Posted: February 24th, 2008 | Author: Simon | Filed under: Journal | Tags: academy awards, Movies, oscars, predictions | Comments Off
The Academy Awards is almost upon us, so lets try and see if we can guess any of the winners of the major categories. I’ll tell what I hope that will win and what I think will win (as they often are not the same) and also include what the traders at the Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX) are predicting, as they always seem to hit it spot on.
Best motion picture of the year
- “Michael Clayton”
- “No Country for Old Men”
- “There Will Be Blood”
Here HSX is hands down going with No Country for Old Men, I also think that it’s going to win, but I really hope that There Will Be Blood will take the honor.
Achievement in directing
- “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” – Julian Schnabel
- “Juno” – Jason Reitman
- “Michael Clayton” – Tony Gilroy
- “No Country for Old Men” – Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
- “There Will Be Blood” – Paul Thomas Anderson
Again HSX is all for the Coen brothers, but I think and hope that Paul Thomas Anderson will take home this one. And what the heck is Reitman even doing on this list? Sure Juno is a nice flick, but Oscar?
Performance by an actor in a leading role
- George Clooney in “Michael Clayton”
- Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood”
- Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
- Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah”
- Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises”
There is no competition for this one. Daniel Day-Lewis’ tour-de-force presentation is a sure winner, and HSX agree.
Performance by an actress in a leading role
- Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”
- Julie Christie in “Away from Her”
- Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose”
- Laura Linney in “The Savages”
- Ellen Page in “Juno”
This one is a little bit embarrassing as I’ve only seen Juno. But HSX is all for Julie Christie. If I had to predict what I think will win based on what I’ve heard I’ll say Julie Christie or Laura Linney.
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
- Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”
- Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men”
- Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War”
- Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild”
- Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton”
HSX and I both think that Javier Bardem will win, but I hope that Tom Wilkinson will take the statue for his role in Michael Clayton.
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
- Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There”
- Ruby Dee in “American Gangster”
- Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement”
- Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone”
- Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton”
HSX is a little split here between Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton with a slight incline towards Blanchett. I also think that she will win even though I hope that Swinton will.
- “Juno” Written by Diablo Cody
- “Lars and the Real Girl” Written by Nancy Oliver
- “Michael Clayton” Written by Tony Gilroy
- “Ratatouille” Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
- “The Savages” Written by Tamara Jenkins
Here HSX is all for Juno, while I think it might come down between Juno, Clayton and Ratatouille. It’s a really hard one to nail. I hope that Michael Clayton will win for its very intelligent script.
- “Atonement” Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
- “Away from Her” Written by Sarah Polley
- “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
- “No Country for Old Men” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
- “There Will Be Blood” Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
Again HSX is all for No Country, while I think and hope that There Will Be Blood will take the statue.
Posted: February 18th, 2008 | Author: Simon | Filed under: Journal, Noteworthy | Tags: michael clayton, moved, screenwriting, story dojo, story trick, storydojo, Tilda Swinton, tony gilroy | 3 Comments »
So here we are with Story Trick #2. This time the trick comes from Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton.
Gilroy both wrote and directed this film, which marks his debut as a director, but certainly not as screenwriter. Some of his other credits include the Bourne Trilogy, as well as Armageddon, and Dolores Claiborne.
In short, Tilda Swinton plays Karen Crowder, the top legal adviser to U/North a gigantic chemical fertilizing company.
Just before act two starts she’s about the give an interview on camera to be used in some internal marketing.
We start of by seeing her sitting in front of the camera crew and the interviewer with one of the senior partners at her side. She delivers a very thoughtful and serious answer to the interviewer’s first question and seems extremely confident and on top of the situation.
But after the first question is answered, we start to cut back and forth between the ongoing interview and her rehearsing in her room 30 minutes or so before. In the comfort of her private space she just the opposite; she’s nervous and fumbles with the words while she’s trying to find the right answers to the prepared questions.
The trick is that not only do we get a lot of exposition details about Karen Crowder, about her being a work alcoholic and very much theyoung rising star as the in-house legal adviser, but we also see her as a fragile and somewhat emotional unstable woman that is working very hard to keep her facade intact.
It’s a superb trick by Gilroy. In just over two pages, Gilroy manages not only to introduce Karen and sketch out her background, but also to show both her personalities; her calm collected professional one and her fragile and unstable personal one. Something that proves to be a vital clue for events later in the story.
You can read Tony Gilroy’s excellent script in its entirety here. The sequence mentioned herein starts at page 27.
Posted: February 15th, 2008 | Author: Simon | Filed under: Journal | Tags: coffee, work | Comments Off
This week I’ve witnessed what happens if a entire company building of about 300 people run completely out of coffee. And even though the building is located next to the Danish headquarters of 7-Eleven (no shit) there was no coffee to be found anywhere. Some mix up had happened with our shipment of coffee and it ended up somewhere else.
That, my friends is not a pretty sight. 300 people. No coffee. None. Nada.
People were roaming the office floors searching for the last cup. Some roamed alone and others were hunting in packs. Then suddenly someone screamed “COFFEE!” and everyone just ran for it, threw everything down and just bolted. By the time anyone got there the coffee was all gone.
In these times of terror we live in, I can’t help to think about what would happen if we had a coffee crisis on the scale of the oil crisis in the 70s. Sure, sure, we can’t live without oil. Nothing would drive and all that. But we would learn to walk and take the bike. Sure it would be a pain in the ass but we’ll live.
But without coffee. Man that’s another question all together. Just one day without coffee in our building was scary. Really scary. I was thinking about locking myself in the bathroom and discreetly sneak out at 17.00 to go home.
I don’t think the coffee producing countries even know what kind of power position they’re actually in. Without coffee the entire world (or at least the heavy coffee drinking part of it) would crumble to it’s knees. Riots would break out. Fist fight would start over the last cup of coffee. Old ladies holding up convenient stores at gun point trying to score the last pound of coffee. It would be the end of the world as we know it, and I don’t feel fine at all.
Today I’m working from home. Partly because I can (job perk) and partly because I’m too afraid to show up at work and find that the coffee still hasn’t been delivered. No thanks, I’m staying at home where the coffee is close by.
Posted: February 11th, 2008 | Author: Simon | Filed under: Journal | Tags: Books, heart-shaped box, horror, joe hill, librarything | Comments Off
I’ve started reading Joe Hill‘s excellent Heart-Shaped Box and was really trying to keep the reading to daylight as the book seem to scare me shitless every time I think I have it all figured out.
Anyone familiar with the plot of Heart-Shaped Box know that the item that sets all the maladies and mayhem in motion is a dead man’s suit bought over the Internet. The suit apparently is accompanied by a ghost and the main character Jude’s life more or less goes south after receiving the suit.
Jude buys the suit because someone sent him an e-mail thinking the item would interest him.
Anyway, Joe Hill, the author, is as I am a LibraryThing user and I found his profile and library when plotting in the book in my library. He and I share a couple of great books so I flagged his library as “interesting”.
Now here comes the real scary part, Joe Hill saw this and sent me a private message online, which at first really freaked me out but after this initial shock had passed I found it really cool that Joe reaches out to his readers this way. It is always very scary when the fictional world collides with the real world in a sort of metaphysical way. It was like receiving my very own dead man’s suit by e-mail.
I of course replied to the message and hope to hear from Joe soon… now I just hope that I didn’t put some sort of curse on myself.
Posted: February 10th, 2008 | Author: Simon | Filed under: Clippings | Tags: clipping, laws | Comments Off
Got this list through the mail the other day:
- Law of queue: If you change queues, the one you have left will start to move faster than the one you are in now.
- Law of the Telephone: When you dial a wrong number, you never get an engaged tone.
- Law of Mechanical Repair: After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch.
- Law of the Workshop: Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.
- Law of the Alibi: If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the next morning you will have a flat tire.
- Bath THEOREM: When the body is immersed in water, the telephone rings.
- LAW of the RESULT: When you try to prove to someone that a machine won’t work, it will!
- LAW OF BIOMECHANICS: The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.
- THEATRE RULE: People with the seats at the furthest from the aisle arrive last.
- LAW OF COFFEE: As soon as you sit down for a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.
Posted: February 8th, 2008 | Author: Simon | Filed under: Journal | Tags: hitchcock, Movies, vanity fair | 2 Comments »
Ever prolific Slashfilm pointed me to Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue where they recreated some of the memorable scenes from Alfred Hitchcock‘s classics.
One of them are outright funny; Seth Rogen in North by Northwest:
But other than this they are as close to vandalism as you can get in my book.
I like Naomi Watts just as much as the next guy (see my post on Eastern Promises), but Tippy Hedren she ain’t.
Please don’t ever do that again.
Posted: February 6th, 2008 | Author: Simon | Filed under: Journal | Tags: anniversary, Ego, lea, wife | Comments Off
Around this time nine years ago I was getting ready to go to a party with some friends of mine, not knowning that I would end up meeting a wonderful, beautiful, funny and very intelligent woman.
When I was twenty-one
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for city girls
Who lived up the stair
With all that perfumed hair
And it came undone
When I was twenty-one
I love you babe…
Posted: February 2nd, 2008 | Author: Simon | Filed under: Journal, Noteworthy | Tags: Eastern Promises, Film, movie, screenplay, script, story trick | 3 Comments »
Today I’m going to commence a feature on this weblog called Story Tricks. I don’t know how often I’ll post these Story Tricks but hopefully they’ll become a fixed feature.
The idea came to me after I watched David Cronenberg’s excellent “Eastern Promises” last night. The script is written by Steven Knight and he utilizes a very simple and very subtle trick that, for me at least, was brilliant in keeping the suspense going in the first part of the film.
The protagonist, Anna (Naomi Watts) is a midwife at a hospital in London and one day a young girl dies in her ward while giving birth to a baby girl. The young woman is unknown but she did carry a diary with her. The problem is that the diary is written in Russian.
Although Anna herself is Russian she can’t read the language and therefore she asks her uncle Stepan to translate it for her. He abruptly refuses as he finds it highly immoral and utters “Do you always rob the bodies of the dead?”.
So Anna must find another way to translate the diary in order to find the relatives of the unknown young girl and hand over the baby to them. Inserted into the diary is a card of the restaurant owned by Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl). Going there she meets Kirill and Nikolai and becomes clear that this restaurant is a meeting place for Russian gangsters in London.
Anna don’t know exactly why, but Semyon seems like a bad man. There is just something about him that’s off, maybe it’s because he’s too direct in offering to help Annie. On the other hand he seems like a very likable grandpa-kind-of-person and is very polite and forthcoming toward Anna and her request for a translation.
And here comes the trick. We as the viewer know that Semyon is bad and that the diary very likely contains information that he normally would have people killed for. The issue is then if Anna can trust Semyon to do a real translation or if he’s going to lie to her.
Parallel to this Anna keeps pushing her uncle to do the translation and he keeps refusing.
This subtle trick creates an enormous tension and suspense in the story, and we sit watching this part of the film on the edge of our seats hoping that uncle Stepan will come to his senses and help Anna so that she can get far away from Semyon. Even though this conflict is resolved in another way it moves the story forward in a very effective way.
I could easily imagine an entire movie centered on this; someone finds a book or scripture and has to get it translated. Unfortunately the person(s) he approaches with this task is someone whom stands to lose a lot if the knowledge in this book is to become publicly known. It’s simple trick and used many times before but it works very well.
I also highly recommend reading Steven Knight’s entire screenplay that Focus Features have so kindly made available online in this award season.