My Oscars 2007 predictions success proves one thing: This is really the Year of The Pig!

26 02 2007

Ah, the sweet stench of success! I’d made my baseless Oscars 2007 predictions couple of days ago. So below is the list of Oscars 2007 winners and in parentheses my picks that didn’t win. One thing’s for sure, if I’d actually watched most of the films, I’d have had a worse chance of predicting correctly since I’d have wanted the ones I liked to win. Yeah, I know, I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. Also, I pigged out big time on fast food this weekend. It all makes so much sense to me, the pig year thing. All in all it was an o(in)k weekend.

BEST PICTURE: The Departed (Little Miss Sunshine)

BEST DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese

BEST ACTOR: Forest Whitaker

BEST ACTRESS: Helen Mirren

BEST S. ACTOR: Alan Arkin (Eddie Murphy)

BEST S. ACTOR: Jennifer Hudson

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Lives of Others (Pan’s Labyrinth)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Michael Arndt

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: William Monahan

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Happy Feet

BEST ART DIRECTION: Pan’s Labyrinth

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Guillermo Navarro (Emmanuel Lubezki)

BEST SOUND EDITING: Letters from Iwo Jima (Pirates: Dead Man’s Chest)

BEST SOUND MIXING: Dreamgirls (Pirates: Dead Man’s Chest)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Gusavo Santaolalla

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: An Inconvenient Truth (Cars)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Marie Antoinette (Dreamgirls)

BEST DOC FEATURE: An Inconvenient Truth

BEST DOC SHORT: The Blood of Yingzhou District (Two Hands)

BEST FILM EDITING: The Departed (Babel)

BEST MAKE-UP: Pan’s Labyrinth

BEST ANIMATED SHORT: The Danish Poet

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT: The West Bank Story

BEST VFX: Pirates: Dead Man’s Chest

* Correction: I may have commented somewhere I got 14 out of 23. It should be 14 out of 24. My bad.

p.s. I’m making a big fucking deal out of this whole thing, aren’t I? Not to worry, I’ll feel shame as soon I publish this post. Promise 🙂

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Oscars Predictions: As Pulled Out of My Ass

25 02 2007

Each year I predict the Oscar winners based on how fast I can pull it out of my famous brown ass. Actually, I’ve only started this pulling-out-of-my-ass thing since 2005. I used to be very serious about the Oscars, watching all the nominated films and studying past winners and all that shit. Last year I bothered to look at what other ‘scholars’ and ‘critics’ are predicitng. I had a 37% success rate in my predictions. What the fuck do those fuckers know anyway. The year before was much better. How will I do this year? We’ll find out later tonight.

BEST PICTURE: Little Miss Sunshine

BEST DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese

BEST ACTOR: Forest Whitaker

BEST ACTRESS: Helen Mirren

BEST S. ACTRESS: Jennifer Hudson

BEST S. ACTOR: Eddie Murphy

BEST SCREENPLAY (Original): Michael Arndt

BEST SCREENPLAY (Adapted): William Monahan

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Emmanuel Lubezki

BEST EDITING: Douglas Crise and Stephen Mirrione

BEST ART DIRECTION: Pan’s Labyrinth (and if you don’t want foreigners to win: DREAMGIRLS)

BEST COSTUME: Sharen Davis (Dreamgirls)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Gustavo Santaolalla (Babel)

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: Our Town (Cars)

BEST MAKE-UP: Pan’s Labyrinth

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND: Pirates: Dead Man’s Chest

BEST SOUND EDITING: Pirates: Dead Man’s Chest

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Pirates: Dead Man’s Chest

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Happy Feet

BEST FOREIGN FILM: Pan’s Labyrinth

BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY: An Incovenient Truth

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: Two Hands: The Leon Fleisher Story

BEST ANIMATED SHORT: The Danish Poet (I loved ‘Maestro’ from the Oscar shorts screenings from last week)

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT: West Bank Story (none of the nominated films deserve anything…trust me….I’ve seen them all)





Breakfast With The Arts – 2

20 02 2007

After my post about Breakfast With The Arts, I found a lot of hits and clicks coming my way. A lot of you have been searching for Karina Huber pics on your search engines. I’ve looked myself, but…sigh.

Fortunately, YouTube’s public service has made it possible for us to enjoy moving images of Huber with some minor interruptions from great musicians. You can’t just have it all, can you? It may just be me that I find her so hot, but I find her hot nonetheless. I wonder what she’d look like on…HD. Mmmm.

Click here to watch clips from some of BWTA episodes. I’ve included both parts of the Noel Gallagher interview because that segment is how I first saw Huber and ‘Breakfast’……….Huber and breakfast……..that would be nice.





LATCHO DROM and VENGO

16 02 2007

No one does music films better than Tony Gatlif. No one. Now this guy does not film music. He films musicians, as people, who pour their hearts out in their music. How does he know where to put the camera? How is he able to capture moments by being so close to the performers without being intrusive? His ability to get non-actors to feel comfortable around the camera is a feat on its own.

Watch a few of clips on my VodPod  from Vengo and Latcho Drom just to give you an idea. There’s no way these clips, taken out of the story’s context, does justice to the films. You have to watch them as a whole. If you’re a flamenco music lover, Latcho Drom should be in your collection as well as the soundtrack. ‘Arrinconamela,’ the first selection on the VodPod list easily makes my ‘Can’t Get Enough Of’ list – you know, when a song takes over your life for a few days. I’d seen ‘DROM’ some ten years ago and still haven’t found any film matching its level of storytelling. Click on images to find them at Amazon.

Latcho Drom by Tony Gatlif Vengo by Tony Gatlif





Some Short Films On My VODPOD

14 02 2007

Click here to check out some of the short films I’ve liked. The link will take you to Vod:Pod, a great video sharing site where you can search videos at the major sites from one page.

I’m glad I found ‘Five Feet High and Rising‘ one of my all-time favorite shorts. This short eventually went on to inspire the brilliant feature ‘Raising Victor Vargas‘ by the same filmmaker, Peter Sollett. Victor Rasuk, the lead, is a very busy actor. So is Judy Marte. Wonder why Sollett hasn’t made anything since then.

I loved ‘The Hire’ series by BMW Films. If you haven’t seen these shorts, directed by some big wigs, then here they are. My faves…’Powderkeg’ by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, ‘Chosen’ by Ang Lee and ‘The Follow’ by Wong Kar-Wai. If I had to pick one, it would be ‘The Follow.’

Two years ago, I had a chance to watch all the Oscar nominated short films at a NYC screening. (Attending again this year…yess) Found two from that screening (Birthday Boy and Little Terrorist). ‘Birthday‘ is my favorite. Couldn’t find WASP by Andrea Arnold. She has a new film getting great reviews. The shorts event is a special annual event and you shouldn’t miss if you like short films. Bill Plympton was in the audience in 2005. His ‘The Fan and The Flower‘ (not on my VodPod) was nominated that year.

Hope you enjoy the films. And yeah…when that fucker Cupid flies by you with his bow and arrow, kick the bitch for me.





Recently Consumed – Pt 2.

13 02 2007

I was hatin’ more than lovin’ ‘Just Consumed’ as the series title (Part 1 here). ‘Recently’ sounds a little better…I think. I’m sure I’ll think of something better and change it again. Okie doke. ‘Recently’ slow on books, okay on movies, great on music. The little blurbs are not actual descriptions, but my reactions. Please…read on.

BOOKS

Are Men Necessary? by Maureen Dowd The Big Moo edited by Seth Godin

Are Men Necessary? by Maureen Dowd: A long answer for the word, “Oh-my-God-Yessss!”

The Big Moo edited by Seth Godin: Essays by a group of 33 writers on various topics but generally saying one thing, “It’s up to you to be remarkable.” Not the Dr. Phil type bullshit. This book is a great read and the essays are well written and organized touching on many levels. Hey, my levels were touched.

MOVIES

Rock SchoolRock School: Eh.

Morricone Conducts MorriconeMorricone Conducts Morricone: Didn’t do for me what I hoped it would and that is drive me to my CD collection of his work. A good concert should inspire you to go back to the albums or find out more by the artist. Why was the theme from ‘The Mission’ excluded? Kicked myself for missing the first, and perhaps the only, appearance in New York by Morricone last week at Carnegie Hall. Imagine this, I have high speed internet connection and live 4 ‘A’ train stops away from the venue. What fucking excuse do I have to have missed this? Bullshit, man.

++ It gets even better. I’ve never missed Paco De Lucia’s appearance in NYC since I first saw him live a few years ago. A week after I ‘kicked’ myself for missing Morricone I am walking past Carnegie Hall when I hear, “Is that the show we’re trying to go to?” I look to my left (if you must know, I was walking towards 8th from 6th) and there was a big poster of Paco De Lucia with a giant ‘SOLD OUT’ stamped on it. The show was on the 11th.

seance.jpgSeance (by Kiyoshi Kurosawa): I’m a huge fan, but this disappointed.

This Film Is Not Yet RatedThis Film Is Not Yet Rated: How MPAA slaps its big dick on filmmakers’ faces and won’t even take their mask off so they can look into their eyes’s (a la Smeagol).

MUSIC

( ) =hightlights.

The Tipping Point by The Roots The Tipping Point: The Roots (Star/Pointro, Guns Are Drawn/Web/Duck Down). *First Roots album I liked. And first Roots album I’ve listened to.

System of A Down Hypnotize: System of A Down (Hypnotize, Vicinity of Obscenity). * This album rocked but Mezmerize kicked major ass with all of its 11 songs. I kid you not.

 Matisyahu Youth: Matisyahu (KingWithout A Crown, Indestructible, Time of Your Song, Jerusalem). *Got a lot of play on my iTunes.

Patsy Cline Gold-The Ultimate Collection: Patsy Cline (Crazy, Strange) * Willie Nelson had a hit song (Crazy) in 1961!

davemason.jpg The Best of Dave Mason (Let It Go, Let It Flow, We Just Disagree) * Didn’t know who the hell he was when I picked the CD up from the library.

The Best of 1997-2004: Sevendust The Best of (Chapter One 1997-2004): Sevendust (Black, Enemy) *Unless you’re a fan, album won’t be your cupa cold, black, thick, and hard tea.

Bob Dylan Modern Times: Bob Dylan (Spirit of the Water, Workingman’s Blues #2, Nettie Moore)

ray.jpg Genius Loves Company: Ray Charles (Here We Go Again, You Don’t Know Me, Crazy Love) * I hated, hated his version of ‘Over The Rainbow.’

Era 1998-2004  Black Label Society Kings of Damnation (Era 1998-2004): Black Label Society (Bleed For Me, The Blessed Hellride) * Fan of Zakk Wylde. Dude’s versatile and Ozzy’s dark horse.

loslonely.jpg Sacred: Los Lonely Boys (My Way, Orale, My Loneliness, Home) * Garza’s playing reminds me a lot of SRV and Gary Moore. Great album!

Rough Guide To Klezmer Rough Guide To Klezmer (Meron Nign, Romanian Fantasy 1, Sumkinda Hora)

Classic Bluegrass Vol. 2 Folkways Recordings Classic Bluegrass Vol. 2 Folkways Recordings (Carolina in the Pines, Sitting On The Top of The World, I’ll Take The Blame)

2o Jukebox Irish Favorites 20 Jukebox Irish Favorites (Irish Medley) * Recording quality is very poor. I bet these songs are better sung in large groups than played on your iPod thinking about that beautiful face you saw on the A train.

FOOD

I’m addicted to this Russian chocolate called ARROW. It’s a cone shaped chocolate made in three layers. It’s so fucking good. Will make regular candy from the newsstands feel like a giant spoon of sugar. I wish I had a picture for reference. Anyway, if you go to your local Russian deli or pastry shops, they just might have them. If you live around Washington Heights, there’s one store on 181st and Ft. Washington Ave., right next to Starbucks. If you live in Bayridge, Brooklyn…just look in any direction for a store.

WEB

Absolutely digging VODPOD. Love it! (see sidebar)





Sunday Mornings With BREAKFAST WITH THE ARTS

6 02 2007

SUNDAY MORNING used to be on my watchlist, emphasis on ‘used to’. It’s no secret that magazine shows are mostly publicity vehicles for people, events, companies etc. You’ll always see them do a piece on somebody (actor, author, singer etc.) right before (s)he has something coming out, has come out but needs a little push, or came out a while ago and no one’s buying it so needs a different approach to sell. Well, no secret there really. Everyone watching TV knows how promotion works. But the programs will sometimes promote someone or something by cleverly fusing it with a ‘light news’ piece.For example, if I write a book titled, “The Polar Bear In Us: Achieving Great Physical Feats” and unless I’m Dr. Phil or something (good God, no) than I won’t likely get any publicity based on my name. I’ll need help. Instead they’ll do a show on how human beings can endure extreme…’temperature,’ for example. ‘We need more,’ the show’s 20-year old producer will say. ‘How about we tell the story of an 80-year old man who achieves the impossible with the Polar Bear Club by going for his 1000th swim? We can start the show with a close-up of his great grand child who says in her cute voice, “I love gran-grampa” and then the concerned mother continues, “He just won’t listen to us (wipes a tear)…I don’t want him to die. But he needs to do this.” The host comes on and says, “Will Stan Waterman live to see his great-granddaughter’s 3rd birthday? More on the story later.”‘ Fuck…the producer is right, I’d be hooked if I was watching!

Now the segment begins, they do a little bit on Stan and his younger days as the reject who couldn’t swim and who used to wear heavy sweater during summer until one day he failed to rescue his pet dolphin from drowning because he refused to take off his cashmere sweater and jump in the bath-tub to save the poor mammal. Stan, on camera, with a quivering voice says, “I knew things had to change for me. I knew I couldn’t let water and cold weather cripple me.” Cut to: Polar Bear Club’s CIO/Lawyer/Polar Bear, Jim Beach. “I knew Stan was special the first day he came by. I was concerned, however, knowing his medical condition, but he amazes us every year by showing up.” Oh, the twist…medical condition. The segment got a lot more interesting. “A medical condition that gets riskier with age. Brilliant!” screams the 20-year old producer. “I smell the New York chapter ‘Emmy’,” and maybe a ‘Telly’ or two.” Her cameraman lets out a laugh. But ignore him for this story. He’s a frustrated director taking shelter in cinematography because it lets him ‘observe the real people’ for his latest 3-part screenplay, “Mermaids of Coney Island.” Ignoring. Ignoring.

So the medical condition part is where my book gently makes an entrance. The show’s host will drop in a voice over on a b-roll of me walking towards my home-office space. They’ll show me typing some shit on my computer (but all I’m doing is pressing ‘enter’ and ‘backspace’ as they record different angle takes of it while the cameraman and producer argue over 180 degree rule, the only bullshit they’ve retained from their 4-year film school.) I’ll finally appear on camera going, “The human body is an amazing work of mystery, isn’t it? It defies reason and logic.” During my interview I move my hands a lot and pretend my book will reveal something about human body no one else has already read about in high school and send a message of hope to all who can’t seem to recognize the Polar Bear in themselves. The interviewer helps too. He looks fascinated, curious, and Actors Studio worthy. He comes in with questions like, “What is it about Stan’s case that makes your book poignant in the Scientific world? Do you feel people underestimate their own potential…is it nature or nurture?” I’ll reply, “There’s a Stan in all of us, Mike. We just fail to appreciate it.” I thought this would make a great ending to the piece. I’ve rehearsed the line in front of the mirror many times. The producer hates it, though. She wants to end the piece with Stan. Stan ends with, “If my story helps one, just one, person overcome their fear and take that plunge, I’ll gladly go for another 1000.” Before fading out, Stan is seen wearing a birthday cone hat and picking up his great-grand kid.

So you see, the show was able to keep you watching, giving you the impression it was about Stan whereas it really was about my stupid book. My PR people figured everytime you’ll hear ‘Stan’ or ‘Polar Bear’ from then on you may remember my book. But the goal is to buy the book right away and drive up the sales so it makes NY Times Bestseller list pretty quickly. Maybe some ‘Polar Bear’ fan/film producer will feel inspired by my book and use me as a consultant for his ‘Chariots of Fire meets Polar Bear Club while Driving Miss Daisy’ pitch to major studios who’ve stopped returning his calls. And, if he really really likes me, hire me to adapt it for the screen. Maybe I’ll save up to pay for screenwriting classes by Robert McKee only to learn how he’s always wanted to have sex with the final draft of the ‘Chinatown’ screenplay.

But I digress. I really meant to do this post about BREAKFAST WITH THE ARTS, a show I’ve come to love on A&E, sunday mornings. It’s on at 8am and runs for two hours. Karina Huber (hot!) is the host and the show mixes interviews and lotsa music performances. Just this past week, and I don’t know if it was a repeat, it had interviews and performances by Roseanne Cash, Mark Knopfler and Emmy Lou Harris, Los Lobos, and the Black-Eyed Peas. Pretty good line-up for one morning, I’d say. Huber is a good interviewer. But I keep looking at her more than the subjects. I know what the Black-Eyed Peas look like. Anyway, check out the show. You’ll like it. Au revoir!

UPDATE: Februrary 21st – Check out my latest post on BWTA.