There was a time where if you missed something the first time around, that was it. Then later, with more channels, the possibility a re-broadcast was likely. Finally, with videotape and later DVD rentals and sales – and the ability to burn and share a televised broadcast – pretty much anything is available legally. (I know that everything is available illegally, but that’s not how we roll here.)
But sometimes titles get discontinued and fall out of circulation. Owners of used copies float out some absurd prices (I know, I know…supply and demand, yada yada) and for the most part the films are hard to find. One such illogical title is The Times of Harvey Milk. Not only is the subject matter fresh because of the recent movie, featuring an award-winning turn by Sean Penn, but the original documentary film won the Academy Award.
I watched the movie again this weekend and was deeply moved, as I was the previous time I saw the film. Milk was far from perfect, and the film does not set him up to be a flawless savior. What does come through is his humanity and concern – while he would have been justified focusing all his energies as a gay activist, he chose to fight for anyone who didn’t have a voice in the system. He was a savvy politician – he knew how to make alignments and get attention – and he was also tireless in his efforts. As my daughter said after we watched it together, “we sure could use someone like that today.”
I am fortunate to have a wondeful library system in my city with a deep list of documentary titles, so while I would prefer to have purchased this and add it my collection, I was able to borrow a copy and enjoy it. Not all of you will be as fortunate.
Thank God for Hulu.
Go ahead and watch. Unlike the premise of the Hulu commercials, the aliens really aren’t going to make soup out of your brains. (The major networks are already doing that with reality television). You probably won’t get all the good bonus features, but the film itself is well worth your ninety minutes.
More snarky observations from the weekend, as the Hollywood Elite shook the Santa Monica sand out of their shoes (well, those with any Indie cred, anyway!) and headed to Red Carpet Land for the Big Show…
The 81st Annual Academy Awards
I'd like to fawn a friend...
- Sorry, Eric Roberts. For one night, at least, Hugh Jackman Is The Man.
- Nice to have five former Oscar winners help present each acting award. But was that an introduction or a coronation? Did it really take fifteen minutes to fawn over Best Supporting Actress nominees? It looked like they were inducting a new member into The Skull And Bones Society.
- Millions of dollars to reconfigure the theatre, douse it in brilliant lights and wire it to the heavens with cameras, screens and special effects. And the first time they try to use it, some stagehand forgets to open the curtain. (It’s a union job, smart money says he was probably in an oil drum in the Pacific by midnight)
- Why did people think that Hugh Jackman – a singing, dancing Broadway veteran – couldn’t sing and dance? Great ten cent sets for the Best Picture tributes, but none funnier than the tribute to The Reader.
- Anne Hathaway Is The Man.
- Ben Stiller was only the second best faux Joaquin of the weekend, but still funny.
- More actor fawning from prior Oscar winners. It’s a good thing that after the huge salary, the legions of fans, the constant media attention and the stroll down the Red Carpet through a crowd of sycophants, these poor people were able to get great seats and have their egos stroked by having lavish compliments spread over them with a trowel.
- Is there a stupider question in the universe than “Who are you wearing?”
- Judd Apatow Is The Man. (Or maybe Seth Rogen? No, no…James Franco!)
- Having the two-time Oscar winning cinematographer tell his collegue to “suck it”.
- Christopher Walken disappointingly did not do his Christopher Walken impression.
- No Jack Nicholson. What, was there a Laker game?
- Queen Latifah has a great voice, and “I’ll Be Seeing You” is a classic song. But when paying tribute to deceased Academy members, silence is golden.
- Slumdog Avalanche.
- Robert DeNiro on Penn: “How did Sean Penn get all those jobs playing straight guys” and he “gently reasons with the paparazzi”. Funnier than most of Bob’s last dozen comedies.
- Good night for Oscar Dads. Heath Ledger’s father gave a heartfelt and passionate speech, and Kate Winslet’s Dad’s whistle was the highlight of her speech.
- Has Jerry Lewis ever been that humble? Or succinct?
- Speaking of Kate, I do admire her always solid work, but if I don’t see her at a podium again for a while that will be just fine. (At least she toned down the breathless “I am so shocked” routine). I suppose I have to blame Ricky Gervais for this. Will she be “playing a mental” next time out?
- “I am Woool-verrrr-iiiiiiine!”
- Tina Fey and Steve Martin: Master class on comic timing.
- Philip Petit. I bet that humility and a cool magic trick will be remembered more fondly than leaping over the backs of chairs.
- Bill Maher (following an emotional moment in the show): “Great. Everyone’s crying and now I have to go on!”
- Sean Penn’s speech.
- A. R. Rahman running offstage after each win, much to the surprise of the presenters and usherette.
- In a world where we have so many movie trailers, how did the tribute omit Don LaFontaine?
- The Jimmy Kimmel promo was brilliant. It’s possible to like Tom Cruise when he’s not being Scientologish.
- “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto“
Full list of winners here.
Hopefully you didn’t put your money where my mouth was this weekend, because I lost three of the four NFL playoff games and only the late Heath Ledger’s posthumous win for Best Supporting Actor prevented me from having a clean sweep in the major film categories at the Golden Globes. That would be a sweep in reverse…
My one ace in the hole was The Joker
What I did know…
- Either Slumdog Millionaire or Benjamin Button would grab three majors: Best Drama, Best Screenplay and Best Director.
- An actress would win two major awards
- 30 Rock and John Adams would sweep their nominations
- Pre-written “presenter speeches” would still suck the life out of the room
What I didn’t expect…
- Those Foreign Press people really love their Irishmen (Byrne, Farrell upset victors)
- They were as apathetic about Mamma Mia as I was
- Neither Bardem nor Cruz won for Vicki Cristina Barcelona despite being early favorites
- In a category where long time press darlings Brad Pitt and Sean Penn were available, the HFPA showed Mickey Rourke the love.
My favorite moments of the evening:
- Springsteen winning the Globe for “The Wrestler” and cracking on Clint Eastwood. I was glad he won because I hoped it would draw more attention to the film; little did I know what lied ahead.
- Colin Farrell’s heartfelt speech about how art is really love in action
- Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan rocking the mike with material they scribbled on napkins at the awards table
- Ricky Gervais. The line about “no gag reel” in Schindler’s List was killer, but the one he wasn’t allowed to say (the ad for the DVD said to “have a box of tissues ready”, and I thought “well that’s sick…”) was even better. Plus the crack to Winslet about how he advised her to “do a Holocaust movie if you want to win an award”, referring to her hilarious guest performance on his show Extras. Gervais is flat out brilliant in both the US and UK interpretation of the word.
- The genuine warmth and excitement for Mickey Rourke, and his humble but funny acceptance speech. This was the win I wanted more than any other, but even I didn’t think he’s have enough votes. I guess I’ll have to update the comeback story.
- Dennis Leary telling a post-show interviewer that he’s audtioning to play one of Mickey Rourke’s dogs in an upcoming movie because he can’t seem to win as an actor playing people.
Even though he didn’t win, I can’t say enough about Sean Penn’s powerhouse performance in Milk, a film almost totally overlooked in last night’s nominations. The entire cast is phenomenal; the out reel shows each actor’s photo in character followed by photos of the real people they were playing, and even the physical resemblances are astonishing. I was deeply moved by the film, recalling the horror and astonishment I felt at the time of the actual events, and Gus van Sant deserves major praise for the way he structured the story using flashbacks, actual footage and voice-over; three techniques that can usually sink a film. Also kudos to Josh Brolin, whose Dan White slowly disintegrates before your eyes. Nice roll he’s on with Milk, No Country For Old Men and W…plus he gets to go home to Diane Lane? That’s a long way from being in The Goonies, my friends.