About Peno Noir

Once, twice, three times a lady, and probably looks down upon you.

Oscar Preview – by Peno Noir

Yesterday, you may have read Vagabond Joe’s Oscar predictions. He gave a pretty good rundown of what we expect to see on Sunday, including something hot messy from Helena Bonham Carter, so I’ll just cut straight to my picks.

Best Picture: The Social Network. I’ll admit it, I really liked it. I may have liked other films more, but this movie was well written, well acted, and is about the biggest phenomenon since the start of the internet. 

Actor: Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) He’s won all of them up to now, right?

Actress: Natalie Portman (Black Swan) Weight loss: check. Physically demanding: check. Emotional performance: check. Previous wins: check. 

Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (The Fighter) Christian Bale is one of the best actors around. He makes smart decisions when picking movies, and does amazing work. Plus, a member of The Newsies winning an Oscar? Yes, please.

Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) This would be a big upset over Melissa Leo, but Hailee Steinfeld was amazing. She held her own on screen with Matt Damon and last years Best Actor winner Jeff Bridges.

Director: Darren Aranofsky (Black Swan) This is not going to happen, I know this and it goes against the “predictions” part of this and moves it into “wish list” but I’d really like to see Aranofsky win this, not just for the end result of the film, but for the way he works with actors. 

Animated Picture: Toy Story 3 I’ll admit it. I cried in the theater, and if you say you didn’t at least tear up, you’re a liar.

Art Direction: Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh (True Grit) Inception, Alice and Harry Potter seemed too computerized, in my opinion. 

Cinematography: Matthew Libatique (Black Swan) The filming of Black Swan was beautiful, plain and simple, especially the ballet scene.

Costume Design: Colleen Atwood (Alice In Wonderland) There are some people that take an animated feature and when they redo it they make it nearly unrecognizable….. Tim Burton and Colleen Atwood did not do that. From the Tweedles to the Queen, spot on.

Documentary Feature: Exit Through the Gift Shop VJ got it spot on, Banksy is big right now. There’s a lot of talk about his art and now this documentary.

Documentary Short: Poster Girl PTSD in returning soldiers and military mental health care is huge right now. A film that brings that to light should get some praise.

Film Editing: Andrew Weisblum (Black Swan) Editing is about more than just putting pictures together, it’s about timing and keeping a pace. Well done.

Foreign Language Film: Biutiful I haven’t seen it, but I probably will, it has Javier Bardem in it. Enough said.

Makeup: Rick Baker, David Elsey (The Wolfman) This came down to people who need to look windburnt*, making people look old, and monsters. I pick monsters.

Animated Short: Let’s Pollute I love satire.

Live Action Short: Na Wewe I just read a book about the genocide in Rwanda between the Hutus and the Tutsis, so I’m going with what I know.

Original Score: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross (The Social Network) Big name rock star up for an Oscar? The Academy loves that.

Original Song: “We Belong Together” Randy Newman (Toy Story 3) Randy Newman is a well known songwriter, put that together with Toy Story 3 and you have a winner.

Sound Editing: Richard King (Inception) Big movie, BIG BIG sound

Sound Mixing: Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick (Inception) Lots of big noises in this movie.

Visual Effects: Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin (Inception)  I don’t think I have to explain this one.

Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) It’s snappy, it’s witty at times, it’s the guy that gave us The West Wing.

Original Screenplay: Christopher Nolan (Inception) Layers, and layers, and layers, and layers.

Movie Review: Inception

Remember the last film review where I said that I don’t like spoiling movies by giving out plot point? Well, Inception is going to really test me, but I think I figured out a way to write about it. Without further ado…. my review:

I have a headache just thinking about it... but in a good way.

Inception is about Leo DiCaprio who plays a ____________ who _____________ and _____________ with __________ then _____________. The best part is when _____________ and Leo ___________ ____________ ___________ __ _________ _______. But the real crazy part is _____________ and ____________ ____________ when she __________ then ____________ and they ___________.

It blew my mind. The effects were absolutely amazing, and how Christopher Nolan got snubbed is beyond me. There are many movies that lose something when they go to video, as opposed to seeing them in the theater, but I saw Inception in the theater and have the Blu-Ray disc, it holds up very well.

Sadly, for how much I liked this movie, I don’t think it’s going to win much this year. But it’s still an excellent movie with loads of action and a mind-bending-numbing plot.

Movie Review: Black Swan

You may have heard or been a part of the Snowpocolypse a week and a half ago, I was. Luckily, movie theaters stayed open and thanks to that magical thing called “4-Wheel Drive” I was able to get out and be productive…depending on your definition of  “productive.”

I had the same make up for my senior prom.

Anyway, I went and saw Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, and Vincent Cassel. The basic premise it that Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis are in the ballet, Vincent Cassel is the director and is getting ready to put on his new version of Swan Lake. Portman gets the lead, Kunis is her understudy, and then all hell breaks loose. It was surprising how trailers and commercials for the film make it seem like a whole other movie. I’m not going to give anything away, because that’s not my thing, and I hate people who give away plot twists in movies, but let’s just say it’s what you think, but it’s not what you think. Cryptic, I know.

Black Swan was very well directed, and actually pretty beautiful to watch even with all the nail trimming going on. Seriously, who trims their nails with scissors?! The actors were spot on, I’m shocked Mila Kunis didn’t get a supporting actress nomination.

I actually liked Black Swan more than I liked Inception, which I’ll have a review of that up soon, although it’ll be a lot like this one where I can’t give anything away. Frustrating.

Final thought: Ballerinas are self-mutilating, Natalie Portman could have used a prescription of Xanax.

Oscar Nominations Are Out!

The nominees for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards were announced early yesterday morning, and as usual there are some surprises and some snubs. Here’s a quick run through of the major categories.

Best Picture:

The Social Network, Black Swan, True Grit, The King’s Speech, Inception…. pretty much all you need to know. The rest were just filler because the academy decided last year to expand the category from 5 films to 10 films.

Best Actor:

Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Colin Firth, Jesse Eisenberg, James Franco.

Where’s Leonardo DiCaprio? Why does the Academy hate him so much? And where’s Marky Mark?

Best Actress:

Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams

The Academy took out Halle Berry and placed in Golden Globe Best Actress in a Comedy/musical nominee Annette Bening. Other than that, it’s the nominees for Best Actress- Drama for the Golden Globes.

Best Director:

Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan, The Coen Brothers – True Grit, David Fincher – The Social Network, Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech, David O. Russell –  The Fighter

Are you kidding me? No Christopher Nolan? Seriously?!

There’s your quick and dirty rundown of the main 4 categories for the 2011 Oscars. Check back for movie reviews of some of the Best Picture nominees, and see who the Jerks’ pick for the awards. Don’t forget to mark your calendars: Sunday February  27, 8/7 central, the awards will be handed out.

Lamentations of a Baseball Fan

The MLB Postseason is in full swing (pardon the pun), but for this baseball fan the season has been over since last week.

I’ve been a Royals fan since birth, and except for those years in the early stages of my existence, it’s been a lifetime of calling a season where they lose less than 100 games “a good season.” Yet, I still cheer for them every year, and I think, “This is the year, were going to turn it around and at least contend.”


We need these guys

Every year I honestly believe that the Royals could be the real-life embodiment of the Cleveland Indians from the movie Major League.  I’m very serious that that possibility runs through my head every April.

The Royals come out every spring and start off decently well, but then in May the wheels fall off. They start losing series after series, I start ending my days with prayers that Luke Hochevar will morph into Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, or Jason Kendall will be a Jake Taylor-like inspirational veteran of the league that will lead the club to the postseason.


Just slap David Glass' face on her body.

It hasn’t happened, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t. Next year, Ned Yoast needs to have a cardboard cutout of David Glass with removable sections on it, I mean, it worked as motivation in the movie…. I don’t know if the possibility of David Glass in a thong would have the same effect though.  Oh well, I’ll still be spending the off-season wishing and hoping for Alex “Pedro Cerrano” Gordon to show up next spring.

HBO’s John Adams – A Review

I’ve come to the realization that TV on DVD is one of the greatest things ever. Thanks to this awesome idea, I don’t have to wait weeks to see an entire series, I can just wait for the DVD’s and watch the whole series in a couple days, no commercials, no waiting. This was especially satisfying because I recently watched HBO’s John Adams mini-series.

HBO's John Adams

The series is 7 episodes long and follows John Adams from the time the idea of independence was conceived through the rest of his life. We’re taken along to Europe with the 2nd President during his time as a diplomat, through his time as the first Vice President, his time as President, as well as getting a look into his personal life.

I never thought of John Adams as a man who would warrant a 7-episode long series, but this series showed his complexity and his contributions to the formation of the United States.

I’m a big fan of historical series like this and John Adams is one of the best I’ve seen. The writing is fantastic, and the acting is phenomenal. Paul Giamatti’s performance at John Adams was amazing, but I thought Laura Linney’s portrayal of Abigail Adams stood out to me. I always like to see a strong female role on screen, and not only was Abigail Adams a strong woman, but she was a strong woman in a time when women are not always given their dues.

Tom Wilkinson’s portrayal of Benjamin Franklin was up there with Giamatti’s and Linney’s performances. However, every time I saw Mr. Franklin on the screen I thought of the Michael Scott quote, “So, you know who turned out to be a creep? Ben Franklin.” So true Mike, so true.

After watching the series, I wholeheartedly agree that the series deserved the gaggle of awards it received. There was no weak link, other than time restraints.

Grade: B — I would have liked to see more of John Quincy Adams and his relationship with his father.

…And a possibly a musical sequence featuring Mr. Feeny, a la the film 1776.

Summer Movie Preview – Peno Noir

Last Thursday, Joe gave you fine readers his list of must see and must not see movies for this summer. I’m here to give you my list, so without any delay here is Part Deux of The First Annual EJSIC Summer Movie Preview:

It's like they don't even try anymore.

Must See:

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time – Um, Jake Gyllenhaal with little to no shirt? Yes please. Even though his accent sounds terrible, maybe I’ll just listen to my iPod while the movie plays.

Inception - Leonardo DiCaprio and Christopher Nolan has to be great right? Right.

Iron Man 2 – Robert Downey Jr. is one of the best out there, and I enjoyed Iron Man. Plus, I am NOT a Paltrow hater, but I hear there’s a Paltrow Punch.

Grown-Ups – It looks like it could be good, as long as I remember that Adam Sandler is no longer Billy Madison and is leaning more towards dramedies rather than straight comedy. Although, I miss the days of drunken penguin chases.

Dinner For Schmucks – Paul Rudd and Steve Carell team up in a re-make of the French film “Le Diner de Cons.” I liked the French version, I like Steve Carell, I love Paul Rudd. I’m in.

Must NOT See:

Marmaduke – Come on. Garfield didn’t work, and I love Garfield comics. Marmaduke, I have lukewarm feelings for already.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse – I didn’t see the first however many that have come out yet, I don’t play on starting now. Plus, it’s summer, I want to see some tans.

The Karate Kid – Why mess with near perfection? SWEEP THE LEG!

A Nightmare on Elm Street – No. No. No. No more. Its been done, don’t do it again.

Salt – This looks like 97% of Angelina’s other movies, play a new character already!

MacGruber - SNL is starting to turn skits into movies again… remember Superstar and how that turned out? Not well, my friends, not well.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – This isn’t a Harry Potter movie.

Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore – Sequels are usually terrible, think of how bad they can be when the original wasn’t good.

Step Up 3D – Are they kidding with us with this? 3D dance movie? Yeah, I’ll pay $9 to think I’m going to get kicked in the face, sounds like a great time.

Piranha 3D – <sigh> Whatever.

A Review of ‘Shutter Island’

I have a confession to make. Martin Scorsese has directed close to 50 films… I have seen close to 5 of them. The worst part of this confession is that I majored in film while in college… I know, I know, I kick myself about it everyday. I’m trying to redeem myself, slowly but surely.

Anyway, in the pursuit of a little redemption I ventured out in the cold to see his newest release Shutter Island, based on the book of the same name by Dennis Lehane, the guy who also wrote Mystic River.

Ooohhhh, mysterious and creepy!

Shutter Island stars frequent Scorsese leading man, Leonardo DiCaprio, supported by a thin bit of facial hair, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley and a few other familiar faces. The film is set in a 1950′s asylum/prison Shutter Island. DiCaprio plays US Federal Marshal Teddy Daniels who along with his partner Chuck (Ruffalo) head to Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a prisoner patient.

When they arrive they are taken to meet the doctor who heads the hospital/prison, Dr. Cawley (Kingsley) who offers little to no help with the investigation. The two Marshals are forced to stay on the island after a hurricane hits and the result is something that would have been better had I dropped some acid or eaten some shrooms before hand. (Important Note: The EJSIC does not condone the use of illegal substances…)

Thankfully, the acting and Scorsese’s direction saved this movie. The plot itself was relatively predictable, with Scorsese doing all he could to try to confuse you just enough to make you think just a little bit more. The smaller roles were the most haunting and memorable of the movie. Michelle Williams, Patricia Clarkson and Emily Mortimer gave three very good performances even though they were on screen for maybe 30 minutes combined of the 2 hour movie… Yes, that’s right. 2 hours.

The movie runs a long 2 hours. Usually I don’t mind long movies because I figure there’s a reason for them to be that long, but in my humble opinion this one was about 30 minutes too long. I knew the movie was too long when I caught myself thinking about how I couldn’t wait to watch Men’s Olympic Curling when I got home. My mind also wandered away from the movie after I heard the voice of Ted Levine coming from the theater speakers. Ted Levine plays the Warden of Shutter Island, and also played Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb in The Silence of the Lambs.

Remember this guy?

I couldn’t place him when he first appeared on screen, but after hearing that voice the only thing that ran through my mind for the next 5-10 minutes was, “It rubs the lotion on the skin, or else it gets the hose again!”

I know it may seem like I didn’t like this movie, but I did. Seriously, I love movies with twists and turns and complexity. Shutter Island at times had a very Kubrick-y The Shining vibe to it, and I love The Shining. Under the control of anyone else, besides maybe David Lynch or Stanley Kubrick (RIP), this movie could have been a complete and total bust, but in Scorsese’s hands it was saved.

In short: long movie, kind of over-written/done, but worth a watch.