The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years

“The Beatles were the show and the music had nothing to do with it” – John Lennon

thebeatles_eightdaysaweek_a4Are there actually millennials who are unaware of The Beatles, Beatlemania and their influence on popular culture in the 20th Century? Almost no other band in rock history has endured and maintained their popularity and legacy across generations quite like The Beatles. And yet despite being some of the most documented individuals of all time, there’s somehow still a need for yet another Beatles documentary complete with more “never before seen footage,” as if any could possibly exist.

Ron Howard’s “Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” captures the mayhem of Beatlemania and the energy of John, Paul, George and Ringo on and off stage, but it fails to delve into even basic observations about what makes their music special. It has impeccably remastered live footage, much of it derived from bootleg home video, but it’s a superficially glossy appreciation of the band that will amuse longtime fans and perhaps register with young newcomers and skeptics. Continue reading “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years”


Ron Howard’s “Rush” hits its stride in thrilling, driver’s eye perspectives of Formula One racing.

Formula One is a near impossible sport. Only the right combination of near-death daring, speed, mechanics, weather and precise skill can not only win the race but also allow you to finish it in one piece. When all the extraneous parts come together, it makes for sheer, cathartic fun.

Ron Howard’s “Rush” feels that way when it hits its stride. “Rush” is a formulaic sports movie with a driver’s eye mentality that grants an infinitely more heart pounding sensation even when the narrative and drivers seem to be going around in circles.

Americans have never caught on to Formula One the way the rest of the world has, but they know rivalries, and they know assholes, especially foreign ones. “Rush” has both, it being a biopic on an infamous rivalry between the smarmy and posh Brit James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and the blunt, coldly calculating Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) during their 1976 season.

Hunt drove for McLaren and Lauda for Ferrari, each forcing their way into the big leagues with equal parts skill and money. Their rivalry is built on the fact that they’re both jerks inside the car and out, testing each other in harsh conditions while trading barbs about their wives and general appearance. Continue reading “Rush”

Off The Red Carpet: Week of 11/28 – 12/5

I was tempted to just post this article on Tuesday, because this week has been HUGE for Oscar news. Three categories shortlisted and the first of the critics’ awards dropped; that’s a lot to cover.

New York Film Critics Circle Announce 2012 Awards

I wrote more on the Oscar chances for all of these movies now that the NYFCC has had their say at a new blog called The Artifice. Just know that “Zero Dark Thirty” is now the movie to beat, McConaughey and Weisz have earned a new life, and “The Master” is facing an increasingly uphill battle at a nomination. (via UPDATE: Turns out the movies that do not appear on this list didn’t do as badly as everyone expected. The NYFCC has a complicated ballot voting system to determine winners in each category, and this year just about every category was taken to multiple rounds of voting to determine a consensus, proving that 2012 has a wide array of great movies with supporters in every camp. In fact, “Lincoln,” which performed so handsomely here, actually placed fourth on the overall ballot for Best Picture, behind “The Master” and “Moonrise Kingdom.” (via J. Hoberman)

Best Picture: Zero Dark Thirty

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty

Best Screenplay: Tony Kushner – Lincoln

Best Actress: Rachel Weisz – The Deep Blue Sea

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln

Best Supporting Actress: Sally Field – Lincoln

Best Supporting Actor: Matthew McConaughey – Bernie, Magic Mike

Best Cinematographer: Greig Fraser – Zero Dark Thirty

Best Animated Film: Frankenweenie

Best Non-Fiction Film: The Central Park Five

Best Foreign Film: Amour

Best First Film: David France – How to Survive a Plague


Documentary Feature category shortlisted

Maybe normal people think it’s crazy that documentaries, of all things, could make some movie buffs so up in arms. And yet that is the case every year when the Documentary Branch of the Academy announces their shortlist. Now granted, last year these people snubbed Werner Herzog, Errol Morris and Steve James, so it was unlikely there was going to be even greater fervor this year. But, despite me having seen only a handful, the number of films I’ve heard of on this list of 15 and the number still absent speak to how great a year it’s been for documentaries. All this despite the branch’s head Michael Moore instating new rules, such as the requirement to get your movie screened in New York and L.A. and reviewed by The New York Times. Here’s the list: (via

“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”


“Chasing Ice”



“5 Broken Cameras”

“The Gatekeepers”

“The House I Live In”

“How to Survive a Plague”

“The Imposter”

“The Invisible War”

“Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God”

“Searching for Sugar Man”

“This is Not a Film”

“The Waiting Room”

So missing from this list is “The Central Park Five,” which if you were paying attention above just won the NYFCC honors, “West of Memphis,” “The Queen of Versailles,” “Paul Williams Still Alive,” “Marley,” “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” “Samsara” and “Marina Ambrovic: The Artist is Present,” which, admittedly, could be a short list all its own. This list of 15 could be a lot worse than it is, and the few that have been snubbed won’t have any trouble getting seen. This is me trying to not get too angry.


Visual Effects category shortlisted

The Academy announced on Thursday the list of 10 potential nominees in the Visual Effects category. The full list is below: (via

“The Amazing Spider-Man”
“Cloud Atlas”
“The Dark Knight Rises”
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
“John Carter”
“Life of Pi”
“Marvel’s The Avengers”
“Snow White and the Huntsman”

You’ll immediately notice the snub of “The Impossible,” which has an unbelievably lifelike depiction of a tsunami hitting Thailand. My guess is that “The Impossible’s” sequence, while dazzling, is just a small part of an otherwise effects free movie, thus paving the way instead for these 10 gargantuan Hollywood blockbusters. “Snow White,” “John Carter” and “Spider-Man” may all be surprises, but more pleasant surprises would’ve been something like “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “The Grey,” “The Cabin in the Woods,” “Looper,” “Flight” or even “Chronicle” from way back in February.

Best Live Action Short Film Category shortlisted

This may come as a shock, but the Live Action short category is actually news! The news here is that the shortlist has a record 11 films on it due to a tie in the voting. That won’t mean any more or less nominees, still anywhere from three to five, but it’s something. The only names you’ll recognize however are Ron and Bryce Dallas Howard for their short film “when you find me.” Good luck seeing any of these. (via

“A Fábrica (The Factory),” Aly Muritiba, director (Grafo Audiovisual)

“Asad,” Bryan Buckley, director, and Mino Jarjoura, producer (Hungry Man)

“Buzkashi Boys,” Sam French, director, and Ariel Nasr, producer (Afghan Film Project)

“Curfew,” Shawn Christensen, director (Fuzzy Logic Pictures)

“Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw),” Tom Van Avermaet, director, and Ellen De Waele, producer (Serendipity Films)

“Henry,” Yan England, director (Yan England)

“Kiruna-Kigali,” Goran Kapetanovic, director (Hepp Film AB)

“The Night Shift Belongs to the Stars,” Silvia Bizio and Paola Porrini Bisson, producers (Oh! Pen LLC)

“9meter,” Anders Walther, director, and Tivi Magnusson, producer (M & M Productions A/S)

“Salar,” Nicholas Greene, director, and Julie Buck, producer (Nicholas Greene)

“when you find me,” Ron Howard, executive producer, and Bryce Dallas Howard, director (Freestyle Picture Company)

“Amour” sweeps European Film Awards

It isn’t so often a Palme D’Or winner can actually devour every other award its up for. “Amour” won Best European Picture, Director for Michael Haneke, Actor for Jean-Louis Trintignant and Actress for Emmanuelle Riva. That’s why this is increasingly looking like an even bigger Oscar contender than some are predicting. For what it’s worth, Haneke has already won Best Director for both “The White Ribbon” and “Cache.” (via Indiewire)

Week 7 Predictions Continue reading “Off The Red Carpet: Week of 11/28 – 12/5”

American Graffiti

There was a time in American history where all the kids in town could be found at the sock hop or the local drive-up diner or simply driving down Main Street. Everyone was innocent and carefree, and the radio was playing constantly. The year is 1973, and “American Graffiti” was in theaters.

The time I’m actually describing is 1962, which George Lucas’s second film captures so beautifully. “American Graffiti” is a touching, heartfelt period piece and vignette, the kind of American film that simply doesn’t get made anymore. Perhaps Lucas’s own “Star Wars” had something to do with that.

There is not so much a story as the tiny little anecdotes of life about a group of teenagers in this small town, two of whom will be leaving for college the next day. These kids are innocent and happy, but there is truthfully a lot of drama going around. And because they express their thoughts and their problems so lovingly, we enjoy “American Graffiti” because we realize these are people we’d like to know and a time in which we’d like to escape to.

The film was a huge success, nominated for Best Picture for producer Francis Ford Coppola and Best Director Lucas. The film put Lucas on the map, allowing him the resources to actually go out and make “Star Wars,” but it also gave him and the rest of the ‘70s some valuable resources. Continue reading “American Graffiti”