Thursday, December 31, 2009

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Miracle at St. Anna

I don’t care what the critics say, I loved this movie. It’s a bit long, but be patient because the pay-off is worth it. The fact that my mom didn’t fall asleep and followed the whole film intently says a lot, trust me. The beginning, middle and end were beautifully connected, and I think I got something in my eye in the end (I know I’m a wuss). I like it when we get different perspectives of war, and the story of the buffalo soldiers was interesting. As a war film, be prepared for some truly cringe-worthy moments and it’s directed by Spike Lee, so it’s not “prettied” up at all. The various relationships were compelling and helped show that there can still be compassion in war. I don’t really want to give away the whole plot, so I’m not going to say much in this review. Just watch it!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


This film was supposed to be released already, but "creation vs evolution" is still very much a touchy issue in the US. After struggling to find a distributor to support the film, it is finally expected to be released in the US on January 22, 2010.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Invictus was one of my most anticipated films of the year and it did not disappoint. Yes, you could say it was more or less the typical sports movie. The difference with this one however, was Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. The film was really inspirational, almost too much so, as pretty much every line that Freeman said was immensely profound. Seriously, he would have had a deep, philosophical speech if you asked him “What would you like for dinner?” Despite this, it never felt cheesy and I think it was definitely a credit to the talent of Freeman. Much of the focus has been on Freeman, but in my mind Damon was more outstanding (to the point that I am surprised that he is being pushed for Supporting rather than Lead). Firstly, his accent was amazing. I’m no expert on South African accents, but I couldn’t find any trace of an American accent in Damon’s voice, while you could still hear that undeniably Morgan Freeman undertone in his South African accent. For me, this is where the Oscar race really caught steam. The Supporting Actor category is of especially high quality this year, as I really loved the performances by Waltz (my favourite), Harrelson and now Damon and I can’t wait to see the other contenders. I will predict right now that Invictus will at least be nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, with the further possibility of a nod in the Best Director category, among others.

OSCAR WATCH: An Education

I thought this movie might be boring and dull, but I really enjoyed it. The title "An Education" was perfect as the main character (Jenny) really got a crash course on life. It's a coming of age tale, with a solid cast that really got me asking myself "What is the purpose of our lives?". The entire cast was great, but I must single out Carey Mulligan. I am telling you now, this girl has a very bright future ahead. I found her incredibly captivating and the Audrey Hepburn comparisons are valid, as she truly looked like a classic movie star. When she got dolled-up for her excursions with David she was absolutely stunning. But such was her talent that she was able to rein in the elegance and confidence to also play the sweet, simple schoolgirl. I think Mulligan should win Best Actress, but she's coming up against the one and only Meryl Streep, so it could be tight. This movie screams Oscar, so it should get a nomination for Best Picture and I also think the screenplay will be nominated.

Is Up really that good?

There has been a lot of talk that Up is a shoo-in for a Best Pic nomination. Above is the latest "Gurus chart" from the good people at Awards Daily. I saw "Up" and really didn't think it was that great. In my opinion, animated films should stay in the Best Animated Feature category, unless they are truly outstanding. The only animated film ever nominated was "Beauty and the Beast" and if "The Lion King" couldn't get the nod, then certainly "Up" shouldn't be considered. It goes without saying that "Up" is therefore a sure bet for the Animated Feature prize, but I wasn't too comfortable about this. So I decided to watch some of the other contenders in that category.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

COMING SOON: The Karate Kid

It's Jaden Smith! Remember that cute kid from "The Pursuit of Happyness"? Well, now he's kicking ass! Is Daddy passing the torch?

Best of 2007

There's a popular opinion that this has been a bad year for film. While I wouldn't say it's terrible (and I haven't seen many of the top movies), I am reminded of something that has been puzzling me for a while now. On my Netflix account, I've been keeping a track of all the movies I gave 5-star ratings and creating Best of 2007, 2008 and 2009 lists. Well, for 2007 I "5-starred" a whopping 36 movies, while 2008 and 2009 currently stand at 15 and 13 respectively. I still find it hard to believe that 2007 was that much better than 2008. I've been watching as many films as possible to build up the 2008 list, but to no avail. You may not agree with some of my choices, but here is my "Best of 2007" (starting with my #1 - The Kite Runner)

The Kite Runner
A Mighty Heart
The Bourne Ultimatum
Ocean's Thirteen
Freedom Writers
I Am Legend

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Since I didn't see any movies this week that I thought worthy of "Movie of the Week", I decided to pick an Oscar contender I saw earlier this year - Star Trek (believe it or not, it's in the Best Picture race). Simply put, Star Trek (in addition to I Love You, Man) was the most fun I had in the theatre this year. The adrenaline rush began in the opening scene and continued all the way to the end of the film. As a person who was never a fan of Star Trek, I was a bit apprehensive at first, but when I realized it was directed by J.J. Abrams of "Lost" fame, I thought I'd give it a look. Boy was I glad I made that decision, as he totally revamped the franchise, giving it universal appeal to non-Trekkies like me. The cast was great and the film was visually stunning, so it could definitely pick up some golden statues in the technical categories, and I wouldn't be mad if they announced Star Trek amongst the Best Pic nominees on February 2nd.

OSCAR WATCH: The Messenger

I need to start watching more happy movies. I watched “House of Sand and Fog” the night before I saw this and it made me cry (yes, I admit it) and I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind to appreciate another depressing film. I remember after watching “The Visitor”, a friend of mine said “Jeez, what genre of movie was that? Tragic?”. It was the same feeling here, as I felt the movie was just too sombre for me to truly love it. It was pretty heart wrenching to see the two main characters delivering the bad news and the reactions of the loved ones. The main Oscar buzz for this film surrounds Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson and Samantha Morton, in addition to the possibility of a Best Pic nom. I am pretty sure Harrelson will be nominated for Supporting Actor, but Foster faces stiff competition in the Lead Actor race. There is hope for Morton in the Supporting Actress category, but I personally don’t think she did much in the film. Due to the expansion this year to 10 nominees, I wouldn’t be surprised if it slips in for Best Picture.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Well, not really "coming soon" since it was released last month, but I hadn't heard about it before. Seems interesting, not sure when Hugh Jackman, Ringo Starr and Baz Luhrmann etc became experts on religion, but I really wanna see it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bad Jobs For Celebs

I don't know why, but I found this quite hilarious.

Compare to the original Golden Globe Speech


So I finally saw "The Hours" and I must say, Stephen Daldry is a genius. He is now definitely one of my favourite directors. Much like The Reader, The Hours created such a deep, cerebral experience that I can't stop thinking about it. For The Hours, he really dug into the darkest place possible. The film is about deep depression and the 3 leading ladies were excellent in portraying this illness. Nicole Kidman definitely deserved her Oscar and not just because of the infamous "nose". Some of the most memorable scenes of the film involved her. Like when she was in her room just thinking about what to write, looking down at the paper, smoking her hand-rolled cigarette (which looked like a joint). She didn't need to say a word, she was just that good. Also the scene at the train station with her husband was amazing, as she was completely committed to the character. Of course, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep were phenomenal as well, but Kidman stole the show. The only thing I didn't like was the actor that played Moore's young son. I don't know if he was just a bad actor, but his dialogue and interactions with Moore were just too dead and left me very confused about their relationship (even though it was explained somewhat at the end). For a completely engrossing showcase of fine acting mixed with great direction, go check out The Hours.

OSCAR WATCH: SAG Nominations

So the nominations for the Screen Actors Guild awards were announced today and there were only a few surprises. Here is the full list (minus the tv nominees):

Ensemble (equivalent to the Best Picture award)
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabby Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds
Mo’Nique, Precious

Up in the Air misses out on Ensemble despite garnering 3 acting nominations. Huh?
Diane Kruger for Supporting Actress. there was absolutely no talk about her around the blogs. I for one, am happy about this, as I thought she was great.

Is it Morgan Freeman or Nelson Mandela?

Kudos to the casting director of Invictus for picking these two fine actors for these roles. I love these 2 images, I think Freeman bears a striking resemblance to Madiba, don't ya think?

Welcome to my blog!

Hello to the 3 people who will actually read this blog. My name is Shane Slater and as you can guess I'm a huge fan of film. I will be posting my opinion on movies I've seen recently (among other things) for your reading pleasure. Contributors are welcome!