Sunday, March 31, 2002

Not like it hasn't been said already but Moveable Type is one fine piece of software--smooth, intuitive, poweful like a great pair of shoes. And this is coming from me who knows next to nothing about software. Three days ago, it was nothing. That's when I found out what "client side" meant.

Central Booking's upgrade has several of its features operating off of MT including the effortless uploading of stupid files that always clog up the FTP program and enabling user comments in our Re:Read news blog, Also we can syndicate these news items as well without so much as breaking a sweat.

So hey, all your bibliophilic bloggers out there, how about syndicating the latest book and publishing news on your site? You can. I'll help you. It's way easy.

Saturday, March 30, 2002

I've been reading a bit about Billy Wilder's passing this morning, which makes me all kinds of sad. For many years, I considered him my favorite director (a slippery proposition in the Scorsese and Cassavetes-centric halls of film school) and relished the fact that he was still alive long after most of his contemporaries were gone. A few years ago, I heard that my second favorite director, Cameron Crowe, considered Wilder his idol. His book Conversations with Wilder, while an intellectual lightweight compared to Hitchcock/Trauffaut, is nonetheless a wonderful look at their mentor-apprentice relationship, nursed from afar.

If the name "Billy Wilder" doesn't ring a bell, trust me, you know his work. He's the writer and director behind a half-dozen films on the AFI 100 (make of that hollow popularity contest what you will), from comic masterpieces like Some Like it Hot and One, Two, Three, to film noir legends like Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. In each of these films, you could turn off the picture and let Wilder's writing charm the ears off you. He was, at heart, a sardonic, dry man, but his dialogue packed so much pepper you couldn't help grinning like an imbecile at every third line. It was the linguistic equivalent of being in a food fight.

Start with Double Indemnity and go from there. See them all. I have a feeling Mr. Wilder would like that, although he'd be the last to tell you.

I miss him.

Friday, March 29, 2002

Fixing up some errors and minor slips on the new Central Booking. But that's to be expected I suppose.

In other news, my college roommate, Justin has gone and gotten himself a blog. I'd say it's all my influence but he'd merely come up with a witty retort. And since I haven't the energy, I'll just say I had abosolutely nothing to do with it.

Thursday, March 28, 2002

Here she is...Central Booking 4.0
Resting my head here at International Soft Devices HQ after putting the last of Central Booking's new features to bed. The new site should be live by the end of the day today and brother, do things look PHAT. Keep an eye out for excerpts from newly published books (including Michael Moore's new screed Stupid White Men...And Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation), and the Re:Read News Blog amped up to allow comments and self-punditry on whatever's happening in the world of books.

Completely wiped out but very happy. These folks know what they're doing and have been more than generous at providing expertise to Central Booking at a dust mite of the going rate. I'll have to find a way to thank them someday soon but today, I just feel blessed to be in their good faith bin.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

And a very Happy Passover to you too...

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Stalling...

Monday, March 25, 2002

Did backbreaking production work all day.More to come tomorrow. Then Passover. Jeez.

Too tired to blog. Just a little linky love today: Tim Thompson, a very nice Austin blogger I met at SXSW did a hilarious little tune called "Reality Reality" in answer to the question "What is Real?" Have a listen.

Sunday, March 24, 2002

And speaking of ethnic and racial diversity, both Halle Barry and Denzel Washington won Academy Awards tonight, the first time in history an African-American has done so in both categories.

About time.
The conversation about racial and ethnic diversity online at South By Southwest Blog has got me thinking quite a bit. Have a look if things like the digital divide and future shades of the web interest you.
Virtual Stapler--A wonderful waste of time (via Booboolina).

Saturday, March 23, 2002

And Now...

Part Two of my Buddy Dave's Oscar Preview

___________________________________________

Okay, so here's the rest...

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Amelie - Guillaume Laurant & Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Gosford Park - Julian Fellowes
Memento - Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan
Monster's Ball - Milo Addica & Will Rokos
The Royal Tenenbaums - Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson

Will Win: Memento
Should Win: Memento

Finally, a category where I can quote odds. Gosford's
got the most favorable: 3/4. Whereas my pick comes in
second with 4/5. I'm sticking with my pick because
this is one category where Oscar usually gets it
right. They tend to pick an indie (or pseudo-indie)
with a lauded screenplay that's too quirky or
intelligent to play to mass audiences. See "Fargo",
"Pulp Fiction", "Good Will Hunting", er, maybe not
that last one. Anyway, Memento fits the mold.
Tenenbaums does, too, but it's not as well known (and
if they're not even gonna nominate Gene Hackman, they
probably aren't paying very much attention). (Odds
come from Vegas and a national pool of critics, see
www.goldderby.com for details)


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

A Beautiful Mind - Akiva Goldsman
Ghost World - Daniel Clowes & Terry Zwigoff
In the Bedroom - Stephen Gaghan & Todd Field
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring -
Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson
Shrek - Ted Elliot, Ted Elliot, Joe Stilman & Roger
S.H. Schulman

Will Win: A Beautiful Mind
Should Win: A Beautiful Mind

The odds are 2/7 for this puppy. Just about everybody
else gets 8/1 except poor Ghost World, which, if it
were an original screenplay, would probably win, which
got 12/1. The screenplay is not what Hollywood loves
about LOTR, which is the only famous book here.
They'll be happy to let Shrek get best animated pic
and nothing else. In The Bedroom will get best
actress. There's no reason not to give it to ABM.
Oh, except all that controversy, but we'll come back
to that.

Now, in terms of should win what I think is really
cool about this screenplay, (besides the fact that the
first half is funny as hell - totally unexpected) is
that it takes the problem presented in the book and
finds a unique visual way to present it to the
audience. To say any more would be to give away too
much but trust me, it's cool. To me, though, that is
the essence of adaptation. It's what made "Fight
Club" such a great adaptation. (Where the hell is
that Oscar, btw? Oh, right. Nobody cared. In fact,
Bill Mechanic got fired over that shit, but I
digress.)

I'll talk more about the conspiracy/controversy crap
later.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Amelie - France
Elling - Norway
Lagaan - India
No Man's Land - Bosnia and Herzegovina
Son of the Bride - Argentina

Will Win: Amelie
Should Win: Amelie

OK. I haven't actually seen any of the others except
Amelie. But trust me. Amelie fucking rocks. And
before I even saw it I was sure it would win best
foreign flick. It just had that kind of buzz. It's
been at the Charles since freakin' October or
something. It's the Crouching Tiger/Life Is Beautiful
popular foreign flick of the year. It's only
competition is "No Man's Land" which has such a cool
premise it'll make you wanna go see it. Difference
is, academy members already HAVE seen Amelie. Oh,
yeah. And Amelie got nominated for lots of other
stuff it won't win.


BEST ANIMATED FILM

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
Monsters, Inc.
Shrek

Will Win: Shrek
Should Win: Monsters, Inc.

This is another tough one. The oscar campaign for
Shrek has just been stronger. It started longer ago.
It's already out on video. It made more money
(slightly, Shrek came in #3 and Monsters, Inc. #4 in
terms of 2001 b.o. - now you know why this category
exists.) It's got bigger stars (we passed the point
where Eddie Murphy got a bigger paycheck than Billy
Crystal almost 20 years ago. Hell, we've already
passed the point where Mike Myers will get a bigger
paycheck than Billy Crystal) And it got nominated for
screenplay. Monsters didn't.

But it should have. It's a great screenplay. Very
funny. Very imaginative. Like all Pixar (a.k.a. the
most consistent studio in the world). Even the second
time around I was still laughing. (Shrek, not so much
- but it's still a great movie, don't get me wrong)

Monsters, Inc. is just a tighter film. Although I
have to admit I didn't see Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
so I could be wrong here.

Oh, and Waking Life? Better than all three. (Well,
deeper anyway). Another technicality (I assume). It
was shot on video and then painted over. It's still
freakin' animation people!


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jennifer Connelly - A Beautiful Mind
Helen Mirren - Gosford Park
Maggie Smith - Gosford Park
Marisa Tomei - In the Bedroom
Kate Winslet - Iris

Will Win: Maggie Smith
Should Win: I'm not even going to pretend to know.

Now we're getting to the good stuff. And here's where
I take my biggest risk. The smart money is on
Jennifer Connelly. Don't let anyone tell you
different. The critics at goldderby.com (representing
pretty much every big entertainment rag there is) were
UNANIMOUS in picking Connelly for the gold. The odds
are 1/20!!! Everyone else has either 10/1 or 40/1
odds! You'd be fucking nuts to bet against her.
Here's the thing…

I've got a hunch. I think this is going to be one of
those Marcia Gay Harden years. (Y'know, like, last
year?) I honestly believe the Academy is gonna pull
Maggie Smith out of their ass like so much James
Coburn in Affliction. I don't why Maggie Smith. I
heard great things about her performance but that
makes her no different from the other 10/1 girl Helen
Mirren. And Marisa Tomei was in top form in In The
Bedroom but she's got her supporting nod already.
It's just a hunch. Pure and simple. No science. No
reason. No points for Dave if he's wrong.

As far as who should win, I have a bad habit of never
having seen enough of the films in this category to
make even an educated guess. This year I saw two (if
I'd only gotten around to seeing Gosford Park I'd have
four dammit!) Of those two (ABM and In the Bedroom)
it's a toss-up. I don't know…Marisa. She just had a
little more to do than Jennifer, even though she was
in the movie less.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Jim Broadbent - Iris
Ethan Hawke - Training Day
Ben Kingsley - Sexy Beast
Ian McKellen - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship
of the Ring
Jon Voight - Ali

Will Win: Ian McKellen
Should Win: Ben Kingsley

I have to disagree with Walt here. He makes a good
point. And I could see Jim Broadbent running away
with it except I that I think the "Huh?" award is
going to Maggie this year. Ian McKellan just captured
everybody's imagination. And, more importantly, he
fit into one of the two zeitgeists that's gonna rule
the guys acting noms this year. I'll get more into
this when I talk about best actor, but remember this:
It is important that in LOTR, Ian's character is old
and cool at the same time. (Jim Broadbent plays old
too, but he ain't throwin' out lightning bolts and
shit like Gandalf)

Odds back me up here: They're even.

Ben Kingsley should win. He has a lot more to do.
Don't get me wrong, Ian's great as Gandalf but Ben
fucking rocks as Don Logan. The fact that I remember
his character's name and it was a generally
forgettable film should tell you something. He makes
the film. Well, the film never really gets "made" but
if anyone makes it watchable it's him. He is such a
bad ass! And not as much of a bad ass as the press
built him up to be (which was part of the problem) but
still impressive and…wait for it…complex. You find
out why he is (or tries to be) such a bastard in the
movie and it'd be heartbreaking if he weren't such a
jerk.

And where's Haley Joel Osment? His performance in AI
(a.k.a. the most unironically - and therefore
frighteningly - Oedipal film of all time) was
something else. I never thought I'd see a 10-yr.-old
look world-weary but he pulls it off. That and about
a hundred other emotions. And he looks creepy as hell
for his first ten minutes of screen time. And
switches that shit completely up in the "imprinting"
scene which for me is enough to give him a nom. Check
it: He's acting like creepy-ass Stepford child for the
first ten minutes until his "mom" tells him this code
that's supposed to make him love her and only her for
eternity, blah, blah, blah…Using only his voice and
the slightest change in facial expression homeboy goes
from Damien to that kid from Jerry Maguire (except not
so obnoxious). Good shit.


BEST ACTRESS

Halle Berry - Monster's Ball

Judi Dench - Iris
Nicole Kidman - Moulin Rouge
Sissy Spacek - In the Bedroom
Renee Zelwegger - Bridget Jones's Diary

Will Win: Sissy Spacek
Should Win: Halle Berry

Yes, Halle Berry won the SAG award even though Sissy
Spacek won every other award given out to an actress
during Oscar season. But, remember this: Sissy Spacek
won every other award given out to an actress during
Oscar season. 'Nuff said. (Odds back me up here,
too, but just barely - Spacek 7/5, Berry 8/5)

Now, I haven't seen Monster's Ball, but I get the
impression from everything I've heard that Halle does
an incredible job with a complicated role. Spacek,
who I have seen, does a great job with a not so much
complicated role. I mean it ain't simple, but it's no
tour de force like Tom Wilkinson. More on him in a
minute. So, I'm willing to trust what I've heard for
now and say that in a perfect world I'd give Halle the
gold. Then I'd sleep with her. A lot.


BEST ACTOR

Russell Crowe - A Beautiful Mind
Sean Penn - I Am Sam
Will Smith - Ali
Denzel Washington - Training Day
Tom Wilkinson - In the Bedroom

Will Win: Denzel Washington
Should Win: Tom Wilkinson

Where the hell is Russell Crowe? Being pissy at
BAFTA. That's why he's not on stage. That and about
a hundred other reasons. I'll list three.

1. A vote for Crowe needs to be justified, a vote for
Denzel does not.
2. Crowe ain't Spencer or Tom (see BAFTA)
3. Crowe will lose the battle of the zeitgeists.

Let's take these one at a time:

First, because of all the freaking controversy over
John Nash, a vote for Russel Crowe is no longer just a
statement about your opinion about his performance,
but a statement about your opinion of John Nash. If
you vote for him you have to answer (at least to
yourself) questions like "Yeah, but didn't he father
another child before marrying Jennifer Connelly?
Doesn't he have sex with little boys? Isn't he
anti-Semitic? Isn't Russel Crowe a jerk?" No, wait,
we'll come back to that last one. If you vote for
Denzel Washington, you get to tell yourself things
like, "Good for you! You've just struck a blow for
equality without having to actually do anything or
talk to any non-whites! Everyone will think you're a
good person now! That black chick in my office will
have to do me when she finds out I voted for Denzel!"
Which would you rather hear?

Second, for Crowe to win this year he will have to win
two years in a row. This is an honor with which the
Academy has been remarkably stingy. They're not much
likely to NOMINATE you two years in a row much less
let you win. (Although Crowe's up to three now.)
However, for a special actor, say Tom Hanks, we'll tie
the record set by one of our icons so many years ago.
How cheap does that record get if Russell Crowe, (mean
Russell Crowe, Australian Russell Crowe, got pissy at
the BAFTA ceremony Russell Crowe) wins a scant 7 years
later?

Third, there are two zeitgeists at work here and
surprisingly neither of them has anything to do with
September 11th. (Note the lack of war films released
or nominated - my early Black Hawk Down prediction
wasn't really that good). There's the old people
zeitgeist. As Walt is fond of pointing out, most of
the Academy members are old. Very old. Older than
your parents. This is because once you are a member
you cannot be kicked out. You have to pay you're dues
but they're pretty cheap. But once you're in, even if
you never work on a film for the rest of your life,
you're a member. It's like the Barnstormers. So, by
now, there are a lot of OLD, OLD members. What do old
people like? Lots of things. Sunny days. Good sex.
Watching CBS. Hey, wait, what's on CBS? Old people.
(Older anyway) And what are they doing? Cool stuff.
Like CSI or Judging Amy or, may God have mercy on its
soul, Walker Texas Ranger (Chuck Norris is freakin'
ooooold, people!) The Academy likes it when old
people do cool things. Just like I like it when nerdy
guys in films get the girl. (See ending, Pretty In
Pink, re: Kristie Swanson) So Gandalf and John Nash
are heroic old people. As academy members we want to
reward that. But… Wait a minute… Is that…Could it
be…?

Is that Sidney Poitier's music I hear playing?

Yes, this year the Academy is going to give Sidney
"Little Nikita" Poitier an honorary Oscar. Here's the
thing. He's already got one. For a little movie
called "Lilies of the Field". (The video cover of
which makes it look like it should be called "Naked
Black Giant vs. the Nuns!") Yes, there is another
zeitgeist at work. Black people. This year, for some
reason that I don't completely understand, the Academy
likes black people. And not in a "Hey, isn't Cuba
Gooding, Jr. funny and harmless" sort of way or a
"Whoopi Goldberg sure helped those two white people
rekindle their love" manner or even a "Haley Mills is
helping engender a positive role model for slavery"
kind of way and especially not in a "The Color Purple
sure was good. Let's reward it by nominating every
single actor in it and not giving them anything at
all!" way. No, they actually nominated three black
actors for best actor or actress for THREE DIFFERENT
FILMS! The underlying message here (intended or not)
is "There are enough good roles for black actors to go
around and if you take them you WILL be recognized for
it!" i.e. you don't have to all cram into one "black"
film to have a hope in hell of winning something.
This zeitgeist is much less controversial in this
category because of John Nash. It will benefit Denzel
more than Smith because (a) Ali didn't do as well
critically or at the box office and (b) Denzel has
established himself and, guess what, looks like the
inheritor to the throne of…wait for it…Sidney Poitier;
and Oscar eats that shit up!

I should add that Denzel's performance was
outstanding. Truly. One of his best. However…what
Tom Wilkinson had to do was tougher. Much tougher.
Tom Wilkinson had to take an ordinary, fun-loving
father and husband and, well, I don't want to give it
away but, he has to go through a transformation. Now,
actors go through transformations all the time. Crowe
does it in ABM, Haley does it in AI, but there's one
difference here. Tom has to do it really, really,
really slowly. It's all very subtle. And the one
thing that's hard for an actor, ESPECIALLY a screen
actor to do is to be subtle about a change this big.
It has to register in his face. In his body language.
In his voice. In something ethereal that you can't
even put your finger on. It almost has to present
itself subconsciously but you have to be able to watch
this guy and not even knowing what decision he's just
made or what he's about to do see this significant,
heartbreaking change. He's not the same man you met
at the beginning of the film. Not hardly. And the
problem with a performance like this is that it's just
not showy. It's not sexy. Denzel's performance (not
his character, exactly, but the performance) is much
sexier, much more attractive, much more showy. It's
good, but I think what Tom had to do (and did with
aplomb) was much, much harder.

Incidentally, the odds only recently swayed in my
favor on this one: Denzel - 4/5.

BEST DIRECTOR

Ron Howard - A Beautiful Mind
Ridley Scott - Black Hawk Down
Robert Altman - Gosford Park
Peter Jackson - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship
of the Ring
David Lynch - Mulholland Drive

Will Win: Ron Howard
Should Win: Peter Jackson

I'll keep this simple. Ron Howard won the DGA award.
The DGA award is 90% accurate. I think this year will
not be a part of that 10%. Incidentally, he's got
3/4 odds.

That having been said, I'm still a little surprised.
I have to admit that when Jen mentioned months ago
that she though Ron stood a shot because he's been
around so long and the Academy will probably think
he's due, I was a little skeptical. When will I learn
to listen to her? She guessed Robert Altman out of a
hat at the Golden Globes. So Ron's up for it now,
well liked and none of these other yo-yo's are gonna
stand in his way.

Altman - you think the Academy is finally gonna show
Altman the love? Me, neither
Scott - guess what? Your film wasn't nominated for
Best Picture. Here's the "buh" and here's the "bye".
Lynch - I refuse to let my kids grow up in a world
where he wins for this picture. "Blue Velvet" maybe.
This, no. nonononononononono.

Jackson. Ah, Jackson. Action Jackson. But I
digress. He should win. He did a better job of
directing. Pure and simple. He had more to do and he
did it admirably. I'll be honest. I wasn't totally
blown away like I expected by LOTR. I was a little
disappointed. But Peter Jackson's direction wasn't
the problem. (If you must know, it's the screenplay,
but I already talked about that.) Peter Jackson's
direction was incredible. He created a world,
populated it, undertook a daunting storytelling job,
etc. (But I kind of already talked about that, too,
so, moving on…)


BEST PICTURE

A Beautiful Mind
Gosford Park
In the Bedroom
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Moulin Rouge

Will Win: A Beautiful Mind
Should Win: Hmmm….let me think about it for a sec.

Oddsmakers agree (2/5), A Beautiful Mind is gonna beat
LOTR. But how? LOTR's got more noms. Yes, but
almost none of them are acting. True, but ABM's only
got one more acting nod that I don't think it's gonna
get anyway AND Titanic won without winning ANY acting
awards and nomination-wise LOTR's got those kind of
numbers. So? It's simpler than that. The Academy
simply isn't gonna split director and picture again
for at least another two years. It happened in '98
with Spielberg vs. Shakespeare in Love. It happened
again last year with Soderberg vs. Gladiator. It's
not going to happen two years in a row. And I really
don't think it's gonna happen for a while. I think
that right now Hollywood wants stability. They're
gonna have enough changes to go through in the next 5
- 10 years with all this digital crap that is going to
truly screw things up (or at least re-arrange them
significantly) in a relatively small space of time. I
think the Academy will opt for the consistency of
voting for the same director and picture. I think any
John Nash backlash will be directed at Crowe not at
the film. And I think that the Academy will wait
until The Two Towers or The Return of the King to
award LOTR. And that's because the Academy's not
going to be put in a position where it has to let LOTR
beat the record set by the Godfather films. Not gonna
happen. Even the younger generation won't stand for
it. (What I mean by that is when LOTR came out, it
shot up to number one on the IMDB top 250 and stayed
there for a while. It beat out the Godfather for this
position. But over time, it slipped back down to
number two and The Godfather took back it's number one
slot. The moral of the story is: NOBODY fucks with
The Godfather. Funny, that's the actual moral of "The
Godfather")

Who should win? I've been thinking about it. And
from the movies nominated that I've seen (all but
Gosford Park) I have to say the best one all around
was A Beautiful Mind. I'm making that my top pick. I
had enough issues with the other films, which, good as
they were, had their flaws. And ABM's got some flaws,
too, but it does a better job at making up for them.

But what I really think should win. My personal movie
of the year. Memento. I'm calling this in terms of
(excuse the irony) memorability. (not a word, I know)
But I'm telling ya, years and years from now I'm still
gonna be thinking about Memento, I'm still gonna be
using it to teach people about screenwriting and
perception vs. reality in film and if I ever teach
editing you bet your ass I'm gonna bring this up.
Memento is gonna last. For me, anyway.

So, there you have it. Much too long, I know. But I
hope you enjoyed it.

-Dave

Friday, March 22, 2002

My buddy Dave Thomas (old friend from college) has provided the funniest commentary yet on tomorrow night's Academy Awards. Here's Part 1, kinda long but worth it.

___________________________________

OSCAR PREVIEW

Gonna work this from the bottom up for those of you in
on the pool. (And those of you not, go to
http://moviegames.yahoo.com/oscars and join the "I
love hot dogs" group - group ID # 6859, password:
carrere)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

AI
LOTR
Pearl Harbor

Will Win: Lord of the Rings
Should Win: Lord of the Rings

The first of many this will win, but none of the big
ones. And as truly awesome as some of the AI fx were,
the Rings fx created a far more complete, complicated
world.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

the accountant
Copy Shop
Gregor's Greatest Invention
A Man Thing (Meska Sprawa)
Speed for Thespians

Will Win: Copy Shop
Should Win: Speed for Thespians

As usual, I haven't seen any of these. I hear Copy
Shop is good, so I'm giving it the win. I'm giving
"Speed" the should cos' I like the title.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Fifty Percent Grey
For the Birds
Give Up Yer Aul Sins
Strange Invaders
Stubble Trouble

Will Win: For the Birds
Should Win: Lily & Jim

For once I've actually seen one of these! "For the
Birds" is the short that comes before "Monsters, Inc."
It's actually pretty good. That's not why it'll win.
It'll win because it came before "Monsters, Inc." so
Academy members will have actually seen it. "Lily &
Jim" should win cos' it's the funniest damn short I've
seen in years, even if it came out 5 years ago.

BEST MAKE-UP

A Beautiful Mind
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Moulin Rouge

Will Win: LOTR
Should Win: Planet of the Apes!!!

I'm sorry, but where the hell is the Rick Baker award
this year? The ONLY good thing about that movie was
the make-up. I'd hate to think that I sat through
that crap in vain. (Well, Estella Warren was cute,
but still - I have the internet).

Yeah, LOTR will snag it. It's a technical award.
Note the theme.

BEST FILM EDITING

A Beautiful Mind
Black Hawk Down
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Memento
Moulin Rouge

Will Win: Moulin Rouge
Should Win: Memento

Most of the time this award goes to the Best Picture.
Not this time. This is gonna be a "Matrix" year.
Moulin Rouge is gonna get SOMETHING. It's not gonna
win the Producer's Guild award and then walk away
empty handed from the Oscars. But whatever could it
win? It ain't gonna get Best Picture. Nicole's no
match for two of the other actresses. And most
technical stuff is gonna be nabbed by the 400 lb.
gorilla that is LOTR. So it gets editing. And it
almost deserves it. The editing was crucial to this
film. And manic. And crazy. And not as crucial as…

Memento. If ever a movie needed perfect editing (w/
the possible exception of JFK, which won) this is it.
To tell a story that jumps around this much and still
carry the audience with it is an achievement not just
of direction or screenwriting (which we'll get to
later) but of sheer precision editing. The
juxtapositions, especially at the end of the film,
have to be just right. And the cut of Sammy Jenkis
turning into Leonard Shelby for a split second is
practically worth the award right there for loading
that much significance into one cut.


BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT

Artists and Orphans: A True Drama
Sing!
Thoth

Will Win: Artists and Orphans: A True Drama
Should Win: Thoth

Artists and Orphans just sounds important. Oscar
loves that in its documentaries. I'm giving Thoth the
should based on that cool-sounding name thing again.


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Children Underground
LaLees Kin: The Legacy of Cotton
Murder on a Sunday Morning
Promises
War Photographer

Will Win: Promises
Should Win: Promises

I'm gonna defer to Walt on this one. He's uncanny
when it comes to predicting doc winners. (Amber's
even creepier. She's pretty on target about the
murderer's row {best short animated and live action,
and best doc short and feature} without ever seeing
the movies and usually knowing nothing about them).
And he saw Promises and said it was good so I'll trust
him there, too, for the should.


BEST COSTUME DESIGN

The Affair of the Necklace
Gosford Park
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Moulin Rouge

Will Win: LOTR
Should Win: Moulin Rouge

This one's tough. It would be easy except for one
thing. Moulin Rouge. Normally a movie nominated for
13 awards is gonna win all of the minors it can. But
Moulin's got a hefty chunk, too. AND this nom makes
perfect sense. However, my gut tells me that LOTR is
going to monolithically trample the competition in all
even remotely technical awards, even when Moulin has
the more elaborate costumes. (I mean, come on!
They're robes! How hard is that!?)


BEST ORIGINAL SONG

"If I Didn't Have You" - Randy Newman from Monsters,
Inc.
"May It Be" - Enya, Nicky Ryan & Roma Ryan, from LOTR
"There You'll Be" - Diane Warren, from Pearl Harbor
"Until" - Sting, from Kate & Leopold
"Vanilla Sky" - Paul McCartney, from Vanilla Sky

Will Win: "Until" - Sting
Should Win: "Come What May" - from Moulin Rouge

Oh, good. Randy Newman's here. The battle of the
brits. This award has come to signify some sort of
tribute to rock icons in preceding years. Remember
Spingsteen's win for "Philadelphia" and Dylan's
I-can't-believe-it's-not-Vincent-Price win for "Wonder
Boys"? So here we have two British icons of rock who
have aged gracefully into writing cheesy love ballads
for underperforming American films. McCartney's been
around longer but Vanilla Sky sucked at the box office
whereas Kate & Leopold did surprisingly well.
Advantage: Sting.

Oh, so remember that musical that came out this year
that got all those nominations for everything EXCEPT
best song? I quote Walt: "It's a fucking MUSICAL for
Christ's sake!"

AND WHERE THE HELL IS "JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS"? THAT
"THREE SMALL WORDS" SONG FUCKING ROCKS!!!

At least we can be thankful that nothing from Glitter
got nominated.

(Incidentally: there's a theory that there's some
technical crap that prevented "Come What May" from
getting nominated. Apparently it was written for
Romeo & Juliet but never used. As a result, it
couldn't be nominated for Moulin Rouge because it
wasn't expressly written for Moulin Rouge. The same
thing kept "As Time Goes By" from being nominated for
Casablanca.)


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence - John Williams
A Beautiful Mind - James Horner
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - John Williams
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring -
Howard Shore
Monsters, Inc. - Randy Newman

Will Win: LOTR
Should Win: A Beautiful Mind

Oh, good. Randy Newman's here.

It's not a technical award, technically, but I think
LOTR will take as much as it can (although there is a
limit that we'll hit pretty soon). On top of all
that, Howard's due. Most of these other guys have
been nominated a gazillion times in the past ten or
even twenty years (watch John Williams split his own
vote here). Shore's won a shitload of ASCAP awards in
that same time period and hasn't been nominated until
now. He also won AFI's Composer of the Year, but I
won't hold that against him.

Of all these films, ABM is the only one where I
actually commented on the score after seeing it.
Actually, I think Walt brought it up first. We both
liked it and considered (for about 10 seconds)
actually getting the soundtrack.

Oh, and thank God no musicals were nominated in this
category. Jeez!


BEST SOUND EDITING

Monsters Inc.
Pearl Harbor

Will Win: Monsters Inc.
Should Win: Anything but Pearl Harbor, so…

No, really. I think that's what it's gonna come down
to. No one in their right mind, (or even in the
Academy) wants to give props of any kind to Pearl
Harbor (and by Pearl Harbor, I mean Jerry Bruckheimer)
so Monsters Inc wins by the two sweetest words in the
English language: Dee Fault.


BEST SOUND

Amelie
Black Hawk Down
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Moulin Rouge
Pearl Harbor

Will Win: LOTR
Should Win: Moulin Rouge

It's funny, y'know, I remember walking out of Amelie
thinking, "Damn that movie had some good sound!
Sheeeiiiit!" LOTR. Technical award. You do the
math.

If only for the fact that I could hear all the
dialogue clearly underneath all the music I give
Moulin Rouge the award. (Technically that may be a
sound editing award, but they didn't get nominated for
that.)


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Amelie
Black Hawk Down
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Man Who Wasn't There
Moulin Rouge

Will Win: The Man Who Wasn't There
Should Win: The Man Who Wasn't There

Actually, I did walk out of Amelie saying "Sheeeiiiit
that's good cinematography." But it's not gonna win.

This is a TOUGH one. The trend for the past five
years (at least; I didn't have time to check back
further) has been that the best cinematography award
has ONLY gone to films that were also nominated for
best picture. This eliminates all but Moulin Rouge
and LOTR. And between the two of them it's already a
tough call (though they can also split the vote). But
here's the thing. The Man Who Wasn't There has won
virtually every cinematography award handed out this
year. Including the ASC award. This is as close as
you get to a guild award in this field. And if
cinematographers are voting for cinematographers…

And it's nice that it deserves to win, too.


BEST ART DIRECTION

Amelie
Gosford Park
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Moulin Rouge

Will Win: LOTR
Should Win: LOTR

I have to admit this is one of the most beautiful
films I've seen all year. It's literally like one of
those fantasy paintings come to life. A lot of that
is the art direction. Again, I'm thinking this is
part of that unstoppable LOTR technical train we'll
witness Sunday night. ("LOTR technical train" was
actually the working title for "Soul Train". True
story.)

TOMORROW (or later today depending on when you get
this) THE BIG 10!!!

-Dave

Thursday, March 21, 2002

I have a little foible that I only read blogs of people I've met. In the wake of September 11th, er, South by Southwest, that list is growing rapidly. As will that list of links --\----> on the right when I get in a cody mood.
Move date set. April 20th. Stuff will be sold very cheap. Stay tuned for details...

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

My friend Amy and I went to see Todd Gitlin speak at the Commonwealth Club on Monday. A student activist in the 1960's, Gitlin is considered one of the nation's foremost media and cultural critics and as written maybe a half-dozen books about The Racial Hyposcrisy of Liberal Movements, The Oligopoly of Prime Time T.V. and other such topics that fascinate me. I had read The Whole World is Watching, about 60's activism and media, in college and found so convoluted that I can only describe the experience as akin to backstroking in a pool of tapioca.

It didn't improve a whole lot for me. While Gitlin has smoothed out his thoughts with age (or maybe just expresses them better live than in print), I still found his arguments to selective to the point of cowardice. His new book, Media Unlimited, is all about how we're living a life so overrun with sounds and images, that things like community and thoughtful discourse are slowing erroding away. However since "the media" isn't going to roll over and play dead because Todd Gitlin says it should, many in the audience wanted to know what Professor Gitlin saw as the counterplan to all this. Precisely what media and how much of it should we consuming then?

Answer: "I don't prescribe such things."

My answer: What hooey. Gitlin wants us all to bask in is indignation yet has nothing but that to add to the discussion. He then coats himself with intellecutal teflon by saying "there's too much media" (which we all know), then refusing to offer an answer to "then what?" That isn't criticism. It's fact finding in service of itself. And for someone of Todd Gitlin's stature, we both expected more. Even if it was only twelve bucks.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Your local library + The Web = Booklend

Geocaching + Where's George + Bibliomania = BookCrossing.

What a fun time to be a book lover.

Monday, March 18, 2002

My buddy Dave Thomas (no not the dead Wendy's Guy) just got his first feature-length film, All Night Thing into the Johns Hopkins Film Festival. I'm so fucking excited! Dave is one of my closest friends and several years ago, we were passing drafts of the script back and forth over bad diner pancakes. Last Thanksgiving, I took the train down from New York to catch the debut screening, a very sweet, charming look at a single night on a college campus.

I'm giving the Kevin three-thumbs-up-not-just-because-I've-seem-the-filmmaker-hammered seal of approval. I highly recommend needling Dave for a video tape copy. You won't be sorry.

Friday, March 15, 2002

Ten Things I Learned at South By Southwest 2002

1. The web is alive and well, thank you. No one si getting rich but that's like saying all the gold is gone from Sutter's Mill so therefore the shovel is now obsolete.

Hogwash. The web is a tool--powerful, complicated, and highly capable of enabling wonder and mystery. I spent the week around hundreds of people whose creativity hasn't been limited by lack of funding or a short attention span media but simply by how big they can dream and how quickly they can type.

2. Passion is contagious. Excitment feeds off itself. Every third conversation I had this week sparked another idea. Every other got me all electric about someone else's project. I landed back home completely high on web juice, ready to write, conceptualize and pitch in all around the place.

3. You often have more impact than you think. I began going to SXSW in 1999 when Central Booking was a cut-rate hobby site I dabbled in while trying to finish graduate school. During that first conference, I took in a panel on online journaling which, years later, resulted in CB becoming a community of readers. On that panel, I had a very pleasent chat with a woman named Sarah who introduced me to Blogger and the medium of weblogging. Three years and as many redesigns later, I run into Sarah at the festival's opening event and she recognized me instantly. It took me a little bit longer and a lot of stammering but soon we were talking like old friends. Or maybe brand new ones.

4. I should buy a digital camera. Everybody's doing it.

5. People relish the opportunity to act silly, especially in the loose embrace of new friends. Sounds a little clinical but it's the best way I can explain why I spent a substantial part of this conference playing kickball, singing karaoke, and trying to sober up a drunken monkey.

6. You can go back to where you once lived and it may not have changed all that much. You almost certainly have.

7. A perfect airline flight resembles a short trip on a bus: You board, read a newspaper and have arrived when you look up. Exiting should be as painless as entry and effortless like hopping to the curb. It helps if no one's sitting within six rows of you.

8. What is real is your story. Tell it.

9. Webheads read. Lots. They dig books. Some of them had even heard of Central Booking. Now more have.

10. Community is a rare and precious gift today. When used with grace, the web is a tremendous community builder, uniting rather than locking us apart. I experienced that more than I thought I could this last week where hundreds of strangers were instantly kind, thoughtful and intrigued by one another. If you've found a place like that, real or virtual, stick around. It's very a special thing.

Thanks everyone.

P.S. I did a similar essay for SXSW 2001. What a difference a year makes.





Wednesday, March 13, 2002

South by Southwest: The Morning After...

I'm a little surprised I can still walk erect because I've lived harder and fuller the last 4 days than probably in the rest of my adult life. I've spend the last week immersed in smart, creative people 18 hours a day with everyone talking new projects, wild ideas and being generally electrified by each other's company. I'll throw down my annual 10 Things I Learned at South by Southwest when I get home tomorrow. For now, let me say I feel honored and blessed to have participated in all of this.

Thanks everyone.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

A couple dozen new friends met, hundreds of thrilling conversations, millions of laughs a few hours too little of sleep and a day left to go. South by Southwest 2002. I feel so lucky to be here, to have met everyone I have, to be building and participating in something called community when so little of it exists in today. I've returned in celebration to a city I where I spent three difficult years at a stumble.

I am so alive now I may fly.

Monday, March 11, 2002

What a wonderful night. Big props to everyone who helped make Fray Cafe 2 special. Four solid hours of funny, touching, human storytelling. It's the best evidence I have that what happens on the web has real life consequences and results that can change your life.

Thursday, March 07, 2002

Randomly ran into Jay Allen at the corner of 5th and Trinity in downtown Austin. People are arriving. The madness has begun.
Seen on the historic Lamar St. Bridge during a run: Graffiti reading "Eminem is God." Wow.

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Finished reading Bill Bryson's I'm a Stranger Here Myself my first afternoon in Austin. It's a collection of newspaper columns did right after moving back to America after two decades of living in the U.K. The subject matter's rather uninspired (New England winters, inscrutable forms from the IRS) but Bryson manages to give each of them his own askewing. I didn't crack up the way I did reading The Lost Continent but I tittered the whole time. Thoroughly enjoyable.

The book had served as my toilet book back home and I read one piece at a time while other business went on. I brought it along in case I tired of the workish books I had brought. But I'm on vacation and I read what suits me in the moment. So Bill Bryson followed me to lunch, the grocery store and to a beat-up chair at Bookpeople, a super-duper independent bookstore. I read the last essay while eyeing a towering shelf of Western Novelists, mostly unseen in the Republic of San Francisco. I haven't read any myself but a fellow named Elmer Kelton has written about 113 of them, each with a cover so full of horses and mountainous beauty that they look like they're ready to gallop off the shelf at any moment.
I'm here, functioning on summer low speed. Which is good. Relaxing is a skill I don't currently possess. We're working on it here.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Off to Austin. See ya soon everyone!

Monday, March 04, 2002

Ugh, no energy to blog. Hustled for Central Booking at Found Magazine's San Francisco party last night. Got a bad night's sleep. Am closing on house today and leave for Austin and SXSW tomorrow.

Stop this life, I wanna get off. Just for a weekend or so.

Friday, March 01, 2002

House Update: I sign the final paperwork this weekend. Oh yes.
I just heard that Dave Eggers's older sister Beth had committed suicide last November. The two had publicly disagreed over how Egger's had portrayed her role in raising their youngest brother Toph after the Eggers children were orphaned, in his memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Straggering Genius. But I don't think that's why it happened.

Man, that is so sad. I haven't always agreed with how Dave Eggers handled his sudden surge of fame but he is a colleague in this wacky business, a friend-of-a-friend, a fellow San Franciscan and a human being. And I don't wish that kind of heartbreak on anybody.
No blogging for four days! My friend Amy noticed. Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide...