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The End of the Oscar Racists. Er … Races.: Notes on the 2014 Academy Awards Telecast PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 03 March 2014 13:51

producer/director Steve McQueen and team members from Best Picture 12 Years a SlaveLast night, at the tail end of her opening monologue, Academy Awards emcee Ellen DeGeneres took a moment to acknowledge the year's tight race for Best Picture, and stated that “anything can happen” regarding the evening's biggest prize. “Possibility number one: 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture,” she said. “Possibility number two: You're all racists.”

Which, it turned out, was a possibility voters were not willing to face.

 
Airport '14: "Non-Stop" and "Son of God" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 01 March 2014 13:02

Liam Neeson in Non-StopNON-STOP

Every Academy Awards season, the idea of adding a Best Casting category appears to gain some traction among film journalists and professionals. (This past autumn saw the limited release of a documentary – Tom Donahue’s Casting by – devoted to the subject, and Woody Allen, whom one would’ve thought indifferent to the Oscars at best, even wrote an open letter to the Hollywood Reporter in support of a casting trophy.) I’m personally fine with restricting the ceremony to the two dozen categories we do have, but if such recognition were to be included, voters could do worse than to consider Amanda Mackey and Cathy Sandrich Galfond – casting directors for the enjoyably ludicrous Non-Stop – for the prize. To be sure, it doesn’t take much wit to suggest that Liam Neeson play a grieving alcoholic with a bad temper and a gun. But casting, as two beleaguered flight attendants, 12 Years a Slave’s abused slave Patsey opposite Downton Abbey’s rigid Lady Mary? Now that’s witty.

 
Are You Not Entertained?!: "Pompeii," "3 Days to Kill," and "Winter’s Tale" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 23 February 2014 13:23

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Kit Harington in PompeiiPOMPEII

About a half-hour into Paul W.S. Anderson’s Pompeii, the film’s protagonist – a gladiator-turned-slave amusingly named Milo – hears the unfamiliar sound of the nearby Mount Vesuvius preparing to erupt. “It is the mountain,” says Milo’s comrade Atticus. “It grumbles from time to time.” So do movie reviewers, and this latest 3D action spectacle by the director of Mortal Kombat, Death Race, and a trio of Resident Evil flicks would, at first glance, appear to be exactly the sort of thing I’d personally grumble about: a predictably corny, derivative, overscaled costume party with loads of generic violence and nothing in the way of subtlety or emotional nuance.

Yet while it’s easy to name the movie’s most direct influences, Gladiator and Titanic chief among them, what I didn’t at all expect was for this swords-and-sandals outing to be so thoroughly, cheerfully indebted to 1970s disaster epics in the vein of The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure; Pompeii, to its cheeky credit, is kind of like 1974’s Earthquake with the ancient Roman city cast in the role of Los Angeles.

 
Voting Like a Voter: Predicting, and Preferring, the 2014 Academy Award Winners PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 06:00

Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a SlaveWhen it comes to the films and individuals that win Academy Awards, it’s easy to get defensive, and even a little pissy, about voters’ collective choices. “How could those people ever vote for ______,” you find yourself asking, “when ______ is so obviously better? Don’t they have any integrity at all?!”

 
Let’s Remake a Deal: "RoboCop," "About Last Night," and "Endless Love" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 16 February 2014 16:23

Joel Kinnaman and Gary Oldman in RoboCopROBOCOP, ABOUT LAST NIGHT, and ENDLESS LOVE

I caught a triple-feature this past weekend, and lemme tell ya, it made me feel like a teenager again. Specifically, it made me feel 19, my age when the original RoboCop debuted; 18, my age when the original About Last Night debuted; and 13, my age when the original Endless Love debuted. I don’t know what confluence of release strategies resulted in this trifecta of Reagan-era remakes, but I guess I should be grateful to Hollywood for the collective trip down memory lane. I’d be more grateful if the movies themselves were better, but ... .

 
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