Sunday, September 5, 2010
Oscar Chances - Portman is the only thing unanimously being raved so looks set to at least garner a nomination. Picture and Director maybe but it seems a little wiggedy-whack for the Academy. Cinematography looks pretty set. Could make a big splash if it's as well recieved in its cinema release.
"Alternately disturbing and exhilerating, this dark study of a mentally
fragile performer derailed by her obsession with perfection is one of the most exciting films to come out of the hollywood system this year." ~ Mike Goodridge,
Oscar Chances - Unlikely. Wasn't very well recieved at all. Post-Slumdog Millionaire was given a chance to prove if was the real deal actress - and apparently she isn't. Apparently the films bludgens audiences over the head with its message. Weinsteins are behind it, but they'll probably drop it.
Overall Reception - Luke warm
Oscar Chances - For fans of Sofia Coppalla's film, maybe. But no one is saying it's as good as Lost in Translation which is the only time her films have made any real impact on the Academy. Whilst the film apparently meanders, the father/daughter relationship is apparently believeable and effective. So maybe Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning if they campaign and the films gets a positive response on release. The film does have its fans as well as its haters.
"For all the similarities, this does not have the brilliant seriocomic
moments of Lost in Translation. If that was her hit single, then this is her
b-side." ~ The Guardian
Reception - Positive, some raves.
Oscar Chances - High. They obviously like Boyles style, and apparently it works really well here. Critics are praising the choice to stay with Franco the who film, who apparently carries to film amazingly well. With rollover love from Slumdog, a strong leading performance and the fact that it's a true story makes me think Oscar night will be littered with noms for it. Is it too early to say that Franco looks very likely to be nommed?
"The relief in the theatre was palpable - if there's such thing as quiet
cheering, there it was" ~ LA Times
Reception - Positive
Oscar Chances - Another actress contender with Mulligan getting great reviews. Might be two years in a row for her! The rest of the cast is also well recieved but apparently its Mulligans show. The score by Oscar winning Rachel Portman is getting unanimous raves, some even calling it for the win. The BAFTAS will likely eat this up, and there is a strong crossover with AMPAS so some major categories are not out of the question.
"It is more than "a good story well told". It is humanity
on screen." ~ David Poland. MCN
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
For those barbarians who don't recognise her straight away, it is the glorious Maria Bello in A History of Violence. Whilst Mortensen and Hurt have the showier roles in the film, for me Bello walks away with the film with her authenticity, and function as an emotional anchor to the rest of the film.
Anyway, consider this post a "I'm back", random thought I had to get off my chest, and a trailer for an upcoming entry about the most underrated actresses currently working.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Maybe Rose was hoping he'd wake up when she "let him go".
The entire cast of the film is in great form but the real star of the film is Nolan. The directors vision and flair for action sequences is bursting through every frame. I have amittedly been slow to get on the Nolan bandwagon, thinking The Dark Knight was good bu very overrated but you can consider me a shrieking groupie. In fact I have an embarassing confession, in the scene in which Joseph Gordon Levitt's character is fighting in the hotel hallway with shifting gravity, and cutting to his sleepy face being spattered with rain and limp arms flailing about the van... I teared up. Was this scene sad? No. Whilst the film was emotionally poignant it's by no means a tear jerker. So why did I nearly cry? If there was any doubt I'm a total film nerd here it is: Occasionally when I'm watching a great film and scene is so well made I become overwhelmed with the greatness of the film at that moment and tear up. This has happened in only two other films in memory (Lust, Caution and Sunshine).
Such a tearjerking moment...
"You jump, I jump, remember?"
Props too to Tom Hardy who was an absolute scene stealer and is it just me or was there something about him that was unbearably sexy?
I could go on about the technical marvels of the perfect cinematography, dazzling CGI, the perfectly interwoven action sequences of the final dream, the clever plot devices, and everything else I love about the film but I'm sure you have something better to do for the next 5 hours it would take me to list everything I LOVE about this film.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The kid from E.T. had aged poorly
After Mac's alien family are sworn in as American Citizen's, and the reasons that the USA is A-OK are rammed down our throat, the human family and Alien family ride down the highway in a convertible before a large speech bubble appears promising "We'll be Back!". 22 years later and we're yet to hear from them. This flop that tried desperately to be the new E.T. is now a notorious joke.
4. The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Connery knew how to deal with any sequel offers.
This one stands for all those crappy comic book movies that attempted to kick start a new franchise and failed epically (Van Helsing, The Phantom). This one took a cool concept, the collision of those creepy old heroes and beloved characters, but it ended up being like when you mix your favourite play-doh colours and you are left with a brown muck. It's reported that this horrible film and the horrible film production are responsible for Sean Connery's retirement and that is unforgiveable!
Despite a strong start to his career, Toothy was unable to shake the iconic role of "Godzilla" and became typecast.
By box office sales Godzilla was my no means a failure, but by every other means... it was. There is an entire legacy of films and mythology that this film let down. Roland Emmerich does what he does best and makes everything big and bombastic and forgets to make the film remotely interesting. The end of the film features a Godzilla egg hatching and a baby Godzilla breaking it's way out in one of those horrible "Oh oh! Here we gooo agaaaiiin!" moments. Hazzaa it didn't!
Let's just say Jada Pinket wears the pants in the relationship...
This could go into the failed superhero category along with League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but since it was a new invention rather than based off a comic it gets its own special placement on the fail list. The fact that some people actually managed to like this great big hunk of crap, baffles me. The plot was daft, the villain was totally uninteresting and the plot was absurd beyond all reason. I sequel has been confirmed and denied over and over but at the moment it seems the project is kaput. Thank goodness.
1. The Covenant
Uhh.. Erm.. What was this movie about again?
If someone asked me what the worst movie I'd ever seen was I would immediately say this. I think it even realised how crap it was so included as much clevage, abs, biceps and well rounded buttocks as possible to blind people from the atrocious filmmaking. It was like a game I would play with... invisible people when I was five, shooting energy at people and pretending I had very non-specific powers. Of course at the end they can't find that dastardly villain amongst the rubble after the yawn and eye rolling in equal meaure final battle scene. They drive away in the convertible knowing that they'll see him again... Thankfully we haven't.
5. I, Robot
There was something about Will Smith that set him out from the crowd.
Dear Will Smith, if you plan on making a sequel to any of the films in your backlog please consider I, Robot. Even though the rumours about an intelligent sci fi being butchered once Hollywood getting their grubby hads all over it are more than likely to be true, there was still a lot to enjoy. There's certainly enough srouce material based on one of the gazillion Isaac Ismanov books. Pure blockbuster entertainment at its finest elevated to a level of excellence due to the sleek direction of Alex Proyas. So if he's on board then I will be too.
4. Superman Returns
Brandon flew away from the beckoning straight to DVD offers.
It's undoubtable that one day another Superman film will be made, but unfortunately it will likely be completely unrelated to this fantastic 2006 film. The critics loved it, but the public weren't so hot on it. I certainly was. Brandon Routh was everything I could ask for in a Clark Ken/Man in tights, Kevin Spacey was delightful, and the intelligent script packed a real punch. Brian Singer made X-Men 2 the best Superhero film ever, and for me this one wasn't far behind. At the very least could Brandon Routh have a ongoing career please?
3. Lemony Snickets: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
Even Meryl knows its worth it, and she is God.
2. Master and Commander: The Far Side Of the World
This is probably the most baffling of all as to why a sequel was never made. Very popular with the public, the books have a huge following and even those prickly critics liked it! Jim Carrey gave what was probably his best performance of the last decade, as well as the entire cast. Good child actors are so rare and all three of the kids nailed it. The direction and art direction are also incredible making a quirky, yet creepy film that would make Tim Burton jealous. From whatever series of unfortunate events, there is not even the glimmer of a sequal on the horizon.
Fighin' round the world...
1. The Incredibles
Russel Crowe? Peter Weir? Patrick O'Brian? Some of the best cinematography... ever? Where is the sequel?! The film picked up an impressive amount of Academy Award nominations including Best Picture. The Patrick O'Brian novels have a huge and dedicated following and the first film certainly did it justice, and kept the fans happy. Even everyday fans of good cinema would also be... all aboard :-D
The Incredibles hug their Oscar.
All bow down to the glory of Pixar. Even through their impeccable track record, The Incredibles is seen as one of the best. If the wonderful Toy Story trilogy is any good indication, Pixar will make sure that any sequel would be as, if not more incredible than the first. (I'm having a puntastic good time here today). The superhero genre is something that will never run out of storylines, so surely it can't be a lack of good idea that's holding the studio back? Come on guys!
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Rub-a-dub-dub 5 unfunny men in a drub.
The gang's all here from those movies that you once thought were funny but find disappointing with repeat viewing: Adam Sandler, David Spade, Kevin James, Chris Rock and Rob Schneider. Actually Kevin James was never funny. Each of them is retreading familiar territory as indicated in brief character introductions that only serve to let us know that they're going to be playing the exact same characters they've forged a career on. David Spade is being sexist and cheeky, Rob Schneider is being spacey and inappropriate, Chris Rock is being kooky and demasculated, Kevin James makes it to three seconds of screen time before the first fat joke is cracked, and Adam Sandler is the disgruntled slacker whose first line is literally him shouting, "I'm the biggest agent in Hollywood!" down a phone to subtly establish that he's... the biggest agent in Hollywood. The movie is almost a "best of" tribute to these actors' careers except they're all reduced to thinly drawn and watered down stereotypes.
Yup. That's Kevin James with a KFC bucket on his head. Nuff Said.
The five are old school friends reuniting at the funeral for their former basketball coach, held in their home town. You have to feel sorry for the coach as we are supposed to believe that no one, literally no one apart from five losers he used to coach in basketball, are there to scatter his ashes or read a eulogy. If all he had in life were these guys that he hadn't even seen in years, I wouldn't be surprised if the cause of death was suicide.
The friends miss no opportunity to rip into each other. Poor old coach is mostly forgotten in favour of making non-stop jokes at the expense of one another.
Writing about this film is easy, as there is no chance of accidentally giving away plot details or spoilers, because there are none. It's just joke after joke after unfunny joke, none of which add anything to the non-existent plot. The screenplay, if there even was one, is as aimless as the careers of its stars if this is what they are reduced to.
The poor wives of these unlikeable bastards end up being more interesting, but are mostly pushed aside until they give dramatic monologues at the end of the film to wrap up relationship conflicts that you didn't even know existed until they're over. Chris Rock was flirting with the nanny? Adam Sandler is a liar? Are there deleted scenes where this happened? Surely a few of the multiple fart jokes could have been cut in favour of an actual plot or conflict of some kind. With Oscar-nominated Salma Hayek and should-have-been Oscar nominated for A History Of Violence Maria Bello playing the wives, it's puzzling what they're doing in this film playing second fiddle to lesser talents.
Whilst the women watched on in dismay, Salma took her chance and went to hide in the cupboard until the movie is over.
This all being said, I chuckled once. Maybe even twice but it could have been a cough. You're better off hiring something from the actors' backlog because Happy Gilmore's golf ball being too good for its home is still better than anything Grown Ups has to offer.
Best Film: I Am Love
Runners Up: Heartbeats & If I Want to Whislte, I Whistle
Best Director: Sylvain Chomet ~ The Illusionist
Runners Up: Xavier Dolan ~ Heartbeats, Luca Guadagnino ~ I Am Love
Best Actor: Devin Brochu ~ Hesher
Runners Up: Pistireanu George ~ If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle, Ewan McGregor ~ The Ghost Writer
Best Actress: Tilda Swinton ~ I Am Love
Runners Up: Anne Dorval ~ I Killed My Mother, Jullianne Moore ~ The Kids Are All Right
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Ruffalo ~ The Kids Are All Right
Runners Up: Tom Wilkinson ~ The Ghost Writer, Pierce Brosnan ~ The Ghost Writer
Best Supporting Actress: Piper Laurie ~ Hesher
Runners Up: Maria Paiato ~ I Am Love, Olivia Williams ~ The Ghost Writer
Best Screenplay: The Kids Are All Right
Runners Up: Heartbeats, I Killed My Mother
A few notes; even though I give Hesher two acting wins, I would like to point out that it was truely awful and those two performances were the only good things about it. Also, I don't mention the delightful anime Summer Wars or the documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America but were both definitely worth seeing.
Also please check out the interview I did for Filmink with the star and the producer of If I Want To Whistle, I Whistle: http://www.filmink.com.au/feature/new-talent/
And here is my review for The Most Dangerous Man in America: http://www.filmink.com.au/review/the-most-dangeous-man-in-america-film_2/
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The Illusionist begins with the elderly illusionist waiting in the wings of a rock concert to perform after the show. The theatre is packed with screaming girls more hysterical than a group of twi-hards at a Twilight convention. The slick rock stars twist and gyrate all over the stage and hilariously prance off stage effeminately when the curtain closes, leaving the illusionist to perform. The curtain reopens to find the entire theatre empty except an unenthusiastic elderly lady with her gum-chewing grandson. This opening is indicative of the film's charm and wit, with the movie revolving around the end of an era for the Illusionist and the world he used to belong to. We follow him as he travels throughout Europe looking for a place to call home, meeting many great characters along the way, including a young Scottish girl who follows him but begins to cherish the things he buys her over his company.
"Now I ain't saying she a goldigger..."
The film's greatest achievement is its ability to communicate the story and characters purely through visual means far better than most conventional films do. The caricatures the film paints of humanity are exaggerated but still manage to contain a human truth with regard to how absurd we all really are. There are depths to the characters captured in simple gestures, actions and the way they interact with the world around them, and because of this the absence of dialogue never feels gimmicky.
The Illusionist chooses to travel with the Hogwarts express.
Whilst still being a truly unique and compelling film, The Illusionist doesn't feel quite satisfying once the credits roll. This is perhaps due to the lack of an over-arching plot, instead the characters just drift from one scene to the next so their wants and needs aren't as easily communicated. This wouldn't be a problem if the film had a pay-off, but The Illusionist seems to be building toward something truly magnificent and profound but then the credits pop up to disappoint the audience. It's disappoining that this delightful film is over but also because it just fell short of being outstanding.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
"Hi, my name's Xavier and I'm more sucessful and attractive than you'll ever be"
Ever since the eye catching and sumptuous trailer for Heartbeats debuted I’ve had an eye out for this one, and was very high up on my “must see” list for the festival, and I am pleased to say it does not disappoint. As well as directing the film, Dolan wrote, starred in and almost every second name on the ending credits reads “Xavier Dolan”. See what I’m getting at here? It’s the lemon juice being squeezed on our own inadequacy. Dolan begins his film with a series of short, but delightful vignettes of people telling a short story about love, romance, sex or lack there of. We are then introduced to BFF’s Francis (Dolan) and Marie played brilliantly by Monia Chokri, who simultaneously become enchanted with the new hottie in town Nicolas, played with just the right balance of cockiness and charm by Niels Schnieder. Cue the ultimate ménage a trois that is always tethering on the edge, waiting to happen. Both Francis and Marie become engaged in a silent battle for the flirtatious “Adonis” with ambiguous sexuality, and the tension between them simmers beautifully.
There is a certain demographic of the hipster culture that the film certainly lends itself toward and this may put off some viewers. The film is jam packed with any and everything hipster from the upturned bottom of skinny leg jeans, unconventional hair, vintage clothes, pop culture references but only to films and actors pre 1960, unmatching tea sets and an affinity for all things twee. This is certainly evident in the fact that the majority of adoring twitter responses to the film after the screening were for some reason written in French. Tres chique. That’s not to say it’s not a film accessible by many people but it might have to be something Dolan might have to watch if his career is really set to boom.
Curls get the girls. And boys apparently.
That said, it’s Dolan’s visual flair that pays homage to many filmmakers, accompanied with a very witty, engaging and heartfelt script that really make the film a cinematic treat. Whilst Dolan’s journey as a filmmaker is certainly very developed for someone of his age there is still certainly some room to grow, but this only makes his promising career all the more exciting to watch out for.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Review/blog on Polanki's new thriller; The Ghost Writer (As you can see on the side panel, I enjoyed it immensely):
Review of City Island: ***1/2
Review of 2.22: *
Rant about remakes:
Also a reminder that the current issue on stands now, with more reviews by yours truely.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
First and foremost the most obvious connection is old Rusty, who really his fulfilling his cinematic quest of “fightin’ round the world”. Crowe is certainly a capable actor, and is fully deserving of all the accolades he has accumulated but I think the reason Crowe delivers a much more iconic performance as Maximus over Robin, is the fact that Maximus is a much more complex and interesting character. Maximus is an esteemed general who looses everything, including his family and is outlawed by the Emperor in the opening scenes. Robin is a talented archer who starts of with little, ends with little and is outlawed by the King, except this time this spans over an entire movie not just as a character introduction. Because of this Maximus has a clearly defined goal, revenge and perhaps the liberation of Rome too, whilst Robins story is far too episodic to become completely emotionally invested in his character arc. He wants to flee from the army, he does soon after. He wants to return the sword to Nottingham, he does soon after. He has to pretend to be Maid Marion’s husband, he does for a short while afterward. He wants to unite all of England to defeat the French… Now I won’t give away the ending, but I’m sure you can guess. And at each step it’s never really that difficult for him to achieve his short term goals, he does it all with relative ease.
Now for every dashing leading man there is always a cranky villain twirling his moustache in the shadows. Joaquin Phoenix got Oscar nominated for his performance in Gladiator, and deservedly so. His character was emotionally complex being menacing but also naïve, jealous and petty who has a feasible emotion behind every decision. I for one wanted to pull him out of the screen and beat him to a pulp during that fantastic scene where he describes that Maximus’ wife moaned like a whore when she was being murdered. Now that’s a villain. Now who exactly is the antagonist in Robin Hood? Well the fact that this isn’t easy to give an answer is the major problem. We’ve got Mark Strong playing Godfrey, the man who betrayed England to the French. We’ve got Matthew Macfayden as The Sherriff of Nottingham, the man whose selfishness and greed is greater than his duty to his township. We’ve got the King of France who aspires to conquer England. We’ve got King John of England who youth, jealousy and greed makes him an enemy to all the English. And not one of them has a motive more interesting than money or greed, plus it makes it hard to know exactly who we’re rooting against. Phoenix’s Commodus was such a successful nemesis in the way you could understand where he was coming from.
So we’ve got out leading man, got our villain, but there’s also our damsel in distress. It always good to see female characters not merely being arm candy and waiting on the side for the men to do all the work, which is thankfully not the case in either film, but where Gladiator once again emerges on top is in how this is achieved. Connie Nielsen plays Lucilla, sister to Commodus and it’s implied she has lingering feelings for Maximus. She’s strong willed and ballsy, always trying to do what’s best for the country and especially for her son and certainly plays ever card she has to offer to do so. Blanchett’s Maid Marion is also a strong willed and ballsy woman, but in this instance the film goes one step too far, not merely relying on her to have a strong personality but having her physically picking up a sword and charging into battle ahead of a small troop of juvenile delinquents on Shetland ponies. This even seems to be all hypocritically undone when Maid Marion swiftly gets her ass handed to her on the battle field and requires Robin to come and save the day. To remain historically accurate does not mean presentations of women need to be as sexist as the times they live in, but there still needs to be an air of authenticity. Lucilla never had to enter the Coliseum twirling a sword in order to prove her strength as a character.
Don’t be mistaken, I did enjoy Robin Hood and I do anticipate the sequel that the entire films sets itself up for but this is once again another problem. The film starts far too early, and finished halfway through where the real movie should have been. Consider this as an alternative: Meet Robin Hood, soldier for the English army living in Nottingham where he is respected by the town folk and surrounding towns too. When a war between England and France arises, he pretends to be a knight to unite England and they emerge victorious but the king is jealous of the way the people praised Robin over him, and thus outlaws him for pretending to be a knight. This could have been the opening third which would then lead into a film with a much clearer objective, making for a much more satisfying ending.
There were many things I enjoyed about Robin Hood, including the opening scenes, the rousing battle sequences, the occasional tongue in cheek (would have liked more of this), and his band of merry men added a much needed flair to the events of the film. It certainly contains the visual feast that Gladiator had to offer, with impeccable art direction and costumes. However unavoidable comparisons to Gladiator make you realise just how much better it could have been.
Monday, May 24, 2010
In perhaps his most successful and mature piece yet, The White Ribbon paints an eerie picture of a small town in Germany just prior to World War One where there appears to be something sinister lurking beneath everything, particularly the children. Haneke masterfully keeps the audience uneasy throughout the film letting them know something isn’t right, but you’d be damned if you could pin point what that is. But Haneke, is all his nihilistic wisdom knows what it is, and better yet he knows what his audience will and won’t know. It’s so refreshing to have a filmmaker not treat his audience like an idiot, but challenge them every frame and as a result it makes The White Ribbon, like many of his other films linger long past the closing credits. He tests them too, at every corner with the increasing dread simmering throughout the film, you’re just waiting for it to boil over and limbs to severed, bowels dismembered and people to scream, and most curiously, is it wrong to say we’re disappointed when it doesn’t happen? It’s toying with expectations that make The White Ribbon so effective, and whilst the mystery might not have a Poirot to tweak his moustache and solve it, it doesn’t matter. There are far more interesting things going on.
Credit is also certainly due to the talented cast and crew that truly elevate the film. Each frame seems like a creepy stoic postcard you’d find under a floor board, but also has a visual beauty to it that makes it a pleasure to watch. The costumes and set design are likewise pitch perfect in historical accuracy, but unnervingly sinister just in the way Haneke presents the people who occupy them. The cast too is commendable, with so often bad child actors ruining a movie, it was a risk to have the children play such a prominent and vital part of the film, but they all nail it. Are you listing Hollywood? If Haneke can do it with an entire cast of amateurs why did Jake Lloyd have to taint the entire Star Wars franchise? But that’s a whole other ramble entirely.
Many viewers may find the film unsettling, and it certainly packs as punch. This is not only due to the constantly surprising narrative and occasional brief brutal violence, but also to the mood set by the film. There is an understated grief, accompanied with an anger that underscores the film never letting the audience become complacent. Without a predictable or traditional story arch the movie could have tried patience of audiences, but an extremely clever script by Juan Jose Campanella brings a smooth cohesion to a disjointed plot. The non-linear structure of the film is particularly handled well.
At the centre of this noir-esque drama, is a romance between Irene and Esposito which is utterly believable and moving, due to the two leads who cover decades in their roles thanks to some fantastic aging makeup. In particular Soledad Villamil gives a truly outstanding performance with charisma, heart ache and grace, though there is not a weak link in the cast.
Technical aspects are similarly expertly done, with seamless editing between different time periods, and between fantasy and reality. Director Juan Jose Campanella uses restraint effectively, never becoming showy but remaining true to the tone of the film, making a film that’s often thrilling but always emotionally engaging. The films greatest strength is in the portrait it paints of these characters and the inner dilemmas they face, and it is this that will linger with the audience long after they leave the cinema.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Why? Early word from the Sundance film festival is good, but the calibre of the cast is enough to make any film goer keen. Joseph Gordon Levitt seems to be the acting king of independent film at the moment, Natalie Portman seems to be getting better with age and Piper Laurie, best know as Carrie's crazy mum in... Carrie, is on board too.
9. Summer Wars
Why? I'm a sucker for animated film, I can admit it. You're always seem to be guaranteed a visual feast at the very least. This one is from the director of the Girl Who Lept Through Time which while I haven't seen, its regarded as one of the best Japanime films of the last decade.
Why? I'm a fan of Allen Ginsberg's poem which caused the obscenity trial the film is based around, and I think James Franco is a really great choice to portray the poet. The rest of cast is also pretty noteworthy. Like many films on offer at the festival it's picked up some strong buzz at the Sundance Film Festival.
Why? In won the Golden Bear at this years Berlin Film Festival amongst an apparently very competetive field. The film has recieved rave reviews so far, and is the final chapter of a reverse order trilogy from the director. The only reason it isn't higher is that I haven't seen the other films.
5. I Am Love
Why? Tilda. Swinton. Need I say more? Ok I will. Not just because she's amazing in everything she does, but you can be sure it's going to be an interesting film as she picks her films very carefully. The film looks visually scrumptious, and all the costumes are part of a new clothes line designed specifically for the film. Yay for fashion porn.
Why? It recieved standing ovations in Cannes in the last few days, and young director Xavier Dolan (He's my age. I hate people who are so talented and sucessful at my age. It rubs in the failure...) is apparently one to watch. Like I Am Love, it look visually amazing. Interestingly the other film Dolan has directed I Killed My Mother is also playing at the festival. So you can see his complete filmography in one festival, even if it is only two so far.
3. Winters Bone
Why? Sundance went crazy over this film, and went even crazier over Jennifer Lawrence who plays the central character and many people already screaming "OSCAR! OSCAR!". It's drawn parrallels with Frozen River which can only be a good thing.
2. The Illusionist
Why? Directorial follow up to The Triplets of Belleville which was one of the most unique, charming and quirky films of the last decade. Of the few clips I've seen so far available on the internet it looks just as wonderful. I love it when animated films appear to really be using the chosen medium well, and this seems like one of those instances.
1. The Kids Are Alright
Why? Another Sundance favourite, but judging by the trailer looks like the perfect blend of comedy and drama. The cast is really amazing with Jullianne Moore and Annette Benning playing lesbian mums to their daughter played by aussie Mia Wasikowska who wants to meet the baby daddy, Mark Ruffalo.
I'll try to see as many as possible with all these and more. Just missing the list would be The Tree, South Solitary, I Killed My Mother, Cyrus, The Game Of Death, Caught Inside, Ajami, The Killer Inside Me, The Runaways, and Women Without Men. Hmm... That's alot to be "just missing" the list. There's so many good'ens.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Nazi Germany: The Wonder Years
Similarly his 2005 film Cache [Hidden] never really explodes like the tension implies, except of course briefly in THAT scene. You know the one. For most films a lackluster ending that doesn’t come clean on the dramatic promises it creates usually makes for a wholly unsatisfying experience. But Haneke isn’t trying to wrap his films in a nice neat little box for you to take home to mumma. Take Hidden for a text book example of how effective this can be; the family receives the video tapes and the entire filmed is anchored around this mystery and SPOILER ALERT whilst we never really find out where the tapes came from, its doesn’t matter. Haneke uses narrative tension in his films to create the mood of his films, but ultimately the films mystery pales in comparison to what the film is really about thematically.
That's one for the fridge.
Haneke is constantly pushing in the envelope in his films, and he pushes it so firmly that it would give you a paper cut if you tried to stop it. All poor analogies aside, The Piano Teacher, Haneke’s 2001 film, certainly pushes the envelope in the most obvious and overt fashion of all his films but is done so tastefully that the sexually graphic themes and scenes aren’t as overbearing as they could have been. The Piano Teacher is one of those films that when you describe it to someone as you recommend it, you come across as a sadistic pervert for saying you like it.
"So she goes to a porno booth, gets a dirty tissue and takes a whiff."
But it’s all essential. The goddess of acting Isabelle Huppert gives the incredible performance that is just as layered as Hanke’s direction is. She deserves so much credit for fully grasping what Haneke was trying to achieve and going for broke. In lesser hands the entire film could have fallen apart from a weak thread. Of course it wouldn’t surprise me if Haneke’s hand was strongly at play in shaping her performance. This being said, in every film of Haneke’s, he’s always supported by a fantastic cast and crew that only elevate his genius.
So calling Haneke best director alive is a big call, that maybe I’m not quite ready to claim. The most skilled? Yes. I think there’s a difference that I can elaborate on if people want me to. I’ll be more than interested to see where Haneke goes from here, as he seems to be getting better with each film.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Sometimes an independent film can start off with the smallest of releases, but through a cult following, grow and grow until it finds an international audience and infamy. However, this is not always due to the films qualities that earn its way into pop culture, sometimes, as is the case for Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, the film is so bad that people are regularly selling out screenings just to see how bad it really is. The film is truly unintentional comedy at its finest.
Whilst many people may be familiar with the Youtube videos of hilariously awful moments in the film, I went one step further and went to one of the sell out screenings currently on at the Chauvel Cinema in Paddington. I had expected much of the same as I’d seen in the internet clips gone viral, shoddy acting, atrocious dialogue and a generally confusing plot, but what I got was scene after scene of hilariously new ways to get a movie wrong. If the film had been made this bad intentionally it would be a comedy masterpiece for the ages. I have never, ever laughed so hard in the cinema in all my life.
Wiseau has been plugging his film, which he directed, wrote, produced and starred in, since it was made in 2003 and he got his wish… It’s certainly getting noticed. He has even taken the audience reaction and said that the film is a “black comedy”, despite there not being a single moment where it attempts to be funny and succeeds. He also quotes himself in the films trailer, describing the film as having “the passion of Tennessee Williams”. The only similarity here with legend Tennessee Williams is perhaps a fondness for the bottle, with a puzzling scene in which the characters mixes scotch with vodka.
Before entering into the screening, I am given two things by the theatre, a handful of plastic spoons, and a “viewing guide”. The film has managed to garner a number of traditions to accompany the atrocious film, all mocking everything the film offers, from calling out “because you’re a woman” at every (and there’s many) sexist line of dialogue, and yelling out “Who the $%@& is that guy?!” when random characters, never before seen, enter the house of the protagonist, have sex on his couch… and leave. And the spoons? The house is bizarrely decorated in pictures featuring spoons, thus the tradition has emerged that when these appear on screen the audience is required to hurl spoons at the screen shouting “SPOONS!”. But perhaps the best laughs come from simply the film itself, from the horrifying attempts at sex scenes (“You’re doing it wrong!”) to the bizarre neck twitch that throbs throughout an entire scene, I was in stitches.
The appeal is that the screening is not just a film, but an event. It’s a two hour joke at entirely the films expense. Like watching your mate make a disastrous fool of themselves, sometimes it’s just too funny to feel sorry for them. Ultimately the film is near impossible to review, on one hand being immensely enjoyable but on the other being utterly awful.
Article about world famous producer Jan Chapman who is the head of the Sydney Film Festival. I'll certainly be attending many of the films at the festival and will try to post up reviews of them as I see them.
http://www.filmink.com.au/news/head-over-heels-for-surfing/ Feature about upcoming doco First Love. It's a surfing documentary about three teenage girls who also happen to be surfing world champions. I got to interview filmmaker Claire Gorman about it, who seemed really genuine and passionate about what she was doing.
Now there's another article coming up soon about an actor from the new Twilight movie, Booboo Stewart. Yup. That's his name. Booboo. They're releasing the twilight interviews in installments so it's not up yet but I'll share when it does. Also be sure to look out for the new Filmink issue in stores May 17 which contains many a review by yours truely!
Stay tuned for more articles and reviews.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Feature on upcoming Aussie actor Harry Cook. He was a really nice guy to interview, seemed really genuine, though I'm not sure but I think he complained about the feature on Twitter saying that he hated when the media misquoted him... right after the feature got put up. Anyway, I have the audio recording of the interview which I painstakingly copied word for word, so I'm hoping it was something else he did:
Feature on Aussie director Peter Cornwell. He was just about one of the nicest guys I've spoken to, so easy to interview and obviously has such a passion and talent for what he's doing. I really hope he becomes even more successful in the future:
Feature on actress Anya Monzikova. She seems nice, but I didn't actually speak to her, only an email interview:
Blog entry on Australian Film The Devil's 6 Commandments. The less I say about this... the better:
I'll post more as it comes!
Monday, April 19, 2010
She seems nice enough, I guess, but I hate her sneakers. What must my friends think of me if they set me up on a blind date with a girl who wears sneakers as footwear at any other time than jogging or other similarly unlikeable activities? They’re even paired with purple socks that are potentially supposed to be quirky, but only highlight the dirt and grime writhing in the folds of payless shoes January special. It starts with sneakers, then its owning every Renee Zelwegger movie, starting stories with “when I was in the school choir…”, still retaining the notion that drinking’s a little bit naughty long after turning eighteen, having an unusually large number of friends who speak Japanese and reading Pride and Prejudice, like literally a million times. It ain’t literal if you exaggerate sneakers girl. I think I’ll order the soup, so it’s done with quickly and I can be on my way, and she can walk hers, in sneakers.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
There's a really fascinating article in the Good Weekend in yesterdays Sydney Morning Herald from a journalist who follows the intense campaigning that happens every year to get nominated and then win an Oscar. The conclusion is comes to is that Oscars can't be bought per say, but it helps if the studio backing the nominee has the funds for a "A Night With Jeff Bridges", showcasing his career to Academy members. It also appears that to make it to the Kodak theatre stage, you can't just act well, winning an Oscar has to be the final chapter of story, whether thats a comeback, bright new talent or most commonly "it's their time".
By following these campaigns, as well as the precursor awards, favourites emerge as well as the dark horses behind them making me over giddy with excitement in predicting who wins. My Mum's work used to run an Oscar bet, where staff put in five bucks each and whoever guessed the most winners at the Oscars won all the money. They don't do it anymore after my Mum *cough*me*cough* won in a landslide three years in row. I follow the Oscar race far more than is healthy. That being said, here are my predictions.
Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
Why? Had a strong critical success all year. Topical, and possibly the first actually decent film about the Irag war. All the branches of the Academy have recognized it some way so far, even if it's just nominations, but it's had its fair share of wins too, especially where it counts the most. The story of a Kathryn Bigelow being the first woman to win Best Director is carrying over into this category too. Plus, the film is incredibly well made an thoroughly deserves to in my opinion.
Dark Horse: Avatar
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
Why? First and foremost, if there's a more tightly and expertly directed film released in the 2009 season, I'm yet to see it. No woman has ever won the award before and people are calling "It's about time!". There's also an absurd rumour that people are wanting her to win over her ex husband, none other than Avatar director James Cameron, I say it's just a rumour, but hey, who knows, where there's smoke.
Dark Horse: James Cameron for Avatar
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart
Why? He's earnt it apparently. He's been nominated many times but never made it all the way to having the Oscar is his hands. The role is pure Oscar bait, he's an alcoholic, musician, with a redemptive character arc. Perfect meat for the academy to chew on.
Dark Horse: Colin Firth - A Single Man
Best Actress: Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side
Why? In a matter on weeks, through sucessful campaigning she blind sided (pun fully intended) ever Oscar tracker, and became America's sweetheart. The film made a lot of money, which seems to help and it's apparently a real heart warmer. Despite never being nominated, she's had a long career and people are recognising that. The fact that she has an accent, big hair and her role is showy also helps her. She carries a film also nominated for Best Picture. She shouldn't get too confident though, her category is probably the most likely to recieve an upset.
Dark Horse: Meryl Streep for Julie and Julia. But they all have a chance apart from Mirren. The nomination was her reward.
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds
Why? He's been the one to beat ever since he recieved glowing reviews and a best actor award at the film premiere at the Cannes film festival. Almost every award on the awards circuit has gone his way, and tomorrow night will be no different. He's in a Best Picture winner. Not to mention the fact he's fantastic. Funny and menacing all at once.
Dark Horse: None. The other nominees shouldn't bother writing speeches.
Best Supporting Actress: Monique for Precious
Why? Her role as Mary in Precious is such a memorable and meaty role for an actor and Monique doesn't let it go to waste. She's shockingly fantastic in every moment. The fact that in real life she is such a juxtapostion and an established comedian helps greatly. Similarly to Waltz she's been the name on everyones lips since the films debut, but this time at the Sundance film festival and has almost every award out there possible to win.
Dark Horse: None. She smashes to competition and she doesn't even need a TV.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Up In the Air
Best Original Screenplay: Inglorious Basterds
Best Editing: The Hurt Locker
Best Cinematography: The Hurt Locker
Best Art Direction: Avatar
Best Costume Design: The Young Victoria
Best Makeup: Star Trek
Best Visual Effects: Avatar (Biggest lock of the night)
Best Original Score: Up
Best Original Song: 'The Weary Kind' from Crazy Heart
Best Sound Mixing: Avatar
Best Sound Editing: Avatar
Best Animated Film: Up
Best Foreign Film: The White Ribbon
Best Documentary: The Cove
Best Short Film: The Door
Best Animated Short: Wallace and Gromit: A Matter Of Loaf and Death
Best Documentary Short: The Last Truck
Of course these aren't the films I WANT to win for the most part. If it was up to me, The Fantastic Mr Fox, Bright Star and An Education which feature more prominantly. And as you can tell, doing the "Why" and "Dark Horse" thing got tedious quickly.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
I can hum high and low,
Taking a step on the gravel,
Breeze shivering hairs,
across sun kissed shoulders.
Smiles can peel wide,
As happy thoughts dance,
Forgetting where they’re going
While my fingernails click.
I can pluck the raspberries,
That I blow at puddles
I can breathe warm honey
From an ice cream soul,
For I am happy.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Now that you know the inner workings of my nasal cavities, I can move on to the new blog. I shouldn't really call it a new blog, because that would imply that I had an old blog, but no. I've just burst my blog cherry. It's always been one of those things I've intended to do. As a member of the wannabe writers clan, it's one of those things that old people say you should do because they heard Richard Glover on 702, or some other similar youth foreign media source say something about blogging. But they've got a point. A writer should... write. And if you're lucky enough to have it read as well, all the better. I've started "creating" a blog numerous times but I've always been stalled, and consequently given up when I have to provide a blog title and domain name. There's immense pressure to come up with something, witty, insightful, clever but relevant (after all this is something a writer should be able to come up with... right?). But at 1.00am after being randomly inspired coming across a random blog that shall remain nameless I went for it, and came up with the title "Writing the Wrong". I'm a sucker for a good pun. But it has a point too, like every year, I've decided this is going to be my golden year, so I'm going to right the wrongs of years gone by, and actually become proactive in my writing and in my life.
Expect any and everything on the blog. Expect shorts stories, oversharing (already done that!), occasional poetry that will be later taken down out of embarrassment, film reviews, book reviews, ramblings and anything else I get the urge to send off into the cyber world. The thing you can expect the most is probably that I after two weeks I will have forgotten this blog entirely.