Thursday, December 19, 2013

Movie Reviews; 'Inside Llewyn Davis,' 'Saving Mr. Banks' and 'American Hustle'

Inside Llewyn Davis: Their first overtly musical film since "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", "Inside Llewyn Davis" throws us to another decade of music, specifically the 1961 folk scene of Greenwich Village. As Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) struggles through the longest week of his life to get a music career going, he's approached with an aggressive ex-fling (Carey Mulligan), an older traveler (John Goodman) and an elusive cat. Beautifully shot and with spot-on direction, "Inside" is the Coen Brothers most different yet best film. Smart, engrossing and with a great folk-y soundtrack to boot. Beautifully haunting and emotionally raw. Rating: A+


Saving Mr. Banks: As Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) tries to woo Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to sell him the rights to her book, a never-ending story of stubborness and acid-tongued dialogue ensues. Travers, as portrayed by Thompson, is a crotchety old bitch that is pleased by nothing, but eventually sells the rights to her book out of financial desperation. This is one movie that would have done better on the Hallmark Channel because it's ripe with cliche and that mean old hag that eventually turns nice by the end. Oh, and the constant flashbacks to Travers' childhood added nothing to the film. Rating: D

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

75 Songs in the Running For Oscar

Image courtesy of AMPAS

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Monday that 75 songs from this year's eligible features are in contention for the best original song Oscar come March.

The five nominees will be announced on Jan. 16.

Some of the notable contenders include Taylor Swift (for the song,"Sweeter Than Fiction" from One Chance), Karen O (for "The Moon Song" from Her), Lana Del Rey, Jay Z and Florence Welch (all for their contributions to The Great Gatsby) and U2 (for the song "Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom).
Contending tracks "Atlas (From The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)," Stranger than Fiction" and "Young and Beautiful" all recently earned Golden Globe nominations for best original song and Grammy nominations for best song written for visual media. The Great Gatsby soundtrack earned a Grammy nomination for best compilation soundtrack for visual media.

One of the most notable omissions is the recently Golden Globe-nominated "Please Mr. Kennedy" from the film Inside Llewyn Davis. Co-written by Justin Timberlake, T-Bone Burnett, Ed Rush, George Cromarty, and the film's directors Joel and Ethan Coen, the song sampled a refrain from other songs in it and was thus deemed ineligible.

Films like Austenland, Black Nativity, The Great Gatsby and Turbo all have at least three songs contending, but academy rules state no more than two songs from a film may be nominated.

Here is the list of contenders:

    "Amen" from "All Is Lost"
     "Alone Yet Not Alone" from "Alone Yet Not Alone"
     "Doby" from "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues"
     "Last Mile Home" from "August: Osage County"
     "Austenland" from "Austenland"
     "Comic Books" from "Austenland"
     "L.O.V.E.D.A.R.C.Y" from "Austenland"
     "What Up" from "Austenland"
     "He Loves Me Still" from "Black Nativity"
     "Hush Child (Get You Through This Silent Night)" from "Black Nativity"
     "Test Of Faith" from "Black Nativity"
     "Forgiveness" from "Brave Miss World"
     "Lullaby Song" from "Cleaver's Destiny"
     "Shine Your Way" from "The Croods"
     "Happy" from "Despicable Me 2"
     "Gonna Be Alright" from "Epic"
     "Rise Up" from "Epic"
     "What Matters Most" from "Escape from Planet Earth"
     "Bones" from "For No Good Reason"
     "Going Nowhere" from "For No Good Reason"
     "Gonzo" from "For No Good Reason"
     "The Courage To Believe" from "Free China: The Courage to Believe"
     "Let It Go" from "Frozen"
     "100$ Bill" from "The Great Gatsby"
     "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)" from "The Great Gatsby"
     "Over The Love" from "The Great Gatsby"
     "Together" from "The Great Gatsby"
     "Young and Beautiful" from "The Great Gatsby"
     "The Moon Song" from "Her"
     "I See Fire" from "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"
     "Bite Of Our Lives" from "How Sweet It Is"
     "Try" from     "How Sweet It Is"
     "Atlas" from "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
     "Better You, Better Me" from "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete"
     "Bring It On" from "Jewtopia"
     "Aygiri Nadani" from "Kamasutra 3D"
     "Har Har Mahadeva" from "Kamasutra 3D"
     "I Felt" from "Kamasutra 3D"
     "Of The Soil" from "Kamasutra 3D"
     "Sawariya" from "Kamasutra 3D"
     "In The Middle Of The Night" from "Lee Daniels' The Butler"
     "You And I Ain't Nothin' No More" from "Lee Daniels' The Butler"
     "Let's Take A Trip" from "Live at the Foxes Den"
     "Pour Me Another Dream" from "Live at the Foxes Den"
     "The Time Of My Life" from "Live at the Foxes Den"
     "Ordinary Love" from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom"
     "Monsters University" from "Monsters University"
     "When The Darkness Comes" from "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones"
     "Sacrifice (I Am Here)" from "Murph: The Protector"
     "The Muslims Are Coming" from "The Muslims Are Coming!"
     "Oblivion" from "Oblivion"
     "Sweeter Than Fiction" from "One Chance"
     "Nothing Can Stop Me Now" from "Planes"
     "We Both Know" from "Safe Haven"
     "Get Used To Me" from "The Sapphires"
     "Stay Alive" from "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"
     "So You Know What It's Like" from "Short Term 12"
     "There's No Black Or White" from "Somm"
     "Cut Me Some Slack" from "Sound City"
     "You Can't Fix This" from "Sound City"
     "Let It Go" from "Spark: A Burning Man Story"
     "We Ride" from "Spark: A Burning Man Story"
     "Becomes The Color" from "Stoker"
     "Younger Every Day" from "3 Geezers!"
     "Here It Comes" from "Trance"
     "Let The Bass Go" from "Turbo"
     "The Snail Is Fast" from "Turbo"
     "Speedin'" from "Turbo"
     "My Lord Sunshine (Sunrise)" from "12 Years a Slave"
     "Make It Love" from "Two: The Story of Roman & Nyro"
     "One Life" from "The Ultimate Life"
     "Unfinished Songs" from "Unfinished Song"
     "For The Time Being" from "The Way, Way Back"
     "Go Where The Love Is" from "The Way, Way Back"
     "Bleed For Love" from "Winnie Mandela"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Delco's 'Silver Linings Playbook' Earns Grammy Nomination

Industry recognition for the locally shot “Silver Linings Playbook” keeps coming after the film received a Grammy nomination on Friday night.

The song “Silver Lining (Crazy ‘Bout You)” scored a best song written for visual media nomination for its songwriter Diane Warren. Jessie J performed the song which was featured on the film’s soundtrack.
“Silver Lining” is nominated against the Oscar-winning James Bond song “Skyfall,” “Atlas” from “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “We Both Know” form the film “Safe Haven,” “Young and Beautiful” from the most recent screen adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” and the main theme “You’ve Got Time” of the Netflix original series “Orange is the New Black.”
The winner will be announced at the pre-Grammy telecast on January 26.

This is Warren’s ninth nomination in this category, winning in 1997 for the ballad “Because You Loved Me.” Her songs have also been nominated for six Academy Awards. “Silver Lining” was not listed by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as one of 75 songs in competition for the best original song Oscar earlier this year.

“Silver Linings Playbook” caused a stir in Delaware County when scenes were shot in Upper Darby, Lansdowne and Ridley Park. It became the homegrown favorite to win Academy Awards in February but won only one, best actress for Jennifer Lawrence, from eight nominations including best picture.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Final 2014 Grammy Nominations Predictions

Here are my final predictions in a select group of categories.

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.

Album of the Year
The 20/20 Experience, Justin Timberlake
The Heist, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Random Access Memories, Daft Punk
Red, Taylor Swift
Unorthodox Jukebox, Bruno Mars

Girl on Fire, Alicia Keys
Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, Kendrick Lamar