Friday, September 28, 2012
Alex from And So It Begins... is celebrating his 5th "Blogiversary" with a series of fantastic top 10 lists. My favourite so far is his list of "Top 10 Male Performances of All Time". Check out his picks and other great reads from this week:
Alex recently listed his "Top 10 Male Performances of All Time", which includes some of my own favourites.
Shantanu recently dug into Wes Anderson's filmography to do his latest "Profile of a Director".
Over at Man I Love Films, check out Kai's Top 10 Favorite Ridiculous Movie Character Names.
Nick shows his soft side in revealing his Top 8 Films That Make Me Cry.
The Iranian government recently lead a solo boycott of the Oscars over the recent "Innocence of Muslims" video. Hence, they won't be defending their Foreign Film Oscar win, which Amir addressed briefly in a recent post.
Andy reviews The Third Man, which is his 209th movie for the year!
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
This week on Oldie Goldies, I highlight one of the underrated gems from the Hitchcock collection - "Rope". This chilly film grabs you from the first scene. It's so sadistic, even by Hitchcock's standards! To me, the lead perpetrator seemed like a symbol of Hitchcock's sick sense of humour.
Monday, September 24, 2012
"Chasing Amy" is an impressive movie. On the surface, it looks like just another raunchy comedy, but look further and you will find one of the smartest romcoms/dramas/comedies ever made. Kevin Smith is a rare talent. He somehow manages to mix that stoner comedy aesthetic with bracing social commentary on par with some of Hollywood’s best writers. It’s those little moments when he explores those social issues that really elevate his films above the other mass appeal comedies. One moment he's tickling your funny bone, the next he is testing your brain with brilliant intellectual insight and other times, he’s tugging the heart strings with a touching love story. While this film tackles all these different genres, it’s the underlying romance that makes it so compelling. At its core, this film is about opening up your mind and heart to the love that you deserve.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
In an effort to take a nostalgic cinematic trip back to Cape Town (I lived there for 2 years), I decided to watch this film "Black Butterflies". The film tells the story of Ingrid Jonker, a struggling poet living within the constraints of South Africa's apartheid regime. Unfortunately, this film was a very disappointing dreck of a biopic. As I watched, I kept wondering why anyone would want to make a film about this woman. Based on the film's depiction of her, she was a weak, callous individual. Within the context of the anti-apartheid movement, she never seemed to have made much of a contribution. This is perhaps the fault of the filmmaker, who focuses far too much on her sexual escapades. Despite her numerous proclamations of "I love you" to her companion Jack, the romance is never believable. To that end, when her own father calls her a slut at one point in the film, you can't help but agree with him. Another setback to this film is the dialogue. It is shockingly basic, especially considering the literary prowess and intellect of the various characters. I expected much more from this film.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
This week's pick for Oldie Goldies is the classic film noir "The Third Man". This film is a refreshing take on the genre, as the lively music removes some of the usual brooding seriousness. A good film noir depends on a compelling mystery and this movie is certainly up to the task. The film received 3 Oscar nominations (Best Director, Best Editing and Best Cinematography, which it won).
Monday, September 17, 2012
"Arbitrage" is a firecracker of a film. It puts the "thrill" in thriller. Intense from start to finish, it's like a taut rubber band waiting to pop. The smart, tight screenplay had my heart racing for the whole duration of the film. It moves at such a brisk pace, you would almost think you were watching an action movie. The plot surrounds a prominent hedge fund magnate Robert Miller who is simultaneously dealing with a financial crisis and a catastrophic accent, both with serious implications. As Miller, Richard Gere is absolutely riveting, taking us through the tribulations of a man teetering on the edge of destruction. At any point in the film you know that his secrets could be blown wide open. Gere really portrays the turmoil well, pulling off a performance that is both internally smoldering and outwardly expressive. You can sense that he's constantly on the verge of imploding. His actions have dire consequences for him, his family and others involved. In other words, this man is in some deep s***. This character won’t go down without a fight though, despite all the suspicions that implicate him. It’s a firm reminder that when it comes to rich people, the standard rules of justice don’t really apply.
What further keeps this movie so gripping is the strong ensemble supporting Gere all the way. As the 3 persons most affected by Gere’s predicament, Susan Sarandon, Nate Parker and Brit Marling dig into this screenplay with fierce commitment. Their acting really showcases not only their talents, but the high quality of the script. It’s clear that this director has a strong grasp of the subject matter. What a stunning debut for Nicholas Jarecki.
Friday, September 14, 2012
Despite being 73 years old, "The Wizard of Oz" is a film that still holds up incredibly well today. One of the big reasons for this is the costumes, which Mette highlights in her latest "Fabulous Filmic Fashion Friday" post. Check out that article among other great posts this week:
Mette explored the marvelous costumes in The Wizard of Oz.
Tom recently reviewed one of my favourite films The Royal Tenenbaums.
Dan reviewed one of the more divisive films of the year (Bachelorette) and like me, he is lukewarm about the film.
In his latest review, Andrew shares his assessment of one of the most inexplicably funny films I've ever seen - Damsels in Distress.
Maria Sofia from Film Flare looked at the gorgeous visual quality of Jane Eyre.
Jessica recently wrote a very interesting article about The ethical quandary when you pay to watch a movie you know you’re going to hate.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
So yeah, I watched "Werckmeister Harmonies". I truly hoped to give this a positive grade but it really didn't click with me. I'm giving this the "rotten tomato" label, but there are some very good things about the film. Mainly, the film certainly contains some arresting visuals. The cinematography genuinely looks like its straight out of the golden age of black and white cinema. It's got a really nice texture to it. The camera fixes such an intense gaze on the actors, it can be truly mesmerizing at times. In addition, the opening moments are beautiful and poetic, but after that the film becomes increasingly distant and disengaging. It wasn't necessarily a complete slog, but the plot was just so uninteresting to me. I almost wished someone would break the third wall and briefly explain to me what was going on.
One last thing. I like a good long take as much as the next guy, but for the love of god, don't overdo it!
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Welcome to another edition of Oldie Goldies. The featured film this week is the popular Hitchcock thriller "North By Northwest". This film is a true masterclass in directing, with some stunning shots and a thrilling storyline. It doesn't hurt that it also has 2 fantastic performances by Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint who light up with the screen with their steamy chemistry. At the Oscars, the film received nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing and Best Original Screenplay.
Monday, September 10, 2012
This week’s choice for Movie of the Week is Richard Linklater’s wonderful high school comedy "Dazed and Confused". As his fans know, Linklater is one of the best writers around and in this 1993 film, he is in fine form. This excellent screenplay is like the perfect time capsule. It features a stellar ensemble of future stars (including Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich, Adam Goldberg, Joey Lauren Adams) who are as good as they’ve ever been, I kid you not. This film captures the 70’s in such an authentic way that I had to keep reminding myself that this film was actually made in 1993 and not during that actual time period. Everything is on the mark - the cars, the clothes, the hair and of course that awesome soundtrack.
The story itself is an honest examination of high school culture, set during the last day of school. Linklater leaves no stone unturned, as he looks at the drinking, the drugs, the relationships, the hazing rituals and the overall sociology of those simultaneously awful and glorious high school years. Despite including these situations in the plot, Linklater has no time for unnecessary raunch and potty humour. In fact, this film manages to be funny without trying too hard. It’s an easy breezy celebration of summer. To that end, he crafts his stock characters without resorting to rote stereotypes. The geeks aren’t completely socially inept and the bullies are mischievous without being malicious. It’s quite refreshing and serves as a testament to his skill and instincts as a writer-director. For a smart coming-of-age high school flick, you can’t do much better than “Dazed and Confused”. It’s just as relevant now as it was back then.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Yesterday I had the pleasure of catching an exclusive screener (thanks Anil!) of a new indie film called "Pixelschatten". The film tells the story of a young blogger Pixel, as his blog's waning popularity and his friends' disillusionment cause him to re-think his life. In making the movie, the filmmakers use a really cool shooting technique, giving you an interesting first-person perspective. It makes you feel like you are a part of the film's plot and fosters a strong connection to the characters. Although it took me a while to adjust to the quick edits, it was a uniquely exciting new experience. The film is solid all-around - great writing, music, acting and cinematography. It has a truly intimate feel to it, leading up to a well-earned emotional pay-off at the end. This is the work of an assured, confident director (Anil Kunnel) who has a bright future ahead. I have no reservations in recommending this film. Like David Fincher's "The Social Network", this film brilliantly captures our modern online culture. As a blogger myself, I could definitely relate with Pixel's obsession.
"Pixelschatten" will have its North American premiere at the Palo Alto International Film Festival on September 29. You can also check the official website: www.pixelschatten.com for more screening information.
Friday, September 7, 2012
So, I watched "Hope Springs" this week and it made me realize that Meryl Streep could really be in line for another Oscar nomination. Yes, I can hear you groaning at that, but by most accounts this year's Best Actress field looks very limited. I certainly think Streep's performance is good enough to make it in. Go read what Amir has to say on the matter and check out the other great posts from this past week:
Amir addresses the lack of obvious contenders in the Best Actress field this year.
For her "Scene of the Week", Margaret chose a wonderful (albeit spoiler-ish) scene from Take Shelter.
The Vern also looked at memorable scenes in Part 1 of his "Top 10 Favourite Scenes From Movies".
John reviews the agonizing, but well-made film Compliance.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
On this week's Oldie Goldies we check out Hitchcock's 1955 mystery caper - "To Catch A Thief". This lite, entertaining film features 2 of his most famous stars Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. It's lovely to look at and the academy certainly agreed. In addition to winning the Oscar for Best Cinematography, the film also netted nominations in Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.
Monday, September 3, 2012
My favourite film for this week is "Platoon" and yes, it's another movie on the Vietnam war. This film however, rises above the stereotypical "war movie" trappings and delivers a mesmerizing movie-watching experience. Unlike other action-oriented films in the genre, this one shines most when exploring the philosophical ideas surrounding war, and society as a whole. This is usually achieved through surprisingly effective narration by Charlie Sheen. Sheen’s voice-over guides you through the film, setting the tone and providing some deep insight. The film showcases the internal warfare that results within platoons as tensions run high and loyalties are tested. In the end, the film proves that war stimulates cruelty not only towards the enemy, but also towards your companions.
While the screenplay alone is able to elevate this film, the production values are also outstanding. This is one of the few times where I noticed the skill involved in a film’s sound design. The sound mixing in this film is really top-notch. Too often we get war movies were the warfare scenes are loud and abrasive, but in this film it’s pleasantly balanced with the dialogue and other ambient sounds. The cinematography is excellent too, employing a striking green motif. Of course, these grand war movies require a capable ensemble cast and this one definitely delivers. John Berenger and Willem Dafoe were definitely deserving of their Oscar nominations, but I was personally most impressed by Charlie Sheen in the lead role. He was the emotional and moral anchor of the film and he handled it extremely well. Ultimately, I would still rate that other famous "Nam" film "Apocalypse Now" higher, but this film is immensely satisfying in its own right.
This film is part of my List of Shame.