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Blu-ray Review: The Apartment

In 1959, Billy Wilder released Some Like It Hot, a cross-dressing comedy that received both critical and commercial success and was named by the American Film Institute as the funniest film of all time. So how exactly did Wilder follow-up such an achievement? By making a black-and-white, dark comedy that showed a funny and, at times, honest depiction of the times.

The Apartment centers around C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon), a very lonely office worker at an insurance company.  The film opens with Baxter working at his desk, narrating to the audience about random statistics at his desk. His desk is number 861 and it is surrounded by dozens of other desks on the floor. This frame shows just how forlorn are hero is but fortunately the clock soon reaches 5:20, the end of the work day. Yet Baxter tells us that he is not going home, at least not for the next few hours, until he feels that it is “alright for [him] to go home”.

The reason that Baxter feels unsure of whether he can go home or not is because his apartment serves as a place that executives at his company take women to so that they can carry on affairs. At the beginning of the film, Baxter stands outside of his building looking up longingly at his apartment. He knows he can’t go in because the lights are on and is forced to stand outside in the rain. The executives seem to forget his name and simply call him “buddy” or “buddy-boy”, but he doesn’t mind because they tell him sweet nothings of a promotion.

One day Baxter finds the courage to ask out Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), an elevator girl, but she stands him up. It is revealed that she is actually carrying on a relationship with Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray), Baxter’s boss who also happens to be a married man. The relationship between the two was supposedly over but is now but on again because Mr. Sheldrake tells her sweet nothings about divorcing his wife.

In this way our two heroes are similar; neither character is forced into their predicament but it is rather their choice. The film offers a bleak but honest portrayal of what people at that time would do to get ahead. This is also why the film is a timeless classic; so many people in this day and age would prostitute themselves in the same way to get ahead. One hopes to climb the corporate ladder while the other hopes to climb the social ladder.

The film succeeds because of a brilliant screenplay, direction and the performances of the actors. In particular, the chemistry between Lemmon and MacLaine stands out; their scenes together are amazing and their back and forth dialogue is like watching a great tennis match. The movie is a must-watch for all fans of comedy and you will be pleasantly surprised by how moved you are by the dramatic moments .

Edited: January 27th, 2012

Blu-ray Review: Annie Hall

Woody Allen’s Annie Hall was a revelation when it came out; it helped redefine romantic comedies and has influenced every great romantic comedy since its inception. Without Annie Hall there would be no When Harry Met Sally or (500) Days of Summer. The film put its stars, Diane Keaton and Allen, on the map and was a stepping stone for two of the greatest careers in cinema. For Allen in particular, it signaled a departure from his earlier films, comedies revolving around slapstick or satire (brilliant films like Bananas, Sleeper or Love and Death) and moved onto comedies with somber notes that stay with the audience long after the movie is over.

The film centers on Alvy Singer (Allen), a successful comedian who is unsuccessful in love.  After meeting Annie Hall (Keaton), Alvy falls in love for the ditzy titular character. As with most of Allen’s characters Alvy is neurotic and eventually his neurotic personality is the cause of his downfall.

The couple struggles and they split and reconcile continuously. The relationship eventually ends in a split and Annie takes on a new lover (Paul Simon – yes, THE Paul Simon). Alvy struggles with the loss of love and tries to persuade Annie to reconcile with him.

Though the ultimate faith of the relationship may be clear very early on in the movie, it is the journey of the characters and particularly the evolution of Alvy that draws you in. The film contains some of Allen’s best writing and truly heartfelt moments that make you care for the characters. This movie will make you rethink the importance of love regardless of any pain that may also come with it. And if you may be alone for a period of time, that’s alright too: “Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.”

Edited: January 26th, 2012

Brad Pitt Celebrates Oscar Nomination By Making “Pancakes for Everyone”

Brad Pitt plans on celebrating his Oscar nomination for Best Actor with pancakes.

During a call with the Today Show, the 48-year-old actor said, ”It’s gonna be pancakes for everyone this morning!”

Earlier today, Pitt was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Moneyball.

Pitt will face off against George Clooney (The Descendants), Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Jean Dujardin (The Artist) and Demian Bichir (A Better Life).

“It means so much considering this film was just dead on the rocks two years ago,” Pitt said. “It took a lot of people, a lot of artisans and craftsmen, to get it to the screen. It’s a great honor, a real tribute to Billy Beane and Oakland A’s organization. I’m really happy.”

The actor is also ecstatic that his costar Jonah Hill was also nominated.

This is Hill’s first Academy Award nomination – he was nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category.

“I’m so happy for Jonah Hill,” Pitt said. “I can’t tell you.”

Edited: January 24th, 2012

And the 2012 Oscar Nominees Are…

The 2012 Oscars nominations have been announced today!

Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence and Academy president Tom Sherak read the names of the 2012 Oscar nominees.

Hugo led the pack with 11 nods, followed closely by The Artist with 10.

The 84th Academy Awards will be presented by Billy Crystal on Feb. 26.

Check to see if your favorites were nominated below!

Anyone you wanted to be nominated but wasn’t?

Sound off in the comments!

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”
  • George Clooney in “The Descendants”
  • Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
  • Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
  • Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”
  • Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”
  • Nick Nolte in “Warrior”
  • Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
  • Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Viola Davis in “The Help”
  • Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
  • Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
  • Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”
  • Jessica Chastain in “The Help”
  • Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
  • Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

Hit the jump to see the full 2012 nominations list! (more…)

Edited: January 24th, 2012

Julia Roberts and Alec Baldwin to Star in The Normal Heart

Julia Roberts and Alec Baldwin have signed on for Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of the Tony Award-winning play The Normal Heart.

The film chronicles the rise of HIV/AIDS among New York’s gay community in the 1980s.

Roberts will play Emma Brookner, a wheel-chair bound doctor and one of the city’s few physicians who acknowledges the severity of the disease.

Baldwin will play the brother to Mark Ruffalo’s Ned Weeks. Additionally, White Collar’s Matt Bomer and Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons also have roles in the film.

Bomer will play Felix Turner, Weeks’ boyfriend and gay fashion journalist who unfortunately contracts the deadly disease. Parsons will reprise his role from the Broadway version as a Southern activist for gays and member of a gay men’s health crisis group.

Edited: January 23rd, 2012

Aretha Franklin Calls Off Wedding

Aretha Franklin, who announced that she was getting married earlier this month to William ‘Willie’ Wilkerson, has called off her wedding.

“Regretfully, To Our Friends and Supporters: Will and I have decided we were moving a little too fast, and there were a number of things that had not been thought through thoroughly. There will be no wedding at this time. We will not comment on it any further because of the very personal and sensitive nature of it. We appreciate all of the many well wishes from friends,” said Franklin and Wilkerson in a statement via People.

The pair had planned to marry this summer.

Edited: January 23rd, 2012

Reese Witherspoon Has Big Eyes for Ryan Reynolds

Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Reynolds have signed on to star in the indie drama Big Eyes.

Reynolds will play Walter Keane, a national celebrity and talk show fixture in the 1950s who pioneered the mass production of prints of big-eyed kids and used his marketing savvy to sell them cheaply in hardware stores and gas stations across the country.

Although Walter claims to be the artist, he is not. It is actually his shy wife Margaret (Witherspoon) who generates the paintings from their basement, while Walter’s simply contributes by adding his signature to the bottom.

Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski will pen the script, as well as direct the film and Tim Burton will produce.

Edited: January 23rd, 2012

Heidi Klum and Seal: We Have Decided to Separate

After almost seven years of marriage, Heidi Klum and Seal are separating.

In a statement via People, the couple said: “While we have enjoyed seven very loving, loyal and happy years of marriage, after much soul-searching we have decided to separate. We have had the deepest respect for one another throughout our relationship and continue to love each other very much, but we have grown apart. This is an amicable process and protecting the well-being of our children remains our top priority, especially during this time of transition. We thank our family, friends, and fans for their kind words of support. And for our children’s sake, we appreciate you respecting our privacy.”

The pair have 4 children – Leni, 7, Henry, 6, Johan, 5, and Lou, 2.

Edited: January 23rd, 2012

Chris Evans In Talks to Star in Snow Piercer

Captain America actor Chris Evans is in negotiations to star in Snow Piercer, a film that’s set in a world covered in snow and ice and follows a train full of travelers who struggle to co-exist.

Bon Joon-ho is said to direct the film, which he also co-wrote with Park Chan-wook.

Additionally, Tilda Swinton and Jamie Bell are also in talks to join the film.

What do you think of the plot? Something you would watch?

Edited: January 20th, 2012

Beyonce Remembers Etta James

Beyonce, who played Etta James in Cadillac Records is deeply saddened by the news that the iconic singer passed away today.

“This is a huge loss. Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time,” Beyonce said on her Web site. “I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime. Playing Etta James taught me so much about myself, and singing her music inspired me to be a stronger artist. When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear her pain and triumph. Her deeply emotional way of delivering a song told her story with no filter. She was fearless, and had guts. She will be missed.”

Etta died today (Jan. 20) due to her long-time struggle with leukemia.

Edited: January 20th, 2012

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