Shame On Oscar

Earlier this week reigning bobbleheads at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka, the Oscars), puffed out ever so pleased with themselves chests to announce new inclusion and diversity guidelines. Ostensibly the first stage of a five year plan to promote diversity on and off the screen. Translation – Oscar consideration will be reserved for productions where people of colour, women, persons with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community are included in minimum percentage quotas. From actors, marketing, pre and post production, catering and internships to location scouts, camera operators, lighting techs and extra wranglers, every aspect of production just became a box to tick.

Initial coverage centred on warm fuzzy kudos for Academy acknowledgement of trending social issues. Were we supposed to gush praise for enlightenment of an old guard white establishment? Sleep tight knowing another behemoth influencer feigned understanding or compassion for systemic injustice? What a farce!

Lets talk fine print before weighing in on the absurdity of hollow, insulting percentage quotas. New rules don’t apply to films vying for 2021 Oscar nods. Not until Oscar 2024 will films have to meet quotas in two of four standards. The four standards cover “diversity representation among actors and subject matter; behind-the-camera staff, such as cinematographers and costume designers; paid apprenticeships and training opportunities; and marketing and publicity.” Take your pick, no pressure. Pad the crew with a sprinkling of trans black lesbians, contract first aid to a immigrant Iranian doctor formerly flipping burgers to support his family because his degree isn’t recognized in America, hire amputee survivors of Rwanda genocide to sew costumes, recruit unpaid interns at predominantly black colleges, take a page from Netflix and script obligatory same sex intimacy in every production. Mission accomplished, standards fulfilled, business as usual.

What’s wrong with these people? Do they actually think spotlight posturing makes a difference? Believe marginalized people seek validation based on arbitrary quotas? It’s SO PAINFUL! News flash -we’re all the same. Black skin the same as freckled white, same sex union no different than traditional marriage, nation of birth, faith or lack thereof – all irrelevant. Diversity quotas prevail for purposes of corporate optics. Look at us, click, like, follow and share our trending abundance of social awareness. Shame on Oscar.



It was late September, 2007 when chance ushered us to a movie theatre playing Across the Universe. We knew nothing about the movie, had no idea who director Julie Taymor was, let alone watched trailers or checked reviews. Void of external interference, untainted by collective jibber-jabber or prickling with tabloid expectation – we entered blank slates, emerged transformed. Walking to the car in silence, unabashed grins said it all. From that day forward Across the Universe served as a silent barometer – get it you’re in my tribe, miss the point I have serious doubts.

Despite Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band being one of the first albums I owned, I wouldn’t say I was a Beatles super-fan.  What Across the Universe did was use Beatles music to transcend time and place, delivering social commentary as relevant today as it was in 1967.

A few days ago a still of the movie Yesterday appeared on my news feed. Starring Himesh Patel as a floundering British singer-songwriter who wakes from a freak bus accident to find himself in a alternate universe where The Beatles never existed. Patel’s character Jack seizes the opportunity to perform Beatles songs to a world that’s never heard them. Directed by Danny Boyle ( Slumdog Millionaire ), Jack finds fame and risks losing everything he loves. Sounds pretty lame, right? Not so fast.

Across the Universe proved Beatle’s music more powerful than quaint skips down memory lane. Those who didn’t get Across the Universe likely described it as a frivolous love story. Here’s hoping Boyle’s Yesterday delivers an equally surprising gift. Scheduled for general release on June 28, 2019 we’ll have to wait and see if Boyle delivers. Until then I’ll avoid media contamination. No reviews, hype, praise, condemnation or analysis of Yesterday shall touch me until seeing it for myself. Stay tuned…..


The Revenant

Earlier this week, myself and Mr. Notes went to a movie. Buzz over Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar found us munching popcorn at The Revenant. How could we lose – interesting televised clips, stunning cinematography in preview trailers, best actor Oscar for DiCaprio – what more could a memorable evening ask for? It was memorable alright.

Memorable, as in monumental clunker. Twenty minutes in, suspicion whispered “bullshit”. Considerable effort granted another twenty of “give it a chance”. Enough! Am I the only person in this theatre stifling inappropriate laughter? The only one playing a game of “count closeups of DiCaprio’s mournful eyes”? Whew – Mr. Notes just went to the washroom, I’m not crazy.

Admittedly a blur, somehow we got through the next hour and a half. Proud to say, fortitude triumphed over bad form. Fortitude forgives one audible transgression – credits rolling, I burst into laughter when someone in the row behind us said “that was a terrible movie”.

Walking to the car we agreed every performance eclipsed DiCaprio. What more was there to say – weak plot, absence of character development, obvious overuse of camera angles and lighting, tediously long. Over hyped, rated and reviewed – it doesn’t get more disappointing than The Revenant.




Godzilla Nap

Above all, movie making is business. Forget estimated return or quarterly projections – movies require high stakes rollers, nerves of steel and considerable faith on the part of those holding purse strings. A designation of “critically acclaimed” may shine on a resume, “blockbuster” delivers a pot of gold.

Blockbusters are sneaky – gross revenue over opening weekend are usually enough to stamp “winner” on the foreheads of ticket buying masses. The “masses” seem easy to feed these days – super heroes, teen fantasy angst, and lets not forget 3D. I have a big problem with 3D .

3D epitomizes the attention deficit dumbing down of society. It is the carrot responsible for turning fence sitters into ticket buyers – an undeniable pitch aimed squarely at those who can’t fathom life without technological baubles.

I knew upon purchasing a ticket to Godzilla 2014 – those 3D glasses negated the possibility of clever storytelling. I thought about 3D Godzilla back in the day – small town Saturday matinee Godzilla would have kicked ass with 3D enhancement. Brief pondering of how “big movie” ignored the memo on “everything old is not new again” or 3D was actually cool when all we had to fiddle with were rabbit ears on the old black and white television, came to a screeching halt. I couldn’t say whether the culprit was a moment of “when did you turn into such an old woman” or the relentless chirps of a woman on the screen urging the audience to download a theater app to play a fun game of movie trivia for “high score” glory.

Telling myself to lighten up, I ran Godzilla scenarios through my head. Wouldn’t it be cool if they got over themselves and made Godzilla one of Buckaroo Banzai’s Hong Kong Cavaliers? It was perfect! Terrible monster meets retro cult classic. Computer generated effects and predictable 3D fluff would have been forgivable – I’ll go out on a limb and say these effects could have enhanced, maybe even embellished a little creativity.

Nobody knows who Buckaroo Banzai is, why waste energy achieving genuine accolades when all it takes is a pair of 3D glasses.  Popcorn gone I started to drift – not certain how long I napped, I know it happened somewhere between the supposed hero saving a stereotypical Japanese boy on the subway and Godzilla dispatching actual bad monsters.

Godzilla is a terrible movie. 3D for the sake of 3D is lazy, unimaginative and responsible for my nap.



3D Gatsby

My first thought upon hearing about today’s release of The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo Dicaprio was “oh, come on”. Not a response to casting Dicaprio; he struck me as a reasonable choice to play Gatsby in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic. Not because Hollywood remade the film – my reaction is attributed to these words “in 3D”.

Pondering 3D Gatsby hurts my head.A little research of reviews proved interesting; the usual mixed bag of comments from Rex Reed in the New York Observer – “overwrought, asinine, exaggerated, and boring – about as romantic as a pet rock” to David Denby in The New Yorker – ” Lubrmann’s (director) vulgarity is designed to win over a young audience, and it suggests that he’s less a filmmaker than music-video director with endless resources and a stunning absence of taste”, or Lou Lumerick in the New York Post – “Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is the first must-see film of Hollywood’s summer season, if for no other reason than the jaw dropping evocation of roaring 20’s New York – in 3D no less” – I wanted to shout “what is wrong with you people”

What happened to the art of film making?  Where did camera angles and lighting go? Why does every new movie released require 3D glasses? What’s next – a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest or The Lady Vanishes in 3D? Holy crap. It’s only a matter of time before Raging Bull manifests itself into a 3D travesty, or 3D Taxi Driver surfaces starring teen angst heart-throb of the moment.

If the decline of human civilization could be captured in one word it would be 3-D. Please Hollywood – muster some self respect; you’re making an ass of yourself. Fill those theater seats with 3-D vampires, zombies, or aliens – knock yourselves out with computer generated trickery, there will always be a place for that. I enjoyed Avatar, and your remake of the A-Team wasn’t half bad.  All I ask is that you remember – film making is an art, not a dog and pony show.