Muse by Craig Ranapia

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Muse: The Curmudgeon's Guide To The Oscars (In Five Easy Bullet Points)

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  • Geoff Lealand,

    Seen Ides of March yet, Craig? I was impressed but I suspect you don't like George C like I do. There is so much of him in the film--actor, director, producer.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2307 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Seen Ides of March yet, Craig? I was impressed but I suspect you don’t like George C like I do.

    No I don't, purely on aesthetic grounds - he's a very good, if limited, actor.but as a writer/director here he just didn't manage to breath much life or energy into an essentially bogus melodrama about the perils of fucking the help.

    Compared to the cascading bug-fuckery of the RW Republican primary, I guess there's no way truth couldn't be stranger than fiction. But we're endlessly being told that Ryan Gosling's character is this hotshot campaign operative, that Clooney's Clintonesque charmer is in a bare-knuckle fight for the soul of America and Jeffrey Wright is some Kingmaker who'd give Machiavelli the shits. But telling isn't showing, and that's what cinema is.

    Still there were some good points: Wright does the very best he can (which is a lot) with a barely-there plot token part. It's also so damn easy to cast Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti as loveable indie losers, it was a joy to see then rip loose as dueling campaign whose weary self-awareness of their own cynical manipulations make it all that much worse. Must also admit my critical facilities abandon me when I look into Ryan Gosling's cold dead eyes, just wish he (and Clooney) had stronger material to work with.

    Rather doubt I'll be paying full list for The Ides of March when it comes out on DVD, but I must admit when it comes to a film adaptation of a sour, bitter (and yes, bogusly melodramatic) black comedy about presidential politics, I'll stick to Franklin Shaffner's 1964 adaptation of Gore Vidal's The Best Man. (An election year Broadway revival of the play is opening next week.)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11910 posts Report Reply

  • Sara Bee,

    Rooney Mara, the new Audrey...

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 58 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    The Best Man.

    Nice!

    There was a twitchy thing Clooney did when confronted in that darkened kitchen that killed his character for me (if not his entire canon).

    I don't care, neither do you but just in case you need something to curmudgeon over

    That Tom Cullen and Weekend weren't nominated is a crime.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    There is so much of him in the film–actor, director, producer.

    Compared to Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Goodnight, and Goodluck, Ides of March felt like an episode of Red Shoe Diaries, tentatively.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to chris,

    That Tom Cullen and Weekend weren’t nominated is a crime.

    Christopher Plummer got a consolation Oscar (and a well-deserved one) for his charming but slight turn in the charming but slight Beginners, but yes Weekend was damn good. Often quite uncomfortable to watch, but in all the right ways.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11910 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Often quite uncomfortable to watch, but in all the right ways.

    You can say that again!, Yes, Christopher Plummer was beautiful in the Beginners, his performance seemed to be the breath of fresh air that kept that film airborne. LGBT characters were quite well represented with the Albert Nobb's pair adding to the tally.

    More than any year I can recall, in 2011 I had incredible difficulty finding gems amid the hype. Something seems terribly wrong when you only happen upon a rollicking good time like Attack the Block by accident.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    In regards to Clooney the filmmaker, I thought Confessions of A Dangerous Mind was a funny and freewheeling debut, and probably the fourth-best film based on a Charlie Kaufman script ( Being John Malkovic, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine) , while Good Night & Good Luck was a gorgeous-looking and well-acted, and breezily written period drama, even if the allegory for contemporary concerns about freedom of speech and dissent were laid on a little thick. Leatherheads was an utter mess, while I haven't seen Ides of March yet.

    As well as concurring with Craig R's acclaim for Oldman's performance in Tinker, Taylor- it's a brittle, brilliantly controlled and surprisingly sardonic take on Le Carre's greatest creation--I also thought Brad Pitt deserved all the plaudits that came his way for both Tree of Life and Moneyball.

    In the former, he imbued what was less a character than an allegory with a surprising amount of nuance and bruised regret in between the moments of exhibitionist fury (indeed, it was only Sean Penn's wretched work during the confusing "modern section" that stopped the whole thing from being pure cinema for me), the latter was a suitably engaging and energetic portrayal of an unlikely hero in a film that's romantically unromantic about the sport- and I mean that in a good way.

    Regarding Gosling- I'll tip my hat to his almost ridiculously minimalist turn in Drive, but still think his best work was as the heroin-addled teacher trying to do good in Half Nelson. A performance of great humour and self-awareness, with little of the showiness or exaggerated "naturalism" often associated with "junkie" roles. But I fear that unless he finds some more interesting roles to work with, my liking for his acting may wane.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    Erm, sorry, that's Tinker, Tailor...- apologies for the typo/Freudian slip :)

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to chris,

    More than any year I can recall, in 2011 I had incredible difficulty finding gems amid the hype.

    Which is kind of sad, because 2011 was a pretty respectable year for the “loud, dumb but full o’ fun” popcorn flick – though we shall not mention Transformers: Dark Side of The Moon again, and make hex signs at the inevitable fourth go round. Rise of The Planet of The Apes in particular was one of the pleasant surprises of the year – and much much better than it needed to be. So was Thor and Real Steel.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11910 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Apes was enjoyable, but I am curious what redeeming feature in Thor you picked up on (other than the hotness of the main guy, my wife squeed shamelessly over).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8450 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    I have three times started to watch Rango, but can't get past 15 mins without switching it off.... and the kids don't like it either.

    You (Craig) say you enjoyed all the animated nominees, and of course, it won. (I was shocked)

    Does it get better after the start? Or should I just accept that it's not my cup of tea, even though others say it's good?

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to Matthew Littlewood,

    As well as concurring with Craig R’s acclaim for Oldman’s performance ... a brittle, brilliantly controlled and surprisingly sardonic take on Le Carre’s greatest creation–I also thought Brad Pitt deserved all the plaudits that came his way for both Tree of Life and Moneyball.

    Yeah. From my non-comprehensive viewing of 2011 films, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was the best overall. Oldman deserved all the acclaim he got and more, as did the screenwriters Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan.

    Agree with you on Pitt, too. I'm not a big fan of Tree of Life overall, but the performances were very good, except perhaps Penn as the grown-up Jack.

    Also, the final scenes of The Tree of Life with Jack on a sandbar embracing his friends and family reminded me of the worst aspects of the ending for another Jack.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1142 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to BenWilson,

    Apes was enjoyable, but I am curious what redeeming feature in Thor you picked up o

    Kenneth Brannagh isn’t Michael Bay, basically. It ain’t the Elder Edda by any stretch of the imagination, but the story made sense and a more-than-decent cast weren’t treated as mere placeholders for the CGI. I’d rather watch Kat Demmings taser impossibly buff gods than deliver rape gags on the excremental 2 Racist Girls.

    Does it get better after the start? Or should I just accept that it’s not my cup of tea, even though others say it’s good?

    Nah, Rango is what it is. If the first quarter hour makes you feel like your eyes have been waterboarded it’s not going to get any better. Three attempts is more than a fair chance.

    Also, to parphrase our host: Torturing your children by making them watch films they don’t like on my say-so? It’s not OK.

    However, if your kids aren’t utterly beguiled by Une vie de chat (A Cat in Paris) they have no souls, and need to be returned for store credit before they kill you in your sleep.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11910 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Steve Parks,

    as did the screenwriters Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan.

    I endorse that - it was the best prune-and-simplify adaptation I've been since Curtis Hanson and Brian Hegeland's Oscar-winning screenplay for L.A. Confidential. (I love James Ellroy, but a transcription of that book would be about fifty hours long, have a cast of hundreds and be utterly incomprehensible.)

    It would also have been nice if Straughan could have accepted an Oscar on behalf of his late wife, who died of cancer before the film started shooting.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11910 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Nah, Rango is what it is. If the first quarter hour makes you feel like your eyes have been waterboarded it’s not going to get any better. Three attempts is more than a fair chance.

    Also, to parphrase our host: Torturing your children by making them watch films they don’t like on my say-so? It’s not OK.

    I may give it one more try... but I'll approach it as a movie for grown-ups... It's not that I was pained watching... I just couldn't see the appeal for kids, and it seemed a bit slow and boring for them... and their reaction seems to bear that out.

    By they way, it's not torture when they are free to walk away and ignore the TV as they see fit... P.S. are you trying to suggest they are not my personal play-things to torment as I see fit? :)

    However, if your kids aren’t utterly beguiled by Une vie de chat (A Cat in Paris) they have no souls, and need to be returned for store credit before they kill you in your sleep.

    Thanks for the tip on a movie I wasn't aware of.... and yes, If they don't like it, I'll trade them in or see if I can get a refund. :)

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Sara Bee,

    +1

    My thoughts too.

    It's astonishing, isn't it, her potential range?

    Seeing her in The Girl with the Azhdarcho Tattoo is a revelation. Lisbeth Salander could easily be a one-dimensional fanboy cartoon, but her performance, particularly her body language with her stiff, brisk walk, hood up, head down shows her fear, her agoraphobia, her barely suppressed rage and how she has used all of that to create mechanisms of survival to deal with the damage she has suffered. Acting like that is marvellous.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 973 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    it was the best prune-and-simplify adaptation

    Indeed. Oldman’s Smiley is not the Smiley I think of from the books and the BBC series, but it’s one I can believe in almost as much as le Carre's secular priest.

    One thing that struck me about the film was that it was very obviously directed by a Swede brought up in an egalitarian society. The book and the BBC serial (see, I didn’t say “mini-series”!) made much of of the importance of class. Oliver Lacon, for example, in the film could be a redbrick university professor, but in the book and the serial, he, Smiley and especially Haydon are products of Eton, Oxbridge and London’s gentlemen’s clubs. It’s been speculated that Philby turned traitor because born to the aristocracy, turned against it in particular out of disappointment rather than England…

    And that Citroen DS, oh my…

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 973 posts Report Reply

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