Thursday, August 30, 2012

Developing Cinephilia: My Essential Films

In anticipation of my personal Top 50 movies list (check for it on Saturday evening), I thought I would share some special thoughts on a few films that were important in making me into the film geek I am today. These are not my top 4 films, but you can definitely expect to see them on my top list. You can therefore see this as a preview of some of the films you can expect to find. I'm not sure if I am sophisticated enough to be called a true "cinephile", but I sure do love movies. Looking back on my life, here are the films that inspired the blogger you read now:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

OLDIE GOLDIES: How To Marry A Millionaire (1953)

With Season 3 of The Film Experience's "Hit me with your best shot" series coming to a close, it's time to return to regular programming. This week's "Oldie Goldies" feature is the entertaining 1953 film "How To Marry A Millionaire". This tale of 3 New York City gold diggers shines on its 3 winning performances by bona fide movie stars Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall. The film picked up a lone nomination at the Oscars - Best Costume Design.

Monday, August 27, 2012


This week’s "Movie of the Week" is Michael Winterbottom’s "Trishna", a modern re-imagining of the novel 'Tess of the d’Urbervilles', relocated to take place in India. It tells the tale of a young peasant woman who becomes involved in an ill-fated romance with a wealthy businessman. The director takes an interesting approach to this tragic love story, creating a very low-key atmosphere. The film almost feels like a docudrama thanks to the directing, cinematography and screenplay. Winterbottom withholds any flashy directing style and lets the story come into focus. The dialogue is very naturalistic and never sounds scripted or disinegenous. You feel like you are just watching real people go about their everyday lives. The drama almost becomes too subdued, but the film makes up for it by being aesthetically pleasing. The shots of India are wonderful, without over-emphasizing the typical "colorful", "overpopulated" or "poverty-stricken" elements. It’s just showing you a typical developing country, albeit a very large one.
In addition, the soundtrack is lovely and surprisingly doesn’t attempt to manipulate your emotions. It’s simply good music and is well-chosen for the tone of the film. In fact, one of the music themes in the film reminded me of "In the Mood For Love" and lo and behold, it’s the same composer (Shigeru Umebayashi)!
As the title character, Freida Pinto is competent in the role. She is especially good at delivering the early tentative interactions between her and people of the upper-class. She nails the uncomfortable English speech (she only has a basic eduation), as well as the self-deprecating sense of respect for anyone above her social status. If you know about India’s traditional caste system, then you’d understand that this is a key aspect to this story. Despite these strengths, I still think the role would have been more effective with a more "theatrical" performer. Pinto is unable to fully express the highs and lows of her character’s journey. Hence, we aren’t really tuned in to Trishna’s inner turmoil throughout the film. As a result, the emotional pay-off at the end falls short, as we are unable to fully sympathize with her. This is a big problem for the film, as its impact depends on sympathy for the victim. Considering how the plot unfolds, the viewer should be absolutely devastated by the end. I wasn’t, and I realized this as a missed opportunity. Everything considered, the film is still on my mind weeks later, so it must be doing something right. I am sure the wonderful scenery and music have a lot to do with it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Here we are at the season finale of Hit me with your best shot and it really does make me sad. It has been another great season and I will surely miss these Wednesday night blogathons. For this final episode we looked at Dog Day Afternoon. I was initially a bit perplexed when Nathaniel announced this choice, as the film is known more for its awesome screenplay rather than its memorable visuals. I relished the challenge though, as these sort of films have inspired some of the most fascinating articles in this series. Surprisingly I ended up with lots of shots to choose from, as the shenanigans of the plot really deliver some good stuff to work with.

Click below for my favourite shot...

Monday, August 20, 2012

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: The Conversation

When I decided to watch this film, I didn’t have the highest of expectations. I don’t know where those doubts came from though, as Coppola was making some really outstanding films around this time. Well, he hit the mark once again with the mesmerizing “The Conversation”. The film is a great character study of an audio surveillance expert (played by Gene Hackman) whose paranoia leads him to obsession with a couple that he is investigating. Hackman delivers a fine performance as can be expected, creating an incredibly fascinating character. His work here is the kind of "no frills" execution that often belies the skill required. His casting was ideal, as his "everyman" persona was perfectly suited for this role. Coppola was really hitting his stride in the 70s, as this film is strong all-around. The music creates the mysterious tone of the film, while the editing and writing make for a very engaging story. I was really caught off-guard by this flick. Highly recommended.

This film is part of my List of Shame.

Friday, August 17, 2012

#FF Best of 2012, Vacations from hell and more...

Everyone knows the early half of the year is usually low on quality when it comes to films. However, there have already been some gems to be found at the cinema this year. Over at Anomalous Material, Castor named Moonrise Kingdom as his favourite thus far. Check out his year's best post and other great reads from the past week below:

In his latest "Q&A", Castor talks about the Best Movies of 2012 so far. Head on over there and sound off on your favourites.

Andrew recently launched his "Essential Performances of the 90's Showdown", so head on over and participate!

Dan brings us a new top 10 list this week, ranking The Top 10 films that will make you reconsider vacations. Funny enough, I'm actually travelling today. Pray that I don't get into any trouble!

Courtney recently reviewed a pretty good film called Bernie. Go read his review and watch the film if you haven't already.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sight & Sound Poll: The Forgotten Films

There's been a lot of talk lately about Sight and Sound's highly regarded "Greatest Films" poll. As you are probably aware, "Vertigo" finally toppled long-time champ "Citizen Kane" for the #1 spot. Just today, the BFI (British Film Institute) released their database which lists all the voters, their lists and all the films that were mentioned. It's incredibly fascinating to find out which films didn't receive any mentions. Personally, I'm preparing to publish my own top 50 list and I must say it's slightly disheartening to find out that 4 of my top 5 didn't receive a single nod (out of 2,045 films)! Especially when there was room for Zoolander on 2 lists! Alas, as a fellow blogger reminded me, one shouldn't feel the need to justify their own tastes.

Here are some noteworthy films that were surprisingly absent:


Large Association of Movie Blogs
The LAMB has another installment of "LAMB Acting School 101" lined up and this time we are showcasing the talents of none other than...Brad Pitt. As one of the biggest movie stars of the past 20 years, his acting ability is often disregarded. However, I am a firm believer that Pitt is really one of the strongest working actors we have. For this post, I will be looking at my 3 favourite scenes from his films. In planning this, I found that a lot of his strongest work is surprisingly comedic in nature. As a result, my 3 scenes show off his considerable comedic chops:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


This week on Hit me with your best shot, we perused one of the most enjoyable films ever made – "Singing in the Rain". This joyful musical never fails to delight with its memorable songs, hilarious performances, colorful costumes and superb dancing (!!). For this assignment, I narrowed it down to 2 choices exploring different themes. In the end, I chose an image that stands out from the rest of the film.

Click below for my favourite shot...

Monday, August 13, 2012

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Oslo, August 31st

We’ve seen movies about drug addicts before, but nothing quite like "Oslo, August 31st". We always read reviews about how "realistic" and "authentic" a movie is, but this is one of them that truly nails it. This film takes an incredibly fascinating look at the post-rehab phase and thus removes all the harrowing madness of the addiction period. The story follows a rehabilitated man who gets a day’s leave to do a job interview and meet up with old friends. As he tries to assimilate into normal life again, he finds its not "a bed of roses", as he learns that life is tough even for those who seemingly lack significant "struggles". The screenplay shines as it takes such a nonchalantly frank look at the banality of everyday life. There is no overt sentimentality and yet, this film is still deeply felt. I was mesmerized by the directing, acting, cinematography, sound design and screenplay. To me, this film is simply flawless. My review could never do it justice. I highly recommend watching this film and judging its greatness for yourself.

Friday, August 10, 2012

#FF Oscar Predictions, Podcasts and more...

As you probably heard by now, The Great Gatsby has been rescheduled to be released in summer 2013, rather than Christmas 2012. The move seems to have opened up a spot in Oscar categories across the board. Check out John's (from John Likes Movies) Best Picture predictions, along with other great posts below:

John analyzes the Oscar race and gives us his Best Picture predictions.

Ryan and Lindsay did a special episode of The Matineecast, where they talk about Step Up Revolution! I love Lindsay's enthusiasm and Ryan's embarassment due to his knowledge of dance movies.

On last week's French Toast Sunday podcast, the gang discussed their favourite travel movies. They even played my voicemail!

Andrew has been a champion of "The Deep Blue Sea" this year, especially Rachel Weisz' performance. In his latest "Scene on a Sunday" he examines an exhilarating scene from the film.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Another edition of Hit me with your best shot brings us "Sherlock Jr.", directed by Buster Keaton. This amusing film features all the funny visual gags you would expect from a silent film. Although it didn't completely convert me into a silent film enthusiast, I could definitely see its merits. I was particularly struck by the Bond-like, blockbuster elements of the film. Although the film is low-key by today's standards, it includes explosions, chase scenes, stunts, cool gadgets, a hot chick and even some visual effects! Hence, my favourite shot highlights one of these elements.

Click below for my favourite shot...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Great Gatsby delayed until Summer!

Warner Bros. just released some devastating news. Ever since they announced the director and the cast, "The Great Gatsby" has been one of my most anticipated films of the year. Futhermore, they released the trailer and I finally read the novel and I really got the Gatsby fever. Unfortunately, the studio has decided to delay the film until to summer 2013. Apparently they want to take advantage of the large summer audiences. There's also the significant possibility that the movie is really bad (which I refuse to believe!). Despite my dismay, there could be some positives from this:

Oscar repurcussions:
- Leo can now focus on getting that Oscar for Django Unchained. But then again, he's got "The Wolf of Wall Street", so may once again split his own vote.

- Lightens up the end-of-year movie slate, which was looking really crowded. Could have resulted in some unfortunate snubs come Oscar time. You never know, 2013 could also be a heavy field, but at least The Great Gatsby will avoid the fall/winter season hoopla.

Monday, August 6, 2012


This week's "Movie of the Week" doesn't really need reviewing, as I feel like I am regurgitating everything that has been said about it. "The Raid" lives up to all the praise. It's a well-directed, well-choreographed, violent action movie. Although the story isn't anything revolutionary, it does contain just enough plot to make it rise above a "B-movie" label. Actually, writer/director Gareth Evans makes some bold choices with certain plot elements that really pay off in the end. In addition, the artistic touches indicate a director with a firm handle on what he is doing. The graphic Tarantino-esque violence can be numbing at times, but the movie is never dull. With its brisk pacing, it's exciting from start to finish. This was the first time I saw a film that really made me think about the skills involved in fight choreography. They made the fight scenes look like they were dancing. The acting wasn't bad either. If you are looking for an entertaining action movie, you can't go wrong with this one.

Friday, August 3, 2012

#FF Hairstyles, Earrings and more..

No, this isn't a special fashion post. The title's hairstyles and earrings are movie-related, I promise! Check out some of this week's great posts below:

Alex premiered his short film "Earrings" on Saturday. Go check it out, it's pretty well done.

Heather from Man, I Love Films recalls the Top 10 iconic movie hairstyles.

Dan wrote about Pirates of the Caribbean as part of his "Movies That Everyone Should See" series. I grew up in St. Vincent (it was filmed there), so this film holds a special place in my heart.

Anders Wotze made a hilarious parody of The Dark Knight trilogy. Go check it out.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT: How To Marry A Millionaire

Hit me with your best shot is back again with 1953's "How To Marry A Millionaire". This film features 3 of the hottest actresses of that era with Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall playing a trio of gold diggers in New York. It's not the most "deep" screenplay, but I had a good time watching it and was entertained from start to finish. It did bring up some interesting thoughts though, about male-female relationships during this time period. It got me thinking about "Mad Men" and how those women are objectified. When I watch this though, I start to believe it's the women who are using the men, and not the other way around.
The actresses really make this film work. These 3 leading ladies have a great knack for comedy. I loved how meticulous Bacall is in her quest (only men who wear neckties!). Grable's ignorance is cute and it was especially hilarious when she dreams of a hot dog and beer, rather than affluence like the other girls. Finally, Marilyn Monroe shines as the ditsy blonde. My favourite aspect of the film is the running gag about her poor eyesight. Pola (Monroe) refuses to wear her glasses in public out of fear that men would find her unattractive. Every time she had a mishap I was howling with laughter, she plays it so well. My favourite shot relates to her predicament.

Click below for my favourite shot...