Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Prestigious Academy Awards

Though I may regret giving this post such a general title later, it was the first that came to my mind. And isn't the first instinct the wisest of all? In most cases, including this one, indubitably. Yes. Last Sunday evening, the 85th Annual Academy Awards broadcasted live from the Kodak Theater in California, and practically every pawn of Hollywood royalty was there to commemorate the occasion. Sure, Leonardo DiCaprio was not present amongst his Django Unchained crowd, nor were Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but the event was luminous with talent nonetheless. Particularly Seth MacFarlane, the inexplicably charismatic and confident host of the ceremony, one component of the evening I will certainly highlight in detail. The purpose of this post, additionally, is to describe the ceremony overall, as well as comment on the honorees at hand. Might I say, beforehand, that this was one of the better Academy Awards in quite some time (excluding last year's success, of course).

Seth MacFarlane - If you've been keeping up with my blog (and not with the Kardashians), you will be fully aware of my obsessive admiration over Seth MacFarlane. It's amazing--remarkable, even--to think that only a short year ago my obsession took its course, when I began watching every single episode of his animated triumph of cultural satire, Family Guy. Twice. I watched each episode twice. (Except for the earlier seasons, where the animation was rather distorted, a quality that would later be mocked by the show itself when Stewie and Brian go back in time--you'd have to watch the show sometime soon.) Why this fact is so amazing--remarkable, even--is because, a short time after that, his first directorial feat was released: Ted. Again, I have expressed my fawning praise over this film countless times, and, yes, I believe that it should have been nominated for more than one Oscar. More realistically, I strongly believe it should have won every category of Best Comedy/Musical at the Golden Globes last January. Alas, it did not. Bygones. Not really, and Ricky Gervais should definitely consider returning to host. Then, as if the timing could not be more amazing--remarkable, even--Seth MacFarlane is announced as host of the 85th Annual Academy Awards. Imagine my excitement. Oh, that's right, I shared my excitement. From that point forward, Seth MacFarlane has been somewhat of an icon for me, in the sense of adored figure rather than role model, and, through this blog, I've been ecstatically reminding of that fact. Remember: Seth MacFarlane is hosting the Oscars. Such fervor certainly called for high expectations, and, when the ceremony finally arrived...I was beyond satisfied. He was a wonderful host, positively sensational in every way. I might be exaggerating, considering how tantalized I am by Seth MacFarlane. Subjectivity cannot be helped, I'm afraid.
Now, onto why and perhaps how he was so wonderful. For one, his natural sanguinity: Despite the general conservativeness of the audience, as well as their raised noses towards the edgy MacFarlane, he emerged on the stage as one who just did not care what the critics said. Contrary to his original opening--one that involved the original Captain James T. Kirk transmitting his fate as host--Seth MacFarlane was there to host as he would regardless of warnings and political correctness. And, wouldn't you know it, even the upper echelons of Hollywood approved of his humor, which can only emphasize how much I enjoyed it. Beyond his devilish smile (one of those rare, can't-take-your-eyes-off smiles) and spot-on humor, the more theatrical skills. My, what a lovely voice, and what an agile dancer, especially for someone who had no dancing expertise beforehand. For those who still question him in any aspect, perhaps the following will assure you. Surprisingly, he did not enhance the show with one of his varied animated voices, such as the British baby Stewie or the New England patriarch Peter Griffin. This is something, I'm sure, pleased the mature audiences out there, and may just as well restore faith in those who have not seen the show and had their doubts. This proves that Seth MacFarlane is far more than the so-called "man child" he is depicted as being just because he has multiple animated successes on television, and helmed the raunchy, inappropriate Ted. Well, clearly, he knows his boundaries. Unlike that Robin Williams everyone is so fond of, he is capable of being a mature professional. I don't know why I settled on Robin Williams, but he is the definition of unfunny child-comedian. Anyway, Seth MacFarlane absolutely exceeded my anticipations, revealing himself to be a fine Oscar host--best of the past few years, I'd say.

Dashing presenters in a terrific appearance on stage.

Perceptive Predictions - It appears as though I settled on the majority of this year's recipients this year, before the honors were actually given. In other words, I predicted every winner of the evening, the ones that mattered most anyway. If you'll be so kind as to review my previous post, it is clear that what I claim is true. From Best Picture to each acting category, I displayed my cinematic insights quite well this year--seems my abilities to analyze film and the society that surrounds it always improve with each passing year. And, in that process, my ego implodes that much more, visible exclusively on this blog. Who were the victors that evening? The most obvious of the group was Daniel Day-Lewis winning for Lincoln. Presenter Meryl Streep actually left the envelope unopened when she announced the Best Actor, that's how certain the result was. For all we know, Bradley Cooper was the intended Best Actor. Highly unlikely, sadly. Don't be fooled by my lethargic reaction, for I just yawn at the presence of a sure thing. This rings true, especially, for the Best Supporting Actress award, which, expectedly, went to Anne Hathaway for her "awe-inspiring" role in Les Miserables. If you are one of those habitual Oscar viewers, you'd notice the wild, starving look in her eyes just as they were about to announce her name. I'd bet you a nickel if Christopher Plummer said Sally Field, Anne Hathaway would just as likely get up, making an embarrassing scenes. And, god forbid we shame Ms. Hathaway. All she did was have her head shaved and sing one song. A song that's been played over and over to introduce her as a nominee so often that it is implanted in my mind. God damn Hathaway. Moving on, the most challenging category, the Best Supporting Actor, resolved its complex and competitive battle. And Christoph Waltz emerged as the final victor. Granted, I am thrilled for the Austrian actor, one whose talent should be further applied to the realm of cinema, and perhaps will be after his second Oscar win. (No more pompous villainous roles in Green Hornet 2 I hope. That was a joke. Kind of.) Additionally, this win was Quentin Tarantino's sole accomplishment this year--giving Christoph Waltz a second Oscar, following his win for Inglourious Basterds--for the film itself, as I have repeated throughout the season, was unimpressive. That said, his win for Best Original Screenplay is a total farce--it should have gone to Inglourious Basterds, and this is merely recompensing for that loss. I must admit, however, that I was a tad forlorn when Robert De Niro's name was not called, but that's just nostalgic preference I suppose.
The question of who would walk away with the title Best Actress was revealed, to my delight, to be Jennifer Lawrence for her incredible performance in Silver Linings Playbook. I predicted this victory with the utmost confidence and could not be happier for the young actress that I was precise. While walking to the stage, the adorable young lady tripped up the steps, apparently fraught with nervousness at the realization that she won. (Another note: Hugh Jackman actually got up from his seat to help her up. I would have applauded if he had won Best Actor, despite the film's inadequacy. Oh yes, I did not enjoy Les Miserables.) Once more, I am simply overjoyed for Jennifer Lawrence because she so very much deserves the recognition she has been receiving, and will surely continue to receive throughout her career. Very promising young lady. As if I'm one to judge. Lastly, the one prediction that fell short of being accurate was for Best Director. I predicted Steven Spielberg with the most logical of reasoning--that he is a cinematic legend--and the honor ended up going to Ang Lee for Life of Pi. The movie that was "impossible to direct" was, supposedly, achieved by Ang Lee, which must be why he won. Well, a bit of a news flash: The movie was still not directed. My opinion, blunt and harsh, is that the film was a feat of visual effects and computers, not actual humans. Therefore, Ang Lee did nothing worth being recognized for, let alone being crowned Best Director. What did he direct? The animated tiger? The acid trip scenery of the computer-generated ocean? Sorry, but that is not a legitimate movie. First Brokeback Mountain, now this. That's the third time I made that joke. If Steven Spielberg filled his quota with Oscars, perhaps the honor should have gone to David O. Russell, who choreographed his actors so beautifully that compatibility was successfully achieved in the film. He did direct Jennifer Lawrence in an Oscar-winning performance, as well as three other nominated performances of measurable excellence. Despite that one measly hiccup in predictions, I feel the evening was overall satisfying when it came to the winners. Oh, and, of course, the award for Best Picture went to Argo, allowing Ben Affleck to walk to the stage and receive a statuette after all. Though he did require one for directing, and I refuse to let that grudge fade. Admirably, he's been very humble and indifferent to his snub, which allows me to like him more. It's incredible how a few months ago, I cringed at the sight of his shaggy beard in Argo; now, I applaud his Serpico appearance amidst his remarkably excellent film. Best Picture of the Year, by far.

Musical Dedications - Supposedly, the theme of this year's awards ceremony was "celebration of the greatest musicals of the past decade"; supposedly, these included the Best Picture recipient of 2002, Chicago, Dreamgirls, and this year's Les Miserables. While I account for Chicago, for it is, without question, the most magnificent musical of the decade, and perhaps of cinematic history. To commemorate its ten-year anniversary, Catherine Zeta-Jones adorned herself in the raiment of Velma Kelly, and, looking as phenomenal as she did then, performed the film's opening number "All That Jazz".
Next, Jennifer Hudson, post-Weight Watchers cleanse, belted her memorable "And I'm Telling You" number with outstanding vocal ability. (I'm not apt to complimenting musical talent. Needless to say, she was spectacular.) Then, the tribute ended with the cast of Les Miserables singing their respective tunes from the overstuffed, obsequious film. I found this performance to be rather cluttered (like the film) in that all there was to hear was an incoherent "melody" of the songs. That's the issue with an unconventional musical: There needs to be a line between spoken and musical dialogue. As for its involvement in this dedication, I question its purpose, for it is definitely no better than, say, The Producers (starring the incomparable Nathan Lane) or Mamma Mia! Those were far more enjoyable, and more fitting to the genre of musical. Overall, it was a pleasant intermission between award distributions. And to have John Travolta introduce it was suitable as well, if you recall Grease and not Hairspray or that cheesy Christmas video.

Well, that's that. As far as the Academy Awards go, this is perhaps the greatest in a while, if I haven't made that declaration already. Other critics be damned and decaying, Seth MacFarlane proved to be a fantastic host in every aspect. Many claims that his content was outrageously sexist and mean-spirited, and to that I question their state of mind, Did they expect the safe, fluffy humor of Tom Hanks that evening? The Academy hired Seth MacFarlane, people should anticipate the result and not act shocked by his displays, even though they were truly and enormously hilarious. Sexism. Haven't we dealt with that? Unfortunately, he has announced that he will not be hosting the Oscars again, though Ricky Gervais has said that numerous times, and two times he has hosted the Golden Globes. Either way, whether Seth MacFarlane returns or not, I am forever enlightened with the enchanting memory of this year's Academy Awards. The winners were splendid, for the most part at least tolerable, and the festivities were jubilant. Overall, a sensational Oscars ceremony, folks. Until next awards season, this was been swell.

Even he smiled.

What? Did we win?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Predicting the Oscars

With just a few hours away from the live Oscar telecast, I'd say this post arrived just in time. It would have been convenient if I were more prompt with my promises, but what can be done? Just be glad that I didn't post an apologetic post the next day, which was what a sour side of me was considering. Alas, here I am. But before I actually share my well-developed predictions, a montage of this year's Oscar-nominated films. Lest you failed to catch any of them at the multiplex.

Now then, onto the predictions. Why I titled the post as such is to imply that there is a certain fine art to predicting. Beyond merely watching all the nominated films--and even that is not always accomplished--one must place each of the contenders against one another and analyze their worth. While one film can be enjoyable and amusing, can it really stand a chance against a magnificent drama or biopic? Take, also, into consideration what the Academy has a proclivity towards, including true stories and safely subjective pictures. As for acting, this is much simpler, I think. Basically, for me anyway, the honor should be given to those who demonstrate outstanding ability in their trade, surpassing in performance beyond their competitors. Directing, most often, goes to the person behind the Best Picture, unless, in special circumstances, the most deserving director is not mentioned. And, worry not, I'll acknowledge the ignored as well, just as I did last year. To comprehend what to expect from this post (and it will be brief, I assure you), read last year's prediction post. I will begin with my actual predictions, who I think or know will definitely win tonight. Then, I will provide my opinions on who should win. There's not much needed explanation. Very basic process. I just wanted to engorge this introduction as thoroughly as permissible.
The Best Picture will go to... Argo
The greatest picture of the year, by far.
To describe a film about the Iranian hostage crisis with such a statement, alone, suggests its excellence and pure value.
The Best Actor will go to... Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
Unquestionable. Magnificent transformation, as always.
The Best Actress will go to... Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
Wonderful performance. She portrayed instability with affection and likability.
How can it not be her? She's simply adorable.
The Best Supporting Actor will go to... Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
This was a difficult decision, but it has to be him.
Of course, he deserve any esteem he receives in any endeavor, so no objections.
The Best Supporting Actress will go to... Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables
Another certainty, though this is less pleasing.
All she did was sing one song and cry.
The Best Director will go to... Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
He is the single plausible candidate, really. Legendary as well as talented.
Though there is someone out there who deserves this title more...
Those are my gut feelings in this year's Oscar race. Though that is a distasteful way of wording it. Perhaps they will prove true when the time comes this evening. Two or three will, for sure. But, let's look beyond the surface of predicted winners, shall we? Into the realm of "what if" we go.
The Best Director should go to... Ben Affleck for Argo
And it absolutely would have gone to him, if the Academy made the logical and obvious choice of recognizing him.
That statuette should belong to this man, and, once again, I regret I doubted him earlier in the season.
I hope Mr. Spielberg acknowledges this fact. I sure will.
The Best Actress should not go to... Emmanuelle Riva or Quvenzhane Wallis
Absolutely not. The only reason either of them are present here are solely because of the record-age factor.
I haven't seen either of their films, nor will I, but I highly doubt there is anything worthy of an Oscar.
One should remain in the foreign categories, the other should remain in elementary school.
Too harsh for you? Well, everyone is likely to be thinking the same thing also.
The Best Supporting Actor should go to... Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook
I have the highest hopes for him tonight.
His performance was so touching and heartfelt, he deserves the award.
Plus, have you heard: he's an amazing actor and person.
The Best Actress should not go to... Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty
I honestly tried to watch this movie, but it was excruciatingly dull.
Her performance, additionally, was nothing extraordinary, nor should she be given recognition to make up for Kathryn Bigelow's so-called snub.
Well, there you have it. Not only did I provide my factual predictions of what is likely to result from this evening's gathering, but I gave my preferences as well. For the moment and time being, I must return to my latest obsession. That, too, will wait until next time. Farewell, and enjoy the 85th Annual Academy Awards. Seth MacFarlane is the host of the event.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Best Supporting Actor of 2012

My mind is scattered at the moment as I contemplate the predicament I've placed myself in. With a measly week away from the Academy Awards, I've watched the majority of the nominees, and, as impressive an accomplishment that is, there is a fatal flaw in my progress. I have not analyzed individual nominees, nor have I pitted one against the other in those "versus" comparisons I so enjoy doing. Why? Is my personal life that chaotic and occupied? For the context at hand, I will say, indubitably complicated my life is. Yoda-inversion, I'm sure you are familiar. Anyway, now that we're here, I will not waste additional blank space apologizing. That's all I seem to do lately. Honestly, how can you tolerate me? The most competitive category this year, in the Oscar race, would have to be that of the supporting actors. Each nominee has won an award in the past, a fact that eliminates the possibility for the Academy to bestow its ever-popular pity Oscar. If, for instance, Leonardo DiCaprio were nominated instead of Christoph Waltz, the choice would be fairly obvious. Then again, the Academy, for some reason, does not care for him, based on its shameful decisions before. Indeed, this race has each nominee basically at one another's necks. Of course, there are those who surpass others. I, too, have my opinions on who shall most likely win and who should most certainly win. Indulge me.

Alan Arkin for Argo - As the crusty, no-nonsense Hollywood producer, the veteran actor has absolutely no chance of winning this year, and I have no objections. Not only has he left every major awards show empty-handed thus far--something that does not bode well for an Oscar win--but his performance was very expected. Alan Arkin, generally and overall, plays the same exact character in every movie he appears in, albeit honing a different identity. Either he is a gruff father-in-law, a morose real estate salesman, a surly grandfather, or, as in Argo, a crusty Hollywood producer. Each adjective I used are synonyms of the other, proving my summation of Alan Arkin as an actor. Of course, there is nothing wrong with playing each character with the same monotone and demeanor, but why is this performance worthy of an Oscar nod and not Santa Clause 3 or Glengarry Glen Ross? Granted, the former is a joke of a production, but nevertheless: compare that with his performance in Argo and I assure you, the same character comes to light. That's his method, I suppose, speaking in varying tempos of tone (slow mumbling to start, then a loud Larry David-like manner to finish), and will remain that way until retirement. As for winning an Oscar, I'd advise him to leave the speech at home. C+

Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln
- No. I would end it there, that succinct rejection of him winning, but I really should explain why. The eternally stone-faced Jones has a certain trait that transforms his unapproachable harshness into something amusingly charming. It is that very quality that makes him so likable and even funny in the Men in Black trilogy and in Hope Springs, where a touch of sweetness was added in. There was once a time when I liked Tommy Lee Jones, in the same way I care for Harrison Ford: the center of a joke yet not enough to make him pathetic or foolish. With Lincoln, however, my views have changed. As the belligerent abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens, Tommy Lee Jones became the brusque, cantankerous misanthrope he was aiming to be perceived as for all these years. Because his character was so keen on abolishing slavery, in the distasteful manner of influential patriotism, I associated him with that unlikable type of person. I am not a racist, to assure that I tremble at the thought of being confused as such. Sense the exaggeration to make the point of what our society has morphed us into. Beyond the sort of man he portrays, Tommy Lee Jones did not demonstrate anything remarkable in his efforts here. Like Alan Arkin, his performances are more or less standard: blunt, saturnine, and malevolently humorless, meaning that he makes an effort to find friendliness intolerable. Perhaps my judgment is clouded by the context and tone of the film itself, including Tommy Lee Jones and his character. Either way, my judgment is irrevocable until proven false with an additional viewing of Lincoln, in a year or two. Unfortunately, I have a foreboding feeling that Tommy Lee Jones may win his second Oscar; he has won the Screen Actors Guild award, as well as unanimous appreciation from critics and his peers-slash-voters of the Academy. I'll just hope that ominous feeling is an upset stomach and move on. D+

Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master
- Say, I just watched and reviewed this film. And the performance as well. How convenient. I must say, I truly enjoyed his performance as the charismatic, hypnotic cult leader. The mental hold he harnesses over his congregation is simply spell-binding, and his overwhelming influence is only broadened as he lures Joaquin Phoenix to the Cause. (His character, obviously.) As I've said previously, his performance was so convincing that I nearly feel victim to his preposterous doctrines, thusly justifying his phenomenal talent and success in his trade. (Thusly?) He was approached with the task of portraying the leader of a cult--one much similar to Scientology, but that is neither here nor there nor there--and Mr. Hoffman embodied such a man with the stubbornness of a fanatic and the loony eloquence of a hypnotized hypnotist. Well done. The chance of him waddling up onto the stage on Oscar night is very likely, for he has won several accolades already as well as praise among his peers and viewers. I just hope he has to clear his throat when that time comes. Along Came Polly reference? As for my own tastes of him winning, I would not have a significant issue with that, though I'd rather see one of the following two men receive the honor. B+

Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained - Although the film itself was a sheer and utter disappointment in terms of plot and ending (oh, the ending...), there were three gems in the rough grime. One was the memorably amusing scene involving a Ku Klux Klan-like congregation; another was the charming villain portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio; and the other was Christoph Waltz, who garnered a nomination this year in the role of a silky smooth bounty hunter. In his second collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, Christoph Waltz proves his undeniable talent in the field of cinema once again, dominating each scene as he had done so brilliantly in Inglourious Basterds. As Hans Landa, in the aforementioned Nazi juggernaut picture, the Austrian-born actor commanded his time on the screen with precision and elegance, while also injecting fear into those in his presence, including the audience. Here, as the "good-guy" bounty hunter, Christoph Waltz slips into an ideological shift, character-wise, and he emerges through the screen as a silver fox. He demonstrates absolutely no hesitation in assuming such a different identity, and, in the process, he, once again, captivates the viewer into complete awe. His steady yet deliberate articulation is his most alluring ability, speaking in a manner close to John Malkovich; that quiet, polished speech transpires (up)on the audience in a beguiling lure gone right. That quality alone increases his chances for winning yet another Supporting Actor award for yet another Tarantino film; moreover, he has won both the Golden Globe and the BAFTA so far, two esteemed awards in the races. I, myself, would not mind, and even rejoice, in hearing Christoph Waltz named Best Supporting Actor. Though there is one hiccup: the film. As much as I admired his magnificent performance--and he may very well be the greatest part--but I simply cannot set aside the fact that Django Unchained was a tremendous disappointment. For that unfortunate reason, I cannot honestly name Christoph Waltz my top choice for winning, but he is definitely a close runner-up. If you absolutely must watch this bloody mess of a production, keep in mind that Christoph Waltz delivers an utmost glorious performance, complete with velvet articulation and grace. A-

Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook - Call me a nostalgic sentimentalist, but this man has my highest esteem for Best Supporting Actor. Why call me such a silly term though? This is the legendary actor's--and there is no need to even give him that title, since it is a given and rather overweening--first nomination in twenty years, the last one being in 1991 for Cape Fear, and I would be just peachy keen if he were to grace that stage once again. (The last time he won was in 1980 for Raging Bull. Officially, in 1981, but the film itself was 1980. I'm a technical individual.) I feel that, out of all the nominees, Robert De Niro is without question the most worthy, and, as inane and childish as that may appear, it is certainly a suggestion to the Academy on who to choose. (What a beauty pageant.) Aside from his incredible prominence, the performance in question was terrific: assuming the role of Bradley Cooper's character's sports-obsessed obsessive-compulsive father, Robert De Niro incorporates his signature seriousness while also revealing a remarkably sweet and caring father. I must stress the understated tone of the words sweet and caring, for Robert De Niro displays much more than that. There are no words, really, for how touched I was by his performance; he emanated the prime brevity of fatherly concern and warmth that I and even my tough dad contributed additional awes to an otherwise perfect picture. To envision his performance--if, for some irrational reason, you cannot make time to see this delightful film--combine the stern humor of Jack Byrnes from Meet the Parents with just a tad less suspicion and protectiveness, an amusing and minor obsessive-compulsive disorder, and replace the CIA overtone with one of an Eagles fan. Outstanding yet adorable. And the film itself, as I mentioned, is close to sheer perfection. Earlier in the race, I did not even consider Robert De Niro as a prospective nominee, but then, after the announcements were made and I watched Silver Linings Playbook, he stands as my individual choice for victor. Realistically, I would honestly say that his chances for winning are promising, though mainly for the reason I mentioned in the beginning: his iconic status. Nevertheless, if he does win, I will know that his performance contributed the majority of that glory. A

And deep exhale. There you have it, a thorough analysis of the most competitive, unsure category of this year's Academy Awards. I'll have it be known now that there will not be such a post for any of the other acting categories. For Best Actor, it seems rather obvious who is going to be leaving a three-time Oscar winner--Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln. For Best Supporting Actress, unfortunately and with aggravation I know that Anne Hathaway will win, and all because she cut her hair and sang that one song. I dread that song, and her as well. For Best Actress, I dearly hope that Jennifer Lawrence will win, and her chances seem promising; her only competition seems to be Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty, though, if the Academy shares my judgment, she will not undeservedly receive honors. The film was just as tedious as anticipated. Until the Academy Awards next week, perhaps I shall post a final summation of this productive awards season. Oh, how I hate to see it go. I'll save my nostalgia for that moment. This week, perhaps. No promises. Good evening.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Film Q&A (courtesy of Amateur Reviews)

I've been approached with the suggestion of joining a sort of "film buff movement" akin to the Liebster Award known as Film Q&A. This little fad consists of a series of questions pertaining, of course, to film. Rather than engorge this post with frivolous vocabulary and trivial updates on my own life, I'll get right to the questions. Perhaps, in addition to this post, I will write something about the Oscar race. The ceremony is a mere two weeks away after all. I really should be more consistent, agree?

1. Top Five Movies. Well, this is a bit awkward. Quite a difficult and limited question. There are just so many movies I consider to be the greatest of all time. Nevertheless, I shall narrow it down to five, one for each genre I suppose. In no particular order, they are:
Gone With The Wind
Some Like It Hot
When Harry Met Sally
Pulp Fiction
The Godfather

2. Top Five Directors. Much easier.
Woody Allen
Martin Scorsese
Rob Reiner
Nora Ephron/Nancy Meyers (they're one in the same, practically)
Billy Wilder

3. Top Five Actors.
Jack Lemmon
Robert De Niro
Leonardo DiCaprio
Stanley Tucci
Harrison Ford...just joking
Seriously now, Jack Nicholson

4. Top Five Actresses.
Michelle Pfeiffer
Kate Winslet
Vivien Leigh
Julia Roberts
Rachel McAdams

5. Favorite Fictional Character. My, what an in-depth question. This requires much reflection and thinking, especially when you've watched as many films as I have. More often than not, the villain is preferred as the best character in movies. Why, that's why there is an entire villain exhibit in Disney's Hollywood Studios, including a wall of the American Film Institute's Fifty Greatest Villains of all time. Hmm. Epiphany realized.
Captain Jack Sparrow. Not quite a complete villain, yet possibly the greatest character to grace the screen. Humor, acting, presentation. Each quality deserves a bottle of rum to cheer him.

6. Favorite Adaptation. Another thinker. There are not many book-to-screen adaptations that captured my attention, let alone appeal. I'm going to go ahead and assume that they are asking of book adaptations, as opposed to play or otherwise. This question calls for an experienced answer, in that I had to have read the book and seen the movie. The DaVinci Code, for instance, can apply as an answer, though it was a lousy adaptation. I wonder.
Adored the film, as well as the novel. Each were unique in their own medium, which accounts for absolute talent in the craft of adaptation. It's not just copying the book onto Word.

7. Favorite Musical.

8. First R18 Film You Watched. I'm assuming that's "rated R" film.

9. Your Best Experience Going to the Movies. I'll just skip this one, since the majority of films I watch is in the comfort and privacy of my own home.

10. A Guilty Pleasure.
Sex and the City. A thousand times over, that's the guiltiest thing you can ever come across.

11. An Overrated Movie. There are plenty of those. If this question applied to this year's Oscar race, for instance, I would point to Les Miserables. It's an overblown confectionary of period-piece scenery and singing in substitute for speaking. Overall, however, I would have to say:
Casablanca. It's just not romantic or interesting. Quite dull, I'm afraid.

12. An Underrated Movie. Likewise, there are plenty. This year, once again, I would point to Ted, a hilarious film that was completely shunned from the casual elegance of the Golden Globes Comedy/Musical categories. If Bridesmaids and The Hangover can make it, why not Ted? However, the most underrated movie of all time, or better yet the one that comes to mind at this moment:
Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, an eerily mystifying psychological thriller...and complete ignorance from the awards circuit. Unacceptable snubbing that year, especially considering that The King's Speech won everything.

13. A Movie That Is Worse Than The Book.
Established earlier in this post, I believe.

The DaVinci Code. Established earlier in this post, I believe.

14. A Kid's Movie You Always Watch. Oh, I have watched more than a few kid movies in my day, and still do. This is a much broader question than one would suspect, for there are numerous Disney classics, including Pixar animated features, as well as delights by Dreamworks and even a Nickelodean or two. Plus, there are those live-action childish gems that I find myself giggling at when I'm alone at home. But the one that always grasps my attention in times of a craving for the innocent:
Colorfully absurd adaptation.
One of the first movies I've ever seen--sentimental value.

15. A Movie From Your Favorite Director That You Did Not Like. Recently, Django Unchained.
Even though Quentin Tarantino was not on my Top Five Directors list, he is a very respectable number six, so I expected much more from him.

16. A Film You're Expecting Excitedly.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
That was certainly eye-opening. I feel that I've defined myself that much more as an individual immersed in the realm of cinema. Anyway, I have nothing else to write, and my creativity has just reached its limit for the day. Perhaps a nap will ignite my urge and ability to write eloquently once more. Until that moment, enjoy what there is to offer.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Master

Greetings and salutations. Once again, the interval between this post and my last is lengthier than I'd care for it to be. Nevertheless, here I am. There is a valid reason for my absence, and it involves my future standing as a professional critic in the real world, beyond this Anytown, U.S.A. I call home. At the moment, I am in the application process of entering the Precollege program at New York University this summer. Thrilling as I know it to be, it has been quite a consumer of my precious time. So far, I've written a rough draft of my personal statement and shared it with a respected professor of mine; the topic of such a document is "life-defining moment(s)", and I have settled on the first time I watched The Godfather as well as witnessing my brother have a seizure. Two vastly different events, but each had an impact on what I know to be my identity. Nothing has been submitted yet, but I shall make updates on my situation. Enough of that for now. Onto an awards season update. Much more interesting.

As you can interpret from the title, what I am about to analyze concerns one of the very first "darlings" targeted by the manic awards-buzz. The Master. For those unaware of its subject matter, allow me to enlighten you. Just as Lancaster Dodd enlightens his susceptible minions. The film surrounds Freddie Quell, a World War II soldier from the Navy who is forced into an aimless existence after the trauma of what he has seen. (Apparently, galloping about a beach and forming sand-girlfriends affected Freddie in a horrific way.) Unsure of himself and what his purpose could be in life, Freddie roams from one odd job to the next, exploding in fits of nonsensical PTSD tantrums along the way. He finally finds himself immersed in a shroud of curiosity when he stumbles drunkenly or dazedly upon a convivial party ship, where, at the heart of it all, lies Freddie's destiny.... As intriguing as this is meant to sound, let me warn you, it is not. At all. On the ship, Freddie meets the charismatic, genial, jolly red-faced Lancaster Dodd (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), a man at the helm of Freddie's undoing, or creation depending on your disposition. (Perspective?) Ever so slowly (more literally than chronologically in the film), Lancaster Dodd lures Freddie under his wing, into a hypnotic movement known as "The Cause". The Master follows the degeneration of Freddie's character, from curious bystander to completely brainwashed aggressor, and, while it appears to be a film about a cult--as intriguing a subject as it is, of course--there is absolutely nothing so awe-inspiring about it. I figure I may as well just put that out there now, rather than lead you on with the entire synopsis. Much more simple, yes?

As a whole, The Master is merely adequate, if at all entertaining, and proves to be yet another pretentious contender for the title of Best Picture. (It is actually nominated for three Academy Awards, for the three main actors.) Regardless, many critical portals have deemed this film to be the greatest of the year and even "robbed" of a mention as Best Picture. This is highly inaccurate an accusation, for the film is a complete pseudo-intellectual, avant-garde production that displays an excessive amount of unnecessary scenes. Such scenes, where Joaquin Phoenix trudges from one side of the room to the other or when he imagines every female nude, are directed to be "artistic pauses" or something of the sort, where the director can revel in his mastery as filmmaker as audiences crinkle their foreheads in perplexity. "My, what a peculiar display. It must mean something incredibly in-depth and inspired, since there seems to be no connection to the rest of the film." When something in a movie seems out of place and overly strange, it probably is just that: No additional analysis required, the scene you just witnessed is just weird and pointless. Matching the film overall, I reckon. Seriously, if there were a rational editor attached to this movie, the length and progression of the film would be drastically helped, relieving those sane, unpretentious audiences out there. I know you're out there because, otherwise, the box-office would exceed the budget of this pompously and erratically formed picture.

As difficult as it would be to believe, based on my account thus far, there are scenes worthy to watch. If I had to estimate, there is a well-made hour at most within The Master, and, as I said, if the editing had been better, the film would be borderline enjoyable. Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance was, indeed, wonderful, as he tends to be. He embodied the spitting image of an influential, evangelical religious leader: manipulative in the most cunning of ways in that he implants ideas in your mind as if you thought of them on your own. Inception. Philip Seymour Hoffman carried his character with the sanguinity of one in meditation, yet when an attack is introduced against the sacred Cause, he bursts in a fit of defensive rage and suddenly assumes a fiery hue. While such a tendency to defensive tactics diminishes his credibility, for those most assured never have reason to defend their beliefs, Lancaster Dodd simply combs his brow and primps himself to return to his charismatic state. Like most religious-type figures, his character made me immensely uncomfortable in the sense that I felt wary and fearful of his mental power; however, unlike a religious leader, I was drawn to him. Not to say that I "fell" for his ludicrous doctrine or brought "the Cause" to this century, but Lancaster Dodd certainly was capable of hypnotizing his followers. In retrospect, Lancaster Dodd was an intellectual charlatan, vapid in his teachings and with no solid proof of his followers' salvation. (Every religion has some sort of element of salvation, right?) He had nothing to, really, assure his congregation that what he preached was worth the dedication and, most likely, monetary contributions. Somehow, though, he grasped the attention of several followers and fertilized them into Cause-reciting puppets who were their own master, with Lancaster Dodd merely interfering as a clarifier of the Cause. So much nonsense, I agree. Regardless of the content and tone surrounding it, Philip Seymour Hoffman gave a spell-binding, entrancing performance, worthy of the recognition he is receiving, in those private esteemed circles. As for actually winning on Oscar night? Only time shall tell. (And a Supporting Actor analysis, of course.)

Every philosophical luminary requires support, preferably in the form of a wife compatible and passionate to his beliefs, and that woman is portrayed by Amy Adams strikingly. From a first glance, she appears to be a meek, docile housewife, merely a presentable companion who will provide her powerful husband with the heirs to his spiritual legend-in-the-making. However, she reveals she is just as manipulative as her husband, insisting to concentrate solely on the objective of expanding their movement, their cause. The scene where she chastises him for arguing with a skeptic (a common encounter for such cults), which belittles the purpose and stance of their Cause, was undoubtedly one of an audacious, well-spoken person of equal influence, even comparable to Lancaster Dodd. Beyond that, Amy Adams herself amounted to the excellence achieved by Philip Seymour Hoffman, performance-wise. She truly deserves her fourth nomination this year, and it would be a delight to see her accepting the award, considering she may be the greatest candidate this year. Unlike Anne Hathaway, whose performance in Les Miserables has received notable praise and assured victory, Amy Adams had the difficult task of acting and actually delivering something to her performance. Needless to say, all Anne Hathaway did for her role was sing and hold her breath while weeping disturbingly through her appearance in the long musical. Amy Adams, on the other hand, was approached with the task of portraying a character--one who could accomplish timidity as well as zealous aggression--and demonstrated her fine acting ability by becoming her. While her performance, through a broader scope, was nothing entirely transcending, it was surely the best of what the Academy has laid out for voters this year. In my mind, the competition is between her and Sally Field. But then again, it's my mind alone.

The final piece of the puzzle, and actually the primary piece, is Joaquin Phoenix as the troubled, alcoholic, perverted war veteran who joins the Cause with gusto. This is a contradictory statement, the latter part anyway, because, throughout the film, his character displays reluctance to adhering to the movement's eccentricities and even abandons them completely when he appears bored or intransigent. Freddie Quell is a man just as strange as the cult he has become subject to, which makes his membership very much fitting and reasonable which are two words that are far from what this film can be described as. The film surrounds mainly him from beginning to end, a glaring factor that may explain why I had a generally negative reaction towards it. In many of the scenes, as I've said, there are surreal moments where nothing seems to make sense, let alone have any substance to the movie, which make them unnecessary; Joaquin Phoenix is the centerpiece for several of these scenes, if not all, making him the symbol of the absurdity of the film. Aside from these Kafka-esque moments, Freddie Quell's progress in the film represents the degeneration of one being submerged into a cult. Perhaps this process is simpler for Freddie specifically because he was already rather manic and disturbed, making it an effortless endeavor for Lancaster Dodd to lure him into the Cause and become, frankly, his lackey. Soon, Freddie's violent nature and alcoholism combine to punish non-believers and anyone who poses a threat to the Cause, which is another effect of Lancaster Dodd's "inception". But I'm just spoiling the film for you, aren't I? Would you still want to even watch it after my less-than flattering depiction? As strange a character Freddie Quell appears to be, Joaquin Phoenix seems the most rational choice, since he has been known for his weird behavior, such as when he retired from acting and became a rap artist? Now, apparently, he's back to movies, and Freddie Quell was to be his comeback; quite a return, considering he is nominated for an Oscar this year for the performance. As for the quality of that performance, and its worth for a nod: frighteningly appalling and unworthy. With a striking weight-loss that gives him the emaciated appearance of an ill person and an unsightly scar or mutation above his lip, he is just the person you don't want to see return to the screen. Being unattractive is not nearly enough to shun you from cinema, of course, but inadequate acting should be. Throughout the film, I became convinced that he was trying to portray a mentally-disabled person, from his slurred speech and his hunched-over movements, but why he was doing that was a mystery to me. I've been reading reviews of the film, and all say that his performance was "frighteningly believable" and just short of perfection. While I agree, he does portray a believable lunatic obsessed with mind-numbing catalysts, how does that make the performance exceptional? Is my repulsion against his performance really proof of his achievement in the film, that he was so extraordinary as a freak that he deserves praise rather than criticism? That may be, in the future when I drunkenly decide to rewatch this surreal romp, but for the time being, I'll go ahead and call his performance laudable and repugnant.

While there was no solid reference to Scientology or L. Ron Hubbard (the founder of the quasi-religion), surely one judicious viewer can make the connection and align the lunacy presented here to an actual phenomenon. Just saying, though I don't really have to make a debate out of it, considering that animosity towards Scientology is prevalent throughout the country. Even though it is not technically about L. Ron Hubbard, it is about a fanatical cult and the overwhelming influence it can have over those lost souls. The Master is a film about the disconcerting truth that a cult has the startling ability to consume susceptible individuals, such as those without a clue in the world, and that they are the ones who transmogrify into dangerous creatures. Basically stated, anyway. Although I expected a film more about that flattering description and less about weird, uncertain moments (those is this real or imaginary? scenes, like daydreams), I'd have to say that this was not the worst candidate in the Oscar race this year. It definitely fits the Academy's expectations, if not my own, for being pretentious and pseudo-intellectual. But I already called The Master those things, haven't I? Well, overall, I'd say this film can be stored in the back of my memory, where I never care to venture to unless foreign influences inspire me to. Only Lancaster Dodd himself can stir me into watching The Master again.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Happy Birthday Jack Lemmon!

Boy, I sure do love a birthday celebration, especially when the center of attention is a person as admirable and memorable and simply wonderful as Jack Lemmon. Seeing that today is his birthday--he would have been eighty-eight--truly sent my heart aflutter and my mind alert of the occasion. Tears rush to my eyes as I think that he could have been alive to this day, just as sprightly and amiable as he was even in his later years. Jack Lemmon was a genial man with the brightest smile in Hollywood; an actor who surpassed all others in both talent and personality. Unlike James Stewart and Humphrey Bogart, other well-known actors of the time, he had undeniable charisma and charm. (Both words have similar letters and connotations, nevertheless, each applies.) He was an actor of great appeal, showing not only skill but "personablility" as well, meaning that he seemed to be an overall friendly, delightful human being. And that's sought-after in actors, wouldn't you concur? Jack Lemmon was a man of talent, of humor, of amicability I am sure, and, of course, of heart. As corny as that all sounds. Here's a meager sample of what he attributed to film.

Some Like It Hot - The plot is simple enough: Two male musicians pose as women in an all-female musical revue to escape the Mob. You see, Joe and Gerald were just innocent bystanders to a mass murder committed by "Spats" Columbo and his gang; they was jus' trying to get to another gig as all! They figured that a week in sunny Florida would be a clever solution to their predicament, even if they had to be girls. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon--perhaps the greatest screen pairing at that point--play the aforementioned Joe and Gerald, respectively, though, truly, they transform into Josephine and Daphne. (Why Gerald became Daphne rather than Geraldine proves to be one of the funniest scenes in the film, and even in all of comedic-film history.) Josephine and Daphne, then, encounter Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, who is played by the iconically voluptuous and ditzy Marilyn Monroe, and romantically amusing hijinks, logically, follow. What ensues from there is sensational humorous antics and an overall-in-every-way great film; indeed, the title of Funniest Movie of All Time by the American Film Institute (a declaration I can support) is well-earned and should be beheld by any interested viewer. If you are not curious to see Marilyn Monroe in action, the living sex symbol-slash-unreal icon that she is, watch for the humor that I am informing you of. While Tony Curtis is decent as the suave Joe/Josephine (and has a jolly good impression of Cary Grant), the main attraction, so to speak, is Jack Lemmon. As Daphne, Jack Lemmon is forced to portray an actual woman, while his buddy masquerades as a millionaire in the pursuit of wooing Marilyn Monroe. Daphne, on the other hand, is hunted by a fresher, older millionaire named Osgood Fielding III, where the film reaches a peak of hilarity as the two actors--Jack Lemmon and Joe E. Brown, that is--share timelessly amusing scenes of cheekiness and "romance". This was an era when homosexual humor was expressed in the humor of the scenario rather than leaning towards homosexual erotica. Once again, the humor between Daphne and Osgood is uproariously funny, not distastefully unappealing. Jack Lemmon received a well-deserved, indubitable Oscar nomination for Best Actor, mind you. Watching him here, in Some Like It Hot, as the hilariously unlucky Gerald/Daphne would be a fantastic introduction to Jack Lemmon's irrefutable skill as an actor of the trade (of acting), if you were not already aware of it. Please, for the sake of being learned in cinema as well as experiencing truly excellent cinema: Watch Some Like It Hot in the very near future. Or, better yet, watch it again. I sure will.

The Apartment - Another Billy Wilder film, this has a more gloomy undertone, for Jack Lemmon assumes a very heartrending situation here. Just like Some Like It Hot, one year later, Billy Wilder's new film is also black-and-white, though the ambiance of this film is notably darker and less cheery. Do not mistake it to be a depressing drama, for it has a certain element that enhances the film to be adorable; never fear, this picture has that awe-inducing effect that will bring you to your knees on account of how sweet it is. Allow me to elaborate. Jack Lemmon portrays corporate cog C.C. Baxter, an average employee at an insurance company who opens his apartment to the illicit behaviors of his superiors in hopes that he will rise in the corporate ladder. Of course, this pathetic attempt at appealing to higher powers is a dead end, for such scandalous assistance will surely lead nowhere but the position of "poor schmuck". And that is just what C.C. Baxter proves to be, a schmuck, and what a sad, unfortunate soul he is. Nobody but Jack Lemmon could portray such a sympathetic character as well and realistically. Not to say that he is a pathetic character by nature, but he is just that great of an actor to be perceived as such. Such, such, such. In between his foolish dalliances with the corporate demand, Baxter engaged in pleasant yet mild conversation with Fran Kubelick (played by a still-alive Shirley MacLaine), the elevator girl of the building. (Yes, they had girls employed to push the buttons of an elevator. It was just too time-consuming of a task for businessmen then, you understand.)
Although his crush for her developed, she had her own affairs to be concerned over, and this included the romantic one with Mr. Sheldrake, Baxter's boss; soon, when Mr. Sheldrake requests a spot on C.C. Baxter's guest list, the poor schmuck discovers Fran's state of affairs. What a sorry scene that turned out to be, and only Jack Lemmon could deliver it with the believably shocked and somber reaction of one whose hopes are crushed in front of him. I'm afraid we're out of time, before I give away the entire film. Trust me when I say that this is yet another Billy Wilder-Jack Lemmon film that is not to be missed. The director-actor pair "stands the test of time" whatever that means as one of the greatest duos the history of film has seen. (I nearly typed "scene". How silly.) It has become a habit of mine to declare all "things" to be "the greatest of history", which is something only the narrow-mindedly inane state, such as Americans. Ever notice how everything in America is the greatest in the world? Well, when I state such a statement, I mean it sincerely. Again, Jack Lemmon is a tremendous actor who validates his talent throughout his career, expanding even to his more elderly years in the trade. Of acting.

Glengarry Glen Ross - Peculiar title, indeed. Unless you are familiar with the intensely conversational film, based on a play by David Mamet, the typical viewer would have no idea whatsoever what this film is about. It could be anything, really, even if you have seen it. One could interpret it as a metaphor of some sort, relating to the actual meaning of the film while also having a deeper significance within. As for this particular blog, where interpretation is open for analysis and judgment, I shall provide the basics alone. In one of the greatest--there I go again--ensemble casts, Glengarry Glen Ross is all about dialogue and on-screen relationships. The tone of each conversations accompanied by the topic contributes to the film's generally incredible quality. The film is described as "an examination of the machinations behind the scenes at a real estate office". Quite frankly, there is no method more appropriate to describe the film without giving away major details; therefore, that is all there is to it for this post. What I can share, however, is the acting, one by one. Alan Arkin and Ed Harris provide a vivid background for the film, playing a perpetual real estate "loser" and a hot-headed conspiracist, respectively. They discuss how the bureaucratic shit taking place at their office, mainly the frustrated Ed Harris bursting with angry theories as Alan Arkin meekly sits in appeasing agreement. Al Pacino plays the intrepid, natural "hot shot", Ricky Roma, a performance expected of the fiery, animated actor though this typical factor does not at all undermine his terrific delivery. Oscar nomination, mind you. Alec Baldwin, also, makes a brief appearance as the top-of-the-food-chain corporate shark who makes his superiority known among the weak-in-comparison associates of the real estate company--another dynamite performance, just as worthy of recognition as Al Pacino was.
Now, Jack Lemmon's performance was, by far, the most impressive display, in my ever so humble opinion. Unlike the previously mentioned actively aggressive actors, Jack Lemmon embodies the (once again) pitiful, feeble Shelley "The Machine" Levene with a poignant soul that reaches beyond mere intimidation, deeper into the recesses of the human realm of heart and sympathy. In simpler terms, Jack Lemmon touched audiences in a way mere passion could never achieve: He had to act more, in a way, in order to caress viewers, such as myself, with his despondent disposition. Jack Lemmon, truly, entered a state of believable despair in this role, portraying a man of desperation so marvelously that it induces me to praise his demonstration of acting. Seeing him in an unadulterated confrontation with Kevin Spacey, then an unknown who acquired the role of his boss, was simply a treat for the cinephile and for the admirer of each actor. It is even sweeter to know that Kevin Spacey and Jack Lemmon became close friends (an affectionate mentor-pupil relationship, I imagine), and Mr. Spacey would, honorably dedicate his own Oscar to the legendary actor. Oh, what respect, what admirability for each man. Glengarry Glen Ross is open for interpretation, as I have already said, and certainly a film worth viewing for the compelling dialogue and, well, great quality altogether.

Grumpy Old Men - This film shall represent a collection of buddy-films involving Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, the greatest comedic pairing of all time. This, I affirm and acclaim. The two were seen sharing the screen as early as 1966, in Billy Wilder's The Fortune Cookie (another great film I highly recommend), and I have made it a willful task to experience each and every of their encounters. Jack Lemmon's generally finicky, no-nonsense persona contrasts that of Walter Matthau's inappropriate, immoral slob character; and the polar opposite factor here could not be more ideal for a comic situation. Every film I've seen with them, thus far, has been utterly sensational and amusing to the highest degree. From The Fortune Cookie to Out to Sea (a highly underrated film that I strongly recommend), the comedic duo has shined splendidly. In Grumpy Old Men, where the two actors have reached an age known as "elderly geezer", they portray two disgruntled neighbors in an everlastingly comical feud. Though, from their standing, it is anything but amusing: It's war, especially upon the arrival of a "hot, 'young' thing" named Ariel (played by Ann-Margaret, who I simply do not like). Aside from her, the couple ensues in a flurry of cantankerous pranks and mishaps that leave me, personally, enraptured by delight. While the scenario of two older men in a feud may sound drab and trite, I find it to be a wonderful film--wonderful. The warm, lovable element shared between Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau--who remained friends throughout their lives, how darling--is enough to summon tears to my eyes, particularly because these men are no longer with us. Enough of that. The source of the characters' feud is irrelevant in context, for all that is of interest is the pleasantly spiteful correspondences between Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, something in movies that is scarcely seen and should, subsequently, be cherished in all forms of their collaborations. I mean it, the greatest "odd couple" to ever grace the silver screen.

Before him, actors were a brand that severely lacked variety and, dare I say, talent. There may have been one actor that was truly talented and truly deserved any of the recognition he received--I am referring, of course to Clark Gable. Who else? I mean, really, among the actors of the golden era, who among them actually possesses remarkable acting prowess? If anything, they had a knack for "acting" in the sense that they abandoned that quality that made them a human being, and transformed into some hysterical or commercial-friendly machine. Of course, there were nuances of this typical array of actors, though there was absolutely nothing outstanding about any of them. Still isn't. Or aren't. Humphrey Bogart--who is listed as the greater actor in history by the American Film Institute, outrageously--managed to remain completely emotionless throughout his entire film career, keeping his monotonous voice that incoherent drone. James Stewart grasped that ridiculously warbly New England accent of his (or whatever that dialect was) as well as a perpetual expression of utter confusion. He's a fool, really. These were, basically, the two branches of acting that newcomers chose between in this so-called golden era of cinema. True, the films of the time period are simply timeless, embedded in history as glistening gems, It's just the male actors: Where is the passion, the amazing ability to act yet react also? Even Clark Gable, as much as I adore his classic good looks and irresistible charm, happens to be nothing wholly special, acting-wise. (Aside from Gone With The Wind, of course.) Indeed, the entirety of actors Hollywood had to offer then were either too much of one constant emotion, or totally absent to begin with. Enter Jack Lemmon. Although he has left the world more than ten years ago, his memory remains with every caring, respectable viewer, prolonged by the watching and rewatching of numerous films. This fact, I do declare, shall remain true until films can no longer be physically watched, which is something I doubt will happen soon. Even then, the sheer recollection of his films, of his gentle, congenial demeanor, will dwell within our minds. Gee, what a cheery, corny sentiment. Happy Birthday, once more, Jack Lemmon.