Bernardo Villela is like a mallrat except at the movies. He is a writer, director, editor and film enthusiast who seeks to continue to explore and learn about cinema, chronicle the journey and share his findings.
This is an absolute dream of a film that will likely be overlooked by moviegoers and the award season alike but is one of the best films of the year. Due to the fact that much of the film deals with Renée Zellweger’s character seeking a new husband it has been classified as a screwball comedy by many, however, this is but one aspect of this film.
This film is a story full of characters that are well-defined Zellweger who is sensational in this part has a very unique view of life. She in a Blanche DuBois kind of way relies on the kindness of strangers but seeks a certain standard of living for her and her boys. Finding a new father is how she thinks she can best mother them and drags them around the country in the 50s while seeking a new beau.
Being dragged along with her are her two sons Robbie and George. Robbie, the elder, is interested in theatre and fashion and played brilliantly by Mark Rendall. Robbie’s homosexuality is a prime example of the refreshing nature of this film. He just is and it’s like the white elephant in the room and is rarely mentioned which is accurate but he is totally accepted by his mother and half-brother. He also wields a gun without much drama and little stereotype in onepivotal scene.
George is less pleased to be along on the trip. He is more of a realist and frequently clashes with his mother. He is played with remarkable aplomb by Logan Lerman in a startling turn. Lerman will be a star for years to come based on his talent alone.
Renée Zellweger, as mentioned previously, is sensational in this film where she slowly but surely shows there’s more to her than meets the eye and yet realizes her imperfections. She completely immerses herself in this part and disappears into it.
This film has dialogue which is funny and effective. For every funny scene there is one of real emotion. Even though some events you know will happen but the how of it is the fun and what you don’t guess.
The score is also a unique signature and effective. It is jazzy and similar to that the band Dan, the boys’ estranged father played well by Kevin Bacon plays.
The entire supporting cast was extremely good. It’s the kind of movie you can try to fault but you won’t find much if anything. What a great find – go and see it.
As those who are my friends on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter know, in December I am gearing up for my annual film awards (The BAM Awards), and that only partially explains my recent reposting of all past winners.
Since these are picks made by one person, the nominating process is even more important. Aside from the the past years, the full slate of nominees from all years past was no public knowledge.
This is because essentially the first time I did them, in 1996, I created them by myself for myself. At the time, I knew a lot less about how these decisions are made, campaigning, the year-end barrage of contenders and the like, such that the releasing of the Academy Award nominees was even more frustrating. Rather than just bemoan it I decided to create an award slate based on what I had seen.
Back then I was ticket stub pack rat, at the time it was the only way to track anything. So I created the list, picked winners and printed it out. The fact that I stuck with hard copies and no back-up created issues, however, it was just for me at the time.
I called them the BAM Awards because I needed a name. I suppose I came up with Bernardo Academy of Movies because I was being reactionary to The Academy. How one man by himself can be an Academy I didn’t fully consider. I thought it was kind of a silly name even at the time so eventually it just became BAM.
Slowly, the awards widened: soon I emailed a select group of friends (that created eventual storage issues), a few years ago when I was on the Site That Must Not Be Named I decided to really take it public. I didn’t think about it ahead of time, it just occurred to me roundabout late November of ’09 that I could.
The publication was an exciting and unnerving process regardless of how many or how few people would actually care to see them. While there are a two categories (which I now and again consider ending, and have skipped on occasion) which are negative, it is a positive emotion that brings me to these announcements. I want to at the end of this period of time share what I thought an why, and all winner announcements come with some explanation, and I do belabor them and struggle with them.
So it is heartening that last year, for the first time, the actual honorees, be they nominees or winners, on occasion acknowledged it. Now that may seem like a self-aggrandizing statement, but what I liked was knowing the news reached them and other people and they were pleased to hear it. The design of these awards are to cement what performances, works and films most affected me, I make no bones about that, and sharing that felt like a gamble, but it’s been rewarding for that and many other reason.
Of course, if you see a film missing from any year you may inquire, and there is room for intelligent discourse, but the above statements are true: trolling or disrespectful comments aimed at who was chosen won’t be tolerated. Your own awards are just a blog post away.
I apologize for even needing to insert that statement but I did have cause to make similar points last year. Anyway, with how much I enjoyed last year’s and how much I’m looking forward to this year’s awards, I thought it’d be a good idea to put all I have out there in a “reverse” countdown.
So here goes…
Again I give you my comments alone here:
2006 BAM Nominees and Winners Disclaimers:
1. These awards are fictitious and represent only my, Bernardo Villela’s, opinions about the past year in film
2. BAM stands for Bernardo Academy of Movies. Lame, hence I made it up in High School. And has no connections with Emeril Legasse whatsoever.
Message: Let’s hope next year is better overall but this stuff is good.
William Broyles, Jr., Paul Haggis, James Bradley, Ron Powers Flags of Our Fathers Ryan Murphy and Augusten Burroughs Running with Scissors
Peter Buchman and Christopher Paolini Eragon
Mark Klein and Peter Mayle A Good Year
Armistead Maupin, Patrick Stettner and Terry Anderson The Night Listener
Abigail Breslin Little Miss Sunshine
Cameron Bright Running Scared
Cayden Boyd X3:X-Men United
Cole and Dylan Sprouse The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
Jimmy Bennett The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
‘Travelin’ Thru’ Transamerica
‘Start of Something New’ High School Musical ‘What I’ve Been Looking For’ High School Musical
‘Stick to the Status Quo’ High School Musical
‘We’re All in This Together’ High School Musical
Flags of Our Fathers
The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things
The Nativity Story
Running Scared Sorstalanság
The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things – 8 Nominations (1 win) Little Miss Sunshine– 8 Nominations (3 Wins) Wah-Wah– 8 Nominations (5 wins) Running Scared– 7 Nominations Transamerica– 7 Nominations (2 Wins) High School Musical– 6 Nominations (2 Wins) The Prestige– 4 Nominations (1 Win) RV– 4 Nominations Eragon, The Queen, X3: X-Men United, The Nativity Story – 4 Nominations Flags of Our Fathers, Le Science des rêves, Running with Scissors (1 Win), Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest (1 Win), Lady in the Water – 3 Nominations December Ends, The Queen (1 win) Thank You For Smoking, Final Destination 3 (1 Win), Sorstalanság (1 Win) 2 Nominations Apocalypto, A Good Year, The Night Listener, Borat, For Your Consideration (1 Win), Night at the Museum, Ultraviolet, Clerks II, Re-Animated, The Shaggy Dog, Trap, The Babysitter (1 Win), How To Eat Fried Worms (1 Win), Accepted, Slither, Big Mama’s House 2– 1 Nomination
I don’t know for certain if this airs annually but considering this is a Disney property I’m sure they play it somewhere. Mickey’s Christmas Carol is significant in a number of ways and not just because it was one of the animated crown jewels of my favorite decade.
The first bit of significance that this film holds is that it is the return of Mickey to theatrical shorts (albeit this is a hefty short) after a 30 year hiatus. Secondly, this unlike the other Christmas-themed specials that have been highlighted was released in movie theatres. The others for as cinematic as they may have been were all projects designed for television.
However, all of that is just anecdotal trivia for the film history buffs amongst us. What is truly special here is that not only is this a truly wonderful and moving rendition of Dickens’s classic but it seems as if it was fated to be.
In this short, as the name implies, Disney pulls from its stable of characters to cast its own version of A Christmas Carol. This is a popular device that is frequently used on TV shows most notably recently with Family Guy recreating the original Star Wars trilogy. What’s fun about them for the makers and viewers alike is that combining two well-known entities plays into and against audience expectations.
The “casting” of Mickey’s A Christmas Carol could not be more perfect after all Disney already has a character named Scrooge so from there the progression is natural and eerily similar. Scrooge also has a nephew who likes him and wants his approval even though Scrooge seemingly doesn’t care much for him; Donald. Then, of course, there’s Bob Cratchit and who better to portray him than Mickey Mouse? It goes on though, Goofy plays Jacob Marley, as a child (and to an extent to this day) his first apparition scared me.
They each have love interests (Minnie and Daisy) but then there are also the three spirits: Jiminy Cricket as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Willie the Giant as the Ghost of Christmas Present and Pete as the Ghost of Christmas Future.
Everyone knows the story of A Christmas Carol it is typically the execution we are interested in and the execution in this version is flawless and for many youngsters this could be their indoctrination to the tale as it was for me.
Disney, once upon a time, absolutely positively could not miss on an animated feature or short and this is the epitome of, and a testament to, that greatness.
I could very easily always pick a Looney Tunes short. I love Rabbit of Seville but saw a link wherein True Classics offers some brilliant insight:
Rabbit of Seville is the brainchild of director Chuck Jones, writer Michael Maltese, and frequent Warner Bros. composer Carl Stalling. Stalling was, on occasion, criticized by some (including Jones) for his habit of quoting modern or popular melodies in his scores, and it is true that his scores featured repeated use of certain musical cues for similar situations from cartoon to cartoon–for instance, the recurrence of Rossini’s William Tell overture in chase scenes (particularly those in Western-themed cartoons), or the use of “We’re in the Money” (from Gold Diggers of 1933) in scenes featuring the sudden acquirement of wealth. Stalling’s penchant for musical puns aside, he was nonetheless an incredibly talented musician, and the Stalling scores are among the most memorable in the Warner Bros. animated canon (for a pitch-perfect example of Stalling’s unparalleled talent, see 1943′s A Corny Concerto, directed by Bob Clampett, which Stalling completed with his eventual successor, Milt Franklyn).
In Seville, Jones takes full advantage of Stalling’s musical abilities, as the composer manages to incorporate a slightly abridged version of the overture to Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville at an accelerated tempo that still manages to capture the essence of the original tune. Additionally, he works in a bit of the “Wedding March” from German composer Mendelssohn. Maltese composed new lyrics to accompany the sped-up tune, and aside from Bugs’ final line, the song lyrics are the only dialogue to accompany the cartoon–and really, no dialogue is needed when the lyrics include such brilliant lines as, “There, you’re nice and clean … although your face looks like it might have gone through a machine!”
There are little touches throughout this cartoon that heighten the humor: a sign in the opening scene advertises a “Summer Opera” performance of The Barber of Seville starring “Eduardo Selzeri” (producer Eddie Selzer), “Michele Maltese” (writer Maltese), and “Carlo Jonzi” (director Jones); the stage is set for a scene at a barber’s shop, yet in Rossini’s opera, there is no such scene (despite the character Figaro’s titular position); Bugs (naturally) gets the chance to don drag, as Elmer’s alluring “little senorit-er”; Elmer deals with multiple indignities in Bugs’ Sweeney Todd-esque barber chair o’ horrors, not the least of which is having a hair tonic treatment that results in a patch of red flowers sprouting on his otherwise bald noggin; to bring an end to the madness, Bugs proposes marriage, and Elmer zips offstage briefly and reemerges in a white wedding gown; Bugs’ final, mischievous nod to the audience. The result is a sort of insane mash-up of so-called high and low culture, audaciously combining cartoonish antics and high-brow musical accompaniment in a way that, by all logic, should not work … and yet totally and completely does.
Is Rabbit of Seville as effective a cartoony operetta as What’s Opera, Doc? In truth, not quite–though both cartoons have their strengths, the more satirical bent of the latter cartoon trumps the relentlessly slapsticky nature of Seville. Opera functions as both a parody of its musical source material and an incisive comedic homage to it, while Seville concentrates more on just generally garnering laughs. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with that, for Rabbit of Seville is truly hilarious, and undoubtedly its success enabled Jones, Maltese, and crew to embark on the much more ambitious (and much more expensive) Opera in later years. And its influence has not gone unnoticed; Rabbit of Seville is, like its operatic cartoon brother, on the list of the 50 best cartoons of all time, placing at number twelve, and it remains one of the most popular ‘toons to emerge from the Golden Age of animation. Perhaps most importantly, this cartoon is among a number of memorable Warner Bros. shorts that helped introduce new generations to classical music in a fun, engaging way that, if it didn’t exactly foster new fans of the genre, at least created a lingering awareness of the great compositions of those grand old masters.