Sunday, December 30, 2012

Some of my reviews of movies on Facebook, for awards season.

Here are some of the mini reviews that I posted on my facebook page about movies that Mike and I have seen.  We are getting ready for the awards seasons.  These films are already nominated for Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild awards, and more.  Here they are:

Mike and I saw “Hyde Park on the Hudson” today, and enjoyed it.  I have a new respect for Bill Murray as an actor, who played Franklin Delano Roosevelt in this film.  Laura Linney, as his mistress is very good.  It made me do some research on Wikipedia, and I found that FDR used the song “Happy Days are Here Again” as his campaign song for his 1932 election, when he won for the first time.  I admit, it is a bit strange to see such a sensitive, liberal, democratic President portrayed as a womanizer and a philanderer, but I’m glad the story is being told.  Now the truth is out, and that’s good.   The two actors who played King George and his wife Elizabeth were a delight to watch, because they come off as being offended that FDR would make them eat hot dogs at a picnic.  The movie is based on a play that was based on the letters and diaries of Magaret Suckley, aka “Daisy,” who had a life long affair with the former president.  Here you can listen to a 1930 recording of “Happy Days are Here Again” and think optimistically for the democratic party.  We need a liberal president again.  Happy New Year’s Eve, and best wishes for 2013!  Peace, and Best Wishes, Ruben and Mike.


Mike and I saw "Life of Pi" today, and made it through the harrowing parts, like animals attacking each other, just preparing you for it if you plan to see it. Overall it is fascinating storytelling, with a slightly disturbing twist. I have the book now, and plan to read it. I like that Pi was a bit of a Universalist Unitarian, liking a little bit of all religions. Pi says in the film, "knowing many religions is like being in a house with many rooms." Truly, it is a story of survival, and making peace with God in face of violence and disaster. It is a great film, with great acting and filmmaking by Ang Lee. Peace, and Best Wishes, Ruben and Mike.


Mike and I saw Les Miserables, and we loved it. We don't believe the Tribune review that panned it, we like Rolling Stone's review and give it three and half of four stars too. Mike loved Samantha Barks voice the most, and he was impressed with Hugh Jackman's and Anne Hathaway's singing. The songs are sung slightly imperfectly, but they are much more emotional and human that way, by the middle of the film it made sense. I love everything about Les Miserables, I've read the book(The short version of it at least), I saw the stage musical, I listened to the soundtrack, and I read about the French Revolution on wikipedia. This is a movie that not only depicts the senseless violence of bloody revolution, but it's mainly about Valjean's saintliness, self-sacrifice, and search for redemption. I loved the constant motion in this film, and the fabulous sets. This is a must see film for any fan of classic nineteen century literature, and any fan of musical movies. Note: Victor Hugo was inspired to create the character Gavroche, the little boy in the barricades, after seeing the painting "Liberty Leading the People" by Delacroix. What a great film, and Oscar worthy! Peace, Equality, Human Rights, and Best Wishes, Ruben and Mike


Mike and I saw an early showing of "Hitchcock," and liked Anthony Hopkins' and Helen Mirren's performances. Very witty script, and story that revolves around the fear that his longtime wife, Alma Reville, has taken a lover. We know it's one of the greatest love stories of Hollywood that Alma and Alfred married in 1926, and stayed married until Hitchcock's death in 1980 at the age of 80. Pretty long life for a man who ate like an elephant and drank like a fish! I was a little disturbed, and annoyed by the presence of Ed Gein, as the inspiration for why Hitchcock made the movie Psycho, but every director must do his research, and this is one researched, and well filmed movie. Peace, and Best Wishes, Ruben and Mike.


Mike and I were lucky enough to get into an early show of "Lincoln" today, and we think it's one of the best movies we have seen in years. Extremely intelligently written by Gay playwright Tony Kunshner, who spent six years researching and writing the script for this moving film. It takes place in the three months in Lincoln's presidency while he drafted and attempted to pass the amendment freeing the slaves or the 13Th Amendment. Lincoln faced many prejudiced members of congress who refused to see African Americans as equals, and deserving of the same freedoms. Sally Field is amazing as Mary Todd Lincoln, but Daniel Day Lewis is nothing short but superb, deserving of an Oscar nomination. Robert Todd Lincoln, was Lincoln's only of four sons to live to old age. This is a powerful moment in history, a movie that begs for equality for all people. A movie not to be missed. Go early, some showig may sell out!! Peace, Democracy, Freedom, Equality, and Best Wishes, Ruben and Mike.


Mike and I saw Argo at the Patio theater, which was exciting, and darkly comic political thriller based on a true event, though heavily dramatized. We are living in a time of ruined diplomacy, and since the September 11th bombing in New York, we have seen quite a few films that dramatize this state of ruined diplomacy between the muslims and the people of the western world. Only time will heal such a terrific scar, but people will never forget. This movie, like some others in recent history, has a certain level of Islamaphobia, that made me a bit nervous to watch. I believe in celebrating diversity, so if something seems racist to me, I have to speak out. That's the whole purpose of this film. After the innocent lives of Americans killed in the Libyan embassy, I worry about how fanatic people have become about politics and religion. Embassies are supposed to be places of peace making, not war making. I pray, and hope for better times, when immigrants won't be feared, and people can live in peace, without fear of terrorism. But when? People have to trade hatred for human rights activism, democracy, and civilized places of meeting like the movies. That's why this movie is important, and should at least win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. What do you think? Peace, and Best Wishes, Ruben and Miked with Hugh Jackman's and Anne Hathaway's singing. The songs are sung slightly imperfectly, but they are much more emotional and human that way, by the middle of the film it made sense. I love everything about Les Miserables, I've read the book(The short version of it at least), I saw the stage musical, I listened to the soundtrack, and I read about the French Revolution on wikipedia. This is a movie that not only depicts the senseless violence of bloody revolution, but it's mainly about Valjean's saintliness, self-sacrifice, and search for redemption. I loved the constant motion in this film, and the fabulous sets. This is a must see film for any fan of classic nineteen century literature, and any fan of musical movies. Note: Victor Hugo was inspired to create the character Gavroche, the little boy in the barricades, after seeing the painting "Liberty Leading the People" by Delacroix. What a great film, and Oscar worthy! Peace, Equality, Human Rights, and Best Wishes, Ruben and Mike.

Monday, February 27, 2012

On Watching the 84th Academy Awards in 2012 With Mike

Mike and I made oven baked chicken wings, and homemade onion rings from scratch, to eat while watching the 2012 Oscars.  We have spent the last month, hurriedly seeing some of the movies nominated for Academy Awards, and we managed to view all of the Best Picture nominations, and many of the acting nominations.  There's always a few films that we leave until after the Oscars to watch, just to see if they win, like Best Foreign Language Film, which was won by a movie from Iran this year, called "A Separation."  That's next on our list.  We were happy to find quite a few of the nominated films on video this year, which was helpful to precocious cinephiles like us. 

After watching the Golden Globes, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, I was sure that Viola Davis would win for "The Help," but she lost to Meryl Streep, the most-nominated Actor of all time, for a movie where Streep plays a conservative.  Mike and I saw "Iron Lady" and thought that Streep did well as Thatcher, making us think of her as a anti-communist war-monger, but also as a sensitive woman's rights advocate trying to make a name for herself in a male-dominated Parliament.  Mike thinks that the Academy, which is 94 percent white, and 77 percent male, decided to give it to Streep, as an a way for rewarding her for all the great performances she did not win for, like The Hours, which I loved, and Julie and Julia, where she was great.  Viola was slightly robbed though.  It should have been a tie, but that doesn't happen very often.  Streep's acceptance speech was funny though, saying self-referentially, "Oh god, not her again...whatever."  She needs be given some kind of lifetime achievement award, like Charlie Chaplin, who received an honorary Oscar at 83, but he didn't win it in an acting category, making Christopher Plummer the oldest acting win in Oscar history at 82. 

Plummer was very charming accepting his award for playing a Gay senior citizen in "Beginners," thanking his beautiful wife, and telling his Oscar, "Where have you been all my life?"  Plummer was very good in "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" as well.  Mike and I cheered when they called his name.  Plummer has won so many Awards for "Beginners" that it was not surprising to see him win an Oscar. 

The Artist and The Hugo, two films about film nostalgia that urge viewers to help in film preservation, both won five Oscars each.  Hugo, a love letter to film preservation and classic cinema, won in technical categories.  Mike and I loved "Hugo" as much as "The Artist" and "Midnight In Paris," so it was hard to see those films lose to each other, which is probably why Woody Allen doesn't go the Oscars ceremonies.  I was only slightly surprised to see "The Artist" win Best Picture and Best Director, because it was such a great film.  So many of those great movie palaces--built for silent film era films--are now Broadway in Chicago venues.  It would be nice to see "The Artist"--which won for Best Original Score--performed live with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at one of these old palace theaters, for the sake of nostalgia. 

Mike and I saw "My Week With Marilyn" at the beautiful, vintage Patio theater at Irving Park and Austin in Chicago, and we loved it. Somehow it is a touching, sweet, funny film that magically recreates some great and desperate days for Marilyn Monroe. Colin Clark, son of the wealthy art historian Kenneth Clark, lovingly falls under Marilyn's spell of charm, and takes her on a personal tour of his world in England, including Windsor Castle, Eton College, and the pretty countryside. It's a great film filled with great performances, especially Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier, the demanding Prima Donna. The Patio is a great place to watch a film about an actress whose films are rich with nostalgia, because the Patio is a magical place rich with Nostalgia for old movie palaces.  Michelle deeply deserved this nominated for portraying Monroe as a woman looking for respect, true love, and stability, in a dangerously flirtatious way.  Mike and I are saddened that pills and alcohol has taken so many talented people from the world, like Monty Clift, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, and Michael Jackson, and so many others like Marilyn, just needing a stable, loving place for recovery and healing. What a moving "In Memoriam" sequence, with a beautiful, solemn rendition of "What a Wonderful World."  Mike and cried a couple of times. 
It was good to see Woody Allen win an Award for "Midnight In Paris," his most successful film in years, which we loved, because of the colorful "real" characters in it, like Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, Cole Porter, Picasso, Dali, Fitzgerald, and many others.  It was a very clever, unique script, and deserved the Best Original Screenplay award that it received.  What was Woody doing the moment he won?  Probably listening to those great old jazz records of his, that he loves to put in his films.  Mike and I love Cole Porter's music, and go to the Cole Porter Festival every year, listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing the Porter songbook on the way to Peru, Indiana.  I'm a nostalgist like the character in "Midnight in Paris." We live in an apartment filled with old books, movies, records, that people once gave away to resale shops, like the Brown Elephant, which raises money for the Howard Brown Clinic in Chicago, for treatment and care for people living with HIV.  I'm one of them.  I love the Howard Brown, who was rescued from financial problems just recently!!
I'm glad to hear that Elton John is still raising money for his HIV/AIDS charities.  He is a great soul, which makes me wonder why he didn't get nominated for his song in "Gnomeo and Juliet," a movie Mike and I liked, because it introduces classic literature to children.  Mike and I love watching inexpensive Shakespeare productions as well.  We just saw "Twelfth Night" at Northeastern Illinois University, and it was excellent.  It made me think of Gwyneth Paltrow in "Shakepeare in Love." Gwyneth is my friend on Facebook, and she's very nice to me.  Mike and I bought tickets to see Paltrow's husband Chris Martin, and his band Coldplay, perform live this year.  Exciting!!
So many movies produced by the Weinstein brothers this year, that I can't help thinking that they are single-handedly keeping the Hollywood film industry alive! 
Mike and I liked Billy Crystal as a host.  He's still very funny at 63!  The opening montage was hilarious!!  The funny parody introduction to the Best Pictures sung by Crystal was funny too.  Was I seeing things, or did Jennifer Lopez' left nipple, seem to be peeping out of her dress?
The orchestra, lead by a guitarist, was excellent.  Also, the Cirque De Soleil sequence was amazing, and dazzling!!  Oprah getting the Humanitarian Award was very moving; it was well deserved.  Oprah got a standing ovation.  Excellent.
At one point, it felt like they were jogging through handing out the awards, and then it was over at three hours and ten minutes. 
I was happy to see the Muppets make an appearance, and I was happy to see Uggie, the dog from "The Artist," go on stage with the cast to accept for Best Picture.  Uggie deserves his Golden Collar award.  I wanted to hear the Muppets sing "Life is a Happy Song!!"  Oh to be 7 years old again!!  Mike and I still watch animated films though, keeping the child in us alive, and giggling.  Chico and Rita is a great animated film, but it's not for children!!  Rango won for Best Animated Film, which was very good. 
In all, my only concern, was that Octavia Spencer wasn't given enough time to say something important against racism for the history books.  She should have written something down. 
In the end, Mike and I didn't Outguess Ebert, which is a shame.  We would have loved a trip to Los Angeles!!  We have his autograph in signed books though.  What an intelligent soul!  Ebert got nine of the eleven right this year.  I guessed four right, and Mike five. Mike thought the Academy would vote for "War Horse," and I voted for "The Help" for Best Picture.  Competitions can be so unfar, but they lead us to discover some great films!  Oh well! C'est la vie!!
My brother Juan wanted Moneyball to win something, because it's about baseball.  My friend Tania wanted George Clooney to win, because she loves him.  I told her on Facebook that George Clooney has Puerto Rican cousins via Rosemary Clooney's marriage to Puerto Rican Actor Jose Ferrer. 
It was a good year for the Oscars.  Like Roger Ebert wrote to me in one of my inscribed books, "See you at the movies." 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Oscar Nominations or Academy Award Nominations for 2012

The nominees for the 2012 Academy Awards were announced this morning, and Hugo leads with 11 nominations, and The Artist follows with 10 nominations. We've seen quite a few of the Best Picture nominations this year; Hugo, Midnight In Paris, The Artist, The Help, Moneyball, War Horse, and Tree of Life are our favorites for the best picture noms. Mike and I loved Hugo, The Artist, and Midnight in Paris because they are essentially about nostalgia: nostalgia of film(Hugo and The Artist), and nostalgia for Paris of another time(Midnight in Paris.)  Owen Wilson's character in "Midnight in Paris" calls himself a nostalgist, which means he loves Paris in the 1920's.  I love all the references to writers, artists, and songwriters(Cole Porter) in the film.  Cole Porter makes an appearance in "Midnight" which is so wonderful that it brought tears to my eyes.  Mike bought Ella Fitzgerald's autograph for me for my birthday, because I love Ella singing the Cole Porter songbook.  We then went on to buy Ella's complete songbooks, and listened to them while making scrapbooks together of our trips to Michigan, Peru, Indiana--for the Cole Porter festival--and our "staycations" to Chicagoland outings like the Art Institute, the Chicago Botanic Gardens, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the Friday Night at the Movies events--I loved West Side Story played by the CSO last year.  They played along to the film perfertly on time and with passion.  Certainly, one of my favorite films of all time. 
Also, Mike and I just rented "The Magic of Melies" and The Landmark of Film documentaries after seeing Hugo, and loved the sweetness and Humor in Melies' classic short films like "A Trip To The Moon."  Hugo is a love letter to the creator of cinema, Georges Melies, and it is a love letter to film preservation.  Last year, Mike and I sadly saw the Bank Cinema close in Chicago, but film buffs want to continue the tradition by playing rare and classic films at the old, Portage theater in Chicago.  We saw quite a few films at the Bank Cinema, and were sad to see it go.  It was like the scene in "Cinema Paradiso" when the teary-eared townspeople gathered around to see the tearing down of the town cinema house.  And, Mike and I found Harold Lloyd's classic silent film "Safety Last" at the public library and watched it.  Hugo and his girl friend Isabelle watch that film together in "Hugo."  It's very sweet. 
I loved how the movie "The Artist" revived interest in silent film.  That's what the Broadway in Chicago theaters like the Cadillac Palace and the Ford Oriental where built for: for silent films with a big symphony.  Mike and I love Broadway in Chicago.  We have seen so many musicals there like The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Beauty and The Beast, Shrek The Musical, Les Miserables--which is being turned into a film, and, most recently, La Cage Aux Folles.  We love "La Cage" and think it would make a good musical movie, along with "The Secret Garden" The Musical, which we also saw last year. 
I realize that Jean Dujardin is drinking illegal alcohol in "The Artist."  "Midnight in Paris" and "Hugo" were also set during the 1920's or the Prohibition of Alcohol in the U.S.A.  Mike and I gave tours at the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace in Oak Park, and learned that Hemingway wrote "The Sun Also Rises" during the Prohibition, and was most likely thumbing his nose at the laws that banned alcohol, because his characters drink like fish in the book.  I liked Hemingway's presence in "Midnight in Paris." I could tell Woody Allen did his research to write the screenplay, which was also nominated for an Oscar. Some critics think "The Artist" might win the most awards this year, but I also want Hugo and Midnight in Paris to win some, because these are films that moved me.  Is the disturbing trend of violent nominated films over?  I won't complain.
I wonder why Woody Allen doesn't like the Oscars, and still hasn't picked up his past awards yet.  Maybe he doesn't like that great films have to compete with each other, which leaves many good films snubbed.  Is it a East Coast/West Coast thing?  Maybe he's too New York for Hollywood.  I like that he puts old jazz classic songs in his films.  He should make a film about Ella Fitzgerald.
I love that Christopher Plummer was nominated for playing a Gay senior citizen in Beginners, and Mexican Actor Demian Bichir was nominated for A Better Life. The Help was great, deserved its nominations. We still have to see The Descendants, My Week With Marilyn, Bridesmaids(Huh?), A Better Life, Iron Lady, Pina. Jane Eyre, at least, got a Best Costume nomination.
Jean Dujardin is so handsome and charming, he deserves his nomination. Michael Fassbender was ignored in this year's Oscar noms. I liked Fassbender in Jane Eyre.  I heard he was good in "A Dangerous Method" too.  J. Edgar was ignored this year, probably because it feels homophobic that a conservative director--Eastwood--made a film about a closeted man who was conflicted about his homosexuality.  DiCaprio wore a dress and kissed a man, but didn't get the nomination.  Christopher Plummer gets kissed by a man in "Beginners" a few times, which makes the movie sweet, and bit touching.  "Beginners" was a very interesting film to Mike and me.
I think Harry Potter deserved an nomination for Best Picture because it made me feel so war-ravaged, and weary in the end, and very sympathetic for it's characters. 

Biggest films of the year (by number of nominations):
Hugo (11 nominations) The Artist (10 nominations) Moneyball (6 nominatons) War Horse (6 nominations) The Descendants (5 nominations) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (5 nominations) The Help (4 nominations) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (3 nominations) Midnight in Paris (3 nominations) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (3 nominations) Transformers: Dark of the Moon (3 nominations) The Tree of Life (3 nominations) Bridesmaids (2 nominations) Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2 nominations) My Week with Marylin (2 nominations) A Separation (2 nominations) The Iron Lady (2 nominations)

It's time to see more movies.
See complete list of nominations at this link: or go to
  Peace, and Best Wishes, Ruben and Mike.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Up and Coming Oscar Nominations and Possible Contenders for 2012 Academy Awards

Mike and I just rented The Help from the Redbox and liked it. Viola Davis and some of the other actresses all deserve nominations for this great film, about racism in the south around 1963. Davis was nominated for a Golden Globe, and a Screen Actor's Guild Award for this movie, so she's destined to be nominated for an Oscar when they announce the nominations on January 24, 2012. I like that the...y mention Medgar Evers in the film. Bob Dylan wrote a song about Medgar Evers called "Only a Pawn In Their Game" and he sang it in 1963 at the March on Washington where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream Speech." I'm amazed that the book The Help has sold over five million copies. It proves that people want to believe in racial equality. What a great movie, and only slightly painful. I laughed, I cried.
I'm also looking forward to see if Hugo, and Midnight in Paris are nominated: two films that made Paris look wonderful. Mike and I are beginning to watch some of the films that might be nominated, such as Moneyball. It's crazy. This year the Oscar nominations will be announced on January 24 and the Oscars will be only one month later on Feburary 26th. How are people going to find time to watch all the movies nominated for Best Picture?

The 84th Annual Academy Awards Facebook page announced that the following movies are being considered for nominations: "Albert Nobbs", "Anonymous", "The Artist", "Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life", "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2", "Hugo" & "The Iron Lady".

Mike and I saw Hugo, Harry Potter, and want to see "Anonymous" because it's about Shakespeare. "Iron Lady" and "The Artist" look interesting. I'm wondering if "The Descendants," "Moneyball," "Tree of Life," "J. Edgar," and "Midnight in Paris" will make the list. We just have to wait and see.

Peace, and Best Wishes, Ruben and Mike.