May 3, 2021

Oscars 2021: I will admit that I get excited around Oscar time, which for me usually starts around the time that TIFF gets going in September. Seems the Oscar-worthy films come out for TIFF. I run an Oscar pool over the past few years for fun, and will acknowledge that my brother won last year breaking a string of victories by Alison in the process. I make a point of seeing all the nominated Best Picture nominees and many of the Best Actor and Actresses Award nominees as well. I want to be able to form my own opinion about the Films and choose my own preferred winner. This year, while I did see all nominated films, I didn’t have the energy (or enthusiasm) for the Awards. All along it felt that the best films to be released were being pushed back. No studios wanted to lose on the in-theatre revenue for these expensive films, and that is completely understandable. Money talks in this business, and after all that is why they are produced. This year’s nominees struck me, as I mentioned a few weeks back as the Plan B movies, that in most other years wouldn’t be nominated. Like a sports league, we had the minors on display, with the best players on the sidelines. Having watched most of the Best Picture nominees I was agreeing with the sentiment that overall they were down in tone. While 2020 sucked in the outside world with the pandemic, death, masks, lock downs, a bizarre election season, a riot, a police killing of a black man etc all the news was dark, dreary and depressing. In a time when we could all use a little entertainment, some fun, we didn’t get it. Where was La La Land this year? Where was Singin In The Rain, A Star is Born, Wizard of Oz or the like? There wasn’t any buzz or excitement. Sure there were some quality performances, like Sir Anthony Hopkins in The Father, for which I was thrilled that he took home the prize. But even then, it is a depressing story of an older man losing his marbles. I didn’t come away from it energized, more like thinking “this is what I potentially have to look forward to”…! I watched briefly and saw the Best Director award being given, early in the evening, a surprise in the placement since Best Director is usually one of the latest awards given out. I didn’t watch any more. I was able to watch a quick highlight reel, where I learned that as much as I like Frances McDormand and her performances, much like Jacquin Phoenix, I don’t ever want her over for dinner and a chat. (Incidentally I re-watched Fargo the other night and she is brilliant. So much fun capturing the essence of the people of Minnesota, and her own particular situation as a pregnant woman dealing with a bizarre set of circumstances. But I digress. I read about who won. I was pleased about Soul, and Hopkins as well as Daniel Kaluuya as Best Supporting Actor. Was Nomadland the Best Picture of the year? Nope. Not for me anyway. But I will turn the page and hope that at some point I can get to a theatre. I went once last year and saw Tenet in the small window we had to see films there. As we sit in the first week of May, with more Covid-19 cases than a year ago, I am not overly optimistic that we will get to a theatre this year. But I remain positive. The US is opening up, and doing a much better job with vaccines than the rest of the world. Still with over half a million dead, this makes sense. I hope we can all catch up and get back to the theatres to see the real A-list movies once again!

Justice League: Full disclosure, and those who know me know that I am generally NOT a superhero movie guy. The high water mark was the Nolan Batman trilogy for me, where Christian Bale is my Batman. No other. Not even close. I hadn’t watched Batman vs Superman which in some ways is unfortunate, since this movie follows along from that one. But you see, Ben Affleck isn’t my Batman. And the concept of a human (Batman) taking on supernatural, untouchable alien (Superman) was just ludicrous, and don’t get me started about Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor (or anything else for that matter – dude really needs to be punched in the face, and wipe off the smirk). It is a pretty short fight, all things considered. Being rich isn’t a superpower. Anyway, the rest of these movies like Ant Man, Aquaman, Doctor Strange, Iron Man et el just don’t do it for me. Cities get leveled, with goodness knows how many innocents getting crushed with no thought. The CGI computers work overtime to create the images, which in many cases don’t have the weight behind them, meaning that it doesn’t seem real. So with this background, I sat down to watch Justice League. Zach Snyder has put together a story of the formation of this “league” which brings me memories of 1970s cartoon Superfriends, and was just missing the Wonder Twins (and Robin of course)!

Super Friends - Wikipedia

This movie has Batman looking to gather forces for an epic battle to come, as a cosmic bad guy and his henchman are looking to bring together three thinking rubix cubes and terrorize the world with it. You need all three in order to have the full impact. It’s about at this point as I try to distill the major plot points that one realizes just how silly it all is. Is it sillier than The Matrix, a movie and series that I genuinely like and seek out if it is on? No. That franchise has just as much or more CGI associated with it too. But it was fun and compelling and the heroes wore cooler outfits. Anyway, I managed to get through this, and still don’t see the value in Amy Adams as Lois Lane on any level. Then again, the Flash as comic relief didn’t really work much either, and I don’t need to see him again (the actor was in Trainwreck with Amy Schumer and I couldn’t help think about the bedroom scene with him and Schumer as he wants to be hit by her). I didn’t need to see this. It is 3+ hours of my life that I won’t get back. It filled a space of time. It brings more laughs honestly than anything else as my Level of Disbelief Meter goes off the charts! All this to say, if you like this genre, and need to see every superhero movie, you can likely do worse. For those with only a passing interest, then take it or leave it. As for me, there is the Robert Pattinson Batman that was delayed from the pandemic, and should hit theatres at some point when things open up. He likely will be better than Affleck (can’t really be much worse) and maybe will bring his own spin to it. Apparently, Christian Bale is perhaps going to make a guest appearance as Batman. We will see….

In 2014, there was a documentary about the Pamela Smart murder trial. Entitled Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart, it talks to the main issue on whether Smart was able to actually get a fair trial in this first-of-its-kind media circus. In summary, Smart was a young, pretty school teacher who manipulated three students to corner and kill her new husband. The boys were 16 and 17, and she had a sexual relationship with the one. The trial was broadcast and had detailed coverage from 1990 standards with not only mainstream news but Donaghue, Geraldo, Hard Copy etc. There have been two movies about it; a made-for-TV movie starring Helen Hunt and then the film with Nicole Kidman and Jacquin Phoenix (To Die For from 1995). When this was released, the puller of the trigger (husband was shot rather than knifed as allegedly Smart instructed to save her carpet) was not eligible for parole until 2015. Smart herself was convicted of First Degree murder and a sentence of life imprisonment with no eligibility of parole. Ironically, the boys who had copped a plea for a lesser charge of second degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder are able to get parole but she is not, as she became the target for the prosecution. She maintains her innocence, and some of the evidence provided supports part of her contention. An example would include that jurors were not sequestered, each night they went home with their families. They also should watch the news and the media coverage. To think that this wouldn’t impact their view is unrealistic I would contend. Others included the transcript of a garbled hidden microphone of a conversation with Smart and another woman. It was very damning, but it became a creative writing/listening exercise. In the end, it was interesting and made me want to better understand what has happened since 2014. She still remains behind bars. She has exhausted all forms of appeal. Now she appeals to the same media attention that helped convict her in the first place.

Note, Billy Flynn was granted parole after 25 years in prison.

https://www.wmur.com/article/billy-flynn-granted-parole-25-years-after-killing-gregg-smart/5198419#

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