Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Some Grammy 2014 Submissions!


I have already written about what I think the Grammy nominees will be in a good chunk of categories come December 6, just guessing on what could be submitted. In a partially leaked submission list posted at, some of my guesses have been more or less confirmed.

Of the surprise guesses I made that could be true (based on this list) include rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis submitting "Same Love" for song of the year over "Thrift Shop" (submitted for record of the year) or "Can't Hold Us." The number one song of the summer, "Blurred Lines," was not listed as potential submissions for record or song of the year. Did it not submit at all? Furthermore, Burno Mars did not, allegedly, submit "When I Was Your Man" or "Locked Out of Heaven," for song of the year, but submitted the latter for record of the year.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Philadelphia Film Festival- STRANGER BY THE LAKE

Wednesday was my closing night at the 22nd Philadelphia Film Festival, two days before the actual closing. I had only seen four movies, "The Congress," "August: Osage County," "Blue is the Warmest Color" and now "Stranger By the Lake." With that film I could not have asked for a better end to my first film festival.

Premiering at Cannes, alongside Palme d'Or winner and PFF entry"Blue is the Warmest Color," "Stranger By the Lake" is what I call the gay counterpart to "Blue." They both feature uncompromising showings of same-sex relations but with characters we care about, even if they're two completely different stories.

During the summer a lake spot in France becomes a cruising destination for gay men. On the rocky shores are men of all ages hanging around naked in the open, including Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) a guy who we know nothing about except that he's looking for a lover. He has his flings in the woods with some of the naturalists, but nothing of substance.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Obviously, I wasn't impressed at all by "The Congress," the first film I had seen at the Philadelphia Film Society this year. Things picked up, a bit, with my viewings of "August: Osage County," starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, and the Palme d'Or-winning "Blue is the Warmest Color." A slight technical hiccup interrupted the screening of "August" (the screen went blank), and I kind of wish that happened to "Blue."

August: Osage County 

Adapting his Tony-winning play of the same name, Tracy Letts writes an incredible vehicle for Meryl Streep and Margo Martindale, who play sisters Violet and Mattie Fae, in the story of a family coping with a loss in the fiery summer hells of Oklahoma.

Violet's husband has killed himself and her family comes back to console her, opening up a barrage of posionous words on her three girls Barbara (Julia Roberts), Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis), and their respective families and loved ones. The relationship among the daughters and their mother isn't the best, but it makes for absolutely gritty and, at times, hilarious moments.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Philadelphia Film Festival: THE CONGRESS

I've never been to a film festival, much less the Philadelphia Film Festival (now in its 22nd year). But something changed in me this year, I thought I should check out what they're showing and buy some tickets.

When tickets went on sale in early October I ended up buying tickets to four movies; "The Congress," "August: Osage County," "Blue is the Warmest Color," and "Stranger By The Lake." I had heard of all of them by reading their reviews after playing in Cannes (except "August") so I knew I picked some good ones. "August" is Meryl Streep's latest film so of course I had to see it.

These are just some of the critically-lauded films that are showing this year, but I obviously can't afford to go to all of them. Other highlights include "12 Years s Slave," "All is Lost," "Philomena," and "Labor Day," all of which early Oscar bait.

The first film I saw was "The Congress" on October 18. Didn't know what it was about until I saw the trailer for it, which really interested me. However, the film was something totally different. The latest project from Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman —who shattered documentary protocol with his animated "Waltz With Bashir" — this was such a mess!

The half-live-action, half-animated film stars Robin Wright, as herself, as an aging actress who agrees to get herself scanned so a film studio can use her in any film they want without actually having her in it. The film morphs into a "Miyazaki on LSD" visual spectacle that collapses under the weight of its own stupidity. Folman thought he was trying something awesome here, and it could have been, but it looked like the anime "Steamboy" combined with "The Tree of Life," minus the latter's deep philosophical messages. It was just as stupid as "Steamboy," too.

"The Congress" is nothing more than Folman looking at himself in the mirror as he pleasures himself with an idea only he thought was a good one. It's a long, painful concoction that ends up being so pretentious you'd think Folman was a 4-year-old trying to impress his older brother by jumping off the roof of a house to proves he's stronger. He's not, and I hope it kills him.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Movie Review: Visual Effects Give 'Gravity' Life

It's true. In space no one can hear you scream, especially in 'Gravity.'   (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Space movies are all the same. It's a story about humans fighting aliens (Alien, Aliens, Starship Troopers), technology (2001: A Space Odyssey, Moon) or themselves (Solaris). "Gravity" falls into the latter category while being propelled by the second. The film is not heavy on story but the seat-shaking music and dazzling visual effects more than make up for it.

While conducting a space mission on the Explorer in the open nothingness of space, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are abruptly torn apart when debris from a satellite comes crashing into the space shuttle. With a damaged communications network to Houston, it's established that they must get to the International Space Station to survive and call home. Now the real story begins- how much willpower does a person have to survive on their own?

Grammy Nominations Predictions!!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come. The Grammy eligibility window for 2012-2013 has ended. Now the fun part begins, guessing how will be nominated for the music industry's highest honor.

Personally, 2013 was one of the worst years in music in recent years. So many songs received notoriety for their scandalous videos ("Blurred Lines" and "Wrecking Ball") or just because another pop princess was back (Gaga's "Applause" and Katy Perry's "Roar'). Through all of the crap there will still be five nominees each in the Grammy's top four categories, but who?

Official nominees will be announced on December 6.
EDIT: Oct. 30
EDIT: Nov. 24

Album of the Year
The 20/20 Experience, Justin Timberlake
The Heist, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, Kendrick Lamar
Random Access Memories, Daft Punk
Red, Taylor Swift

Girl on Fire, Alicia Keys
Unorthodox Jukebox, Bruno Mars