Jan 30, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty [2012]


Zero Dark Thirty is a 2012 production, written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, of Hurt Locker fame. It tackles the subject of the post 9/11 efforts to capture Osama Bin Laden, all through the eyes of Maya, a determined CIA agent who follows her instincts and never gives up on her topic of investigation, the Abu Ahmed courier, who eventually leads them to Bin Laden. 

Where do I start? Zero Dark Thirty is a movie that caused controversy in the US, because of its use of torture- I won't dwel  on that, it's not something that bothered me. What I personally didn't like, or better say, didn't identify with, is the actual theme/storyline. It's hard to relate with a story that you didn't witness or live yourself, especially if it involves national politics. I am not saying I don't sympathise with it, I just don't regard it that as highly as Americans do. The only point in the film that really moved me was the actual raid in the middle of the night, and as far as acting goes, I understood and liked more the soldier roles than Maya's, for example. Speaking about her, I often wondered: what is her motivation after all? Why is she doing this? Patriotism? Lost friend/familly member? I just don't get her- is she a smart woman? or just a very ambitious, stubborn one? Is that last scene in the airplane an evidence of her being happy to accomplish a decade worth of work or finally being able to put behind Bin Laden? And I know you will probably say, well, the story is not about her, it's about the war against terrorism and so on. But if you are right about that, than the script didn't actually portray that well, either.

After the film was over, I remember thinking and actually writing on Twitter that I consider Zero Dark Thirty to be a foreign film, in the sense that it is based on a story/feeling that not most can identify with. It showcases American patriotism- it works for them, the citizens of USA, like Lincoln does, but not for the rest of the world, because of the cultural and environmental differences. Americans used to make universally liked films; this is not one of them and I really don't think it will appeal that much to non-americans, no matter the level of interest for politics and knowledge.

Filmmaking-wise, I wasn't impressed- it was a very well made movie, but nothing was outstanding. I never was a Bigelow fan- Hurt Locker did nothing for me, and I didn't get the whole buzz around her and her directing style; Zero Dark Thirty isn't any different, either, at least in this department. The camera is often shaky, and the cinematography was a bit off, in my opinion.

In contrast to that, the casting for Zero Dark Thirty was remarkable. Jason Clarke was a personal favorite, especially in the first part of the movie, and both Kyle Chandler and Mark Strong did a great job as CIA executives trying to do the right thing, all whilst fighting bireaucracy and uncertainty. As for Jessica Chastain, what can I say? My first impression was: "what is so special about Maya? why is she getting rave reviews for this part?", and I still maintain my opinion that the role is not visibly awards- worthy, but the more I think about it, the more I do see some subtleties in her performances. Still, come Oscar night, I am rooting for Jennifer Lawrence.

So, is it worth it? As I did for Lincoln, I would recommend it just to be aware of all nominated films, but otherwise? Not really- it's a see and forget type of film, at least it was for me. Sorry!

Jan 26, 2013

Favorite Director Quotes- Relay Race

The lovely Margaret from Cinematic Corner passed me the torch of a great blogathon/relay, started by David of Taste of Cinema: Favorite Director Quotes, one that features quotes from 10 filmmakers about cinema.

Here are the participants who have contributed to this relay race so far:

David of Taste of Cinema
Chris of movieandsongs365
Alex of And So it Begins...
Josh of The Cinematic Spectacle
Stephanie of On Page and Screen
Britanni Burnham of Rambling Film
John of John Likes Movies
Ruth of Flix Chatter
Keith of Keith & the Movies
Mark of Marked Movies
Tyson of Head in a Vice
Eric of The IPC
S1ngal of S1ngal
Steven of Surrender to the Void
Margaret from Cinematic Corner  
And now, the 10 great filmmakers and their quotes:
“I steal from every single movie ever made. I love it – if my work has anything it’s that I’m taking this from this and that from that and mixing them together. If people don’t like that, then tough titty, don’t go and see it, all right? I steal from everything. Great artists steal; they don’t do homages.” – Quentin Tarantino

“Why make a movie about something one understands completely? I make movies about things I do not understand, but wish to.” – Seijun Suzuki

“When I make a film, I never stop uncovering mysteries, making discoveries. When I’m writing, filming, editing, even doing promotional work, I discover new things about the film, about myself, and about others. That is what I’m subconsciously looking for when shooting a film: to glimpse the enigmas of life, even if I don’t resolve them, but at least to uncover them. Cinema is curiosity in the most intense meaning of the word.” – Pedro Almodovar

“You make films to give people something, to transport them somewhere else, and it doesn’t matter if you transport them to a world of intuition or a world of intellect…The realm of superstitions, fortune-telling, presentiments, intuition, dreams, all this is the inner life of a human being, and all this is the hardest thing to film… I’ve been trying to get there from the beginning. I’m somebody who doesn’t know, somebody who’s searching.” – Krzysztof Kieslowski

“Every film should have its own world, a logic and feel to it that expands beyond the exact image that the audience is seeing.” – Christopher Nolan

“I really subscribe to that old adage that you should never let the audience get ahead of you for a second. So if the film’s abrasive and wrongfoots people then, y’know, that’s great. But I hope it involves an audience. If not, that’s my fuck-up.” – Paul Thomas Anderson

“I think when you’re young and have that first burst of energy and make five or six pictures in a row that tell the stories of all the things in life you want to say . . . well, maybe those are the films that should have won me the Oscar. When Taxi Driver (1976) was up for Best Picture, it got three other nominations: Best Actor [Robert De Niro], Best Supporting Actress [Jodie Foster] and Best Music. But the director and writer were overlooked. I was so disappointed, I said, “You know what? That’s the way it’s going to be”. What was I going to do, go home and cry?” – Martin Scorsese

“In England, I’m a horror movie director. In Germany, I’m a filmmaker. In the US, I’m a bum. ” – John Carpenter

"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of waters, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable: originality is nonexistent. And don't bother concealing your thievery--celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: It's not where you take things--it's where you take them to." - Jim Jarmush

"If you want to be a filmmaker, the best thing you can bring to the world is your own story. And there is something that is very personal to you and something that you have your own singular connection to that if it really is important to you, there are people all over the planet that will relate to it. So, the mistakes happens when you try to figure out what everyone likes because the only thing you can be sure of is what you like. And the reality is what you like ends up being what a lot of people like because we are all going through a very similar story."  Darren Aronofsky

Who I'm taking out:
“In England, I’m a horror movie director. In Germany, I’m a filmmaker. In the US, I’m a bum. ” – John Carpenter

Why: I am not a fan of John Carpenter and that quote is not remarcable, either. Sorry!

Who am I adding to the mix:
“I’m just a storyteller, and the cinema happens to be my medium. I like it because it re-creates life in movement, enlarges it, enhances it, distills it. For me, it’s far closer to the miraculous creation of life than, say, a painting or music or even literature. It’s not just an art form; it’s actually a new form of life, with its own rhythms, cadences, perspectives and transparencies. It’s my way of telling a story.” – Federico Fellini

Why: I found a number of great quotes of directors, and I had three possible choices, but this one (found, incidently, on David's blog) completely won me over because not only is it artistic, but it's close to my heart, as it somehow describes my opinion on film. People like to tell stories, and they do it in different ways; for me, film is by far the most interesting, explicit and entertaining way of doing that. It is a new form of life that you have to be careful how to make it, how to mold it enough for it to touch people- if you achieve that, you have done your job well.
I now pass the blogathon to Ruth from "...let's be splendid about this"

Jan 23, 2013

New music to listen to in 2013

2013 is expected to provide many quality albums, especially in the rock genre, as new Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Kings of Leon, Vampire Weekend and others are apparently releasing new albums. Dance and hip hop are still growing, with new, innovative artists making these two types of music even more popular in charts, for both customers and critics, and different mixes of genres are constantly surprising the audiences all over. Like it or not, you and me have to start listening to it, and more than that- I, for one, plan to give anyone (well, most of them) a shot, no matter the artist or genre.

Looking at the list of upcoming music albums, I would recommend, or better say, am willing to listen to the following:
*TBD- to be determined, release date unknown

Alunageorge- Body Music (June)
While compiling this list, I decided to finally give a listen to a band I've been hearing so much about, but never tried: Alunageorge. The duo's first single, released in 2011, You Know You Love It, is currently on repeat on my playlist and I am now eagerly anticipating their album in June. Their sound can be described as a mix of pop, with a little bit of R'n B, courtesy of the great vocals from Aluna, and some dance beats, made by George. Please give You Know You Love It a listen and decide for yourself if it's catchy or not and worth a listen in the future.

Arcade Fire- TBD
An indie favorite, Arcade Fire is apparently releasing a new album later this year and I can't wait for it. Previous favorites: Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) and The Suburbs

Arctic Monkeys- TBD
Considering they have already been announced to be headliners for at least two festivals this summer (Opener in Poland, and Benicassim in Spain), I think it's safe to say we can expect new material from them. Loved by many all around the world, but idolized in the UK, the band is sure to make their new album a no.1 and I am also eager to hear it. Never heard them and want to give it a try? Listen to "You look good on the dancefloor" and "R U mine?"

Bastille- Pompeii- 24th February
New on the UK indie market, this band is patiently ascending the charts, with their sensible and catchy tunes, a mix of dance and rock. Personal favorites: "Flaws", "Overjoyed", "Bad blood"

David Bowie- The Next Day (March)
The world exploded when mister Bowie announce, on his birthday in January, that he would be releasing new songs and an album soon. Most artists, as they grow old, they somehow loose their magic, so I am curious to hear his new record.  

Daughter- If you leave- 18th March
The British band is slowly conquering the music industry in UK with its haunting songs, and I am right there to support them. Give them a listen, they're quite interesting. 

HAIM- TBD (Spring)
A trio of sisters, playing 80s type of dance/alternative music with a trio of guitars. At first I thought they were too hipster for my taste, but I quite like them now. Try "Forever" and "Don't save me" before downloading the album

Kings of Leon- TBD
The "Sex on fire" band, just as Arctic Monkeys, is currently booked for several music festivals this summer, so new material is expected and I, the lover of "Use Somebody" and several others from the "Only by the night" album, will definitely give it a try. Will you?

Major Lazer- Free the universe- 19th of February
Ever since I heard their new single, Get Free, at the end of last year, I've been hooked on them. It's a cool mix of reggae, dance and something else, and their songs are quite different, not to mention the fact that it is a visual project, as well. Worth a listen, especially to Get Free, if you like soul, r'n b or reggae.

Noah & The whale- TBD (Spring)
I don't know much about this band, except a couple of songs, but it is catchy pop-indie, and I usually like to listen to stuff like this when I need a pick-me-up! I'll be checking out their new songs!

Tom Odell- Long way down- 15th April
Tom is pretty fresh out of the UK music scene, but he just won the Critics choice awards at the Brits and was nominated for the BBC sound of 2013, so I am expecting big things from him. The sweet and simple singer won my heart with "Another love" and for that song, I will definitely buy his album in April.

That's it from me for now!

What are you looking forward to listening to in 2013? Any favorites releasing an album? Let me know in the comments!

Jan 20, 2013

Django Unchained [2012]

Django Unchained is a 2012 production, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, about a slave-turned-bounty hunter (Jamie Foxx) who sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio), with the help of the man who saved him in the first place (Christoph Waltz).

I must say, from the get go, that I was in love with this film 5 minutes in, when Django is rescued by a smooth-talking, surprisingly violent Dr.King Schultz. The quality of the script is unquestionable- from the fast, no-bullshit, quirky dialogue, to the well-built characters, and ending, of course, with the action-packed scenes, everything is wonderfully constructed, and more importantly, entertaining. I rarely see movies who bring both story and entertainment, both quality and fun, and Django Unchained definitely accomplishes that.

One extra thing I do have to mention about the script, but mostly about how Tarantino builds and displays his stories- the man loves violence and is not afraid to show it. I think he is one of the most visual, direct and bloody directors out there when it comes to this topic, and you can see it in the way he shoots the scenes, the close-ups and quantity of blood used. It doesn't bother me, but you cannot help to notice it, and that's why I mentioned it.

As for the actual directing, what more can I say about mister Tarantino? His movies are always visually appealing, attracting attention with every frame or shot. Personally, I loved and still remember the scenes showing Django killing the Brittle brothers, or the funny moment with Big Daddy and his employees on the field, having the bag argument, and of course, the final showdown in Candie's house. As always, his cameo is interesting and well placed, and I especially liked his exit.
As for the other filmmaking aspects, I have nothing but praise. The sets and costumes were well-executed and fun, and a definite highlight was the fantastic soundtrack, with "Who did that to you?", the John Legend song, taking the crown.

If you thought I ran out of good things to say about the film, than you probably didn't realize I haven't mentioned the casting. Oh man, the actors in Django Unchained were just fantastic. Jamie Foxx, playing the main character, perfectly embodied it and gave a very good performance that was sadly overlooked, but I can understand why, considering the supporting actors were just as wonderful as the lead. Three of them deserve high praise and an Oscar each for their roles: first, Christoph Waltz, in a part similar to his in Inglorious Basterds, but with a lot more humanity; he had great chemistry with both Jamie, and the other two secondary men, who I love and root for more than him. Oh, how can I put in words how much I enjoyed watching both Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L.Jackson on screen? Their characters were obviously despicable, but I couldn't not like their sassy spirit, confident stride and funny banter. DiCaprio, in particular, was spectacular as the vile plantation owner who always gets what he wants, and I seriously cannot understand who he didn't get a nomination for his performance (case in point, watch the running man and the dogs scene, or the dinner discussion, and you will understand).

In the end, I can only summarize my review and just say that Django Unchained is one of the best films I have seen in months and it deserves all your attention- I would recommend it to anyone. If I would have to rate it, it would get a 5/5 from me!

Jan 17, 2013

Movie Jail Relay Race

The lovely Mette from Lime Review and Strawberries recently passed the torch to me with this interesting Jail Race/Blogathon/Game whatever.

The Rules
„It's time to put some movie people in jail. The object is to give a prosecutor's argument as to why these movie people belong in 'Movie Jail' whether it be for violating the integrity of the content source of one of their films, or being a sell-out, just making bad movies overall, getting worse as time goes on or not being in a good movie for many years. 
The baton will be passed to another blogger who will have to do the following - in order to free someone from movie jail, they have to do two things: 

Give a defence attorney argument defending the plaintiff
Pay bail: the cost of which is another case for the court and a prosecutor's argument against the actor/director of their choice that will replace the one set free. 

Then make sure to list those who have passed the baton before you.

There must always be ten people in Movie Jail. “

Previous participants:
My Film Views/The Focused Filmographer
Cinematic Corner
And So It Begins
Surrender to the Void
Cinematic Paradox
The Cinematic Spectacle
Being Norma Jean
Defiant Success
...let's be splendid about this

Prisoners right now
George Lucas
Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer

Jennifer Aniston

Katherine Heigl

Michael Bay

Adam Sandler

Raja Gosnell

Eddie Murphy
Todd Phillips
Til Schweiger

  I free...

George Lucas

The guy might be in a bad situation right now, but come on, let's be honest, he is, after all, the director of the Star Wars films and along with Steven Spielberg created the Indiana Jones series which made box office records of their own. Maybe he can still come back?....  [p.s. I just didn't knew who to free, most of the prisoners deserve to be there]

I throw in jail...

Kristen Stewart

There are two people in Hollywood I just can't stand- one is Jennifer Aniston, and fortunately, she is already in jail, the other is Kristen Stewart. I don't like her for the simple reason that I think she is not a good, or even real actress. I rarely see any change in her style- she is basically playing Bella, or better said, Kristen, in every film, and it is getting annoying. Her acting skills and choice of roles could surely be improved. Until then, Jail Time for you, KStew!

I pass the torch to...   Ruth from Flix Chatter

Jan 14, 2013

The perks of being a wallflower [2012]

The Perks of being a wallflower is a 2012 production based on a novel by Stephen Chbosky, which tells the coming-of-age story of Charlie, a special kid who's life obstacles have left him with no friends. He starts high-school and soon makes unexpected friends that will change his life completely. Written for screen and directed by the author of the book, it is a wonderful story of friendship, love, hardship and hope.

I think one of the best things about Perks is the script, or better the way the story was constructed and presented to the audience. Although it follows a typical growing up/teenager path, it's filled with small details, some horrifying, some original, some funny, that make the whole experience more interesting to watch. For example, it's not just about an awkward guy trying to make friends, it's about a boy who has suffered many loses in his life and who is now trying to recover and adapt to this new environment. The relationships are realistically built, for most parts, and I liked their interaction- although some scenes were rather common, others thrived in emotion and creativity. I especially loved the ending and how it was built to reveal the thing that has been haunting him for all these years- it made me cry like a child and probably gave me the lasting impression that Perks of being a wallflower is a great film.

Filmmaking-wise, there were a few things that stood out for me: the score and soundtrack, featuring The Smiths and New Order, the cinematography and directing in some scenes and the editing. All helped make Perks a much better film and integrate it in that time period, although I admit I realized about half way through that the action was happening in the early 90s, and not in present times.

As for the casting, there were very few mistakes made. I loved Logan Lerman's performance and, of course, Ezra Miller was his usual talented self, but I do think Emma Watson was slightly unsuitable for the part. I bet Sam was probably much more of a bad girl on paper than she was on screen, but then again, Watson's sweet demeanor doesn't help, either. Surprisingly good performances by Mae Whitman, Nina Dobrev and Dylan McDermott.

I may be biased, but I am willing to say with conviction that Perks of being a wallflower is a film you must see and enjoy. Don't take it too seriously, just remember your own adolescence and admire the character development and storyline. Try it!

Jan 11, 2013

Oscar nominations- the 2013 edition

People, the Oscar nominations are here and there are some surprises. I like this year- not only for the shocks, but also because you can't know for sure who is going to win in most categories, and that makes it more exciting. Seth MacFarlane seems funny, so I guess will have a good time, too. This year's Oscars will be entertaining.

The big players- Lincoln, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, have all gotten multiple nominations, but I wouldn't be surprised to see major letdowns when the winners will be announced, especially in categories like Director or Picture.

Let's get down to business

Best Picture- nominations
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Django Unchained

Who will probably win? Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty
Who I want to win? I haven't seen all of them, but I am rooting for either Django Unchained or Argo
Surprises? For me, Beasts, I wasn't expecting to see it here

Best Actor- nominations
Daniel Day Lewis- "Lincoln"
Denzel Washington- "Flight"
Hugh Jackman- "Les Miserables"
Bradley Cooper- "Silver Linings Playbook"
Joaquin Phoenix- "The Master"

Who will probably win? Daniel Day Lewis is the almost sure winner
Who I want to win? Call me crazy, but I am rooting for Bradley Cooper, although I know he won't get it. So let's go to choice nr.2, which is Hugh Jackman, and nr.3 is Denzel Washington
Surprises? None too big, but I was happy when I saw Cooper's name there, I wasn't sure he will make it

Best Actress- nominations
Naomi Watts- "The Impossible"
Jessica Chastain- "Zero Dark Thirty"
Jennifer Lawrence- "Silver Linings Playbook"
Emmanuele Riva- "Amour"
Q. Wallis- "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Who will probably win? Chastain or Lawrence...or maybe a surprise win by Riva
Who I want to win? Hmm...I don't really care for this category, no female really impressed me this year. Mabe Lawrence, she would be nice- young, beautiful, quirky, talented. Yeah, my pick is for Lawrence
Surprises? Q.Wallis, no doubt. The rest were seen in the other award nominations lists, too.

Best Supporting Actor- nominations
Alan Arkin- "Argo"
Robert De Niro- "Silver Linings Playbook"
Philip Seymour Hoffman- "The Master"
Tommy Lee Jones- "Lincoln"
Christoph Waltz- "Django Unchained"

Who will probably win? I think the battle is between DeNiro and Tommy Lee Jones
Who I want to win? Hoffman, because I have a soft spot for him, or De Niro
Surprises? Uh...Alan Arkin. Don't get me wrong, he is a wonderful actor, but he just didn't impress me in Argo, his part was not awards worthy, I really don't get it. I would have easily put Ezra Miller or Dwight Henry or Garrett Hedlund there instead of him. Oh, and where is poor Leonardo DiCaprio? poor man, what does he have to do to get an Oscar?

Best Supporting Actress-nominations
Amy Adams- "The Master"
Sally Field- "Lincoln"
Anne Hathaway- "Les Misérables"
Helen Hunt- "The Sessions"
Jacki Weaver- "Silver Linings Playbook"

Who will probably win? Again, I think it's between Sally Field and Anne Hathaway
Who I want to win? Amy Adams is such a wonderful, talented actress, I would love for her to win. But I would be fine with Hathaway, too, she is equally amazing.
Surprises? Jacki Weaver- a nice surprise, I liked her more in SLP than DeNiro

Best Director- nominations
Amour: Michael Haneke
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi: Ang Lee
Lincoln: Steven Spielberg
Silver Linings Playbook: David O. Russell

Who will probably win? Very hard to say, considering the surprises, but I'll go for Spielberg or Lee
Who I want to win? Please, please, just don't make Bigelow win again- oh wait, she is not on the list.Yey! Actually, you can scratch Spielberg from my list, too, I wasn't impressed. Anyone else is perfect. Maybe Ang Lee? or Behn Zeitlin? that would be shocking
Surprises? Zeitlin, Haneke and even Russell- this was by far the most shocking category reveal for me, and probably for most. No Tarantino? No Paul Thomas Anderson? No Wes Anderson? No Ben Affleck?

Best Original Screenplay- nominations
Amour: Written by Michael Haneke
Django Unchained: Written by Quentin Tarantino
Flight: Written by John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom: Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty: Written by Mark Boal

Who will probably win? A three-way between Django, Zero Dark Thirty and Moonrise Kingdom. Wes Anderson might bag it
Who I want to win? I'm rooting for Tarantino or Wes Anderson, I loved Moonrise Kingdom
Surprises? Amour, I didn't imagine there would be so much love for it

Best Adapted Screenplay- nominations
Argo: Screenplay by Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi: Screenplay by David Magee
Lincoln: Screenplay by Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook: Screenplay by David O. Russell

Who will probably win? Again, I don't know for sure, it could be Argo or SLP, maybe even Lincoln
Who I want to win? SLP- a great film and the script was definitely one of its high points.
Surprises? Life of Pi?

Best Cinematography- nominations
Anna Karenina: Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained: Robert Richardson
Life of Pi: Claudio Miranda
Lincoln: Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall: Roger Deakins

Who will probably win? Life of Pi or Lincoln, they will go for the big guns
Who I want to win? Anna Karenina- I have a soft spot for this film and I want it to have some recognition
Surprises? Skyfall? I mean I get why they nominated it, but I wasn't expecting it

Best Score- nominations
Anna Karenina: Dario Marianelli
Argo: Alexandre Desplat
Life of Pi: Mychael Danna
Lincoln: John Williams
Skyfall: Thomas Newman

Who will probably win? Argo or Lincoln
Who I want to win? Again, Anna Karenina or Skyfall, I want some surprises in there, too
Surprises? Skyfall?

Best Foreign Film- nominations
Amour: Austria
Kon-Tiki: Norway
No: Chile
A Royal Affair: Denmark
War Witch: Canada

Who will probably win? Amour
Who I want to win? In absence of Beyond the Hills, Untouchables, or Rust&Bone, I am going with Amour
Surprises? Totally disappointed Beyond the Hills, the Romanian entry, didn't get it. Where in the hell did Kon-Tiki come from?

Best Documentary- nominations
5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man

Who will probably win? I don't know...maybe Searching for Sugar Man or How to Survive a Plague
Who I want to win? Searching for Sugarman, I really liked it
Surprises? No The Imposter? No Queen of Versailles?

Best Animated Feature- nominations
Brave: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Frankenweenie: Tim Burton
ParaNorman: Sam Fell and Chris Butler
The Pirates! Band of Misfits: Peter Lord
Wreck-It Ralph: Rich Moore

Who will probably win? Uh, Frankenweenie....or maybe Brave. Surprise win: Wreck-it Ralph
Who I want to win? ParaNorman- my favorite animation this year, very funny and well made, but probably doesn't stand a chance
Surprises? The Pirates

One month and a half to go- I can't wait: the red carpet filled with beautiful men and some nice dressed women, the dreaded speeches, the "OMG- he/she/it did not just win!", the opening monologue and much more- 24th of February cannot come sooner!

Who are you rooting for?

Jan 8, 2013

Lincoln [2012]

Lincoln is a 2012 production, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day Lewis as the famous American president who changed history. Written by Tony Kushner, it is a story dedicated to the United States, heavy on heartfelt speeches, anecdotes and passionate verbal fights between Congressmen.

Lincoln is not a great film; it has its flaws and, as far as Spielberg movies goes, it's not one of his best. My main problem is the script. As many stated before me, it is long, extremely long, even for 2h and a half. I would give an Oscar to DDL just for the amount of lines, funny stories and speeches he had to memorize and say. I appreciate the discussions of such important topics as slavery and human rights, but it just went on and on, with few interesting scenes (my favorites came towards the end, with Stevens celebrating at home with his special guest and the very end, the fact that they didn't actually show a crucial point of history, but instead showed it from a different perspective). It was very well written, don't get wrong, but a bit boring and long.

When it comes to technical or filmmaking aspects, I have nothing bad or good to say. It looked good, the sets and costumes, especially Abraham's appearance, were realistically done, but I wasn't impressed or attracted by the direction, like in other films.

My highlights of Lincoln were definitely the performances. I realized half way through that this was, indeed, Daniel Day Lewis, not Lincoln. Absolutely fantastic performance, one of the best I have seen- It is a hard part and he nailed it; I respect him just for the number of lines and speeches he had to memorize and do, all completed by the right mannerisms and professionalism. Another standout was David Strathairn as the secretary of state, who was equally calm, honest and gracious, as he was passionate. I can't not mention Sally Fields (terrific in some scenes, like the fight with her husband over Robert and Willie or the reception meeting with Stevens), and Tommy Lee Jones, as the old grumpy man who eventually comes through. Are these last two worthy of Oscars? Not really, but I would be fine with it. Besides that, to top off the superb casting, the rest of the actors involved were top notch, and just by looking at the IMDb list, you know you can expect a well acted film.

In the end, is Lincoln a great film? not really. Does it have amazing performances? Most definitely. Is it worth seeing it just for them? Hmmm.....maybe, plus it is nominated for many awards, so I suggested you watch it for yourself and decides if it's worth the buzz.

Jan 6, 2013

Blog awards

Since it's awards season, the movies are not the only ones getting them....blogs are granted some pretty cool ones, too, and in the last couple of days I got TWO of them. I'm flattered to think someone thinks my humble blog is worthy of something like this, so thank you very much Anna from Defiant Success and Ruth from "..let's be splendid about this"

This specific award is The Versatile Blogger and these are the rules

  • Display the award certificate on your website
  • Announce your win with a post and include a link to whoever sent you the award
  • Present fifteen awards to deserving bloggers
  • Create a post linking to them and drop them a comment to tip them off
  • Post seven interesting facts about yourself


Seven interesting facts about me? well...I don't know if they are that interesting, but here they are:
1. I am already planning my holiday this year and it includes a music festival sometime during June- July
2. My biggest dream, travel-wise, is to go to New York. After the music festival this year, I am saving up for New York :)
3. You know how I was complaining about not having a job? well, now I have two...let's see how I cope with that
4. I am a Snake in the Chinese zodiac, and this will be the year of the Snake, so I guess I'll have a great 2013
5. I am not really a dog person, or a cat one, or any animal for that matter. I don't really like animals. I know, weird!
6. My desk is always full of books, magazines and empty glasses and mugs. I should really clean my room
7. My current agenda/notebook has The Beatles on the cover :)

Now passing on the award to more bloggers, who, most likely, have gotten this already, but honestly, I don't know any more. Well, this will be tough. 15? can't I do less? please? Here's my list:

Sati at Cinematic Corner
Stevee at Cinematic Paradox
Nikhat at Being Norma Jean
Andy at Film Emporium
I know, just 5, but they are the champions when it comes to being versatile. 

Love you all and thanks for the mentions!

Jan 3, 2013

My 2013's most anticipated films

2013 is here and I am already making lists of films I want to see. My problem is that most will probably play at festivals or will come out here only in December, so that narrows most of my list to...dreaming.

Anyway, daydreaming is one of my favorite activities, so I will continue with my own list of films I want to see in 2013, grouped in two categories: Red and Orange, Red containing the ones I want to watch the most, and Orange having the interesting, but not vital ones. Plus, a special uncertain category. Check it out!


RED- Must See
12 years a slave- have you seen the cast list yet? plus, it is directed by Steve McQueen, one of my favorite directors out there, and Taran Killam is in it :D

Before Midnight- third part of the epic series? Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy talking about life and love for 1h and 30 min. Yes please!

The Great Gatsby- I love Baz Luhrman's films and style of directing, so I am excited to see this classic brought to the big screen by him, together with an amazing cast

Mortal Instruments: City of Bones- Ok, so sue me, I like YA books and this one, actually the whole series, is one of my favorites. The trailer looks actually pretty good, they did everything right, it seems. Also, bonus to have Robert Sheenan as the loveable Simon.

Inside Llewyn Davis- a Coen Brothers film starring Garrett Hedlund and John Goodman-enough said

Stoker- written by Wentworth Miller, starring Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode, 3 of my favorite actors

The place beyond the pines- amazing trailer and performances by Gosling, Cooper and Mendez

ORANGE- interesting
Two Mothers- two fantastic actresses (Robin Wright and Naomi Watts) in an intriguing story: two older women fall in love with each other's sons
Man of Steel- Henry Cavill in a tight suit, looking dashing and serious- I am there, premiere day
Only God Forgives- Nicholas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling- I am in!
The Bling Ring- although Sofia Coppola is a hit and miss queen in my eyes, I am very curious about this one, I like the idea, plus Emma Watson
The Wolf of Wall Street- considering it is a Scorsese film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, I expect a lot of buzz around it and I admit I am curious, too
The Zero Theorem- a Terry Gilliam shot in Romania is definitely a point of interest to me, so I want to see it. Plus, it has an interesting script idea
Fast and furious 6- I have a strong emotional connection to it, so I will definitely try to catch it in cinemas
Iron Man 3- this one looks much more darker than the first two...interesting
Star Trek into darkness- Benedict Cumberbatch :o
Hunger Games: Catching Fire- the first one really surprised me, so I want to see this one, too, although I am not very fond of their choice of Finnick
The World's end- I love the cast and it looks funny, but it is a third movie and I still haven't seen the first two, so...it will have to wait
The Counselor- Michael Fassbender...yes!

2013 uncertain releases (either I don't know the release date or it doesn't pose a great interest)- The counselor, Diana, Untitled Terrence Malick film starring Fassbender and Gosling, The Railaway man, Nightingale, The Butler, Only lovers left alive, The East (Brit Marling and Alexander Skarsgard), Thor 2, Frances Ha, The Monuments Men, Kill your darlings

What about you? What are your most anticipated?

Jan 1, 2013


The first day of the new year is here and it's time to reflect, to think about the future and what we want to achieve. I think everyone does that, even if they don't take too much time or write it down....a few moments are enough to set out some ideas/plans/goals in your head and know what you are after. 

I already sat down and wrote mine (quite a list, if you must know, split on different areas) and, of course, the blog had its special category. For 2013 I wish to continue loving films and dedicating time to them, maybe not as much as most bloggers, but just enough to discover classics and enjoy the new arrivals. I want to try out more old movies (30s-50s) and watch some absolute classics that I am a little bit ashamed of not seeing until now. I want to take my time and enjoy them, analyze them, but also find time for more....

...time for more new and exciting things, that aren't particularly films/tv shows. I want to read legendary books (To kill a mockingbird, Of mice and men, Virginia Woolf etc), to listen to all-time favorites like The Clash, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and see more plays/shows. I want to discover more about the world around me and be knowledgeable in more areas. 

So, I am warning you know that you will see more diverse posts on Aziza's Picks from now on (or so I hope). Speaking of it, what would interest you? would like to read book reviews, or better talk about music?  Please do let me know, I am to please :)

But, since this is, first and foremost, a film blog, here are my 2013 movie related resolutions

1. See at least 125 movies- the same as this year

2. At least 50 of them will have a release date before 2010

3. There will be more diversity on the blog- music, books, recommendation posts and others

4. Try to post a minimum of 10 articles/month

5. Be more active on other blogs and on Twitter (that means checking my Google Reader more than once a week)

Happy New Year! I hope you all have a great 2013 and take advantage of all the opportunities that will arise!