Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Blogs of 2005-2010 about going to see Oscar nominated films. Something I do every year.

Blogs of 2005-2010 about going to see Oscar nominated films. Something I do every year.

by Ruben Santos Claveria on Monday, March 8, 2010 at 3:22pm
New blog on 2009-2010 Academy Awards posted on
March 8, 2010

Made Homemade pizza with my partner Mike and watched the Oscars last night. All four hours of it. Mike dozed off a little after the sixth best movie tribute but I poked him in the ribs with my finger and woke up to see Kathryn Bigelow make history for being the first female director to win Best Picture and Director Oscars.

What happened to all the musical numbers nominated for Best Song? The arrangements by Adam Shankman were good but the Oscars seemed a little watered down and tame. Mo'Nique's speech was the deepest and most heartfelt when she took her award for Precious. What was with all the comic roasting by the hosts? They just left an uncomfortable silence in the air. Wasn't Baldwin in the news for calling his daughter a 'thoughtless little pig' on her answering machine. Baldwin and Martin should have done a Precious skit where Baldwin was Mary Jones. It would have been like "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" for African American people.

It was still mildly interesting to watch the Oscars this year because Mike and I saw a few of the nominated films, like Blind Side, Last Station, An Education, Up, Hurt Locker and Inglorious Basterds. We still haven't seen A Single Man, which was based on a book by a gay writer, Christopher Isherwood. I should support more serious films about Gays, Lesbians, Trans-gender and Gay friendly Straights. Sandra Bullock calling Meryl Streep her "lover" during her acceptance speech for Best Actress was surreal. Although Streep did play a lesbian in the movie "The Hours," a movie based on gay writer's Michael Cunningham's book by the same name. I read the book and my friend Andrea just gave me the soundtrack by Philip Glass because I damaged my copy of it. That was a thoughtful gift from her.

I still wanted Last Station and Bright Star to get more attention because I like Keat's poetry and the novel Last Station. Jay Parini who wrote Last Station also wrote a some deep, insightful essays on poetry. I checked a few of his books out of the public library. I like Jane Campion for making Bright Star. She's a...nother female director that is high quality!! I tried to read Andrew Motion's biography of Keats and found that Fanny lived a few decades after her relantionship with Keats which is an important note. She never got TB from him. I feel grateful I feel healthy, living with HIV, and that Mike is still HIV negative. We went to the Center on Halsted and got free HIV testing last month.

I also checked out the book "Crazy Heart" from the Chicago Public Library and found that Bad Blake spouting sexist racist remarks at the beginning of the book before he fell in love. Can love save racist little shits like Bad Blake or are those people beyond redemption? The movie made me forgive him a little in the end, when he tries to straighten up his life, but the racism still bugged the crap out of me.

I was glad to see an African American writer win an Oscar for the screenplay of Preciou: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Saphire." But his speech wasn't deep enough. Mo'nique spoke volumes with her speech. She has been very outspoken about the issue of sexual abuse which is very courageous of her. She broke a silence to begin the healing process!!

My favorite moment in the whole Oscar's show was hearing Barbra Streisand say "The Time Has Come" when she announced that Bigelow won for Best Director becoming the first women to do so in Oscar history. Yes, there were too many movies nominated and yes, I wanted to hear someone sing the songs from Princess and The Frog, but that didn't happen.

Just just sent this blog to everyone I could at Congress.org and added this note:

Racism, the Iraqi War, Sexual Abuse, Health Care, housing, HIV/AIDS, literacy, human rights, Women's Rights, Class fairness are issues we all need to work on to improve the world we live in. We can't leave it up to everyone at Nobelprize.org, we have to do something ourselves and now!! Educate and try not to hate!!!

February 3, 2010

Mike and I watched the live announcements for the Oscar nominations for movies in 2009 on Tuesday morning. Mike hurt his back taking the Christmas decorations down into the basement, so he stayed home from work. I'm unemployed so I stay home all the time. The movie "The Last Station," about Leo Tolstoy and his wife, was nomimated for Best Supporting Actor and Best Actress. It was just released last Friday and it got good reviews. I'm thinking about seeing that and "Crazy Heart." Jeff Bridges won a Golden Globe for Best Actor and a Screen Actor's Guild Award for Crazy Heart. He might win the Oscar for Crazy Heart, but I'm not sure. Sandra Bullock also won a Golden Globe and SAG Award for the Blind Side. Personally, I liked Carey Mulligan's performance in "An Education."

Mo'Nique has been winning Awards for playing Mary Jones, an abusive, poverty-ridden mother in "Precious." She might win an Oscar for that devastating performance. I did see "Precious" and thought it was well made and acted but the negative portrayal of African Americans frightened me a bit. I suppose that's why Disney made "The Princess and the Frog" to make an African American girl look like a "princess." "Up" might win the Oscar for Best Animated Film. I saw Precious because Oprah was endorsing it on her show.

I was glad to see that Bright Star was nominated for Costume Design, but it didn't get nominated for the other major awards. Jane Campion is a good writer and director, and she deserved some recognition. I think "Young Victoria" might win for Costumes though.

What is it with all the violent films that the Academy has been nominating in the last few years? Has Quentin Tarantino brainwashed everyone to think violent films are the best? There are too many men in the Academy!! Avatar and Hurt Locker both have the most nominations with nine each. If Bigelow wins a Best Director Oscar for the Hurt Locker, she'll be the first female director in Oscar history to win that title. Hurt Locker is a moving and disturbing film, but it doesn't have many female soldiers in it.

Avatar should get a special award for promoting international understanding, for it's universal message of warriors of peace. Avatar does make white Americans look like greedy, violent, imperialistic pillagers, but it also makes them look capable of diplomacy and peace-making. Avatar might win best picture. Avatar is now the top grossing film of all time worldwide.

Up In The Air might win for Best Adapted Screenplay, but I like Nick Horby's script to the coming of age drama, "An Education." I have Nick Hornby's autograph and he signed his name, "To Ruben. Love, Nick Hornby." I thought that was nice of him. Jason Reitman is a good writer, but I just couldn't care for Clooney's character who is a corporate loser who fires people for a living, therefore living off of people's misery!!

There are some good movies with important themes that did not get nominated this year. One is The Soloist which made me think about the problem of homelessness in the U.S. more closely, and Capitalism: A Love Story should have gotten a best Documentary nomination, because it made you look at victims of recession era politics with sensitive eyes. I rented The Sololist, Hurt Locker, Bright Star at the Redbox outside of Jewel for a dollar each. Which was a deal!!

Movies that suprised the hell out of me by getting so many nominations are Inglorious Basterds and District 9. Basterds got 8 nomintions and 9 got 4. I just talked to my brother Juan who thought District 9 was crap and doesn't deserve a Best Picture nomination. Bright Star should have been nominated for Best Picture because at least it enourages literacy and the reading of poetry. Are violent films supposed to turn us off to war or turn us all into warriors preparing for the coming wars? I prefer movies that turn us all into peace-makers like the one about Nelson Mandela called "Invictus."

That's what I think for now.

Peace and Courage, Ruben

January 27, 2010

I saw 500 Days of Summer and liked it. It was nominated for a Golden Globe but the Hangover won. I did like The Soloist and Bright Star but they didn't get nominated for any awards. Most likely Jeff Bridges will get nominated for Crazy Heart, a movie I haven't seen yet. Bridges won a Screen Actor's Guild Award and a Golden Globe for Crazy Heart.

I did see An Education and I think Carey Mulligan deserved her Golden Globe nomination. We saw The Blind Side, which made us cry. Sandra Bullock is very good in that movie. She deserved the Golden Globe for Best Actress that she got. Bullock makes you care for a woman who claims to be a member of the National Rifle Association like many Republicans. Caring for Republicans is hard but Bullock making friends with an open "Democrat" in the film saves it. I like that Tim McGraw's wife Faith Hill sang a song for Obama at Obama's Inaugaration Ball!! I also watched the Hurt Locker and thought it was well made, although a bit on the violent side. Hurt Locker was directed by a woman--Kathryn Bigelow--so if she wins Best Director she'll be the first woman to win it in the History of the Oscars. I plan to see Avatar and Broken Embraces. There's so many movies to watch. Who can afford it?

The Oscar nominations will be announced on February 2, 2010 and I plan to add more to my blog then.

Previous Year's blog:
February 25, 2009
I think I should also mention that I was moved by Queen Latifah's rendition of "I'll Be Seeing You," while footage and photos of people who have passed on flashed on screens behind her. Mike had tears in his eyes and so did I. Mike and I just watched Sydney Pollack's "Out of Africa" on Comcast Cable's On Demand digital video player. We enjoyed how beautiful Pollack made Africa love. I have John Barry's Oscar winning score on an old record and I played it for Mike and he thought it was beautiful. Merryl Streep should be given a life time achievement award for making so many notable films of all kinds, dramas, comedies, and even--gulp--musical("Mamma Mia").
I just bought Wall-e at Target for ten dollars!!

February 23, 2009

I got home last night, after doing volunteer work giving tours at the Birthplace Home of Ernest Hemingway in Oak Park with my partner Mike and turned on the Oscars to see Hugh Jackman sing an opening number. The music and stage numbers were interesting in the way they seemed like a collage of songs. Watching Beyonce sing was very entertaining and I still wonder why she wasn't nominated for playing Etta James in Cadillac Records. Maybe it was late and will be nominated next year. I bought the soundtrack to that and her numbers were very good.

I was surprised and happy that Penelope Cruz won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Her Spanish language films with Pedro Almodovar are nothing but excellent and she deserved recognition for a long time. Mike wanted Viola Davis to win, but seeing Cruz on stage speaking Spanish in her acceptance speech made me feel very happy she won. She is still a fine actor and a very beautiful woman too. The way Woody Allen writes roles for great female actors is just brilliant.

I was surprised to see Slumdog Millionaire win 8 Oscars, but a lot of people thought it was a great film so it should come as no surprise. The film tries to give hope in a place where poverty has created a brutal, greedy world. It's very Charles Dickenesque. I like the screenwriter of the film--Simon Beaufoy--who also wrote the screenplay for The Full Monty. His Oscar for a screenplay adapted from another source was well deserved. I even saw the stage musical version of The Full Monty in Oak Park and thought it was good.
It was moving to see how everyone's faces changed to sorrowful when Heath Ledger won the Oscar for his role in Batman. I liked him in I'm Not There so that Oscar was well deserved. He can sleep in peace now. My Brother Juan's lady, Clarisa sent me a text message saying he won.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button won three awards for Art Direction, Make-up and special effects. I thought it would win for Art Direction because of those amazing sets that transport you to many different eras. I thought it would win for Best Picture but I was wrong.

I'm glad that Sean Penn won the Oscar for "Milk." I thought he would win that from the beginning. I like Gus Van Sant's films. He is not afraid to cover many topics and his characters are always very interesting to watch unfold. I've seen quite a few of his movies and even own some like Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho, Good Will Hunting, and Last Days. I have the award winning documentary on Harvey Milk and I'd like to buy the film one day. Sean Penn's speech was a little scary but funny and serious as well. He joked as he went on stage saying, "You commie, homo-loving, sons of guns." Which made me a little angry that he used the word "homo" in front of millions of people, but what he said after that of hoping to live in a world of fairness and equality made up for his silly "machismo." I'm glad the screenplay won too.

I was moved by the footage of kisses from different films, especially when they showed the kisses from "Milk." Love should conquer all, but "Milk" shows us the hate and violence still make the world an instable place.
Kate Winslet winning for The Reader doesn't surprise me. All those Oscar winning actors introducing the nomination for each film was interesting in this ceremony. It took the edge off the competition and showed that every performance is just as powerful. It did make the ceremony feel a little long. When Kate Winslet's nomination was introduced as portraying states of "fear and vulnerability," I understood why they gave her the Oscar. Melissa Leo looked beautiful at the ceremony, unlike the suffering trailer park mother in "Frozen River" whose beauty has been stolen from her by poverty and abusive relationships. Part of me wanted Leo to win for that role.

My heart was warmed by all the footage of Wall-e and Eva. It was funny to see Wall-e find an Oscar in the garbage and just through it aside, wanting the broken VHS movie beside it instead. That was sweet. I shouted yes when Wall-e won for best animated film. It's an animated film that adults should watch and think about as well as children. Go Wall-e Go!

I enjoyed watching the Oscars this year eating Chinese food from my favorite Chinese restaurant, Mee Maw on Peterson, and drinking German Champagne--Schloss Biebrich--that we bought at Trader Joe's for five dollars. We like this years Oscars thanks to Bill Condon's stage direction and Baz Lurman's collage montage of songs. It's fun to live on Hollywood Ave in Chicago and love life despite all its negativity. Thank you Mike for making it all possible.

February 20, 2009
Sunday is the Oscars and I usually don't go out and see every Oscar nominated film, because it can start to be a little bit costly, but this year I have seen quite a few nominated films, because I was interested in them when they were released before they were nominated. I just went to a Redbox near me and rented Frozen River and thought Melissa Leo skillfully portrayed a trailer park mother. These movies about people living in extreme poverty hurt so much because you want people like that to do better in this life and at least be economically stable enough to provide for livable housing. Leo's character in this film is a woman that has been walked all over by a gambling husband and cares enough about her children that she is willing to take money from illegal immigrants who want to be transported to the U.S. from Canada by means of driving an old car over the frozen St. Lawrence river. It was very hard for me to believe that all these character's involved are expressing a truth about immigration in the U. S. Yet, I have read the newspapers in Chicago about people crossing the border illegally on the Mexican and Texas borders only to be a little frightened for these people who face such intense discrimination from border patrol. The actor playing the Native American women named Lila made me feel confused and uncertain for her. Her character is numbed by poverty and unable to show care for people until Melissa Leo's character shows that people can put themselves on the line for others, which made me care Lila a little more at the end of the film.
Another character that makes you not like her very much is Kate Winslet's character in "The Reader." The first half of the movie starts to feel like a trap to care for a women who did favors for the Nazi party on concentration camps during World War II. In her sexual relationship with a boy 15 years of age, she is desperately trying to find redemption and healing from her war crimes. The years have proved that some people sought to bring anyone involved with genocide in Germany to justice. I was a little annoyed by this character and found it hard to care about her, even though she fell in love with many classic novels like Old Man and the Sea, and Chekov, and Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and Homer's "The Odyssey." I know love is supposed to conquer all, and human rights issues show that some people are victims of political forces in their country, but I couldn't help but feel relieved when Winslet's character takes her own life. Like Ingrid Bergman's character in Notorious felt when she learned that her Nazi father was dead--she no longer hated him--I felt relieved as well. This performance was so powerful and emotionally manipulative that I wonder if Kate Winslet will win the Oscar for Best Actress. I see why they gave her the Golden Globe. I would rather give the Oscar to Peneplope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
I decided to wait and see who wins and then maybe I'll see the winning films that I haven't seen.

January 23, 2009

The Academy Awards show is 81 this year and if Martin Luther King, Jr. had lived, he would have been 80 on January 15, 2009. I think it's poetic justice that we have an African-American president this year to give a fresh perspective to American politics. We really don't need another Nixon. I'm playing to see the film Frost/Nixon because it was nominated for 5 Oscars this year. The nominations were announced one year after Heath Ledger's death on January 22 and, having seen "The Dark Knight" with millions of others who made the film $531. million dollars, the nomination was well deserved. He won a golden globe for playing the joker in the Dark Knight, a movie that was filmed here in Chicago. (They blow up the old Brach's candy office building on Cicero avenue in the scene where the hospital is blown up in the film. A lot of people lost their jobs when that candy factory branch closed. Signs of the coming recession I guess.) The violence in the Batman film was very intense. All those bombs and guns made me feel like the world is spinning into a violent, apocalyptic, anarchy where violent films are like candy to film goers of the world. Dark Knight was nominated for 8 Oscars. If anything, it should win for visual effects and sound. Many people on the internet think it should have been nominated for Best Picture but the characters were deep and the story comes across as frightening morality tale of what happens when evil takes on too much power.
A movie that I enjoyed better was "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," which transported me to another era of New Orleans, a city I lived in for over a year. Benjamin Button was nominated for 13 Oscars which is very impressive. I went to see it on New Year's Day at Kerasotes’s Showplace 14 Gale wood Crossings theater--behind the Grand and central police station-- which has an awesome sound system, big comfortable "lazy boy" seats, 5 dollar early shows and free refills on popcorn. Button is a three hour movie but the story was so interesting that it kept me interested. I loved how the sets and furniture changed with every decade and every era that Button lived. It should win for Art Direction. Brad Pitt and Taraji Henson were very good in the film and deserved their nominations. Brad Pitt's make-up was very good that it should win for make-up. The score and cinematography were excellent. It is an all around high quality production, and it was all inspired by a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Although, the adaptation of the story brings the time up to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

I think the best actor Award should by a tie between Sean Pean in "Milk" and Brad Pitt in "Button." Both performances were excellent, both brought tears to my eyes. Yet, Mickey Rourke won a Golden Globe for "The Wrestler" so he might have a good chance at winning an Oscar. Will Marisa Tomei win another Oscar proving she is a great actor or were the Academy Award judges paid by the mafia so that she could win for My Cousin Vinny. I'm yet to see the film "Doubt" but all the lead actors in that nominated, stirring my interest in watching it soon.

After watching Slumdog Millionaire with my partner Mike I told him it was a very good film but I was a little uneasy with the negative portrayals of people from India. Even the Indian game show host came off as sleazy. I do find the relationship between Jamal(Dev Patel) and the pretty actor who played his life long love, Latika, heart rending and beautiful that I started to forgive the portrait of Indians as Thugs shooting at disadvantaged Orphans. What is a "Slumdog" anyway? Is it related to Snoop Dog and hip hop? I watched the movie "Oliver!" with Mike and saw some similarities in the two stories. Both are stories of people forced to live in terrible unjust levels of poverty but some how come through in the end and transcend those plights. Dev Patel should get some recognition for his performance. Danny Boyle might have a chance at an Oscar for his brilliant directing. In the end it is a universal tale of poverty and survival with a romantic twist. It's universal because I read the papers and see villainous thugs shooting out at people all over the world. It is Dickenesque in it's story-telling and interesting enough to make me hope for the best for it's main characters, Jamal and Latika. Some people can overcome poverty and be fair about class differences where life treats many unfairly.

Mike and I took a couple of my nephews and nieces to see "Kung Fu Panda" and "Wall-e." The kids liked "panda" better but I liked "Wall-e" because it had a strong underlying message in it. Wall-e does not give up on the human race and continues to clear spaces on the earth by making skyscrapers of garbage that humans have abandoned in the future because garbage has completely covered the planet. Wall-e is very likable in the way that he loves "Eve" and imagines them falling in love just like human's do in old musicals like "Hello Dolly." I thought it was so sweet that Wall-e kept an old broken VHS copy of "Hello Dolly" and kept repairing it and watching it, never giving up on the falling in love scene. Wall-e refuses to give up on the human race, and re refuses to give up on love, which makes him almost human in the way he repairs himself to heal and be a hero. Wall-e is also a morality tale, warning human-kind to do something about the "garbage problem" by recycling like Wall-e was programmed to do. Wall-e survived the other machines because he learned how to save spare parts and collect import things, just like I collect VHS movies--I have a few hundred great, award nominated films--and books. Like Wall-e refuses to give up on "Hello Dolly," I refuse to give up on novels and poetry. It should have been nominated for Best Picture, but it should win best animated film.

I'm planning to do a little catch-up and watch a few other nominated films and I'll add more to this blog later.

January 27, 2009

If Wall-e makes every environmentalist go to the Action Center of www.greenpeaceusa.org and Slumdog Millionaire makes every philanthropist go to www.unicef.org, I'm not sure what people should do after seeing "Doubt." It made me think homophobia like the kind portrayed by Meryl Streep is everywhere and there's a chance that people will be accused of things they did not do. Is this why we need the Human Rights Campaign-- www.hrc.org -- to defend the rights of Gays, Lesbians and Trans-gender people and even Gay Friendly priests. Seeing Doubt made me want to go to www.congress.org and write another letter about Gay rights to civil unions or "gay marriage" if you will. It's not clear whether the priest, played meticulously by Philip Seymour Hoffman, is guilty in the film version of Shanley's play "Doubt." But I have a feeling he may be, because throughout the film Streep's iron fisted nun keeps making unfair assumptions about people. Mike asked me after seeing the film, "if he's innocent why did he quit?" Then I said, "because if I worked with a woman like that, I'd quit too." Viola Davis' performance as the mother was flawless. Davis deserved her nomination, because she made the audience hope that the priest was innocent, beyond all of Streep's nasty assumptions. I once went to a Gay Pride Parade in Chicago and on Broadway and Belmont I saw Christian fundamentalists holding up signs that said, "execute all child molesting priests" and I was a little frightened. Now I am just as offended and disgusted as anyone else about child molestation, but "executing" people goes against my beliefs in human rights and justice. If the priest is guilty then he should be removed but if he is innocent then his rights should be protected, is what I believe. I once spoke to a Gay friendly priest and he tried to make me feel included in a place where Gay people usually feel excluded. He even said a blessing for me when I told him I was HIV positive and he told me not to lose hope. I don't practice Catholicism very much but I did appreciate his kindness. It made me believe that the world would like to live beyond discrimations and prejudices and feel that we are all universally connected on the planet. It is our responsibility to respect the rights of others if we would like to be respected in return.
Another movie that I saw that made me want to write a letter to www.congress.org was "The Visitor." Richard Jenkins was nominated for his role as Walter Vale, a stuffy, burned out college professor who takes in illegal immigrants in his apartment in New York. The movie was well written by Tom McCarthy and made me feel very sympathetic to it's characters. As one of the characters, a man from Syria named Tarek played smoothly by Lebanese American actor--Haaz Sleiman-- faces deportation, you see how unfair immigration laws can be to people trying to start a family in the U.S. Tarek's mother and wife are played well too in the film. Walter's confusion and dissent about immigration issues made me feel sympathetic toward these immigrant characters. The film leaves you with the debatable argument of what happened to the good old days of "give me your tired and huddled masses" and Ellis Island open immigration. My mother was an immigrant from Guatemala, so I felt that same confusion all my life. I was born in the U.S. so I am lucky that I don't have to worry about deportation or harassment by immigration officers. Some gifted people have been granted residence in the U.S. because they have contributed in the arts in some way, but I'm sure they still feel torn between two diverse cultures and nationalities. Many law abiding people with families are allowed to stay in the U.S. even when they are not married to a U.S. citizen, which automatically makes them a citizen. I'm sure Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco felt that confusion when they painted murals in the U.S. for public places, and yet they faced critical attitudes about their political beliefs. It's hard to say what is fair is these issues, but I'll continue respecting the rights of people who would like to be contributing citizens of the U.S. I even did volunteer work for the citizenship literacy office when I was in college. I just know I am liberal in my beliefs in Democracy and human rights and I hope that people will respect that right, because I have never been arrested for anything, not even something righteous like civil rights. "The Visitor" is a good film to see if you want to think about these things and you care to be connected to your community in some way, like it's characters do. This is why thousands of people march for immigrant's rights every so often. I am for respecting the rights of families of prospective citizens and immigrants.

February 2, 2009 Update

I went to the Redbox at the Jewel Grocery store near me and rented "The Visitor" for a dollar--a well spent dollar. And I also tried to watch "Wanted" but found it a little to violent for my taste and took it back after only watching half of it. I couldn't stomach "Tropic Thunder" either because it felt disrespectful to any viewer of war film and insulted my intelligence. Robert Downey Jr. gets nominated and not Spike Lee for Miracle at St. Anna, or Queen Latifah for Secret Life of Bees. What is the Oscar committee thinking?
I did get to see an early matinee of Ron Howard's "Frost/Nixon" and found it very intelligent and thought provoking. Peter Morgan's script is brilliant, just like his script for "The Queen" that earned Helen Mirren an Oscar. I see why they chose to nominate it for best picture. It is a very important part of American history in the "Cold War" era where "socialists" saw back stabbing "fascists" hiding in the corners and conservative Republican nationalists like Richard Nixon saw "communists" hiding out in the corner waiting to "attack." It is very important to get this political paranoia out in the open and get people to talk about it. Like one president said in his speech, "we have nothing to fear but fear itself." As a liberal Democrat who believes that human rights issues should evolve the way we look at potential "enemies," I think democracy has allowed for many conflicting opinions to exist in one place. In places like China, if you even use the words "democracy" and "human rights" on the internet, you run the risk of being censored. I just went to the Action Center at www.amnestyusa.org and wrote a letter against this kind of censorship on the internet. In order to reach a fair idea of the truth, all ideas must be allowed to be given voice, although we all have a right not to believe in every stupid thing that comes out of a hateful moment in people's attitude about politics. People have a right to use their freedoms and defend themselves. In "Frost/Nixon," we see Frank Langella take on a creepy likeness of former president Nixon and watch as he puts his foot in his mouth, just like Nixon did, time and time again. We see a portrait of Nixon that appears very close to the truth, a man who is very much like Mr. Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life," "a warped, frustrated old buzzard." This hatefulness and fear that is so much a part of his ignorance, drove Nixon to suspect Democrats were consorting with socialists in the Watergate Hotel and Office Buildings. He hired people to break into the Democratic National Convention headquarters and wire tap all their conversations. This is what made congress want to impeach him and eventually lead to his resignation as president. I think David Frost was crazy to pay Nixon $600,000 for four two hour interviews, but Nixon taking that money just showed how greedy he was. In the film, David Frost sets up trap questions that reveal a side of American history and wars against communism that are a bit frightening, yet necessary to watch. "Tricky Dick"--as Nixon was called by some people close to him and "Deep Throat"--the man who revealed the Watergate scandal to reporters, made me slightly aware that these interviews were made in 1977, six years before HIV/AIDS would start making hundreds of thousands of people drop dead in the U.S., making the punk band the Sex Pistols look like part of a diabolical plan to infect millions of people in the world. For scary HIV/AIDS statistics go to www.avert.org. Was that relieving to hateful, paranoid people like Nixon? Or did angry "fascist anarchists," "anti-communists," and "communists" just start to hate everyone? Who is to blame for all that? I may never know, but I have a feeling that Nixon is not alone in his wire-tapping paranoia. It makes you think that Republican Nationalists in the U.S. have to defend the nasty, caustic, prejudiced arguments of half-educated conservatives, who are tempted to start wars. So much for peace activism then and sensitive gay people like Harvey Milk who demanded respect for his people. "Milk" to me was also an intelligent film, however uncomfortable it is to people who don't like to watch open "homosexuality." When Sean Penn received his Screen Actor's Guild Award for "Milk," he said he was portraying a "human being" and not just a gay man. He deserved that Award.

All the films nominated for best picture are very good, that I'm not sure what the Academy will decide. My first choice would be "Benjamin Button," and my second would be "Milk" followed by "Slumdog Millionaire," and "Frost/Nixon," and finally "The Reader."

This blog was posted for Oscars of 2006 on:February 25, 2007

Watching the Oscars at home in front of a television is still the best seat in the house. I liked having access to my Movie Awards book and my Who's Who in Film book so I could look everyone up. My partner-for-life Mike guessed many of the Oscars on our Oscar sheet right. We went on the internet to Oscars.com and saw all the beautiful red dresses that Actors were wearing to raise awareness about heart disease and women. The red dresses created a positive portrayal of women in Hollywood unlike some of the roles I saw this year in nominated films showing women in negative roles: Swinton played a "throat-slitting" corporate lawyer--she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for that, Queen Elizabeth was portrayed as a revenge seeking head chopping aristocrat who has a "hurricane inside her." "Elizabeth" won for Costume, which I can agree with. Those gowns were beautiful to look with their amazing Renaissance painting-like quality of color and form. Marion Cotillard, won for her portrayal of Edith Piaf which I found deeply moving. I was yelling, "Marcel! Marcel!" to Michael and telling him that's my Oscar nominated moment. Ruby Dee getting nominated for being a pimp slapper in American Gangster was well deserved. She won the Screen Actor's Guild Award for that.
I could not believe how beautiful Amy Ryan really is. Her trailer park trash role was also a demeaning look at women, but her performance as a mother who says "fuck" in front of her daughter as she puts on her cheap make-up started to become a metaphor for redemption.
I loved that Diablo Cody won an Oscar for Original Screenplay. That was an awesome moment, watching a talented women get what talented women deserve, recognition. Her Tarzan leopard skin dress was a symbol of her belief in individualism and personal freedom. Well, you go baby!
What's with all the psychos in nominated films this year. Some of this violent films that won Oscars like No Country For Old Men are like horror films disguised as quality drama. The Coen brothers are a brilliant team though.
This year, all the acting categories were won by non-American actors. I started imaging immigration coming to the Oscars and beautiful women in nice dresses and heel running and jumping fences.
I went on the internet to look at the red dresses pics on Oscars.com and to look up the Golden Globe Awards to find that Hairspray was nominated for Best Picture Golden Globe so John Waters gets poetic justice there, at least in naughty limericks.
I was sad to see Sicko didn't win. The Golden Compass winning for Special Effects makes me want to see it. I also might catch The Bourne Ultimatium that won two Oscars for sounds. "What awesome sounds of car crashes!" I'll see if the Redbox still has "Bourne" to rent for a dollar. The redbox movie rental vending machine in front of Jewel grocery stores all over Chicago. I rented a few Oscar nominated film from there, like Transformers, Eastern Promises, Elizabeth, American Gangster and Gone Baby Gone.
Overall, I enjoyed eating Breyer's pecan ice-cream with Bailey's, a "Malibu Mudslide" I call it and cuddling on the couch with Mike. We have quite a few Oscar films on videocassette so that would make us very lucky. Thank the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender angels for that. Yes, we can! Having HIV and Bi-polar disorder is very hard to me and watching ignorant characters say homophobic comments in some of those ridiculously violent films makes me glad that writers are no longer on strike. Maybe we'll get more comic dramas and bio-pics next year that warm our hearts. I would watch a film about painter Georgia O'Keffe and maybe one about poet Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance. God bless wikipedia.org for telling me all about movies I was interested in. I loved that "Falling Slowly" from the movie Once won for best song. The Indie movie world was done justice!!
One last thing, so you won't go out and spend good movie on Razzies.com--films nominated for worst films of the year--go to the public library and check it out. This is my new Chicago Public Library rap: Get Down and Get Out! Check it Out! Check it out! Check it out!
CPL have a new inter-library loan system and you can find a book, dvd, or cd any where in the city on their computers and the librarian will order it for you. You have nothing to lose but your wallets!!
Posted February 5, 2008
I believe this year that Queen Latifah was ignored at the Oscars this year by not getting a Academy Award Nomination for her role in Hairspray. Then Hairspray is an "underground" music scene to me. I liked Hairspray enough, although sometimes it seemed to take Civil Rights too lightly and mixed it with a little sex. Controversy like teen sex makes people ignore the movies and I guess it's there right. As for me, I have both Hairsprays on DVD and even bought some John Waters films for a dollar at closing video stores in Chicago. Am I a Hairspray-maniac? I have a big framed Hairspray poster on my studio apartment wall in Hollywood Park, Chicago. My partner for life, Mike and I went to see Hairspray on stage too at the Paramount Theater in Aurora, IL. I wore a foam "Tracy Turnblad" wig I got at a movie theater where someone gave me a Hairspray pin as well. I enjoyed the songs they performed on stage as well and sang along to some of them because I bought the Soundtrack too. An older lady with her daughter said why are you singing along and I said, because I believe in Gay Partnership rights like Scott Wittman, Marc Shaiman and John Waters and you should right to Congres.org too to say yes to Gay Civil Partnerships. I went to Hairspray giveaway and raffle and won two movie posters, Hairspray DVD preview, Hairspray CD singles, a LOGO t-shirt, Hairspray Chapstick with all the characters faces on it, some sexy underwear and a Hairspray net back pack that I used at the movies-in-the-park events in Chicago last year. I love you Mike if you're reading this.
I have seen some of the Oscar nominated movies sprung on the public this year and was surprised to like some of them. There are a few Classic vintage era cinemas left in Chicago, like the Davis and the Logan that still show fairly new films for very cheap. I saw Ratatouille and Into The Wild at Logan for $3.00 each and saw Atonement and Juno at a Davis early show for $5.50 each. I was disgusted at how much an early show of Sweeney Todd cost at Webster's Showplace Cinema. It cost Mike and I $8.50 each. I believe that some corporations completely ignore the plight of minimum wage workers and poor people living on fixed income--Don't even mention my Sprint cell phone 'rip-off' service. I wrote to Congress.org about giving people disability discounts where it applys, especially with basic needs like food, clothing and shelter. I mean, $8.50 for an early show? That's a day's wage for some people. Maybe I should ignore some nominated films this year and wait for them to go to video.
Mike and I went to see "No Country For Old Men" at the Davis and I became so squeamish at the violence that we walked out on it and saw "Juno" instead. I liked "Juno" and the off-center dialogue that makes the writing witty and original. Ellen Page as the "Morality Whale" of teen pregnancy was very charming and she deserved the nomination. The other characters played by Bateman and Garner were those characters that keep you interested because you are not sure if you should like them or not by the end of the film. It was interesting and moving seeing these characters cling to a by-gone era of obscure grunge. I did like the "folk-punk" soundtrack that gave the characters a middle class angst that I see in some people in my life.
Sweeney Todd also made me squeamish but the music gives the film some relief from the violence and Tim Burton keeps me in a state of constant fascination. I've never seen something so diabolical as Depp's acting in those portrayal of Soundheim's character. It's funny to me when a "horror" film musical gets a Oscar nomination. Javier Bardem's killer in "Old Men" is just as chilling. It may be too bloody for the Oscars to give it to Depp but I haven't watched Michael Clayton yet, to know how Clooney does in that one. That's next on my list.
I liked "Into The Wild" because of its shots of natural landscapes in parks all over the country. I felt like Woody Guthrie on a train ride with Christopher McCandles, who gave all his money to Oxfam and went tramping across the country. It made me think that there is a lot of mental illness left untreated in this country. He needed some crisis intervention and therapy--another thing to write to congress about. His fascination for books made me cry for him in the end. I collect old paperback classics too and own some of the books he was reading in the film. The shots of the rivers, waves, skies, mountains and trees felt like a Greenpeacer's dream. Hal Holbrook was very sweet as the veteran who taught him how to cave leather belts. The moment they shared on the mountainside made me feel that these characters were as close to God as they were ever going to get in this life. It's a shame that Christopher didn't go on to finish college and maybe become a teacher somewhere in the U.S.
Movies I saw with great soundtracks where "Across The Universe" and "Once." Two movies that used songs to intensify drama. Both are worth a watch.
I saw "Atonement" at the Davis too and enjoyed this fictional historical romance with a twist. The war scenes made me cry and made me want to write another letter to congress against the evils of war again. I kept thinking of those Wilfred Owens poems that I read in college against all war. Owens died in the war. I met someone who said he was related to him on a shuttle bus on the way home from a Coldplay concert. He was a little drunk and wanted to share a bottle of vodka with me but became very sensitive when I mentioned his grandfather, Wilfred Owens. It turns out he works in Chicago. It was very nice of him to share a drink with me. Maybe God is involved in the way that R. S. Owens has been making Oscar statues for years in Chicago, not far from where I live now in Hollywood Park, Chicago. Is the R.S. meant to be like my and my fathers initials Rafael and Ruben Santos and the Owens is God's way of telling me he is for peace and against all war on the earth? Why is it on "Lynch" street? For Civil Rights vigil? My friend Mary worked at Price Water House Coopers too.
I think "Sicko" should get best documentary because I also wrote to Congress.org about accessible health care for everyone in this country.
I plan to watch "I'm Not There" about a Bob Dylan like character with Heath Ledger. May the Angels play his favorite songs all night long.

Last Year's Blog: Posted February 4, 2007
I've been thinking about the Oscars again and the movie I just saw that left me in awe was Dreamgirls, nominated for eight Academy Awards. I was studying Jennifer Hudson's performance and I am amazed at her overnight star status. The newspapers in Chicago published articles about 25 year old Hudson because she attended Paul Laurence Dunbar High School on the south side of Chicago. Mr. T went there too in the sixties. She does have a voice to make Whitney Huston's version of Dreamgirls have a seat. The song Patience should win, because I was moved by the post-riot footage while that song played. Should she win? With a voice like that, I say yes, even though my heart goes out to Abigail Breslin for her flawless performance in Little Miss Sunshine, a movie that is a serious comedy which is hard to do. The Gay Uncle Frank going through mental illness and suicidal thoughts was played un-self-consciously and brilliantly. Alan Arkin as the potty mouthed Grandfather gave the movie an importance that burned as bright as the torch on the statue of liberty. Breslin made me want to go to campaignforrealbeauty.com like I saw on Oprah about young women with self image problems.

I did understand the importance of the human rights issues in Blood Diamond, having sent a letter to congress about the issue for Amnesty International USA's "Action Center"(Amnestyusa.org.) Leonard Dicaprio keeps your eyes glued to the action sequences like watching is gold. Brad Pitt in Babel tore at my heart, considering all the humanitarian work he has done for poverty in the world, namely in Africa(one.org.) Babel left me disturbed about the war in the Middle East, desiring peace and diplomacy but getting bomb planting pyschos. I shudder to think about all the news I read about the war in Iraq and all the casualties they've counted. How will it all be compensated? Rinko Kikochi, nominated for an Oscar was interesting but not as strong as Hudson's or Breslin's performance.

Penelope Cruz looks like a beautifully tormented Picasso in Almodovar's Volver. I worship that director. I wish I could have a civil union with him.

United 93 made me cry in a public place which I don't like to do, but it was dark and nobody seemed to mind so I just kept on wishing 9-11 never happened.
I liked Cuaron's "Children of Men." It reminded me of Godard's "Alphaville" which is just as surreal when it comes to futuristic science fiction mixed with cinema realism.

The Illusionist was cool and Savion Glover's choregraphy in Happy Feet was good, but Monster House might win. Which I saw with my family and thought was very entertaining.

I think Dreamgirls should've been nominated for Best Picture because it was situated in an important time in history, the death of Martin Luther King Jr. and the riots that followed and not to mention the rise and fall of the Glory of a Motownesque "Rainbow Records." I wish Beyonce was my guardian angel on earth in the flesh. Eddie Murphy made me shut up in his singing performance, Mr. one hit wonder with eighties song "My Girlfriend Wants To Party All The Time" might win an Oscar. Who woulda thunk it?

I'm still yet to see some very interesting films. Who has the money to not wait for the video release? But I usually get around to watching a bunch of Oscar nominated films. I'm hooked on the movies, even if they throw me and all my stuff on the curb, I'll still stay devoted to them. I want to see "The Pursuit of Happyness" and see if Will Smith deserves an Oscar. I'm yet to see "Pan's Labyrinth," a slice of surreal horror that looks professionally filmed in magical special effects. I'll eventually get around to the Clint Eastwood movies, but those feel like the obligatory bitter pill of History that we have to reckon with to teach Americans to be a little more humane with A Bombs.

As for Borat, I want time to help me forget I saw it.

I have cable and they have 18 of the James Bond films available to watch at your command with their new On Demand digital video service. I see documentaries of all kinds using that service, including channels like the History Channel, National Geographic, Concert.tv, and others. I love documentaries lately and I think Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" should win an Oscar for best Documentary. I wrote to my congress person about it at congress.org. Al Gore might be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for that, but I still think that One.org deserves it a little more. Melissa Etheridge's song for "An Inconvenient Truth"--"I Want to Wake Up" is perfect and leaves you thinking about the earth, the sky and the sun.

Bono has been knighted by the queen of England, but he can't call himself Sir because he ain't british, he po' Irish. I'll eventually watch the film "The Queen" for that. There's still so many to watch? Anyone want to go to the movies?

So that's what is on my mind at the moment. Anybody know any Oscar party benefits? I went to one for the Aids Quilt once and Chicago and The Hours won a few Oscars. Another great year for the Oscars: watching Adrien Brody kiss Halle Berry; that was timeless. For more information go to


Also, I just saw The Devil Wears Prada and Meryl Streep was at her best in that, playing the sarcasm in a very passive aggressive way that made her character a likable "devil." That movie should win for costume, the couture in that made the film great to watch.

February 15, 2007

I went out alone and watched "The Pursuit of Happyness" which made me cry for homeless families who need some kind of government intervention, which I believe in. Will Smith was nominated for an Oscar for that, and there's a possibility that he is going to get it. His son should've been nominated too. He was good.
I thought of organizations like www.RobinHood.org.
February 18, 2007
I liked Dijmon Houson's performance in Blood Diamond, but it was his role as a painter in the slums with HIV in the film In America that made me stop and think about the devastating tragedy of the AIDS pandemic again. Good luck to him with two Oscar nominations in two years. That's not luck, that's talent.
I just saw Marie Antoinette on video today and went to www.wikipedia.org and looked up "Marie Antoinette" and read what is there. The story is close to history but Sofia Coppola's version is a rock n roll Rococo fashion show at Versailles. I kept hearing a time warped middle class, American suburban girl listening to eighties music in the voice of Marie which made me wonder how she pulled that off in such an extragant, well filmed period piece. I'll never think of Bow Wow Wow's song "I Want Candy" as a trivial one hit wonder again. It now has historical significance, I guess.
The costumes were fascinating to look at and the set at Versailles was an amazing feat, but the music made me feel just as strangely as "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp" when it won an Oscar in 2006. Huh? And they ignored "Seasons of Love" from Rent, the Movie? And what about "Upside Down" in the animated film "Curious George"? I thought the music video and song were sweet to listen too and very unique.
After reading the history of Marie Antoinette on wikipedia.org, I thought of the American Humane Society and was relieved to find none of the poodles or pugs in the film were guillotined.

February 24, 2007
I rented The Departed and was amazed that such a movie was nominated for Best Picture. I know that Martin Scorsese is a genius at directing and I've seen quite a few of his movies. The Rolling Stones song "Gimme Shelter" was used in three in his movies. I know he loves African American music because I watched the Concert film that he produced called Lightning in a Bottle, which is just as socially, historically significant as The Last Waltz, a concert film with Bob Dylan. I own a copy of Scorcese's film about the Dalai Lama called Kundun which was an excellent film. I rented a few of his older films at Facets.org and I know he worked on sensitive American Realist films about struggling middle class and lower class women, which is very important to think about. Mean Streets, Goodfellas, Gangsters of New York and The Departed leave you with a bleak and violent portrayal of American society. Jack Nicholson's character was so diabolical he could have a calm conversation with someone while holding a human hand--He even makes a John Lennon reference at that point in the film, leaving you with an eerie sense of irony. I think the Departed was too long, but the characters were very morally ambiguous which eventually makes it bearable to watch. The final shoot out scenes leave you numb and desensitized to violence. Is this representative of something terribly wrong in male American society? I do read the news and read the statistics on the www.bradycampaign.org site that states that 10-11,000 people die of gun violence in the U.S. every year. It gives me the willies. I think that Scorsese should use his genius to make a biopic on an American musician or band. Why aren't there any good movies about the life of Jimi Hendrix? There's a good essay about Scorsese in the Great Directors section of the SensesofCinema.com site.

I don't think that a film with characters that make it impossible to like them will be chosen as Best Picture. Most likely Clint Eastwood or Babel will win. You can look up movies and directors that have won Academy Awards by searching "Academy Awards" at www.wikipedia.org. I read through the winners and nomimations of the past 79 years on that site. Wikipedia is like God or a Buddha, you ask it any questions and it will answer anything, even about your favorite musician or band.

February 28, 2007I enjoyed watching the Oscars for the most part. However, I had a little Spanish Champagne--or sparkling wine to be correct--and I started to fall asleep when Celine Dion started to sing. My friend Mary walked out of the room too and went on the internet. I did enjoy watching Jennifer Hudson win an Oscar for Dreamgirls. I said, "Wow, she did it on her first film. Amazing." I liked what she said, "See what God can do." Eddie Murphy walked out after they announced the winners and he realized that he had lost.

Watching Melissa Etheridge sing "I Want To Wake Up" and then watching her win an Oscar for that song was a treat. That song was in Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" which also won an Oscar for Best Documentary. Also, it should have been tie with the song "Patience" from Dreamgirls, which was performed well too.

Ellen Degeneres was being discreet with her jokes but she snuck a lesbian joke or two here and there. She's a pretty good host.

I can't believe The Departed won for Best Picture, but after reading the critique in a TLS about that film I understand why they consider that a contemporary classic. It's such a violent film, though, very unusual that a movie about diabolical crooks and crooked cops getting shot down would go down in Oscar history. Scorsese's a genius I admit because I like all the documentaries that he worked on: Lightning In a Bottle, The Last Waltz, and My Voyage to Italy.

I've seen quite a few films, but there is still so many more to see. I'd like to see the film that won for Best Foreign film this year. It's from Germany and it's called "The Lives of Others." It's a spy thriller about government paranoia.

Pan's Labyrinth is now a certified classic.

Good-bye to Joe Barbera and Phillipe Noiret, whose tributes made me mushy. Maybe it was Morricone's music that always makes me teary eyed for that piece.
March 14, 2007
I went to see The Queen finally. I enjoyed watching it. Anyone watching The Queen feels immediately elevated to a level of Nobility, only because Tony Blair proclaims Princess Diana, "the people's princess." The presence of Royalty, which subconscious or not is a symbol of British conservatism, has an interesting contrast to the Blair family's more liberal Labor Party. Tony Blair's election into office ended years of conservatism in the U.K. Her work with Blair makes her mild disagreements forgivable. The audience is invited to be tolerant of her "presence." I'm glad I saw it because I began to understand a little bit about the change of politics in the U.K. in the last ten years, i.e., the queen has knighted Rock N Rollers like Elton John, Paul McCartney and Bono, for their charity work. That was very open-minded and fashionable of her. Diana would have cried.

This I posted in 2006:

I should share my perspectives on film. I've been watching films all my life and found them to be very thought provoking and a great stimulus for the senses. I like to watch films that where based on books. Sometimes the film version of the book adds elements that make reading the book rewarding, yet sometimes you invest so much imagination into reading a book that all outside manifestations of the book seem to lack what you envision. Sometimes I'm an idealist and other times I'm a romantic that likes to mystify people, which is why I elaborated on my profile page.

I've seen films revered as classics and have read books revered as classics and find it all an educational and thought provoking experience. I try to get people to read because I believe that reading makes you wiser and helps you understand some things about the human experience. Many films fall under the category of realism, which is just as important to me as fantasy, adventure films. If I was a teacher, I would tell my students to read a book that was adapted into a film, read some film critique and write an essay on the film. Movies bases on books that I enjoyed watching are The Hours, Narnia, David Lean's Great Expectations, and Maurice.

I've seen Kurosawa's Ikiru and found it to be a metaphor for some of the most existential and bleak conditions of the human experience. As for Classic films, I enjoyed Cinema Paradiso, An American in Paris, A Hard Day's Night, Pialat's Van Gogh, Kundun, The Last Emperor, A Beautiful Mind and Finding Forrester.

Of the Oscar nominated film that I saw this year, The Constant Gardener left the deepest impression. It's themes of corporate corruption and human rights moved me to tears. I saw Brokeback Mountain and as democratic as I am regarding my beliefs in Gay Rights, watching those two men have sex made me a little nervous and afraid that gays are going to be accused of "corrupting the American public." That would be a harsh generalization because we are living in the time of HIV and statistics have made us all aware what Gay men do in bed. The initial shock wore off as I realized that Brokeback Mountain is a tragic, cautionary film told on a beautiful landscape of Mountains and Rivers. It helped me cope with the idea of troubled relationships, even if I would never date a married man myself. I don't want to be a homewrecker.

Some movies go straight to my heart and it's true that some let me down. It's still worth the gamble. Oscar winning films are always notable and interesting, so I invest in them. Thanks for taking the time to read this and good luck to you. It's too bad we don't live next door to each other, we could go to the movies together and have a deep discussion on whatever psychological, historical, emotional, idealistic, realistic, romantic themes are conveyed in the films. Take Care anyway and feel free to call if you want to have a deep conversation.

www.sensesofcinema.com Click here and find your favorite film director and read about she or he.
Peace in Chicago, Ruben

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