Ang Lee)
  12. Hugo (directed by Martin Scorsese)
  13. Inception (directed by Christopher Nolan)
  14. Animal Kingdom (directed by David Michod)
  15. Winter’s Bone (directed by Debra Granik)
  16. The Artist (directed by Michel Hazanavicius)
  17. The Guard (directed by John Michael McDonagh)
  18. Bernie (directed by Richard Linklater)
  19. The King’s Speech (directed by Tom Hooper)
  20. Bridesmaids (directed by Paul Feig)
  21. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (directed by Thomas Alfredson)
  22. Django Unchained (directed by Quentin Tarantino)
  23. Never Let Me Go (directed by Mark Romanek)
  24. Toy Story 3 (directed by Lee Unkrich)
  25. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (directed by Niels Arden Oplev)
  26. Young Adult (directed by Jason Reitman)
  27. Sucker Punch (directed by Zack Snyder)
  28. The Master (directed by Paul Thomas Anderson)
  29. Incendies (directed by Denis Villeneuve)
  30. Melancholia (directed by Lars Von Trier)
  31. Super (directed by James Gunn)
  32. Silver Linings Playbook (directed by David O. Russell)
  33. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (directed by Edgar Wright)
  34. The Last Exorcism (directed by Daniel Stamm)
  35. Skyfall (directed by Sam Mendes)
  36. Easy A (directed by Will Gluck)
  37. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 (directed by David Yates)
  38. The Avengers (directed by Joss Whedon)
  39. How To Train Your Dragon (directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBois)
  40. Win Win (directed by Thomas McCarthy)
  41. Les Miserables (directed by Tom Hooper)
  42. Take This Waltz (directed by Sarah Polley)
  43. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (directed by Werner Herzog)
  44. Rust and Bone (directed by Jacques Audiard)
  45. Cosmopolis (directed by David Cronenberg)
  46. Ruby Sparks (directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valarie Faris)
  47. Brave (directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman)
  48. Martha Marcy May Marlene (directed by Sean Durkin)
  49. Jane Eyre (directed by Cary Fukunaga)
  50. Damsels in Distress (directed by Whit Stillman)

What Lisa Watched Last Night #72: The 85th Annual Academy Awards


Last night, I had a little party.  Me, my boyfriend, my sister, my best friend, and my 7,000 followers on twitter got together to watch the 85th Annual Academy Awards.

Seth

Why Were We Watching It?

If you love movies then the Oscars are like the Super Bowl.  Seriously, how could I not watch it?

What Was It About?

It was about the best of times and the worst of times.  It was about self-promotion, self-congratulation, and Michelle Obama.  It was about whether or not Seth McFarlane would self-destruct.  It was about rooting for the underdog and checking out who was wearing what.  It was the Oscars and, for 210 minutes, the nation sat entranced.

What Worked?

Brave won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film!  Seriously, that one award pretty much made the entire night for me.  Actually, there were a lot of good winners last night: Ang Lee for Best Director, Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor, Paperman for Best Animated Short Film, and Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress.  I was especially happy to see both Lawrence and Anne Hathaway win because, for whatever reason, these two actresses have recently had to deal with some of the most petty criticism that I’ve ever seen.

I also appreciated the fact that Quentin Tarantino, upon winning Best Original Screenplay, managed to spend his entire speech basically patting himself on the back while pretending to thank his cast.  It may not be remembered as the most classy speech in the history of the Oscars but it definitely served to remind us of why we love Quentin.

As host, Seth McFarlane was such a mixed bag that I’ve included him under both things that worked and things that didn’t work.  McFarlane started out surprisingly strong.  Unlike a lot of female critics, I wasn’t offended by The Boob Song and I thought it was actually a pretty clever parody of McFarlane’s public image.  (The joke was clearly meant to be on McFarlane and not the actresses mentioned in the song.)  Unfortunately, as the show went on, McFarlane occasionally seemed to be determined to live up to that parody.

Oddly enough, I really enjoyed Lincoln when I saw it but yet I still found myself happy to see it lose in so many categories.  I think it’s probably because Lincoln was so aggressively hyped and so many self-important Oscar pundits (like Sasha Stone) declared that Lincoln was the best film of the year before they had even seen it.  It was hard not to resent the condescending tone that was taken by many of Lincoln‘s online supporters.  Plus, it’s always fun to root for the underdog.  It’s hard not to suspect that if Ben Affleck had actually been nominated for Best Director then Steven Spielberg and his film might have actually won big last night.  But by snubbing Affleck, the Academy cast Steven Spielberg and Lincoln in the role of Goliath.

On one final petty note, I was happy to see Jennifer Lawrence win because I know her victory probably annoyed the editors of Awards Daily.

What Did Not Work?

I could have done without Michelle Obama showing up to present Best Picture. Yes, I know that Hollywood loves the Obamas but seriously, it felt rather Orwellian to have the First Lady suddenly pop up on TV and tell us why movies are so important.  The fact that she appeared with a few random soldiers behind her just added to the creepy vibe.

The much hyped Bond tribute turned out to be a bit of a bust, didn’t it?

The audience, which never seemed to be that excited about the prospect of Seth McFarlane in the first place, seemed to turn more and more against him as the show progressed.  As a result, once the Oscars hit the 120 minute mark, Seth started to come across as being a bit desperate to get a reaction — any reaction — from the audience.

Daniel Day-Lewis gave a good acceptance speech and all but surely I’m not the only viewer who was curious to hear what Joaquin Phoenix would have said if he had won.

In the end, the show just felt a little bit too bland for my tastes.  Unlike last year, there was nothing truly unexpected.  There were no hints of eccentricity.  No one showed up wearing anything awful.  Nobody made a fool of themselves while accepting their Oscar.  In short, the show was just forgettable.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

When Jennifer Lawrence fell on the way to accept her award, that was definitely an “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moment.  Seriously, I loved her dress but, from the minute I saw it, I knew she was going to have a hard time getting up to the podium.

Lessons Learned

Award shows are a lot more fun when things go wrong.

Here Are The Oscar Winners


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Best Picture — Argo

Best Director — Ang Lee for Life of Pi

Best Actor — Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln

Best Actress — Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook

Best Supporting Actor — Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

Best Supporting Actress — Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables

Best Adapted Screenplay — Argo

Best Original Screenplay — Django Unchained

Best Animated Feature Film — Brave

Best Documentary Feature — Searching For Sugar Man.

Best Foreign Language Film — Amour

Best Cinematography — Life of Pi

Best Costuming — Anna Karenina

Best Editing — Argo

Best Makeup and Hair-Styling — Les Miserables

Best Original Score — Life of Pi

Best Original Song — “Skyfall” in Skyfall

Best Production Design — Lincoln

Best Sound Editing — Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall

Best Sound Mixing — Les Miserables

Best Visual Effects — Life of Pi

Best Live-Action Short Film — Curfew

Best Animated Short Film — Paperman

Best Documentary Short Film — Innocente


By the numbers:

Life of Pi — 4

Argo — 3

Les Miserables — 3

Django Unchained — 2

Lincoln — 2

Skyfall — 2

Amour — 1

Anna Karenina — 1

Brave — 1

Curfew — 1

Innocente — 1

Paperman — 1

Searching for Sugar Man — 1

Silver Linings Playbook — 1

Zero Dark Thirty — 1