Thursday, August 19, 2010

Shut it down

So, if you've visited this site in the past few months, you've noticed a dearth of new content: moving from our condo to a house treated me to a long, long commute, which pretty much ate up all of my time that I previously had to spend in front of the computer.

And so, I'm closing down this little blogging experiment, effective right now.

Take heart, though, dear readers, for a new day is dawning: now that I have officially resigned from my day job to stay home with our baby and launch my fledgling freelance writing career for reals, I'm launching a new blog to document the fun.  Check out to see what I'm up to on that front.

I also plan to launch a second blog with a different focus in the next little bit, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Coffee is for closers

A memo from Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David Mamet (Heist) has shown up on the Internet this week that he wrote to the writing staff of his now-cancelled but entirely excellent TV show, The Unit. The memo is dated 2005, and rather explicitly (and with a fair amount of humour) describes how to write scenes and plot. It's a fantastic read - check it out here. Mamet's work is singular in its sparse use of exposition and its labyrinthine plotting, is is wholly awesome.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A good sport

Each year, the Razzie Awards are handed out, recognizing the supposed worst performances and films of the year. Sandra Bullock has become the second actor ever to pick up her Razzie, for the film All About Steve, ironically shortly before she won an Oscar.

Her acceptance speech is pretty great - check it out here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dan's 2010 Oscar Predictions

Roger Ebert recently commented on how easy to predict many of the Oscar categories are this year, and I would tend to agree - a lot of these seem like a slam dunk. I still think Best Picture & Best Director could go either way, and I'm torn on Best Actor, but for now I'm putting my rep on the line with these calls:

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Mo'Nique, Precious
Animated Feature Film: Up
Art Direction: Avatar
Cinematography: Robert Richardson, Inglourious Basterds
Costume Design: Sandy Powell, The Young Victoria
Documentary Feature: The Cove
Film Editing: The Hurt Locker
Foreign Language Film: The White Ribbon
Makeup: Star Trek
Original Score: Michael Giacchino, Up
Original Song: 'The Weary Kind' from Crazy Heart
Sound Editing: Avatar
Sound Mixing: Avatar
Visual Effects: Avatar
Adapted Screenplay: Up in the Air
Original Screenplay: The Hurt Locker

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Oscar Party Kit

Next Sunday is the 82nd annual Academy Awards, and there's a great Oscar Night Party Kit available at the official site.
I'll post my predictions later this week.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Time Traveller's Alright

Despite the saccrine, rather lame promotional campaign, it turns out that The Time Traveller's Wife, recently released on home video, is actually pretty good. The film doesn't take itself particularily seriously, sidestepping any effort to come up with a realistic explaination for Eric Bana's random time travelling habits, choosing instead to find the humour and genuine emotion from the logistical issues that arise when one half of a couple keeps literally disappearing. One scene in particular - when the pair gets married - stands out as both surprisingly funny and emotionally satisfying. The Time Traveller's Wife may be the year's most underrated picture.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Visit Denmark!

While some people may find parts this kind of disturbing (so be forewarned), here's a great story from The Onion on the new Tourism Denmark campaign directed by Lars Von Trier (Dancer in the Dark, Dogville, Breaking the Waves, Antichrist). Anyone familiar with Von Trier's dark, uncompromisingly challenging work should find it pretty funny.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Oscar Misses

The nominations list for the 82nd Academy Awards (being presented March 7) are available here, and overall it's a pretty predictable, but solid, list. Avatar and The Hurt Locker each got much love, and it'll be interesting to see which comes out on top. And the hosting duo of Steve martin and Alec Baldwin promises to keep things classy & entertaining. Inevitably, though, there are films that the Academy overlooked - here are a few that come to mind:

Moon (Best Actor - Sam Rockwell, Best Original Screenplay, Production Design)
This constrained, ultra-low budget science fiction tale features one of the year's most engaging performances: Sam Rockwell as a blue collar worker finishing up a three-year stint harvesting energy from the moon, all by his lonesome, who starts to question his sanity. Rather than relying on a clever third-act twist, the screenplay plays its cards simply and efficiently to question our relationship to the concept of humanity; and the design of the moon outpost set is endlessly interesting. Seeing Rockwell skipped over was a real surprise to me.

Star Trek (Best Original Score)
Easily the catchiest composition of the year, the substantial impact of this franchise reboot can be largely credited to its driving score. I would've left James Horner's 'Greatest Hits' mash-up that was Avatar off the list in favour of this one.

Away We Go (Best Original Screenplay)
A quiet relationship movie that manages to be both emotionally honest and defiantly upbeat, Away We Go should've caught on more than it did.

The Taking of Pelham 123 (Sound Mixing)
This tight hostage thriller is an audio wonderland, and it deserved a little attention for putting us in the middle of New York's subway system so effectively.

Public Enemies (Best Actor - Johnny Depp, Best Cinematography)
Everyone loves Johnny Depp, so I'm sure no one would've minded his nuanced performance as John Dillinger being recognized by the Academy. More controversial is Public Enemies' digital cinematography - many complained that its edgy look ran in opposition to expectations for a period bank robber movie. Of course, that's the point, and for my money Dante Spinotti deserves at least a nomination for pushing the digital format as far as he did, creating images that simply wouldn't be possible on film and injecting immediacy into a well-tread genre. This ain't Bonnie and Clyde.

More thoughts on the Oscars to come...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Early Oscar Prediction

The Academy Award nominations are out early tomorrow morning, but here's an early prediction: The Hurt Locker takes Best Picture, despite Avatar's unprecedented financial success. Avatar's a great popcorn movie, and is wholly entertaining, but I don't think it'll take home that particular little gold man (although it'll almost certainly earn a handful of other Oscars).

Tougher to predict is Best Director - Kathryn Bigelow did outstanding work with The Hurt Locker, but every element of Avatar has James Cameron's signature on it, and you can't deny how well the picture works; I give the slight edge to Cameron.

Friday, January 8, 2010

20 Great Movies from the 2000s

Anyone who knows me probably knows that I don't really believe in "Best of" lists for movies - there are far too many factors at play to declare one film better than another (although we can all agree that most are better than anything starring Ashton Kutcher).

So rather than counting down the 20 best pictures of the 2000s, here's a list of what I consider some really great movies from that decade that was, in alphabetical order:


Almost Famous

The Aviator


The Dark Knight

The Fountain

Good Night, and Good Luck

Hot Fuzz

The Hurt Locker

Mystic River

No Country for Old Men

Requiem for a Dream


There Will Be Blood


25th Hour


Why We Fight

World Trade Center


Special mentions: Michael Clayton, Transformers, Million Dollar Baby, Crash, Iron Man, Narc, Sideways, Dancer in the Dark, Che, The Departed, The Prestige, Wall-E, Kingdom of Heaven (The Director's Cut), The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Children of Men, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Agree? Disagree? Think I've missed something?

Where you been?

Holy smokes, has it really been more than three months since I've posted here?

While I'm still kept pretty busy with my new daughter, I'm going to try to get back to regular posting - more regular than before, even - so watch this space.

Coming soon: my list of 20 great movies from the 2000s.