Monday, February 22, 2010


Prince William was named the new President of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts at Sunday night’s BAFTA ceremony. Seriously. Prince fuckety-duckety William. So, after basking in my “what the fuck-ness” for a couple of minutes, I decided to do some research. It turns out The Royals have a long history of chairing the Academy. Isn’t that fantastic? I mean, everyone just loves when things are handed to people on a silver platter because of who Mummy and Daddy are! Just look at how much people LOVE Paris Hilton.

Why the hostility, you may ask? Well first off, BAFTA Bill is taking over from Richard Attenborough. That’s right, two time Oscar winner, three time Golden Globe winner, four time BAFTA winner, practically choking on all of the awards he has ever won, so much so that he has them coming out of his arse, LORD FUCKING ATTENBOROUGH. Lord A is the visionary who brought the world Chaplin, Cry Freedom, A Chorus Line, Ghandi and A Bridge Too Far, but is probably best recognized as dino-phile with a God-complex, John Hammond from Jurassic Park.

Meanwhile, Prince Horseface’s only notable contribution to film and television has been this statement; “Becoming president of BAFTA is a great honor for me. There is almost nothing better than going to see a really good film so this is a great personal thrill for me.” Thanks Willy, that was really insightful. So glad that you’re “thrilled” and that the only adjective you could come up with to describe the medium is “good.”

Anyway, I don’t know what the President of the BAFTA really does; but I did find out that their mission is to, “support, develop and promote the art forms of the moving image, by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public.” Right…how many of this year’s nominated tv series and films do you think the Royal has actually seen? And as far as I can tell, the only thing Prince William has actually “inspired” are some horribly misguided Cinderella-type films and a god-awful television movie chronicling the first fifteen years of his life.

I just think that in this day and age, there shouldn’t be so much hype surrounding the royal family, and that it would be far more beneficial for someone more like Richard Attenborough to head the BAFTA, than some twenty-seven year old kid who happens to own a crown.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Amy, Amy, Amy

I have a love/hate relationship with writer/director Amy Heckerling. While half her resume is pretty fucking impressive, the other half is marred by the ghosts of bad decisions past – namely turning most of her well-known films into sub-par television series.

Ms. Heckerling has had her hand in two generation-defining films – she directed Fast Times at Ridgemont High and wrote and directed Clueless. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the former, but the latter is so witty and well written (it was even nominated for a Writers Guild Award) that it’s hard not to love, whether you came of age in the nineties or are a Jane Austen fan.

However, Ms. Heckerling’s resume also boasts the appalling Look Who’s Talking franchise; a disappointing teen flick called Loser starring then big-name actors Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari (fresh off American Pie); and the crown jewel of crap – three, yes THREE television adaptations of her successful films.

The first - an adaptation of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, simply known as “Fast Times.” The series lasted only seven episodes and cost a small fortune. It starred 80s’ and 00s’ it boy/man Patrick Dempsey, and a young Courtney Thorne-Smith whose fame tends to fluctuate like a bulimic’s weight. Not surprisingly, only two actors from the film reprised their roles (Vincent Schiavelli as Mr. Vargas and Ray Walston as Mr. Hand).

The second adaptation was “Baby Talk” based off Look Who’s Talking. The series lasted for two seasons and managed to plow through three lead actresses. Increasing the “what the fuck” factor, the baby was voiced by Tony Danza (while still working on Who’s The Boss?), guest starred George Clooney, and featured Scott Baio as a series regular…who also managed to plow through three lead actresses.

Finally, the third film-to-television monster was “Clueless.” I use the term ‘monster’ because this beast of a series lasted for three seasons and was inexplicably syndicated for a ludicrous amount of time. “Clueless” saw three of the leads reprising their roles for all 61 episodes (Dionne, Murray and Amber), while Alicia Silverstone went on to an ‘illustrious’ film career.

Anyway, the reason for my ode to Amy Heckerling…The other week I was flipping around the tube and came across a movie called I Could Never Be Your Woman – an Amy Heckerling film starring Paul Rudd and Michelle Pfeiffer. I thought, how can I lose? I loved that obscure mid-nineties song by the same name, was a huge fan of Clueless, and Paul Rudd is always good for a few laughs. I should have known better. The movie starts off with Tracey Ullman (yay!), waxing on and on about the foils love (boo!), dressed as Mother Nature (huh?). After this, Ms. Ullman has little to do with the film except when she occasionally pops up as a figment of Michelle Pfeiffer’s imagination in order to berate the forty-something television producer about dating the much younger Paul Rudd. And that’s pretty much the ENTIRE premise of the movie. Oh, I should also mention that Michelle Pfeiffer’s character’s television show is about a teenage girl growing up in Southern California (wink); and that the leads of the fictitious show are all played by much older actors (wink). You know, I really couldn’t tell if Ms. Heckerling was trying to satirize her real-life experiences…especially when she cast ONE OF THE FUCKING LEADS FROM THE FUCKING SHOW SHE WAS TRYING TO SATIRIZE! (In case you care, I am referring to Stacey “Dionne” Dash who plays a thirty-something actress portraying a sixteen year old on a TV series in the film).

The movie is pretty much abysmal, which explains why it was released straight to DVD. However, a huge bright spot of the film is an eleven-year-old Saoirse Ronan (no wonder this girl was nominated for an Oscar at fourteen). But her tiny little-girl arms can’t save this thing from drowning.

Amy Heckerling has recently been making news for an upcoming project she’s working on called Vamps, which will reunite her with Alicia Silverstone. I’m thinking this film can go either way – based on non-mathematical statistics, Ms. Heckerling has managed one hit per decade, so Vamps could do for vampire-obsessed girls what Clueless did for vapid, over-privileged teens; that is if Ms. Heckerling can pull off the same satire and wit she did with Clueless. However, her last film had about as much subtlety as a Vegas showgirl…which leads me to believe that Vamps will be a huge flop.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I like short shorts...animated shorts.

I’ll admit it – I am an awards show junkie and the Oscars are the Holy Grail of awards show (pardon my mixed metaphor). But perhaps one of the most overlooked categories is the Animated Short. I too was once guilty of this oversight; however, a recent stint at a short film channel has opened my eyes to this glorious, but underappreciated art form.

The first nominee: French Roast is a cute little short about a frugal man who loses his wallet in a cafĂ© and can’t pay his bill.

At first I thought that this was going to be one of those old-school Simpson’s episodes with a holier-than-thou moral message. However, I found the action quite amusing…until that pesky little moral came back to hit me over the head – I guess the French aren’t really known for their subtlety. While I like the animation style, this eight-minute film felt a little slow and was a tad too cutesy for my tastes. The animator Fabrice Joubert, is pretty seasoned, and has worked as the supervising animator on Flushed Away and Shark Tale.

2. Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty: a take on a classic tale.

I LOVE Sleeping Beauty and I LOVE mean old ladies, but I don’t really see this short winning an Oscar. I really dug the mixed animation style and Brown Bag Films has previously produced the Oscar nominated Give Up Yer Aul Sins, but the film lacks some punch and is pretty linear.

3. The Lady and The Reaper: A Mexican death-tale!

Hey check it out; Antonio Banderas co-produced this! And we all know how much the Academy LOVES Antonio Banderas. Remember when they got him to sing the eventual Oscar-winner for Best Song from The Motorcycle Diaries…you know, even though he had NOTHING to do with the film? Yeah, so I’m going to put this film up there as a serious contender…and a possible promotional tool for Obama’s Death Panels. But seriously, it’s a pretty cute tale, and it gets some serious props for the morbid ending!

4. Logorama: It’s The Dark Knight meets every commercial you’ve ever seen.

I’ll admit that it took me some time to fall in love with this film. While I’m not as enthusiastic as the reviewer in the above link, I do enjoy the idea and concept behind this short. But, I think I would love it a whole lot more if it was about seven minutes shorter.

5. Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death

Wallace and Gromit are to the animation categories what Judie Dench and Meryl Streep are to the acting categories. Nick Park has won four Oscars (all for Wallace and Gromit installments) and A Matter of Loaf and Death has already won the BAFTA. Now, I am very aware that the Oscars are a big political game (see, Denzel Washington winning for Training Day after being overlooked for so many other powerful performances), so I would normally think it very unlikely that Nick Park would pick up a fifth statue; however, this is the animated short category. I’d be very surprised to find out that members of the academy have actually watched all five of these shorts. This is why I’m calling Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death the frontrunner. Plus, you can’t deny its brilliance.