Thursday, August 30, 2012

Side by Side

Christopher Kenneally’s fascinating new documentary, Side by Side chronicles the ongoing (and possibly final) battle between film and digital filmmaking. Old school film purists will tell you that shooting on film is the only way to shoot a movie. It’s rich and wholesome; its look is vivid, its colors are full. Progressives my claim that digital is not only taking over, but is the new standard. Shooting on digital is smaller, simpler; you can manipulate your footage easily, and have the freedom to invent on the fly.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In Character: Chiwetel Ejiofor

When I think of Chiwetel Ejiofor (that’s CHEW-E-TELL EDGE-E-O-FOUR), I think of restraint. The soft looks and the delicate mannerisms and the subtle shifts.

When I think of Chiwetel Ejiofor, I think of anger. The vengeful villains and the spiteful crime lords.

When I think of Chiwetel Ejiofor, I think of uncharacteristic kindness. The surprising fragility and the tender romance.

You get the idea. Chiwetel Ejiofor is versatility personified.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Movie Questionnaire Blogathon

A blog I’ve recently discovered, Cinemaniac Reviews, has started a Movie Questionnaire blogathon. Here’s my take on it!

1. What is your favorite movie?
Taxi Driver

2. Least favorite movie?
All time: Sex and the City 2. This year: Cosmopolis.


Compliance is the kind of movie that raises questions. I’ll speak only for myself, but while watching it, you’ll question and scoff ceaselessly. I cannot tell you how many times during my screening notions of: “Oh, come on...” “Really…?” “This is too much,” and so on filtered through my head. The kicker is that, at some point, hopefully, you acknowledge the fact that what you’re seeing may not necessarily stray too far from reality. And, again, hopefully, by the film’s end, you’ll sit and reflect, and maybe let out a stupefied, marveled, “Fuck…”

Monday, August 27, 2012


To say David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis is the worst film of the year so far would be to suggest that 2012 has produced bad films, which is not the case. At least not when you compare them to this incoherent, boring, complete mess of a film. There isn’t a single second of Cosmopolis that doesn’t pointlessly confound. Nothing makes sense, nothing intrigues – it is 108 minutes of laughable acting, misguided direction and dull writing that is about as far from interesting as a film can get.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

15 Surprises from Directors' Sight & Sound Top 10s

Since the 2012 Sight & Sound poll was released a few weeks ago, the conversation has focused mostly on Vertigo trumping Citizen Kane as the best film of all time. Nearly 850 film critics participated in that poll, but the far more interesting aspect of Sight & Sound’s once-in-a-decade list is the fact that two polls took place: one for critics and one for directors.

A few Top 10 lists from heavy hitters like Scorsese, Coppola, Mann and Tarantino have already been released, but now, finally, the British Film Institute has published the Top 10 lists of all 358 directors who participate in the directors poll.

I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time going through them, and honestly, most is what you’d expect. Critical darlings, foreign wonders and Oscar-friendly powerhouses reign supreme. But, occasionally, I came across a movie that I found amusing for any number of reasons. Maybe it’s a spirited choice, maybe it’s batshit out of place, maybe it reaffirms the choosing director’s overall vision. Either way, here are my favorite single movie picks from a handful of directors’ Top 10 lists.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Queen of Versailles

There’s a telling moment midway through Lauren Greenfield’s shocking, evolved new documentary, The Queen of Versailles, which perfectly sums up everything you need to know about the film’s star subject.

Jackie Siegel, who modeled for millions, was crowned Ms. Florida, and became a billionaire heiress (billionheiress…?) all before the age of 30, decides to go on a Christmas shopping spree for her eight children. By this point in the film, Jackie, or rather her husband, David, has lost the majority of his net worth. David has instructed her repeatedly to cut the spending, but spend she does. By the end of her Wal-Mart excursion, Jackie has (at least) four shopping carts full of games, toys, candies and other various holiday assortments.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Celeste and Jesse Forever

Celeste and Jesse Forever begins with a happily married couple acting happily married in that perfect, most truthful way as they drive down the streets of LA. They crack jokes, tell it like it is, playfully bicker, and, by the end of the scene, the dude has ditched the chick to go surfing.

To me, that’s real. It is those kinds of silly moments of love that are so hard to convey realistically. Sarah Polley got them (sort of) right in Take This Waltz, but, from the onset, Lee Toland Krieger’s Celeste and Jesse Forever makes it clear that it’s going to show you a relationship with the upmost accuracy.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Favorite Scene: the Films of Tony Scott

Since news of director Tony Scott’s passing yesterday, I’ve found myself stuck in this bummed out funk. When a celebrity death occurs, I always find it interesting that it can have such an affect on us “normal” people. We’re nothing more than viewers of the art, yet we found ourselves mourning the loss all the same.

The impact of Tony Scott’s death, however, is slightly more puzzling to me, personally. Frankly, I’m not the biggest admirer of his entire body of work. He made some excellent films, and he made some that didn’t quite do it for me. Regardless, I’ve always liked him. I appreciated his candor, his wit and his evident intelligence (listen to any of the director’s commentaries he recorded for proof).

And then there’s the way in which he died. The fact that he walked onto the Vincent Thomas Bridge in LA in broad daylight and made the decision to jump off it is just… extremely disheartening. As ABC News reports, Scott committed suicide shortly after learning he had inoperable brain cancer. Whatever the case may be, this is one dark day for movie fans.

At their best, his films thrilled and entertained as well as any offered from contemporary cinema. Here are the scenes from Tony Scott’s career that I will forever enjoy.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

10 Perfectly Trashy Action Flicks

Call them guilty pleasures. Call them insane fun. Hell, call them goddamn bloody awesome, point is, I firmly believe that there is room in the heart of every movie fan to emote love for trashy action movies.

When I published my review for the first Expendables, people were stunned by how much I enjoyed it. Was it good? Good no. Was it perfect in that trashy action way? Bet your ass. So in the wake of The Expendables 2, here’s a list of 10 action flicks that I absolutely adore. The possibilities here are endless, so please feel free to share your favorites in the comments!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

In Character: Steve Buscemi

Despite his awkward looks, frail appearance, squeaky voice, and so on, Steve Buscemi has asserted himself as one of the finest actors currently working in movies (or, as it were, television). Whether he’s carrying a series or popping up for one scene in a feature film, Buscemi has the unique ability to own every second he’s on screen.

He’s done this in a number of ways: playing the goof, the goon, the dimwit and the arrogant prick all with equal restraint and vulnerability. He’s the kind of actor who makes whatever movie he’s in better, simply by being in it. That’s about as fine a compliment as I can give.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

10 Scenes That Earn Brad Pitt a Career Pass

I’ve never felt Brad Pitt has gotten a fair shake. I get it. He’s the pretty boy. The impossibly successful A-lister who always has an impossibly attractive female in tow. The guy who makes the big bucks by cashing in on his looks. And. So. On.

I’ve called bullshit on the popular notion of discrediting Brad Pitt from the onset. I think he’s a hell of an actor, and I’ve been a fan of his flamboyant comedy and restrained drama since as long as he’s been flexing his craft on screen. Here are 10 specific scenes that I personally feel make him great at what he does.

Hope Springs

A romantic dramedy about a postmenopausal couple who have lost their sexual spark is simply not a film that appeals to me. But then I got to thinking: how many American films have I heard of, let alone seen, about this very topic? Furthermore, how many of those movies actually generate a fair amount of positive reviews? So, stray I did. And, happily, I report that Hope Springs is a perfect movie for the demographic it is targeting.  That’s not only the nicest way I can assess the film, but the most accurate, too.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy starts the same exact way The Bourne Identity begins, and The Bourne Ultimatum ends, with our hero floating dazed and confused in the water. This time, the filmmakers have swapped the amnesiac, vengeful Jason Bourne with the fresh-faced Aaron Cross. The players are different, but the song remains the same.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Birthday Beach Break

Hey folks, I’m kicking it at the beach this week and just wanted to let everyone know that I plan on chilling instead of posting for a few days.

Thanks to everyone for the birthday love yesterday, it really meant a lot. The past year was a complete roller coaster. I hit some pretty low lows but, in the end, reached a damn high personal high. Really excited to see what this next year brings.

As a writer, I should probably be able to extend my fullest, most sincere thanks in print form, but alas, I find myself unable. For your support (toward this blog, and toward Earrings), all’s I can offer is my most humble thank you. You all helped me through it, and the fact that so many of you have expressed interest in what I do next is just, well, unspeakably endearing. Definitely the best gift I could’ve asked for.

Keep rockin’ and rollin’ and I’ll catch up with you on Monday!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

In Character: Philip Seymour Hoffman

The best part about highlighting Philip Seymour Hoffman for this column is that I (or you, or them) could pick most any five roles he’s done, and call them his best.

I typically like to take a few paragraphs to justify the inclusion of an actor in this column, but honestly, Philip Seymour Hoffman needs no introduction. The man is the character actor. And, if you’ve held an even moderate interest in film for any of the past 15 years, chances are you know exactly what I mean.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Killer Joe

In Killer Joe, a white trash, trailer-bound family of rednecks cook up a plan to kill one of their own and cash in on the life insurance. It’s Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) who gets the bright idea to execute his own mother and spilt her $50,000 life insurance policy three ways. Equal to the spilt is his father, Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), and the benefactor of the policy, Chris’ younger sister, Dottie (Juno Temple). After Ansel’s feverent demands that his current wife, Sharla (Gina Gershon) get an even split, Chris and his pops go about hiring notorious Killer Joe to do the deed.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Favorite Scene: In the Line of Fire

Late in Wolfgang Peterson’s restrained action thriller, In the Line of Fire (which rivals Das Boot as the man’s best film), the movie thankfully, wondrously forgets that it is an action film and delivers a scene of Hitchockian bliss.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild is that rare American film in which we’re shown things from a fresh perspective. The film is familiar, yet new. Bold, yet restrained. It knows precisely when to roar, when to lay dormant, and, most importantly, when to wow. It’s a compelling breath of fresh air amidst the bombast of summer action blockbusters. It’s also one of the best films of the year so far. Here’s why.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Top 10 Directors of All Time

I’ve wanted to assemble this list for a good long while, and after much deliberation and moving and switching and other various head puzzles, it’s time to finally share my 10 favorite directors of all time.

These are the directors I love and value the most. Whether their work has inspired me humanly or creatively (or both), the films of these men have influenced me in ways that I will never fully, coherently, be able to communicate in written form. They are responsible for so many cherished memories and bouts of fluid, manic motivation.

Please keep in mind that these are my personal choices. This list is not to act as a grand statement on who are the very best filmmakers of all time, these are just the ones I personally love. The first three directors are listed in order of significance – their work resonates above all others, so they deserve to carry specific weight. The remaining seven are listed alphabetically.

Enjoy, and please feel free to share your favorite directors in the comments!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Liebster Blog Award

Two of my very favorite bloggers, Dan from Public Transportation Snob, and Josh from The Cinematic Spectacle, have been kind enough to bestow this Liebster Blog Award onto me, so it’s time to dish out some info about myself and pass the baton.

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the 11 questions the person giving the award has set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you will be giving the award to.
4. Choose 11 people to award and send them a link to your post.
5. Go to their page and tell them.
6. No tag backs.