Review of Best Original Song Nominees

So this year only two songs have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song: “Man or Muppet” and “Real in Rio”. Take a listen.

Real in Rio

Man or Muppet

First let me say, I am disappointed that there are only two songs. Either the Academy needs to change their rules or somebody needs to step up and start writing some better songs for movies.

And in reviewing these songs, to me, there is one clear winner. Although “Real in Rio” will make a great half-time, marching band song someday, it just does not even come close to the greatness of the Muppets. First, the song is written by Bret McKinzie of the Flight of the Conchords, who has written some fantastically funny songs, and I would love to see him honored for creating another hit. Second, this song isn’t just funny, but I think it speaks to the heart of most men as we grow up. Are we to lose that crazy, childlike Muppet inside of us to become an “adult” or should we embrace that weird, felt-like, googley-eyed personality? Those of you who know me, know which path I have chosen, which I’m sure at times drives my wife crazy.

“Man or Muppet” is a wonderful song on so many levels and Mister Critic picks “Man or Muppet” to win.

What do you think?

The Obligatory “I’m back” Post

Yes, that’s right. Mister Critic is back to biz-natch and ready to blog it up. Here’s a little something to break the ice and get us back into the swing of things.

Thirtysomething, 24 Years Later

Reviewed by Ms. Critic

I’ve been caught up. Swept away to a world not too different from my own, watching Thirtysomething on Netflix has been my dirty little secret. The first taping of Thirtysomething was in 1987. So you’d think that something created so long ago, a silly sitcom would really not resonate with a thirty-year-old of today. You’d think our facebook, iphones and tech gadgets would make us somehow superior or at least different. We’d perhaps struggle with different world politics, a different economy, different family values.  Has life really changed much in 24 years?

This year I turned double digit threes and can really identify with the clash between adulthood obligations and ideology that is unique to thirty-year-olds for generations now. It’s kind of a middle place, a waiting place. I feel the adulthood angst carried with me everywhere I go. Thirty is the age when you realize, you are not really that special (if you are lucky, your parents or spouse still think you are). You didn’t marry Prince Charming, didn’t solve world hunger, didn’t make millions on Wall Street. Thirty is a mediocre age where you accept you are just one of many people trying to live your life avoiding trauma. Watching Thirtysomething I identify with the Steadmans who work hard to balance their careers while raising a family under the roof of a decrepit house. I identify with Eylln who cautiously navigates her relationship with her parents who recently divorced. Or there is Melissa who spends more time hiding behind the camera rather than making connections because it’s safer. And I identify with Gary who wants to make the world a better place but doesn’t know where to begin. These characters are so much like my friends and me with the same obstacles and joys that the dated 80’s style become as invisible as the Emperor’s New Clothes (well almost. I still can’t get over that Elliot a grown man, wears large decorative pins on his suit coats, very strange indeed).

Watching Thirtysomething I don’t feel so alone feeling unsure. I am reminded that everyone is plugging away at their journey, not really understanding where they will be taken next. I’m comforted that although my real life Thirtysomething friends have very different lives; we are able to learn from one another and share our life experiences. And thanks to fictional Thirtysomething, I realize it doesn’t matter what era you were born in (or if you wore hideous pins or feathered bangs) the destination is not what is important. It’s the journey that makes life worth living.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Reviewed by Ms. Critic

I looked around for a chair not too close to someone while I discreetly tuck the cover around the book. This was not a book you really want to be reading in public. Well I guess you can, but people may think you are kooky. A book all about dead people…cadavers. I’m at my dentist’s office waiting for the nurse to call me back. My stomach is sickly, the way it usually feels when I come for a visit. I dread each time I go to the dentist. Yet I have to say I love my dentist. She is personable and good natured. Funny and kind. Someone I’d enjoy spending time with if I wasn’t stuck in a chair with a dental dam in my mouth, smelling the plastic scent of a drilled tooth with pooling saliva in the back of my throat. I hate being in a comprising position, forced to endure any surprise that may be lurking about.

And silly me I choose to read this book, about dead people while I wait to meet my dreaded fate. The book is not helping my nerves. I read in repulsion of decapitated heads and how cosmetic surgeons test their skills on innocent stiffs. Gruesome details are exposed and I can now taste the acid in the back of my throat.

I pause for a break and pretend to tie my shoes to gain some blood back into my head. Pull it together…please don’t let me loose my cookies right here right now.

Eventually the nurse calls my name and I’m led to the room of doom. I sit down in the chair like a good girl and met the dentist. She spies the book and asks what I am reading. (she’s so very friendly). I sheepishly show her the cover. “I remember practicing on cadavers” she tells me, in a positive tone. Ugh I don’t want to think about it!

Visiting my dentist is how I equate this book. I like the author (much like I enjoy my dentist), her humor and her inquisitive nature. She informs me about things I’ve never thought about. While Roach uncovers mysteries like how long it takes a human corpse to liquefy, my dentist solves the mystery of why my tooth is sensitive. But this book becomes a pesky cavity in my life. Something that I keep reading with both eyes shielded by my hand, but I need to peek because I just can’t help it. I need to know what’s coming next. I can’t close my eyes in the dentist’s chair because somehow keeping my eyes open makes me feel more in control.

I keep reading the book. Each chapter, each historic account, each investigative project is both revealing and disgusting. I often chuckle to myself because Roach is often so funny and likeable but it’s an uncomfortable laugh, because I don’t know what she’ll uncover next. Reading the book is as irritating as frigid ice cream on a sensitive tooth and the flashbacks continue to zap my system even when I’m not reading.

The good news? I finish the book in time for book club. My body sighs with relief. It wasn’t so bad I guess. It was a lot like the dentist visit. I’m simply thankful I’m not dead yet.

Music Monday: Wise Up and Hurt Feelings

I love this scene from Magnolia. The director, P.T. Anderson, is so creative, and brave given the risks he takes in his creativity. This scene, set to the song “Wise Up” by Aimee Mann, is so random and unexpected, yet it fits perfectly within the movie by pulling all these very different characters together into single moment. We see that we are not alone even if when we feel that way. A comforting thought when feeling depressed. Within each small character study we instantly understand the complex emotions of felt by the character, and who among us hasn’t felt like “it is not going to stop, until you wise up.”

Also this scene inspired this parody from The Flight of the Conchords, which is a reprise of the rap version also shown below. Enjoy!

The Walking Dead

Reviewed by Mister Hand

Just when I was hoping to cut back on my TV intake and start doing more productive things with my life like read or develop a new hobby, AMC (aka Awesome Movie Channel) decides to bring the Undead genre back to life. I already love Mad Men and now we have the Walking Dead to digest (the puns may get worse… keep reading).

I, like many of my cubicle/inner city working male colleagues, oddly long for a day when I can put my keyboard and mouse away and pick up a pick axe and 12-gauge shotgun to defend my family and the human race from Zombies. There is something strangely appealing to the idea of doing away with all our technology, modern amenities, and daily struggle of paying bills and trading it all out for survival of the fittest from flesh eating undead hordes. You can spend all day defining why men of today want this… be it our biological need to feel like we need to protect our family or break away from our menial lives at the office to war with an enemy… but really I’m not looking for a sociology lesson… I’m looking for a good reason to properly prepare for the Undead.

The Walking Dead is based on a graphic novel by Robert Kirkman and deals with the idea that Zombies have, for one reason or another, begun to roam the earth in search of fresh flesh to devour. That alone should be enough for most respectable TV watchers to want to watch the show. The story revolves primarily around a Georgia Sheriff who, much like in 28 Days later or to some extent Dawn of the Dead (2004), is unconscious when the Zombies first appear/eat their way through society. He wakes up in an abandoned/ramshackled hospital and wanders back tot he city finding chaos everywhere, but people – at least living – no where to be found. I’d say more… but I don’t want to ruin the story.

The Walking Dead, much like every other program on AMC, is shot like I’d expect a great movie to be filmed. It doesn’t have that rushed & glossed over look that many shows on cable or network channels produce. AMC takes it’s time to produce quality that lasts rather than a quick laugh or cheesy dramatic moment. I think what impresses me the most is the writing of the show. There isn’t any fluff, it all serves to propel the storyline and draw the viewer in. I also appreciate that they don’t rely on big-name established actors to sell the show. The show IS the selling point.

Kid Critic: Is It Possible? on Discovery Channel

Reviewed by Little Miss Critic

What is the television show about? It is about things that seems not possible at all, but sometimes they are possible. They ask if it is possible or not. You have think if it is possible or not.

Give me an example: Like a robot that can babysit your kids and it looks like a ball. And it has great eye sight.

That’s possible? Yep.

Do you like the show? Yes, because it is like Mythbusters and it is cool.

Would you recommend it? Yes, because if anyone likes Mythbusters and they like shows on Discovery, then they will like this show.

Evil by Interpol

Reviewed by Mister Critic

Here is a good video to watch right before you go to bed. I don’t suggest watching it alone or in the dark. I love this song and the lyrics, but there is something unnatural about that puppet. However, I can’t look away. He haunts me.

I implore you to tell me what this song means. I thought it was about an unhappy guy trying to rationalize his affair or desire to have an affair. A friend characterized it as a psycho killer song which I guess explains the title. And then the video shows a car crash which doesn’t seem to explain a whole lot of anything. What does it all mean?

My favorite lines: “I spent a lifespan with no cellmate to find the long way back,” “Why can’t we just look the other way? Why can’t we just play the other game?” And I especially love when he says I am “semi-erotic.” Good way to score points with Mister Critic.

Mister Critic Awards Predictions and Contest

The Oscars are here and we’re all excited at Mister Critic. Lots going on.

Below are the predictions (in some cases, wild guesses) made by the Mister Critic contributors. We have predictions from yours truly, Mister Critic, his wife Ms. Critic, his 8 year old daughter Little Miss Critic, his 5 year old son Little Man Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Hand and the newest contributor Mister Minator.  I will be trying to update throughout the night the actual winner and which contributor was correct in his or her prediction.

Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Today you have a chance to win a Mister Critic T-shirt. All you have to do is post the correct answer to the following question on Mister Critic’s Facebook page before the end of the awards show tonight!

The question: Which Mister Critic contributor(s) had the highest number of correct predictions. Give both the name (or names, if there is a tie), and the number of predictions that person, or persons, got correct. The winner will be the first one to post the correct answer on Mister Critic’s Facebook page and will win a T-shirt from Mister Critic’s Cafe Press shop (a $17.00 value). And one guess per person. Remember the contest will close when the credits finish rolling on the awards show, so if no one posts the right answer by that time, no one wins. Sad face.

While you’re at Mister Critic’s Facebook page, don’t forget to become a fan by clicking “Like” so you can be in the loop for future prizes and be the first to know about all the great reviews. And you want to be a contributor to Mister Critic, e-mail howard@mistercritic.com to find out how! It is a lot of fun!

The Mister Critic 83rd Academy Awards Predictions (in no particular order)

Performance by an actor in a leading role

Javier Bardem in “Biutiful” (Little Miss Critic and Little Man Critic)
Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech” (Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Hand, Mister Parvenu, Mister Minator)
James Franco in “127 Hours”

And the Winner is: Colin Firth picked by Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Hand, Mister Parvenu, Mister Minator

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Christian Bale in “The Fighter” (Mister Critic, Mister Hand, Mister Minator)
John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone” (Mister Parvenu)
Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right” (Little Miss Critic and Little Man Critic)
Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech” (Ms. Critic)

Winner is: Christian Bale picked by Mister Critic, Mister Hand,Mister Minator

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right” (Mister Hand)
Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole” (Little Miss Critic)
Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman in “Black Swan” (Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Minator)
Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine” (Little Man Critic)

Winner is: Natalie Portman picked by Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Minator

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
H
elena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech” (Mister Hand)
Melissa Leo in “The Fighter” (Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu)
Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit” (Mister Critic, Mister Minator)
Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom” (Little Man Critic and Little Miss Critic)

Winner is : Melissa Leo picked by Ms. Critic and Mister Parvenu

Best animated feature film of the year

“How to Train Your Dragon” (Little Miss Critic)
The Illusionist”
“Toy Story 3” (Mister Critic, Mister Minator, Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Hand, Little Man Critic)

Winner is: Toy Story 3 picked by Mister Critic, Mister Minator, Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Hand, Little Man Critic

Achievement in art direction

“Alice in Wonderland” (Mister Minator, Little Miss Critic, Mister Critic)
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”
“Inception” (Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu)
“The King’s Speech” (Mister Hand, Little Man Critic)
“True Grit”

Winner is: Alice in Wonderland. Picked by Mister Minator, Little Miss Critic and Mister Critic

Achievement in cinematography

“Black Swan” (Ms. Critic, Little Miss Critic)
“Inception” (Mister Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Minator, Mister Hand)
“The King’s Speech”
“The Social Network” (Little Man Critic)
“True Grit”

Winner is: Inception. Picked by Mister Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Minator, Mister Hand

Achievement in costume design

“Alice in Wonderland” (Ms. Critic, Little Miss Critic)
“I Am Love” (Little Man Critic)
“The King’s Speech” (Mister Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Minator, Mister Hand)
“The Tempest”
“True Grit”

Winner is Alice in wonderland picked by Ms. Critic and Little Miss

Achievement in directing

“Black Swan”  Darren Aronofsky (Ms. Critic, Little Miss Critic)
“The Fighter” David O. Russell (Little Man Critic)
“The King’s Speech” Tom Hooper (Mister Hand)
“The Social Network”  David Fincher (Mister Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Minator)
“True Grit”  Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Winner is: King’s Speech picked by Mister Hand

Best documentary feature

“Exit through the Gift Shop” (Ms. Critic)
Gasland” (Little Miss Critic, Mister Parvenu)
“Inside Job” (Mister Critic, Mister Minator)
“Restrepo” (Mister Hand)
“Waste Land” (Little Man Critic)

Winner is Inside Job picked by Mister Critic and Mister Minator

Best documentary short subject

“Killing in the Name”  (Mister Critic, Little Man Critic)
“Poster Girl”
“Strangers No More” (Mister Minator)
“Sun Come Up” (Mister Parvenu, Little Miss Critic)
“The Warriors of Qiugang” (Ms. Critic, Mister Hand)

Winner is Strangers no More picked by Mister Minator

Achievement in film editing

“Black Swan” (Little Miss, Mister Hand)
“The Fighter” (Little Man)
“The King’s Speech”
“127 Hours”
“The Social Network” (Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Minator)

Winner is: Social Network picked by Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Minator

Best foreign language film of the year

“Biutiful”  (Ms. Critic, Mister Critic, Mister Hand)
“Dogtooth” (Little Miss Critic, Mister Minator)
“In a Better World”
“Incendies”
“Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)” (Mister Parvenu, Little Man Critic)

winner:  In a better world picked by no one.

Achievement in makeup

“Barney’s Version”
“The Way Back” (Mister Parvenu)
“The Wolfman” (Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Little Man, Little Miss, Mister Hand, Mister Minator)

Winner is Wolfman picked by Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Little Man, Little Miss, Mister Hand, Mister Minator

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

“How to Train Your Dragon”  (Little Man Critic and Little Miss Critic)
“Inception” (Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu)
“The King’s Speech”
“127 Hours”
“The Social Network” (Mister Critic, Mister Minator, Mister Hand)

Winner: Social Network picked by Mister Critic, Mister Minator, Mister Hand

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

“Coming Home” from “Country Strong”
“I See the Light” from “Tangled”
“If I Rise” from “127 Hours” (Mister Minator)
“We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3” (Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu, Little Man, Little Miss, Mister Hand)

Winner is: We Belong Together Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu, Little Man, Little Miss, Mister Hand

Best motion picture of the year

“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“Inception”
“The Kids Are All Right”
“The King’s Speech” (Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Hand, Mister Parvenu, Mister Minator)
“127 Hours”
“The Social Network”
“Toy Story 3” (Little Miss and Little Man)
“True Grit”
“Winter’s Bone”

Winner is The King’s Speech picked by Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Hand, Mister Parvenu, Mister Minator

Best animated short film

“Day & Night”
“The Gruffalo”  (Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Minator)
“Let’s Pollute”
“The Lost Thing” (Mister Hand)
“Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)”  (Little Miss and Little Man)

Actual Winner: The Lost Thing picked by Mister Hand

Best live action short film

“The Confession” (Mister Hand)
“The Crush”
“God of Love”   (Mister Critic, Mister Parvenu)
“Na Wewe” (Ms. Critic)
“Wish 143” (Mister Minator, Little Man and Little Miss)

Winner is God of Love Mister Critic and Mister parvenu.

Achievement in sound editing

“Inception” (Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Hand, Mister Minator)
“Toy Story 3”
“Tron: Legacy” (Little Miss Critic)
“True Grit”
“Unstoppable” (Little Man Critic)

Winner is: Inception picked by Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Hand, Mister Minator

Achievement in sound mixing

“Inception” (Mister Minator, Mister Hand,  Mister Parvenu, Mister Critic)
“The King’s Speech” (Ms. Critic, Little Miss Critic)
“Salt”
“The Social Network”
“True Grit” (Little Man Critic)

Winner is: Inception picked by  Mister Minator, Mister Hand,  Mister Parvenu, Mister Critic

Achievement in visual effects

“Alice in Wonderland”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”  (Little Miss Critic)
“Hereafter”
“Inception” (Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu,  Mister Minator, Mister Hand)
“Iron Man 2” (Little Man Critic)

Winner is Inception picked by Mister Critic, Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu,  Mister Minator, Mister Hand

Adapted screenplay

“127 Hours”
“The Social Network”  (Mister Critic, Mister Parvenu, Ms. Critic, Mister Minator, Mister Hand)
“Toy Story 3”  (Little Man and Little Miss)
“True Grit”
“Winter’s Bone”

Actual winner: The Social Network picked by Mister Critic, Mister Parvenu, Ms. Critic, Mister Minator, Mister Hand

Original screenplay

“Another Year”
“The Fighter”  (Little Man Critic)
“Inception”  (Mister Critic, Mister Minator)
“The Kids Are All Right”  (Little Miss Critic)
“The King’s Speech”  (Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Hand)

Actual winner: The King’s Speech Ms. Critic, Mister Parvenu, Mister Hand


127 Hours (2010)

Reviewed by Mister Minator

Unless you live under a rock, you probably already know the story of Aron Ralston; a mountain climber/adventure junkie that gets stuck under a boulder and cuts his own arm off. If you had no idea, then I just spoiled the movie and you may be in danger of having a life. Either way, there are several important lessons to be learned from this movie.
Lesson #1 – Don’t go hiking by yourself in isolated canyons without telling anyone where you’re going.

James Franco (Spider Man fame) plays the part of Ralston and does a masterful job capturing the 127 hours of extreme physical and emotional turmoil that one might endure while pinned in an isolated canyon in Utah. The most brilliant moment in the movie is when Franco’s character interviews himself with his own video camera: funny, dark, sad……. it’s right up there with drinking his own urine. Franco’s one man show is so impressive and moving that after the movie I wondered if he actually cut his own arm off during the filming. I should say that only a small portion of the movie is devoted to this event, so if you’re not into that sort of thing – no worries. Franco destroys other one man movie actors in my opinion (Tom Hanks – Cast Away and the Fresh Prince of Bel Aire – I Am Legend)

Lesson #2 – Always bring a video camera to entertain yourself and/or document your own demise.

The cinematography is also to be commended as every angle of shot and lighting choice seemed to enhance Franco’s performance and give you the feeling that you were experiencing the whole event through Ralston’s eyes. I enjoyed the shot measuring the amount of water left in Ralston’s Nalgene bottle to mark the passing of time.

Lesson #3 – Buy an American made Leatherman, not a cheap made in China imitation.

Overall this was a great film, and after hearing several radio interviews with Ralston shortly after the incident, I believe it could almost be classified as a documentary. I give this film one thumb and on arm nub up. The drummer from Def Leppard agrees. Go see it!

Lesson #4 – If you find yourself between a rock and a hard place, keep a positive attitude and cut your arm off.

“This rock… this rock has been waiting for me my entire life.” – Aron Ralston