I've spent the whole weekend (yet again) holed up in my apartment encountering only those I had beckoned to bring me food, watching submission-after-submission, with intermittent breaks for news, a few episodes of Friday Night Lights and watching Broken English on DVD and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days on IFC in Theaters. (That's right ... I took a break from movies by watching two movies. I know that by all rational analysis, I have lost it.) But as I consider the end of January also the coming end of the statute of limitations to consider 2007, my delayed look-back lists will, one way or another, be coming this week. Until then:
I'm a bit baffled at the DGA awarding their top prize this year to the Coen Brothers over Paul Thomas Anderson. No disrespect to No Country For Old Men, which will be one of my top five films of the year, but if there's one prize Anderson should get this year from anyone bestowing it, it's Best Director. I would actually have been much less shocked to see Anderson win the DGA and the Coens take the Oscar due to the broader voting block. I have a very hard time seeing it happening the other way around, i.e., Anderson surprising at the Oscars. And yet, it's quite surprising to me that a film which in a couple years will be in the running as the best film of the decade isn't receiving more formal hosannas.
Meanwhile, kudos to both SAG and ASC for getting their top awards right. Even as many seem to hold back on the comparable praise for There Will Be Blood, the recognition of Daniel Day-Lewis' work is, rightfully, universal. I wonder, however, if too many are giving him too much credit for the movie itself, thinking that the performance is the only thing to react to. One of the reasons Blood is so tremendous is due to the fact that Day-Lewis gives potentially one of the greatest performances ever captured on film without overshadowing or upstaging the rest of the movie -- as, often, only the true greats can do. Blood was also recognized on Saturday as the American Society of Cinematographers gave their annual honor to Robert Elswit, whose photography contributes as much as anything else to Blood's virtual perfection. Meanwhile, SAG gave its Best Cast in a Motion Picture prize to No Country (as well as justly handing Supporting Actor to Javier Bardem). One of the reasons the Coens movie works as well as it does is not just because there isn't a weak link among its cast, but also because so many of the great performances are at the service of truly complicated, multi-dimensional and morally complex characters.
As for the "stuff": Anyone out there a TiVo expert? Due to my quick realization that Cablevision's DVRs suck more than Time Warner's and almost as much as Cablevision itself, I have made the leap from DiVo to actual brand-name TiVo, and for the most part, I'm pretty happy. But there are actually a few nit-picky things that are bugging me, and most of all, I'm missing a few functions and shortcuts that I'm pretty sure must actually exist. So ... anyone know of any comprehensive TiVo shortcut sites? Anybody have enough experience to know if you can create more "Groups" (like, say, one for "Movies" recorded) in the Now PLaying list? Anyone know if there's a way to ask the machine to create a season pass for a certain show in one specific time slot that is not its first run time slot? (For example, Project Runway premieres at 10 PM on Wednesday each week, but maybe I want to record it every week in a different time slot, like 11 PM or 2 AM? But that time slot isn't recognized as "First run" obviously? This is something that the Time Warner DiVo easily did; the Cablevision DiVo sort of did; but it looks like the TiVo can't do it. Is that possible?
I suppose I'll throw this out there: If you're job hunting and are super organized and have always wanted to work your ass off for not nearly enough pay ... I'm hiring for a few different positions at Tribeca.
I'm kind of baffled by a lot of the Cloverfield reaction out there. I don't care if people don't like the film, and yeah, I wrote something of a rave last week for it, albeit never intending to infer that I think it's the greatest movie ever. But the film keeps receiving all these criticisms about its characters being completely devoid of depth or purpose and the story being simply a blatant recreation of 9/11 that just goes on for about an hour but doesn't say anything, and the only reasons I can see for such criticism are certain critics walking into the film expecting nothing good and closing themselves off from seeing anything that's there. I'm not trying to say that these are the most complex characters created in memory, but they each of a purpose, they each make life-and-death decisions -- often placing their own lives secondary -- and they each, within the confines of this world and this kind of story, learn and even slightly grow. But more importantly, the 9/11 comparison is really just the tip of the iceberg. I don't want to rehash what I wrote last week, but there is a lot in this film that articulates the fears many in this country have through the realization of this monster and the attack. Like 9/11, the attack is just the beginning. The ability of this monster to infect our society -- or in some cases our own persons and very beings -- is clear. The ability of the larger monster to spit off smaller creatures -- can you say "cells" anyone? -- that sneak-up and surprise in the dark, swarm when you're not looking and against which we seem powerless to defend? That's not the monster metaphor of what most red staters would claim is the 100% truth? Monster movies were never "truth." Monster movies -- especially those of the Red Scare '50s -- were all reactionary; they were all responses, or perpetuation, of propaganda and perception and paranoia and probably some other p-words that I'm missing right now. And so is Cloverfield. If the film has any faults in this area, it's for a lack of subtlety, but not a lack of content.