Monday, April 30, 2012
With the famed musical version of "Les Misérables" set for its highly anticipated release this year, I thought I should familiarize myself with the story. After attempting to read the book (I just couldn't get through the whole thing), I decided to check out an earlier non-musical film version. This 1998 version definitely lives up to the legacy of the Victor Hugo novel, as it is well-written and brought to life by a fine cast. Liam Neeson is the stand-out, fully embodying the heavy-burdened Jean Valjean in the lead role. Knowing the talent involved in the upcoming musical, I'm sure we will be in for a treat. In the mean time, I can definitely recommend this film if you need your "Les Miz" fix.
Monday, April 23, 2012
"Paradise Now" is a deep, deep film. It delves into the psyche of suicide bombers and reveals fascinating truths. Although the film is about a conflict, the director wisely chooses to skip the physical violence and focus on the grim psychology of the situation. The result is an understated, but ultimately poignant film.
Friday, April 20, 2012
This month's featured actor on the LAMB's "Acting School 101" is the esteemed Marlon Brando. Blending immense talent and undeniable sex appeal (in his younger days), he is truly one of the greats. Here are my 3 favourite scenes from Marlon Brando's filmography:
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
This week on "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" we take a look at Joss Whedon’s "Serenity". I actually hadn’t heard of this film before, but it turned out to be a solid piece of entertainment. Although it’s a true sci-fi flick, it’s not as flashy as you would expect. The plot focuses largely over a fight for control over a gifted girl named River Tam. Hence, I felt my shot should highlight her character.
My favourite shot is taken from the latter part of the film. The war is pretty much over, so where is River? She’s in the next room kicking ass! This 17-year old single-handedly takes down the meanest, deadliest creatures in the entire film. From the look of it however, she’s just warming up! Isn't she badass?
Click below for my favourite shot…
Monday, April 16, 2012
"Shame" is a mesmerizing film by the truly brilliant director Steve McQueen. His fine art background is evident here as he directs using amazing visual storytelling. This could have almost worked as a silent film. The camera work is extraordinary in this film, with amazing shot compositions. The photography was divine and aided significantly by the beautifully authentic New York setting – the office, the apartment, the night spots, the subway. Although the plot can get quite perverse at times, the cinematography maintains a comfortably intimate feel. The camera seems to always be perfectly placed – neither too close nor too distant and using the most effective angle for perspective. The music deserves its kudos too, as it sets the mood without being too intrusive. The score is powerfully silent in the right moments. The cast is outstanding too, as Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan are stripped bare (in every sense of the word) and take their acting to the next level. Fassbender bares his soul through the expressions on his face, while Mulligan completely plays against type and absolutely nails it. The other actors deserve credit too, particularly the flawless Nicole Beharie. I would love to see more of her. I didn’t like "Hunger", but after this film, I’m excited to see McQueen’s future work as well. If I hadn’t done my best of 2011 already, this film would have probably made the top 10.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
This week’s featured film on the "Hit me with your best shot" series is one of the most important films in cinema. 1937’s "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was the first full-length animated feature in history. Although it’s far from my favourite of Disney’s animated classics, I still appreciate its importance in the studio’s canon. It’s a bit twee at times and Snow White herself is slightly irritating. It had been ages since I had seen this film and with 2 live action interpretations coming our way, it was inevitable that I compared them in this re-visit. I assumed that the animated version would be more light-hearted in the vein of "Mirror, Mirror", but there are certainly some sinister elements that are more in line with "Snow White and the Huntsman". For example, this children’s film includes the huntsman and his orders to return with Snow White’s heart! My favourite shot looks at the main source of the film’s darkness – The Evil Queen.
Click below for my favourite shot...
Monday, April 9, 2012
"Dangerous Liaisons" is a deliciously devious film by Stephen Frears. It tells the story of 18th century French aristocrats who decide to engage in games of lust and deceit for their personal entertainment. In the lead roles, Glenn Close and John Malkovich fully embrace the high drama of the story. Although seemingly ill-fitted for the role of the sexy seducer, Malkovich's casting is inspired, as he really embodies the sliminess of Vicomte Sébastien de Valmont. As his counterpart, Close delivers a performance for the ages, portraying both the restraint and simmering passion of Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil with equal candor. Together, the chemistry between the acting duo is palpable as they delight in their manipulation of others, fully ignorant of the depravity of their actions. The supporting cast works well too, as the entire film is ably executed. The costumes are a character of their own, evoking the extravagance of the bourgeoisie in pre-revolution France. The opening scene in particular is a magnificent showcase of the detailed costume design, makeup and hair. Add these elements to the wonderful score, meticulous production design and sensational script and you get a fine film indeed.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
This week’s selection for Hit me with your best shot was "Easter Parade". The film follows a simple plot, but the production design is luscious. Fred Astaire and Judy Garland are radiant in the lead roles, bringing loads of charm and charisma. As mentioned, the overall production is spectacular. The costumes, the music, the dancing, the singing. It’s a delightful experience for the viewer and it seemed that the actors had a grand time as well. My favourite shot showcases the great pageantry that the film evokes.
Click below for my favourite shot...
Monday, April 2, 2012
Yep, you read correctly. I’m putting "The Hunger Games" on Oscar Watch. This film is an undeniable hit and could be this year’s "District 9" or "Avatar". Personally, I don’t think it’s Oscar-worthy, but it definitely wouldn’t be the worst decision the academy has made. The film is actually quite good, but it could have been better. I didn’t read the books and I know it was always headed for a PG-13 rating, so maybe these factors prevented it from packing that extra punch. The story was intriguing, but I think they played it a bit safe. It could have gone a bit deeper into the philosophy and darker with the actual hunger games. Furthermore, there was practically no character development besides Katniss Everdeen. Jennifer Lawrence is great in the role, but knowing her tremendous talent, I didn’t think it was particularly challenging for her. I expect the late prestige releases to shove this aside, but watch for potential nominations in Best Makeup, Best Costume Design and Best Actress.