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Monday, March 3, 2014

Requiem for a Leo

If anyone asked me a month ago who takes home the Oscar - I’d said Leo, Leo for sure. However, as I sat up all night yesterday, watching a stream of nothing-too-special dresses sitting down and eating pizza, I was rooting for Matthew, an actor I don’t particularly like.
IMHO Dallas Buyers’ Club is wonderful; IMHO Matthew McCounaghey kicked ass.  The film was realistic, no Hollywood dramatization, just raw reality of HIV and AIDS, the phrama mafia, the faulty medical system, the demonization, the society that kills one faster than the virus. Lacking that overly-sweet pathos of Philadelphia, dynamic and intensive, educational and symbolic, it is a film perfect for seminars, discussions, and a lonely tearful viewing. Though some symbols are pretty transparent (really, death on a rodeo while having sex? Butterflies, symbolizing metamorphoses? Clown, for the irony of life?), the overall honesty of the film, and just stellar Matthew-Jared duo, makes up for any intellectual snobbism imperfections I can list.
Gravity took technical Oscars in bulk, also well-deserved. Given the fact that I detest Sandra and George (and no one else appears in the film, save this one young fellow in the very beginning), I was surprised how much I liked it. Its cinematography reached new levels and once more, director shook me up and yelled: “look, here’s what I can do to a film!” I always welcome directors who hit me in the face and in such masochist pleasure, I applaud Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar for the best director. I couldn’t breathe for the duration of the film, my hands clenching the chair, my breath – trapped in my diaphragm. Finally, I stared at  Sandra’s painful re-birth, back in the Earth water. Her cosmic embryo pose changed to a toddler walk in the mud, while I witnessed a conquest of a new frontier – the fucking space.
Speaking of fucking, the proverbial Wolf surprised me also (I have been waiting for it since the previews) and not in a good way. Not that it was bad, not that Leo didn’t fucking turn the world upside down, not that I could do anything but watch the endless parade of boobs, drugs, and witty dialogue, but it was so…familiar? With scam films like I Love You Philip Morris and Catch Me if You Can, the bar is set too high and the film cannot rest on Leo’s god-like performance alone. And whenever I see a room full of people with phones, the only thing that comes to my mind is “always be closing” and until some director comes and slaps that Alec Baldwin phrase out of my head, films like the Wolf of Wall Street will stay a wonderful imitation of already existing gems. As for controversy on too much ass and cocaine, well my friends, I just finished a decade-old series on Showtime that shows a lot more ass and all kinds of drugs, right on a national TV.
Moving on to the best gals in the town, no one had any doubts that Cate Blanchett would hit the jackpot. Her statue was probably the only undisputed one among critics and fans. Hey Cate, you deserve it and thanks Woddy Allen, my fav. director ever, for still making films. For a moment there, I was scared that you moved to a European tourism PR department, and suddenly you give me so much to think about. I love you. Please don’t ever die.
The princes of the ball, Lupita Nyongo took home the other “female” Oscar, and please don’t hate me, but I think she had to. I like Jennifer Lawrense, yes she was great. And so was Amy Adams and the whole gang. But in the end…the film was just not that grand. Maybe Bonnie and Clyde spoiled me for life. I don’t know. I just got bored during American Hustle, and since I can watch 3.5 hour-long black-and-white “artistic” movies fully alert, I honestly doubt it was me. The dialogue was not as witty as actors strived to make it sound, the scenes were not set-up properly and though the gang tried to act the hell out of it, there is only that much you can do. It was good film and maybe last year it would’ve been the best film of the year, but this year, surrounded with the likes of Dallas, Nebraska, August, even the fucking Wolf, not a chance.
That brings me to the last two of my favorite nominated films (I already talked about Blue Jasmine), films that got lost in the crowd, not because they were invisible, but because they were largely un-Oscarable. Nebraska, this warm, heart-clenching film, probably the first film in a long time that moved beyond plastic good-looking people and not only dealt with the “normal” folks, but, oh god, with aging folks, with wrinkly, not-pretty, not-witty, not-cocaine snorting, not-super-fucking, not-politically-correct old grumpy men and women and it killed my heart and it twisted my intestines and it made me think of what is most important in life.  Nebraska did not aim to entertain and that is the best praise I can give a film. And August Osage County…rarely does all-star ensemble produce good results, but this time it was like a fine-tuned mechanism, like a well-built orchestra, and every person and every character stood exactly where they had to and said exactly what they had to. And it had Benedict Cumberbatch in it.
So did the best film of this year, 12 Years a Slave, which was just as much an Oscarable film, as Nebraska wasn’t. It had all the ingredients – effective cinematography, good dialogues, the best actors sprinkled with the American- dream-come-true newcomers, Brad Pitt saving the world, well-defined good/bad dichotomy, easy-to-grasp-meaning, historic figures, social consciousness, family reunion – and despite all these, it managed to stay entertaining. And please don’t give me that crap about how we had enough of slavery films winning Oscars, please name at least one decent slavery film on the top of your head (O.K. that masterpiece Jungo is a whole another animal). What, is the long and boring  Lincoln the one you can think of? My point exactly. This film is perfectly-cut for discussions and seminars and technically it is pretty flawless, even has several hidden symbols here and there, I am glad I saw it once (that’s it for me). As two of my favorite actors in the world, Benedict Cumberbatch and Paul Dano, happily stood behind a director who poured his heart into this film, holding the most-deserved Oscar of the night, Rustavi 2 decided to cut his speech short and make way for 9 A.M. news. And so this technically perfect but pretty bland ceremony ended, leaving me with bunch of films to cherish, several to watch for the first time (Her, Philomena), Leo to love, and gifs of Ben photobombing U2 to admire.

 P.S. the said photobombing in action.

1 comment:

  1. I just finished reading it. Let me say: toch v toch! I absolutely agree!