Film Review: Murder by Numbers (dir by Barbet Schroeder)


First released in 2002, Murder by Numbers is one of those films that seems to be pop up on Cinemax every couple of months.  It’s not really that good, though it has its fans because if features Sandra Bullock being all self-destructive and one of the film’s villains is played by a young Ryan Gosling.

Ryan Gosling is Richard Haywood, child of privilege.  He’s handsome.  He’s funny.  He’s popular.  He’s spoiled.  He’s often high.  And he’s totally psychotic.  Richard wants to commit the perfect crime and, fortunately, so does his classmate, Justin (Michael Pitt).  Justin is a fiercely intelligent introvert who spends most of his time reading and writing and playing with his computer.  He’s got a crush on Richard’s ex, Lisa (Agnes Buckner).  From the minute that Lisa showed up and started talking to Justin, I was concerned.  I was like, “Is this another movie that’s going to feature someone named Lisa being murdered?  CHERISH ALL OF THE LISAS IN YOUR LIFE, PEOPLE!”

Anyway, Richard and Justin do end up killing a woman, though not Lisa.  They go through a lot of effort to frame the school’s pervy janitor, Ray (Chris Penn), for the crime.  And they nearly succeed, though Detective Cassie Mayweather (Sandra Bullock) is way too smart to fall for their tricks.  Unfortunately, no one believes anything that Cassie says because she has a shady past and a drinking problem.  Even her sympathetic new partner, Sam Kennedy (Ben Chaplin), thinks that it was probably Ray.

Literally everyone on the police force tells Sam that Cassie is unstable and not to be trusted, which leads to an interesting question.  If everyone’s convinced that everything Cassie says is wrong, why does she still have a job?  Why do they still assign her to cases?  It’s like, “We’ve got a murder that we have to solve!  Let’s give it to that detective who we think never gets anything right!”

Sandra Bullock does her best to bring the self-destructive Cassie to life but she kind of runs into the huge problem that she’s Sandra Bullock and she has such a firmly entrenched screen presence that it’s difficult to take her seriously as someone who spend her free time sitting on a houseboat, getting drunk, and obsessing on the past.  You really want her to give a good performance because it’s impossible not to root for Sandra Bulllock but she’s just too miscast.  You keep expecting Matthew McConaughey to show up, playing a bongo drum and trying to cheer her up.

Far more convincing is Ryan Gosling, who plays Richard as the type of guy that we all knew in high school.  You know he’s a jerk.  You know you should stay away from him.  But he’s just so much fun and he has so much money!  Unfortunately, Gosling is so charismatic that Richard quickly becomes the only compelling character in the film.  I mean, if you have the choice between watching Michael Pitt, Ben Chaplin, or Ryan Gosling, who are you going to go with?  You’re supposed to hate Richard and hope that justice catches up with him but instead, you find yourself hoping that he’ll sneak out of the country and spend the rest of his hiding out in South America or something.

So, as a result, the film really doesn’t work.  (It also doesn’t help matters that it’s directed in a rather detached fashion by the king of ennui, Barbet Schroeder.)  But it’s interesting to watch, just for a chance to see a future star in the making.  Gosling steps into a rather underwritten role and basically takes over the entire damn movie.

It’s also worth seeing for the scene in which Sandra Bullock gets attacked by a baboon.  It’s a weird moment and Schroeder screws things up by mixing in a flashback to Cassie’s past but still, it’s a baboon attacking Sandra Bullock.  That’s not something you see every day.

Here Are The 2018 Satellite Nominations!


Awards season has just begun, which means that it’s time for the International Press Academy to announce their nominees for the 23rd Satellite Awards.  If you’ve never heard of the Satellite Awards, they’re like the Golden Globes, just with even less credibility.  For instance, the Satellite people are the one who nominated The Wolf of Wall Street for best picture, despite having not seen the film.

That said, the Satellite nominations are good way to gauge which films are currently getting awards buzz.  Let’s put it like this: getting a Satellite nomination is not going to automatically translate into Oscar recognition.  But it doesn’t hurt.

Below are the film nominations.  (In the interest of space, I’m only posting the film nominations.  If you want to see which tv shows picked up nominations, click here.)

Film

Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Major, Independent or International

  • Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
  • Glenn Close, “The Wife”
  • Viola Davis, “Widows”
  • Nicole Kidman, “Destroyer”
  • Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
  • Rosamund Pike, “Private War”

Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Major, Independent or International

  • Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
  • Ben Foster, “ Leave No Trace”
  • Ryan Gosling, “First Man
  • Ethan Hawke, “First Reformed”
  • Lucas Hedges, “Boy Erased”
  • Robert Redford, “The Old Man & the Gun”

Actress in Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Major, Independent or International

  • Emily Blunt, “Mary Poppins Returns”
  • Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
  • Trine Dyrholm “Nico, 1988″
  • Elsie Fisher, “Eighth Grade”
  • Lady Gaga, “A Star is Born”
  • Constance Wu, “Crazy Rich Asians”

Actor in Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Major, Independent or International

  • Bradley Cooper, “A Star is Born”
  • Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Mary Poppins Returns”
  • Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”
  • Nick Robinson, “Love, Simon
  • John David Washington, “BlacKkKlansman”

Actress in a Supporting Role
Major, Independent, Comedy & Musical or International

  • Claire Foy, “First Man
  • Nicole Kidman, “Boy Erased”
  • Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Margot Robbie, “Mary Queen of Scots”
  • Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
  • Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Actor in a Supporting Role
Major, Independent, Comedy & Musical or International

  • Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
  • Timothée Chalamet, “Beautiful Boy”
  • Russell Crowe, “Boy Erased”
  • Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
  • Sam Elliott, “A Star is Born”
  • Richard Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Motion Picture, Drama
Major

  • Black Panther,” Walt Disney
  • First Man,” Universal
  • “Hereditary,” A24
  • “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Annapurna Pictures
  • “Mary Queen of Scots,” Focus Features
  • “Widows,”  Twentieth Century Fox

Motion Picture, Independent

  • “BlacKkKlansman,” Focus Features
  • “Eighth Grade,” A24
  • “First Reformed,” A24
  • “Leave No Trace,” Bleecker Street Media
  • “Private Life,” Netflix
  • “A Private War,” Aviron Pictures

Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Major, Independent or International

  • “Crazy Richard Asians,” Warner Bros.
  • “The Favourite,” Fox Searchlight Pictures
  • “Green Book,” Universal Pictures
  • “Mary Poppins Returns,” Walt Disney
  • “Nico, 1988,” Magnolia Pictures
  • “A Star is Born,” Warner Bros.

Motion Picture, International Film

  • “The Cakemaker,” Israel
  • “Cold War,” Poland
  • “The Guilty,” Denmark
  • “I Am Not A Witch,” United Kingdom
  • “Roma,” Mexico
  • “Shoplifters,” Japan

Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media

  • “Incredibles 2,” Walt Disney
  • “Isle of Dogs,” Fox Searchlight Pictures
  • “Liz and the Blue Bird,” Eleven Arts
  • “Mirai,” GKIDS Films
  • “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” Walt Disney
  • “Ruben Brandt, Collector,” Sony Pictures Classics

Motion Picture, Documentary

  • “Crime + Punishment,” Hulu
  • “Free Solo,” National Geographic
  • “Minding the Gap,” Hulu
  • “RBG,” Magnolia Pictures
  • “Three Identical Strangers,”  Focus Features
  • “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” Focus Features

Director

  • Bradley Cooper, “A Star is Born”
  • Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
  • Peter Farrelly, “Green Book”
  • Barry Jenkins, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
  • Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Screenplay, Original

  • Bo Burnham, “Eighth Grade”
  • Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
  • Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara, “The Favourite”
  • John Krasinski, Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, “A Quiet Place
  • Paul Schrader, “First Reformed”
  • Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie & Peter Farrelly, “Green Book”

Screenplay, Adapted

  • Bradley Cooper, Eric Roth, “A Star is Born”
  • Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, “Leave No Trace”
  • Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
  • Barry Jenkins, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, Peter Fellows, “The Death of Stalin”
  • Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Wilmott, Charlie Wachtel, “BlacKkKlansman”

Original Score

  • Thomas Ades, “Colette”
  • Terence Blanchard, “BlacKkKlansman”
  • Nicholas Britell, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Alexandre Desplat, “The Sisters Brothers”
  • Justin Hurwitz, “First Man”
  • Hans Zimmer, “Widows”

Original Song

  • “All The Stars” from “Black Panther”
  • “Can You Imagine That?” from “Mary Poppins Returns”
  • “Requiem for a Private War” from “A Private War”
  • “Revelation” from “Boy Erased”
  • “Shallow” from “A Star is Born”
  • “Strawberries & Cigarettes” from “Love, Simon

Cinematography

  • Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
  • James Laxton, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Matthew Libatique, “A Star is Born”
  • Robbie Ryan, “The Favourite”
  • Rachel Morrison, “Black Panther
  • Lukasz Zal, “Cold War”

Visual Effects

  •   “Avengers: Infinity War,” Walt Disney
  •   “Black Panther,” Walt Disney
  •   “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” Warner Bros.
  •   “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” Universal
  •   “Rampage,” Warner Bros.
  •   “Ready Player One,” Warner Bros.

Film Editing

  • Barry Alexander Brown, “BlacKkKlansman”
  • Jay Cassidy, “A Star is Born”
  • Tom Cross, “First Man
  • Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
  • Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Joe Walker, “Widows”

Sound (Editing and Mixing)

  • Black Panther,” Walt Disney
  • First Man,” Universal
  • “Mary Poppins Returns,” Walt Disney
  • A Quiet Place,” Paramount
  • “Roma,”  Netflix
  • “A Star Is Born,” Warner Bros.

Art Direction and Production Design

  • Black Panther,” Walt Disney
  • “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,”  Warner Bros.
  • “The Favourite,” Fox Searchlight
  • First Man,” Universal
  • “Mary Poppins Returns,” Walt Disney
  • “Roma,” Magnolia Pictures

Costume Design

  • Colleen Atwood, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”
  • Erin Benach, “A Star is Born”
  • Alexandra Byrne, “Mary Queen of Scots”
  • Ruth E. Carter, “Black Panther
  • Andrea Flesch, “Colette”
  • Sandy Powell, “The Favourite”

 

 

First Man, Review By Case Wright


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Happy Horrothon……wait a minute…this isn’t a horror movie!!! Nope, but it is going to win Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director.

First Man is a biopic of Neil Armstrong from his test pilot days, Gemini missions, Apollo Mission and return home.  I was moved.  Ryan Gosling inhabited that man’s very soul.  I have not seen acting that good in years and years.  At every point in the film, you are more on the edge of your seat than you have been in decades.  I knew he would land the LEM on the moon, but it was so close to disaster that you felt for him.

The picture opens with Neil doing test piloting.  He’s already getting tapped to be in the Gemini missions, but he almost passes.  He has a daughter that stricken with cancer and we share in his grief throughout the film’s entirety.  I won’t spoil it, but there’s a moment when Neil is on the moon with his late daughter’s bracelet and …. oh man.  Once his daughter passes, his wife pushes him to take the Gemini mission and we rapidly see that she is his ROCK!  We see it when his daughter passes and when the stress of the burden of achievement weighs upon this Great Man.

The weight of greatness and death is looked dead in the eye in this picture.  Brave men are facing and dealing with mortality in nearly every scene.  We see that the cost of putting the first man on the moon is paid in blood.  So many great men die in this heroic quest that it begins to feel like a Homeric adventure or great tale of an ancient Samurai told through a modern lens.  All the while they are struggling to make this great achievement, we hear the familiar whining of lesser men moaning in the background like white noise.

Once it is clear that Neil will be Commander to go to the Man, his wife demands that he explain the risks to his two remaining children.  He tells them and we feel his paternal pain twisting in him like a blade because his destiny is set.  We get closer to the other two members of his team – one I can’t remember and the other is Buzz Aldrin who is portrayed as complete asshole.  I mean…wow…what a dick!

When Neil approaches the moon, the LEM is heading for disaster and fate tempts Neil to abort, but it’s obvious that Neil will succeed or he will die trying.  There was no going back empty handed for him.  There’s a lesson here: the greatest achievements require sacrifice up to and including your life.

The film allows us to see this amazing quest through the eyes of our greatest American Representative.  It is also clear that the Space Race, Humankind’s greatest achievement, was a road that led to victory and was paved with blood.

 

Lisa’s Early Oscar Predictions for September


It’s that time again!

It’s time for my somewhat random Oscar predictions!

Judging from the reactions at Venice Film Festival, Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born would appear to be the current Oscar front runner.  At the very least, it seems destined to be nominated.  Personally, I still wonder if a remake of A Star is Born is going to have enough political cachet in a year that, so far, has been dominated by Hollywood virtue signaling.

Anyway, it’s a bit of a cliché to say the Oscar race is wide open but, despite all of the buzz around A Star is Born, it still feels as if it is.  That said, it’s also becoming a bit more clear.  Former front runners like Mary, Queen of Scots have fallen off the radar.  It seems likely the Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman will not be released until next year.  There are rumors that Clint Eastwood’s The Mule might get a December qualifying run but, for now, those are just rumors.

Below are my predictions for this month.  The usual caveats about wishful thinking and wild guesses apply.  To be honest, we won’t know anything for sure until the critics and the guilds make their voices heard in December and January.

Be sure to check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, and August!

Best Picture

Beautiful Boy

BlackKklansman

Black Panther

Crazy Rich Asians

The Favourite

First Man

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

Roma

A Star is Born

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for First Man

Jon M. Chu for Crazy Rich Asians

Bradley Cooper for A Star is Born

Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Spike Lee for BlackKklansman

Best Actor

Steve Carell in Beautiful Boy

Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born

Ryan Gosling in First Man

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody

Robert Redford in Old Man and the Gun

Best Actress

Glenn Close in The Wife

Olivia Colman in The Favourite

Nicole Kidman in Destroyer

Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Julia Roberts in Ben Is Back

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali in Green Book

Timothee Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Sam Elliott in A Star is Born

Ben Foster in Leave No Trace

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

Claire Foy in First Man

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Sissy Spacek in Old Man and the Gun

Rachel Weisz in The Favourite

Michelle Yeoh in Crazy Rich Asians

Barry and Oscar

Weekly Trailer Round-Up: Bad Times At The El Royale, First Man, Air Strike, E-Demon


This week, Lisa and Arleigh already shared the latest trailers for:

The Predator

The Other Side of the Wind

The Front Runner

Here’s the best of the rest.

Six years after making his directorial debut with The Cabin In The Wood, Drew Goddard returns to the director’s chair with Bad Times at the El Royale.  Featuring Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, and Chris Hemsworth, Bad Times at the El Royale will be released on October 12th.

From Universal Pictures, here is the second trailer to First Man.  Damien Chazelle’s upcoming film stars Ryan Gosling as the first man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, and Claire Foy as his first wife.  First Man will be released on October 12th, putting it in head-to-head competition with Bad Times At the El Royale.

If you have ever wondered what you would get if you combined Bruce Willis, Adrien Brody, and unconvincing CGI, Air Strike is here to answer your question.  Air Strike will be released on October 26th.  Mel Gibson (yes, that Mel Gibson) was the production designer.

Finally, if you missed the first two Unfriended movies, E-Demon is here to shock you.  E-Demon will be released on September 14th.

 

 

 

Lisa’s Early Oscar For Predictions For August


It’s time once again for my monthly attempt to predict next year’s Oscar nominations!

As always, these predictions should be taken with a grain of salt.  BlackKklansman has emerged as a contender and there’s a few impressive trailers out there.  If the Academy goes through with this stupid Best Popular Film Oscar, I’m going to assume that’ll knock Black Panther out of contention for Best Picture.  For now, I’m going to hope that the backlash will cause the Academy to abandon the idea.

(For the record, it now appears that the whole Best Popular Film fiasco was due more to pressure from ABC than from actual members of the Academy.  And, let’s just be honest — Best Popular Film sounds just stupid enough to be the idea of a television executive.)

So, as usual, these nominations are a combination of wishful thinking, wild guesses, and sincere intuition.  If nothing else, they should be amusing to look back upon when the actual nominations are announced.

Be sure to check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May, June, and July!

Best Picture

Beautiful Boy

Black Panther

BlackKklansman

Boy Erased

First Man

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

Old Man and the Gun

Roma

Widows

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for First Man

Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk

Spike Lee for BlackKklasman

Steve McQueen for Widows

Best Actor

Christian Bale in Backseat

Steve Carell in Beautiful Boy

Ryan Gosling in First Man

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody

Robert Redford in Old Man and the Gun

Best Actress

Glenn Close in The Wife

Viola Davis in Widows

Felicity Jones in On The Basis of Sex

Keira Knightley in Colette 

Saoirse Ronan in Mary, Queen of Scots

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali in Green Book

Timothee Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Russell Crowe in Boy Erased

Adam Driver in BlackKklansman

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

Claire Foy in First Man

Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Margot Robbie in Mary, Queen of Scots

Sissy Spacek in Old Man and the Gun

 

Lisa’s Oscar Predictions for July


Well, here we are.  We’re more than halfway through the year and, to be honest, the Oscar forecast seems just as cloudy as ever.

To be honest, I’m starting to get the feeling that this is going to be a year where the Academy is more concerned with sending a message than anything else.  Just as the Emmy nominations were all about sticking it to Trump (as opposed to actually honoring the best that television has to offer), it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Academy try to do the same thing.  That doesn’t mean that the nominees aren’t going to deserve to be nominated, of course.  Instead, it just means that this might be a good year for films with a political agenda.

Anyway, here are my predictions for July!  They’re still pretty random, to be honest.  Be sure to also check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May, and June!

Best Picture

Backseat

Black Panther

BlackKklansman

Boy Erased

The Favourite

First Man

If Beale Street Could Talk

Mary, Queen of Scots

Old Man and The Gun

Widows

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for First Man

Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk

Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite

Spike Lee for BlackKklansman

Josie Rourke for Mary, Queen of Scots

Best Actor

Christian Bale in Backseat

Steve Carell in Beautiful Boy

Ryan Gosling in First Man

Robert Redford in Old Man and The Gun

John David Washington in BlackKklansman

Best Actress

Glenn Close in The Wife

Felicity Jones in On the Basis of Sex

Keira Knightley in Colette

Rosamund Pike in A Private War

Saoirse Ronan in Mary, Queen of Scots

Best Supporting Actor

Russell Crowe in Boy Erased

Sam Elliott in A Star is Born

Topher Grace in BlackKklansman

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Sam Rockwell in Backseat

Best Supporting Actress

Claire Foy in First Man

Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Margot Robbie in Mary, Queen of Scots

Sissy Spacek in Old Man and the Gun