Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FROZEN - REVIEW

Frozen
January 24, 2010 (Sundance Film Festival)
February 5, 2010 (United States)
93 min
United States (English)

Written and Directed by Adam Green



The highlight of "Frozen" is the absorbing premise, which more or less delivers horrific results. For its aims, it is passably solid enough, though not without some bewildering moments.


I have yet to see "Open Water," a film about a couple that goes scuba diving and is left to fend for themselves in shark-infested waters. From what I hear, "Frozen" is "Open Water" on a ski-lift. I am enthralled by stories that largely (if not wholly) take place in a singular location. (For example, my all-time favorite "12 Angry Men," 97% takes place in an increasing tense and claustrophobic jury room. Hitchcock's "Lifeboat" comes to mind. I still have to see "Phone Booth." Last year brought another Boyle masterpiece in "127 Hours" and another I have to see: "Buried.") Most of "Frozen" takes place on a ski-lift raised 60+ feet above the snowy ground. Three friends wind up in such a location, unbeknownst to the considerate folks running the slopes, and must survive. I must say, I am infatuated with the survival horror sub-genre.

Knowing the high-concept (punny) "Frozen" is built upon from the get-go, it was interesting to see how the characters got themselves into this sticky situation. (Speaking of sticky... Remember when that dense child sticks his tongue to the frozen pole in "The Christmas Story"? Well, you get similar action herein, though it is not played for chuckles.) Granted, any who see this film will have a similar experience of waiting for them to meet their unfortunate condition. This movie is sold on that concept and solely recommended via word-of-mouth as "the film where two guys and a girl get stuck/abandoned on a ski-lift." Most importantly are all the elements that make their predicament all the more dire (last group to go up at night, mountain will be closed all weekend, storm coming, etc.).

Like all horror movies there are moments you call the onscreen characters "morons" and whatnot. Then again, it makes you ponder what you would do if in the same situation. Like Aron Ralston's character in "127 Hours," I like to think I would never get myself in such a pickle. And if I did that I would be better equipped. Of course, none of the three friends brought their cell phones along for their last run that night. The three leads work fine, especially together (and especially Shawn Ashmore). One particular scene between two of the characters features a fierce argument eventually followed by a genuine and ultimately good-spirited apology.

There are moments of absurdity and unintentional comedy, but as a whole it held my attention without exception and that is always of utmost vitality. "Frozen" works very well as a scare device. There are no "jump scenes." I applaud their absence and thank director Adam Green for building tension slowly and carefully.

During the ending credits I clamored, "That movie should have been called '_ _ _ _ _ _' instead of 'Frozen'!" (Yes, in order to keep at least some reveals unspoiled I am going to play the blank game.) Upon perusing the IMDb message boards for "Frozen" I found I was not the first to make such a claim. The surprise appearance is interesting, but not entirely welcome. (I wonder what you might be imaging... Okay, it is not bigfoot.)

I have purposely avoided Adam Green's other films (seemingly slashers of the best/worst kind, that is according to how you would personally rank the goriest), but I am glad I sought this one out. Still, I would like to see the version without _ _ _ _ _ _.

★★★

CONTENT: strong language and some disturbing and gory images

Sunday, January 23, 2011

THE 68TH GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS - RECAP

THE GOLDEN GLOBES

A week ago tonight were the 68th Golden Globe Awards. The protocol has taken place at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California each year since 1944. The Globes are put on by a non-profit organization called the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). They consist of about 90 journalists who provide for magazines and newspapers in other countries (hence "Foreign Press"). The HFPA consider America's film and television industries and reward the best in various areas each year (because this is The Film Tome I will not be addressing the television side). For whatever reason the Hollywood Foreign Press decides to separate films into one of two categories: Comedy and Musical (those two go together) or Drama. Personally, I am not too keen on the idea. Most films do not simply fit into one or the other. That and no love given to documentaries are the reasons I scratch my head when thinking about the double Gs. Still, it is an organization holding an award ceremony for films and I love such events! They help settle my anticipation for the Academy Awards (coming February 27, 2011), which I honestly care more about.

THE REIGN OF RICKY GERVAIS

Normally I wouldn't give this much attention to the host of an award show, but Ricky Gervais (from the British version of "The Office") has caused considerable controversy. Gervais hosted the ceremony for his second time in a row. Although methinks he will not land the shot to do it a third time. In his hosting, Gervais managed to take jabs at dozens of denizens of Hollywood (many in attendance, many not). Check out this nice compilation of Ricky's roasting (my favorite bit is when he introduces Tom Hanks and Tim Allen). I thought his words were dangerously hilarious. It was a masterwork of dark humor. Reception to Ricky's antics are rather mixed. During the show it seemed several others who shared the stage with him were far from happy. Steve Carrell pushed Gervais away when he rushed towards him as if to give him a hug. When Robert Downey Jr. (who got particularly targeted by Ricky) came out he said, "Aside from the fact that it's been hugely mean-spirited, with mildly sinister undertones, I'd say the vibe of the show is pretty good so far, wouldn't you?" Even the president of the HFPA said the following after Gervais got him too, "The next time you want someone to qualify your movies, go to another guy." On the other hand, here is a group of stars who attended the event that all seemed to love what he did. If anything, Ricky Gervais certainly made January 16th a night to remember. A night in which several great filmmakers and performers were rewarded for their diligent efforts.

(Note: Ricky was a guest on Piers Morgan Tonight earlier this week. They discuss his job at the Golden Globes in great detail. About 18 minutes in they consider Gervais' final words of the evening,"Thank God I'm an atheist." It leads to a most sincere conversation that I highly recommend witnessing. You can watch the entire interview starting here.)

THE WINNERS

This year offered few surprises. There were definitely underdogs I was rooting for, but the universal opinions for 2011 are fairly unanimous. I will be doing a before post and an after post for the Oscars (the former including my predictions of who will win and who should win - the nominations will be announced on Tuesday), but I think it is a pretty safe bet to assume those who took home Golden Globes last week will take be taking home golden men next month. Here's the winners in film:

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
Amy Adams, THE FIGHTER
Helena Bonham Carter, THE KING'S SPEECH
Mila Kunis, BLACK SWAN
Melissa Leo, THE FIGHTER
Jacki Weaver, ANIMAL KINGDOM

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
Christian Bale, THE FIGHTER
Michael Douglas, WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS
Andrew Garfield, THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Jeremy Renner, THE TOWN
Geoffrey Rush, THE KING'S SPEECH


BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE - MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Annette Bening, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
Anne Hathaway, LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS
Angelina Jolie, THE TOURIST
Julianne Moore, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
Emma Stone, EASY A



BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE -MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Johnny Depp, ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Johnny Depp, THE TOURIST
Paul Giamatti, BARNEY'S VERSION
Jake Gyllenhaal, LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS
Kevin Spacey, CASINO JACK



BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE - DRAMA
Halle Berry, FRANKIE AND ALICE
Nicole Kidman, RABBIT HOLE
Jennifer Lawrence, WINTER'S BONE
Natalie Portman, BLACK SWAN
Michelle Williams, BLUE VALENTINE

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE - DRAMA
Jesse Eisenberg, THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Colin Firth, THE KING'S SPEECH
James Franco, 127 HOURS
Ryan Gosling, BLUE VALENTINE
Mark Wahlberg, THE FIGHTER

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Alexander Desplat, THE KING'S SPEECH
Danny Elfman, ALICE IN WONDERLAND
A.R. Robin, 127 HOURS
Trent Reznor, THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Hans Zimmer, INCEPTION

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Danny Boyle, 127 HOURS
Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Hart, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
Christopher Nolan, INCEPTION
David Seidler, THE KING'S SPEECH
Aaron Sorkin, THE SOCIAL NETWORK

BEST DIRECTOR
Darren Aronofsky, BLACK SWAN
David Fincher, THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Tom Hooper, THE KING'S SPEECH
Christopher Nolan, INCEPTION
David O. Russell, THE FIGHTER

BEST ANIMATED FILM
DESPICABLE ME
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON
THE ILLUSIONIST
TANGLED
TOY STORY 3

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
BIUTIFUL
THE CONCERT
THE EDGE
I AM LOVE
IN A BETTER WORLD

BEST MOTION PICTURE - MUSICAL OR COMEDY
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
BURLESQUE
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
RED
THE TOURIST

BEST MOTION PICTURE - DRAMA
BLACK SWAN
THE FIGHTER
INCEPTION
THE KING'S SPEECH
THE SOCIAL NETWORK

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 19


THE TRAILER ROUND-UP

The Headscratcher: "Scream 4" is listed as both Horror and Comedy. Few filmmakers can pull off both moods (see Bong Joon Ho's "The Host" for an ambitious picture that managed to do just that). Somehow this looks unintentionally funny and void of scariness. Boo.

"Rubber" is about- No. I shant tell. You must see for yourself. When the trailer started I began chanting within myself "Yes... Yes... Yes!" It really is what it is! This could be the "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!" of the new decade! (Hopefully it will be better too!) "Rubber" is officially on my radar... I can hardly wait to see this.

Toss of the Week: I have yet to see a Korean film that I do not admire on multiple facets. I'm already appreciating Chang-dong Lee's "Poetry" from just beholding the trailer. Realistic films often serve as character studies and are among the most personal creations ever made. I realize some people might be as interested in such films as they are into poetry itself. As for myself, I have dipped into euphrates and I look for others who have their own rivers. Asian cinema continues to astound me.

ENLSITED

Top 10 Sequels That Did Not Do Well. To clarify, this is in terms of box office grosses.

Quentin Tarantino's Top 20 Films of 2010. You may be surprised at his #1. I sure was!

THE GOOD

Sundance Film Festival started on the 20th and goes to the 30th. I hope to get up there for at least one of those days (I didn't buy tix in advance so I'll have to Wait List it...) If you live in the Slat Lake City area and love films, take advantage of this great opportunity that only comes once a year (the majority of the events take place in Park City, Utah). Here's the film guide for this year's festivities.

THE BAD

Have you heard they are making a "Battleship" movie? Yes. Based on the board game. Have you heard James Cameron bash the idea? (Note: This part is actually GOOD.)

AND THE WEIRD

Some entries at the aforementioned Sundance Film Festival are certainly making a name for themselves. There are thousands of applicants each year, independent filmmakers all hoping for a shot at getting their film recognized. Sundance is one of the biggest film festivals there is. Of all those applicants, just over 100 got selected to be part of the show. You may wonder why "Hobo with a Shotgun" is one of them. Another intriguing entry is "The Nine Muses," which has been labeled as a "documentary essay." Few people love docs, even fewer people love essays. I follow Jeff Goldsmith on Facebook and occasionally listen to his podcast (Creative Screenwriting). It was his comments on "The Nine Muses" that brought the film into my existence. He claimed it was "not a film" (an "art exhibit" rather) and admitted it was the third film he's walked out of in seven year. That's saying something from a guy who watches films every single day. This article shed some more light on "The Nine Muses" for me. I really like the 3-minute clip on there (again, hooray for poetry!), but do not know how I would feel about watching an hour or two of it.

Clint Eastwood will not have a film coming out in 2011. Instead, he is busy working on two slated for 2012 releases. The first is a biopic on J. Edgar Hoover, starring Leo DiCaprio as the gay and rumored cross dresser FBI director. The second is a third remake of the 1937 film, "A Star is Born." It stars Beyonce. Eastwood is doing a musical folks.

KEEPIN' IT SHORT

Made by Marv Newland

Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 18


Originally Published on 1.9.11

THE TRAILER ROUND-UP

The Head-Scratcher*:
*Formally know as "The 'Okay...'".

"African Cats" is currently one of the few films I'm looking forward to in 2011. (Besides "The Tree of Life" and "Cowboys and Aliens," there are not many films I'm excited about. Many people thought 2010 was a dry spell for great cinema, a preposterous notion IMHO, 2011 looks nowhere as good.) Imagine my surprise (which shouldn't be hard as you may be surprised yourself) when I heard news of "The Last Lions." This is ANOTHER nature documentary about lions in Africa! I refuse to believe this was all coincidental. "The Last Lions" is narrated by Jeremy Irons and comes a whole two months before "African Cats," but may not be receiving as wide a release. Both films look gorgeous and will provide an interesting compare-and-contrast study later this year.

The Simon Pegg and Nick Frost duo beats just about any other. Case in point: "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz." Perhaps it was the lack of their dynamic-ness that made Edgar Wright's latest, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," feel so empty. The duo return (without Wright's direction) in "Paul." A lot of it looks lame, but I'm hopeful.

With a tagline like "Stay in the light" you know you're getting something different with "Vanishing on 7th Street." (Make sure you select the trailer.) The trailer is far from subtle and shows FAR TOO MUCH for my liking. There are teasers and there are trailers, then there are revealers (like this). Are there any scary moments in the film this trailer doesn't showcase? Directed by Brad Anderson (who did "The Machinist") and starring Hayden Christensen who you all loved in the lesser "Star Wars" trilogy. Hard to tell if this will rise or fail.

Two more docs: Go green with "The Last Mountain" and get blown away by "Tornado Alley."



Toss of the Week: Maybe I was scared I would get beat up or perhaps this really is what I've been looking for, either way "Strong Man" is my top pick from the blooming trailers this week. I love character studies and slice-of-life pieces. This looks to deliver truth and a lot of heart.



ENLSITED

Here's Rolling Stone's
10 Best Movies of 2010 (no surprise what number one is... it seems to be topping everyone's list). Also, here is their 10 Worst Movies of 2010 (the four of which I saw I quite liked...).

KEEPIN' IT SHORT

Logorama
Directed by François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy and Ludovic Houplain

This 16-minute animated film won an Academy Award last year. It looks like a lot of work and lot of asking for permission... the concept is superb!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 17

THE TRAILER ROUND-UP


A near-death experience has made Tom Shadyac (director of several Jim Carrey comedies such as "Bruce Almighty") want to make a documentary about human life. The trailer for "I Am" starts off looking like something we've seen before, but by the end, I'm not too sure.

"Water For Elephants" - Based on the bestselling novel, this one looks great. Christoph Waltz (who totally deserved his Oscar last year) and Reese Witherspoon are bound to deliver great performances. Robert Pattinson (forever known as Edward) also looks tremendously capable in his role. It looks very pretty and seems dramatic enough. On any other week this would've garnered my toss.




Toss of the Week: Terrence Malick makes about one film per decade. Nearly each one makes my list of favorite films per decade. "The Tree of Life" looks to be no exception. The stunning visuals (praise be given to one of my favorite cinematographers, Emmanuel Lubezki) and the poetic monologue thoughts (a Malick staple) are the best of this form. Brad Pitt (who I'll defend to the end as a great actor) and Sean Penn star. This is going to be one heavy-hitter! I am predicting the best of 2011 right here. May 27th.


ENLSITED

With the end of the year we get many critic's Top Ten of the Year lists. Check out two of the most well-known's: Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper.

KEEPIN' IT SHORT

Directed by Geza M. Toth

Nominated for an Academy Award back in 2005. You won't know why unless you watch to the end. Very amusing!

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