Thursday, April 17, 2014

Breathe In

Breathe In begins with an absolutely perfect display of intelligent filmmaking. Drake Doremus, who co-wrote and directed the film, knows that if you’re fortunate enough to cast Guy Pearce in your movie, the only thing you really need to do is put the camera close-up on his face. Pearce will do the rest. The actor is a master of emotional control, and in these opening scenes, we watch as Pearce’s character, Keith Reynolds, suffers through taking an annual family photo with his wife, Megan (Amy Ryan) and his daughter, Lauren (Mackenzie Davis). It’s all in his eyes, which display a man of broken dreams and shattered spirit. Keith Reynolds is a man who gave up on himself, and Breathe In is an exploration into the dangers of taking your life back.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Under the Skin

Darkness. Through the darkness, births light. Small at first, barely there. A white circle the size of a needle tip, slowly growing. Sound creeps in. A mesh of incomprehensible auditory measures layered with incoherent words. The light grows. The sound clears. Without warning, the screen is filled with white. A giant eyeball appears. It’s a perfect eye, void of redness. The sound even louder, the words slightly clearer.

It is born. And so it begins.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Top 10 Dual Roles

When executed properly, few things are more exciting than a cinematic dual role. Watching an actor expertly play two (or, in the case of a few performances below, several) characters never fails to amuse. The dual role concept is routinely impressive from a technical standpoint, while often boasting the finest aspects of a great performer. I hope you enjoy my picks, and do feel free to share yours as well!

Listen: the Nymphomaniac Matineecast

Last week, amidst a massive Los Angeles blackout, I was fortunate enough to participate in Ryan McNeil’s exceptional weekly podcast, the Matineecast. The subject of our conversation was Lars von Trier’s latest film, Nymphomaniac. Ryan and I discussed both volumes of the film in-depth, so for those who haven’t seen von Trier’s latest trip into psychological hell, be cautious for spoilers.

Friday, April 11, 2014

In Character: Gary Cole

What’s so interesting about Gary Cole is that he can play it all, without changing his appearance. Save a few minor costume alterations (suspenders, after all, really do go a long way), the man almost always looks the same, yet his characters are wildly diverse. From the shady FBI agent to the low level Chicago thug, from a guy to one of comedy’s most entitled douchebags, there is no end to the satisfaction I get from Cole’s work.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The 10 Most Iconic Movie Characters (Relay)

Nostra over at My Filmviews has cooked up another great blogathon relay, this time asking fellow bloggers to weigh in on the 10 most iconic film characters of all time. Sati from Cinematic Corner was kind enough to pass the baton to me, but before we get to my pick, here are Nostra’s terms of the relay:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Dom Hemingway

Dom Hemingway wants you to know that his cock is exquisite. He’s staring at the camera, naked, arms raised in a Christ-like pose, telling us. Telling us how big and epic and otherworldly it is. His adjectives know no bounds, his metaphors no peaks. Then he’s finished. A prison bitch gets up off his knees, receives a swift apology from Dom (because, no warning), and from there, Dom Hemingway is off and running.

Nymphomaniac: Vol. II

Nymphomaniac: Vol. II is a descent into hell. Where Vol. I was a (mostly) safe and playful story of a young girl exploring her sexual impulses, Vol. II is a brutal, unflinching depiction of addiction consuming a lifelong addict. There are no montages of joyous sexual discovery, no “chocolate sweeties” to be won for marathon banging; instead, there is a brightly lit torture dungeon of pain, and wet towels used as tools of agonizing restoration. Vol. II is an exercise in chaos – as in, chaos reigns, and Lars von Trier couldn’t be happier.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mistaken for Strangers

Rock documentaries live or die by one fateful question: Do you like the band featured in the film? If no, why watch? You’re going to hear music you don’t like, watch interviews with musicians you don’t appreciate, and likely get no enjoyment out of the film. If the answer is yes, then your ticket is already purchased. That’s the challenge of the rock doc: to bridge the gap between the fans and the seemingly indifferent.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

In Character: Garret Dillahunt

I’ve been a fan of Garret Dillahunt’s work since his scene stealing days on HBO’s Deadwood. But it wasn’t until I heard to him on Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show (an excellent weekly podcast that film fans should regularly listen to) that I began to truly respect him. Hearing Dillahunt tell his career story with the timid sensibilities of a kind farm boy, made for one of the Chat Show’s finest episodes yet. If you have some time, I highly recommend giving the episode a listen (or watch, here). Until then, I hope you enjoy my insight into the wonderful career of this most talented character actor. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Top­ 10 Movie Clichés (that I’ve never experienced in real life)

Today seems like an appropriate day to post videos of movie characters doing the same exact thing over and over and over. Clichés are funny that way – they’re almost always nonsense, but they keep appearing in movies anyway. Below are a handful of popular, realistic clichés that I’ve never actually experienced in real life. This is not to say that no one has experienced them, but, sadly, not me. Enjoy!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Noah

My screening of Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, Noah, will forever remain one of the most memorable movie going experiences of my life. At some point, with years of time to obscure my memory, my experience of watching the film will become synonymous with the film itself. Watching Noah is something I’ll never forget, and I’d like to tell you why.

Friday, March 28, 2014

My Favorite Scene: The Wrestler

Darren Aronofsky’s career is full of marvelous set pieces, whether haunting, sexy, fun or dangerous, the man knows how to cut a memorable sequence together. Interesting then that one of the best scenes of his career is a patient, heartfelt conversation between a desperate father and the daughter he walked out on long ago.

Soon after Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) suffers a near-fatal heart attack, he decides to reenter the life of his estranged daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood). Their first meeting doesn’t go well, with Stephanie becoming enraged after Randy uses his illness as a ploy for pity. But during their next encounter, Randy comes offering gifts, and convinces Stephanie to hang out with him at their old favorite spot.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

In Character: James Rebhorn

James Rebhorn made a career of playing entitled WASPs. But he didn’t just play them, he perfected the persona, embedding himself within modern cinema in the process. When Rebhorn passed away from skin cancer last week (read his beautiful self-penned obituary here), we lost one of the most legendary character actors who has ever graced the screen. While some may not have known his name, there isn’t a single fan of film who wasn’t touched by Rebhorn’s craft. He appeared in so many films, often playing elitist, unlikeable men to amusing results. Thing was, rarely did you dislike Rebhorn’s characters from the onset. Rebhorn always gave them humanity, a sort of two-faced kindness that helped conceal the intentions of his characters.

Despite the characters he played, it was obvious that James Rebhorn was one of the good ones. A genuine, regular fella who loved being in the game. I’ll miss him greatly, but so appreciate the plentiful work he’s left with us.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Top 10 Film Passion Projects

Passion projects typically go one of two ways: the well-intentioned misfire, or the impassioned hit. When passion projects work well, as I believe the ones listed below do, then we’re eager to hail their greatness. When they fail, we tend to write it off as a filmmaker being too close to the material. This Friday, we’ll be presented with Noah, Darren Aronofksy’s decades-old passion project. He’s been dreaming of making the film since he was a teenager, and, despite early moderate-to-negative reviews, I certainly hope Noah works as well as Aronofsky intended.