The 84th Annual Academy Awards Predictions and Drinking Game

The Academy got at least one thing right this year...Billy Crystal is back, baby!

The 84th Annual Academy Awards aired Sunday Night, February 26th, 2012.  Below were my predictions for the winners in the major categories.  The actual winners were filled in after the Oscars were announced.

It was nice to have Billy Crystal back – he was funny though a shadow of his former golden self.  It was a fairly snooze-inducing night with no big surprises except for maybe the tinny microphones (an ironic sound design defect during a show that lavished undeserved gifts upon a silent film) and I eagerly switched over to The Walking Dead on AMC at 11pm. 

I scored a strong 17/24 in my family Oscar pool.  In the only categories I gave a damn about, I was 1 for 2 as A Separation took home a well-deserved statue for Best Foreign Language Film while Emmanuel Lubezki was royally robbed in the cinematography category for The Tree of Life by the guy from Hugo. Continue reading

The Stone Digital Literary Magazine Now Accepting Submissions for Upcoming Issues

If only digital literary magazines had existed in the era of The Overlook Hotel...

 

...then maybe Jack Torrance would've been published instead of going mad!

 
Are you a writer tired of unfairly being dumped in the slush pile?

Have you been struggling to find the proper “home” for a favorite story you’ve written?

Are you maybe looking to find ways to reach more readers in the digital age?

Well…roll back The Stone and uncover a great opportunity!

The Stone - a Digital Literary Magazine and unique new experiment from The Schleicher Spin - is actively searching for fresh talent.

Our Premier Issue was released in December of 2011, and we are currently gathering material for our Second Issue we hope to have ready by late spring/early summer.  We seek contributors, both independent and established writers, from across the globe to submit us their best and most dynamic stories.

Wondering what types of stories we publish? 

Read more about The Premier Issue by clicking here.

or click here to download a copy for only $1.99 (USD).

Think you have what we’re looking for?  Send it our way! 

Not sure if you have what we’re looking for?  Send it our way anyway!

What have you got to lose other than the potential to be read by hundreds (and hopefully soon – thousands) of people from across the globe?  We are proud to say our readers and contributors currently hail from North America, Europe and Asia. (Hint – Where are all my South Americans, Africans and Australians?)

When submitting – please follow these guidelines: Continue reading

Serena, Honest Abe, Rising Knights, Multiple Malicks and The Master On Tap

Quite an unusual docket is shaping up for 2012, 2013 and beyond.  Despite the usual shit Hollywood shovels, there are some upcoming films worth talking about.

First up on the horizon is the new news around the film adaptation of Ron Rash’s Serena, which ranks as one of my favorite novels of this century and I instantly imagined as a There Will Be Blood meets Macbeth in the Carolina Highlands film epic.  Originally, and promising though preditable, Darren Aronofsky had been on tap to direct with Angelina Jolie in the lead role.  But now the tides have shifted, and Oscar winner Susanne Bier is taking the helm.  It’s definitely out of Bier’s comfort zone, but if handled right, it could be a breakthrough for the Danish director and she definitely has the chops to put on an interesting spin – but it could also be a disaster. 

Can Jennifer Lawrence transform into the menacing Serena Pemberton?

Even more inspired is the choice of Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role.  She seems way too young, but as Winter’s Bone showed, she’s capable of being a true chameleon while getting down and dirty, and along with Bier, she has the opportunity to really turn heads here.  Less inspired and downright troubling is the casting of no-talent ass-clown Bradley Cooper, a smug comedic actor who lacks the gravitas needed for playing George Pemberton.  Maybe the idea is to cast someone like him so that Lawrence can really shine – but it’s a gamble – and it will be interesting to see if it pays off. Continue reading

A Separation, White Lies and Blood Money

Damn, Iranian domestic melodramas, where have you been all my life?  After a season of over-inflated Oscar-bait films (see The Descendants or The Artist) it’s nice to finally watch a movie that delivers the goods as advertised.  Asghar Farhadi, the writer and director of the simultaneously insular and universal film, A Separation, pulls off a rare feat by creating a painfully intimate look into the domestic lives of middle-class Iranians that touches on themes common to all of humanity and thereby highlighting the shades of moral ambiguity in us all.

* POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD – READ WITH CAUTION *

Farhadi pulls no punches and throws us right into the thick of it from the start.  Simin (the sternly beautiful Leila Hatami) has worked tirelessly to secure visas for her family’s emigration – however, the dream of leaving Iran is not a dream shared by everyone in her family.  A flummoxed Nadir (Peyman Maadi – a modicum of bearded middle class frustration) can’t fathom leaving behind his Alzheimer’s riddled father to follow his wife to a new life abroad.  “He doesn’t even know you’re his son!” his wife screams heartlessly at him.  “But I know he’s my father!” Nadir replies.  It’s instant heartbreak within the film’s tightly controlled opening moments.  Continue reading

The Blues and The Grey

Shit...just when Liam Neeson thought things couldn't get any worse...he crash lands into the den of Sarah Palin's Alaska.

Man, Liam Neeson has the blues something fierce.  The poor guy has completed one of the oddest transitions of recent memory by going from Oskar Schindler to “Total Bad Ass” in films both criminally overrated (Taken) and glumly forgettable (Unknown).  Now in Joe Carnahan’s transcendent survivalist thriller, The Grey, Neeson plays a man named Ottway who is reeling from the kind of blues that lead men to self-inflicted gun shot wounds to the head.  The film opens grimly enough with Ottway working on an oil refinery as a wolf sniper in the remote Alaskan wilderness amongst men “not fit for civilization.”  He waxes mournfully in voice-over about being separated from his wife (presented to the audience in smartly lit, intimate Nolan-esque slivers of memory) and working “a job at the end of the world.” 

One night he walks out from the rowdy violence of the camp bar into the snow to blow his brains out – but then he hears the ghostly howl of those beasts he’s been paid to study and control.  He can’t help but wonder if maybe he belongs out there – like the wolves – a stalker – a survivor.  He posits himself as much against Mother Nature as he is against his own nature.  These opening moments offer the viewer the type of emotional and philosophical trappings not usually found in your typical Hollywood product – especially thrillers of this sort.  With the help of his resurrected from the doldrums director, Carnahan (who finally fulfills the promise he showed in Narc after years of wallowing in the mediocrity of La La Land), Neeson completes his evolution as an actor through Ottway.  Here we finally have a character who marries the gravity of an Oskar Schindler with the gruff bad-assery of Neeson’s more recent commercial incarnations. 

Of course the bulk the of the film concerns Ottway and his motley crew of cohorts surviving a horrific airplane crash on their way to Anchorage only to be stalked through the frozen wilderness by a pack of ravaging and unmerciful wolves.  But it returns from time to time to those small moments and to the epic human pondering on live and death.  Continue reading