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Just reading a 'list' article at the Huff regarding 10 Performances to watch this fall with Academy eyes.

The list started with a nod to Matthew McCoaughey in MUD.  I stopped reading and skimmed down the list for Tye Sheridan.  As I feared, he didn't make the list.

Tye Sheridan is the reason to see MUD.  Oh, I know, the movie poster fools you into thinking you're watching a McCoaughny film.  That marketing choice will cost this

film the awards it deserves.  Just because Tye is relatively unknown doesn't mean the star of film doesn't deserve top visual billing on the poster.  It's Tye's story.  It's such a poetic story that calling it MUD only further... urm... muddies the waters.

Tye's performance is particularly realistic.  Tempered.  The boy he plays has absolutely no idea he's in a movie.  I loved River Phoenix in STAND BY ME, but you could watch him posing in that one.  Tye comes off exactly as the boy he portrays.

Matthew did a solid job with his role, but there are countless actors who could have done the same or even a little better.  Tye Sheridan?  He's currently my favorite for Best Actor.  He knocks it out of the park like Tatum O'Neal in PAPER MOON.
 
Sometimes a line from a surprisingly great movie can say it all about today's young desperate sad sellout pop musicians --
 
The Huffington Post posted a link listing over 50 fun facts about some popular Hollywood movies.  This fact jumped out --
I never knew as much.  But I had my suspicions.  Back when I used to regularly attend summer blockbusters, was I the only one to notice the BE ALL YOU CAN BE ads?   Before every movie?  Am I the only person aware of how much more militaristic summer films have become since the release of TOP GUN?

It's perfect, right?  The very demographic that could be enlisted (young, poor job market, free time, impossible college loans) have these films aimed directly at them.  These Cherry Coked fidgety bored types are shown squadrons of bad-ass types and are literally programmed to ask themselves if they have what it takes to be one of the few... the proud. 

If you think I'm reading too much into this, ask yourself why oh why J.J. Abrams wrote a be all you can be lecture into the opening of his first STAR TREK feature?  Oh, forgive me, it's I dare you to do better.  Listen to Pike drop the 'E' word --
Enlist!  He says it at least twice.  And is Starfleet really a humanitarian armada?  Last time I checked, they didn't refer to themselves that way.  I know it's part of what they do in the macho movies, but they are supposed to be explorers too.

Being in the military isn't about exploring, right?  If the movies are to recruit for the military then the pitch must be perfect.

During this last year I experienced three pop culture films.  DARK KNIGHT RISES, MAN OF STEEL, and the second TREK feature.  All three position military and/or police personnel as 'humanitarian armadas'.  

Batman must win over the police to understand his style of vigilantism is something to both tolerate and emulate, Superman must convince the military his amazing destructive force is perfectly acceptable because he's as honorable as they are, and Kirk must harness the galactic might of Starfleet itself to obliterate an enemy instead of... explore strange new worlds.

As a writer I could feel this element shoved into each film... in exchange for what?  A big chunk of discreet financing from the military itself is my best bet.

It's therefore only a matter of time before THE FLYING NUN is brought back as a female TOP GUN.

Wouldn't that be bad ass?
 
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10.  If you think Affleck is going to blow the sequel to MAN OF STEEL, you're under the unfortunate delusion that MAN OF STEEL was good.

9.  If you think that because Affleck is slowly morphing into a George Clooney (which is true and seen in ARGO) and -- therefore -- another Clooney-ish Batman would suck, you're under the sad delusion that the rest of Clooney's BATMAN AND ROBIN was otherwise good.   It was horrific.  Clooney was the best thing on top of that craptacular train wreck.

8.  America is silently abiding a transition into a police state but Affleck turning into Batman warrants an online petition?

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7.  You don't really think someone like Bradley Cooper would make that much of an acting difference for Batman, do you?  This ain't King Lear.

6.  I feel that the only people that care about this will go to the film anyway.  That a can of Trader Joe's Organic Beans could be cast as Batman and the tribe would line up at Comic-Con to whine and dine.
 

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5.  All three Nolan films were love/hate affairs.  That's right:  all three.

4.  The Michael Keaton era films aren't really worth seeing again.

3.  In under ten years the same will be said of the Nolan films.

2.  I can't believe I wasted the time it took to write this list.  Why?


1.  Take it away, Bill Murray --

 
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Unless you're from Hawaii you've probably never heard of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.  I'm not from Hawaii but I do keep an eye on the news and Democratic Party hopefuls.  The first time I saw Tulsi talking on MSNBC  it took only minutes to conclude she will be America's first female President.

Sure, if it was just a beauty contest, you'd readily agree with me.  But is she a beauty queen or does she have the right stuff?  She was the youngest woman in the United States to be elected to a state legislature and has served twice in the Middle East.  So if you mess with Tulsi she'll deck you.

I've been listening to Tulsi address controversial issues and I love that she's a courageous representative of our civil rights.  While Barack Obama has tried to make Snowden a bad guy and the NSA good guys, Tulsi has chosen the truth --
“As more and more is revealed about the NSA’s sweeping surveillance practices, we are just scratching the surface of the full scope of blatant violations of personal privacy and freedoms. The news today uncovering even more abuse and overreach is extremely troubling.  It also raises more questions about how extensive and invasive these programs truly are. The American people deserve to know more about the extent of the NSA’s intrusions on our civil liberties.”
It doesn't matter who the whistle-blower is or how he blew the whistle.  All that matters is if any of his accusations are true. 

Hawaii should be proud of how they are being represented.  It sets a good example of what national leadership should be.

Thank you, Tulsi Gabbard
 
My first super short film will likely be shot at a swimming pool somewhere in Pasadena.  I had planned on the pool area by my condos, but there are reasons to avoid this pool.  No, we clean the water all nice and such, but the pool is shared by 80 or so units.  And so to film in said location would require permission, which is doable, but not desirable.  Since the price is right it's hard for a newbie producer not to simply say YES and make it work.

It would look a little something like this --
I'm no DP and my talented teen actors haven't filled up those chairs yet, but you get the drift.  Auditioning one of my actresses I let slip that I'd really like to find someone who might know someone with a nice pool at a quiet house. 

Turns out she did.  Right in the same town.  And my oh my -- what an upgrade!  (Click READ MORE below)

 
This will be my first in a series of critical essays regarding Best Picture wins that I believe the Academy utterly botched.  I do this because it is right to recognize the actual best movie of the year.  Artists put a lot of blood and sweat into their craft and it is pointless to have an awards show that typically awards films that the Academy missed (GOODFELLAS) for a later inferior work (HUGO).  This we'll catch you the next time crapola really has to stop if the show is to retain any integrity.

My opinion on the real Best Picture is useless unless I can convince you that it's not born of personal taste but by objective reasoning.  Let me demonstrate how perfectly aware I am the difference between my taste and appropriate criticism. 

My personal favorite movie from 1976 was LOGAN'S RUN.  I'm a fan of the film.  I've made a point to see it almost every year since release.  I own the DVD and Blu-Ray.  I bought the vinyl soundtrack and recently expanded digital score.  I love the thought provoking story elements as much as the cheesy effects.  The bad actors with the good.  I love it all.
Yet I can readily admit my affection for this piece doesn't eliminate its countless acting and production shortcomings.  ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, ROCKY, MARATHON MAN, and NETWORK came out the same year.  They're all superior films and worthy of being in the Academy Award's Best Picture nominees list.... where LOGAN is my tasty swirl of cotton candy.

Most films were executed so well back in the '70s that a critic had little recourse but to choose favorites based upon taste.  NETWORK is likely my favorite quality movie of that year.  I own it.  Yet I rarely watch it.  Once every five years if I'm lucky.  If you prefer ROCKY to NETWORK or someone prefers PRESIDENT'S MEN to ROCKY -- we're all right.  No one is wrong.  They're so close to each other in quality we have no choice but to resort to favorite premises and preferred actors.

I hope I've now demonstrated to you that just because I love a movie doesn't mean you should.  So let's start with another demonstration of this objective ability via two films nominated by the Academy for Best Picture of 2012.

 
This image is original --
 -- but you can't beat those Brits to a punishing pun.
 
Recently I bought a plaid button down linen shirt (on left).  Since I have a bit of a weight on me, those cool stripes can accentuate if not downright illuminate every arcing contour of my belly.  (That's not me but an unreasonable facsimile.)

Still, must I go through the remainder of my days hiding behind dark colors?  In sunny California, no less?  There must be some way I can get away with a little striping action -- no?

So I thank you, Jonah Hill (on right), for giving the likes of me some cover from the fashion police.  You're destroying that vibrant plaid.  You free men like us to showcase our bonus girths in fabrics initially intended for curtains or tablecloths.

Life is good.
 
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When I was in the third grade, a movie was released that impacted the world.  It was Francis Ford Coppola's original GODFATHER movie. 

At the time, I had no idea who Marlon Brando was.  To me, he was an old dude.  I was so young and naive I didn't understand that the makeup department was making Brando look older than his true age.

This film not only became an instant classic and worldwide legend, but it rocked my world as well.   Despite being a clueless little third grader townee.

You see:  I'm an Italian American.

I had an entire side of the family that felt very validated by this movie.  "Look, it's a film full of Italians!  We're movie stars!" 
I've heard that when this movie was played in my hometown, Italian Americans were dressing up like mobsters and showing up in limos.  I'm not so naive now, and so I can tell you that some of these mobsters were probably not in costumes at all...

Anyway, everyone loved these movies.  Why?  It's that simple bad-ass rule that dominates almost all cinema:  if you were an Italian American, you could feel like a bad ass instead of a darker 'greasy' meatball.  Sorry if that's breaking news to you, but that is how Wasps saw us at the time:  kinda sorta black.  Even some Italians flip their ravioli over darker Italians... 

But then why did the Wonderbread types embrace this movie back in the day?  With almost more enthusiasm than the likes of me?  The same reason why legions of white kids today want to be appear like gangstas:  it's bad-ass.