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February 2011 Review Roundup

After the quick start to 2011, things slowed down drastically due to the girlfriend being busy every weekend thus limiting our viewing to just Oscar Best Picture nominees. I didn't have time to write up reviews, but The King's Speech was overrated, Winter's Bone was bleak, and The Kids Are All Right has no business being considered a Best Picture with a shallow, cliched screenplay which relies on the novelty of a lesbian couple to mask the truly banal story.

2/5 - The King's Speech (7/10)
2/7 - Winter's Bone (7/10)
2/21 - The Kids Are All Right (5/10)

Month's Movies Watched: 3
Previously Unseen: 3
Theatrical: 0
Home: 3
Year-To-Date: 14
YTD First-Timers: 10
YTD Theatrical: 1
YTD Home: 13

2011 Academy Awards Livesnark

• Opening filmed bit riffing on Inception was cute.

• Franco's Grandma: "I just saw Marky Mark." Ha! But opening banter was stiff.

Alice in Wonderland wins Best Art Direction. I hate it when historical movies based on real places win, so I was afraid a sweep for The King's Speech would rob a genuinely original creation.

• Somewhat of an upset as Wall Pfister wins Best Cinematography for Inception over Roger Deakin's work on True Grit since Deakins has been nominated nine times without winning. No complaints about the win, though.

• First segment felt off-kilter and stilted. Franco and Hathaway are too giggly.

• Kirk Douglas is out and doing shtick which is rough considering his stroke. Cute that he milked the envelope opening moment.

• Melissa Leo wins for Best Supporting Actress for The Fighter. Terrible speech. Whoa! Had to bleep her. They should've given it to Halle Steinfeld, but she was really a lead part.

• Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis are absolutely horrid with banter. Jeez, who writes this stuff? I hosted a poetry and music festival for five hours last night, pretty much winging most of it off the cuff and it was tighter and funnier than anything so far here.

• Gee, Pixar wins Best Animated Feature. Again. There should really be more than three nominees in the category. Haven't seen the other nominees yet, but I wasn't crazy about Toy Story 3.

• 40 minutes in and I'm bored.

• Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem - co-stars from No Country For Old Men - are dressed as if they're going to be serving drinks at the Governor's Ball.

• Aaron Sorkin wins for The Social Network and gives props right off to Paddy Chayefsky's titanic Network. Best dialog of 2010.

• David Siedler, age 74 or so, is the oldest winner of Best Original Screenplay for The King's Speech. I was unimpressed by that movie as well.

• Anne Hathaway shows off her impressive lungs - singing voice, that is - and Franco comes out in Marilyn Monroe drag. Scary. She looks hot in a tux.

• Russell Brand and Helen Mirren (co-stars in the Arthur remake) are the first good presenters with banter. A Better World wins for Best Foreign Language, but the woman giving the acceptance was a mess.

• Christian Bale wins, as expected, for The Fighter. No problems with this win. Hard to believe he's never been nominated before.

• It's ironic that The Fighter is up for Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Support Actor and two Supporting Actress noms, but the star and producer, Marky Mark, gets bupkiss for his performance.

• It's a long way from Cleveland for Trent Reznor as he co-wins Best Original Score for The Social Network's ambient, futuristic soundscape.

Inception wins for Sound Mixing and Editing Oscars. Nice to see it picking up the technical categories. Everyone's been thanking Chris Nolan, who was snubbed for Best Director by the haters in the Directors Branch of the Academy.

• Rick Baker wins his 7th Oscar for Best Makeup for The Wolfman. Does anyone even remember that movie.

• Colleen Atwood wins her third Oscar for Costume Design for Alice in Wonderland. Remember her dress made of American Express Gold Cards when she won for Chicago?

• Randy Newman is OK, but his chronic presence at the Oscars is no different than the Coens Brothers getting automatically nominated for anything they put out in a year. I've already forgotten his song from 2010 Pixar Movie.

• Something wins Best Documentary Short. God of Love wins Best Live-Action Film and director-star Luke Matheny gives the best speech so far, "I should've gotten a haircut."

• The Auto-Tune The News Internet meme sails over the head of Hollywood as they do a montage of "musicals" that came out last year.

• Cute moment with Anne Hathaway twirling her dress. She's so yummy.

• I haven't seen Best Feature Documentary Inside Job yet - I've got it downloaded and waiting - but as long as Exit Through The Gift Shop didn't win, I'm satisfied. Not that it's not a good movie (haven't watched it yet, but I'm sick of FAKE "documentaries" by liars like Michael Moore winning a category that implies truthfulness in its very title.

• "Surprise" presenter - only if you don't read Deadline Hollywood - Billy Crystal comes out to into a montage of Bob Hope hosting bits. And then he's gone. Big whoop.

Inception wins for Best Visual Effects, continuing the irrelevant technical honors sweep. Sherlock Holmes co-stars Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law do OK banter.

The Social Network wins Best Editing. I seem to recall hearing that it's unlikely to win Best Picture without winning Editing. Hmmm, could The King's Speech be getting passed over?

• Randy Newman wins. Yawn. That he's only 2-for-20 in winning says something. Terrible song. Can't even remember the tune. Funny speech, though.

• And yet again, they don't use Jim Carroll's "People Who Died" for their In Memorium montage. Heh, they use a clip from Blue Velvet for Dennis Hopper. They must have commanded that no applause be given, so there's no winner for the Most Popular Dead Person.

• A sort of upset as Tom Hooper wins Best Director for The King's Speech. Even those who thought it would win Best Picture thought David Fincher would win here. Good speech thanking his mother for tipping him off about the script that led to his win.

• Queen Amadala wins for Insane Lesbian Ballerina. I had a headache watching her, so this is merited. Good thing Annette Bening didn't rob her for a Lifetime Achievement Award. She thanked everyone on the crew, but none of her co-stars. None of them. Tacky and stuck-up.

• Sandra Bullock looks Botoxed to near-lethal levels. Funny intros to the actors though.

• Colin Firth wins Best Actor for The King's Speech and last year's A Single Man, thus filling in the Free Space box on every Oscar Pool bingo card. Dull acceptance speech.

• Good mention by Spielberg of the movies that did NOT win Best Picture: Raging Bull, Citizen Kane, The Graduate. Interesting montage using the king's speech to underscore clips from all the movie.

The King's Speech wins Best Picture. Snooooooooore. So overrated. The Oscars refuse to step into the present, much less the present. This is Harvey's big comeback.

• James Franco seemed ill-at-ease the whole night and contributed nothing to the proceedings. Anne Hathaway was yummy and cute and looked great in all her outfits, but didn't do much. Bring back Steve Martin!

• Who the hell are these kids from PS22 in Staten Island and why are they singing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"? Were they in a movie or did someone just think this was a good idea. (Hint: It wasn't.) Having all the winners come out for a mass bow was an OK touch.

• Pop Quiz: What films won the past two years, since they're triumphs of the cinematic arts? Exactly! Next year, who will remember this year's winner? Exactly!

Cyberspace Open 2011 Entry

Rather than rehash what this screenwriting contest is again, please read last year's entry and my comments about how the judging differed from what was advertised. I still need to post up what I sent in for the Final Round that I didn't qualify for, but still got my entry scored. Heh.

The scene prompt this year was a tricky one and I think a lot of writers are going to crash and burn on the particulars. Here's what I had to write about:

Your PROTAGONIST and his or her LOVE INTEREST are at odds. One of the protagonist’s schemes has gone terribly awry, and the love interest has had it. Write a scene in which they have it out – but in an unconventional way. Their words seem measured and reasonable; but the subtext says another thing entirely. You may use additional characters other than the ones specified.

Note From Contest Management:

This is going to take some crafty, non-on the nose writing here. For example, they can talk about boiling water, but it’s clear they’re really talking about something else. Use sarcasm or body language or timing or other means to convey your true meaning.

Egad. In case you're not sure what subtext means, it's the difference between what is being communicated by the words and what the actions convey. If someone is saying, "I love you!", while punching someone in the face, there's subtext happening.

I listened to a screenwriting seminar where the beginning of Pulp Fiction was offered as an example of text vs. subtext. The text is Vincent and Jules talking about Royale with Cheese and whether foot massages are like cheating. The subtext is two hit men driving someplace, getting out their guns, and then getting Marcelus' briefcase and killing people. Other than the comment, "We should have shotguns for this gig," there is no clue as to who Vincent and Jules are and what they're doing until they get into the apartment.

So, without further fondue, here is my entry, Afternoon Delight:


We are high above a large green meadow, looking down. Dense
woods border the perimeter. The sky is blue and the clouds
are fluffy, floating over the rolling countryside.

A BURST OF FLAME appears small on the ground. The flames
rise upon a pillar of smoke toward us as a SMALL ROCKET races toward us and EXPLODES! The FIREBALL and SMOKE and DEBRIS obscure our view, but rapidly fade as we descend through it.

We near the ground and see a VAN with three people nearby -
ADRIAN (30s, average-looking scientific type), NEIL (early-
20s, indie rocker style), and SARAH (late-20s, hot librarian
type) - gazing up into the sky.

Adrian looks aghast; Neil looks annoyed; Sarah looks bemused.

You're right. This was a totally
better use of our money than building
a deck with a hot tub.

I don't understand what happened.

Being a biochemist means I'm not as
versed in this astrophysics stuff,
honey, but I think the scientific
term is, "It blowed up real good!"

Adrian turns toward a LAPTOP perched inside the van.

I told you we needed intermix chamber
heaters to prevent cyrofractures.

They would've added too much weight.

Not that much and it would've
prevented this.

We won't know what really caused the
failure until we examine the debris.

It looks like most of it came down
over there. Good thing it wasn't
windy. Let's go pick up the pieces.

Neil starts off but stops when he realizes he's alone. He
turns and sees Adrian scrutinizing the laptop.

Hey, you stay here. I'll go get it.

Sarah looks thoughtful as she watches Neil trudging off.
She reaches past Adrian in the van and produces a BEACH BAG,
pulls out a TOWEL and spreads it on the grass.

Such a lovely day.

She strips off her clothes, revealing her BRA and PANTIES.
Adrian doesn't notice.

(muttering to himself)
Manifold pressure at ignition was
nominal. Control surfaces were
responding nominally.

Sarah pulls a tube of SUNTAN LOTION out of the bag and begins to slather it on. She takes the CLIP off her hair, letting it cascade down her shoulders. Everything is in slow motion.

You know he looks up to you? He
worships you like I first.

Adrian is focused on the computer screen and traces the graph with his finger.

Pressure builds at mark-15 seconds,
but within anticipated parameters.

Neil disappears into the woods. Sarah lays back and closes
her eyes, basking in the sunlight.

Neil and I have a lot in common.
Like utterly inoperable bullshit
detectors until it's too late.

There's a spike at mark-17, but it's
inconclusive when failure occurred.
The rez of the beamed telemetry isn't
fine enough. We'll need the FDR data.

He turns from the laptop and sees Sarah lying there.

What are you doing?

Since you boys will be sifting clues
for a while, I'm going to do some
experiments in UV radiation exposure.

Wearing that? Come on, someone will
see you.

Who? Neil or someone investigating
whether Canada has attacked?

It's not appropriate.

My bikini covers less. Would you
care if someone saw me in that?

Don't be trite.

She stares at him with a then-what's-the-problem expression.
He shrugs and turns back to the laptop. A long silence.

What do you think happened?

You didn't listen.

I heard him. It just wasn't a
practical idea.

Since when has practical been a
sticking point for you?


I'm sure Felix would disagree.


Cages with LAB ANIMALS - RABBITS, RATS, MONKEYS - line the
walls. Nothing unusual other than the LARGE CAGE on the
floor with a sign reading "FELIX" and A RABBIT THE SIZE OF A
GERMAN SHEPHERD in it. It turns to us and speaks.

You know, I had a computer programming
class with Mark Zuckerburg once. He
invented Facebook.


Adrian turns back to the laptop, shame-faced.

That was...unfortunate.
I apologized to him.

I wish you'd let Walt take a look at
him. He may be able to...

Mossberg is a quack and none of his
research is going to amount to
anything grand! He lacks vision,
which should be obvious to you on a
daily basis there.

Oh, I've appreciated the differences
between you two, working there. He
is certainly not at your level.

Neil returns dragging the MANGLED TAIL SECTION of the rocket.

Where's the rest of it? Where's the
nose and FDR? I need that; the
telemetry was too coarse here.

Neil tosses the wreckage at Adrian's feet.

It's stuck up in the branches of a
tree. You're going to need a tall
ladder and a pole to knock it down.

I think the school's maintenance
shed has some ladders. We'll get
one and come back.

You do that. You should consider
bringing a rope, too.

Adrian drags the wreckage behind the van and loads it in.
Neil notices Sarah on the blanket, glistening in the sun.

Uh, hey, Sarah.

Sarah props herself up on her elbows and looks seductively
at Neil. She lightly brushes her hand down her stomach.

Neil, have you ever considered taking
a position where your input would be
more greatly appreciated?

Ummmm...What do you have in mind?

Adrian comes back around the van toward them.

Well, Mossberg is looking for someone
more like you and is always interested
in exploring new ideas and techniques.

Yeah, someone should clue the guy
in. Let's go. If we hurry, we can
get the ladder and back here before
it's too late.
(to Sarah)
And put your clothes on, will you?
You're making Neil uncomfortable.
(to Neil)
Sorry, Neil. She doesn't get it.

So I've gathered. You know, despite
the obvious, I think this day may
lead to a triumph.

I agree. A notable huge success.

Adrian sighs and looks at the others.

Thomas Edison had a thousand failures
while inventing the electric light.
Perhaps today should be properly
viewed as a learning experience.

I certainly learned some things today.

Excellent! One day, you'll thank me
for this, Neil.

Results are due in about a month. Stay tuned, sports fans.
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