Double Review: Seth Rogen smoking weed and making a porno

Most people remember first seeing Seth Rogen in Steve Carell starrer '40 year old virgin'. After the success of Knocked up and Superbad, he is in huge demand thesedays and has just finished an epic year being credited in 6 movies including Horton hears a who, Kung Fu Panda and Step Brothers. However the biggest movies were the ones he starred in namely Pineapple Express and Zack and Miri Make a Porno. This post shall chiefly deal with these two movies.

Pineapple Express:

Basically what this movie is a Judd Apatow movie. This man who has directed movies like Knocked Up and 40 year old Virgin has now carved a genre for himself much like Kevin Smith (of who we shall be talking more about later). All his movies deal with a loser protagonist who has a lousy job,loves weed and no real girlfriend and nothing really going for him at the start of the movie. Through a delightful concoction of co-incidences and mishaps he end up in a difficult situation and keeps getting thwacked but somehow ends up at the top by the time credits roll. We saw it in Superbad, Knocked Up and kinda in 40 year old Virgin too.

Pineapple Express is no different. Dale Denton(Seth Rogen) is the weed loving, sub poena serving, clueless in life hero our tale who has just seen a murder happen. He understands that he can be easily tracked down because the murderer is the sole supplier of the weed called Pineapple Express which his drug dealer(Saul Silver) has sold only to him. Now Dale and Saul are on the run and the comedy of errors ensuing is the rest of the story. The drug dealer's role is played by James Franco (famous for his green goblin jnr role in spiderman) and is definitely the best aspect of the movie. Franco's portrayal of innocent yet brave, grandma loving, good natured hippie drug dealer was brilliant. His body language and diction were so cute and hilarious. I am looking forward to see him performance in the oscar nominated 'Milk'. Seth Rogen is just wearing his second skin and these crazy antics arent anything new for him. I dont know about others but right now I am tired of the typical Seth Rogen roles. Its about time he takes up different roles. I dont think I will be able to stand another such performance as a gullible weed loving loser by Seth Rogen. The movie has its plot turns and twists, all of them very whimsical but only some funny. It ends up being a tollywood movie for its 'bring it on' climax and bullet wound victims who survive for hours and go home happily. The bromance is one of the key plot aspects as in any other Apatow movie(remember Superbad?)and if you like that you wont be let down here either. However the movie aint so great and can be watched if you want a few laughs.

Rating: 6/10

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Zaack and Miri is no different for Seth Rogen in terms of the character he plays. However he takes away the Apatow make up and wears Kevin Smith make up. Kevin Smith has made another trademark film of his filled with loser characters who can never get enough of the f word, barely making a living and having brilliant ideas from time to time and making it big at the end. Zack and Miri (Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks) are two high school best friends who live together as they dont have any close relatives. They are broke and dont have enough cash to pay utility bills. To get past their cashstrappedness they decide to make a porn film with the help of a friend. They arent lovers or have ever dated each other and very predictably that is going to change by the end of the movie. Everything you can expect from movie in which boy and girl are best friends, people who are broke and starting out a business venture happen and there is hardly any innovation in the plot. Kevin Smith who has given us wonderful movies like Clerks and its sequel, Chasing Amy and Dogma has made this movie with his eyes closed. I was disappointed with the lack of depth and the Kevin Smith brand of humour in this movie. Though the expletives remained comedy was missing. I am not going to talk about Seth Rogen's lacklustre performance. The supporting cast was decent. Elizabeth Banks did a decent job as Miriam Linky, aka stinky linky who is desperate in getting laid. oh wait I dont know what she does in the movie except hang out at the coffee shop. Kevin Smith has never been so careless in the plot aspects and writing of the film. I hope Smith does better the next time.

Rating: 5/10

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Oscar Road, Part 3: The SAGs

SAG or Screen Actors Guild is a union representing over a 120,000 actors and performers in Television and Film industries working in the United States. It was found in 1933 to protect the rights of actors and prevent their exploitation in the hands of Studios who at that time were forcing them to sign inflexible multi year contracts. The Screen Actors Guild has specific rules for joining and working as a member for the actors and the Studios employing them.

The SAG along with the other guild particularly the Writer's guild was plagued by the Blacklisting that happened during the HUAC era. From time to time they have had strikes when the studios and other Industry members have denied the actors their rights or dues. It is anticipated that they are going to strike sometime in 2009 on similar grounds as the WGA strike to tackle the system of royalties for sale of films and shows over new media.

The Screen Actors Guild have given away the Screen Actors Guild Awards since 1995 to recognise the best among their peers every year. This award like the other guild awards is said to be a fairly good indicator for the upcoming Oscars.

The Screen Actor Guild Awards are given in the following categories

Film awards
  • Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Television awards
  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
  • Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
  • Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
This year's complete list of SAGs nominations and winners can be found here.

For our countdown to the oscars these awards are quite significant as the nominations for the Best Actor and Best Actress and The Best Actor and Actress in a supporting role are very identical to what the oscars have with 17 of the 20 nominations being the same. The only two changes being in the Supporting Role categories with Michael Shannon from Revolutionary Road instead of SAG's Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire. The other change being Marisa Tomei from the Wrestler in lieu of the eventual SAG winner Kate Winslet for the Reader. It is interesting to note that Kate Winslet has got a lead actress nomination in the Academy Awards for the same role. Here at the SAG's Kate Winslet was nominated for the Revolutionary Road instead.

With that being said and nominations being almost same and along their history of being a precursor the Oscars the Screen Actors Guild awards are of quite some importance. Heath Ledger as expected was given the Best Supporting Actor nomination. Just a routine stop in this years obvious sweep of awards for Ledger. As mentioned earlier Kate Winslet won the Supporting actress award leaving the field wide open for the other nominees to fight it out at the Oscars.

Now the big ones. The best actress award went to Meryl Streep, beating out Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet, Melissa Leo and Anne Hathaway. Meryl Streep is already the highest nominated actress in the history of oscars (15 including this year) with only 2 wins. The last time she won was in 1983 for Sophie's Choice .

The best Actor award went to Sean Penn for his portrayal of Harvey Milk,the first openly gay person to be elected for an office in the US. Sean Penn has been an darling for the oscar voters being nominated for the fifth time now for the best actor in a leading role and having won it in 2002 for Mystic River. He beat out Brad Pitt, Frank Langella, Richard Jenkins and Mickey Rourke for the award.

In the Television department 30 Rock's Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey walked away with best actor and best actress award in a comedy series.Thats no surprise as 30 Rock has been the darling of all award panels since it started airing in 2006 and for the the quality of stuff they put out they deserve it. It also won the best ensemble award. This is an echo for what happened in the Golden Globes a few days back. However I would have preferred Entourage for the ensemble award.

For the Drama series, Hugh Laurie and Sally Field won the leading role awards for the House M.D and Brothers and Sisters respectively. Mad Men, the brilliant period drama capturing the troubled lives of New York ad agency executives in the 60's won the ensemble award. And finally John Adams, a mini series revolving around the lives of the founding fathers won the awards for Best TV movie/mini series as it did at the Golden Globes and the Emmy's.

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Oscar Road, Part 2: The Nominations

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has come out with this year's Academy Award aka Oscar nominations the day before and the whole world knows about it. Indians all over the world are excited because an Indian has garnered 3 nominations and movie made with Indian backdrop and in desi style has got 10 nominations (second highest this year). This complete list is available at this link on the imdb site.

This is how they chart out. The David Fincher-Brad Pitt movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button earned 13 oscar nominations along with previously mentioned 10 of Slumdog Millionaire. Button's 13 nominations are second highest ever as Titanic and All about Eve are the only two movies to get more nominations (14 each). As expected Frost/Nixon and Milk raked in a good number getting 5 and 8 respectively. However the surprise was the Reader which raked in 5 major nominations including Best Picture, best director and Best Actress. 2 or 3 more than what one had expected. Kate Winslet's other film Revolutionary Road got no love from the oscar committee. It got only 3 oscars with 2 being technical and other than Michael Shannon's best supoorting actor. The Dark Knight got love too with 8 nominations of which all but Ledger's obvious supporting actor nomination were technical. Wall E got nominated for 6 with a delightful inclusion in the Best Screenply, directly written for screen category. A.R Rahman got nominated for 3 oscars; 2 in the original song and one for original score making him the first Indian to get an individual nomination. Lagaan, Mother India and Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay are the Indian films which earned a foreign language film nominations.

In the last post I had given my own predictions taking into consideration the trends AMPAS generally follows and how its voter pool polls. Also I have mentioned how the Golden Globes are fair indicator of what is expected in the Oscars (atleast in the nominations) Here is the golden globe chart at imdb.

Now reviewing my own predictions and comparing them to the oscar ones. 4 of the best movie oscar were spot on but The Reader jumped from the unlikely list to complete the 5. The best director category was a ditto to the Best Movie as a I had said in the previous post. The best actor was as expected and that wasn't a surprise because the same 5 or 6 actors have been shuffling across all awards this year. However the biggest shocking exclusion from the whole of the oscars list is in the Best Actress category with Sally Hawkins not even making it to the top 5. Have the voters even seen the movie? How can one ignore her brilliant performance. Kate Winslet wins a nomination, her 6th for the reader and Revolutionary Road is snubbed. The critics have not embraced the movie so it was kinda expected. The supporting categories have some new faces and some I havent expected.

With the nominations now out, We at too much cinema shall start reviewing the nominated movies one by one and see which ones deserved attention which dint. Which ones were overvalued and which ones were treated badly. Do chip and tell us what movies you want to see reviewed.

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Oscar Road, Part I : The Contenders

The new year has dawned and the awards season is on. As always all eyes are set on the oscars' ceremony where the road trip ends(on 22nd Feb this year). On the way we make a lot of stops, some major, some minor. The train has already left the station starting from the various guild awards(Screen actors, writers, producers and directors). Recently it had stopped at the Golden Globes, usually the biggest junction on the route and time has shown that they are fairly good indicators of whats to expect at the Kodak theatre in about a month from now. But more about the Golden Globes later. Starting with this post, in this Oscar Road series, I shall walk you through the awards, the movies and the performances that make the Oscars so special, giving you in depth coverage and analysis.

In this post, we shall look at the major contenders for the Oscars this year. The various award ceremonies have already given us a glimpse and there could be several dark horses and wildcards which could spring a surprise.

Starting with the biggest category of em all. The name plate which goes on to the oscar archives for every corresponding year. The best movie. Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button have quite sealed a nomination. It wouldnt be a surprise if two of Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon and Revolutionary Road take the remaining spots. Oscars dont usually have surprises in this category but I hope to see the brilliant comic/crime drama In Bruges and the totally amazing WALL-E rake in the best movie nomination. Other outsiders could be Happy Go Lucky, The Reader, Waltz with Bashir and the Visitor but it is highly unlikely.

Next stop the Best Director award. This list will be more or less an echo of the previous one, with Danny Boyle, Gus Van Sant, David Fincher, Chris Nolan, Ron Howard and Sam Mendes making it to the final shortlist. However Mike Leigh for Happy Go Lucky, Stephen Daldry for the Reader might get a peek. Anyone else getting nominated for this is going to be quite a shocker.

There are quite a few heavyweights this time round in the acting category and most seats seem to be already reserved quite by the mention of their names itself. Though 2008 hasnt been such a great year for movies compared to 2007, the sudden rush at the fag end just to make it to the oscars has been stronger than ever. As a result most movies which are going to be nominated for the Oscars will have been in the theatres for less than a month.

Ok back to the actors categories. Ladies first (being gentleman like you see) and quite easiest of all categories. Best actress spot contenders are Anne Hathway for Rachel Getting Married, Sally Hawkins for Happy Go Lucky, Kate Winslet for Revolutionary Road/The Reader, Meryl Streep for Doubt and the last spot may go to either Kristin Scott Thomas for Ihave loved you for so long or Anjelina Jolie for Changeling. I am however going with Kristin Scott Thomas. Others who stand a chance are Michelle Williams and the darling of oscar voters Cate Blanchett for Wendy and Lucy and the Curious Case of Benjamin Button Respectively.

Supporting Cast nominees could be Marisa Tomei for the Wrestler, Kate Winslet for the Reader if she doesnt get a lead actress nomination, Amy Adams for Doubt, Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Frieda Pinto for Slumdog or Rosemarie DeWitt for Rachel Getting Married.

For the best actor category. Sean Penn for Milk , Brad Pitt for Benjamin Button, Richard Jenkins for the Visitor and Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler have virtually been seated. Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon and Leonardo Di Caprio for Revolutionary road might be the one of the remaining nominees but I hope Clint Eastwood gets nominated for his scorching performance in Gran Torino. I would also love to see either of Colin Farell and Brendan Gleeson to be nominated too for their brilliant performance in In Bruges. Dev Patel got nominated for the Golden Globes and the BAFTA's mysteriously and I hope that doesnt happen again.

Supporting cast nominees must be Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt, Robert Downey Jnr for Tropic Thunder, Ralph Fiennes for the Duchess/In Bruges, James Franco for Milk, or maybe someone else. But really! does it matter? Because we all know Heath Ledger is going to get it come what may.

Wall E will walk away with the animation oscar with Bashir(Waltz with ), Kungfu Panda and Bolt watching. And when it comes to best foreign language oscar the field is as wide as the sahara. This category is by far the most fertile in terms of quality and variety of movies produced. I could repeat the nominations from the golden globe or the baftas but one never knows what cards the Academy award council has up its sleeve as a bigger berth of entries are usually submitted for the Oscars compared to any other.

The oscar list is expected to be out on Jan 22nd 1930 IST and lets see how far my predictions come true. If you think I missed out on something. leave a comment :)

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Too Much Cinema is back from a long long hiatus and now at a new address and as a part of Jump the end blog network. We have deliberated a lot about the structure, form and style of this blog and podcast. Our first incarnation was primarily focused on the podcast with in depth reviews of current and classic features. Though it did have a listener base, however small it was quite constricted in the exploration of Cinema. In case you want to check out the podcast, they are still available at our wordpress blog

So here we are again, refreshed and with a new style and outlook. This blog shall have a lot (a lot lot )more reviews and film features than the last version. We shall have discussions and news and stuff among others. However, the podcast's fate is indeterminate and hopefully we shall try to bring it back if we have the time(even if no one is listening :P). I hope this time round we shall have more interaction and a lot more fun. I leave you with an excerpt from the old blog- The reason we do this....

Too much cinema - where cinema is everything simply says it all. We can never get enough of this wonderful medium of entertainment and learning. Delight, anger, surprise, heartburn, love, worship and among other things are all part and we love it more for this precise reason.
We try and capture the magic and madness of the flicks we watch and let you know what we think. We might go over the top or ruin it all. Make great observations or miss blatant facts. You are as much as a part of too much cinema as we are. So without second thoughts let us know what you think.

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