We get to attending industry screenings out here in L.A. on a regular basis, especially if the films have any connection to comic books. On Thursday, we attended a press screening for "300" based on Frank Miller and Lynn Varley's graphic novel of the same name. It is about the battle of Thermopylae which pitted 300 Spartans agains the whole of the Persian army, giving the rest of the Greek city-states an opportunity to group and ultimately stop Xerxes from progressing into Europe.
It's a very stylized film, adapting its look from the graphic novel (much as Sin City's look was adapted from Frank Miller's noir graphic novel.) It is a very muted palette, with incredibly vivid red (once red, always red as photographers say) for the Spartan capes and all of that blood. It's very loud and my biggest problem is that all of the dialogue appears to be spoken IN CAPITAL LETTERS, but I did like the film. As one of the friends who went with us said "not a great date flick," unless, of course, your date studied ancient history in college (as I did.) If you're looking for historical accuracy, the broad strokes are there. I'm not enough of an expert to know if the clothing is accurate or not, but there are plenty of 6-pack abs to look at.
Word got out about the screenings and apparently many more people than had been invited showed up on Friday and Saturday night. We heard that it is testing better than the Matrix (I certainly think that it is better than the Matrix which wasn't about anything I could identify.) It opens on March 9. Go see it.
We spent Sunday working our way through the pile of industry screeners we got in anticipation of the Academy Awards in two weeks. All in all, I've seen very few films in the past year, down from the 50-100 I would normally expect to see in a year. The horse takes up a lot of my time and I find myself less and less willing to go out and endure the crowds who talk during the film (especially at $10 or more a ticket), bring noisy children into age-inappropriate shows, or who do other annoying things. Hence, I'm willing to go to the industry screenings and I'll put myself out for the big event pictures which require a big screen, but there's got to be some reason for me not to just wait four months and watch it on DVD in the comfort of my home. I really want to get one of those 108" flat screen tvs with surround sound so I'll never have to go to the movies again. Private screening room in my home, that's the way to go.
We watched "Little Miss Sunshine," "The Queen," and "The Departed." I'm at a loss to explain why "Little Miss Sunshine" is up for best picture and two acting awards. All three films are about disfunctional families, in a way. Helen Mirren is great as QEII, but talk about disfunctional family! "The Departed" is about cops and crime in Boston--there are no good guys and Jack Nicholson gives another of his maniacal performances. Leonardo DiCaprio gives a good performance (he's living down that drivel from "Titanic" quite well), as does Ben Affleck's writing partner and Mark Wahlberg (appologies for all miss-spelled names.)
I really thought that Ben Affleck had a chance for an Oscar nomination with his portrayal of George Reeves in "Hollywoodland," a film that really can't have a resolution, but which I found compelling. We still have half a dozen films to watch before Oscar night, but I'm not sure we'll get to them all. Len saw several of the nominated films (such as "Blood Diamond" and "Letters from Iwo Jima") without me, knowing I wouldn't want to see them on a big screen and he may have to catch some of the remaining ones without me.
I absolutely loved Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada," but I think that she's going to lose to Helen Mirren based on the SAG Awards. "Prada" should absolutely win for costuming, and I don't often believe that of contemporary films. I can't think of a really memorable score I've heard this year. Howard Shore (LotR Trilogy) did "The Departed" but I didn't catch the credit for either "The Queen" or "Little Miss Sunshine."
The three years where LotR was up for Oscars, I really felt involved with the whole Oscar experience, but I haven't felt the same way since. I'll be rooting for Guillermo del Toro, since he's a huge fan of my husband's work and my friends who have seen "Pan's Labyrinth" think it is the best film of the year (it's up for foreign language and five other awards) but mostly I'll be hoping that Ellen de Generes does as good a job as she did hosting the Emmy Awards back in 2001.
Now I've got to come up with some Oscar-themed food to serve at our annual Oscar-watch party.
Lunch with the Barefoot Contessa
5 years ago