Out Now – 17th February 2012

What follows is an entirely unhelpful rundown of this week’s releases. I had a Red Bull earlier in the day if that helps explain things.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
The Cage is back as Johnny Blaze, a man who occasionally becomes little more than a flaming skull riding around on a motorbike – and he’s the good guy. While InterRailing in Europe (maybe) Johnny Blaze is called to action to help stop the devil taking human form. If there’s one thing worse than disembodied evil, it’s embodied evil, presumably. HIS HEAD IS ON FIRE! IN 3D!

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
I’ve been trying to figure out why this film feels so familiar to me, then I realised that I’m constantly being told (at home, at work, on the Tube), “Tim, you are extremely loud and incredibly close, please step back.” But this film is not about my lack of respect for vocal moderation and personal space, wonderful though that film would be, instead we have a story about a young boy who is looking for a lock to go with the key left behind by his father who died during 9/11. The reviews have been brutal, but not as brutal as having me standing next to you on a train, explaining directly to your eardrum why Footloose is the greatest film ever made.

The Woman in the Fifth (limited release)
Having the most awkward film title of the week the same day that Hadewijch comes out is quite an achievement. Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas play a scandalised lecturer and widow/potential murderer who meet in Paris and get romantically entangled.

Position Among the Stars (limited release)
“Through the eyes of grandmother Rumidjah, a poor old Christian woman living in the slums of Jakarta, we see the economical changing society of Indonesia and the influence of globalization reflected in the life of her juvenile granddaughter Tari and her sons Bakti and Dwi.”

ID:A (limited release)
Danish film about a woman who wakes up in a river with no memory and is forced to run from mysterious strangers and try to remember what is going on. We’ve all been there, I’ll never forget the time I woke up as a Danish woman in a river, it took forever to get home.

Hadewijch (London West End only)
If Wikipedia is to be believed (and when it comes to film plots it really should be) this French drama, about a fanatic Christian kicked out of a nunnery for having too much blind faith, takes a crazy turn towards the end. Shame only Londoners are allowed to see it.

A Few Obligatory Thoughts on the 2012 Oscar Nominations

In case you haven’t been lucky enough to have me mumble at you about the 2012 Oscar nominations in person, I thought I’d share with you some of my gut reactions to this year’s list of films of actor types that may win a fancy gold statue. For the full list of nominees have a look on IMDb, it’ll save me a lot of copying, pasting, and messing around with italics.

Extremely Lame & Poorly Reviewed
Somewhere amongst the nine nominees for Best Motion Picture of the Year is Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, the family drama about a young boy searching for the lock to match a key left to him by his father, a victim of 9/11. What makes this film stand out, beyond its terrifying poster, is that it is the worst reviewed film to get nominated for this award for the past 10 years. At the time of writing this potential Oscar winner has just 47% positive reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes with a pretty damning consensus; “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has a story worth telling, but it deserves better than the treacly and pretentious treatment director Stephen Daldry gives it.”

Albert Who?
Noticing that a film called Albert Nobbs had gathered three nominations I decided to look into it. Turns out that Albert Nobbs is a woman in 19th century Ireland pretending to be a man in order to survive, and is played by Glenn Close. Curious to see what Glenn Close would look like as a man I bravely Googled on.

Thanks Glenn, I didn’t need to sleep tonight anyway.

With Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sadly missing out on a Best Picture nod it’s great to see Gary Oldman getting his first ever Best Actor nomination, and not for his role in Kung Fu Panda 2. In Tinker Oldman ably held together a weighty bit of British cinema and showed hipsters that some people actually wear oversized glasses for medical reasons. What a guy.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Mediocre Biopic
With Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams both getting nominated for Best Actress, it seems that it really doesn’t matter how lukewarm the reaction is to your film so long as you give a scarily accurate portrayal of an icon. In a way it’s reassuring to know that no matter how mediocre the film you’re in, there’s still a chance to act your way above the rest of the film.

It’s exciting enough that the little seen film Beginners might get some free press thanks to Christopher Plummer’s nomination, but the fact that Captain Von Trapp has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor twice out of the last three years is almost too much too handle. Excuse the hyperbole, I’m tired.

Woody’s Back
Woody Allen has another hit on his hands as Midnight in Paris garnered four nominations, and three of them are the kind that people actually care about. Shame I have 45 Woody Allen films to get through before I’m allowed to watch this one.

How Could They Leave Out ________?
For every nomination which warms the cockles of your heart there will be dozens of omissions which are completely outrageous and terribly short-sighted of the academy, only in your humble opinion of course. For me there’s not enough love for Drive and Olivia Colman has been robbed, robbed blind I say! I’m sure you have your own opinions, but how can they be as important as mine?

A Few Surprising Screenplays
The fact that fantastic Iranian film A Separation and delightful silent film The Artist are both nominated for Best Original Screenplay, a category normally filled with English scripts filled with dialogue, shows a fun bit of diverse nominating from the academy. It brings to mind the fact that the only time Buffy was nominated for a Golden Globe for writing was for the almost silent episode Hush. For anyone not sure why I’m rambling about Buffy, why not have a look at what the script for The Artist looks like, you can download it here.

The Difference Between Sound Mixing and Sound Editing is…
The same as the difference between Drive and Moneyball, apparently. These two categories, for Sound Mixing/Editing, have always baffled me and no more so than this year where they share a fourfilmnomineecrossover.

Is the Animated Feature Oscar Just for Kids?
I had a theory that Best Animated Feature only goes to the most accessible end of the animated film genre. With a few “proper” animated films on the shortlist, Chico & Rita and A Cat in Paris among them, I look forward to being proven wrong. The absence of Cars 2 from the list gives me hope.

If nothing else, at least we’ll get to see this fella again (I hope):