Monday, June 30, 2014

Relay: Ten Most Influential Directors of All Time

John from Hitchcock’s World has started a new relay race, this time asking bloggers to list the most influential directors of all time. The rule is simple: remove one director from the group and replace them with another filmmaker you think is worthy. Some monumental filmmakers are to follow – hope you enjoy my swap!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Top 15 Unreliable Narrators in Cinema

I’m fascinated by the dichotomy caused by an unreliable narrator. Occasionally while watching a film, we know that the person telling us a story is intentionally lying. Other times, we don’t realize we’ve been betrayed until the film’s final scenes. Either way, it can be so thrilling to witness the world through an unreliable mind, even if only for a few hours. In regards to this post, please be warned, simply discussing such characters can inadvertently produce spoilers. I’m always strict about not spoiling films on this blog, but do proceed with caution here.

Friday, June 27, 2014

In Character: Eli Wallach

I’ve had a bittersweet few days since hearing of Eli Wallach’s passing. On one hand, there is no doubt that we lost a film legend. Wallach was one of the premiere character actors to ever grace the screen. He delivered hundreds of iconic performances in film and television, as well as on stage, and I’m so saddened by his loss. On the other hand, at 98 years old, it’s clear that Wallach lived a full and great life.

When news broke of Wallach’s death, I did what I always do when an artist I admire passes: I traced through his filmography, looking to fill any major gaps I may have missed. A few of the films below are ones I’ve just watched for the first time. They’re great films; masterpieces, even. Films I’ve wanted to get to, but had been putting off. I’m sad that it took Wallach’s passing to motivate me to watch them, but now more than I ever, I know Wallach’s work will certainly live on.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Rover

We meet a man. A still and detached man, emotionally and physically isolated. Shortly after meeting this man, his car, which appears to be his only possession, is stolen. So he gives chase, searching tirelessly for his automobile. But this is no ordinary chase. There are no cell phones, internet searches or police presence to help with the hunt. Why? Because David Michôd’s The Rover exists in a world 10 years “after the collapse,” as an introductory title card informs us. So throughout the film, we watch as a man (Guy Pearce) makes his way through a barren Australian wasteland, all in an effort to retrieve what is his.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Jersey Boys

Frankie Valli’s life is the stuff that dreams are made of. A real life rags-to-riches tale that includes fame, fortune, heartbreak, great music, the mob, and Joe Pesci. So really… what’s not to like? Unfortunately, plenty. At least concerning the film version of Jersey Boys, itself adapted from the wildly successful and immensely entertaining Broadway musical of the same name. Clint Eastwood’s film spends much of its running time trying to find itself. And while the intentions of everyone involved are noble, there simply isn’t enough talent to make this film sing as loudly as it wants.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Top 10 Directors Who Never Wrote a Film

It always fascinates me to learn that a director with dozens of films under their belt never actually wrote (or co-wrote) a produced screenplay. But such is the case for the 10 brilliant filmmakers below, who, with minor exceptions, have never been credited for penning a feature-length script. Hope you enjoy my picks, feel free to share yours as well.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Top 10 Unsung Performances in Clint Eastwood Films

Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation of the Broadway hit, Jersey Boys, drops in theaters tomorrow, and as it stars four relative film unknowns, I thought it’d be fun to highlight performances from his films that never earned enough acclaim. Jersey Boys is Eastwood’s 33rd film as a director, so I will undoubtedly leave many worthy performances off this list. Do feel free to share your favorites.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Top 10 Robert Richardson Films

Working in the film business for 30 plus years as the go-to director of photography for Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino is not a bad way to make a living. An expert with color, hot light and, especially, immersing the audience in a film’s specific world, Robert Richardson is the man responsible for the look of some of the most iconic films made in the past few decades. And with three Oscars under his belt and no sign of fading to black, it looks like we’ll all be able to marvel at his work for several years to come.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

In Character: Mike Starr

Whenever Mike Starr shows up in a film, I know I’m in for a good time. This guy is so priceless in everything, imposing and bruising his way through countless films over the past few decades. But much of Starr’s strength as an actor lies in his unique comedic skills. His humor, often laced with the mentality of a simpleton but the delivery of a seasoned pro, is something I never grow tired of. Below are my favorite Starr performances, but considering this guy has nearly 200 IMDb credits to his name, chances are I left some of yours out. As always, feel free to share them!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Top 39 Things I Love About The Silence of the Lambs (that no one talks about)

Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs is one of my favorite suspense thrillers. Its narrative precision, unique cinematography, impeccable acting and flawless production design all make the film endlessly rewatchable. Here are a handful of things I love about the film that are rarely discussed. Enjoy!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ruby Dee and the Scream that Killed Generations of Progress

When news broke yesterday that the world had lost the wonderfully creative, vastly important legend that is Ruby Dee, my mind immediately began recalling her famed screen performances. Supporting her fearless, tortured husband in The Jackie Robinson Story, struggling to keep her family afloat in A Raisin in the Sun, enabling her junkie son in Jungle Fever, fearlessly slapping Denzel Washington in American Gangster. Off screen, Dee delivered even more courageous work as a vocal, decades-long activist for African-American civil rights. Ruby Dee changed things, and America is a better place for it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Willow Creek

Let’s move past the fact that the found footage genre was rendered stale years ago. Move past the fact that most films of this kind are lazy, uneventful, and boring. Move past the cheap production design, bad acting, and uninteresting conclusions. Bogging this review down with all of the things found footage films get wrong is fruitless. Instead, our time is better spent discussing everything that Willow Creek gets right.

Yes, Willow Creek is a found footage/lost in the woods film. (And yes, the characters get lost while hunting for Bigfoot.) Yes, the film looks cheap and relies heavily on non-actors to execute its story. In fact, there’s really nothing about Willow Creek that should work. Yet there wasn’t a second of its 80 minutes that I didn’t enjoy. I was stunned by its authenticity, pleased by its candor, and so thankful it embraced the faults of its genre.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Favorite Scene: The Usual Suspects

Stuck in the middle of Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie’s pulp fiction mindfuck thriller, The Usual Suspects, is a quiet scene void of ego and laced with genuine fear. Noting the absence of ego is important, because much of The Usual Suspects is basically watching men measure the length of their cocks through sarcasm, verbal intimidation and physical violence. But during the scene in question, four of our Suspects do nothing more than sit in a car and debate their inevitable deaths. They don’t yell or scream or make jokes; there are no guns or explosions or flexed muscles, only stares and thoughts and fears.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

the Directors: Danny Boyle

We live in a world where originality is a lifeline. As far as cinema goes, to keep things fresh is to consistently breathe life into the medium. And no matter the topic – whether it’s heroin addicts and murderers, angels and zombies, astronauts and slumdogs – Danny Boyle has proved that he’s one of the premiere facilitators of cinematic innovation. The man never tackles the same material, yet every one of his films is a distinct Danny Boyle picture. As you’ll notice below, although my thoughts on his films vary, my respect for his vision remains constant. I don’t care what it’s about or who’s in it, if it’s a A Film by Danny Boyle, then I’ll always be first in line, eager for something new.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Top 10 Unsung Female Roles in Steven Soderbergh Films

I’ve been on a bit of a Soderbergh kick lately, and one thing I noticed is that so many of his films contain fantastic performances by women that are hardly ever discussed. We’re all familiar with the names who appear above the title in Soderbergh’s films, and even lead female performances in some of his smaller movies (Sasha Grey in The Girlfriend Experience; Debbie Doebereiner in Bubble) dominated the conversation surrounding those films. But this list concerns itself with splendid performances that never got the play they deserved.