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.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spin-Off Blogathon: Deliverance’s Mountain Man

The Spin-Off blogathon Sati is hosting on her perfect site, Cinematic Corner, is an ingenious idea: choose a minor film character you love, and make them the lead of a movie you create. The moment I read Sati’s prompt, my mind settled on one character that I’ve always longed to understand. The repugnant, confounding, and utterly terrifying Mountain Man from John Boorman’s Deliverance.

Monday, March 24, 2014

the Directors: Alejandro González Iñárritu


It seems odd to hail a director as one of my favorite filmmakers, given that he’s only released four feature films in his career. Such is the power of Alejandro González Iñárritu. A man determined to examine and expose how people behave when pushed to the edge. One of my favorite themes in film is the aftermath of tragedy; exploring those private moments of emotional decay and torment. That’s something Iñárritu, perhaps, does better than any living filmmaker. He doesn’t shy away from brutality, instead, he embraces the horror, and the unlikely beauty that can form from it.

Please don’t let my grades below dilute the power of Iñárritu’s films. I don’t know how many films a director has to make in order for that director to be labeled as one of my favorites, but in this case, four is surely enough.

Friday, March 21, 2014

In Character: Beth Grant

For the most part, th­e best of Beth Grant’s work is measured by the single scenes she’s featured within entire films. Grant has made a career out of popping up in notable films for a scene or two, leaving her mark, and getting out. She’s made us laugh, and she’s made us angry; she’s frustrated us with the hyper conservative tendencies of her characters, and piqued our curiosity about the odd women she so often inhabits. Every time she arrives on screen, you know you’re in for something special.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Top 42 Things I Love About SHAME (that no one talks about)

Steve McQueen’s Shame is my favorite film made in the last decade. I’m forever in love with its pain, and the brutal dedication Michael Fassbender brought to his leading role. I’m also utterly indebted to the film, as its style, tone, look and feel have influenced my own filmmaking beyond all measure. It’s a masterful character study that deserves continual exploration.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top 10 Female Performances in Wes Anderson Films

Yesterday, I looked at the best male performances in Wes Anderson’s films, and today I examine the woman who so elegantly captured the essence of Wes’ world. Feel free to share your favorites!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Top 10 Male Performances in Wes Anderson Films

Here are the men (and foxes, and narrators) who have seamlessly captured the essence of Wes Anderson’s unique world, all while delivering solid performances. There are certainly several more to choose from, so don’t hesitate to share your favorites!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Top 15 Music Moments in Wes Anderson Films

Few directors are as specific in their music choices as Wes Anderson. His penchant for playing indie, classic and obscure rock tracks over his films have made for some of contemporary cinema’s most memorable moments. There are many scenes to choose from here, so do feel free to share yours as well!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The centered photography, the immaculate production design, the tweed costumes, the specific title cards, the pastel colors, Bill Murray – these are just a few of the things that help Wes Anderson establish his universe. For lovers of his work, these many tell-tale signs are what make us love Anderson’s films. For detractors, these devices act only as a nuisance. As I watched his latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, I had a consistent thought: Wes Anderson lovers are going to love this film, and Wes Anderson haters are going to really hate it.

In Character: Willem Dafoe

With Willem Dafoe, you never know what kind of man you’re going to get. Cops, robbers, creeps, villains – Dafoe is the type of actor who rarely changes his appearance, so the intentions of his characters are usually a mystery. Now, granted, a handful of the films below required Dafoe to alter his exterior, but take his work in Spike Lee’s Inside Man for example. When Dafoe showed up in the film as a police captain, I assumed he was going to be in on the heist because, you know… he’s Willem Dafoe. But he wasn’t. He was just a straight-shooting cop. It was Dafoe playing a real guy, and it was nearly as captivating as him playing Dracula or Jesus. A mystery man, but always a persuasive one.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nymphomaniac: Vol. I

You know what I value most about Lars von Trier? The fear of not being able to anticipate his next move. His films know no bounds. They don’t constrain themselves with formal ratings, standard run times, or star status demands. When word spread that von Trier’s next film was a four hour epic about one woman’s lifelong struggle with nymphomania, it seemed tailored-made for the von Trier canon. But how far would it go? These ingenious character posters helped shed light on the film’s intentions, but when you open yourself up to the world of Lars von Trier, it’s impossible to accurately assume where you’ll end up. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Top 5 Jake Gyllenhaal Performances

I’ve always liked Jake Gyllenhaal, but last week, he transformed from an actor I like, to one I consider truly great. Looking back over his career, he has consistently delivered solid work in a number of genres, routinely matching his charm and intensity with a distinct brand of subtle humor. Here are my favorite examples of his talent; a list comprised of a few good men, and some batshit crazy ones too.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Enemy

Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy is the best surrealist fever dream mind fuck of a film I’ve seen since Mulholland Dr. No hyperbole. No bullshit. Really, it’s that good. The film is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, buried within a magic trick. Many will spend countless hours attempting to dissect it. They’ll ask questions that have no answers, and offer opinions based on distorted information. That’s not my style. I’ve never appreciated film as a medium to pick apart. Examining what it all means doesn’t appeal to me. It’s the experience of a film that I specifically desire. What is a film telling me, and how does that make me feel? Experience. Emotion. These are a few of the things that make my world go round.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

In Character: Frank Whaley

For several years there, Frank Whaley was the go-to filler. A staple of mainstream and indie films of the ‘90s, Whaley was featured in dozens of small roles, continually delivering solid performances. No matter the amount of screentime, Whaley had a unique ability to make his characters essential to the story. Simply put, he always excelled, despite, or because of, the material he was given. We haven’t seen much of Whaley lately, but I never fail to smile when he randomly pops up on TV. Whaley is living proof that if you have that true skill of a gifted actor, it’s a skill that stays with you forever.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Problem with Liking the Oscars Too Much

I love the Oscars. Always have, always will. I love staring dumbfounded at the random montages. I love rolling my eyes at the lame jokes. I love the giddy anticipation right before the show begins (in my movie-freaked world, the final countdown to the Oscar telecast is infinitely more thrilling than watching the ball drop every New Year’s Eve.) But you know what I love most? That inexplicable joy as I watch a completely astonished, newly victorious Oscar winner take the stage to collect their award. An award that no one saw coming.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

My (Hopefully Not So) Dark Horse Oscar Picks

So here we are, the day of the big show. Here are a few things I’d like to see tonight – from predicted wins to hopeful snubs. Be sure to share your last minute predictions in the comments. Have a great Oscar day everyone!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Why You Should Watch the Indie Spirit Awards

The Film Independent Spirit Awards are my favorite awards show. Sure, the Golden Globes are often an entertaining train wreck, and the Oscars will always carry more prestige, but there’s something about the freedom of the Spirit Awards that I absolutely love. You can always count on the Spirits to deliver hilarity, but the awards have paved way for many touching moments as well. Below are a handful of reasons why I’ll be watching tonight.