The Shattered Lens Live Tweets Oscar Sunday


Patrick, I think, had the right idea. While Doc and Epoch slept and he read, Leonard, Jeff, and I watched a live tweeted this year’s Steven Soderbergh-produced Oscar ceremony. That it was an odd ceremony should not have come as a surprise, all things considered. Still, the three of us found ourselves shocked by not only the strange placement of the categories (i.e., putting Best Director in the middle of the show) but also by just the entire style of the entire ceremony. It was very Soderberghian, in that it was occasionally interesting but overall rather uneven. We were especially surprised when Best Picture was given out before the acting prizes but then we realized that they were obviously building up to the emotional moment when Chadwick Boseman would win his posthumous Oscar. Of course, for that to happen, Boseman would have to win Best Actor and …. well, here’s a few of our tweets from the very odd ceremony:

The Shattered Lens Live Tweets The Golden Globes


It turns out that Patrick had the right idea.  Jeff, Leonard, Case, and I watched the Golden Globes tonight and it was seriously the most depressing awards show that I can remember.  The tables were largely empty and Amy Poehler and Tina Fey’s attempts at humor felt forced and awkward.  The constant bragging about the amount of money that the show was raising for charity felt like an attempt to deflect from all of the negative publicity that the HFPA has received over the past few weeks.  Nothing about the show felt right.

The winners accepted from home.  I enjoyed seeing Eugene Levy’s house.  It’s a very nice house.  But it still felt, to use that familiar term again, forced and awkward.  Even the surprise winners — and there were more than a few — could do little to alleviate the gloomy feel of the show.  At a time when we could use a little glamour, the Golden Globes were subdued and painful.  One can only imaging how painful the Oscars are going to be.

Here’s a few tweets from tonight:

The Shattered Lens Live Tweets Super Bowl Sunday!


Today was probably the most low-key Super Bowl Sunday is the history of the Shattered Lens.

The reasons for that are fairly obvious.  The Super Bowl is tradition.  It’s something that people look forward to as a sign of normalcy and continuity.  Some people care about the game.  Some people care about the commercials.  But the main thing is that the Super Bowl is always there and it’s always a big deal.  This year, though, was different.

For one thing, the commercials were different.  Usually, we struggle to keep up with all of the movie advertisements but this year, there were only four to share.  For another things, no one really had a team in the game.  Jeff was excited about Tom Brady winning another Super Bowl.  Leonard wanted anyone but Brady to win.  But it’s not like anyone here at the TSL is a huge fan of either Kansas City or Tampa Bay.

So, it was a subdued Super Bowl Sunday.  Everyone observed it in their own way:

In the end, the team that score the most points won so congratulations to them! Here’s hoping that next year’s Super Bowl’s commercials will be a little bit more memorable.

 

The Shattered Lens Live Tweets The First Day of 2021


Happy 2021, everyone!  However you chose to welcome the new year, I hope you’ve managed to recover.

Today was the first day of the New Year and, for me, it was also a day to start a new list of films.  It’s something I and a lot of people do every year.  We keep a list of every film that we watch and, of course, the idea is to see as many possible.  In 2020, I watched 820 films at least once.  (Some films, like It’s A Wonderful Life, I watched several times but, for list purposes, I only counted the first time.)  This year, I’m hoping to watch at least 1,000.

I watched Thank God It’s Friday as a part of #FridayNightFlix, which is a weekly live tweet that I host.  Every Friday, at 10 pm et, we watch a movie.  So far, we’ve watched Starcrash, Ator, Split Image, Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, Robot Monster, and now Thank God It’s Friday.  If you’re reading this and you’re on twitter, consider yourself invited to next Friday’s film.

As always, the work here at the TSL Bunker is never done.

Still, for the most part, the first day of 2021 was a rather mellow and peaceful one and, after 2020, I don’t think anyone can complain about that.  One thing about almost everything being on hold right now is that it gives us a chance to reflect and think about both the past and the future.  For instance, I spent a good deal of today staring at my film collection and realizing that I need to spend this entire year watching every piece of physical media that I own, if just to make sure that they all still work.  So, you can consider that one of my resolutions for 2021.  I will sit down and watch all of the movies that I own.  And maybe I’ll even review them!

I wasn’t the only one making resolutions around here, of course.  Patrick also set himself up for a challenge:

That was pretty much it for today.  I watched some movies.  I listened to some music.  And I made some last-minute resolutions for the new year.  It was a quiet day but it was a good day.  I can’t complain about that.  Instead, we can all sing along:

Have a good year everyone.  Keep reading.  Keep listening to music.  And as always, keep watching, talking, debating, discussing, and making your opinions known!  Let’s make 2021 a year to be remembered!

 

The Shattered Lens Live Tweets Christmas


Happy holidays!

Today was Christmas and, as you can see, even the TSL cats got into it:

This year, Christmas was, for many of us, a bit more low-key than usual.  That’s understandable, of course.  For instance, I’m used to having a big family gathering for Christmas.  Usually, on this day, I would be catching up with aunts and uncles and cousins from all over the country.  The morning would be spent at one house and the afternoon at another and the evening and yet another.  That didn’t happen this year, for obvious reasons.  That said, my sisters and I were still able to keep a few our traditions alive.

For instance, I kept alive the tradition of waking up early and then wondering why everyone else was still asleep:

Every year, I make it a point to go for a drive on Christmas Day.  It may sound like a minor thing but it’s something that I always look forward to.

And finally, there were the most important traditions.  Like this one about watching certain movies over the course of the day.  I’m happy to say that I not only watched A Christmas Story this morning (before we even unwrapped presents, if you need an example of just how early I woke up compared to everyone else) but that it was also the 800th films that I’ve watched this year.

After A Christmas Story, it was time to rewatch It’s A Wonderful Life on E!  I also watched the 1983 Tom Cruise football film, All The Right Moves before joining my family in observing one of the greatest of all Christmas traditions:

Everyone celebrated Christmas in their own way.  Here’s a few thoughts from the TSL crew:

To be honest, that’s what I always thought Boxing Day was but apparently, it’s a shopping holiday.  That’s pretty nice since I was already planning on shopping tomorrow anyways.

Anyway, Happy Holidays, everyone!  I hope it was a good one without any fear.  Another year over and a new one just begun.

The Shattered Lens Live Tweets Christmas Eve


Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

It’s been a relatively quiet Christmas Eve down here at the TSL Offices.  We’ve wished each other a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday.

We’ve definitely devoted some time to trying to keep up with what’s going on with Santa and his trip around the world.

There was a brief moment of panic when it appeared that Santa may have disappeared.  I wondered if maybe he had been called away to once again conquer the Martians.

Fortunately, we eventually found him on a beach in Florida and sent the Ice Cream Bunny out to get things moving again.

Resolutions were made:

Treats were considered:

Nostalgia was indulged:

And, in the end, we watched a lot of movies.  Myself, for instance, I watched Less Than Zero, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, and It’s A Wonderful Life today.  I’ve still got the first two Die Hards and A Christmas Story to look forward to.  That’ll be after midnight mass, of course.

And finally, as he does every year, Patrick helped bring this Christmas Eve to a perfect close by sharing the Night Before Christmas.

Here’s hoping that everyone has a good holiday tomorrow!  Thanks for reading and we look forward to ringing in the new year with you!

The Shattered Lens Live Tweets Thanksgiving


Well, another Thanksgiving is coming to an end.

Needless to say, with everything going on in the world, this Thanksgiving is a bit different than what I’m used to.

With all that in mind, though, the TSL crew had an active Thanksgiving.  Here’s a few highlights of our day:

So, another Thanksgiving comes to a close.  Usually, I do a big long list of what I’m thankful for each and very year but this year, I’m just thankful for all of you.  2020 has not gone the way that any of us planned it would.  I was certainly expecting the year to be a lot more festive and I think that the rest of this decade probably will be.  People have been locked away for too long.  I have a feeling that once the pandemic is under control, there’s going to be a lot of pent up energy being released.

So, this year, I’m thankful for our readers, our contributors, and just this site in general.  TSL has been around for ten years now.  We’re going to be around for the next ten as well.

So, let’s sit back and enjoy the ride, shall we?

Lisa’s Editorial Corner: On Tornadoes, Rango, social media, and Charlie Sheen


Well, it had to happen but did it have to happen so soon?

So, here we are.  Just two weeks into doing Lisa’s Editorial corner and already, I’m worrying that I may have nothing to talk about.  Of course, some of that is because I’m a little bit preoccupied.  Somehow — don’t ask how unless you really want the details — I managed to sprain my foot on Saturday morning.  I stayed on the couch for the weekend but then, foolishly, I attempted to both work and dance on Monday.  So, right now, I am home, my foot hurts, and I’m having a hard time focusing on anything else.

(At the same time, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve sprained my foot and/or my ankle.  It sucks right now but I’ll be okay soon.  I’m taking off work on Tuesday, which means that I’ll get to make even more progress in cleaning out the DVR!)

Plus, as I write this at 1:30 in the morning, we are currently under tornado watch!  If a tornado does decide to show up, I am not looking to forward to having to hop my way into the downstairs coat closet.  They say that, if you don’t have a storm bunker like the one Michael Shannon installed in Take Shelter, the downstairs closet is the safest place to get in case of a tornado.  I have never understood why.

This is why I sometime hate social media.

charlie-sheen-5240

Since Monday is always my crazy day, I was not on twitter when the whole “Charlie Sheen Has HIV” story broke.  In fact, I didn’t know a thing about it until someone mentioned it in passing that night and, at that time, I was so busy trying not faint from the pain of my sprained foot that it really didn’t register with me.

So really, it wasn’t until I got home, took a handful of Vicodin, and logged onto twitter that I was really aware of what’s been going on with Sheen.  Apparently, this Tuesday (i.e., today), Sheen is going to be on the Today Show and is going to reveal whether or not he has HIV.  There’s something really ghoulish about how much some people are anticipating Charlie Sheen announcing that he is HIV positive.

It’s also sad that, judging from many of the comments on twitter, a lot of people don’t understand that being HIV positive does not mean that Charlie Sheen has AIDS.  Check out a few of the comments:

Keep in mind that I’m writing this at 1:33 in the morning and Charlie Sheen has yet to officially announce anything.  By the time this post is published and you read it, Sheen will probably have announced whatever it is that he’s going to announce but, for now, nobody knows anything.  There’s just speculation.  For all we know, Sheen is going to announce that he’s HIV negative or that he wants to be Donald Trump’s running mate.

In fact, the only thing we know for sure is that a lot of people seem to be positively gleeful about the possibility of Charlie Sheen having HIV.  I’ve never been a fan of Charlie Sheen’s and I found his whole “winning” thing to be more pathetic than anything else.  But it has always disturbed me that his extremely self-destructive behavior has always been treated as a source of entertainment.  What’s particularly offensive is that many of the same people who loved to watch crazy old Charlie talk about “tiger blood,” are now gloating about how Sheen’s “lifestyle” has caught up with him.  It was a lifestyle that was largely dependent upon and made possible by American’s own twisted love/hate relationship with celebrity.

The blogger known as Jedadiah Leland and I have often debated whether or not social media is worth all the trouble.  Usually, I think I can make a pretty good case that twitter does enough good that it makes all the other bullshit worth it.  But, when I see thousands of strangers competing to come up with the best joke about someone being HIV-positive, I start to think that he may have a point.

And since I’ve just been critical of twitter, I’ll wrap this up with a tweet from my sister:

The best laid plans of Lisa…

Before I got caught up writing about Charlie Sheen, I was going to devote a bit of a space to talking about how much I hate it when people show up late for a movie.  I mean, seriously — we all know that, if a movie is listed as starting at 7:00, the movie isn’t really going to start until 7:20.  That’s a 20 minute grace period right there and there’s really no excuse for arriving at the theater after that grace period has ended.  If you’re going to be more than 20 minutes late, either go to a different showing or go back home.  But for God’s sake, don’t wander into the theater and go, “Oh, the movie’s started,” and then stumble around looking for a seat in the dark.

To be honest, I’d rather be stuck in a theater with a screaming baby than have to deal with people showing up 30 minutes late for the movie.

As long as we’re here, check this out!

The evil clown who pops up to sing ‘Get Yourself High‘ in the Chemical Brothers’ live show has his own Facebook page.  I am so happy right now!  Unfortunately, there’s not much information on the page about the clown but I liked it anyway.  You never know when the clown might decide to open up about his hopes and dreams.

Clown

FLASHBACK TIME!

You know what you should find time to do today?  You should take a trip into the past and read the very first review that Leonard Wilson ever wrote for this site.  I present to you … Leonard’s 2o11 review of Rango!

One Final Thought…

At any given time, I usually have about a week’s worth of blog posts scheduled to publish on the various sites that I write for.  So, if I died tomorrow, my writing would actually outlive me.  Think about it — I could be dead and still giving you my opinion.  And if I am dead and I tell you to see a movie, you better see it!

Ghost Critic

Have a great week!

Steve Jobs (Dir. by Danny Boyle)


imagesI don’t have much to say about Steve Jobs, which has been playing here in New York in a limited release. This is how I know I didn’t care for it.

When you look at the list of people who came together to make the new movie about Steve Jobs, it’s almost impossible to think that the end result could be bad. You’ve got Academy Award Winner Danny Boyle, whose work I’ve enjoyed since Trainspotting. With a track record like 28 Days Later, The Beach, Sunshine, and Slumdog Millionaire, he’s having a wonderful run. You also have Academy Award Winner Aaron Sorkin, fresh off both The Social Network, Moneyball and The Newsroom working the screenplay. With actors like Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave, Slow West) and Kate Winslet (Divergent, A Little Chaos) on board , it’s almost like having the stars align.

And yet, I almost walked out on Steve Jobs. It just wasn’t for me. Maybe I was just tired.

The film focuses on three places in the Steve’s life:

– The launch of the original Macintosh just after the “1984” Super Bowl commercial.

– The launch of the NeXt system, which Jobs created after being fired by Apple.

– The launch of the first iMac, just after Jobs returned to Apple as the interim CEO.

The entire first part was really good, with arguments going back and forth over the ability to get the on stage Mac to say “Hello”. Steve also argues with Chrisann Brennan over the financial support for her daughter, Lisa Nicole. Steve simply won’t admit she is his. When asked about the name of his first computer, Jobs goes to great lengths to explain that the acronym (Local Integrated System Architecture) is just a coincidence. When Lisa amazes him with her computer usage, he decides to support her mom with a check.

Every segment after that felt like a repeat of the first one to me, almost like Run Lola Run. In the beginning, it feels fresh, witty, nice. By the end, I was fighting to simply stay awake and care. What I hoped to see was more interaction with Steve and Lisa. If they were so distanced then, and grew close later in life, what was the catalyst? Was it the cancer diagnosis Steve had in the early 2000’s? We’ll never know, because the movie stops just before that time period. Did he suddenly realize that his heart wasn’t as small as the Grinch? What about Jonny Ive, who was responsible for much of Apple’s design after Job’s return? Nope, not even so much a mention. And I think this is the overall problem I have with the film. Yes, Steve Jobs by himself was a visionary, and as the story points out, he conducts the Orchestra, but there’s no reverence whatsoever to any of the other people that helped get Apple where it is. It doesn’t make the movie terrible for not covering these angles, but there are a number of missed opportunities as a result of using such a narrow range.

Fassbender was wonderful to watch onscreen, as well as Winslet. One of the odd things is that from a performance standpoint, everyone in Steve Jobs is effective. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fassbender get some kind of recognition come awards season. Even Seth Rogen did a good job, though his version of Wozniak was limited to constantly arguing for credit like Morrie in Goodfellas looking for his cut of the Luftansa Heist. There are points, however, where the banter just becomes a little too much.

Mind you, I loved The Social Network. I enjoyed The Newsroom.  A Few Good Men is one of my favorite films. I’ve even seen the man in person once. He knows what he’s doing when it comes to having people talk. Here, it just seemed like Sorkin said…”What if I created a play about how Steve Jobs could be.” and rolled with it. Supposedly, he acknowledged that much of the writing here isn’t entirely accurate. I can accept that, but I think the structure of the film damaged it all for me. I would have preferred more of a straight A-B narrative than what I received. Is that too long to put to screen? Perhaps.

Here at the Shattered Lens, Lisa Marie and I have gone head to head regarding Aaron Sorkin, sometimes yelling from our respective offices. She’s not a fan, but I’ve liked his work. The argument is that for all of his abilities when it comes to writing, he doesn’t really handle women well. It’s true. Women haven’t always fared well in Sorkin’s world, and watching Winslet, I was almost sure I could come back here and say in his defense…”Hey, Sorkin wrote a good girl that doesn’t just exist to help the male hero to succeed or as a target for males to pick on. This isn’t Demi Moore in A Few Good Men. Aha!!” I wanted to say that. I really did…but I can’t. As good as Winslet is here, her character is almost Emily Mortimer’s from The Newsroom. She does have some great lines, and her screen time with Fassbender is nice.

I did enjoy Danny Boyle’s direction here. The approach with using the different film styles (old style camera work for the 1984 Macintosh launch, conventional film for the NeXt Launch, and HD optics for the iMac release) was interesting, and I liked how he used the environment to tell the story. I have little to complain about there.

Note that the audience did applaud the film. There were moments where a phrase or two yielded some laughs. In that sense, maybe the film accomplished something. You’ll have to see it and come to your own conclusions on how it works for you.

 It just wasn’t for me, and I was really looking forward to it.

Quick Review: Marvel’s Ant-Man (dir. by Peyton Reed)


Marvel's Ant-Man

*** Wait a minute! Before checking this out, be sure to read TrashFilmGuru’s thoughts on Ant-Man and then if you like, double back here. Two opinions are better than one! ***

I walked into Ant Man with a bias.

As a fan of Edgar Wright, his departure on the film due to creative differences left me wondering if it was worth seeing. Mix that with the idea that Marvel diverged from the character’s comic book origins for a better fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it all seemed like a recipe for failure. This was going to be the Cars 2 of the MCU, I was sure of it.

Ant-Man isn’t as large a tale as Captain America: The First Avenger or as star spanning as Guardians of the Galaxy. At times, it feels like it the story would be better suited for an extended Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Crossover or a Netflix one shot instead of a big screen event. It actually reminded me of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man in many ways, back when all of this was so small that audiences weren’t searching for tie-ins to next film in the line up or homages to The Story So Far. Ant-Man comes with the MCU connections (and comic book ones too), but if you walk in expecting revelations as big as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the film may be a disappointment. It’s just a hero, and idea that even small actions can have big effects. It’s easily the film’s greatest strength, that it’s so personal. The film’s best components are it’s casting (particularly in House of Cards & The Strain’s Corey Stoll and Fury’s Michael Pena), and the effects themselves. It’s a movie that’s well worth the 3D treatment, if you can catch it that way.

Ant-Man focuses on Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a former thief who is just trying to spend more time with his daughter, or at least be a hero in her eyes. Scott ends up meeting with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) who brings him on board for a job that just happens to cover his particular skill set. The job comes with a special suit that allows Lang to shrink down to about the size of an Ant, while at the same time allowing him to be much stronger. When Pym’s protege and rival Cross (Stoll) discovers another way to possibly make the shrink ability work, it’s up to Lang to try to stop the progress.

The film had 4 writers during it’s creation. It had Edgar Wright, who many moviegoers know from the Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Adam McKay worked with Rudd in the past on the Anchorman films, and was responsible for Talladega Nights & Step Brothers. Both McKay and Rudd had a hand in writing Ant-Man. Finally, Attack the Block’s Joe Cornish was on board. The end result of all this is a film with a great deal of comedy influences in it, though not all of them hit the mark. I felt there were at least 2 moments in the film where Rudd’s character had a one liner that just didn’t hit the mark, or elicit a response from the audience. This isn’t a terrible thing, at most it’s just nitpicking. Overall, you could consider Ant-Man a comic caper with superhero moments.

Additionally, the writers had to also figure out how to make the character of Dr. Hank Pym useful in a storyline where one of his biggest arcs in the comics – creating Ultron – was already handled in a previous story. I like to think this was handled pretty well, as comic readers will already recognize Scott Lang as being the 2nd Ant-Man – or least this is what I learned from the Marvel Encyclopedia. They’ve managed to keep familiar storylines in place while still anchoring it to the larger tale at hand.

The performances in Ant-Man are good, though it’s the co-stars that potentially steal the film from the leads. Lang’s heist buddies, played by David Dastmalchian (The Dark Knight), Cliff “T.I.” Harris (Takers), and Michael Pena (Fury) were indeed funny in this. Pena in particular stood out as someone who gets ahold of information through some pretty wild sources. Michael Douglas was a strange pick for me when I first heard about it, but he’s actually a fantastic fit for the whole story. Evangeline Lilly looked like she had a lot of fun with this, though her character served as a second mentor for Lang. I wanted to see her do a bit more in the film, actually. Bobby Canavale (Chef, Third Watch) and Judy Greer (Jurassic World) both have nice supporting roles in this.

Corey Stoll has played an ass so much on-screen that I’m not entirely sure he isn’t that way off camera. Between Non-Stop, House of Cards, Midnight in Paris and now Ant-Man, he’s plays the kind of characters that were historically set aside for character actors like Jeff Kober or Michael Ironside. Honestly, they couldn’t have made a better choice here. Cross comes off like a variant of Iron Man’s Odebiah Stane, resentful, evil, and maybe a little crazed. Rudd, on the other hand, handles the Hero’s Journey with ease, bringing his own sense of comedy that works almost as well as it did for Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s not perfect, but the character’s lighthearted nature is a good contrast from the serious gloom and doom that most of the Avengers are going through these days, and I feel Rudd did well here.

That’s another aspect of Ant-Man that needs to be recognized. The story in this may have a larger impact in things to come, but it felt really compact. Since the focus on the story involves Lang getting back to his daughter and stopping this one small thing, it takes a step back from the escalation we’ve been getting in previous MCU films. To me, since Phase Two started, every film’s been a stepping stone with at least one huge revelation somewhere that shows this is all much bigger than any one hero can take on. Discovery of the Infinity Stones, the big reveal of S.H.I.E.L.D. In the Winter Soldier and the events in Age of Ultron cover a large area. Maybe it’s better to say that they have an impact that’s covers a wide distance. With Ant-Man being the first film of Phase Three, it feels almost as if a step back it taken to something more personal. It’s not bad, but it’s different. It has the potential to leave viewers with a bad taste in their mouths if they were expecting something grand.

The effects in Ant-Man are good, really, really sweet. Quite honestly, it may be one of the first times where I haven’t found myself annoyed by what I call “The Zoic Effect” – that technique used in almost every film these days where you’re watching something and the director decides “Hey, let’s do a maximum level quick zoom on that target right there!”, because there’s a chance the audience might not see the subject. I believe Zoic Studios were the first to do that with Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, though I could be wrong. In Ant-Man, that rapid intense zoom is almost a welcome requirement when watching a little figure run and leap up and over objects. Add a 3D effect to all that, and I found myself enjoying that on the big screen. From a directing standpoint, it’s all very straightforward and you get an idea of the influences from all of the writers involved. Still, Peyton Reed (Down With Love) keeps from the film from straying too far away from it’s intended focus. Additionally, though the help of CGI, Disney/Marvel was able to digitize a younger Michael Douglas, and the look of this was even better than what they accomplished with Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy.

Overall, Ant-Man is a great addition to the MCU and on it’s own, it’s strong. I suppose Thor will still have to stay as the Cars 2 of that movie library. Note to viewers: If you’re planning to see this, be sure to stay until after the end credits. There’s a mid scene during the credits and one at the very end.