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Looking For Love In All the Wrong Places

Monday, January 31, 2011

This is exciting. My first review of screener. Does this mean I'm selling out? Oh, who cares! I don't. I welcome it. Just think. I may soon be sent screeners of Oscar hopefuls and the biggest movies to come out. That probably won't happen for... ever, so, for now, I'll just stick with what I have. Beggars can't be choosers. For my first screener, I have to tackle the question of internet dating and all the qualms it brings. Clickin' For Love seeks to answer some of the questions that plague this hobby of some, and while it does shed some light on some aspects, it's too narrow minded about the whole thing, and, as such, all we are left with is a pretty biased documentary.

So, like pretty much all docs, this one goes about it's business by sitting a bunch of people down and having them tell their stories. Said stories run the gamut of internet daters, from the California teenager who met a guy through Counter-Strike, the 40 actress looking for some European hunk, the swinger looking to make a commitment, to the guy just trying it out for the first time. Though the stories are varied, they don't really provide all that much insight into the whole medium. Pretty much everyone getting interviewed went in with a open mind, got hurt or weirded out at some point, but come out with a pretty optimistic attitude of the whole thing. There's not really anyone interviewed who views the whole internet dating thing as a bad thing. While I get that the point of the film is to paint online dating in a much better light than it is usually made out to be, the film hamstrings itself by not providing counter arguments. It makes the arguments it does make seem less genuine. That's what my english teachers tell me when they talk about formulating arguments in essays. I'm now inclined to agree.

The cast of characters lined up to provide stories is varied and lively. Many of them are just basic people looking for love, though many of them have some pretty zany stories. There was a guy who was offered $100,000 for each kid that he fathered by his current girlfriend. Needless to say he got out of there kind of fast. Those are good, but then there are some people who don't succeed quite as well. There's one guy, a single guy with three kids, who is looking for a new GF. How does he go about this? By banging pretty much everyone he goes out with. Ok, that's fine. That's his life choice, and I have no right to judge him. But many of the things he said just came off as sleazy, crass, and a little misogynistic. It made any point he might have been trying to get across null and void because I just turned off whenever he was talking because I didn't want to listen to him anymore. And I'm sorry, but the thing with Ali going to his first blind date just seemed staged.

The two most authentic people here are two women. One of them, Colleen, hasn't had much luck in the dating department, and is now living with an ex. Don't worry. It's platonic. She didn't have some weird thing about spiritual beliefs and she wasn't sleazy in any sense. Her stories resonated because they were some of the few seemed 100% real. The other one who I connected with was Judy Garland. No, not that Judy Garland. She told a story about how she met her soul mate online, and then how was unfairly stolen from her suddenly due to a heart problem. Her statement that seeing people on Match.com that she had seen many years previously was a grim sight indeed. It meant that no one was finding anyone.

Maybe I'm being unfair. This is a subject I'm already biased in. I view online dating as a perfectly viable option, but in taking part, you lose many of the things that make finding the right person such an exciting prospect. Seeing someone from across the room who interests you is a much more gratifying feeling than seeing their picture online. But, that's just me, and, like I've said many times before here, I'm young, so my opinions may very well change in the future.

Clinkin' For Love carries the tagline, "Reboot your perspective on internet dating!" My perspective wasn't rebooted. The film doesn't really provide anything new on the whole online dating thing community that comes with it. Alternate perspectives from people who, say, found their soul mate the old fashioned way, or someone who abhors the whole idea, would have been nice. It would have provided some nice counter context for the stories being told .We don't get any of that, and the result is that the film takes one side and doesn't really veer from that side. It's worth a look, is pretty entertaining in some moments, and a few of the stories do ring true. You just come away feeling empty afterwards. No new context is really provided. It's not a deconstruction of online dating. It's more like a hyper critical advertisement.

Before I leave you, a brief message to director Pablo Pappano: PLEASE DON'T HATE ME!!

For more on Clickin' For Love, be sure to check out the website here.

To the EXTREME!!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Brace yourselves. I'm gonna be using the word EXTREME a lot in this review.

Over the years, I've deluded myself into thinking that I am a, as Mattie Ross would say, man of grit. I'd like to think that I would go to great lengths to preserve my well being, and even further lengths to preserve the well being of those I hold dear. But who am I kidding. I'm a pussy, and would no doubt fold at signs of trouble. Which makes the envy the living hell out of Aron Ralston, quite possibly the most EXTREMEly badass person to ever live. His story generated a lot of attention, and has now been immortalized, quite spectacularly, by Danny Boyle in 127 Hours. Boyle's follow up to his Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire is even better than that film, wildly inventive, full of heart and spirit, with a tour de force performance from James Franco. Getting pinned by unmovable rocks sucks... at least I think it does... but the movie about that is pretty friggin' EXTREME!


On a sunny day in 2003, Aron Ralston sets out into canyonland, USA, for an EXTREME weekend day of getting lost in nature. Outside of a chance encounter with a pair of female hikers, Aron is completely alone, and that's just the way he likes it. So much so, that he didn't even tell anyone where he was going. It's alright though, since Aron is a champ at all this hiking, climbing, and canyoneering. But, even the greatest pro runs into a snag every now and then. Unfortunately, Aron's snag is just a tad worse than a leg cramp or nasty sunburn. Well into his journey, and with no one anywhere near him, a falling rock pins Aron's arm to the rock wall. Try as he might, he can't get it loose. As the hours tick by, Aron reflects on his past life, and readies himself for the end. But, giving up is not in the books for the good Ralston, who goes to incredible lengths to survive.

Y'all know the story, so I guess any sense of surprise is thrown out the window from the second you sit down. That being said, it's a surprisingly amazing work of story telling. For the most part, the entire movie is set in one little crack in the earth, with only one guy populating said crack. But, despite that stagnant description, the story of 127 Hours is gripping and moving. Boyle and screenwriting buddy Simon Beaufoy do a bang up job adapting Ralston's memoir to the screen. It's an EXTREMEly good job! That Oscar nom was well deserved.

There's only one person worth talking about, since there's only one person in the movie. James Franco was gradually breaking out of his self righteous, man douche, military loving roles with decent comedic roles (Pineapple Express) and strong dramatic stuff (Milk). He's on a-whole-nother level with 127 Hours. As Aron, he's charismatic, compelling, and downright EXTREME!!! One man shows are always tricky, especially in the filmic medium, but Franco knocks it out of the park!

Other people who show up for a grand total of 20 minutes include Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn as two friends whom Aron shows the sights, and Clemence Posey as his former girlfriend. They aren't there  for long enough to make an impression, but they still do a good job with the stuff they have.

It's a one man show, and the one man is spectacular. His supporting players, if you can call them that, perform well enough, but it's Franco's show. Colin Firth all but has the Oscar, but if anyone is going to challenge him, it's Franco. He's that EXTREME!!!


I've said it before; I'll say it again! Danny Boyle is the most versatile director ever. Where most directors fall into a routine, directing the same kind of things in the same genre over and over again. Not Boyle. He's too EXTREME for that. He's done drug fueled freakfests, the zombie apocalypse, mind bending sci-fi, and Bollywood. Here's he's handled the "nature as an antagonist" genre, and does a fantastic job with it. Rather than just shoot the film traditionally, with standard shots, Boyle utilizes his unique aesthetic touch to make this one of the most engrossing movies of 2010. 127 Hours is a wildly inventive and excessively frenetic film movie, with some seriously EXTREME sequences. Splitting shots so that multiple show up in the same frame is utilized to a great effect, turning the movie from a boring tale of staying still, to a trippy tale of survival. His use of color is EXTREME, using all the brilliant hues of orange, yellow, brown, and blue that make up canyonland, USA.

And then, there's the scene. Y'all know what I'm talking about. That point in the end of the movie where the shit gets real and Aron shows off just how EXTREME he can be! It's about as realistic as it could be. All those people who reportedly fainted when they saw it? I was almost one of them. Like, seriously! It's stomach churning! Like, Boyle could have just made it of Aron hacking away, with plenty of fake blood, but oh no. He's too EXTREME for that! So, instead, he shows Aron breaking his bones, tearing into his flesh, pulling out arteries, and ripping out his nerve. The scene makes your skin crawl, thanks to some nifty sound work and Franco's ridiculously realistic portrayal of pain. You will curl up in a ball and hold your arm, reassuring yourself that you will never have to go through something like that.

127 Hours is a great movie. If you ask me, Slumdog Millionaire wasn't that big of an act to follow, despite the fact that it's still a good movie. Boyle tops it and then some. His kinetic and stylish directing style is in full force, his aesthetic touch has never been better. With a spectacular performance from James Franco, Boyle further solidifies his place as one of the modern greats. All kidding aside though, 127 Hours is a wonderfully moving tale about realizing the important things in life, and the human drive to survive at all costs. Aron Ralston is an EXTREME man! Only a director as EXTREME as Boyle could have told his story. They were made for each other.

EXTREME Count: 22

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com

Other Sides to the Conversation: Week of January 28th

Friday, January 28, 2011

Well, with Oscar noms out, there's not a whole lot of varied content flying around the blogosphere as of now. It's all "nomination this" and "snub that", and "oh look, here's the first Anne Hathaway/James Franco promo."

Actually, that's pretty funny! I really hope Franco does that if there is a wardrobe malfunction. Anyway, here are some things upon which you can click which will take to you to new things which you can read.

Hatter looks back on 2010 in still frames, giving out his favorite still images of the year.

James saw The Way Back, and thought it was pretty swell.

I'd be remiss if I didn't have an Oscar thoughts post for this week, so here are Peter's thoughts.

Andrew's been going through his Encore Awards for 2010. Here are his nominations and winners for Best Opening.

Before I leave you, I just want to remind you that The 1st Annual Snubbies have commenced, and if you have not voted, you totally should. The winners will be announced on Feb. 28th, the day after the Oscars, so you have plenty of time. Come on! Plenty of underrepresented films are given their just deserves. What's not to like?

Cya around the Black Hole folks.

According to the Movies #22

Thursday, January 27, 2011

If the movies say it, it must be true!

So, Scott Pilgrim has defeated most of Ramona's evil exes, using various techniques that will no doubt be turned into additions to this feature someday. On ex numbers 5 and 6, however, he must employ different methods. As he is unable to use his fists, since punch the competition in a Battle of the Bands is totally not cool, he must resort to pummeling his foes with the awesome power of music? His weapon of choice? Distortion. Take a look...

The Lesson: Distortion makes the world good... and it summons yetis... with which you can beat the crap out of people... \m/ \m/

FFTSBH Presents: The 1st Annual Snubbies

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lame title, I know. It's the best I could come up with. I'm open to suggestions.

Well, the Oscar noms are out, and they cannot be changed, much as we would like to. Ordinarily, I would just do the traditional thing, that is, write up a post detailing who I think should have been nominated for something, like I did last year. But a recent article from Univarn got me thinking. It's so boring to just do a post with your own opinions, because everyone who follows you probably already knows them already. I mean, I could go on and on about how Nolan should have been nominated for Best Director, Garfield should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor, or how Let Me In should have been nominated for everything under the sun, but that's just not fun anymore! So, I thought I'd mix it up.

May I present the 1st Annual Snubbies. You heard it right, folks. This is the place where all the films snubbed by the Academy gets it just deserves! And, like the Academy, you will pick the winner. I've gone ahead and made up a list of nominees in each category that had chances (or I just really liked), but didn't make the cut, for whatever reason. Voting will remain open until February 28th, when the winners will be announced. That's right, the day after the Oscars are handed out, we're gonna swoop in and steal all their thunder with the help of the underrepresented. It's gonna be a trip!

Haha. Snub pistol. Get it?

Best Snubbed Picture
The Ghost Writer
Let Me In
Never Let Me Go
Shutter Island
The Town

Best Snubbed Director
Ben Affleck (The Town)
Danny Boyle (127 Hours)
Christopher Nolan (Inception)
Matt Reeves (Let Me In)
Martin Scorcese (Shutter Island)

Best Snubbed Actress
Lesley Manville (Another Year)
Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right)
Chloe Moretz (Let Me In)
Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go)
Noomi Rapace (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)

Best Snubbed Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio (Shutter Island)
Robert Duvall (Get Low)
Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine)
Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In)
Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter)

Best Snubbed Supporting Actress
Dale Dickey (Winter's Bone)
Rebecca Hall (The Town)
Barbara Hershey (Black Swan)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Diane Wiest (Rabbit Hole)

Best Snubbed Supporting Actor 
Vincent Cassel (Black Swan)
Matt Damon (True Grit)
Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
Armie Hammer (The Social Network)
Justin Timberlake (The Social Network)

Best Snubbed Original Screenplay
Animal Kingdom
Black Swan
Blue Valentine
Get Low
Made In Dagenham

Best Snubbed Adapted Screenplay
The Ghost Writer
Let Me In
Never Let Me Go
Rabbit Hole
The Town

Well, there you go. Have at it! Tell all your friends; I want as many votes as possible. The winners will be announced on Feb. 28th, the day after the Oscars, so you have plenty of time. Get to it! Looking forward to hearing from you. 


Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Well, 37 out of 45 ain't terrible. Rejoice peoples! The nominations are here! Oscar has named the films in contention for this year's Academy Awards. For the most part, they were pretty much in line with what I predicted. There were some pretty big surprises, though. But, enough banter. Let's get started.

Best Picture
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

No qualms with this one. I fully expected The Town to get ousted in favor of Winter's Bone. It doesn't really matter though. It's probably still going to be The Social Network, but The King's Speech might pull an upset.

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit)
David Fincher (The Social Network)
Tom Hooper (The King's Speech)
David O. Russell (The FIghter)

Uhhh... what? Don't get me wrong. I kind of expected one of my five predicted noms to get dropped in favor of the Coens. But not in a million years would I predict that the one that got dropped would be Christopher Nolan. So much for him being liked by the Academy now. I really don't get it? What is it with the Academy in nominated action directors. Seriously. If the movie isn't and epic, action has no place with these twerps. They say DGA noms are shoe ins for the Academy. Try telling that Nolan (three DGA noms, zero Oscar noms). Ai-yi-yi.

Best Actress
Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

Right one the money with this one! Portman is still gonna win. No Strings Attached hasn't hurt her that much.

Best Actor
Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Colin Firth (The King's Speech)
James Franco (127 Hours)

Huh, that interesting. I did not see Bardem getting nominated at all. He has no chance of winning, but his nod here virtually guarantees that his film wins Best Foreign. Other than that, business as usual. Firth is the front runner, but I think Franco could pull ahead. Franco also gives the better performance, but more on that later in the week.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Jackie Weaver (Animal Kingdom)

Oh well, bummer for Kunis. She'll get her chance. Not to worry. I still think it's bullshit that Steinfeld is getting nominated here and not in Best Actress where she belongs, but, I won't dwell on it. It's better than not getting noticed at all. Good for Weaver though. I'm still predicting a win for Leo, but anyone could take it, honestly.

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale (The Fighter)
John Hawkes (Winter's Bone)
Jeremy Renner (The Town)
Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right)
Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech)

Ok! Ok, woah! What the hell? Where is Andrew Garfield? This is the only snub I'm actually a little angry about, apart from Nolan. How could they pass him up. He was so good! I haven't seen Winter's Bone, so I know nothing of John Hawkes, but I'm hard pressed to believe he's as good as Garfield was. Whatever. Bale is gonna win.

Best Original Screenplay
Another Year (Mike Leigh)
The Fighter (Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington)
Inception (Christopher Nolan)
The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg)
The King's Speech (David Seidler)

Inception better win here! I still think it will, since I think the Academy wants to notice Nolan somehow. I swear, I will flip a shit if Kids wins! It doesn't deserve it!

Best Adapted Screenplay
127 Hours (Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy)
The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)
Toy Story 3 (Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich)
True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen)
Winter's Bone (Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini)

Wow, I done fucked up on this one, correctly guessing only three of the five. Doesn't matter though; they didn't even need to have this award. They might as well have just given it to Sorkin this morning.

So... yeah. There they are. For the most part, the Academy got it right. I just can't fathom how they won't recognize Christopher Nolan, despite how good his movies are. But, that's a topic for another day. Scoring a respectable 82% on my predictions, we have entered into the final stage. 33 days and counting. See ya then!

Cinematic Captions #5

Alright folks! Cleverness caps on! Time to impress me!

But fist, the winner!

Honorable Mention: "WHERE ARE THE KIIIIIIIIIIIDS!?!" (Courtesy of Simon)

And the winner is...

...Castor, for the second week in a row!

The Leaderboard

Castor (2)
Simon (1)
Fletch (1)

Ok, here's this weeks...

Amuse me!

My Pitch

Monday, January 24, 2011

Castor over at Anomolous Material loves hosting the odd event every now and then. The current one is one of the most popular, bringing people together and stirring the creative juices. "Pitch Your Movie" has a group of bloggers each come up with an original movie, whether it be from the depths of their imagination, a remake, or an adaptation. The first step was to cast your film, which was achieved by a fantasy draft of sorts, in which you select your stars and director from the vast and bottomless vat of Hollywood big shots. The you write up your pitch, and send it along, after which people rate it, and the highest rated pitches will go head to head in an all battle to determine which is the best.

Mine just went up. You can find it here. It's a little long, and I apologize for that. I opted for a blow by blow of a plot summary rather than a quick synopsis. I like details, man! Don't be hatin'!

Anyway, if you'd be so kind, head over to AM and offer your two cents. Be sure to give a star rating at the bottom. That's what's gonna propel me into the competition. Anyway. That's all. Stay cool!

Oh, here's the poster I made for it!

Trailer Trash: Brotherhood

Time to root through some trailers. What sorts of wonderful things will be alluded to today?

People ask me why I never want to join a fraternity... If only they knew...

Brotherhood concerns a bunch of pledges to some random frat at some random college. As with all frats, the pledges have to do some ridiculous things to get in. Unlike most other frats, those things include robbery, hostage taking, and murder. Interesting way to prove your loyalty, but I guess it's an effective way to single out the men from the boys... At least, that's the rationale of the kids in the frat. Something goes wrong int he robbery and the shit hits the fan. And you thought your college years were bad.

I don't know anyone in here. Sorry.

The trailer is pretty cool. It's stylish without being overbearing, exciting without giving too much away, and realistic without going too gritty. The movie looks interesting, that much is certain. I imagine it's going to be a hard one to find, but, if it's anything like the trailer, it should be worth a look.

Also, was I the only one who roared with laughter when the doctor they bring in is just a med student?

The Black Hole Predicts...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

With only three days to go before Oscar nominations are released, it's time for me to chime in with my oh so meticulously selected predictions. Let the merriment being.

Best Picture

The Social Network
The King's Speech
The Fighter
Black Swan
Toy Story 3
True Grit
The Kids Are All Right
The Town 
127 Hours

The Social Network has all but won this one. If was choosing the winners, I'd go with Black Swan, but Fincher's tale of socially inept geniuses has far too much momentum to be stopped now. Winter's Bone might squeeze in here, ousting Hours, Town, or Kids, but I think the fact that it is a little under seen and doesn't boast any instantly recognizable stars will hurt it in the end.

Best Director 

David Fincher (The Social Network)
Tom Hooper (The King's Speech)
Christopher Nolan (Inception)
Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
David O' Russell (The Fighter)

Another win for The Social Network is all but guaranteed here. Fincher has a big head start, and the fact that he has been passed up for the win before can only help his chances. If anyone can challenge him, it's Nolan, but something tells me that the Inception will have to grab its awards elsewhere.

Best Actress 

Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone)
Annette Benning (The Kids Are All Right)
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

Natalie Portman is going to win, so there's really no point in talking about anyone else.

Best Actor 

Colin Firth (The King's Speech)
Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
James Franco (127 Hours)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine)

Firth is the likely winner here, but I could very easily see Franco ousting him. I'm putting Gosling here instead of Robert Duvall for Get Low, because of the amount of buzz Blue Valentine has been generating over the past few weeks.

Best Supporting Actress 

Helena Bonham-Carter (The King's Speech)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)

This one is the hardest to call of the major awards; there's no clear winner. I will place my bet for Leo though. The Academy passed her up once before... although they've done that as well with Carter and Adams... I just don't know. I am gonna be calling bullshit if Steinfeld does get nominated here, since she's a Lead Actress (in every scene, mind you), but, it will be nice to see her work recognized.

Best Supporting Actor 

Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
Jeremy Renner (The Town)
Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech)
Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right)

Christian Bale pretty much has this one in the bag, but, sue me, I could still see the Academy going for Garfield. It's a toss up between those two. No one else has a shot.

Best Original Screenplay 

Inception (Christopher Nolan)
The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg)
Black Swan (Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, & John McLaughlin)
The Kings Speech (David Seidler)
The Fighter (Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, & Eric Johnson)

Call me crazy, but I'm predicting a win for Inception here. It's already got a few screenplay awards, and with The Social Network far away in adapted land, the field is much more level. Kids may take it, but I think the Academy wants to recognize Nolan with something major. Why not this?

Best Adapted Screenplay 

The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)
Winter's Bone (Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini)
True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen)
The Town (Ben Affleck, Peter Craig, & Aaron Stockard)
The Ghost Writer (Robert Harris & Roman Polanski)

Again, not a competition. Aaron has probably already cleared some space on the mantle for this baby.

Uhhhh... what else? Toy Story 3 will win Best Animated (which shall now be called the Pixar Award), Inception, Alice In Wonderland, Iron Man 2, and TRON will fight over the technicals, and something from Burlesque will win Best Original Song. Here's to hoping that both The Social Network and Tron: Legacy are nominated for Best Original Score, if only because it would be awesome to see Trent Reznor and Daft Punk at the Academy Awards.

Film That Won't Get Nominated For Anything Even Though It Totally Should Have Been Nominated for Pretty Much Everything? 
Uhhhhh... obviously, Let Me In.

Follow up to this on Tuesday. See you then.

The Real Culprit

Friday, January 21, 2011

George Lucas has apparently made it his life's mission to ruin my childhood!

Other Sides of the Conversation: Week of January 21

All sorts of madness going down right about now. Golden Globes, and my esteemed lack of interest. Term starts up in a few days, so the amount of posts may go down, but I hope not. Oh, you may notice the new comment thing. That's Disqus, and it's awesome. Get it if you don't have it! The new year is full swing and people are, more or less, back on their usual routines.


Here are some things upon which you click, which will take you to new things, upon which you can read. Enjoy.

Vancetastic takes a look at why a badass like Samuel L. Jackson never gets laid on screen.

Kai lists off the reasons why he is Marvel.

Univarn's Life gets a bit crazy and existential.

Andrew looks at how Oscar is blown out of proportion.

And another thing...

You may have noticed a new tab below the "Best Of What's Around" one, titled "Blogs About Other Things, Written By Other Friends, Which You Should All Totally Go To Because I Say So". Bit of a mouthful, but I like it! Those links are to blogs that friends of mine on the outside of the filmic universe keep. They are really good, and some of them are just starting out, and would appreciate some love. Just a thought...

Still On the Rise

Thursday, January 20, 2011

We've a new piece of info, and it's juicy!

That's right, we have a new cast member and two confirmed characters for The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan's last Batman movie.

First up, we have Anne Hathaway, who has officially been cast as Selina Kyle. Fans of the franchise will know that Kyle has a secret identity, that of the leather clad, feline friendly, Catwoman. Interesting how they say she is cast as Selina Kyle, and just Selina Kyle. No mention of Catwoman was made in the official press release. Maybe Nolan is just bringing the character in and not introducing her masked other side, but that seems a little far fetched. Warner Bros. is probably just leaving the name Catwoman out so as not to invite comparisons to what will forever be known as the thing that killed Halle Berry's career. That's just good marketing on their part. It has also been reported that the role of Catwoman will serve the purpose of filling the void left by the exiling of Batman, and it will be her vigilante activities that bring the caped crusader out of hiding. Interesting...


Next up, Tom Hardy, who has already been cast for a good while now, has been confirmed to be playing Bane. This gives me pause. Up until now, Nolan's films have dealt with villains that could very easily fit into the real world. Ok, Scarecrow was pushing it a little bit, and seeing Harvey Dent walk around with that much exposed flesh raised an eyebrow here and there, but regardless. The antagonists have always been very grounded in the here and now. Bane is a bit of a departure from that. Bane, in the comics, is injected with a serum called Venom, which builds his muscles to crazy sizes and gives him the strength of a freight train. That seems a little too far fetched for Nolan's hyper realistic universe.

Although, if anyone can come up with a believable way to bring the character into the film, it would be Nolan. If his past few films have taught us anything, it's that he can take the far fetched and make it real, and that he never includes anything with out a reason. Scoff all you want about Two-Face's inclusion in The Dark Knight; it was necessary to tell the story he wanted to tell. I think, given the right platform, Bane could turn into a very memorable villain. Though I would have preferred it if Hardy played Hugo Strange - which would make complete sense. I mean, he friggin' looks like him - I have no doubt that he and Nolan will do the character as much justice as Schumacher did in Batman & Robin. (Note the sarcasm)

Add a mask and more muscle? Just think of the possibilities!

No word yet on whether Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, or Gary Oldman will return to their respective characters, but it's expected. I mean, they'd have to be the biggest turkeys in the world to not take the role. I'm still holding out hope that maybe Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt will make their way in here somehow, but it's looking more and more grim with each passing day. The verdict is still out on if Eva Green will take the role of Tali Al Ghul, which I would totally be down for, although, at that point, the project will be straddling the "too many villain" line that so many threequels cross. Who knows though...

And that's it.

According to the Movies #21

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

If the movies say it, it must be true!

Most sports movies these days end with the team/person winning. Understandable, since most everyone who goes to a sports movie wants to see their hero overcome the obstacles and defeat the competition as painfully cliched sweeping music plays in the background. But, what if they don't win...

In Coach Carter, the team has made it to the playoffs. Only the best of California's high school teams made the cut, and Richmond was one of them. They enter the first round, and play their hearts out. With seconds left to go, they are in the lead, when suddenly, as the buzzer sounds, a player on the opposing team shoots and scores a three, handing Richmond a loss and a quick exit from the tournament.

Hold on, what? A sports movie where the main team loses? Wow, that's ballsy.

Except, it's not at all, because all the contrived bullshit that comes when the team wins is still there, all the lessons learned. Not good at all!

The Lesson: If, by some cruel twist of fate, you, the sports figure, loses, it's alright, cuz it's really just about family and friendship and lessons learned and all dat crap!

Cinematic Captions #4

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Alright folks! Cleverness caps on! Time to impress me!

But first, the big reveal! Who won last week?

Runner Up: "lasers shooting out of eyes (too hard to photoshop that. sorry)" (Courtesy of Aiden)

And the winner is... Castor!

The Leaderboard

Simon (1)
Fletch (1)
Castor (1)

Alright, next round. Here ya go!

Amuse me!

Trailer Trash: Take Me Home Tonight

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's time to root through some trailers. What sorts of wonderful things will be alluded to today?

Thank God I didn't live in the 80s. I don't know if I could have survived the music!

On the cusp of finally having to suck it up and be a man, Matt instead opts to continue on with his pathetic existence, wasting away at a video outlet and squandering all that good stuff that a school like MIT puts into you. When his unrequited high school crush saunters in one day and invites him to a party, he takes this as a sign that he may actually be able to get with her. Dragging along his bitchy sister and annoying best friend, he rolls up to the party in a sweet ride (which he stole), bumping "Straight Out of Compton", and lookin' fly! Shenanigans occur and shit goes down. You know, like any party in the 80s.

The cast includes Topher Grace, Dan Fogler, Anna Faris, and Theresa Palmer. I would say that this is a prime comedy cast, but then I realize that, with the exception of Grace, no one in the cast is actually funny. Uh-oh. But Michael "I'm Kyle Reese and Dwayne Hicks, So I Could Kick Your Ass Just By Blinking, So Fuck You" Biehn is in it. Interesting...

The trailer is fairly stupid, not gonna lie. It's rarely funny, has a slew of cringe worthy moments, and the music. OH GOD, THE MUSIC!!! Since the title is ripped from an 80s classic, and the promos are all capitalizing on the soundtrack, 80s music is going to feature heavily in this thing, which makes want to fellatiate a gun barrel; I HATE 80s MUSIC!!!!

If anything is going to save this film, it's going to be Topher Grace, who is, in my mind, a master of the deadpan. His dry, sardonic wit has shone brightly in other things like In Good Company or Predators. Hell, he was even alright in Spider-Man 3, and his character in that is responsible for the downfall of that whole movie! If the movie will work, it'll be because of him. I'm not gonna hold my breath though. I have low expectations for this one.


Oh! You were expecting a Golden Globes follow up?

Not gonna happen. I'm gonna save my awards coverage for something more deserving. PEACE!

What activates a supermassive black hole?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

There's good evidence that massive black holes exist at the centers of most large galaxies having a central bulge, and even within galaxies that lack a central bulge, are small, or have an irregular form. Such black holes can range in size up to more than 10 billion solar masses (M). Little is known about what the average or typical mass of a central black hole is, although most are probably a lot smaller, such as that of Sagittarius A* in our galaxy, which is only ~4.2×106 M.

Four million solar masses is still pretty hefty, so such objects are usually called supermassive black holes (SMBHs), as opposed to black holes that form as supernova remnants and are only at most a few M. It's not known exactly how SMBHs form and evolve. One clue is that most seem to reside in non-dwarf galaxies with a regular shape and a noticeable central bulge. This suggests that SMBHs form and evolve in tandem with the bulge. However, there are exceptions, such as one discussed here: Supermassive black hole in a dwarf galaxy. Another survey of small (under 1010 M) inactive galaxies in the Virgo cluster found that at least 24% had an X-ray-emitting SMBH.

Since a black hole emits little or no radiation directly, even SMBHs are difficult to detect at distances of millions of light years, unless they are surrounded by a substantial amount of gas and dust that is heated enough in the process of falling into the SMBH that it can strongly emit radiation on its own or produce other detectable effects, like jets. Objects that fall in this category are active galactic nuclei (AGN). In most cases only SMBHs that are active as AGNs are readily detectable, so these are the only specimens we know much at all about.

I've discussed AGN a lot, most recently here, here, here, here, here.

In order to study how SMBHs form and evolve we pretty much have to rely on studies of AGNs, which can provide many clues about this issue. Unfortunately, we don't know much about what causes a relatively quiescent SMBH to become active and turn into an AGN. It's this latter question that's addressed, indirectly, by the research to be discussed here.

But first let's back up to SMBHs in general. There are several interrelated questions concerning their origin and evolution. What accounts for their formation and periods of rapid growth? Do they form before, after, or in parallel with the formation of the galaxies in which they reside? What stimulates their intense outbursts of energy as AGNs or quasars?

The most basic question is: What are the typical ways that SMBHs grow? Possible answers include merger between smaller SMBHs, slow but steady accretion of matter from the surrounding galaxy, or bursts of rapid accretion when substantial amounts of gas and dust are swept up by the SMBH.

Each of these questions, among others, stimulates intense debates among astrophysicists who study such things. These questions are interesting and important not just for their own sake. Since there is a lot of evidence that the evolution of a galaxy and of its central SMBH occur in tandem, understanding the evolution of the SMBH helps us understand that of the whole galaxy.

The research we're concerned with here was designed to study the question by surveying a large number of galaxies that can be examined in some detail because they are not too distant. In this case, that means having a redshift z≤1. That corresponds to a distance (measured in light travel time) of about 7.7 billion light years – a little more than half the size of the visible universe. Since the research needs to examine the visible form of the object, anything farther away is too distant for even the Hubble telescope to resolve in sufficient detail. Also, at z=1 all light from the visible part of the spectrum is shifted to infrared, which Hubble's optics aren't optimized for.

An AGN produces quite energetic radiation across most of the electromagnetic spectrum. So, at least in most cases, it is a sign of the rapid burst model of growth mentioned above. This is typically just a relatively short phase in the life of the galaxy-black hole combination – on the order of a hundred million years or so. That's based on the observation that only about 1% (very roughly) of large galaxies are in this phase, over the 13.7-billion year age of the visible universe. Whether this represents the only mode of growth, or even the bulk of it, is the big unknown. And of course, if there are SMBHs that grow by modes other than rapid accretion, we won't even detect them as AGN.

The standard model of AGNs, which is pretty well accepted by the astrophysical community, is that rapid accretion of interstellar gas and dust around a SMBH is what powers the AGN's "engine". Presumably, then, the AGN goes quiet when most of the available gas and dust has been consumed. But that leaves the question of what initiates the process in the first place. Since there are still many AGNs that are active in the universe out to z=1, so that the galaxies involved have been growing for at least 5 billion years since the early days of the universe, AGNs could not have been active for their entire lives. Therefore, something happened at some point to trigger the activity we observe now.

Astrophysicists want to know what that something is. At least initially, there is much more gas and dust spread throughout the galaxy than in the center. Something has to happen to cause that matter to lose its angular momentum so it can fall into the center. One popular hypothesis has been that this process is triggered by mergers between mature galaxies of roughly equal size, as the gas and dust perturbed by the merger falls inward and is swept up by the central black holes (which might merge themselves). Up until now, there has not been a large-scale investigation of this hypothesis.

Now we have one: The bulk of the black hole growth since z~1 occurs in a secular universe: No major merger-AGN connection. (Available at the arXiv: 1009.3265v2.)

A sample of 140 AGNs was selected for examination. Another sample of 1264 inactive galaxies, carefully matched in size, distance, etc. was also selected for comparison. The only reliable indication of an ongoing merger is a visible distortion of the object's shape, so this is taken as a proxy for the occurrence of a merger. However, the galaxies observed could be undergoing "minor" mergers that don't result in visible distortion (considering how far away most selected objects are). And on the other hand, there's no way to be sure that an object's observable distortion is due to a merger. So the conservative view is that this research is looking at the correlation between galaxy activity and distortion of shape.

There are two specific questions addressed by the research: (1) How many AGN have a distorted structure that appears to be the result of a galactic merger? (2) Do AGNs show any significant difference in terms of visible distortion from otherwise comparable inactive galaxies?

The first question is about whether mergers that produce distortions are a necessary condition for an AGN. Since fewer than 15% of AGNs have visible distortion, the answer is clearly "no". The second question concerns whether a merger that produces distortion is sufficient to trigger an AGN. Since there was no significant difference between AGNs and a control set of non-AGNs in terms of frequency of visible distortion, it seems that whatever causes a distorted form (such as a merger) is not a significant cause for triggering an AGN.

Bottom line: Not only are distortion-producing mergers unnecessary for triggering an AGN, they do not even seem to be a significant cause. One way to think of it is as a visible symptom of some underlying process that might otherwise be hard to detect. (A medical example would be a cancer, whose presence might be indicated by physical symptoms or biochemical markers in the blood.) In the present case, it appears that having a distorted form isn't a symptom usually exhibited by a galaxy when an AGN is present - and in fact, it doesn't predict the presence of an AGN at all.

It is important to be able to identify reliable symptoms, because a galaxy may have an AGN that is not readily detectable directly. Many AGNs are not intense radio sources, presumably because they do not have significant jet structures. And unless we are viewing the galaxy more or less face-on, radiation at shorter wavelengths can be blocked by a thick torus of gas and dust surrounding the central engine of the AGN.

Not all important questions are answered by this study. For example, galaxy mergers that do not significantly distort galactic structure – perhaps involving the cannibalism of a small galaxy by a large one – might play an important role in triggering an AGN.

The results of this research are surprising, because they seem to rule out distortion-producing galaxy mergers as an important cause of AGNs – the previous general assumption. However, it shouldn't be concluded that galaxy collisions can never produce AGNs, let alone SMBHs. There is still the question of whether a SMBH can form "from scratch" without some sort of "seed". It could be that very large black holes formed in the very first instants after the big bang, as "primordial" black holes. (See here, for example. Further possibility for the formation of seed black holes are discussed here.)

However, a simulation study reported last year in Nature (here) showed that in the early universe, SMBHs could form directly from galaxy collisions. But conditions at that time were very different – there was much more gas around that hadn't formed into stars, and a much larger single mass of gas could accumulate without forming stars. Time permitting, as usual, I'd like to discuss this research in another post.

This post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for ResearchBlogging.org
Cisternas, M., Jahnke, K., Inskip, K., Kartaltepe, J., Koekemoer, A., Lisker, T., Robaina, A., Scodeggio, M., Sheth, K., Trump, J., Andrae, R., Miyaji, T., Lusso, E., Brusa, M., Capak, P., Cappelluti, N., Civano, F., Ilbert, O., Impey, C., Leauthaud, A., Lilly, S., Salvato, M., Scoville, N., & Taniguchi, Y. (2011).
The Astrophysical Journal, 726 (2) DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/726/2/57

Further reading:

Where's DiCaprio?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sharp Dressed Man

Friday, January 14, 2011

Precocious Much?
Hollywood, though it has been good to us, is a cruel beast at heart. I mean, seriously! Yes, it's been a few years since Spider-Man 3 came out, though, if your like me, you've erased that excuse for a superhero movie from your head. But, a few years is like dog years in Hollywood. Hell, they waited 28, that's right, 28, before finally deciding to bless us with a Tron sequel. So, why do they think that a Spider-Man reboot - not sequel, reboot - is a good idea?

What? Nothing?

Oh well, I guess it's not really important. What's done is done, and we'll just have to live with it. I'm actually cautiously optimistic about the retcon of the web slinging teenager. First, they have Mark Webb, the director of my favorite movie from the past decade, behind the camera, which sounds perfect to me. On the other hand, that (500) Days of Summer, which didn't feature a single explosion or pitched action scene. Uh-oh.

If anything seals the deal for me, it's that Andrew Garfield is playing Peter Parker. Garfield wowed everyone with his sublime performances in The Social Network and Never Let Me Go last year, so I have no doubt he'll be able to do the Marvel icon justice.

And then there's this...

... and that looks pretty cool. Based on this picture, this version of Spider-Man looks to be a lot grimmer and darker than the campy, cheese filled Raimi movies. Hell! Garfield actually has a wound (of sorts) on his face, which is a lot more than Tobey Macguire ever received. Maybe they are going the Chris-Nolan-Batman route and making it hyper gritty. I don't particularly think that this will work for them, but, you never know. Either way, I'm interested. 


Other Sides To the Conversation: Week of January 13th

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I figured I should probably start doing one of these. You know, share the love, as it were. I mean, everyone else it writing such great stuff, and how do I thank them! I'm a bastard, I know, but I'm trying to redeem myself, man! It's hard work!

Anyway, this'll become a weekly thing in the vein of Hatter's Everyone's Talking feature. So, for your reading pleasure, here are some things upon which you click, and they will take you to new things, which you can read! Enjoy!

Fletch is back! 5 posts in 6 days? Say it ain't so! Get caught up on all things Blog Cabins with this week's State of the Cabins.

Castor at Anomolous Material is hosting the second Hollywood Fantasy Draft. The pitches have started to come in, and they are juicy, to say the least. Here's a pitch from Steve of 1001Plus.

Marshall managed to score an early screening of The Dilemma. Lucky bastard! Unfortunately, according to him, it's not very good. Here's his review.

Hatter caught a glimpse of what Rooney Mara as the new Lisbeth Salander looks like, and gets the conversation going on the subject. Take part.

Nick is continuing with his ambitious 60 Weeks/60 Movies project. Here's his review of a personal favorite, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.  


According to the Movies #20

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

If the movies say it, it must be true!

Since Hollywood likes to give you a happy ending so you don't go out and start a riot, the good guys will always get away. There's a catch to this, however. Since Hollywood also likes to draw things out to the very last minute and keep up the suspense so you get your money's worth and don't go out an start a riot, the good guys always escape at the last minute. The main perpetrator of this fad, to my knowledge, is Star Wars. In New Hope, Luke destroyed the Death Star mere seconds before it blew up Yavin. In Empire Strikes Back, R2D2 repairs the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive just as Vader is about to capture them. In Return of the Jedi, Lando races of out the new Death Star and escapes, just as it explodes behind him.

Those are some lucky sons of bitches, aren't they?

The Lesson: Are you a good guy? Great! You'll get away, but it'll be a close one! Stay sharp!

Cinematic Captions #3

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Alright folks! Put your cleverness hats on. Time to get creative!

Alright, the big reveal. Who won last week?

Honorable Mention: POOP! (Courtesy of Aiden)

And the winner is... Fletch!

The Leaderboard

Simon (1)
Fletch (1)

Alright, next round. Here ya go!

Amuse me!

2010: The Retrospect: Top 10 Best Movies of the Year

Monday, January 10, 2011

This is it!

We've come to the end. Over the past week and a half, Films From the Supermassive Black Hole has covered everything worth covering about the year that was, from posters, to trailers, to lines. It wasn't the best year there ever was, but, though it was a rare occurrence, everyone found something to enjoy at the movies this year. It was a good year, all in all, so before we finally bid goodbye, I'd like to take the time to make a toast.

Raise your glasses.

To 2010, and the movies it gave us. To the good and the bad. To the socially inept jackasses getting rich. To an epic about dream invasion. To a ballerina slowly losing her mind. To vampire love. To western revenge. To fighters making a comeback. To A-Teams, bank robbers, and foul mouthed superheroes. To rockstars, serial killers, and valiant warriors. To stuttering kings and sentient toys. To wizards. To benders. To lovers. To haters. To rocks. To aliens. To utopias. To computer programs. To lesbian moms. To The Expendables. To video games. To everything else in between. To film!

And, now, the time has come! Here it is, the end all, be all. The definitive list of the year. Here are Films From the Supermassive Black Hole's Top 10 Movies of 2010!











Thank you all for joining me on this journey; it's been fun. For a refresher on everything 2010, don't hesitate to check up on the rest of 2010: The Retrospective. Here's to the year that was and the year to come. May it be glorious!

Regular schedule will resume tomorrow with a long overdue installment to Cinematic Captions. Thanks folks! Stay awesome! Stay righteous! Stay good!

2010: The Retrospect: Top 5 Worst Movies of the Year

Sunday, January 9, 2011

We're so close!

With all good things, must come the bad. The yang to the yin. The sour to the sweet. The stupid to the smart. You get the idea. A lot of people are hating on 2010 as a particularly bad year at the movies. I don't necessarily agree with the general public on that one, but will concede that there were plenty of bad eggs clogging the theaters, with some of the worst I've ever seen. And what kind of complete retrospect would this be if it didn't touch on the bad experiences at least once. Here is Films From the Supermassive Black Hole's Top 5 Worst Movies of 2010.

Note: Everything I could write here, I've already said in my reviews. So, I'll be going the aesthetic route. Click on the posters to get to the review. Enjoy.

You said it Commodus!






One more day. It's the big one tomorrow! The main attraction! The big kahuna (tasty burger)! Tune in tomorrow for the Top 10 Best Movies of 2010, an be sure to refresh yourself on everything with 2010: The Retrospect... and vote for me, if it pleases you (and it does). See you tomorrow young ones. Be excellent to one another... and party on, I guess. 

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