Oscar night 2016

Son of Saul is a film I have no desire to see.

OscarsIt’s an odd thing that I always record Oscar night, which will be a week from today, on the DVR. I never watch it in real time, and it usually takes me five or six days to get through, by which time I know, of course, who won.

Sure I can find the “best moments” online – and I’ve stopped trying to hide myself from those – but I seldom watch them when they just pop up, because I like to see these things in the context of the evening.

Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith announced her boycott of the Academy Awards because, of the twenty acting slots, none of the nominees were black. Or Hispanic. Or Asian. Director Spike Lee and Jada’s husband Will Smith followed suit.

Larry Wilmore did a bit on The Nightly Show that wasn’t terribly funny, but had elements of truth. Blacks get nominated when they are slaves (12 Years a Slave), or still feeling the sting of slavery (e.g., the Help). The joke is that the filmmakers should have made Michael B. Jordan in Creed, or the cast of Straight Outta Compton, more tied to their slave roots.

When there’s a lack of diversity, in any organization, there’s a recognition that “something” should be done. Continue reading “Oscar night 2016”

Movie review: The Big Short

The Big Short is based on a Michael Lewis book that he was frankly surprised that was optioned to be a movie.

big-shortI walked into work at the same time as a colleague and told him I had seen The Big Short the night before. As it turned out, so had he, at a different cinema. I asked him what he thought of it. He said, “It pissed me off.”

I could quit there, I suppose, but need to mention that the movie is about that very real credit and housing bubble that collapsed the economy, and not just in the United States, in 2008. The big banks were greedy and lacked foresight. The government failed to do oversight. The characters here not only predicted it, but they also profited off of it.

The Big Short managed to take an amazingly dense, inherently boring topic and make some detailed sense of it, in part by using folks such as chef Anthony Bourdain, singer Selena Gomez, and Australian actress Margot Robbie (in a bubble bath) to explain some basic concepts. And, in spite of being often infuriating, the film was also rather funny.

This is an imperfect analogy, but it’s like how John Oliver will take a topic such as net neutrality (SNORE) and make you entertained enough to actually care.

There is great acting by Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt, among others. There are odd little vignettes of Pharrell videos and “real life”, there, I think, as a palate cleanser between big concepts, and to show how the world was going on as usual while the system was undermining people’s lives.

The Big Short is based on a Michael Lewis book that he was frankly surprised that was optioned by Brad Pitt and others to be a movie. I’m told Lewis does a great job at making a dense subject understandable and human, though a very different animal. Adam McKay, the writer/director of Will Ferrell movies such as Anchorman and Talladega Nights directed this film and co-wrote the screenplay with Charles Randolph.

The tags near the end suggest that we may not be safe from this disaster happening again. In fact, Michael Burry, Real-Life Market Genius From The Big Short, Thinks Another Financial Crisis Is Looming.

And now for some venting

On December 30, I went to my favorite venue, the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, specifically to see SPOTLIGHT for the 6:15 pm showing, meeting my wife right after work. But, for some reason, it was preempted by another showing of the new STAR WARS, a movie already showing there. Some group had apparently rented out a theater.

Don’t know where this fact was noted, but I felt blindsided, as did others. The ticket seller did not even know until he was told by another unhappy patron. I know this situation wouldn’t have happened under the previous ownership, who would have noted it on their weekly broadsheets well in advance.

And preempting for STAR WARS? I could almost see some special local film. But a film that has grossed domestically, as of that date, $629,034,583, and over a billion worldwide?

Landmark Theatres, you have really ticked me off. The fact that I found a decent film to see in lieu of SPOTLIGHT does not mitigate the dreadful customer service in this situation.

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