Oscars Adventure 2014

March 7, 2014 in Best Of, Entertainment, Movie Reviews, Reviews by pacejmiller

The pre-planned surprise selfie

The pre-planned surprise selfie

It’s been a while since I posted and I’m still kinda tired (with you know, stuff), but it’s time to recap my Oscars adventures for 2014.

Like last year, I served as a consultant to one of the subtitling teams for the TV stations in Taiwan, which is a long day but always tons of fun. The Oscars screen in Taiwan during the day and are broadcast live, but only with live commentators doing their best to interpret whatever they can. The subtitling team (which does loads of preparation in advance) will frantically start translating the dialogue starting from the red carpet show so that the subtitles can be applied and ready for the prime time rerun later that evening.

It sounds relatively simple but is actually a lot of work because translations of names of films and nominees need to be uniform and consistent, and there are always plenty of things that don’t go according to script. People can talk really fast and mumble, acceptance speeches can be long and rambling (not to mention include a whole bunch of names that need to be verified), there might be short clips (or even long clips) they play throughout the evening which will have to be translated, and the jokes are always difficult especially if they use puns or touch on obscure cultural references. And of course, everything needs to be cross-checked and double-checked before the subtitles are placed onto the screen and synced to match the dialogue.

It’s quite incredible watching the team, which is packed with the country’s best (and trust me, they are, because I’ve seen some of its worst), power through like a well-oiled machine. On top of that everyone is incredibly nice, professional, and simply a lot of fun. I enjoyed the camaraderie we had, one fostered by a collegiate environment where everyone was working towards a common goal, and that’s to deliver the best product possible for the audience. Most viewers wouldn’t even have picked up on the little things that the team fretted over, but we challenged ourselves to get everything right, and if not, as close as we could.

This was about as far as Ellen would go

This was about as far as Ellen would go

This year’s production was much easier to subtitle than last year’s thanks to Ellen, who was a fairly “no frills” host in comparison to Seth MacFarlane, who filled his show with glitzy extravaganzas galore. Ellen’s opening monologue did not contain any prepared video footage, there were no singing and dancing numbers in the opening monologue or subsequently from the host, and even the majority of presenters stuck largely to the scripts we received in advance. Even the red carpet, which usually presents plenty of headaches, was relatively straightforward, with few mentions of those difficult-to-pronounce designer names. So apart from a couple of rambling, semi-incoherent acceptance speeches (Steve McQueen in particular for Best Picture), the night was a subtitler’s dream.

I haven’t really read up much on what people thought of the ceremony, though the sentiment among some of the people I spoke to was that it was a fairly boring night. Not that there was anything wrong with Ellen’s hosting, it was just that there were no spectacular set pieces and, more importantly, there were zero surprises. Apparently, according to the experts I spoke to, every single category was captured by the favourite.

I had a look at the predictions I put together a couple of days out before the ceremony and it turns out I didn’t do too badly. Considering I guessed the short/foreign film and documentary categories and went for a few upsets when I should have just stuck with the favourites, a total of 14/24 is I suppose passable.

As for the night itself, I actually really enjoyed it despite its supposed predictability and notable lack of flair. The red carpet was, as usual, filled with bad hosts (Tyson Beckford in particular) and painfully awkward and uncomfortable moments, though this year’s felt slightly better than last year’s for some reason. Maybe it was Jennifer Lawrence falling over again.

Ellen was her usual wry, funny self, but still maintained an air of formality and delivered a classy performance that Hollywood’s night of nights deserved. Sure, there was probably too much product placement (Samsung) and the pizza thing, while funny at first, went on for far too long, but I’d give Ellen a solid B+ for what is widely considered to be the toughest hosting gig there is.

I've let it go. Have you?

I’ve let it go. Have you?

I loved the music performances, in particular Pink’s surprising rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and Karen O’s The Moon Song, though Adele Dazeem’s (sorry, I mean Idina Menzel’s) Let It Go had to be let go after she struggled from the very first note. The moving In Memoriam section was particular painful this year with the likes of Paul Walker, James Gandolfini and Philip Seymour Hoffman all unexpectedly making the list, and Bette Midler’s ensuing Wind Beneath My Wings was arguably the most powerful moment of the evening.

jim carrey

The presenters were largely forgettable, with only Jim Carrey and Jamie Foxx really standing out at all for me. Actually, Harrison Ford stood out as well, but for the wrong reasons. I was telling one of my colleagues during the day that it’s rather amazing, given how many ridiculously talented writers there are in Hollywood, that the dialogue they come up with for Oscars presenters is almost always lame. My clever colleague speculated, probably correctly, that the writers felt they couldn’t be too clever or witty because they were pitching to such a wide audience, meaning they were likely targeting the pedestrian middle crowd. On top of that, there’s always the fear of being controversial or politically incorrect, so in the end we’re left with dialogue that’s effectively benign but also uninteresting.

And if you think about it, who can really blame them? Every idiot with a Twitter account has got an opinion these days. I mean, seriously, criticizing Jared Leto’s win because he’s not a real transsexual and for not thanking the transgender community in his speech, or labelling Ellen as “transphobic” for her Liza Minnelli impersonator joke? Come on.

lupita

As for the acceptance speeches, the highlight has to be the elegant and moving speech from Lupita Nyong’o, with the lowlight of course coming from the insufferable Matthew McConaughey, whose victory will surely take his Texan smugness to a whole new level. That said, I have to give credit where it’s due — Mr “Alright Alright Alright” is having a killer of a time as of late with a slate of great performances in solid-to-great films such as The Lincoln Lawyer, Magic Mike, Mud, The Wolf of Wall Street, and of course, Dallas Buyers Club.

I predicted correctly that 12 Years a Slave would win Best Picture, but let’s face it, Gravity should have won, especially after Alfonso Cuaron rightfully took home the Best Director gong. What is it about sci-fi flicks that scares off voters? And one other thing — Spike Jones, won for Best Original Screenplay, really should have gotten a nomination for directing as well for his phenomenal work in Her. But unfortunately, he was squeezed out because the decision to nominate 9 films for Best Picture instead of 5 means 4 very deserving directors will miss out every year. And that’s just wrong.

In all, one of the better Oscar nights in the last few years, and a great, albeit exhausting, day for me as well. I hope to do it again next year.

Oscars consultancy adventure and rant

March 24, 2013 in Best Of, Blogging, Entertainment, Misc by pacejmiller

oscars-statues-image-1

In typical me-fashion, I am blogging about something that happened almost a month ago. That’s right; I’m talking about the 85th Academy Awards.

Consultancy adventure

This recap is really for my own selfish benefit because I don’t want to forget it in case I never get invited again. Not to the Oscars, of course (though I still hold out hope that this could still happen some day – as soon as I have the time and money to write, produce, direct and star in my own film, Tommy Wisseau-style), but to be a consultant on its Taiwan telecast.

Allow me to take a step back and explain. A few weeks ago (well, a month and a few weeks ago), a colleague recommended me to one of the two TV stations with rights to broadcast the Oscars in Taiwan. These stations will air the Oscars (at least) twice – live in the morning (Taiwan time) and again at night with subtitles. Each producer will have a team of dedicated translators who will work tirelessly all throughout the day to get those subtitles ready in time for the second telecast.

Sounds easy, or so I thought, but it’s actually a lot of work. It’s more than just direct translations from English to Chinese — there could be a lot of obscure film, TV, music, pop culture or fashion references that need to be researched and confirmed; jokes, slang words or accents that are difficult to understand for non-native speakers; or just a lot of indecipherable mumbling and hollering that even most native speaker don’t get. All of it has to be impeccably translated, verified and matched with the recorded footage. While there are bits of scripted material and lists of names that will be translated in advance, the vast majority of the work is done on the day, on the spot.

Where did I come in? Well, notwithstanding the dozen or so high-quality translators they hired for the day, they still needed someone with English as their native tongue who knew a thing or two about the movies. Just in case. The pay, as is usually the case in Taiwan, is not great, but to be honest I would have done it for nothing. I’d have to take a day off work, but I knew the experience of being a part of an Oscars telecast was too good to pass up.

We started early. By the time I arrived at 7:30am, the two rooms dedicated to the challenge were already filled with translators plugging away and preparing for the dreaded red carpet (which would be re-broadcast with subtitles after the ceremony in the rerun later that night). The rooms themselves were small and crowded. One was crammed with tables and laptops for the translators, while the other was crammed with couches and a TV for people like me.

This is the TV I watched the broadcast on

This is the TV I watched the broadcast on

The day itself was a blast. Very long but extremely enjoyable and insightful. It was fun to watch the Oscars live for once (it’s usually on during work hours in Sydney and it was impossible to avoid finding out the winners before getting home) and with a group of people who have a passion for film.

For the majority of the live broadcast I was glued to the TV with our other consultant, a radio personality in Taiwan who once tutored Chinese actress Gong Li (you know, the one with the icy stare from Memoirs of a Geisha and Miami Vice) in English for a year. Apparently she is…um…nice — in person, that is.

Gong Li stares

Gong Li stares

Every now and then we would hear a call from the other room for “er duo” (literally “ears”), and we would go scampering over to assist. Sometimes it would be to decipher the name of a fashion brand (especially during the red carpet), or the punchline of a joke, or the name of a person mentioned during the acceptance speeches. Sometimes it was just a whole lot of gibberish from William Shatner or Queen Latifah.

Shatner tearing it up at the Oscars

Shatner tearing it up at the Oscars

The only real “work” I had to do all day was to help transcribe a couple of songs from the opening act of host Seth MacFarlane – so that the translators could use them to do the Chinese subtitles. On this point, I am disappointed to say, I could not, for the life of me, figure out one of the lines in MacFarlane’s final song, Be Our Guest, in which he tried to make fun of the name of the nine-year-old Oscar-nominated star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Quvenzhane Wallis.

Southern Wild had some luck, it was made for 50 bucks

With a star whose name looks like a …?

After listening to it about 50 times, none of us could figure out what the heck Quvenzhane’s name looks like. It didn’t really matter in the end because the Chinese translation simply needed to convey that her name was difficult to read or pronounce, though I must admit that the line really bugged me for the rest of the day. After researching on Google and Twitter I still couldn’t find a single person who knew what he was referring to.

(A few weeks later, an article I read suggested that he had compared the name to “a vision test” – which could be correct, but even watching it again now I still think it doesn’t quite sound right. Check out the video of the entire opening below – the line comes in at around the 13:44 mark.)

Anyway, the rest of the broadcast went along very smoothly, with Ang Lee’s win for best director, naturally, drawing the biggest emotional high. It was probably the only time during the day that everyone stopped whatever they were doing and just watched the man they call “the pride of Taiwan” (along with basketballer Jeremy Lin, pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, and any other Taiwanese person or person with Taiwanese heritage who has ever done anything remotely newsworthy in the world – though one must wonder why Justin Lin, the Taiwanese-born director of the last few entries in the Fast & Furious franchise, has barely gotten a mention).

The moment Ang Lee accepted his Oscar for Life of Pi

The moment Ang Lee accepted his Oscar for Life of Pi

Much of the real work would come after the awards ceremony ended. You would think with a dozen or so people each translating a different segment that it wouldn’t take all that long to translate every word uttered in a three-and-a-half-hour ceremony and the preceding red carpet show – but it does! It really is hard work.

I must mention here that the translators we had working on the subtitles were amazing. Since moving here a little more than a year ago I’ve often been appalled with the quality of the translations in Taiwan – even for official government documents, brochures and marketing campaigns. But the people they hired on this day were all brilliant; I’m sure they are some of the best translators in Taiwan. I was particularly impressed by their meticulousness and their abilities to pick up the nuances and fudge difficult lines into coherence. One of them was a subtitle specialist who had worked on more than 5,000 films and TV shows, including good old porn (which is, allegedly, a pretty stiff job given that much of the dialogue occurs during hardcore close-up scenes…).

I feel I really should write a post on the plight of translators in Taiwan some day because it’s a topic I’m sure many people are passionate about. In short, it’s a shitty industry because the pay is so low and the work is so often very very hard. There are plenty of translation agencies out there taking advantage of translators by offering ridiculously low rates of say US$0.01 a word. At the same time, there are a lot of hopeless translators vying for – and often scoring – freelance gigs because they are willing to work for peanuts in exchange for horrendous translations. It’s a vicious cycle that keeps dragging down both the quality and the price of translation work in the country.

But I digress.

Oscars day was fun, and it stretched well into the evening and beyond the 8pm start time for the re-run thanks to the final subtitles for the red carpet. Contrary to my understanding of how Taiwanese media treat their staff, all of us were well looked after, with all three meals taken care of throughout the day. I really hope there will be another opportunity to work with them again in the future.

Thoughts on the Oscars

Seth MacFarlane as host

As for the ceremony itself, I thought this year’s was one of the better ones. Seth MacFarlane received average to negative reviews for his performance, but I actually thought he was pretty good. Not gut-bustingly funny but amusing enough for the stuffy Oscar oldies, and nowhere near as uncomfortable as Ricky Gervais. Yes, the opening monologue was a little longer than usual, but I’ve always considered it the most entertaining part of the show, so no complaints from me.

As for the low-brow humor, including the “We Saw Your Boobs” song (in which all the actresses were clearly in on the joke) and some orgy comments from his teddy bear creation Ted, I don’t think any of it was unexpected. I mean, come on, the show’s organizers knew exactly what they were getting when they signed the creator of Family Guy and Ted – no one could say with a straight face that they had expected him to be Hugh Jackman and keep away from the crude jokes. No one can beat Billy Crystal, of course, but at least MacFarlane was better than the disaster that was Anne Hathaway and James Franco in 2011 (almost entirely the fault of the stoned latter) and the bizarre duo of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin the year before.

My favorite parts of the opening monologue were those that received assistance from another star – the Star Trek segments with William Shatner and the Flying Nun skit with Sally Field. On the whole, however, it was one of the better openings in recent memory. As they say, it’s the toughest gig in Hollywood, so kudos to MacFarlane for at least having the balls to take it on when he knew he’d probably be savaged for it.

Seth MacFarlane as the Flying Nun

Seth MacFarlane as the Flying Nun

Winners and losers

Having finally watched all of the nine best picture nominees, I have to say that this was a strange year in which there was no real favorite because no film really dominated.

Argo, which won best picture, only had a single acting nomination (for Alan Arkin), while its director, Ben Affleck, didn’t even get a nomination. And let’s face it: it was a very very good film, but still one of the weaker best picture winners in Oscar history. At least it was better than Crash.

They may take away my best director nomination, but they can never take away this Oscar!!

They may take away my best director nomination, but they can never take away this Oscar!!

On the other hand, you had Lincoln, which may have ticked all the boxes but was a bore that few would call the best film of the year. Amour was the token foreign film nominee that was far too depressing to win, and Beasts of the Southern Wild was a nice little fairytale (given its shoestring budget) that was too weird for a lot of people (including me).

Les Miserables divided audiences and critics alike (I was more against it than for it), while Zero Dark Thirty was too “controversial.” Personally, my three favourite films of the best picture nominees were Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook and Life of Pi, probably in that order.

If I were a betting man, I probably would have put my money on Life of Pi because it will probably go down as the most memorable of the lot, and plus Ang Lee won for best director, which I felt was totally deserved. But unlike many who have seen it I didn’t think it was that amazing. Django and Silver Linings Playbook weren’t perfect and were genres unlikely to win best picture, but they were by far the most enjoyable of the nominees.

At the end of the day, Argo probably won by default.

As for the rest of the major categories, apart from best director (for which I thought Spielberg was the favourite) and best supporting actor (Tommy Lee Jones reportedly had the odds on his side), most of the outcomes were predictable. Daniel Day-Lewis, the male Meryl Streep, rarely loses once he gets nominated. The annoying thing is that you know he totally deserves it every time. The only guy that really could have competed with Daniel Day out of the nominees was Joaquin Phoenix, and you know they were never giving it to him.

One of the best non-Ang Lee moments at the Oscars this year was when Jennifer Lawrence, who is on the verge of overtaking Kate Winslet as my favourite actress, won for Silver Linings Playbook. I thought Jessica Chastain was excellent in Zero Dark Thirty, but Lawrence really hit a home run with her performance and proved that her nomination for Winter’s Bone a couple of years ago was no fluke. To top things off, she stacked it on the steps while heading up to the stage. Right now she’s like the female Ryan Gosling – impossible to dislike no matter how hard you try – well, except he’s still looking for his first Oscar.

Jennifer Lawrence takes a tumble on her way to the stage

Jennifer Lawrence takes a tumble on her way to the stage

Anne Hathaway’s win for supporting actress in Les Miserables turned out to be the most “meh” moment of the night. Yeah, she was good, but she pretty much won for shaving her head and signing one song. I wasn’t anywhere near that bandwagon..

Christoph Waltz has now made it two for two in his collaborations with Quentin Tarantino. I think this is why his win surprised a lot of people, because few expected that he would win the same award for the same director two times in a row. All the nominees were great, but if we were being honest with ourselves we would admit that the guy who truly deserved to win didn’t even get nominated. Waltz won for playing a Nazi, so I don’t get any of this “too controversial” or “to villainous” argument against Leonardo DiCaprio, who absolutely should have taken home the golden statuette this year.

Let's face it, Leo was robbed

Let’s face it, Leo was robbed

One final comment about the best foreign film category, which to no one’s surprise was captured by Amour this year. I said the same thing a dozen years ago when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon won it: how can a film in that category NOT be the best foreign film if it is the ONLY one also nominated for best picture? It may seem unfair to deprive films like Amour and Crouching Tiger of an Oscar win for best foreign film, but it also completely kills any chance the other nominees in the category have.

PS: On a side note, it was kind of ridiculous that last year’s best picture winner, The Artist, did not get a nomination for best foreign film because the award is actually “best foreign language film.” So despite being a French movie made by a French production company, with a French director and French stars, The Artist was ruled ineligible because the few words uttered in the film were, more or less, in English. Another reason for this is because each foreign country can only submit ONE film for consideration to the Academy, which is totally stupid too.

Thoughts on Lance Armstrong’s Oprah interview

January 20, 2013 in Best Of, Entertainment, Misc, Social/Political Commentary by pacejmiller

oprah-lance-armstrong

I confess. I was one of those people who was really looking forward to Lance Armstrong’s two-part interview with Oprah over the last couple of days.

Some say why waste your time with that loser, but personally, I have been fascinated with the whole saga and wanted to see him squirm a little and be taken out of his comfort zone. I wanted to see how much of it was genuine and how much of it was staged. Was he sorry for what he had done or was he only sorry that he was caught? Would he try and squeeze out a tear? Frankly, I just wanted to see the best of the best (at lying, that is) try and explain himself out of an unexplainable situation.

On the whole, I thought the interview went relatively well.  As expected, the first part was more explosive and the second was more emotional. We got some answers to questions we already knew (still good to hear them come out of the lion’s mouth), and we didn’t get some of the answers we wanted.

In a nutshell:

  • Armstrong confessed to cheating for all seven of his Tour De France titles, including using EPO, testosterone, cortisone, blood doping, you name it  — but intentionally shied away from specific examples of how he did it;
  • He said he was sorry (duh), was reaching out to people he hurt and will try and make up for it for the rest of his life — but didn’t think he deserved a lifetime ban (which he labelled a “death sentence” when others before him only got six months;
  • He denied being the ringleader of the doping scheme and/or intentionally pressuring others on his team to dope — said he did not create the culture of doping but didn’t stop it either;
  • He denied doping after returning to the sport in 2008, which runs contrary to blood test findings by the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency);
  • He denied donations to the dodgy UCI (International Cycling Union) were to cover up positive drug tests;
  • He contributed his bullying and bad behaviour towards others as his desire to “control everything”;
  • He didn’t shed an actual running tear, but his eyes watered up when discussing how he told his son to stop defending him — even if you think everything else is an act, you can at least assume that the emotion here was legit;
  • He preferred to focus on himself and not name names (such as people in the UCI), probably for legal reasons, though Oprah did not exactly push him either.

It was a riveting yet frustrating interview for many reasons, none more so than the fact that you just don’t really know what is true and what is not when everything that had come out of Armstrong’s mouth up to that point had been a massive lie. It’s hard not to be cynical when he said he would not hold back and yet did precisely that when he didn’t want to answer some of Oprah’s questions (including whether Betsy Andreu’s claim that he admitted to doctors he had used PEDs was true).

On the surface, Armstrong made stepping up to the plate for the interview seem like he had balls (well, more correctly, ball). His supporters, and there are still many, have undoubtedly lapped it up. But was it enough to at least put a dent in all the negativity towards him? I don’t think it was. One look at the headlines today and you’ll see that almost all of them are cynical and are tearing the interview down as a calculated and carefully planned strategy to clean up his image for a potential new start somewhere down the road.

For starters, reports indicate that Armstrong’s entire “team” — agents, lawyers, publicists, PR experts, image consultants and crisis managers — was there for the interview to ensure that everything went according to the script they had prepared.  They would have come up with every possible question that Oprah might have asked and prepared answer guidelines. You could tell roughly where the boundaries were whenever he tried to avoid answering the question by changing the topic, glazing over it with generalities or simply “lay down” and refuse to answer.

It was obvious to anyone watching that Armstrong was walking a tightrope throughout the interview, and that his uneasiness was probably due to that as much as any feelings of embarrassment or disgrace. There was of course the legal ramifications of his responses (financial and criminal, including for perjury), and I’m sure he knew where the line was for that, but there was also the difficult goal of appearing sympathetic to audiences without making it seem like he was grasping for excuses.

The attempts were subtle but consistent. For instance, he said his doping scheme was not the worst in history because the East German ones in the 70s and 80s were worse. He said no one could have won seven consecutive Tour de France titles like him without doping and that he didn’t have access to any drugs that others didn’t, suggesting a level playing field and almost as though he was “forced” to cheat.

He tried to distance himself from himself, if that makes sense. The evil Lance, the one that cheated and lied and bullied was not really him, kind of like when murderers plead temporary insanity. He said stuff like it was “scary”, “scarier” and “scariest” when describing his mindset “at the time” because he didn’t even believe it was cheating or that he was doing anything wrong. He said he looked up the definition of  “cheating” in the dictionary and that what he was doing didn’t fit the definition of gaining an unfair advantage because everyone else was doing it. He called it the “EPO era.” He even said “look at that arrogant prick” while watching old footage of himself.

It was the same thing when it came to his bullying, although it was obviously more difficult to come across as sympathetic. Apart from apologising and promising to make amends, he tried to make his sociopathic, psychopathic behaviour seem like it was some kind of mental illness, claiming that he needed to “control the narrative” (you could argue that the interview was simply another attempt at that). When referring to all the people he had sued over the years for telling the truth about him, he said “we” have sued so many people that he had lost count, as though it wasn’t really his decision to make in the first place.

Another tactic was to play the sympathy card immediately after that. Armstrong talked about his difficult upbringing, about not knowing who his biological father is, about how he let his supporters and family down, and of course, the battle with cancer. What he’s going through right now is nothing compared to the cancer, he said.

Oprah was also the perfect platform to air his confession. She’s been known to tug at the heart strings and look for silver linings and moral stories (she even asked him what the moral of the story was towards the end). And she was less likely to go after him like some of the more “hard-hitting” journalism programs. For the record, I think she did OK; better in the first half than the second. She certainly could have pressed him more, especially on the irreparable damage he caused to the lives of some of his closest former friends, but I think she could see that she wouldn’t have gotten anywhere with that approach. I know she has been criticised a lot for the way she handled the interview, but I don’t think there was a point in turning the environment hostile when Armstrong’s just not the kind of guy who would crack under pressure. It’s not Oprah’s style, anyway.

In the end, everybody will have their views on the interview, including whether he was genuinely contrite. I’m kind of on the fence with this one. He would really have to be a complete psycho to not feel even a tiny shred of remorse, so my inclination is to lean towards “yes”, but what is pulling me back is the knowledge that he was nowhere near as open and upfront as he could have been. Body language experts have all put in their 2 cents and apparently he was “defensive”, “argumentative”, “competitive” and “rejecting opinion.”

Still, I was impressed that he actually came clean, even if it was in a half-hearted kind of way. I had been convinced that Armstrong would never admit he cheated because he had convinced himself it was true, kind of like this legend.

Random Funny Movie Scenes

January 17, 2012 in Blogging, Entertainment by pacejmiller

Didn’t feel like working this morning and couldn’t sleep, so instead I decided to check out YouTube videos of some of my favourite scenes from comedies I’ve seen over the years.

First up, the most recent comedy I’ve seen, 30 Minutes or Less.  The film was better than expected and featured a couple of great scenes involving Michael Pena.  This is my favourite one of him meeting Jesse Eisenberg’s character to pick up the cash payment for killing Danny McBride’s dad.  In exchange, Eisenberg is expecting a secret code which will disarm the bomb strapped to his body.

Next up, my favourite scene from Pulp Fiction, where Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta head to Quentin Tarantino’s house after accidentally shooting Marvin in the head in the back of their car.  As bad of an actor Tarantino is, this is by far his best performance.

While we’re on Tarantino, here’s my favourite scene (the tipping scene) from his debut classic, Reservoir Dogs. Naturally, it features Mr Pink, Steve Buscemi.

Speaking of the great Buscemi, two of my favourite scenes from one of my favourite movies of all time, Fargo.  The first features Buscemi and Peter Stromare’s characters driving in a car on the way to kidnap William H Macy’s wife.  The second is Buscemi trying to get out of paying $4 at a parking lot.  There’s actually another scene I really like, the one where Buscemi confronts Stromare after getting shot in the face, but I can’t seem to find it in English!

Last but not least, a scene from Hot Rod, which is really quite an awful film, but I had a good time with it, especially this tribute to Footloose.

What a waste of my time…

Random thoughts as I watch the 2012 Golden Globes

January 16, 2012 in Blogging, Entertainment, Misc by pacejmiller

Note: Thoughts are chronological and jotted down as I watched the live broadcast.

Ricky Gervais is still good.  On a night where everyone is patting themselves on their backs and telling each other how great they are, it’s good that the host is a self-deprecating chubby who tells it as he sees it and takes the celebs down a couple of notches

Man Jonah Hill has lost some weight.  Must have followed Seth Rogen’s diet.  Wonder if it helps or hurts his career to be thinner.

Jeez there are lots of apparently great TV shows and fantastic films I haven’t seen.  Damn it.

No matter how many people sing its praises or how many awards it wins, I just can’t get myself interested in Downton Abbey.  Sorry.

Yay!  Go Kate Winslet (Mildred Pierce winner) once again!  She has to be one of my, if not my favourite actress in Hollywood.

Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), always my favourite actor, but damn I love Bryan Cranston because Breaking Bad is so ridiculously good.  Oh well, congrats to Kelsey Grammar for Oz.  Did he get another wife?

Can’t believe Homeland won best TV drama.  I heard it was just OK.  Guess I better see for myself.  Also gotta watch American Horror Story and Game of Thrones.  How am I ever going to fit these in?

Wow, Madonna is still around.  Winner for best original song (Masterpiece).  Check out those toned arms.  And she’s either looking very good for her age (93) or she has the world’s best make-up artist (the latter is slightly more likely).

Totally random and bizarre appearance from a Turkish actress who does nothing except say that the show is seen in a lot of countries.  Will no doubt go down as the biggest “WTF?” moment of the night.

Go Seth Rogen, standing right next to Kate Beckinsale and admitting to trying to conceal a massive erection.  Normally tacky but this is Rogen and he is standing next to Beckinsale.

Natalie Portman appearance during Michelle Williams‘ acceptance speech for My Week with Marilyn.  Still looking great despite the rigours of child-bearing and childbirth.

George Clooney, after getting a talked-up intro by Gervais, comes out with a cane and an awfully orange complexion (sadly very common tonight).

Yes!  The Adventures of Tin Tin wins best animated film.  Well-deserved.  One of the most entertaining films I’ve seen this year.  Good to see Andy Serkis get some kudos for his performance.

Will Ewan McGregor always look this young?  And Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a legend.

Woody Allen has gotta win best screenplay for Midnight in Paris.  Come on…YES!  So well deserved…and he’s not even there.  Nice cover by Nicole Kidman.

William H Macy and wife Felicity Huffman – awesome duo and song.  The heck d’ya mean?

Don’t mean to be mean but Jessica Lange has had some work done.  And then some.

Speaking of which, Madeleine Stowe looks absolutely amazing.  Did you know she’s 53 years old?

Tina Fey and Jane Lynch – best presenter pair of the night so far.  Natural, sassy and funny.

Did Matt LeBlanc dye his hair?  Good win as himself.  Sounds real enthusiastic…

Porn star moustache from Bradley Cooper.  I can’t stop looking at it.

Morgan Freeman tribute.  Lots of good movies, some average ones, a few bad ones, and a zillion voice-overs.  Ahh…Shawshank.  Still the best.

What the heck is wrong with Angelina Jolie?  She looks scary bony.

Martin Scorsese win best director for Hugo.  I gotta watch this movie.  Apparently it’s a critics fave but not embraced by audiences.

Modern Family wins again.  I’ve only seen a few eps but I need to get a move on.  My sister says it rivals Seinfeld but I’m yet to be convinced.

I don’t know much about fashion but Jessica Biel has a funny dress.

Seeerriously, Meryl Streep is probably the best actress in the world, but everyone can see through the fake surprise she feigned when she just won for The Iron Lady.  How can she possibly be surprised?  She bloody wins every single time!

Jane Fonda is 74.  Holy crap.  Work or no work, that’s an impressive looking lady.

The Artist has just become a must-see.  To be honest I might not enjoy it.  And why is there a dog doing tricks on the stage?  I hope it takes a dump.

Go Natalie Portman. Best actor time.  I go for Ryan Gosling.  But George Clooney wins.  Can things get any better for this man?  Big props to Michael Fassbender’s penis.

Man, The Descendants just won best drama.  I have to admit it does look pretty darn good.  Add it to the list.

And that’s a rap.  In short, this is what I learned from tonight’s Golden Globes:

  • there are too many movies and TV shows I haven’t seen;
  • it was a generally breezy night but still too much self-congratulatory crap and not enough humour;
  • Gervais started off with a good intro but pretty much disappeared after…not a big fan of him personally but he does do a good job at these awards by keeping everyone on edge and less likely to vomit from all the Hollywood self-loving;
  • biggest winner of the night appears to be The Artist or The Descendants;
  • George Clooney’s life just keeps getting better…I swear, one of these days something bad has to happen to him…it has to; and
  • Michael Fassbender has a massive schlong.

And now we wait for the Oscars.

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