BLOG: Window Seat: The Harmony of Rear Window

rear window.jpg

by Ken Bakely 

NOTE: I run an Oscar predictions contest every year, and the winner gets to select one film for me to review. This year, Rear Window was suggested. While writing, this piece started out as a traditional review, with a star rating and all, but slowly transformed into a more specific, contextualized essay. As a result, I’ve excised many aspects of my reviews, such as a detailed plot synopsis. This piece assumes that you’ve seen the movie, or are at least familiar with it. However, there are no spoilers.

If someone was going to remake Rear Window, I could only see one “in” – one reason to approach this content and try to rebuild it. Perhaps the one angle which Alfred Hitchcock did not take, but could prove intriguing, is to go deeper into the restrictions of its setting. The film takes place entirely within the line of sight of L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart), a photographer who finds himself strung up in a wheelchair. He’s spent the past several weeks confined to his apartment, staring out the window into the courtyard, where four other buildings meet. It’s a hot summer, and everyone has their windows wide open. You can see right in. He becomes convinced that one of his neighbors has committed a murder. Soon his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) have been roped into his suspicions, and poke and prod on his behalf, as paranoid whims give way into increasingly precarious situations.

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BLOG: Fixing the Oscars: Shortened Principles

by Ken Bakely

NOTE: This will either be a stand-alone blog post or the start of a multi-part series detailing various suggestions for improving the Oscars. Whether or not there are sequels will depend on my enthusiasm for writing them and the web traffic performance of this installment.

I’ve made no bones about my distaste for the Academy Awards themselves. In that respect, I’m in good company, but I seem to be in more of a minority when it comes to my criticism for the structure of the ceremony itself. I consider myself something of a casual award show viewer, in the sense that I focus on the “major” ones: those that can be specifically named as synonymous with their industries, and don’t contain the word “choice” in the title. The Oscars seem to always stand out as the most endless of all of them. The Globes, Emmys, Tonys, and Grammys are usually pretty good at fitting into their allotted timeslots. Oscar ceremony producers seem to use the scheduled end time as a 30 minute warning.

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BLOG: Dancing in the Moonlight: Thoughts on the 89th Academy Awards

moonlight-oscar-card

A last-second correction is made at the Oscars.


by Ken Bakely

Between this and the Super Bowl, 2017 is a confusing year for people who turn off their TVs early.

The circumstances surrounding Moonlight winning Best Picture overpower the surprise that comes from the very notion of the film taking the trophy: this was, in any case, a tremendous upset. Every prognosticator, myself included, had predicted a victory for La La Land. Yet as the night went on, with the movie losing several categories seemingly tailor-made for it (sound awards and editing, etc.), a weakness emerged. But nobody could have foreseen how it all ended.

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BLOG: Blowing Raspberries at the Raspberries

The best <$10 honor in show business.

The best <$10 honor in show business.

by Ken Bakely

NOTE: The structure of the following text was salvaged from an unfinished post written in early 2014.

Founded in 1981 by Hollywood publicist John J.B. Wilson in his living room following a potluck dinner the night of that year’s Academy Awards, the principle of  the Golden Raspberry Awards, for those of you who do not know, is to “honor” the worst films of a given year, the anti-Oscars/Golden Globes/Critics Choice Awards/BAFTAs/the other eleven zillion awards shows that crop up each winter. Held the night before the Oscars (all the world’s press are already in L.A. by then, and may as well cover it) in a “deliberately low-end… ceremony”, the Razzies are voted on by anyone who pays membership dues.

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BLOG: A Spotlight on the 88th Academy Awards

What other picture did you think I would use for this post? (Credit: Getty Images)

What other picture did you think I would use for this post? (Credit: Getty Images)

by Ken Bakely

First off, yay Leo!

My personal prediction score was 17/24, or 71% (about par for the course). I’m happy that my bet on Spotlight winning Best Picture panned out. It’s not my favorite out of the nominees, but I’m not overly upset that it won. It was great to see Mad Max: Fury Road take home six statuettes, and even more wonderful to witness 87-year-old Ennio Morricone win his first competitive Oscar, clinching the Best Original Score award for The Hateful Eight, following an unprecedented career of more than six hundred projects over the past seventy years. Interestingly, Mark Rylance was able to capture the Best Supporting Actor trophy, after many (myself included) had long switched over into believing Sly Stallone had the Oscar in the bag. The word on the street is that Rylance hardly campaigned at all, so it was up to the studio’s PR department to rally the votes.

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BLOG: 2016 Oscar Predictions

Academy_of_Motion_Picture_Arts_and_Sciences_logooscar

by Ken Bakely

The Academy Awards are upon us yet again. In just a few days, fancy envelopes will tell us what movies old white men in Hollywood liked the most from last year. And as is tradition for this site, I will share my predictions for the big show with you, and if you really feel like taking a risk, I’ll let you use them for your own Oscar pools (that is, if you’re prepared to lose potentially large sums of money). I will be providing my predictions in all twenty-four categories, although I’ll only provide commentary for the biggest and/or most contested categories.

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Blog: Literal Green Envy

Money

by Ken B.

Before we get to the point of today’s topic, let me tell you a story: Much has been made about PewDiePie. For the six of you who are unaware, PewDiePie is the screen name of Felix Kjellberg, a Swedish YouTuber who gained fame with his Let’s Plays, where he plays a video game and overlays it with his commentary. I’m not a fan – I think he’s too loud, nonsensical, and his sense of humor a bit too obnoxious for my tastes, but I respect what he’s been able to build, and off so little. After dropping out of college, and his parents refusing to loan him any more money as a result, Kjellberg had to work small jobs to fund his online work.

And then he didn’t.

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Blog: Writers Before Critics?

by Ken B.

Yesterday (which, at the time of this writing, would be April 24, 2015), we learned of the death of Richard Corliss, who had worked as a film critic for Time magazine since 1980. He was no doubt one of the more renowned, recognizable, and esteemed members of the criticism community, with a decades long roster of accessible, insightful, and clever reviews, such as his for The Crying Game, in which the first letter of every paragraph spells out one of the movie’s biggest plot twists.

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Blog: 100% Historical Accuracy (or why Selma and other historical dramas can get a pass or two)

change the world selma

by Ken B.

It seems like it’s been impossible to navigate through this awards season without encountering some criticism leveled at Ava DuVernay’s Selma – specifically, controversy over the film’s depiction of Lyndon B. Johnson as reluctant to work with Martin Luther King, Jr. and his causes. “You’ve got one problem, I’ve got a hundred and one.” Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) says to King (David Oyelowo) at one point in the movie. The context of that scene is Johnson explaining that he is a full-on politician – the President of the United States, and King is seen as a lobbyist, by definition focusing largely on one issue, which at that time was transitioning into the birthing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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