Monday Morning Critic – 3.1.2010 – On tap this week: Oscar Predictions, Fired from Sports and Parkour!

On tap this week: Oscar Predictions, Fired from Sports and Parkour!

One of the perks of driving in the winter in the Midwest is that when it snows you get to listen to talk radio. And as often as it bugs me that they talk about the same revolving door of stupid stuffs no matter what the focus of the show is, i.e. most political shows regardless of their slant always discuss why their opponents are awful people, but I was listening to a sports program on the AM dial and something caught my attention.

It was the Boers and Bernstein show on WSCR 670am, which you can listen to online here. I’ve been a fan of the Score since it came on the air, when I was 13 or so, and for a sports junkie like me (and my brother & father) it was gold. Whenever I worked as a teenager, I always had a portable radio with an AM dial so I could listen all day. Now it’s in the car on lunch and driving to and from work.

Well before the age of the web, et al, sports talk was a novelty. The guys were discussing the upcoming NBA off-season of the Chicago Bulls and some moron called in to say that the Bulls shouldn’t pursue Lebron James with a max contract. His “idea” was that you should “build through the draft” because you “don’t need guys like that.”

Yes, someone actually said that. Please use the following moment to laugh, loudly. The same guy called in the week before to say that Tim Tebow would be a great NFL quarterback on the singular criterion that he “is a good leader,” so apparently their call-screening staff isn’t quite as tight as it ought to be.

It was patently absurd because, well, let’s face it: anytime you have the opportunity to sign the BEST PLAYER IN THE GAME to your team you do it and don’t look back, and it was such a patently bad idea that Bernstein came up with the greatest idea ever: He fired the caller from sports. Anyone that dumb, to paraphrase his reasoning down for sake of argument, doesn’t deserve to watch or discuss sports anymore and ought to find something else to watch and discuss. There’s a difference between bad ideas and ridiculous, retarded ones: people with the latter do not deserve to have the right and privilege to continue to be sports fans.

What a great concept! And we should totally expand that to other realms of life, too. And I though why can’t I do that with cinema? People deserve to get fired from movies for all sorts of things; I may not be a movie snob but there are certain things I think need to get weeded out. If any of the following apply to you, turn in your film-going pass and go back to watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island while waiting for the pizza delivery guy to show up. For your consideration:

The Kubryk Criterion for Being Fired From Movies

List is not all inclusive, but is a good start

— If you thought 2012 was a perfect, four star film, you’re fired from movies.

— If you refuse to watch foreign films because you don’t like subtitles, consider yourself fired from movies.

— If you refuse to watch a film over two hours solely because “that’s too long,” get your ass out of the cinema because you’re fired from movies.

— If you think any of the [ Fill in the blank] Movie style of films were high comedy, you’re fired from cinema.

— If you’ve ever gotten mad at a film solely because you disagree with its political or religious themes, you’re fired from movies.

— If you’ve paid for to see any of the Twilight films more than once, you’re fired from movies.

— If you’ve ever bought a ticket to a film, then had to ask people around you what it is about because all you knew was the title, you’re fired from movies.

— If you’ve ever gone to a film dressed as a character from it, you’re fired from movies.

I could go on and on, but that’d get me fired from movies. And it’s thoughts like that which kept me out of the good colleges.

Random Thoughts of the Week

Ahh…this weekend is the Super Bowl of cinema as the unveiling of the Oscars is upon us! So, as always, I’m here to make my annual predictions on who will win the glorious little golden man and who will walk away empty handed.

Best Picture

The Nominees: Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire, A Serious Man, Pixar’s Up, Up in the Air

My Thoughts: For the first time in a long time there are 10 films up for the win in one of the more interesting Oscar races that I can remember. You have potentially the biggest winner, and the smallest one, in the mix. I wouldn’t be shocked if The Hurt Locker won, but the smart money is on Avatar so I’ll play the chalk on this.

My Pick: Avatar

Best Director

The Nominees: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), James Cameron (Avatar), Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds), Lee Daniels (Precious), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)

There are only two candidates here that’ll win, Cameron and Bigelow. Everyone else is just window dressing. Usually if there are two candidates deemed worthy, Best Picture wise, then they’ll reward them by splitting up the vote.

My Pick: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Best Actor

The Nominees: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), George Clooney (Up in the Air), Colin Firth (A Single Man), Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)

My Thoughts: Bridges has been cleaning up so it’ll be a shock if anyone else is announced.

My Pick: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

Best Actress

The Nominees: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)

My Thoughts: Sandra Bullock has seemingly won every other award this season, but I think there’s going to one major upset this year and this is the category it seems like it’ll happen.

My Pick: Carey Mulligan, An Education

Best Supporting Actor

The Nominees: Matt Damon (Invictus), Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Christopher Plummer (The Last Station), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

My Thoughts: Waltz has been cleaning up and I think this is the award that recognizes Tarantino’s flick in the big categories.

My Pick: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress

The Nominees: Penelope Cruz (Nine), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Mo’Nique (Precious)

My Thoughts: Mo’nique has collected the hardware for every other category and this won’t be any different. I could see Gyllenhaal pulling off the upset, as this is the category it usually happens. Kendrick and Farmiga cancel each other out as well.

My Pick: Mo’nique, Precious

Best Animated Picture

The Nominees: Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells, Up

My Thoughts: A strong category but Up will win here because it won’t get the Best Picture nod.

My Pick: Up

Best Original Screenplay

The Nominees: The Hurt Locker (Mark Boal), Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino), The Messenger (Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman), A Serious Man (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen). Up (Bob Peterson, Pete Docter & Tom McCarthy)

My Thoughts: Tarantino is probably going to end up being his generation’s version of Woody Allen, picking up an armful of Oscars for writing, despite being recognized as one his generation’s finest directors.

My Pick: Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Nominees: District 9 (Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell), An Education (Nick Hornby), In the Loop (Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, & Tony Roche), Precious (Geoffrey Fletcher), Up in the Air (Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner)

My Thoughts: Reitman gets an Oscar for writing, as he waits his turn to get his for directing, in the same manner that Tarantino will.

My Pick: Up in the Air (Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner)

Best Original Song

The Nominees: “Almost There” from The Princess and the Frog, “ Down in New Orleans” from The Princess and the Frog,” Loin de Paname” from Paris 36, “Take It All” from Nine and “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart

My Thoughts: Crazy Heart kind of came out of nowhere and I think this’ll be a win for it, as well.

My Pick: The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart

Best Original Score

The Nominees: Avatar (James Horner), Fantastic Mr. Fox (Alexandre Desplat), The Hurt Locker (Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders), Sherlock Holmes (Hans Zimmer), Up (Michael Giacchino)

My Thoughts: Look for Avatar to pick up the technical awards as well.

My Pick: Avatar (James Horner)

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – District 13

I realized I had picked this up after watching District 13: Ultimatum this weekend, needing to revisit it because I thoroughly enjoyed its sequel as much as I did the first. There’s something about crazy techno music and Parkour that always makes for a fun film.

District 13 is a French action film that has a minimal of plot. Damian (Cyril Raffaeli) and Leito (David Belle) are a mismatched pair given a simple task: infiltrate gang-land of futuristic Paris and stop a nuclear weapon from going off. Future France has had the ghettos walled up, separating the scum from the rest of normal Frenchmen. The cops stay out and the crooks stay in, leading to an uneasy truce. But things change when a nuclear weapon is hijacked by crooks and sent deep into the district. Damian is a decorated French police officer who is an insane badass assigned by the government to infiltrate District 13, his mission to find and disable the weapon. Leito is a crook who Damian “busts out” in an attempt to help him find and disable said weapon. Together they have to break in using their wits, and some well placed gun fire and crazy fighting skills using the French martial art of Parkour, to save the day.

And it’s awesome. It’s an action film boiled down to its primal essence, beginning with the introduction of both characters. The first act is just two massive action sequences introducing both our main characters and establishing them as people you don’t mess with. From there it’s just a massive action sequence leading to our conclusion. It’s a great action flick because it takes out all the crap like “character development” and “story arc” that bogs down a lot of action flicks. This is pure, simple film-making in the genre and it’s nice for once. Nothing in the film is extraneous or not needed, which is nice considering the film barely makes it to 80 minutes of actual running time. You have good guys and bad guys trying to accomplish goals involving one thing.

At its essence it’s a simple story that is executed in the Crank style of film-making: two minutes of exposition, 90 minutes of insanity. Strong recommendation.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Brooklyn’s Finest – Three cops (Richard Gere, Ethan Harke and Don Cheadle) in Brooklyn have their lives transformed by a massive drug operation.

See it – The film has the same vibe that L.A Confidential had for me, plus it has Wesley Snipes as a drug dealer.

Alice in Wonderland – Tim Burton unleashes his visual feces on the children’s classic with Johnny Depp in a stupid-looking costume.

Skip it – I’ve never been a fan of Burton, or Depp, and this film just looks hundreds of ways of awful.

Do you have questions about movies, life, love, or Branigan’s Law? Shoot me an e-mail at and you could be featured in the next “Monday Morning Critic.” Include your name and hometown to improve your odds.

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