Wednesday, August 28, 2013
So then I look at Joan Allen. Joan Allen, a woman who, on the surface, has made a career out of playing such women. Women who exist to propel whatever narrative their husbands are offering. Wives who sit in the corner, saying little. But look closer. Watch what Allen does. With a sharp stare, convincing line delivery and a trademark look of utter devastation, Allen has managed to make all the women she plays matter. She makes every character essential, and every role greater.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Another distinguishing factor of a Van Sant film: he often chooses to shoot his characters from behind, following them on their journey. This is a very purposeful shot (one that I absolutely love in films), and lends a different perspective than if the camera acted as the character’s eye. Gus Van Sant doesn’t want us seeing his films through his characters’ worlds. He wants us to see it through his. Which, for better or worse, I will always welcome.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
I’m not at all sure what kind of movie You’re Next is. Which is fine, it can often take a while to definitively label a film. But the problem with this new horror/comedy/torture porn/romp/satire/whatever is that I’m not sure it knows what kind of movie it is either. And therein lies the problem.
You’re Next opens with a pretty groovy and rather freaky double murder that has (unfairly and lazily) drawn comparisons to Drew Barrymore’s introduction in Scream. (In fact, scanning some early reviews, it seems like many people are jumping at the opportunity to label You’re Next as the next Scream. That’s reaching. Way too far. Scream, my friends, this is not.) Anyway, from there, we meet a married couple spending their wedding anniversary in their massive vacation home secluded deep in the woods. Joined for their celebration are their children and their children’s lovers. A few days of festive merriment, with those they love.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Now, whether you believe in that tale or not, it perfectly describes who Sutter Keely is going to be. When Sutter is all grown, tending bar with his old man, wondering where all his buddies went. Wondering what happened to that one girl he used to love. This is utter speculation on my part, as The Spectacular Now only captures Sutter (Miles Teller) for a few months of his life as a high school senior, but that is certainly where he’s headed. A pathetic drunk, clinging to the best of times, wondering What If.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
So, yeah, I get it.
Monday, August 19, 2013
Friday, August 16, 2013
There are many more that could’ve easily made it on this list, but here are the 15 documentaries that have affected me most.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Alain Corneau’s Love Crime has everything Brian De Palma could ask for: sex, death, jealousy and greed, with healthy doses of drugs and deception thrown in for good measure. Hell, in watching Corneau’s erotic French thriller, one could say it plays as rather… De Palma-esque. Noting that, it’s not at all surprising that just three years after the release of Love Crime, De Palma has remade it for American audiences. The result is a film that fits warmly into De Palma’s overall body of work, which, sadly, at this point, means it hits about as much as it misses.
Perhaps Walsh’s good friend and collaborator, Billy Bob Thornton said it best: “A real actor doesn’t try to make yourself look good all the time. Because the job of an actor is to portray the character that’s written, and portray it with all your might. J.T. did that everytime he did anything. If J.T. was in a movie that just plain sucked, he never did. He was always perfect.”
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
From there, we meet Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old living in Hayward, California. A title card tells us that it is the last day of 2008, and a brief exchange between Oscar (Michael B. Jordan) and his girlfriend, Sophina (Melonie Diaz) makes it clear that Oscar plans to go into the New Year a changed man. He’s going to stop selling weed, he’s going to stop sleeping around, and he’s going to be a better, more stable father for his and Sophia’s daughter. And, essentially, it is the notion of Oscar’s resolutions that fulfill the entirely of Fruitvale Station.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Monday, August 12, 2013
30-second PSA about the dangers of texting while driving. In the clip, a mother tearfully recalls how her young son, Xzavier, was hit by a car while crossing the street. And although I had seen PSAs of this kind, this specific one resonated for reasons I couldn’t fully explain. Maybe it was the stark, simple set-up of the woman’s interview. Maybe it was the clip’s use of silence to evoke thought. When I noticed that Werner Herzog, my favorite living filmmaker, had directed the clip, everything made sense. A master storyteller spent 30 seconds knocking the wind out of me, in a way I’ve come to expect from him.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
One could argue that those two things are the basis for any good film. Fair point. But for Allen, the strengths of these traits make or break him. Nearly all of his films are exceptionally cast, yet without a good story, we watch extremely talented actors flounder through Allen’s distinct world. Think To Rome with Love and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, to name a few recent ones.
This lack of exploration is evident throughout Lovelace. And while I didn’t catch any other blatant chronological errors in the film, I can certainly attest to the fact that Lovelace is a dull, needlessly complex, laughably misguided mess.
Friday, August 9, 2013
Thursday, August 8, 2013
Note: Before we go further, know that I am going to spoil essential elements to the thickly layered plot of this film. In short, if you haven’t seen No Country For Old Men, skip this post and Go. Watch. It. Now.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Saturday, August 3, 2013
The thing is, Blackfish isn’t an agenda film. Not really. It doesn’t tell us, the audience, or them, the perpetrators, what to do. There are no pleas for how to “fix this.” No title card telling us what organization to follow as a means of support. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite has been upfront about the fact that she isn’t an activist, but rather an observer. And that’s what Blackfish asks us to do: observe. Which works as much in its favor as it does to its determent.