This is just devastating news. Although he was never one of my personal favorites, Mr. Ledger had incredible talent, which was wonderfully on display in films like Brokeback Mountain and Monster’s Ball. He was already being highly touted for his role as The Joker in the upcoming The Dark Knight. Although a cause of death remains unknown, an overdose is suspected. R.I.P. Heath Ledger.
I’d like to plug two films by good friends for a change. Since I worked extensively on both projects I’m not going to review either, however, it’s my blog and I can sure hype the hell out of them. Both films have screened at film festivals this weekend. In the Trenches, a highly personal and evocative short documentary was shown twice at the Temecula Film Festival and Reagan’s Wharf, the first student feature to be produced at San Diego State University in ten years is being seen at the El Cajon Video and Film Festival, and each will inevitably find their way to more in the near future. You can find extensive info on each work at their respective websites listed below. Great work gentlemen.In the Trenches – dir. Angel Granados, http://www.medialunge.comReagan’s Wharf – dir. Bryan Ott, http://www.reaganswharf.com
Seven months into 2007 and five, count them, five major filmmakers have passed away. I still remember when Kubrick passed, and Alan J. Pakula, but this has been a devastating year for film lovers. Granted, most of these men were in their eighties, but still, the deaths of Altman, Sembene, Yang (who was only 59!), and now Bergman and Antonioni in two days time, leaves an indelible and lasting mark. I remember back to watching Blow Up during my freshman year in film school at UCSB, and how frustrated, intrigued, taken aback, and finally how much I fell in love with the film, opening my eyes to the possibilities just beyond the shadows. The same with Bergman, and his masterpieces Wild Strawberries and Winter Light, two films which resonate deep seeded obsession with memories and regrets. And Altman, The Long Goodbye and McCabe and Mrs Miller standing tall amongst an epic scope of great work. Sembene I’ve recently only began to experience, but Black Girl seems to me the quintessential film of Third World Cinema in the 1960’s. And finally, and maybe most saddening, Edward Yang, whose Yi Yi is the only film of his I’ve seen, yet it might be the most beautiful cinematic experience for me of the last ten years. It’s tough enough putting words to the screen when commenting on difficult, fascinating artists at work, but it’s even harder when faced with the fact you’ll never see a new film by them again. Goodbye all, and thanks for all you’ve done.
This year’s Oscar race has no front runner, which makes the whole shebang a rather unique affair. In past years, there’s been upsets (Crash, Shakespeare In Love) and predictable winners (Return of the King), but any of this year’s crop could take Best Picture. Babel, The Departed, The Queen, Little Miss Sunshine, or Letters From Iwo Jima all offer different types of voters different types of excuses for voting them to victory. The Sunshine crowd might feel edgy voting for an independent dark comedy. The purists will undoubtedly flock to to Letters and Departed, both films made by timeless craftsmen. But I think The Queen and Babel, both pertinent international films, will rise to the surface and determine the outcome of a rather boring Oscar year (should have nominated Children of Men to make things messy and interesting). Like most film nerds who whine and gripe about unfair tactics and unworthy films, I’ll still be watching the behemoth awards show on Sunday night. It will inevitably be par for the course, so here are both my choices and my dim view of reality.Best Picture – Should Win: Letters From Iwo Jima (Clint’s film is a cut above the rest), Will Win: BabelBest Director – Should Win: Paul Greengrass (will be remembered for years), Will Win: Martin Scorsese (yes, it’s finally his year)Best Actress – Should Win: Penelope Cruz (astounding in Volver) or Helen Mirren, Will Win: Helen MirrenBest Actor – Should Win: Ryan Gosling (a genius performance), Will Win: Forest Whitaker (cringe)Best Supporting Actress – Should Win: Rinko Kikuchi, Will Win: Jennifer HudsonBest Supporting Actor – Should Win: The Cast of The Departed, Will Win: Eddie MurphyBest Adapted Screenplay – Should Win: Children of Men, Will Win: The DepartedBest Original Screenplay – Should Win: The Queen, Will Win: Little Miss Sunshine (no!!!!!!!!)And with that I will spare you any more extensive complaints. Here are my predictions (with a few notes) for the rest of the categories.Special Effects: Pirates of the Caribbean (the worst film of the year, fitting)Art Direction: Pan’s LabyrinthEditing: BabelDocumentary: An Inconvenient Truth (many of these are worthy, including the masterful Jesus Camp)Foreign Film: Pan’s LabyrinthCostume Design: Dreamgirls (although Marie Antoinette should get something)Cinematography: Children of Men, (Lubezcki will not be ignored again, his loss last year for The New World still hurts)Animated Film: Cars (Monster House should rule the day, but this is the Oscars)Makeup: Pan’s LabyrinthOriginal Music: BabelOriginal Song: An Inconvenient TruthSound Editing: Letters from Iwo JimaSound Mixing: DreamgirlsLive Action Short: West Bank StoryBest Animation Short: The Danish PoetAnother year at the movies.Update 2/26: The Oscars had a few upsets, but not many. I did alright in my predictions, but certainly not the best I’ve done in the past. There’s always next year. Total: 16 right out of 24.- GH