Lisa Marie’s Final 2020-2021 Oscar Predictions


The 2020 Oscar nominations are finally going to be announced on March 15th and then the Oscars themselves are going to be awarded at the end of April.  To be honest, we should call these the 2020-2021 Oscars because I refuse to think of Nomadland, Minari, or The Father as being 2020 films.  Because of the extended eligibility window, they’re all Oscar-eligible but still….

That means that it’s time for me to make my final Oscar predictions for this latest awards cycle.  Last night, The Golden Globes cleared up a few races and suggested that a few others are still in a state of flux.  Of the three big surprise winners from last night (Andra Day, Jodie Foster, and Rosamund Pike) Day seems to be the most likely to benefit from her victory.  I also think that Foster might benefit as well, just because she’s Jodie Foster and she doesn’t appear in a lot of films nowadays.  I’m also willing to say that, based on his getting a GG nom and a SAG nom, I think Jared Leto has a better chance than some might realize of picking up another Oscar nomination.

What about Glenn Close?  On the one hand, Close has never won an Oscar and she gives a very awards baity performance in Hillbilly Elegy.  On the other hand, Hillbilly Elegy was critically-blasted and both the film and Close’s performance were included on the Razzie longlist, which was released earlier today.  (The Razzies suck but that’s a topic for another post.)  I would feel better about Close’s chances if she had won a Golden Globe last night but I’m still inclined to include her in my predictions.

(To be honest, up until Close lost, I still thought there was a chance that Hillbilly Elegy could pick up an Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close-style best picture nomination, the type of nomination that comes as a result of voters watching a critically lambasted film for one performance and saying, “Well, that wasn’t as bad as everyone says!”)

Finally, I’m going to continue to predict a surprise Best Picture nomination for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, just because it’ll be another chance for the same voters who nominated Vice to express their feelings about Donald Trump and Rudy Guiliani.

If you want to see how my thinking has evolved over this long awards season, check out my predictions for January (2020)February (2020), March (2020AprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovember, December, and January (2021)!

Here are my final predictions:

Best Picture

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Mank

Minari

News of the World

Nomadland

One Night In Miami

Promising Young Woman

The Trial of the Chicago 7

(I’m predicting 9 best picture nominees. I’m looking forward to the Academy going back to having a set number of best picture nominees.  It breaks my heart not to include First Cow and Sound of Metal among my predicted nominees.)

Best Director

Lee Isaac Chung for Minari

Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman

Regina King for One Night in Miami

Aaron Sorkin for Mank

Chloe Zhao for Nomadland

Best Actor

Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal

Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Anthony Hopkins in The Father

Gary Oldman in Mank

Steven Yeun in Minari

Best Actress

Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holliday

Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman

Frances McDormand in Nomadland

Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

Best Supporting Actor

Sacha Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7

Chadwick Boseman in Da 5 Bloods

Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah

Jared Leto in The Little Things

Leslie Odom Jr. in One Night In Miami

Best Supporting Actress

Maria Bakalova in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy

Jodie Foster in The Mauritanian

Amanda Seyfried in Mank

Youn Yuh-jung in Minari

We’ll find out how right or wrong I am on March 15th!

Film Review: The Little Things (dir by John Lee Hancock)


Rami Malek and Jared Leto In The Little Things

Since it’s due to leave HBOMax at the end of the day and since HBOMax isn’t exactly cheap, I decided that I should go ahead and watch The Little Things, the serial killer thriller that has been getting some unexpected Oscar buzz due to the performance of Jared Leto.

Taking place in the 90s, The Little Things follows two cops as they investigate a series of murders.  Deacon (Denzel Washington) is the former hotshot homicide detective who, back in the day, allowed his obsession with an unsolved murder to destroy his life. He lost not only his wife but also nearly his life.  Now, he’s a small town deputy who is still haunted by the cases that he didn’t solve.  Jim (Rami Malek) is the detective who has picked up where Deacon left off.  Deacon is haunted and unable to move on.  Jim is young and cocky and obviously doomed to repeat all of Deacon’s mistakes.  At first, Jim doesn’t want to work with Deacon and Deacon seems to be a little bit skeptical of Jim’s abilities.  Eventually, though, they bond over their mutual righteousness.  Jim is the type of who reminds the crime scene technicians that they’re working for the victim.  Deacon is the type who muses about whether or not God has abandoned humanity.  On the one hand, we should be thankful that they’re good at their job.  On the other hand, you wouldn’t necessarily want to invite either of them to a party.

Deacon and Jim’s investigation leads them to a suspect named Sparma (Jared Leto) and you know that he’s a bad dude as soon as you learn that his name is “Sparma.”  It sounds like too much of a mix of sperm and pharma for this guy to be anything other than dangerous.  Sparma is an appliance repairman with unwashed hair, a permanent smirk on his face, and a disconcerting history of confessing to crimes that he didn’t actually commit.  Jim and Deacon both think that Sparma is guilty but can they prove it?  How far will they go to take a possible killer off the streets?

Jared Leto is certainly creepy as Sparma.  In fact, I think you could probably argue that he’s a little bit too obviously creepy and unhinged in the role. Most real life serial killers — especially the ones who manage to kill for years without being detected — are able to blend in with society. Consider the cases of killers like Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer who avoided capture for nearly three decades, or Dennis Rader, the infamous BTK killer.  While it’s true that everyone in his hometown apparently thought Rader was a dick even before he was revealed to be a serial killer, he also still managed to hold down a respectable job while raising a family and fooling people into thinking that he was just a normal jerk as opposed to a homicidal one.  That ability to blend in and disguise their true selves is one of the things that makes real-life serial killers so frightening.  Sparma, however, might as well have the words “murderer” tattooed on his forehead.  I can understand why Jared Leto is getting Oscar buzz because it’s a showy role and it allows him to act up a storm.  But it’s still hard not to feel that the film, which tries to introduce the idea that Deacon and Jim’s obsession with this case has led to them developing a tunnel vision that has left them incapable of suspecting anyone other than Sparma, might have been a bit more effective if it had taken a slightly more ambiguous approach to the character.

That said, The Little Things is a well-made movie.  Though it’s bit overlong and occasionally meanders a bit too much for its own good, the film looks great and director John Lee Hancock does a good job of creating an effectively creepy atmosphere, providing the viewer with some wonderfully ominous images as Deacon and Jim search for the truth in the middle of the night.  For instance, the scene where Deacon imagines himself talking to the ghosts of the killer’s victims really shouldn’t work but it does because Washington gives such a committed performance and Hancock, as a director and writer, is smart enough to just let the scene develop naturally.  Even as he ages, Denzel Washington remains a compelling actor and he helps to carry The Little Things over more than few speed bumps on the way to the end credits. At its best, the film works as an examination of obsession and there is a haunting intensity to the film’s final moments that suggests the movie that The Little Things could have been if the film’s pace had been just a little bit tighter.

In the end, The Little Things is uneven but it has enough effective moments to be watchable.

Here Are The SAG Nominations!


Here are the SAG nominations!  I’ll be post my thoughts under the noms because — let’s be honest, the noms are what you’re here for:

BEST ENSEMBLE
Da 5 Bloods
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Minari
One Night In Miami
The Trial Of The Chicago 7

BEST LEAD ACTOR (FEMALE)
Amy Adams – Hillbilly Elegy
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces Of A Woman
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

BEST LEAD ACTOR (MALE)
Riz Ahmed – Sound Of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Gary Oldman – Mank
Steven Yeun – Minari

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (FEMALE)
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman – The Father
Youn Yuh-Jung – Minari
Helena Zengel – News Of The World

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (MALE)
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial Of The Chicago 7
Chadwick Boseman – Da 5 Bloods
Daniel Kaluuya – Judas And The Black Messiah
Jared Leto – The Little Things
Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night In Miami

BEST STUNT ENSEMBLE
Da 5 Bloods
Mulan
News of the World
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Wonder Woman 1984

BEST ENSEMBLE IN A DRAMA SERIES
Better Call Saul
Bridgerton
The Crown
Lovecraft Country
Ozark

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Gillian Anderson – The Crown
Olivia Colman – The Crown
Emma Corrin – The Crown
Julia Garner – Ozark
Laura Linney – Ozark

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jason Bateman – Ozark
Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us
Josh O’Connor – The Crown
Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul
Regé-Jean Page – Bridgerton

BEST ENSEMBLE IN A COMEDY SERIES
Dead To Me
The Flight Attendant
The Great
Schitt’s Creek
Ted Lasso

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nicholas Hoult – The Great
Daniel Levy – Schitt’s Creek
Eugene Levy – Schitt’s Creek
Jason Sudekis – Ted Lasso
Ramy Youseff – Ramy

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Christina Applegate – Dead To Me
Linda Cardellini – Dead To Me
Kaley Cuoco – The Flight Attendant
Annie Murphy – Schitt’s Creek
Catherine O’Hara – Schitt’s Creek

BEST ACTOR IN A TV MOVIE/LIMITED SERIES
Bill Camp – The Queen’s Gambit
​Daveed Diggs – Hamilton
Hugh Grant – The Undoing
Ethan Hawke – The Good Lord Bird
Mark Ruffalo – I Know This Much Is True

BEST ACTRESS IN A TV MOVIE/LIMITED SERIES
Cate Blanchett – Mrs. America
Cole – I May Destroy You
Nicole Kidman – The Undoing
Anya Taylor-Joy – The Queen’s Gambit
Kerry Washington – Little Fires Everywhere

Okay, my thoughts:

I guess the big news is that the SAG appreciated Hillbilly Elegy a bit more than the critics.  Glenn Close picking up a supporting actress nom isn’t a huge shock but I do think a few people were a bit surprised to see Amy Adams nominated.  Personally, I think Amy Adams was okay in Hillbilly Elegy but I’ll be kind of disappointed if — after all the great performance she’s given — this is the one that she picks up an Oscar for.

We all kind of laughed off Jared Leto picking up that supporting nomination from the Golden Globes but the SAG nominated him as well!  Is this a sign of momentum or just a crazy coincidence?  Either way, this doesn’t bode well for the Oscar hopes of Sound of Metal‘s Paul Raci.  Raci’s picked up a lot of critical support but getting snubbed by both the Globes and SAG doesn’t seem like a good sign.

Speaking of signs, I’m going to assume that Sidney Flanigan’s Oscar hopes are pretty much gone.  Like Raci, she seems like she would have needed either a GG or a SAG nomination to really break through.

Amanda Seyfried was not nominated.  That took me by surprise but it didn’t upset me as much as Raci getting snubbed, largely because I like Sound of Metal considerably more than Mank.

I think Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods is the overrated film of 2020 but you still have to wonder how the film could pick up a Best Ensemble nomination without also getting best actor nomination for Delroy Lindo.  Lindo was also snubbed by the Globes so again, the prospect of him getting nominated for an Oscar no longer seems like a sure thing.

Good news for Steven Yeun!  Some people were writing him off after he didn’t get a Golden Globe nomination but the SAG nomination puts him right back into the hunt.

Finally, the SAG is one of the best precursors regarding what films and performances will actually receive Oscar nominations.  So, whether or not I or anyone else agrees with all of the nominations, the nominees have to be feeling very happy right now.  Best of luck to them all!

Here Are The 78th Annual Golden Globe Nominations!


I’m totally turned off by the self-importance of the Golden Globes and I resent every time that I have to write about them.

That said, despite the fact that no one is quite sure who actually votes for the damn things and stories of corruption in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association have been rampant for years, the Golden Globes have still emerged as one of the main Oscar precursors.  So, you kind of have to pay attention to them.  Bleh.

There really aren’t any huge shocks in the list of nominees below, with the exception of maybe Jared Leto for Best Supporting Actor and James Corden’s Prom nomination.  I mean, if you’re that determined to nominate someone for The Prom, why would you go for James Corden as opposed to Meryl Streep?  That’s just odd.

Anyway, here are the nominations:

Best Motion Picture, Drama
“The Father”
“Mank”
“Nomadland”
“Promising Young Woman”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
“Hamilton”
“Music”
“Palm Springs”
“The Prom”

Best Director, Motion Picture
Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”
David Fincher, “Mank”
Regina King, “One Night In Miami”
Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”
Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman”
Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”
Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
Kate Hudson, “Music”
Michelle Pfeiffer, “French Exit”
Rosamund Pike, “I Care a Lot”
Anya Taylor-Joy, “Emma”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture
Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy”
Olivia Colman, “The Father”
Jodie Foster, “The Mauritanian”
Amanda Seyfried, “Mank”
Helena Zengel, “News of the World”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”
Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”
Gary Oldman, “Mank”
Tahar Rahim, “The Mauritanian”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Sacha Baron Cohen, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
James Corden, “The Prom”
Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Hamilton”
Dev Patel, “The Personal History of David Copperfield”
Andy Samberg, “Palm Springs”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture
Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”
Jared Leto, “The Little Things”
Billy Murray, “On the Rocks”
Leslie Odom Jr., “One Night In Miami”

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture
Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”
Jack Fincher, “Mank”
Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton, “The Father”
Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”

Best Original Score, Motion Picture
Alexandre Desplat, “The Midnight Sky”
Ludwig Göransson, “Tenet”
James Newton Howard, “News of the World”
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, “Mank”
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste, “Soul”

Best Original Song, Motion Picture
“Fight For You,” Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Hear My Voice,” The Trial of the Chicago 7”
“Io Sì (Seen),” The Life Ahead”
“Speak Now,” One Night In Miami”
“Tigress & Tweed,” The United States Vs. Billie Holiday”

Best Motion Picture, Animated
“The Croods: A New Age”
“Onward”
“Over the Moon”
“Soul”
“Wolfwalkers”

Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language
“Another Round”
“La Llorona”
“The Life Ahead”
“Minari”
“Two Of Us”

Best Television Series, Drama
“The Crown”
“Lovecraft Country”
“The Mandalorian”
“Ozark”
“Ratched”

Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy
“Emily in Paris”
“The Flight Attendant”
“The Great”
“Schitt’s Creek”
“Ted Lasso”

Best Limited Series, Anthology Series or a Motion Picture made for Television
“Normal People”
“The Queen’s Gambit”
“Small Axe”
“The Undoing”
“Unorthodox”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Drama
Olivia Colman, “The Crown”
Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”
Emma Corrin, “The Crown”
Laura Linney, “Ozark”
Sarah Paulson, “Ratched”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy
Lily Collins, “Emily In Paris”
Kaley Cuoco, “The Flight Attendant”
Elle Fanning, “The Great”
Jane Levy, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”
Catherine O’Hara, “Schitt’s Creek”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Cate Blanchett, “Mrs. America”
Daisy Edgar Jones, “Normal People”
Shira Haas, “Unorthodox”
Nicole Kidman, “The Undoing”
Anya Taylor-Joy, “The Queen’s Gambit”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Supporting Role
Gillian Anderson, “The Crown”
Helena Bonham Carter, “The Crown”
Julia Garner, “Ozark”
Annie Murphy, “Schitt’s Creek”
Cynthia Nixon, “Ratched”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Drama
Jason Bateman, “Ozark”
Josh O’Connor, “The Crown”
Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
Al Pacino, “Hunters”
Matthew Rhys, “Perry Mason”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy
Don Cheadle, “Black Monday”
Nicholas Hoult, “The Great”
Eugene Levy, “Schitt’s Creek”
Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso”
Ramy Youssef, “Ramy”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Bryan Cranston, “Your Honor”
Jeff Daniels, “The Comey Rule”
Hugh Grant, “The Undoing”
Ethan Hawke, “The Good Lord Bird”
Mark Ruffalo, “I Know This Much is True”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Supporting Role
John Boyega, “Small Axe”
Brendan Gleeson, “The Comey Rule”
Daniel Levy, “Schitt’s Creek”
Jim Parsons, “Hollywood”
Donald Sutherland, “The Undoing”

Here’s The Trailer For The Little Things!


Here’s the trailer for The Little Things, a serial killer drama that stars three very big actors: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto.  Washington was among the many stars and directors who was not happy about Warner Bros. decision to simultaneously release their films both in theaters and on HBO Max.  He felt that The Little Things was made to viewed on the big screen and not just to be used to promote the latest streaming service.

For whatever it’s worth, I see Washington’s point.  But, that said, it is what it is and The Little Things will be premiering (in both theaters and on HBO Max) on January 29th.  For those keeping track, that means that it will be eligible for the 2020 Oscars, despite having been released in 2021.  Try to make sense of all that if you can.

Here’s the trailer!

Film Review: Alexander (dir by Oliver Stone)


Before I really get into talking about Oliver Stone’s 2004 film, Alexander, I should acknowledge that there’s about four different version of Alexander floating around.

There’s the widely ridiculed theatrical version, which was released in 2004 and which got terrible reviews in the United States, though it was apparently a bit more popular in Europe.  This version of Alexander was a notorious box office bomb and Oliver Stone’s career has never quite recovered from it.  Though Stone’s still making movies, it’s been a while since he’s really been taken as seriously as you might expect a two-time Oscar winner to be taken.  The box office and critical failure of Alexander is a big reason for that.

There’s also the Director’s Cut of Alexander, which is slightly shorter than the version that was released into theaters and which apparently emphasizes the action scenes more than the original film did.  For an Oscar-winning director to release a director’s cut that’s actually shorter than the version that he originally sent into theaters is rare and it shows that the film’s subject matter was one that Stone was still trying to figure out how to deal with.

There is also the “Final Unrated Cut,” which lasts 3 hours and 45 minutes and which Stone described as being the Cecil B. DeMille-version of the story.  At the time the Final Unrated Cut was released in 2007, Stone announced that he had put everything back into the movie and that we were finally able to see the version of the story that he wanted to tell.

However, Stone apparently still left some stuff out because, in 2009, we got the Final Cut, which goes on for 206 minutes and which, once again, apparently includes everything that Stone wanted to put in the original cut of the film.  The Final Cut has actually received some positive reviews from critic who were not impressed by the previous three versions of Alexander.

For the record, I saw the Director’s Cut.  This is the second of the Alexanders, the one that runs 167 minutes.  Some day, I’ll watch the four hour version and I’ll compare the two films.  But for now, I’m reviewing the 167-minute version of Alexander.

Anyway, Alexander is a biopic of Alexander The Great, the Macedonian ruler who took over a good deal of the known world before mysteriously dying at the age of 32.  The film jumps back and forth in time, from an elderly Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins, going about as overboard as one can go while playing an ancient Greek historian) narrating the story of Alexander’s life to Alexander (Colin Farrell) conquering his enemies to scenes of Alexander’s mother (Angelina Jolie) and one-eyed father (Val Kilmer) shaping Alexander’s outlook on the world.  Along the way, we discover that Alexander was driven to succeed and forever lived in the shadow of his father.  We also discover that he may have been in love with his general, Hephaistion (Jared Leto), even though he married Roxane (Rosario Dawson, who gets to do an elaborate dance).  We also discover that no battle in the ancient world could begin before Alexander gave a long speech and that all of the Macedonians spoke with thick Irish accents.  Stone has said that the Irish accents were meant to signify that the Macedonians were working-class.  Other people say that, because Colin Farrell’s accent was so thick, the rest of the cast had to imitate him so he wouldn’t sound out-of-place.

And here’s the thing — yes, Alexander is a big, messy film that is often incoherent.  Yes, the cast is full of talented actors, every single one of which has been thoroughly miscast.  Yes, it’s next to impossible to keep track of who is fighting who and yes, it’s distracting as Hell that all of the Macedonians have Irish accents and that Angelina Jolie uses an Eastern European accent that’s so thick that it almost becomes a parody of itself.  All of these things are true and yet, I was never bored with the director’s cut.  The sets were huge, the costumes were beautiful, and the cast was eccentric enough to be interesting.  Val Kilmer, Angelina Jolie, and Anthony Hopkins all go overboard, chewing every piece of scenery that they can get their hands on.  Colin Farrell alternates between being determined and being wild-eyed.  Jared Leto allows his piercing stare to do most of his acting.  Even Christopher Plummer shows up, playing Aristole with a North Atlantic accent.  No one appears to be acting in the same film and strangely, it works.  The ancient world was chaotic and the combination of everyone’s different acting styles with Stone’s frantic direction actually manages to capture some of that chaos.

Oliver Stone apparently spent years trying to bring his vision of Alexander’s life to the big screen.  Watching the film, it’s a classic example of a director becoming so obsessed with a story that they ultimately forgot why they wanted to tell it in the first place.  Stone tosses everything he can at the cinematic wall, just to see what will stick.  Is Alexander a tyrant or a misunderstood humanist?  Is he a murderer or a noble warrior?  Is he in love with Hephaistion or has his borderline incestuous relationship with his mother left him incapable of trusting anyone enough to love them?  The film doesn’t seem to know who Alexander actually was but it’s so desperate to try to find an answer among all of the endless battle scenes and lengthy speeches that it becomes undeniably compelling to watch.  If nothing else, Alexander gives us the rare chance to see an Oliver Stone film in which Stone himself doesn’t seem to quite know what point it is that he’s trying to make.

Alexander is a mess but there’s something fascinating about its chaos.  It’s a beautiful wreck and, as with all wrecks, it’s impossible to look away.

Sony surprises with the Morbius Teaser trailer.


When it comes to all things Marvel, the name Morbius is vague to me. I remember Todd McFarlane’s final run for Spider-Man back in 1991 which had a 5 to 6 issue story arc on the character. Basically, Morbius (not to be confused with Moebius, the great Jean Giraud) is kind of a vampire, or as Blade would say, he’s something else. Personally, I think Sony’s scraping near the bottom of Marvel’s barrel, but maybe Sony’s on to something here.

If they have the same success with this as they had with Venom, they should be on good footing to create their own ongoing story arc with The Sinister Six. Anyone who’s ever read any of the Marvel Comics or played the last rendition of Sony’s Spider-Man for the PS4 knows of a set of Spidey’s villains that joined forces to take him down. The trailer below looks like it ties itself into Spider-Man: Homecoming with a cameo by Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes (a.k.a. The Vulture).

Morbius stars Jared Leto (Blade Runner 2049) as Michael Morbius, a biology genius afflicted with an illness. In his efforts to come up with a cure, he becomes a supervillain with powers and a thirst for blood. Morbius also stars Jared Harris (Chernobyl), Adria Arjona (Good Omens), Tyrese Gibson (Black and Blue), and Matt Smith (The Crown) 

Morbius premieres in cinemas this summer.

 

Music Video of the Day: Do or Die (remix) by Afrojack featuring 30 Seconds To Mars (2014, dir by ????)


 

Afrojack vs. Thirty Seconds to Mars?

Well, Thirty Seconds To Mars has Jared Leto.  But Afrojack is Afrojack.  My money has to be on the guy who didn’t appear in the worst movie to come out of the DCEU so far.

Anyway, enjoy!

Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #31: Black and White (dir by James Toback)


(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of Wednesday, December 7th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)

black_and_white_black_white-681253575-large

On November 15th, I recorded the 1999 melodrama, Black and White, off of Encore.

Black and White is a film that I’ve seen several times and I’ve always meant to review it.  It’s an attempt to explore the state of race, rap, crime, and sex in the late 20th century.  It’s also a James Toback film, which means that it contains all of the stuff that appears in every James Toback film: a threesome in the park, improvised dialogue, cameos from famous people playing themselves, an obsession with college basketball games, casual sexism, and a lot of talk about why you should never send “a little boy to do a man’s job.”  By his own admission, the white Toback is obsessed with the black experience but, when you watch a James Toback film, you get the feeling that his entire knowledge of African-American culture comes from watching other movies.

In short, Black and White is probably one of the silliest and most misjudged films that I’ve ever seen.  In fact, it’s so misjudged that it’s compulsively watchable.  Though I’m always hesitant to casually toss around the term “guilty pleasure,” that’s exactly what Black and White is.

Black and White tells several different stories, some of which are connected and some of which are not.  Sam Donager (Brooke Shields) is an independent filmmaker who is attempting to make a documentary about white people who try to act black.  Her husband, Terry (Robert Downey, Jr.), is gay and hits on every man (and boy) that he sees.  Sam and Terry start following around a group of privileged white kids who are obsessed with rap music.  Sam asks them if they want to be black.  They say that they’re going through a phase.

One of the kids is named Wren and he’s played by Elijah Wood.  He doesn’t really do much but every time he shows up in the film, you go, “It’s Elijah Wood!”  And then there’s Marty King (Eddie Kaye Thomas) who is the son of the Manhattan District Attorney (Joe Pantoliano).  Marty’s older brother is Will (William Lee Scott) ,who is some sort of low-level criminal.  And finally, the unofficial leader of the kids is Charlie (Bijou Phillips) and she gets to give a long monologue explaining the various uses of the n-word.

(Their teacher, incidentally, is played by Jared Leto.  If you’ve ever wanted to listen to Jared Leto lecture about the relationship between Othello and Iago, this is the film to see.  That said, the whole Othello and Iago lecture is just kinda randomly tossed in and doesn’t really pay off.)

Charlie is one of the many girlfriends of Rich Bower (Power), who is not only an up-and-coming rap producer but he’s also the head of a criminal organization.  (There’s a lengthy and kinda pointless scene where he and his associates demand money from a club manager played by Scott Caan.)  Rich is also friends with Mike Tyson.  Tyson plays himself and he gets to deliver an entire monologue about how Rich should never send a boy to do a man’s job.

But we’re not done!  Rich’s cousin is Dean Carter (Allan Houston), a college basketball player.  Dean is dating an anthropology graduate student (Claudia Schiffer, giving a hilariously terrible performance) who is obsessed with fertility symbols.  Dean is also being blackmailed by a corrupt cop named Mark Clear.  Guess who plays Mark Clear?

BEN FREAKING STILLER!

Needless to say, Ben Stiller is massively miscast.  He delivers he lines in his trademark comedic fashion, which makes it next to impossible to take him seriously as any sort of threat.  He also has a backstory that is needlessly complex but at least it allows him to say, “I’m Saul of Fucking Tarsus!”

Anyway, almost the entire film was improvised, which is one of those things that probably seemed like a good idea at the time.  A few of the actors do well with the improvisation.  Stiller may be miscast but at least he can come up with stuff to say.  Robert Downey, Jr.’s character may seem out-of-place but again, Downey knows how to keep things interesting.  But the rest of the cast seems to be a bit stranded so we end up with a lot of lengthy scenes of characters struggling to make some sort of sense of Toback’s storyline.

It’s obvious that James Toback felt that this film had something important to say but, instead of any insight, it can only offer up the occasionally strange-as-Hell scene.

Like this scene, for instance, in which Mike Tyson literally attempts to kill Robert Downey, Jr:

Or this weird little scene between Ben Stiller and Joe Pantoliano, which is dominated by Stiller’s odd delivery of his lines:

Or the closing montage, which is actually rather well-put together and makes great use of Michael Fredo’s Free:

Sadly, the video above ends before it gets to the part where we see Claudia Schiffer on a date with Mike Tyson, telling him about fertility symbols.

Anyway, Black and White is one of those films that wants to say something despite not being sure what.  Again, it may ultimately be rather silly but it’s still compulsively watchable.

(For the record, Marla Maples — who also appeared in Maximum Overdrive and was married to future President Donald Trump when this movie was made — has a cameo as a character named Muffy.  We live in a strange fucking world, don’t we?)

Suicide Squad Drops By the MTV Movie Awards


Suicide Squad

Let’s get this out of the way and just say that Warner Bros. executives and major shareholders are none too pleased by the reception from both critics and the general audience when it comes to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Not a very good start to their planned DC Extended Universe. While fanboys from both DC and Marvel have been going at it for weeks now, there’s at least some bright spot ahead for DC in their summer tentpole release Suicide Squad.

Even with rumors of extended reshoots to add more levity and fun to balance out public’s perception that the DC films are too dour and dark (grimdark even), Suicide Squad still remains one of the more anticipated films of the summer.

During this year’s MTV Movie Awards, DC and Warner Brothers released the newest trailer for what they’re hoping will sell the DCEU to the audience what Batman v. Superman could not and that’s a fun comic book film that understands dark and serious doesn’t have to mean not fun.

Suicide Squad is set for an August 5, 2016 release date.