Weekly Roundup is a feature posted each weekend on I Wonder if You Wonder. It gives me a chance to react to the week’s industry news and to provide some quick thoughts about the films and TV shows I’ve been watching. (Plus it’ll give you some idea of the sheer amount of stuff I watch!) Let’s dive right in.
A quick Weekly Roundup this week, because I’ve already written several thousand words for the blog over the past few days and the only real news this week won’t happen until Sunday night at around 5:30 Pacific…
Oscars: So in case you’ve been living in a cave for the past week, the Oscars are tonight. I’ll refrain from offering my predictions – the internet seems to be saturated with those already – but I expect a fairly predictable show with (hopefully) the occasional witty quip from Billy Crystal.
I’ll be live-tweeting the show on Twitter, so if you’re interested in occasional sincerity mixed with massive doses of cynicism, check me out! (@wonderifuwonder)
Old White Guys: Speaking of the Oscars, an interesting study was published in the L.A. Times this week. It examines the membership of the Academy and determines – shock of all shocks! – that it’s overwhelmingly old, white, and male. So THAT’S why War Horse got nominated for Best Pic! Check out the article here.
The Razzies!: The nominations for the infamous Golden Raspberry Awards were announced yesterday, and Adam Sandler, Twilight, and Transformers rightfully lead the pack. My favorite nomination? Sarah Palin for Worst Actress for playing herself in the propagandistic documentary The Undefeated (the person who came up with the title of the film apparently forgot who won the 2008 Presidential election…)
Community Returns on March 15: Aaaaaaand exhale. I haven’t known what to do with myself on Thursday nights since Community went on hiatus. (Grudgingly watch The Big Bang Theory is the best idea I’ve been able to come up with.) Thankfully, the gang from Greendale Community College will be back in their usual time slot in a couple of weeks, and we can all go back to reveling in Dan Harmon’s intertextual fever dream. (If you want to hear more about Dan Harmon and Community, check out this article I wrote a couple of months ago.)
Viewings & Reactions:
We Need to Talk About Kevin: Lynne Ramsay’s film follows Eva (Tilda Swinton) as she deals with the aftermath of a Columbine-style massacre committed by her son Kevin and considers where she might have gone wrong as a parent. The narrative structure of the film, which includes numerous and lengthy flashbacks, in effective and reminiscent of another film from this year, Martha Marcy May Marlene (see below). Swinton and John C. Reilly do a fantastic job as Kevin’s parents, but Kevin himself is a little too menacing for my taste, especially in scenes depicting him as child. (Seriously, you’ve never seen an infant with so much malice in their eyes.) The soundtrack of the film – which features unexpected selections from sources like Buddy Holly and The Beach Boys – really helps it stand out from the pack, though. Overall, it’s an excellent effort that I think was only slightly marred by the relatively one-dimensional Kevin character. (The movie’s really about Eva, anyway.)
My Week with Marilyn: WOW is Michelle Williams a phenomenal actress. She completely owns the role of Marilyn Monroe in this film about the making of the 1957 movie The Prince and the Showgirl. Kenneth Branagh is similarly perfect in the role of Laurence Olivier – both he and Williams utilize their immense acting talents to overcome the fact that neither of them really looks like the people they’re playing – and Eddie Redmayne is excellent as a young 3rd Assistant Director who has a brief love affair with Monroe. Overall, the film is a fairly conventional biopic that is elevated by the cast and the personal insights into Monroe’s real life that come as the result of the sources from which the screenplay was adapted, the books The Prince, The Showgirl, and Me and My Week with Marilyn by Colin Clark (the real-life 3rd A.D. who had a brief affair with Marilyn). This movie barely missed the cut for the “Honorable Mentions” section of my Top 10 list the other day.
Martha Marcy May Marlene: A unique narrative structure distinguishes this chillingly quiet psychological thriller. The film cuts back and forth between the past and the present as Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) gets caught up in an exceedingly creepy cult and later struggles (in vain, I might add) to put her experiences behind her. Olsen is remarkable – it’s clearly a star-making role, reminiscent of Jennifer Lawrence’s in Winter’s Bone – and Sarah Paulson is her usually solid self in the role of Martha’s sister, Lucy. (Seriously, casting directors: you need to put her in more stuff.) The sense of paranoia in the film is palpable and the results are chilling, especially towards the end of the film. It’s got a fairly steep learning curve owing to the parallel timelines, but it’s well worth going out of your way to see.
Hell and Back Again: This documentary is nominated for the Oscar and explores the life of a Marine Corps Sergeant who is wounded in Afghanistan and returns home to rehab his leg, all the while struggling with the memories of what he’s seen in the field. Director Danfung Dennis employs a parallel narrative, cutting back and forth between the Marine’s time in Afghanistan and his experiences at home (parallel narratives seem to be today’s theme), and the juxtaposition is always educational, if not exactly revelatory. While I don’t think it’s necessarily a great film, it’s certainly a great account of what life is really like for troops on the ground in Afghanistan, and I expect that it’ll stand the test of time alongside the likes of John Huston’s World War II documentary San Pietro as one of the most frank depictions of American warfare and its personal consequences.
Glee: I was all set to love this week’s episode until the last 5 seconds. I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it yet, but seriously Glee… you’re better than that kind of cheap plot twist.
30 Rock: One of the best episodes of 30 Rock ever, which is a considerable accomplishment. If I owned any yellow-and-blue clothing, I’d definitely be celebrating Leap Day on the 29th.
Previewing features and articles I’m working on for I Wonder if You Wonder, some of which will be posted this week, some in weeks ahead, and others that’ll be abandoned due to laziness or frustration. (Hey, at least I’m up front about it.)
- More Listmania! It’ll be an ongoing feature on the site, following the year-end Top 10 that I published this week. The next list to be featured? The Top 10 Noir Films. (Unless I come up with a better idea in the interim.)
- The Fincher/Reznor thing? Who knows.
- A roundtable discussion about the Star Wars prequels.