Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Just what in the world is "Secret of the Kells," and what will Jason Reitman do next?

Although the Oscar nominations always leave me with as many questions as answers, this was the biggest one I had after yesterday's nominations announcement.

After all, I just assumed that, after a truly banner year for animation, one of my favorites - "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" - would get a nomination, especially since the field grew to five entries this year. Instead, it went to something called "Secret of the Kells," and I can't be the only person who had never heard of that before yesterday.

So, what in the world is it? Well, an animated movie, obviously, from co-directors Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey. As you'll see from the fairly long trailer below (and, even though it labels the movie "Brendan and the Secret of the Kells," I assure it's genuine), it's animated in a charmingly simple style. As far as the story, here's an official synopsis:

In the movie “The Secret Of Kells,” young Brendan lives in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids. But a new life of adventure beckons when a celebrated master illuminator arrives from foreign lands carrying an ancient but unfinished book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest where mythical creatures hide. It is here that he meets the fairy Aisling, a mysterious young wolf-girl, who helps him along the way. But with the barbarians closing in, will Brendan’s determination and artistic vision illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the best fortification against evil?

Sounds like slightly heavy stuff for a children's animated movie, but as you see from the clip below, it will be pretty fun too. Enjoy.

And when will we get to see this? I'd have to imagine that, even with the Oscar love, this will be an arthouse release in the U.S.A., meaning I'll have to drive to Atlanta when it comes out March 10.

As for the rest of the Oscars, I'd have to say the 10 movie field for Best Picture was certainly a success, especially if the goal was to recognize some box office smashes along with the usual suspects. I haven't seen "The Blind Side," but is it really Best Picture material? I doubt it, but that along with "Up," "Avatar" and "District 9" should at least stop the ratings slide.

As for things that made me smile, certainly the fact that Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," my favorite, got eight nominations (second only to the nine nabbed by both "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker"), including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and of course, Best Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz (one way to make the interminable broadcast shorter would be to just give him and Mo'Nique their statues now.)

There a few other little things I liked, too. The single best nomination would have to be Armando Iannucci and crew for Best Adapted Screenplay for "In the Loop." That was easily the wittiest movie of the year, and any script that moves that fast without ever faltering certainly deserves the recognition. It was also nice to see Maggie Gyllenhaal get a Best Supporting Actress Nomination for her work in "Crazy Heart." The Dude seems to be the favorite for Best Actor for his role in that flick about an aging country music star of sorts, but you wouldn't care a lick about his character if he didn't have Gyllenhaal's journalist and single mother to play off of and pitch woo at. Huzzah to both of those.

And though it has seemed to be losing steam over the weeks (I tried to see it a second time, but it had already disappeared from theaters), that "Up in the Air" only got six nominations is a bit of a surprise. It did, however, get all the big ones: nominations for all three actors, adapted screenplay, director and Best Picture.

Which brings us to the next topic: What will Jason Reitman do now? Well, according to The Playlist, he let that cat out of the bag in a visit with Roger Ebert. Here, according to The Playlist, is what he had to say:

"The book I'm adapting is 'Labor Day' by Joyce Maynard. I re-read it over the weekend and when I finished the book [on] Monday morning, I was kind of on the verge of tears and I remembered at the moment, 'alright, my job is to make sure the audience feel exactly what I'm feeling right now.' And that's it, thats the gig. The test is with each film, 'can I do that?' and 'is that something the audience wants to feel at the end of the day?' And in this case, I think it is. This ones a very very tricky love story. It's very dramatic."

"I know what actors I want for it. I'll be able to go to them easily and, presumably, it'll be an easier greenlight than my first movie. Or my second movie."

Fair enough, but what in the world is "Labor Day," which I will now be reading soon, about? Here, with some editing, is what it says on Maynard's own Web site:

With the end of summer closing in and a steamy Labor Day weekend looming in the town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, 13-year-old Henry - lonely, friendless, not too good at sports - spends most of his time watching television, reading, and daydreaming about the soft skin and budding bodies of his female classmates. For company Henry has his long-divorced mother, Adele, a onetime dancer whose summer project was to teach him how to foxtrot; his hamster, Joe; and awkward Saturday-night outings to Friendly's with his estranged father and new stepfamily. As much as he tries, Henry knows that even with his jokes and his "Husband for a Day" coupon, he still can't make his emotionally fragile mother happy. Adele has a secret that makes it hard for her to leave their house, and seems to possess an irreparably broken heart.

But all that changes on the Thursday before Labor Day, when a mysterious bleeding man named Frank approaches Henry and asks for a hand. Over the next five days, Henry will learn some of life's most valuable lessons: how to throw a baseball, the secret to perfect piecrust, the breathless pain of jealousy, the power of betrayal, and the importance of putting others - especially those we love - above ourselves. And the knowledge that real love is worth waiting for.

That all sounds great to me. There's nothing up about this yet on the IMDB, but I'd imagine that as he rather immodestly claims, he can indeed get this greenlit just about whenever he wants to. And, since I'm so enamored of my new laptop, I might just make "Labor Day" the first purchase to read with my new "Kindle for PC" thingie from Amazon.

Except for that, all I have today is a music video from a woman I had never heard of, but since it's directed by Michel Gondry, it's certainly worth a look. The video is for a song called "Open Your Heart" by a chica named Mia Doi Todd. As the title implies, it's a breezy little ditty, and Gondry uses flashes of color in a deceptively simple way that becomes genuinely hypnotic (hyperbole? Perhaps, but that's the effect it had on me at 6:30 in the morning.) Anyways, enjoy, and have a perfectly pleasant Wednesday. Peace out.


Linda said...

I lucked out, Secret of Kells is playing at a local art house next weekend. Keep your eyes open, you might get lucky too!!

Reel Fanatic said...

I hope you're right, Linda ... We have one multiplex that takes a chance on things like that occasionally, so maybe the Oscar buzz will be enough

Sterfish said...

I first heard about Secret of Kells over on Cartoon Brew a while back. It's an absolute miracle it got nominated. It looks like a really cool movie and I hope I'll get a chance to see it.

Also, that music video was awesome. I'm a huge fan of Michel Gondry's music videos and this one was simple, nice to look at, and probably didn't cost much.

Reel Fanatic said...

The colors really are simple but crazy, aren't they, Sterfish. It reminded me of walking through that crazy Christo "Gates" installation in Central Park a few years back