Sometime tonight, in about the second hour of what will seem like a three day Oscar broadcast, my butt will go numb and I will ask myself, “Why am I watching this?” It happens every year and then the following year, I do it again. Am I a masochist? Do I just forget? Why do I care who wins what? I haven’t seen most of the films or performances nominated.
I’m not alone in this. Umpty-bum millions of people will tune in to the broadcast worldwide. It’s not the only movie awards show on anymore, either. You have the Director’s Guild, the Screen Actor’s Guild, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Golden Globes and more all handing out awards. That’s not even mentioning the Tony Awards or all of the different music awards or the People’s Choice Awards, The Emmy Awards or what have you. I’m surprised they don’t yet have the Awards Channel on cable; all awards, all the time. And the Red Carpet shows that precede them.
I understand why it’s a big deal to those nominated for the Awards (whichever Award it is) or to the Industry (whichever Industry it is) but why should it matter to anyone else? Why does it matter to me? Why do I watch? Why do any of us?
Let’s face it, fellow nerds – we aren’t represented. The films we mostly watched aren’t up for awards. Where’s the Oscar for the best actor in a superhero movie? Nominees would have to include Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises, probably Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man, and then there’s The Avengers which could be a category all by itself. Who do you not include? Certainly Robert Downey Jr.’s turn as Tony Stark/Iron Man is amazing but how could you not include Mark Ruffalo who made a Bruce Banner/Hulk really work on celluloid for the first time ever.
And the support actors! Again, in The Avengers – Samuel L. Jackson (who should get an Oscar just for being Samuel L. Jackson) or Tom Hiddleston as Loki who almost steals the movie. Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson who provides the heart and the reason to call the group The Avengers – where’s his nomination?
You can make the same argument for The Dark Knight Rises with Michael Caine’s Alfred who is heart wrenching, or Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon who is really the moral center of all three Batman movies. Daniel Day Lewis was amazing in Lincoln but he only had a beard to cope with. Let’s see him put on Bane’s mask and do any where near as good as Tom Hardy did. C’mon – let’s handicap these races for degree of difficulty!
Anne Hathaway got a nomination (and will probably get the Oscar) for her role in Les Miserables but did you see that, my fellow nerds, or did you see her as Catwoman? Sally Field was great as Mrs. Lincoln but why isn’t she recognized as Aunt May?
And best director? Okay, okay – Ang Lee did a knockout job (or so I’m told; I haven’ seen it) of getting a boy and a tiger on a lifeboat in Life of Pi. Stephen Spielberg did an outstanding job in Lincoln, not only creating the characters of the Civil War but the setting, making you feel like You Were There. And there’s all kinds of talk about how The Academy snubbed Ben (Daredevil) Affleck on Argo.
I got two words for you. Joss Whedon. The third act of The Avengers with the attack on Manhattan by the alien hordes, balancing and making all the superheroes – the lead characters in their own movies – work well together. ‘Nuff said.
Why don’t these movies get Academy Award consideration? They made money. Gobs and gobs of it. So far as Hollywood is concerned, that’s their award except maybe for the grudging technical awards. Maybe it is. The folks doing those may have longer careers than those who get an Oscar tonight – because if there’s one thing Hollywood respects more than Awards, it’s cash.
So, yeah, I’ll watch the Academy Awards tonight. Force of habit, maybe. Maybe we’ll have to have an alternative award for folks like us – the Nerdies.
Sony has released the first formal details on the sequel to last year’s hit reboot, Amazing Spider-Man:
In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, for Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), life is busy – between taking out the bad guys as Spider-Man and spending time with the person he loves, Gwen (Emma Stone), high school graduation can’t come quickly enough. Peter hasn’t forgotten about the promise he made to Gwen’s father to protect her by staying away – but that’s a promise he just can’t keep. Things will change for Peter when a new villain, Electro (Jamie Foxx), emerges, an old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, and Peter uncovers new clues about his past.
The official, announced cast list: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Shailene Woodley, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti and Sally Field.
Additionally, the studio said that behind the camera Dan Mindel will be the cinematographer, Mark Friedberg is the production designer and Deborah L. Scott will be the costume designer and Pietro Scalia and Elliot Graham are the editors.
The film is scheduled for production this year, to be released May 2, 2014, one month after Disney’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and two months before Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, scheduled for July 18.
On the ballot here in Michigan in the last election, there were several proposed amendments to the state constitution. One was concerning the use of Emergency Financial Managers (EFMs). It’s no big news that Michigan is having a hard time of it financially and several municipalities and other local organizations such as school districts have been tottering on their own fiscal cliffs as a result of ineptitude, mismanagement and plain old corruption on the part of the sundry boards, councils, and mayors involved.
The draconian solution devised by the Michigan legislature, itself a meeting place of miscreants and ideologues who are currently ramming through a “right to work” bit of legislation without any public hearings or other forms of democracy, was a pair of Emergency Financial Manages bills. This allowed the governor to appoint a Financial Manager for an undisclosed amount of time who would take over the troubled entity’s finances. The more extreme of these allowed the EFM to break or change contracts without negotiation and many other dictatorial acts. This one was struck down by the Michigan Supreme Court as unconstitutional. The governor’s office responded by trying to reinsert the law as a state constitutional amendment, outside of the Court’s reach, and thus it was on the ballot last November.
It got voted down and I was one of the ones voting against it. I understood the reasoning behind the law and the proposed amendment. The reason that the various local entities were in the financial mess that they were in was an inability and/or unwillingness to come to grips, get past their own petty personal attempts to hold on to power and do what was necessary to solve the problem. At the same time it was so inherently undemocratic that I couldn’t support it. Good, bad, or indifferent, these local officials were voted in by the populations they supposedly served. I could understand the impetus and reasoning behind the EFM but I couldn’t accept installing what was essentially was a dictator however worthy the reason. It just went against the grain.
And what has all this to do with pop culture, about which I am supposed to be writing?
I and My Mary recently went to see Lincoln, Steven Spielberg’s astounding film about the President and focusing on his attempts to get the Thirteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, abolishing slavery, through the House of Representatives. It’s going to win a lot of Oscars at the next Academy Awards and deservedly so. Daniel Day Lewis inhabits the part of Lincoln, making you think that this how the man must have been. He wears the sadness and melancholy of Lincoln the way that Lincoln often wore a shawl. It drapes over him.
The cast of the movie is stellar. Sally Fields plays Mary Todd Lincoln and is every bit the equal to Daniel Day Lewis. One scene features an emotionally intense fight between Lincoln and his wife and Mary Todd gives as good as she gets. If you think of Mrs. Lincoln only as Lincoln’s widow who winds up in an insane asylum, this will make you re-think that notion.
There is some very canny casting in the film, playing to our perceptions of the actor and infusing them into the part. Tommy Lee Jones as Representative Thaddeus Stevens, an ardent abolitionist who was a key to getting the 13th Amendment passed, not only looks like photos we have of Stevens but Jones’ rat-a-tat way with an insult meshed perfectly with the character. These days we are accustomed to James Spader playing slightly sleazy and underhanded characters and his part in the film, W.N. Bilbo, who helps court or bribe representatives to vote for the Amendment, plays to that perception.
There are other fine performances and actors throughout the film – David Straitharn, Jospeh Gordon-Levitt, Hal Holbrook among many, many others. The script is by Tony Kushner (who wrote the award winning pair of plays, Angels in America} based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s superb biography of Lincoln and his cabinet, Team of Rivals. This script will be up for an Oscar as well and deserves to win it.
The film also had me asking questions of myself. Abraham Lincoln was arguably the greatest president this country has known. As I’ve learned about him, he has become and remained one the heroes to me of our country’s history. I wonder, however, if I had lived in his time, knowing only what people then knew, would I have been for or against him?
Lincoln, early in the Civil War, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, a central tenet of our government, by which an unlawfully detained prisoner can demand his or her release. When the Supreme Court of the time overruled his suspension, Lincoln ignored them. Civil law could be suspended in the areas of the South that the Union controlled and martial law, with military tribunals, were imposed. Newspaper and journalists could be censored and some were, inhibiting freedom of speech.
Given my unease with Michigan’s EFM law, how would I have responded back in Lincoln’s day to the suspension of habeas corpus? Yes, there were good reasons for him to act as he did but how much of that is plain in hindsight from where we are now and how much would that have been apparent then? Would the erosions of civil liberties, however worthy the apparent reason, grated on me? Could I, would I, have supported Lincoln back then?
Honestly, I don’t know. Those of us in the moment may not always be able to see things as clearly as the hindsight of history may show. In this time, in any time, perhaps the best we can do is try to do the best as we see it and hope that, as Lincoln said, we side with “the better angels of our nature.”
When we saw the first image of Daniel Day-Lewis in his Abraham Lincoln makeup, we thought it was pretty impressive. Considering this is a two-time Academy Award winner in Lincoln, a film from director Steven Spielberg, we know this is one to see. That it is based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s wondferul book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln is all the more reason we’re more excited about this than we were with Abe the Vampire Slayer.
According to DreamWorks, which releases the film on November 9, the movie is a “revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come.”
The cast includes Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln along with David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook and Tommy Lee Jones. Lincoln is produced by Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner. The film is a coproduction between DreamWorks Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox film, in association with Participant Media.
Glenn and Mike were at the movies – separately – just so they could have a heart-to-heart conversation about The Amazing Spider-Man. This time, each has a fairly different opinion.
Of course, there are spoilers ahead.
Glenn: So, this is going to be an interesting exercise. I believe I could hear your teeth grinding from Norwalk…
Mike: You liked it?
Glenn: Most of it, yes.
Mike: Jeez. I found only the last third the least bit tolerable. What did you like about it?
Glenn: The casting, for starters.
Mike: The casting was fine. But it was in service of a director who put everything he learned in community college up on the screen.
Glenn: Andrew Garfield won me over very quickly, with a naturalness that Tobey Maguire never quite seemed to have. Emma Stone could have carried the film even if she didn’t look just like a John Romita drawing.
Mike: The direction was amateurish and the script was worse. They’re lucky this wasn’t an adaptation of an Alan Moore story.
Glenn: I’m curious – what marked this as amateurish to you? The action scenes played fine, the character scenes worked to the actor’s credits – although I think the film may have trod a bit too much to the sort of aspirational stuff out of a Aaron Sorkin script… of course, that might have been a subconscious reaction to Uncle Ben Bartlett.
Mike: Gwen is the nexus of all coincidences. Her dad just happens to be a police chief in charge of the Spider-Man beat. She just happens to have an after-school job that gives her seemingly complete access to all areas and secrets of one of America’s largest high-science development companies – at 17 years-old – where she just happens to work for the arch-villain, who just happens to be the lab partner of the hero’s dead father.
Glenn: Yes, there’s a bunch of coincidences jammed there. But she was a science geek in the comics, just at the college level, and her dad was a police captain.
And yes, Connors and Richard Parker also happen to work for the upcoming big bad villain, too.
Mike: And all that was spread out over several years’ worth of comics. Here, this was all crammed into two hours – although, to be fair, it seemed like much longer. There’s coincidence, and there’s really bad storytelling. This is really bad storytelling. I really wanted to like this movie. Unfortunately, we knew two best actors weren’t going to make it out of the movie alive. There most certainly is such a thing as a great remake. The classic versions of Maltese Falcon and Wizard of Oz were both remakes. The Amazing Spider-Man is in absolutely no danger of joining this crowd. A remake has to answer the question “Why bother?” This movie, like the Superman remake, didn’t.
Glenn: Two best actors? I mean, we knew that Uncle Ben had to die. I can see a few reasons for retelling the story. For one thing, the effects work has improved a lot in places – the web-swinging in particular. Although the Lizard… well, you don’t always get it perfect.
Mike: Yeah, and we knew the Titanic was going to sink. But the latest movie was about a lot more than the sinking of a boat; ASM wasn’t about anything we hadn’t seen before. Why didn’t they show us Spidey actually using his powers? The webbing thing was fairly cool, but outside of that we rarely saw him in action. He’d be on the ground and there’d be a quick cut to him stuck to the ceiling. Web-slinging through the Manhattan cityscape? Nope; it was mostly long-shots or Peter’s point of view. You don’t have to get the villain perfect, just menacing. Certainly the Goblin looked less-than-stellar in the original.
Glenn: Just out of curiosity, did you see it in 3-D?
Mike: No, 2-D. Which doesn’t address a single one of my storytelling and direction complaints. You rarely saw Spider-Man being Spider-Man. Not even if he pops out of the screen and eats the popcorn out of your lap, 3-D has nothing to do with storytelling. Certainly not in this movie. It doesn’t come close to the Sixth Avenue shots in the first movie. Talk about your John Romita influence…
Glenn: The action sequences, web-slinging, etc. worked for me in 3-D. The Lizard – well, it’s a giant lizard. Hoping for emotion in a lizard’s face is going to be an uphill battle, no matter what insurance company mascots teach us.
Mike: You don’t have to get the villain perfect. Certainly the Green Goblin looked less-than-stellar in the original. But the Lizard looked like the Hulk had pooped out a baddie.
Glenn: Of course, there’s a point. How many times can Spider-Man lose his mask in this film?
Mike: About as often as they want the 12 year-old girls to go all Beatles over Garfield. Who, by the way, looks about 30. Did they cast Garfield and Stone because Dwayne Hickman and Tuesday Weld looked too young?
Glenn: Yeah, college age would have been easy to believe. High school?
Mike: And Peter, Gwen, and obviously ol’ Lizzieface certainly weren’t New Yorkers in the least. Flash might have been, Ben and May and Stacy certainly were, but the three leads seem like they never even visited New York. Conners had been there longer than Peter has been alive.
Glenn: I don’t think the Lizard was a poor choice of villain. Curt Connors was played well… except for that “must turn evil” bit, and even there, it played in character more than Doctor Octopus’s character turn in Spider-Man 2.
Mike:. It was in character for the original comics version that evolved over decades. In a two-hour movie (that played like an eight-day bicycle marathon), it was almost campy. At least Alfred Molena had the chops to pull Doc Ock off. I’d seen scarier villains on Doctor Who… in the black-and-white days!
Glenn: One thing that did work for me was the more naturalistic interactions between characters. Garfield and Stone clicked here in a way that Maguire and Dunst never quite did; for that matter, Garfield seemed more natural with everyone – Sally Field’s Aunt May, Martin Sheen’s Uncle Ben, Denis Leary’s Captain George Stacy, and even the crooks.
Mike: I agree, but those moments were brief. ASM wasn’t about the one-man Greek chorus, and that’s good. It’s about a 17 year-old, but only at times did they allow themselves to go there. Tell me. Did you like this movie as much this morning as you did last night?
Glenn: No, but I’ve had a morning that would make Pollyanna grumpy.
Mike: Did anybody applaud at the end? At my screening, absolutely nobody applauded. Not a one. Virtually everybody who wasn’t in the comics business left before the end of the credits.
Glenn: A decent amount of applause, nothing like the roar at the end of Avengers.
And I have to wonder how this plays in the rest of the country, since Spider-Man is really such a New York character.
Mike: That didn’t hurt the development and the success of Marvel Comics, which was almost entirely New York based for decades, and largely remains that way today. There was nothing particularly New Yorkish about the movie. It could have happened in Cleveland or Phoenix.
Glenn: There’s that same moment in this film that came in the first Spider-Man where New Yorkers pull together to help Spidey out.
Mike: New Yorkers like to think they live in the only city that pulls together in a crisis. It’s human nature. It’s what’s kept humans alive as a species. And wolves.
Glenn: Sadly, it didn’t work nearly as well as it did in the first one, mainly due to a big logic problem. There’s a helicopter right above him. Why doesn’t he just hitch a ride on that?
Mike: By the end of the movie I think only Flash Thompson didn’t know Peter was Spider-Man – and he was the one guy who should have figured that out, given all the scenes where Peter used his powers against him.
Glenn: Flash, despite his name, has never been that quick. And Aunt May – well, I don’t know if she knows or not.
Mike: I was never certain what Aunt May understood, except getting over her husband’s death right quick. Oh, and the costume really sucked. Seriously. Cirque du Soleil should stick to cribbing Mummenschanz.
Glenn: One of the nicer bits between Peter and Aunt May is there’s a lot of unspoken subtext there, with her obviously knowing there’s something Peter’s not telling her, but not knowing quite what – maybe that Peter’s suddenly going in for rough trade or something.
Mike: Sally Field handled each scene quite well; not once did I think “Flying Nun!” But together the movie made May Parker seem schizo.
Glenn: Was there anything you liked about this movie?
Mike: Denis Leary, both his performance and the way they handled his character.
Mike: This movie will do well opening weekend because opening weekend lasts six days and has a major holiday in there. But I don’t see it conquering the world. I can understand Garfield wanting to be in Avengers 2. He wants to be in a good super-hero movie.
Glenn: I’m still thinking Sally Field is too young to play Aunt May, but that’s purely a construct that carries over from the comics that has almost no logical basis. Of course she shouldn’t be old enough to be his grandmother, but still.
Mike: You’re absolutely right – if May was Ben’s husband and Ben was Richard’s brother, then Sally was the right age. In the comics Aunt May was born sometime before Barnabas Collins. I should point out I liked this movie more than most of my companions. One, who’s about 17, said it was the worst movie he ever saw. Ric Meyers (who thought less of this than I did) and I replied in unison: “You’re still young.”
Glenn: And ironically, my companion is one of the surliest bastards in comics and prose (David A. Mack, the killer of the Borg) and he enjoyed it even more than I did. This may be the rare film where I can’t easily say in advance whether or not a particular viewer will enjoy themselves.
Mike: Yeah, well I give it a thumb’s up – where the sun don’t shine.
Glenn: I give it a thumb, index finger, and pinky up. Which makes for a very tough review. But hey, kids, go and find out for yourselves.
We left off our previous post of having just found a hidden file folder inside the leather satchel of Dr. Richard Parker. We’ve since scanned in all the pages in the folder and leave them to you to find all the hidden clues.
Here’s one hint: the double grid pattern you see on many of the pages have been replicated in different drops around the country, but each one has different information in each. A compilation of all the code info can be found here.
Other notes: 00 is on many documents, and is also labeled on the side of the spiders encased in lucite.
And there’s one minor continuity flub. The newspaper clipping of Dr. Curt Connors and Dr. Richard Parker is theoretically from when Richard Parker disappeared. But if that’s the case, why does the sports story on the back of the clipping reference Flash Thompson playing for the high school team? Surely Flash wouldn’t have been left behind for over a decade…
The Amazing Spider-Man opens in theaters in America on July 3rd, and stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, and Cameron Scott.
Followers of the Alternate Reality Game hinted at in the recent trailer of “The Amazing Spider-Man” have been watching the web site markofthespider-man.com to play along as people found backpacks from Peter Parker and followed clues and instructions to tag certain locations with Spider-graffiti and take pictures.
Now those efforts have born fruit as the tasks have been completed, and we’ve all been rewarded with a new clip from the film.
The film opens July 3rd and stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field.
Now, a new Twitter feed @markofspiderman has popped up, along with what appear to be latitude and longitude for comic book stores in New York, Atlanta, and Denver, noting that property of Peter Parker has been lost.
What was lost, we don’t know yet. But as soon as we hear, we’ll let you know– right after we sell our tips to the Daily Bugle, of course.
Of course, if anybody finds anything interesting, our “Contact Us” form is right at the top of the page… or you can comment below.
The Amazing Spider-Man comes out July 3rd, and stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field, and Martin Sheen.
UPDATE 5:35 PM: And now he’s losing things in Phoenix… are we sure it’s not Nightcrawler teleporting all over the country?
UPDATE 6:15 PM: Hello, Seattle… we’re listening.
UPDATE 6:37 PM: According to @dag_kurt, he’s gotten to one of the Atlanta locations, where he found a backpack. Photos to come.
You may have noticed Ol’ Webhead leave his mark, and not just on the walls… the phrase “the Mark of the Spider-Man” is mentioned by Captain Stacy and is hidden within the webbing towards the end of the trailer. The site markofthespider-man.com takes you to a site with six screens filled with static, but I’ll bet my last Spider-tracer that if you keep an eye on that new site over the next week, we’ll see all sorts of new stuff revealed on those screens.
The Amazing Spider-Man comes out July 3rd, and stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field, and Martin Sheen.
Just in time for San Diego Comic-Con, Sony is pushing hard for next year’s release of The Amazing Spider-Man. First, Columbia Pictures grabbed the cover spot in this week’s Entertainment Weekly along with a hefty photo spread, and now we’re seeing the (legitimate!) release of this teaser trailer:
We fully expect to see some of the cast in Hall H at San Diego, particularly Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. But personally, we’re pulling for Denis Leary. His reaction to seeing the audience at San Diego could rival Shatner’s “Get a life!” speech.
But still– there’s something about the costume revamp that just (sorry) bugs me.