Monday, December 31, 2007
3. No Country For Old Men
5. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
6. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
11. Eastern Promises
13. The Bourne Ultimatum
14. Charlie Wilson’s War
15. Away From Her
16. The Hoax
17. Knocked Up
18. Gone Baby Gone
19. A Mighty Heart
20. The Devil Came on Horseback
BEST FILM: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
BEST DIRECTOR: David Fincher, Zodiac
RUNNER-UP: Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
BEST ACTOR: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
RUNNER-UP: Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises
BEST ACTRESS: Helena Bonham-Carter, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
RUNNER-UP: Niki Blonsky, Hairspray
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men
RUNNER-UP: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
RUNNER-UP: Julia Roberts, Charlie Wilson’s War
BEST SCREENPLAY: Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men
RUNNER-UP: Brad Bird, Ratatouille
WORST FILM: Redacted
RUNNER-UP: Shoot ‘Em Up
I Am Legend is another film that shoots for greatness, though it’s farther away. The film is almost completely undone by the shabby CGI work and the character design of the Dark Seekers. Why didn’t they just use real actors for those roles? The character design of the Dark Seekers, which is atrocious, looks like something you’d find on the cutting room floor for The Mummy series. You can clearly tell the director was far more interested in the last man on Earth plot than the action-adventure aspect.
Will Smith’s truly great performance carries the motion picture and saves the day at the end. I’ve never seen the Fresh Prince so completely vulnerable before. Easily his best performances to date.
Friday, December 28, 2007
I’m sorry but your six year old child doesn’t need to see a motion picture that was clearly made for adults. He won’t understand it. He’ll be horrified. Let your kid be a kid.
These parents have this fantasy of turning their little children into little versions of themselves. It’s a sickness really.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
I’m usually against director’s tinkering around with their work in the hope of appealing to modern sensibilities, but Blade Runner is a special case for obvious reasons. Every alteration in The Final Cut is so subtle that unless you were a super fan, you would never detect anything. The credit of this belongs to director Ridley Scott.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Sweeney Todd did good at the box-office weekend with a respectable ten million dollars in fifth place. The 28% drop-off between Friday and Saturday is a tad alarming. The better picture of it’s box-office prospects will be painted next weekend.
First, what’s up with the Silence of the Lambs middle section? Where did that come from? The film would have been much better without it. I did on the other hand enjoy the casting decisions… those faces rival anything you’ll see in a Sergio Leone film. See the film and you’ll know what I mean.
Second, I was far more impressed with Casey Affleck’s performance than Amy Ryan‘s, who is barley in the film. The love she is receiving from critic’s groups is completely uncalled for.
Casey Affleck on the other hand made one hell of a tough guy, an unlikely one too. This may sound strange but he reminded me of a young Robert Mitchum. I’m now really excited to see The Assignation of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford just for Affleck alone.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
"Juno is a film that has so much heart, honesty, and such a hopeful look at life that it is extremely hard not to like. The characters are simple, the plot is simple, the direction is even great but simple. It's the strength in the screenwriting that sells the film and adds that extra kick that makes it stand out so much."
"Burton is really at his best in every single possible way. His dark gothic/German experssionism? Check. His gorgeous moody lighting and cinematography? Check. His bight, playful, and colorful side? Check. His morbid sense of humor? Check. All of his trademarks are here but he reaches a level of command and perfection to them all that they all serve to paint a beautiful and masterful film."
There Will Be Blood:
"I wont be going into plot specifics. This film can not be summed up so easily. I will just say that it is pure perfection and greatness non stop. The last act of the film is sure to leave most people just in stunned silence. There are also a lot of select scenes which are sure to strike up some controversy and debate between people. Anderson has created a film that is so dense with so many layers of depth and symbolism that I am sure will have everyone talking as well as having many people rewatching as soon as it hits DVD."
Friday, December 21, 2007
I’ve been madly in love with the material ever since I discovered it while in high school. Burton’s film is incredibly faithful, yet slightly different in the right places so that it’s not just a record of the stage show. Stephen Sondheim should be very proud. More people will see it this opening weekend than they saw it during it’s original run on Broadway in 1979. That just warms my heart knowing that Sondheim will reach such a large audience in such a short time.
I’m just so ecstatic right now. I just wanted the film to be “Rent-good”. That’s all I asked for… What a surprise to find out that Burton has managed to make a masterpiece from a masterpiece.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
(AP) - Roddy White and four other Atlanta Falcons were fined by the NFL for violating uniform regulations with tributes to Michael Vick during last week's Monday night game.
Vick, Atlanta's suspended Pro Bowl quarterback, was sentenced to 23 months in prison on federal dogfighting charges the morning of Dec. 10. The Falcons played at home against New Orleans that night.
After scoring a touchdown, White displayed a "Free Mike Vick" T-shirt under his jersey. He, along with tight end Alge Crumpler and cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Chris Houston, were fined $10,000 each. Crumpler, Hall and Houston all wore black eye strips with written tributes to Vick, which the league called "displaying an unauthorized personal message."
Wide receiver Joe Horn was fined $7,500 for pulling up White's jersey to show the black T-shirt with handwritten white lettering. The fines were confirmed Tuesday by NFL spokesman Randall Liu.
Hall also had a poster of Vick on the field during pre-game introductions.
Free Michael Vick? Are you fucking kidding me? The man tortured dogs to death because they failed him in dog fights. What is going on with society?
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Haynes clearly takes all the poet warrior shtick Dylan’s been throwing out for years seriously, which is a shame as I believe that that’s the least interesting thing about Bob Dylan. It’s just a stupid routine Dylan just got stuck doing since his early years.
Call me a square but I much prefer Martin Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home over Haynes’ film. No Richard Gere as Billy the Kid (?) in sight. Now that’s a good thing. Still, I'm Not There is always interesting.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Bus Stop tells the charming story about a psychopathic man-child by the name of Bo, who leaves the ranch in search of rodeo glory and a woman to loose his virginity to. Lucky for him that woman is Mrs. Marilyn Monroe. Unlucky for her, Bo doesn’t except no as an answer.
After much stalking and psychical threats, dear Marilyn falls for the mongoloid after he gets his ass kicked by a bus driver who apparently enjoys intercourse with older woman who run truck stops.
I’m not joking… That’s Bus Stop in a nutshell.
On the plus side it’s one of the most gorgeous Widescreen Technicolor films I’ve ever seen. You also get a scene where Bo eats three raw hamburgers with onion. Really, this is the fucking movie you’re going to get.
Up until now, the only Sam Peckinpah film I’ve really treasured was The Wild Bunch. I’ve always found the work of Peckinpah really messy and unrealized, which is not entirely his fault. The man had practically picture he made altered by studio forces.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Major props to Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Kelly MacDonald, and Josh Brolin.
Best Director: TIM BURTON, Sweeney Todd
Best Actor: GEORGE CLOONEY, Michael Clayton
Best Actress: JULIE CHRISTIE, Away From Her
Best Supporting Actor: CASEY AFFLECK, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Best Supporting Actress: AMY RYAN, Gone Baby Gone
Best Foreign Film: THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
Best Documentary: BODY OF WAR
Best Animated Feature: RATATOUILLE
Best Ensemble Cast: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: EMILE HIRSCH, Into The Wild
Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: ELLEN PAGE, Juno
Best Directorial Debut: BEN AFFLECK, Gone Baby Gone
Best Original Screenplay (tie):
DIABLO CODY, Juno and NANCY OLIVER, Lars and the Real Girl
Best Adapted Screenplay: JOEL COEN and ETHAN COEN, No Country For Old Men
Top Ten Films:
(In alphabetical order)
THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
THE BUCKET LIST
INTO THE WILD
THE KITE RUNNER
LARS AND THE REAL GIRL
Sunday, December 2, 2007
There was only one hiccup during the night when the actor who was playing Scar had trouble with his microphone, which went out during the tail of ‘Be Prepared’. He swatted at it in effort to fix it, but it only made it worse. He sounded like he was under water. Lucky for the audience it came back a few seconds later.
The standout out for me was the actress who played Nala, Erica Ash. Her rendition of ‘Shadowland’ was a real “scorcher” as I like to say.
A truly once in a lifetime experience.
By the way, while in Detroit I ate an à la carte restaurant called The Sign of the Beef Carver. I had a hot turkey sandwich smothered in gravy with a slice of pumpkin pie on the side.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Tom O'Neil, Gold Derby:
"An embargo surrounding this film prohibits us journos from reviewing it, but we're permitted to discuss it in general terms, so let's try to tread that fine line so I can inform you about the most important movie of 2007. Certainly, it's the best I've seen all year, although, of course, I'm a bit biased as a diehard fan of the Broadway show.
Everybody whose opinion I pooled after the screening tonight said they thought the movie and Johnny Depp were brilliant. And everybody thought it was outrageously bloody and grisly. Many said they didn't think it could win best picture because of that. Yes, there was widespread belief that it'll be nommed for best pic, director and actor — maybe even best actress (Helena Bonham Carter), too — and that MAYBE Johnny could win, but not the film. Not because it doesn't deserve it. But because of all the blood, they say.
But is that true? Hold your derby horses, naysayers! Didn't lots of Oscarologists say "The Departed" was too violent to win last year? Didn't "Silence of the Lambs" break the taboo against horror flicks winning? Hey, are we all such a nation of wimps that we'll let a little blood — OK, a lot of it — get in the way of the year's best picture winning best picture?
After tonight's screening, I asked a number of journos the same questions: Do you think "Sweeney Todd" is going to have huge megabuzz and a high Cool Factor when it comes out? Yes, they all agreed. Is it going to be one of those Gotta-See Pix? Unanimous answer: yes.
If that's true — and it clearly is — then those factors may be enough to help it float the blood biz. And, frankly, the red stuff is handled in such an outlandish, cartoonish way that it often doesn't feel real.
But the movie does. In fact, it makes viewers feel so deeply in profound emotional and psychological ways, that it will haunt you, on many levels, long afterward. Director Tim Burton has created a masterpiece for the ages. If namby-pamby Oscar voters are too squeamish to give it the best picture award it deserves, Sweeney Todd would be entirely justified to give them all a close shave."
Jeffery Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere:
"I went to last night's screening of Sweeney Todd (Dreamamount, 11.21) with a guarded attitude. Here we go, another flush of the downward Burton swirl, get ready for it. The man has been in a kind of losing-it mode since Planet of the Apes and he's had his day...live with it. And then it began, and less than two minutes in I knew it was exceptional and perhaps more than that.
Ten minutes later I was feeling something growing within me. Surprise turned to admiration turned to amazement. I felt filled up, delighted. I couldn't believe it...a Tim Burton film that reverses the decline! Call me a changed man. Call Burton a changed man. Sweeney Todd is his best film since...Beetlejuice?
I have to leave for LAX and a flight to Boston in less than an hour, but I have to get at least some of this down.
All my life I've loved -- worshipped -- what Stephen Sondheim's music can do for the human heart. Blend this with a tragic, grand guignol metaphor about how we're all caught up with some issue of the past -- needing on some level to pay the world back for the hurt and the woundings. Add to this Burton's exquisite visual panache and precision, the drop-dead beautiful, near monochromatic color, the ravishing production design and...pardon me for sounding like a pushover, but this movie pushes over.
At times it melted me like a candle. I was lifted, moved. I was never not aroused. Every frame is a painting.
Johnny Depp is fantastic as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street -- he has to be a Best Actor candidate as of this moment. It grieves me to admit this, but bully-boy David Poland predicted that Depp's Todd would be a major contender early last year. Helena Bonham Carter can't sing very well but she's great anyway. Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Jamie Campbell Bower (a major new arrival), Jayne Wisener, Sascha Baron Cohen...everyone fills the bill."
Sunday, November 25, 2007
I know this flickering hard-on is beloved to many, but I just fail to see it’s greatness. I’ve tried real hard during several screenings to see what everyone else sees, but I can not. Admittedly I’m jealous.
A Coversation with Irvin Malcolm
Friday, November 23, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
No Country for Old Men
Into the Wild
Joel & Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men
Joe Wright - Atonement
P.T. Anderson - There Will be Blood
Tim Burton - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Ridley Scott - American Gangster
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will be Blood
Denzel Washington - American Gangster
Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
George Clooney - Michael Clayton
James McAvoy - Atonement
Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose
Julie Christie - Away from Her
Amy Adams - Enchanted
Ellen Page - Juno
Keira Knightley - Atonement
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton
Casey Affleck - The Assignation of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
John Travolta - Hairspray
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett - I’m Not There
Kelly McDonald - No Country for Old Men
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
Leslie Mann - Knocked Up
Ruby Dee - American Gangster
Monday, November 19, 2007
I wish I could hug this film.
No American film has rivaled Days of Heaven’s beauty since 1978. Most modern films use filters and are digitally color corrected so they appear slick and glossy and look like every other motion picture. Rarely now does a filmmaker rely on his film stock and lighting.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
I’m glad I’m not alone with opinion on Brian DePalma’s Redacted. Jeffrey Wells nails it with his review posted earlier today:
"Brian DePalma's Redacted pretends to be a video verite account of some horrid homicidal behavior on the part of some U.S. troops (based on an actual incident) with a third-act stab at depicting the moral penalty for such deeds. I saw it as a sloppy film about a group of badly directed actors playing soldiers, and the hell of being surrounded by pretension gone wrong. I've never seen a worst-acted film by a major-league director in my life. DePalma has no ear -- no ear whatsoever -- and those who see Redacted will suffer because of this.
It's basically about a grunt who sees himself as a future director (Izzy Diaz) incessantly taping his deeply irritating buddies talking about their pathetic lives and viewpoints, and basically watching these guys (a couple of whom are disgustingly overweight) be gross, common and deeply uninteresting. On top of DePalma making us listen to loop after loop after loop of George Friderich Handel's Sarabande (this music is owned by Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon -- what was DePalma thinking?).
I'm in full agreement with David Denby's comment, which is that Redacted is "hell to sit through." It's the atrocious acting that gives it this quality. It made me do the usual thing I do when I'm trying to get through a rough sit -- leaning forward, tapping left foot, hands over face, quiet groans, singing my favorite songs to myself, etc."
I’m pleased that Redacted is finally being exposed as the piece of shit that it is. These reviews have also reminded me what a joke Brian DePalma's last film The Black Dahlia was… and that film contained my beloved Scar-Jo!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Redacted is based on a real event that happened in Samarra, Iraq in 2006. A fifteen year old Iraqi girl was raped and killed along with a majority of her family by a group of U.S soldiers. Redacted is not the film to tell this story. Every acting choice by the actors rings incredibly false. To show that these young men are out for blood, De Palma has them practically drooling, grabbing their crotches, and spewing racial epitaphs in every scene. These guys are beyond mongoloids. Certainly it took mongoloids to commit such an horrendous act, but I doubt they resembled the 1972 Oakland Raiders.
Brian De Palma’s use of amateur actors kills any chance for Redacted to be taken seriously. Virtually every actor in the movie delivers their lines with a jittery, stream of conscious delivery that you often see in a high school drama class doing improvisations. Also add a layer of the worst Eminem imitation you’ve ever seen.
Redacted contains more stereotypes that The Dirty Dozen. It’s as if Brian De Palma hasn’t been around another human-being in years. You have the fat, raciest redneck who camouflages himself in the stars and bars. You have the wacky Latino who speaks like Speedy Gonzalez. You have the weak, whining, bookwork liberal who stands above the fray and sees the truth… grab me barf bag so I can hurl. You have to be with these people for the whole movie! They do everything according to their stereotype. If you’re looking for any sort of deviation from the playbook, you’re watching the wrong movie.
Bill O’Reilly is wrong about Redacted. The film is not anti-military or anti-American. It’s anti-good.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Also, you have to give credit to Liman and screenwriter Simon Kinberg for taking the allegory of broken marriages and domestic violence to the logical extreme.
And has Angelina Jolie ever looked more attractive on film? The woman seems to be specially created for the movies.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Evan’s been gong through a rough time as of late. He got thrown out of his apartment and had to move in with his old man.
Myself and my friend Ricky went over to Evan’s new home for a dinner party. To be frank, the “dinner” actually consisted of a case of Red Stripe beer, a loaf of mini rye bread, a hunk of cheddar cheese, and a prostitute named Skylar that Evan’s Dad (Mr. D) knew from his previous job as a night security guard for Michigan Sugar.
Evan was promising us a fun night full of laughs and good stories. What we actually got was a nightmare full of sexual humiliation and thinly veiled racism, which was unfortunately mostly directed at Ricky. The night pretty much consisted of Mr. D challenging his son’s sexual orientation and trying to force his son to have sex with Skylar in the living room in front of us.
“Fuck her! Fuck Her! Wooooo! She wants to!”
Evan has a smirk on had face assuming this was a joke, “Dad, I don’t want to do this!” he nervously laughed.
“Holy shit! Maybe I should brought you over a dude… huh Little Miss Jackie? Little Miss Jackie! Little Miss Jackie!”
This is when Mr. D put down his very stiff drink and grabbed Evan’s shirt collar, “Either you drop the shtick and grab you dick, or I swear to God I will fucking unload in your fucking face…”
Evan started to tear up, “I want to go home…ok… I think I want to go home
“Stop it! Please!”
“What do you got, whiskey dick?”
“I don’t love her enough to do that to her. Hell, I don’t even know that girl!”
“If you don’t start pounding that capital ‘V’ in the next minute, I will fucking invade your asshole with the high hard hat. I don’t give a fuck about life. I don’t give a fuck about you. I don’t give a fuck about Skylar. You can get it doggy-style or you can get it laying on your side. Those are your only choices. This is my house and I get to say. You have the nerve to pull that hot shot shit around me… I'll break every bone in your goddamn body. You understand me? Yeah, you're in for a change, mister, a whole other ball game!”
“Everything is going too fast! Stop!”
Evan was uncontrollably sobbing. Evan’s Dad was determined to get his son laid. The whole saga came to end when Mr. D got distracted by Ricky playing on his cell phone. He became incredibly paranoid that Ricky was calling his work to get him in trouble for some reason. I also must add that a video camera was rolling the whole time.
Later in the night when the sexual charades was coming to a end, I asked to use the restroom, and Mr. D said, "Sure, it's right around the corner there." Once I went in the restroom, Mr. D locked me in there for like 45 minutes. There was doo doo, feces thrown all over the walls, the floor, the ceiling, and it stunk so bad. Then Mr. D came by the window outside and made the sarcastic remark, "Smell… does it smell good enough for you in there? How do you like the smell? Is it good?" I just simply replied, "It's alright. It's okay." I just sat there, and waited until he got bored and let me out.
When I exited the bathroom, you could tell that Mr. D was physically aroused, possibly from what he just did to me. He was massaging it with a relaxed motion with his right hand as I quickly walked past him. Evan noticed it as well and yelled, “Dad, your boner!” His dad then got right up in face while grabbing his swollen member and screamed, “Stupid, worthless, no good, God damned, freeloading, son of a bitch, retarded, bigmouth, know it all, asshole, jerk!”.
Evan replied sarcastically, “ You forgot ugly, lazy and disrespectful…”
Evan’s dad then reared back his hand and slapped Evan’s face with incredible force, knocking his nose to the left side of his face. Evan hit the floor with a massive thud and blood began to spray everywhere. Mr. D roared with homicidal rage, “Shut up bitch! Go fix me a turkey pot pie!”. Then out of nowhere to our absolute bewilderment, in an act of hypoactive sexual desire disorder, Mr. D pulled down his pants and defecated onto his son’s face. The site of an unconscious Evan at his most defenseless covered in his father’s human waste was horrifying. Mr. D then proceeded to call out Skylar from the bathroom who was in there freebasing crack cocaine to look at his dastardly deed.
Me and Ricky watched all of this atrocity from the kitchen. We were petrified that the violence would soon come to us. We contemplated for several minutes whether to call the police or not. We chose not to solely for the fact that the 911 operator wouldn’t believe us.
With his pants still around his ankles and his , Mr. D stormed around the house cross-eyed from massive amounts of alcohol and amphetamines yelping, “What? No one’s going to fuck this broad? Fine, I’ll fuck her! My nuts are going to be up to guts!”
Mr. D then began to engaged in full-blown anal sex with Skylar right there in front of us, all while proclaiming that he was going to give her the super strain of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome that he picked up while he was a truck driver in Zambia for Nabisco Foods.
Skylar didn’t really look like she was into but that didn’t detour Evan’s Dad. He finished an hour later after taking numerous stops to catch his breath and to freebase a little crack cocaine from Skylar‘s bodacious stash. He made all of us watch.
I hate to report that the last freebase break went horribly wrong for Mr. D. Apparently he over heated the glass pipe and it exploded in his face. Ricky has this whacked-out theory that he intently did this to prove a point. What that point is I don’t know. What I do know is that a majority of Mr. D’s face had melted away leaving him with a skull like appearance. The living room looked like a bloodbath, and there was glass everywhere, it was even embedded inches into the walls. Ricky and I made the decision not to offer him a ride to the hospital… not that he was looking for one to begin with.
The very last portion of the night featured Mr. D, who’s face now was massively hemorrhaging from a narcotics mishap just moments before, berating his son for purchasing a rock polisher machine earlier in the week. Apparently Evan had gotten two hundred dollars for his birthday from his grandmother, and his Dad wanted him to invest the money into a 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps baseball card. Evan instead bought a rock polisher machine because he was looking to get into a new hobby this winter. You know, something you can do inside.
“Why don’t you lay off the kid”, said a brave Skylar
“Yeah Dad, this rock polisher is a great investment! Rocks look so cool once their all polished up. ”
As fast as lightening, Mr. D, who is now in the later stages of dementia by blood loss, smashes Skylar in the face with an empty beer bottle. He then grabs the bloody, nude, and hysterically screaming Skylar by the hair and throws her out the door.
Mr. D turns to Evan and says, “That’s someone I love, and you I don't even like. You fuck with the bull you get the horns!”
While son and father continued to argue about the ethics of tossing a prostitute out like a rummy, Me and Ricky made our escape. I’ll tell you what, you’ve never seen two people leave an apartment as fast as we did last night.
What a terrible, terrible night.
Monday, November 5, 2007
The Coen brothers last two films arrived with a thud in the film community. I think I’m in the minority for my admiration for Intolerable Cruelty and with the exception of the inspired performance by Tom Hanks. their remake of The Ladykillers was disappointing.
Here is Peter Travers’ review for No Country For Old Men.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
The film stars Ana Torrent, who you may remember as the young girl from The Spirit of the Beehive. Her character in Cria Cuervos is the kind of child that’s all internal, always lost in thought, and has a wondering imagination. She becomes obsessed with the idea of death when she witnesses her father pass away as he is having a tryst with his mistress. I know this sound like a strange departure point for a movie, but you just have to go with it.
Ana, along with her two siblings move in with her aunt and grandmother after the funeral. From this point on, the picture becomes a mediation on various themes. The one theme that really fascinated me was memory.
Because the film unfolds in memory as the grown up Ana played by an awkwardly dubbed Geraldine Chaplin recounts her childhood, the film makes no effort in distinguishing between reality and fantasy. Cria Cuervos correctly demonstrates that memory is deceiving. Memory is the ability to retrieve past information, but there is no guarantee that your retrieving reliable information. Our brains are like editing machines. We cut out the boring parts, re-dub dialogue, and tighten-up the pace.
As an adult searching through bins of nostalgia and moments from the past, I, myself can’t exactly recall what was real life and what was simple childhood fantasy. Did I fall off the monkey bars during recess at school? Did I really throw water balloons at cars as I hid in a ditch? I seem to remember doing these things… but then again I can’t be sure.
Memories are the only personal thing we really have left when we get older… real or imagined…
… and that’s why I loved Cria Cuervos?
Everything about the film is top tier, especially the use of music. See the film.
So far the early reviews for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street have been ecstatic. I had a friend who saw it a few weeks ago at an advanced screening and she absolutely loved it.
"I’m sure you’ve already heard from others, but – key points in a nutshell:
-1 hr 50 mins, not including end credits (they only showed the front credits).
-No ghosts, only music from the ballad.
-Full-throttle musical – believe it or not, you don’t really miss the things that are missing. It’s almost more of a musical than the stage musical! When they sing they REALLY sing, and I’m probably exaggerating, but it seemed like over 80% sung. The music is very powerful throughout. Depp is excellent. Carter has a strong accent. Anthony and Tobias almost steal the show.
-It is almost exactly like the screenplay, minus the ghosts and minus the beginning/end pool of blood thing.
-About 60 people in the audience, with very positive reactions (a few negative)... but the audience isn’t a “random sample”.
-Very disturbingly violent and gory – it’s actually a “musical-horror” movie. We knew it would be a unique film, but it is radically unique because it’s also hilarious. Sure to get widely varying reviews."
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I just finished watching The Bourne Ultimatum a few minutes ago. It’s easy to understand why this film had a huge summer box office. It’s just as good as the first entry. Brilliant chase scenes throughout the whole picture. I also loved the way Ultimatum connects with Supremacy. Talk about talking it's time to tell the story!
I’m glad I watched it at home and not at the theatre. All the hand-held camera work and fast paced editing would have given me a serious headache. The intimacy of a large sized television set corrects this.
The Bourne Identity (2002, Doug Liman) A
The Bourne Supremacy (2004, Paul Greengrass) B+
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007, Paul Greengrass) A
No Country For Old Men
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
I would like to include There Will Be Blood, but I have a feeling it will receive mixed reviews. The four journalist who saw it last week have been suspiciously quiet.
Sweeney Todd is wishful thinking.
Monday, October 29, 2007
HAL is the most human character in the film. The computer acts all too human in his quest to destroy the Discovery crew out of embarrassment, pride, and self preservation. HAL does not want to be shut down (to die) by the space man. HAL is fully conscious and wants to remain so. The shut-down scene is unbelievably sad.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
I can’t believe I’m this excited to see a Tim Burton directed movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed a great many of Burton’s offerings like Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, and The Corpse Bride. Tim Burton is also the man responsible for shattering the test tube with Batman Returns, Mars Attacks!, Planet of the Apes, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The dread of knowing such an uneven auteur handling one of my favorite pieces of art give s me nightmares.
Monday, July 30, 2007
One of the greatest directors of all-time past away today. The great Ingmar Bergman is no longer on this Earth. The world has just gotten a little less cooler again.
Check out The Seventh Seal, Fanny & Alexander, Smiles of a Summer Night, Through a Glass Darkly, and Wild Strawberries to see cinema pushed to it’s limit.
Like a lot of people, I first encountered Ingmar Bergman with The Seventh Seal, which remains my favorite from his body of work. The Seventh Seal is a brilliant meditation on the existence of God and death. For many people when they think of The Seventh Seal, they automatically think of Max von Sydow’s Antonius Block facing off against Death in a game of chess. Me, I think of the scene where the Knight and his Squire come across the Witch being burned at the stake.
Squire: “Who will take care of that child. God, the devil, the nothingness? The nothingness, perhaps?”
Antonius Block: “It can't be so!”
Friday, July 27, 2007
Monday, July 2, 2007
I don’t think the film is bad or un-watchable. It’s just after the first ten minutes, you’ve seen pretty much what the film has to offer. Sans Soliel is one of the rare times I’ve check a clock to see how much time was left in a movie.
The film’s highlight is a giraffe being shot by a hunter. Presumably something to do with time and memory…
Sans Soliel is really a film for the class room or for the most adventurous filmgoer. I guess I wasn’t feeling like Indiana Jones today.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I got a chance to watch Moore’s new film Sicko yesterday. I am disappointed to report that Sicko is very flawed.
The first hour is filmmaking as good as you’ll see it in a full length documentary. Heartbreaking tales of the American health care system failing the people.
The problems start to show up in the second half of the film when Moore travels abroad. There are too many sequences detailing virtually the same thing… that France and Great Britain have free universal health care. This whole section of the film could have been reduced to maybe three minutes., instead it’s close to thirty minutes.
The most problematic thing in Sicko is the already infamous ending. Moore travels to Cuba with ailing 9/11 rescue workers to seek medical treatment. Ok, exaggerated satire… wonderful stuff. The point has been made right? Not exactly. What we get in the very tail end of the picture is a lot of shots of Moore in a hallucinatory bewilderment state as the 9/11 rescue workers receive… breathing tests from hunky Cuban doctors?
It’s of course absurd to believe that a bunch of Yankees could travel down to Cuba and receive medical attention, no questions asked. What’s more believable is that Fidel Castro is a public relations whore who knows when to wine and dine. Plus, cameras slung by an Academy Award winning American filmmaker helps too.
The exclamation point is an embarrassingly staged ceremony by Cuban firefighters in honor of the 9/11 rescue workers. Lots of tears are shed, lots of hugs given… more shots of Michael Moore in a hallucinatory bewilderment state. The whole ceremony is inter-cut with Che Guevara’s daughter mumbling something about caring for the people. Yes, Che Guevara, the Stalinist guerilla warrior who never passed up an opportunity to execute someone. The man who imprisoned hundreds of artists, political opponents, and homosexuals.
I do not object to the film’s politics. I agree with them. What I object to is the silliness of the last half of the film. Moore hammers the point to the logical conclusion and then hammers it to the center of the Earth. There is also no excuse for the complete sloppiness of film craftsmanship. Moore is better than that.
The ending of Sicko is something Michael Moore would have goofed on in a previous motion picture.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Every movie review I’ve read claims that Army of Shadows is Jean-Pierre Melville’s masterpiece. I think that honor still belongs to Le Samourai.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Kay Francis has a perfect face for black and white film. Dark eyes, dark hair, pale face…
CHICAGO - A girl and her grandparents have sued the Chicago Board of Education, alleging that a substitute teacher showed the R-rated film "Brokeback Mountain" in class.
The lawsuit claims that Jessica Turner, 12, suffered psychological distress after viewing the movie in her 8th grade class at Ashburn Community Elementary School last year.
The film, which won three Oscars, depicts two cowboys who conceal their homosexual affair.
Turner and her grandparents, Kenneth and LaVerne Richardson, are seeking around $500,000 in damages.
"It is very important to me that my children not be exposed to this," said Kenneth Richardson, Turner's guardian. "The teacher knew she was not supposed to do this."
According to the lawsuit filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court, the video was shown without permission from the students' parents and guardians.
The lawsuit also names Ashburn Principal Jewel Diaz and a substitute teacher, referred to as "Ms. Buford."
The substitute asked a student to shut the classroom door at the West Side school, saying: "What happens in Ms. Buford's class stays in Ms. Buford's class," according to the lawsuit.
Richardson said his granddaughter was traumatized by the movie and had to undergo psychological treatment and counseling.
In 2005, Richardson complained to school administrators about reading material that he said included curse words.
"This was the last straw," he said. "I feel the lawsuit was necessary because of the warning I had already given them on the literature they were giving out to children to read. I told them it was against our faith."
Messages left over the weekend with CPS officials were not immediately returned.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Plus To Live and Die in L.A. has the added bonus of having William L. Petersen… and for most of the movie he’s drinking whiskey and fantasying about jumping off a bridge. You just know some serious shit is going to go down in the movie.
The Ernst Lubitsch film that really knocked me out was To Be or Not to Be, which I would describe as a “nightmare comedy” in the vein of Dr. Strangelove and After Hours. Don’t be fooled by the light poster art. To Be or Not to Be is as dark as a cup of coffee at a poetry slam. I can’t believe such a motion picture could have been made and released in 1942.
The film is about a polish theatrical troupe who get mixed up in espionage with the occupying Nazis and must defeat them using Mission Impossible type maneuvers. To Be Or Not to Be stars Jack Benny and Carole Lombard, both in career best performances. Watching Jack Benny’s amoral character fuck with high ranking Nazi officials makes you ponder if he was perhaps a lost Marx Brother.
To Be Or Not to Be was Carole Lombard’s last movie. She died after this picture was made in a plane crash.
Also, I got a chance to take in Lubitsch’s excellent The Shop Around the Corner last night. The Shop Around the Corner was the basis for the pretty good You’ve Got Mail.
The Shop Around the Corner is a much lighter film than To Be or Not to Be… it’s a romance, but it still has darkness all around it’s edges. The film has plenty of loneliness and heartbreak to go around… but it has lots of romance too!
Trouble in Paradise is expected today in the mail from Netflix.
Friday, May 11, 2007
The panel wasn’t discussing the merits of the bit, which most people would consider pretty poor, but about how they can stop the radio show. They talked a great deal about how we Americans take the idea of the 1st Amendment too far and that there should be limits to speech in the United States.
The MPAA has recently announced that they will give a motion picture an R rating if the filmmakers “glamorize” smoking unless the “glamorization” of the smoking takes place in a historical context.
What the fuck? The continuation of the MPAA acting as the morality police…
I feel very uncomfortable.
Unless you're a Bard freak, the only reason to watch the motion picture is to see the awesome performance by Marlon Brando as the somewhat treacherous Mark Antony. I say "somewhat" because while not participating in the actual assassination of Julius Caesar, he did take advantage of the new opening as all mighty leader of Rome.
Brando is at the height of his early fame with this picture. The man even gets top billing over James Mason, and he was Captain Nemo!
I originally intended to post ten titles, but my first attempt at a reasonable list came out to forty three titles. After grudgingly whittling my list down for twenty minutes, I came to fifteen titles. Most of the titles are pretty famous and are essentials of film noir. Plus, they're all available on DVD.
All are American releases with the exception of The Third Man and Night and the City, which were U.K/American co-productions. I chose to keep it all American because while film noir has roots in early German and French cinema, It was the Hollywood filmmakers of the 1940's and 50's in the United States that really defined the style and rules of the genre.
If you haven't seen them yet, and are in the mood for dangerous dames, hired gunmen, and unnecessary shadows... then seek them out by all means necessary!
- THE MALTESE FALCON (John Huston, 1941)
- DOUBLE INDEMNITY (Billy Wilder, 1944)
- THE THIRD MAN (Carol Reed, 1949)
- THE BIG SLEEP (Howard Hawks, 1946)
- CROSSFIRE (Edward Dmytryk, 1947)
- NIGHT AND THE CITY (Jules Dassin, 1950)
- PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET (Samuel Fuller, 1953)
- THE KILLING (Stanley Kubrick, 1956)
- SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (Alexander Mackendrick, 1957)
- TOUCH OF EVIL (Orson Welles, 1958)
- THE LONG GOODBYE (Robert Altman, 1974)
- FARGO (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1996)
- L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (Curtis Hanson, 1997)
- BLADE RUNNER (Ridley Scott, 1982)
- SIN CITY (Robert Rodriquez & Frank Miller, 2005)