Posts Tagged ‘Ben Burtt’

Two Blondes Make Predictions: The Oscars

February 21, 2009

Two Blondes shake their glittery Magic 8 Ball and make some predictions about the Oscars:

ALISON SAYS:

pixar_walle1BEST PICTURE:
Who I think will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who I want to win: WALL-E
I can’t describe how much I love WALL-E.  It’s one of the only films in my life to make me cry (my heart is normally protected by a hard stone cover).  I’ve never seen a character as loving, fragile and as wonderful as that goshdarn little robot.  I’m sure admitting this publicly will take away what little “street cred” I have (if any), but I can’t refrain from gushing over WALL-E.  Even my cell phone has a ring that involves that little robot yelling out “EVE-A.”

DIRECTING:
Who I think will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who I want to win: The Wrestler, but Darren Aronofsky isn’t even nominated.
Dear Academy,
WTF?
Alison

frozen_river_melissa_leoACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:
Who I think will win: Kate Winslet
Who I want to win: If you’d asked me five days ago, (before I received Frozen River on Netflix), I would have called it a tie between Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet.  But now after having watched Frozen River, I’ve gotta put the tie between Melissa Leo and Kate Winslet.  I’d also go so far as to call Melissa Leo’s performance almost as raw and gritty as Mickey Rourke’s (of course the films couldn’t be more different, but there’s something to both performances that struck a nerve with me and exhibited a lack of vanity).

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
Who I think will win: Marisa Tomei.  And I hope she says “See?!  It wasn’t a fluke.”
Who I want to win: Marisa Tomei, followed closely by Viola Davis.  Both women blew me away.

wrestler-aronofsky-promo-01ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:
Who I think will win: Toss up between Frank Langella and Mickey Rourke.
Who I want to win: Mickey Rourke.  He’s fucking amazing in The Wrestler.
Mom, I’m sorry to swear, but it’s the truth.
I also wish there was a “Shout Out Best Actor” Oscar category that could be given to Ben Burtt for creating the voice and sounds for WALL-E.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
Who I think will win: Heath Ledger
Who I want to win: Tie between Heath Ledger and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Both were stunning performances.  An honorable mention for funny must be given to Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder.  I can’t imagine any other actor pulling off what he did in that film.  I don’t think that means he should get an Oscar over the other nominees, but I’m sure glad he’s being recognized.

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY):
Who I think will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who I want to win: Doubt
I loved Slumdog Millionaire, but I think I loved it because it moves you while you’re watching it.  Afterwards, after the music and lights have faded, you wonder about some holes in the script and story, but it was still a film that made you sad and happy and in between throughout, so you forgive those flaws.  But in regards to Doubt, it performs on every level.  I can’t think of any weakness in it.  The script is pitch perfect.

walle_lgWRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY):
Who I think will win: Milk
Who I want to win: WALL-E.
Have I mentioned I love WALL-E?  Cause I do.  As I type this, I can look to my left and see a little WALL-E figurine sitting on my desk.  And every time I look at it, my heart swells.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:
Who I think will win: I’m really not sure, but Kung Fu Panda did sweep the Annie Awards.
Who I want to win: WALL-E.
You may have noticed a theme of me loving WALL-E.  On a sidenote, I do think Kung Fu Panda is wonderful and one of the best films DreamWorks has made.  I also find it really exciting how many animated films there are that are entertaining for audiences of all ages.

ART DIRECTION:
Who I think will win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button or Changeling
Who I want to win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button or Changeling

slum-dog-millionaireCINEMATOGRAPHY:
Who I think will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who I want to win: Slumdog Millionaire
Every nominee should get a gold star in my humble but accurate opinion.  They’re all beautiful films.

COSTUME DESIGN:
Who I think will win: No idea.
Who I want to win: I’m not sure who I want to win, but I really want all of the dresses Kate Winslet wears in Revolutionary Road and all the hats Angelina Jolie wears in Changeling.  Can someone please arrange that for me?  I’d be your best friend forever!

FILM EDITING:
Who I think will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who I want to win: The Dark Knight

MUSIC:
Who I think will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who I want to win: WALL-E
While I loved the music in Slumdog Millionaire and have downloaded the album on iTunes, it’s the music in WALL-E that moved me and continues to move with every viewing in a way I’ve never experienced on any other film.  As I’ve said, I love that little robot.

SOUND EDITING:
Who I think will win: WALL-E
Who I want to win: WALL-E

SOUND MIXING:
Who I think will win: WALL-E
Who I want to win: WALL-E

benjamin_button_poster_lgVISUAL EFFECTS:
Who I think will win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Who I want to win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and WALL-E
No matter whether you’re a Benjamin Button lover or hater, you can’t deny what the visual effects department accomplished in the film.  Visually, the film is a masterpiece, as is WALL-E.

*You may have noticed that there were quite a few ties in my choices.  I obviously suffer from indecision and an intense love of good filmmaking.  Also, it’s really hard to decide when you’re aware of how much work, blood, sweat and tears went into every film.

Congratulations and best wishes to all the nominees!
XXOO Alison

JESSICA SAYS:

BEST ACTOR:
My pick, were I an Academy member, would be Mickey Rourke and I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t win.  I haven’t seen The Visitor or Milk yet, so I can’t speak to Sean Penn’s and Richard Jenkins’ performances.  Running a close second here is Frank Langella.  If anyone can step in front of Rourke, it’s Frank Langella as Richard Nixon.  He is fantastic and already has a Tony for this role.  However, I’m giving the upper hand to Rourke because, besides the fact that he gave an outstanding performance, there is nothing folks like more than an underdog.

heath_ledger_joker_9BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
OK, I recently changed my mind on this one.  I think Heath Ledger will win – it’s almost absolute at this point.  He was a great actor and it truly is a shame we won’t get to see any future work from him.  He was great in The Dark Knight.  However, I’ve decided my vote (if I got one) in this category would go to Philip Seymour Hoffman.  The more I have reflected on it, the more I really am astounded by his performance in Doubt. ( I haven’t seen Milk or Tropic Thunder.)

kate-winslet-the-reader-3BEST ACTRESS
Kate Winslet.  My reason is the same as everyone else’s (I presume).  She is great in The Reader, but I’m also picking her for all those times she hasn’t won yet.  Plus, she’s totally awesome and will give a killer acceptance speech.  I totally respect the fact that she makes no bones about wanting to win.  You should want to win. ( I haven’t seen Frozen River.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
This is the category that is notoriously hard to pick, e.g. the last time Marisa Tomei won.  Personally, I would vote for Amy Adams in Doubt, although I loved Viola Davis and Marisa Tomei too.
BEST DIRECTOR:
Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire.  It is rare that Best Picture and Best Director don’t go hand and hand, so…

slumdog_millionaireBEST PICTURE:
Slumdog Millionaire.  It will win, but Frost/Nixon is deserving as well.

OTHER CATEGORY PREDICTIONS:
Best Editing – Frost/Nixon
Best Foreign Language Film – Waltz with Bashir
Best Sound Editing – WALL-E (watch the DVD extras-they’re great)
Best Sound Mixing – The Dark Knight
Best Adapted Screenplay – Doubt
Best Original Screenplay – WALL-E

oscar_sallykirkland1

OTHER PREDICTIONS:
I predict Sally Kirkland and Faye Dunaway will inexplicably be in attendance.  They have both been at the previous two ceremonies and have served to only make me fear the ageing process that much more. I can only hope they reappear so I can read what Go Fug Yourself has to say about an ensemble like this:

I predict Renee Zellweger, if she attends, will usurp Jessica Simpson and Lindsay Lohan as the new most talked about weight issue.

Two Blondes Watch a DVD: WALL-E

November 21, 2008

Two Blondes review a DVD and ramble about themselves:

ALISON SAYS:

I’m a person who is easily excitable by nature.  But with WALL-E my level of excitement is at a whole new level, one might even say a level that is out of this world, if one was into cheesy metaphors.  I saw WALL-E twice in the theaters and was extremely moved and filled with glee both times.  I don’t cry at movies, I’m not the type of girl who goes to movies hoping to cry and be emotional.  That’s not my cup of tea.  I’d rather watch super heros battling or cars exploding.  But I did cry four times the first time I watched WALL-E.  And by cry, I mean I started welling up and furiously wiped my eyes in an effort not to look like a weepy girly girl.

As I sat down to watch it for the third time on the recently released DVD, I was smiling from ear to ear.  I could not wait to be reunited with my sweet, curious robot friend.  This movie is possibly the best movie I’ve ever seen.  I don’t think I could date someone unless they agreed on this.  WALL-E’s unconditional love for EVE is a beautiful thing to watch.  Sure, if you’re a cold-hearted person with no imagination, maybe it’s hard to care about two little animated robots.  But if your heart is pumping warm blood like mine, then you will be moved by what happens and grows between these two characters.  Maybe I’m just a nerd who thinks robots are cool (especially cute ones).  Maybe I relate to WALL-E, because I do look at the world with childlike wonder and I have the curiosity of a hyper monkey.  Maybe you’re not someone who has these traits, but you should still agree that this is one of the most amazing films ever created. Pixar obviously has a really good track record, but in my humble, robot-loving opinion, they’ve even surpassed their past achievements with this film.

The opening is a moving masterpiece.  It should be framed and hung on the wall of some fancy museum where snooty people in tiny hats eat cheese and babble on and on about meaning and art.  What is established without the use of dialogue is amazing.  After witnessing the desolation and loneliness of future Earth, it only makes WALL-E’s positive, curious, caring nature that more admirable.  Despite living in a broken world, this little robot has not become bitter or mean.  He still just wants to help and wants to find happiness in any small way he can.

The future this movie painted is terrifying, but also feels like a real possibility to me.  If you’ve ever walked down Universal’s Citywalk and been surrounded by overfilling trash cans, carts selling plastic junk and crowds of jiggling, obese tourists, then you’d realize that vision may be exactly where we’re heading.  Maybe if enough people see this movie, we can all take a breath and start making small daily choices that will add up to a big impact.  Not to turn into a “The More You Know” (SFX: DING) moment, but please recycle and please turn the water off when you’re not using it.  Turning the tap off while you brush your teeth (rather than just leaving it running for 5 minutes straight) can save gallons of water a day.  Just don’t be a dick to the earth.

Back to the movie.  A shout out must be given to Fred Willard who is always hilarious.  As always, Pixar chooses their cast for talent rather than who’s recently graced the cover of “US Weekly.”  If I could find him, I would bow down in a “We’re not worthy” moment to Ben Burtt for creating the voice of WALL-E.  WALL-E’s manner of speech and sounds can make me giggle with glee.  There is not much else in the world that makes me as happy as hearing WALL-E talk and “ohhh” and ahhh.”  And looking over Burtt’s IMDb page made me even more awestruck at his many credits and his creativity with sound engineering.  Here’s two really interesting bits fom his trivia page:

To create the rumbling sound of the gigantic boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), he placed a microphone close to the tire of his Honda Civic as it coasted slowly down his gravel driveway. The recording was later engineered at various speeds to best replicate the rolling boulder.

For Star Wars (1977), he created the sound of the lightsabers by mixing the humming sound of his TV set – tuned between channels – with the sound of an old 35mm projector.

Pixar, thank you, thank you, thank you!  You constantly make me believe and make me happy.

Final Word: Buy the DVD and watch it many, many times.  But be sure to recycle any plastic packaging after you buy it.

JESSICA SAYS:

I don’t have a good history with robots which might be why I didn’t feel compelled to see WALL-E in the theater this summer, no matter how many times Alison told me it made her cry and she never cries in movies.  I remember the first ‘bad’ grade I ever got in school (OK, it’s at least the first one I really remember).  It was in my junior high gifted class.  We had just finished the unit on the Maya and I loved it–not the part where we had to learn how to multiply and divide in the Mayan math system (base-twenty…don’t ask me to explain it.  I couldn’t if I wanted to, but maybe Wikipedia can help).  Math was always by far my worst subject, so I barely had a handle on our numerical system, much less anything else.

Things took a sharp downward turn for me when I found out our next unit was robotics and computer programming.  Keep in mind that I went to a public school in a small town in Missouri, so the budget for the program was approximately $2.74.  We were each given a box of parts we were supposed to assemble into something that resembled WALL-E.  The problem lay in that the robot I was given was used…heavily used.  I came to discover that it was missing at least 20% of it’s parts–most importantly, the instructions.  At the end of the unit what was supposed to be my robot was a collection of seven pieces that just looked like choking hazards.  My mom was called in for a conference.

Alison would not stop going on about how much she loved this movie, so when I saw it was coming out on DVD I decided to swallow my biterness towards robots and suggested we review the DVD.  The movie is set on future Earth, where WALL-E is a robot designed to compact garbage into a cube and stack it.  He appears to be the last remaining working robot, as humans abandoned the planet years before when it became so overrun with trash that life was unsustainable.  The story is part cautionary tale about where our planet is headed and partly a portrayl of that most basic emotional human need for companionship.

I loved the first section of the film on bleak, desolate future Earth.  WALL-E collects random pieces of the trash he compacts–a spork, an eggbeater–and keeps them in his home.  They are just tiny examples of the millions of things we use and discard without much thought on where things come from and where they go when we throw them away.

I loved the film less when WALL-E left Earth and joined the remaining humans on their spaceship.  Everything became shiny, fast, and silly.  It just felt so disjointed after the beginning of the film that my mind began to wander.  I started to think about how the companies behind this movie are as culpable as any for the consumerism and consumption the first part of the film warned against.  Now, I don’t want this to sound like I’m getting up on my soapbox against Disney or Pixar.  For the record, both companies have made films that would be on my list of favorites.  It’s just that people become the fat, lazy, narciscistic creatures like the humans in the movie by spending a childhood plopped in front of the TV for hours watching things like the WALL-E DVD, playing the WALL-E game on their PS3, etc.  Where does all that garbage that Wall-E collects in the movie come from?  Things like the 20+ variations of the WALL-E figure and all that packaging they come in, the comforter set, lunchbox, sticker book, Halloween costume, stuffed dolls, and laptop–all available at http://www.disneyshopping.com for your convience, but keep in mind kids, “Only grown-ups can buy stuff at DisneyShopping.com.”

I loved the scenes set on future Earth, but the rest left me unsatisfied (especially the happy ending, but like there was a chance of anything but a happy ending in a children’s movie).  I would recommend watching this with little ones, but it would be nice if parents followed the movie with a conversation about what we can do right now so that our planet never looks like where WALL-E lives.  When you wish upon a star…

DVD extras:  I loved the feature on the sound design process for animation, but I am a geek:  see paragraphs one and two of this review.  Of the two shorts, I prefered Presto over BURN-E, but they were both cute and definately worth checking out.