An odd feeling comes over me when I see the World Trade Center towers appear in a contemporary film. It’s anxiousness that is (hopefully) replaced with welcomed nostalgia. The 10 films below are the finest examples I’ve found of such remembrance. This list did not consider documentary footage of the attacks or any film released prior to 9/11. All new films, all graced by a tasteful hand.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Monday, December 9, 2013
Last Saturday, I was lucky enough to attend a screening of the new film, Out of the Furnace, which was followed by a Q&A with co-star Casey Affleck and the film’s writer/director Scott Cooper. With The Hollywood Reporter’s extremely competent Scott Feinberg moderating, the discussion ranged from the power of performance, to the bafflement of personal attacks in reviews, to what it means to hear “Thank You” from a fan.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Towns like Braddock, Pennsylvania exist all over America. The small, dirty towns that flourish or falter based on the strength of the local mill that employs most of the town’s citizens. Braddock, as portrayed in the new domestic thriller, Out of the Furnace, is the kind of town people don’t escape from. You’re born with a broken heart and develop into a shattered dream. All you can do is try to survive contently.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Samuel L. Jackson is huge. An actor with one of the highest total box office grosses ever, with numerous credits spread out over film, television, stage. He’s Samuel L. Jackson, the intimidator, the screamer, the enforcer. He’s such an iconic persona, that we often forget that the man really, truly, can act. Here are my favorite examples of Jackson’s talent, of which there are certainly more than five. So do feel free to list your favorites after you check out mine!
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Bruce Dern is as grand and flawless as character actors get. According to IMDb, the man has 144 film and television credits to his name, and in tracing through them, it’s clear there isn’t a weak effort in sight. Whether he pops up briefly for one scene in a film, or steals an entire television show with his recurring character, or fills nearly every frame of a contemporary black and white Oscar contender, when Dern is on, he’s on like the best of them.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
My previous reviews of Paul Walker’s movies share a repetitive sentiment: the majority of his films “simply aren’t for me.” Why then was I struck with a curious sense of loss when the news of Walker’s death broke late yesterday? I suppose that’s one of the complex questions surrounding the public’s fascination with pop culture: why do we feel sad when celebrities die?
Thursday, November 28, 2013
A movie like Spike Lee’s Oldboy is destined to accrue a healthy amount of haters long before the film is released. Lee’s Oldboy is a remake of Park Chan-wook’s legendary Korean film of the same name, and in the decade since its release, Chan-wook’s film has developed cult classic-like status. The film has a loyal fan base who made it clear from the announcement of Lee’s remake that they simply were not interested.
And I get it. I fully understand the uproar over Lee’s film. Chan-wook’s Oldboy is a marvelous mystery thriller that needn’t be tampered with. But first off, it’s important to explain how Lee wants his film to be perceived. He’s stated many times (including when I heard him speak in person last February) that Oldboy was not a remake of Chan-wook’s film, but rather a reinterpretation of Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi’s source material, the Japanese manga, “Old Boy.” Interesting then, that in the opening credits for Lee’s film, we’re presented with a title card reading: “Based on the Korean film Oldboy.”
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Saturday, November 23, 2013
This isn’t going to be a pleasant story. At least not the majority of it. It isn’t going inspire young filmmakers to get out there and create. This story isn’t going to encourage or motivate. This story will convey that other side of independent filmmaking. That side in which Murphy’s Law takes hold and doesn’t dare let go. It’s the kind of story that mars almost every film production, and I intend to present it in all its ugly glory. Bear with me through the pain, and I hope you’ll understand why I shared this story with you. But before the heartbreak, a brief tale of beauty.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a filmmaker. I’ve simply never envisioned anything else for myself. At the end of July, I moved from Virginia to Los Angeles to fulfill my dream. The final push in me moving here was the drive of a few film producers who saw my last short film, Earrings, and expressed interest in working with me. When I spoke to these producers for the first time in early 2013, I told them about this script I had just written. This raw and unconventional examination of love, and the things it motivates us to do. I sent them the script, and they quickly agreed to help me finance it. My girlfriend and I got in the car, headed west, and in five short days, announced ourselves as citizens of the City of Angels.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
With Alexander Payne’s patient and oddly mystical new film, Nebraska, out this weekend, I thought it’d be fun to list my favorite contemporary films that were released entirely in black and white. Much of Nebraska’s minimalist charm is that it was captured through cinematographer Phedon Papamichael’s stark lens. Here are a handful of other films that took risks by telling their tales in sharp monochrome.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Denis O’Hare is that specific type of one scene wonder. He routinely appears in a film for a handful of scenes (or just one) and completely steals the show. Whether he’s screaming at George Clooney or berating Angelina Jolie, O’Hare has proven he can stand with cinema’s most recognizable faces, dishing it out like the best of them. On stage and television, O’Hare has been given longer opportunities to flex his raw talent. But really, the length of his roles matter little. Because when this guy is on, he’s on full tilt, no looking back.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Sunday, November 10, 2013
(Note: many of these scenes were not embeddable via YouTube. I’ve linked to them where I could.)
Friday, November 8, 2013
Boogie Nights is one of the fastest movies ever made. The breakneck pace of its story, as scripted by Paul Thomas Anderson, is more than enough to motivate such movement. But its propelled significantly by Robert Elswit’s gorgeous, free-roaming cinematography, a soundtrack of many of the era’s most bitchin’ tunes, and, of course, confident acting from an ensemble who went all in for their specific roles.
In short, the film just moves, ya dig? It’s as if Anderson attempted to cut a film with the same unrestrained, rapid sentiment of many of his cocaine-empowered characters. So, at two hours and 35 minutes long, Boogie Nights makes for one hell of a trip.