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Added by Uncreative Name on 2 Jan 2012 08:02
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Film Journal 2012

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January 2nd - Certified Copy begins modestly enough with a man and a women discussing the thesis of the man's book, the idea that a copy is just as the original. With the philosophical discussions of art and life it seemingly plays out like a middle aged version of Before Sunrise/Sunset. However, things never quite seem to be as they seem. The two individuals appear to know each other with the way they bicker and the frankness which they address each other, but the content of what they say clearly shows they don't know each other. About halfway through Abbas Kiarostami the conversation takes a radical turn when they change to a married couple having just had their 15 year anniversary. The more philosophical approach then cedes to a more emotional outpouring. The film turns on a dime and when the change occurs it is night and day, but there is no change in the visuals. I could see people would be thrown by this, but it is a very sly and intelligent way to integrate the main idea of the film directly into it, something itself does not in fact have meaning but it is the perception of the observer of that thing which gives it meaning. This is the key to unlocking the puzzle box that Kiarostami has created. Whether the relationship is a forgery or authentic means little to us unless we are the ones to thrust one of those labels and a meaning for that label onto it. The camera is so subtle, stationary and intense it appears to gaze right into these people, but it conceals as much as it reveals. Certified Copy is a slippery film that while being open ended and malleable for the viewer also has a small spectrum of interpretation. It is fascinating but also equal times confounding and unauthentic. It is easy to get lost or sidetracked from a scenes meaning entirely. Juliette Binoche is wonderful in her performance helping to provide the emotional anchor of such a rich character. William Shimell plays the more unsympathetic and emotionless man. The two polar opposite performances work together to at times compliment each other being the ying to the others yang, but also at times creates a combustible mixture. As abstract as Certified Copy can be at times there is no denying it's power and intelligence. It is one thing to explore and discuss any idea in a film, but it is quite another to weave that idea within the fabric to play out before our eyes.
People who added this item 500 Average listal rating (285 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7
Another Earth (2011)
January 1st - Another Earth is an examination of guilt from a teenager who drunkenly crashed her car killing a man's wife and child and how she attempts to gain redemption by forming an unlikely friendship and then an eventual romance. A parallel Earth shows up around this time to provide the symbolism of that obvious idea, what if all of that had never happened. This Sci-Fi bend is what makes Another Earth sound so promising but sadly it is mostly peripheral. A parallel Earth and reality are only here to provide a means to an end for the story, lurking in the background through radio or television broadcasts and also periodic conversations. It never engages your imagination for any of the big ideas or concepts its inclusion raises. While the fact the ingenuity of Another Earth is a bust it is not enough to sink the film as a humanist drama, the lack of truth and feeling are what does that. None of the characters behave in any sensical way and are mired so deeply in self-pity they become one dimensional. Most everything else is a mixed bag. Mike Cahill gives Another Earth a dreamlike feel with flourishes of visual poetry, but you can only shoot someone walking around being sad looking at the big symbolic planet so many times before you show your hand in how you are creating the mood of your film. A blue glow emanating from each scene is a nice touch also for the mood, but it does not replace a need for cinematography to complete the effect. The camera work and editing while effective at some moments are also frequently ugly and so badly trying to force any type of meaning. Brit Marling is effectively melancholy and there are moments when she really shines, but she was not able to grow the character in her performance when it was needed. The music is about the only consistently good thing in the film and it goes a long way of forcing the feeling of a scene that the writing and direction does not. Mike Cahill is a young filmmaker and I certain admire his ambition both thematically and cinematically out of the gate, but Another Earth just ends up being hallow.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 1393 Average listal rating (858 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.2
Shame (2011)
January 4th (Cinema) - Shame is a character study about a man dealing with sex addiction and that addiction is treated with the same tone and tenor any other film would treat an addict. Much of the talk about the film sadly has focused on it's NC-17 rating and some theater chains taking a stance against showing the film, but while there is nudity and sex it is never gratuitous and doesn't seem out of place from another film with a hard R which is strange why it has become such a focus. Michael Fassbender plays Brandon and he gives an arresting unrestrained performance and his haunting, chilly empty stares show just how much pain the character is in. Between Fassbender and the screenplay they craft a very honest and responsible look at a sex addict. When we see him engage in sexual acts he appears to take no pleasure and all it does is give him temporary relieve. We watch Brandon's insatiable lust consume him but despite a performance that suggests some deep seeded emotional problems it remains unaccounted for in the script. In particular we don't know whether his sex addiction is the cause of or the result of his loneliness. Without this it prevent total illumination to Brandon's psychology. Carey Mulligan plays Brendan's sister who stays with him and brings his world tumbling down. It is nice to see her change it up and play such a hopeless and broken character and helps show that her brother has no support structure in place. Steve McQueen's direction is wonderful creating a symphony of sound and visuals. He fully embraces New York as a setting using it's crowded intimacy with stoic and silent people who pass by without an acknowledgement to reflect the characters alienation. The scenes of sexual acts are approached very methodically to remove any sense of eroticism. At times the camera will cut out the person's head in the frame to show the purely impersonal manner these acts have for Brandon. There are some moments that stick with you especially Carey Mulligan's rendition of New York, New York, a long tracking shot of the desolate New York streets during a midnight run and the numerous scenes of Fassbender staring into oblivion. Shame may not have as many nuances in the writing to be totally satisfied with the emotion residence from the story, but the acting and direction alone make it a powerful film.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 844 Average listal rating (516 ratings) 5 IMDB Rating 5.5
Your Highness (2011)
January 5th - While I wasn't enamored with with Your Highness, I did laugh and enjoy aspects enough to at least have a good time. There is a very juvenile sense of humor to the film with foul language, gross out humor and a long string of sexual innuendo. Those that enjoy this type of humor will enjoy it, but if you find it banal it will do little to convince you otherwise. For a film of such irreverence David Gordon Green takes the fantasy element very seriously. The production design is top notch for a modestly budget film with some very convincing looking set pieces. The action scenes are also very innovative with great special effects and manage to create small but effective battle sequences. Green also manages to sneak in some great cinematography where he can. This is not a spoof or satire of a genre but instead a comedic homage towards 80's fantasy films. The cast has surprising depth with great performances from top to bottom. Everyone plays their roles with the same seriousness given to the genre in addition to knowing when to play over the top. Natalie Portman infuses a jolt in the film with her presence when she joins and Justin Theroux does a good job playing the villainous wizard but still manages to find the comedy. It is clear there was a lot of enthusiasm and effort from the cast and the people behind the camera to create something distinct. That makes it even more disappointing the writing is so lazy always going for the easy joke and forcing the humor to take away from everything else they got right. Had they taken the approach Edgar Wright used for Shaun of the Dead or Stephen Chow for Kung-Fu Hustle by incorporating the humor into the story and have it come from the characters to service the genre Your Highness could have been on equal footing. Instead it is something that had the potential and talent to be something special, but wound up mildly funny and entertaining enough, but ultimately disposable.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 214 Average listal rating (96 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.1
January 6th - Clean, Shaven is a minimalist film where Lodge Kerrigan shows a subjective viewpoint of a schizophrenic named Peter. Everything including simple mundane tasks look and feel alien. Peter Greene gives a frightening and unpredictable performance as Peter even if he overdoes it at some points. The sound design even furthers the unsettling feeling by amping up the background noises and at times overwhelming with radio broadcasts of people saying violent and horrific things. We are easily unsettled right from the start and get a peak into the head of a schizophrenic. It was disappointing that Lodge Kerrigan chose to continue that sound design during the scenes that Peter was not a part of. Had those scenes have been more serene and quiet it would have been even more jarring when we went back to his perspective. At the end there is an impressive amount of ideas that are subtlety introduced, but the messages are muted and confusing which prevent them from really resonating. Is the film suggesting that all people have a degree of mental illness that Peter has, is it poising we are all complicate in Peter's troubles since we turn a blind eye to helping him when he clearly shows he needs it, is it trying to play on our perceptions of the mentally ill and then pull the rug from under us at the end, is it trying to explain and sympathize Peter or is it just merely a sensory experience? In some way or form these questions are poised, and while in a film with a disjointed narrative I didn't expect there to be a definitive answer I did want enough context to draw my own conclusion. Visceral and raw Clean, Shaven paints a sad portrait of personal chaos.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 327 Average listal rating (182 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.7
January 7th - People always use the immortal phrase "follow your heart" for the romantic notion of obtaining what you truly desire, but The Blue Angel shows how that philosophy can lead to ruin. Professor Rath is a man who has thrown all his life into his profession having gained the admiration of the community and a comfortable life. While not outwardly lonely his solemn demeanor and his reaction to his bird dying hints at the melancholy that exists underneath. While we feel sorry for him since his pupils mock him his Machiavellian demeanor does little to endear us to him. While going to a local burlesque performance to prevent his students from being corrupted he meets and falls under the spell of the star performer Lola Lola. While Lola eventually leads Rath to his ruin she is never a dastardly character and clearly cares about him and is open and honest about who she is. It is interesting to see both Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich form an onscreen couple. Both are iconic talent and give expected wonderful performances that are such polar opposites. Dietrich is a much more charismatic performer that has such an effortless naturalism but Jannings is a deliberate actor that inhibits each look and movement with meticulous meaning. There relationship develops very naturally and almost sweetly, but we know from the start it will spell doom as we see Rath turn into a clown and Lola struggle with the decision from her naivety. The Blue Angel takes a very slow and almost glacial pace that at times becomes very awkward, but it is clearly a deliberate attempt to create tension while we wait for the inevitable to happen. Josef von Sternberg is a brilliant visual film maker and he creates some very memorable images with framing and lighting that burn in your mind. He captures the sensualness of Dietrich as well as the gravitas of Jannings often times in the same scene. This was von Sternberg's first film with sound and there are areas where he wasn't entirely comfortable with it. Scenes go from quiet to bustling with no middle ground and when someone closes a door it is able to keep all the sound at bay. Still, he does use sound for the musical numbers and commotion of the burlesque performances that are entertaining yet still have that authentic low rent feel. At first glance The Blue Angel may appear to be a prototypical tale of how women is the fall of man, but with such deep characters accompanied by wonderful performances and direction it is more of a cautionary tale against unthinkingly giving the heart exactly what it desires.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 69 Average listal rating (39 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 5.5
Ceremony (2011)
January 8th - Ceremony is a coming of age tale of a grown man who talks and lives his life like he is a literary character. The premise seems rife for some quirkiness mixed with drama and comedy, but right from the first frame Ceremony is drowning in it's own quirkiness. Everyone is completely lacking any self awareness, every moment of dialog reveals everything the characters are thinking, each person has horribly drawn out personality quirks, it all destroys any semblance of realism to these events. All of the characters were thinly drawn and I didn't buy any of the relationships between them. At no point do any of them have anything that could pass as a real human emotion. There is a good array of talent cast and they do what they can. When the script and direction isn't getting in the way the actors are able have honest and genuine moments and give life to the material. It is a shame because these parts really click, but there are too few of those moments and the film never picks up any momentum. While I never laughed out loud Ceremony is very subtlety funny often with a chuckle or a mental acknowledgement of some humor sneaking up. Some of the more successful bits are repeated far too often and start to wear on you after awhile. Max Winkler is trying to create a smart and funny dramedy but it is so derivative of Wes Anderson's oeuvre right down to the music, clothing and tone without his astute visual eye or his earnestness. It is tough to accept something which is so clearly cut from the same cloth, yet is missing so much of what makes it good and offers nothing else original. Ceremony shows flashes of talent, but it just never consistently finds anything to display on screen that feels real for it to be satisfying.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 138 Average listal rating (68 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8
January 11th - Blurring the line between documentary and fiction The War Game presents the effects of a nuclear attack on England. While it is based on imagined events it repeatedly references Dresden, Hiroshima, and other similar places to back up it's claims. It presents everything very dryly with a sobering realistic perspective that you would witness from an educational film. There is a very calm narration to the film but the completely authentic documentary look of the searing images of nuclear fallout that illustrate the voice over get through an unfiltered truth. It doesn't feel like you are watching recreations but rather footage from some alternate reality. The War Games is very much a product of it's time and a Cold War mentality and functions well as a document from that era. While it often times slips a little too far into a didactic tone and the the inevitability presented in the film is harped on too often the horrors shown are still very much a possibility in this nuclear age. At a compact 47 minutes it presents its case clearly and is absolutely affecting. With the in-your-face style and realness of the devastating aftermath the film is incredibly terrifying and packs a huge punch.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 152 Average listal rating (96 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.1
Night Moves (1941)
January 13th - Night Moves takes the long standing traditions of film noir and contextualizes it with the downbeat attitudes and cynical ideas of the 70's. Arthur Penn paints a portrait of Harry Moseby, a wayward private eye with a crumbling marriage. He is a flawed and real person working an unromantized profession ill suited to his lifestyle and without the incorruptible morality or bombastic charisma of Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe. Gene Hackman plays Moseby and he does a wonderful job playing the complex character that is both obtuse and thoughtful. Although the mystery that the character study is framed around may take a backseat at times, it is still the twisting and complex detective case that does the genre proud. It takes a much more pragmatic approach to all the characters and events. There is no clear cut villian and any betrayal that takes place is framed in a way that we clearly see the complete motivations behind the actions. While it helps it stay much more in the camp of a character study than a taut and suspenseful thriller which is very much in the spirit of what Arthur Penn is doing, it languishes at times when the mystery doesn't come together until the end. In an explosive and action packed finale the final truth is revealed and we see all the collateral damage that is the result. Despite the pragmatism the insatiable lust for the complete and utter truth runs in the films veins and Moseby, despite his flaws, searches for just that. It was a little disappointing to see Arthur Penn not further explore the visual experimentalism he used in Bonnie and Clyde, but from the beginning with the infamous barb of describing watching a Rohmer film to watching paint dry he let us know this was going to be a more traditional film. Penn's direction is never bad as much as straight forward with any auteuristic touches removed. Night Moves fits very nicely with the time it was created besides other neo-noirs of its age. It may not be as dynamic as some of those other films, but with a wonderful atmosphere, smart and well rounded characters, lots of subtleties and layers and some biting and snappy dialog it stand out on it's own.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 157 Average listal rating (79 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.2
The Future (2011)
January 14th - While I wasn't a big fan of Me and You and Everyone We Know I thought it was interesting and showed Miranda July to be a new female voice in a medium where it is severely lacking. That is why it is even more disappointing that The Future is so inaccessible. Both characters are so frustratingly vapid and self-centered without an ounce of humanity. It is nothing more than two people filling space and time with horribly boring and pointless conversations and disingenuous actions. While it may be a characterization of people in the digital age reacting to middle-aged inertia it is beneath so many layers of apathy. When there is apathy that the characters have for each other and themselves it is tough to care about what is happening at all. There are some interesting surreal segments of magical realism which is the only point where the film reaches any semblance of emotional resonance, but they aren't able to be reconciled with everything else and are nothing more than a reprieve from the monotonous narrative. I am sure I am in the minority but I liked the cat segments. Maybe being a cat owner myself it was the only time I was able to find an affinity with the film since I often times look at him wondering what he is thinking. I can see why people would be so opposed to these parts, but I do think they were more of a genuine function of the film than quirkiness for quirkiness sake. The function was indiscernible in regards to the context of the film, but the intention (to me as least) seemed to be to show that although these people live their lives without regards to responsibility to others that there are bonds and dependences that are built upon them even when they don't realize it. While there is no questioning Miranda July's creativity her ability to effectively relay her ideas have always been shaky in my eye. That is what makes The Future so frustrating, there is the framework for something poignant and honest but everything that is filled in ends up being pure navel-gazing.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 1184 Average listal rating (743 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.1
January 15th (Cinema) - It is refreshing to see a spy movie that focuses more on espionage rather than throwing out random action scenes. The film takes its time with a rhythmic pace while it creates a a slow burn with the story. Unlike some films where within the first twenty minutes you can predict what is going to happen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy always leaves you guessing. Within the complex and labyrinthine plot there is a ton or suspense subtle suspense and paranoia since we are never completely sure if things are exactly what they appear. It creates a great deal of intrigue but the downside is it is very easy to get lost or confused at times. It is easy to miss one of the subtleties to the story or have a tough time understanding who one of the large cast of characters is and how they relate to the bigger picture. There is a great deal of material both expressed and implied and it can at times become intimidating. While the film may be rather dry with a slow pace all the other aspects of the film are top notch to add another layer. The ensemble cast deliver noteworthy performances, especially Gary Oldman who gives a subdued and calculating performance where we can always see the gears running in his brain and is the glue that holds the film together. Since this is a film about the world of espionage Tomas Alfredson maintains a cold and distant visual mood throughout the film with washed out muted colors and what seems to be a constant shadow across everyone face. The art design is very strong as well with a some standout set pieces that create a very realistic Cold War setting. The score by Alberto Iglesias sets the mood wonderfully as well as giving the sedated a film a kick during some of the more powerful scenes. All of this is done to make the film more engaging and engrossing while not betraying the methodical pace. On a second viewing some of the subtleties of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy might standout further and the story might be clearer, but I wish would have been given an extra 30 - 60 minutes to get a chance to breath more. Still, I never felt completely lost and there is no denying it as a cerebral and beautiful film that is very satisfying.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 85 Average listal rating (50 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.2
Four Times (2010)
January 17th - A minimalistic cinematic poem based on the theory that the soul moves from human to animal to vegetable to mineral. Le quattro volte is very unassuming and graceful in the way this journey is portrayed on screen. There is no dialog and no traditional story structure and instead uses a combination of static long takes to tell it's story visually. Each take finds the perfect length to display it's image on screen, long enough to probe and soak the image in and form your own ideas about it but never lingers to the point where it overstays its welcome. The director Michelangelo Frammartino has done a wonderful job of creating such a hypnotic film where the significance of what is on screen just suddenly jumps out at you. Everything is equal in statue in his eye and he spends as much time filming a person as he does a baby goat or tree. The framing of his images are exceptional and every scene looks exactly like a postcard. The film is broken up into four different segments and some ended up working for me more than the others. The first two completed enthralled me in it's meditative journey, but during the last two I started to become a bit lost when things happening seemed to have a cultural significance that was a bit lost on me. It is easily understood in the framework of the film, but there was a nagging feeling I couldn't escape wondering and found it distracting. When dealing with a philosophical and possibly religious topic an overly serious and preachy tone usually accompanies it, but Le quattro volte shows it's evolutionary journey as a funny and playful parable that let's its calmness wash over you. It manages to keep that tone while never sacrificing any of it's contemplative nature. With such a uniquely beguiling yet moving piece of cinema Michelangelo Frammartino has firmly shown himself as a name to keep an eye on.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 254 Average listal rating (153 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.6
January 20th - In a Better World is a presentation of personal ethics and moral codes. It examines the subjected morality of it's characters and how those codes are formed, how they are justified to others, how they can bend and how they can break. The stakes are high right from the get go and the film is full of big emotions and prickly moral dilemmas. This causes the writing and acting have a high volume of melodrama, but it earns that approach by creating situations and events that reflect the need for it. The acting is very good, especially the children who give very believable performances. Susanne Bier doesn't do subtle but she manages to effectively communicate her themes without being too ham-fisted. Bier shows a good directorial hand creating scenes with great emotional impact, but at the same time gives us some more contemplative moments with the characters to ponder the questions being posed. The film plays out at two locations which are polar opposites, but despite that it highlights the similarity in conflicts and how our reaction to them are the same regardless of cultural boundaries. While the film ponders complex ideas much of it is too simplistic. The characters fit much too neatly into simple characterizations and they have a limited and unwavering morality never questioning themselves until the story calls for it. There are no consequences presented on screen the decisions of the moral quandaries other than a simple discussion with authorities or some sadness. The stakes are raised so high but when the consequences don't match them the impact is lessened. In a Better World is a moving and intelligent deconstruction of the human condition, but the flaws in the writing prevent it from reaching the poignancy it is seeking.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 83 Average listal rating (47 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 5.7
January 21st - Is there any word more appropriate for Jean-Luc Godard than iconoclast? After all these years he continues to experiment in all stages of cinema and push our comprehension of the medium. My rumblings clearly won't give the film justice, but Film Socialisme is Godard's latest where he explores what film means in the digital age. There is a flurry of images on both film, video and digital. Each section flows into each other broken up with title cards. There is also experimentation in the sound design going between mono and stereo and routing dialog or sound through one speaker or the other. It creates a different form of expression, where everything represents a philosophical idea or thought greater than it's own. Many of his pet topic are touched upon as well as some new ones, but as much as I admired Film Socialisme there was a scattershot of ideas and themes. With volumes of quotes, dense dialog and rapid fire visuals I don't think I walked away completely cracking the code. Even with things going over my head I feel I was able to grasp enough of what Godard intended to contemplate and comprehend the spirit of the film. Although I wouldn't want Godard to short change his vision or dumb his film down, I do wish it had more of a singularity of vision and focus like Notre Musique. Film Socialisme may be a confounding experience, but there is no denying it's power as a form of experimental art. I look forward to other viewings where I can dissected and examined the film closer.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 678 Average listal rating (423 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.6
January 22nd - Having the hindsight of history one now sees A Hard Day's Night as being the perfect encapsulation of the moment of inhalation before Beatlmania sweep the globe and has help create the enduring memory of the Beatles. It helped craft the persona of the band, each person's individual personality and created the lasting images of the band. They went on to make better music and redefine music as we know it, but when someone mentions the Beatles we still picture those girls yelling their lungs out as the band smiles and plays their music. The reason why it is so successful is everything was built upon the truth. There was a script and everything was premeditated and acted out, but the band was as charismatic as they were portrayed, they were that popular and all of their personalities are genuine. Still, all of that make it an affective film, what makes it a great film is how absolutely fun and satisfying it is. Seeing the band effortlessly crack jokes with one another and frustrate their manager or any source of authority is an absolute pleasure to see on screen. Add the fact their music is playing and it heightens the enjoyment even more. While there isn't much propelling the film forward, the bands own charisma works wonders paired with the playfulness of the script and the stylishness of the direction. A Hard Day's Night has a large scope of humor from a witty satirical zinger, some hilarious dialog as the band bounces lines off each other or even some more classic Benny Hill numbers. The direction of the film is impressive as well with a loose and stylish demeanor with some impressive experimental editing. In particular there is a scene where the Beatles are running around an open field jumping, racing and tackling each other with the film speed being sped up from an aerial perspective with sweeping camera movements while Can't Buy Me Love plays over everything. The film starts to run out of momentum towards the end where the band gives a performance clearly lip syncing and the same songs are replayed again for the second and even third time. A Hard Day's Night may be more style than substance, but the film makers understand that is what the audiences want. There is no need to force some half hearted story or try to squeeze in some cheap drama, we want to see the Beatles at their most charming and it delivers with hillarity and joy to spare.
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January 25th - The Myth of the American Sleepover sells us the teenage experience by trying to foster an atmosphere that is conductive to kindle our own memories. It does this by taking a much more authentic and personal touch to the teen-centric film. Instead of showing the kids as these sex obsessed manics it takes a more naive approach to relationships and sex showing it as this elusive concept that everyone wants so badly to grasp. There is a sweet and non-cynical atmosphere as you see these kids navigate one of those lazy aimless summer days before school starts again. While the authentic atmosphere is what makes the film successful there are a few things that betray the authenticity and prevent the film from becoming entirely successful. It is a very large ensemble piece with many different people and it becomes apparently pretty quickly that some people's stories are thin and not as interesting. The treads never conclusively connect and each characters stories are predictable and work towards that obvious teen cliche that you see coming. All of the kids also have this fearless quality of putting themselves out there and making themselves vulnerable which spoke a little false. It is clearly a first feature and there are some scenes that clearly aren't functioning the way they are intended, but David Robert Mitchell deserves praise for rising above the teen movie formula. He hits upon some very truthful and memorable moments as well as having an outstanding dancing sequence that stands out as a highlight. It has its pretty obvious deficiencies but The Myth of the American Sleepover builds so much nostalgia that it is easy to forget the bad aspects, much like the own memories it helps us remember.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 1524 Average listal rating (929 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.9
The Artist (2011)
January 27th (Cinema) - Sitting in the theater watching The Artist I could not shake the feeling that what I was seeing on the screen was a singularly unique and original experience for me. Everything old is new again as they say. It's attention to detail from the costumes to the art direction to the shout outs to classic films it is emulating exemplify the triumphs of the silent era, but also the eventual heartaches. Right from the beginning The Artist is an infectious delight that oozes joy in every frame. It runs the risk of becoming too cute and sweet, but that is when the plot starts to kick in and we get a tragic story of a man who let's his pride control him. True to the era the acting is phenomenal with such expressive faces, eyes and gestures. Jean Dujardin plays the silent film star and he gives a remarkable performance as someone who is egotistical but yet effortlessly charming. Bérénice Bejo plays the young upstart who becomes intertwined with the star and she gives as charming and wonderful a performance. Even the dog Uggie get in the action is an adorable and wonderful companion. Michel Hazanavicius is up to challenge of making a modern silent film and he clearly understands the power that resides in creating a more pure form of cinema using his camera, actors and musical cues to elicit a huge amount of emotional responses. The only area I felt they missed out on is with the exception of few parts they used more modern editing techniques instead of those used in silent films. The one thing that holds the film back is it shies away from really coming full circle commenting on the publics ability to prop up and then destroy artists. While it may not be a cinematic education of the silent era, many of the films homages aren't from that period and it doesn't cover anything a cursory trip to Wikipedia won't give you, it is an accessible crowd pleaser that embodies the spirit of the era. It is fitting in a time when modern cinema is chalk-full with pop songs, explosions, yelling and wall to wall dialog in an attempt to elicit an audience response that a silent film would come along and say more than so many of them.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 86 Average listal rating (45 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.5
Terri (2012)
January 28th - Terri was on it's way to becoming an underrated coming of age story until it gets sidetracked along the way. It builds a nice and affecting portrait of a teenage misfit. It builds the framework to show his alienation and provide some explanations for it, but it never wallows in his misery. He then encounters the vice principal and we see some very real interactions as we see him try to help Terri through his struggles. The film has its heart in the right place showing two human beings in a very honest and real way that try to forge a connection based on trust and we see the failures and successes along the way. That is why it is so disappointing to see the film get sidetracked with a subplot about an ostracized girl and an oddball friend culminating in a penultimate sequence of an incredibility long and drawn out uncomfortable scene that brings everything to a standstill. It ruins any sort of sympathy and understanding we had of those characters and muddies it's message. It tries to go back to a poignant scene between Terri and the Vice Principal to wrap up the film on a high note, but by that time the damage has been done and I was no longer invested in the film. The highlight is the acting with John C. Reilly giving a very natural and funny performance but Jacob Wysocki is also a stand out with a performance of great sincerity. Azazel Jacobs does a very nice job of understating the visuals but still making them resonate strongly. There also is some black comedy that catches you off guard. However, it all can't compensate for that scene that kills off the momentum of the movie.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 31 Average listal rating (15 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.1
Green Fish (1997)
January 29th - Chang-dong Lee has made some wonderful films like Oasis, Poetry and Secret Sunshine, but after watching Green Fish he really struggled at first. It is a combination family and crime drama but it handles both of them very clumsily. Every scene functions as its own standalone idea instead of each scene building upon one another. The editing is quite poor stitching together the stories in a jarring way with zero transition. All of a sudden it would go off to a little tangent just to return back to the main storyline. There is some interesting social commentary about the modernized Korea, but it is nothing more than an afterthought. The aesthetic of the film is quite ugly and it looks like some low budget B film from the 80's. Still, with everything that is wrong with the film Chang-dong Lee's talent as a director shines though with a good eye for establishing inspired shots. Clearly the actors in the film weren't the best, but Chang-dong Lee does his job to get the best out of them and have those performances work quite a bit better than than should. Green Fish isn't a very good film, but it is an interesting look at a film maker's origins before he would go off to make much better things.
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People who added this item 89 Average listal rating (50 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.4
January 31st - With so many low budget "realistic" relationship films it is interesting to see Bellflower approach it from the destructive male psyche. It starts with a "mumblecore" courting phase and then skips ahead to a betrayal and Grindhouse revenge fantasies. It is tough to make this leap with the film since it goes so over the top with a laughable morality that is even beneath the vapid characters and quickly becomes incoherent. Is it all a surreal artistic representation or is it some mindless B movie action? The film can't seem to decide itself and tries to do both. It is a shame because visually it is quite impressive. There is such a raw aesthetic with over saturated colors, frantic camera work and literally dirt on the screen. It all helps to make for some memorable cinematography that is even more impressive for a film on a smaller budget. As good as it may be stylistically without something of substance to back it up it just rings hallow. The characters were such insipid individuals that do nothing but get drunk and make "sweet" things for some post apocalyptic gang that is fodder for endlessly repetitive conversations, but the film didn't have to be made in their image. As a director Evan Glodell is quite impressive, but as a writer he needs a great deal or work.
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People who added this item 76 Average listal rating (39 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.6
February 3rd - With an Eric Rohmer film you know you are getting a low key humanistic tale of a certain type of characters and their relationships along with a dissection of their personal morality. While it may sound like something that would quickly get boring and hit all the same notes it is fascinating how each film has its different wrinkle or perspective to explore. Boyfriends and Girlfriends is a much later film in his filmography, the tail end of his Comedies and Proverbs but it is among my favorite of his work. He often explores the dog and pony show that personal morality often ends up being, especially when matters of the opposite sex is concerned, but this film did the strongest job of presenting it. Both characters are trying to reconcile a perceived betrayal falling in love with the others target of affection, but the reality is they don't stop and the other person is doing the same thing. Personal morality is a tricky thing and Boyfriends and Girlfriends doesn't shy away from the self importance that is at the center of everyone's thinking, but also shows the good nature of people that they would go to such elaborate lengths and possibly deny themselves happiness for each other. One thing that is sometimes an obstacle for me in the past with Rohmer's is not having the ability to really empathize with the bohemian characters, and although there is a character in that same vein in this film as well, he is mostly on the fringes and instead there are some very well rounded and real people. It makes the personal feeling of the film even more potent when you can identify so closely with the characters. The sore spot of Rohmer with me has always been how he is painfully economic with all aspects of his films. It certainly works to an advantage, his films never overstay their welcome and are always finely tuned to say what it wants very effectively, but I just wish he would indulge himself with his camera in a sequence, or write an extravagant scene or play with an edit from time to time. With Boyfriends and Girlfriends being very smart and humorous and filled with finely honed dialog as well as some deep and realistic characters it is easy for me to look past my own bias for what I look for in a film.
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People who added this item 524 Average listal rating (262 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.8
Restless (2011)
February 4th - Looking at the premise of Restless it is hard to get overly enthused about the trite material, but I had confidence that a great director like Gus Van Sant would be able to elevate the material, but it sadly dragged him down with it. Most of my disdain comes from the fact that the main character Enoch is constantly brooding, selfish and juvenile and to see everything come from his perspective makes everything so soulless. To be fair, while Henry Hopper has screen presence, his acting is pretty poor and he makes an already thin character every thinner. The sad part is that Mia Wasikowska's character Annabel is easily the most interesting thing happening in the film as we see her deal with illness and an eventual death with great humility and grace, but she is regulated to nothing more than a manic pixie dream girl. This is material that seems rife with quirk but Gus Van Sant eases up on it, however had he let the quirk flow over I think it might have made everything easier to stomach. That quirkiness is what gives the film a lighter and humorous tone, but with it removed it takes itself way too seriously without any semblance of irony or joy. As much as I would like to absolve Gus Van Sant of any blame for the film, it is so stilted and uneven without any semblance of visual flair he usually adds to his work. In an interview I read that for every scene he shot he also shot a silent scene. It would be quite interesting to see that cut of the film since it would play to his strengths as a director and would erase the horrible dialog. Had Henry Hopper been able to deliver at least one line of sincere dialog it might not have been as bad, but there are still obvious explanations of plot points or even basic ideas (really, you have to explain kamikaze) along with ugly and unaffecting pieces of dialog. There are some nice moments when Mia Wasikowska takes the lead and Gus Van Sant is able to capture that allure of young love, but those moments are too far a few between. The comparisons to Harold and Maude are pretty superficially obvious. While I am not as adamant a fan of Harold and Maude as some, there is no denying it's strong emotional core that propels the film. It is that lack of an emotional core that is missing from Restless and makes everything feel so forced.
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People who added this item 88 Average listal rating (50 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.4
Metropolitan (1990)
February 5th - It is interesting in the way Stillman portrays these preppy/bourgeois characters (or Urban Haute Bourgeoisie as the characters label themselves). Often he will show them in a very sympathetic light, but often times in the same scene show them as the banal and entitled individuals society perceived them to be. It is tough to really get a handle on how Stillman feels about them and it does paint a more realistic portrait rather than making it so black and white. Metropolitan is very dialog heavy but Stillman does such a fantastic job finding a great cadence to it. The characters take themselves so seriously speaking of moral and philosophical issues, but at the same time are so self aware of how it looks to be too serious so they mix in some witty banter as well. The stage is set very effectively of the upscale New York lifestyle of debutante balls and hanging around big New York apartments, but I wish it was a little bit less cineamatically dry how they are captured. With the same camera work and cinematography for each scene it starts to get repetitive after awhile. While the acting isn't particularly good (barring Chris Eigeman), the withdrawn and unexpressive demeanor of the young and unpolished actors works for their characters. It is easy to see why no one went on to make a name for themselves, but they are perfectly acceptable in the film. Chris Eigeman as always is the acerbic cynic that brings the humor and a perverse joy in seeing him cut down some of the other characters with his quick wit. There are also two more memorable characters, Audrey, the girl who has the intelligence and force of character out of a Jane Austen novel and Tom, who has the intellect and awkward charm of a Woody Allen character that seems to be a fish out of water with these UHB. Having seen all three of Whit Stillman's films I must say his style has grown on me even more. Once you get in rhythm with his process and understand his approach his films are highly enjoyable.
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People who added this item 2047 Average listal rating (1323 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.2
Rango (2011)
February 7th - Rango is a very unique animated film that is both entertaining and funny. It is a spoof of Westerns and it goes to some surprisingly existential places when Rango questions who he is and his place in the world. Granted, there isn't a huge amount of depth to it, but it does make him a much more curious character. Johnny Depp's voice performance is very strong and he gives Rango a manic but likeable personality. There is a fairly solid story around Rango. The themes ended up being a bit muffled, but there is enough imagination to keep your attention. I never will understand why so many films will shoehorn a romance into a story that doesn't require one, but Rango fits that bill as well. They don't spend a great deal of time on it, but it still feels like the love interest is only there because someone else required it. There are some references for adults and some really great looking surreal visuals, but it doesn't skimp on the humor and the easily digestible ideas for children. Rango may not be up the equivalent of some of the better Pixar films, but there is some impressive animation and great looking sequences to go along with the charm and humor to make it a lot of fun.
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People who added this item 186 Average listal rating (108 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.2
February 8th - I enjoyed Tiny Furniture at first for Lena Dunham's personal depiction of a post collegiate haze, but as the film goes on it quickly becomes apparent that it is more self-involved than thoughtful. Every person in the film exists only in service to Lena Dunham's character and it is tough to picture anyone doing anything other than interacting directly with her. Her character appears at first to be a reflection of the unaware selfishness that people that age possess, but as the film unspools there is a level of deception and overwhelming apathy towards her family and friends that made it less relatable and more a portrait of pretension. This is clearly material that is very personal to Lena Dunham and it shows with the authenticity of the dialog and the frankness that she is willing to display herself. This is a warts all depiction of her character, but it is tough to shake the idea that much of it might be inspired from herself. It is a change of pace to see the focus on a women who is more natural and has more personality than just being photogenic and the film never shies away from showing her in the same demeanor as they would the photogenic girl. It was one of the more admiral qualities, but they do it so many times and it becames such an obsession it starts to get into territory where it is more exhibitionist than anything. This type of faux documentary camera work and natural aesthetic has been done so many times as a way to capture the mundane tasks and relationship troubles of twenty something hipsters to the point where it is losing it's effectiveness. Tiny Furniture has it's positives, but when what is unique quickly becomes tiring it is tough to view this film in a positive light.
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People who added this item 66 Average listal rating (28 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 6.7
Time Regained (1999)
February 10th - Watching Time Regained I can't help but feel like there are two separate parts of the film. Towards the beginning and end I was fascinated by how it portrayed Proust retreating into his memories and how something would trigger a memory within that memory or even trigger another memory he would dive into. It created a very cyclical and tangled web that really interested me. There was also some impressive camera work with the way the camera will slowly drift in to each scene and keep drifting until the premise of what it represents becomes solid and some frequent first person perspectives. Some effects help to show the fluidity of these memories as we see Proust himself literally floating at times with the camera moving with him or when we see people or objects in the background that will float back and forth. Towards the middle and what ends up making up the bulk of the film however, it drops this approach and some of the more innovative visual flare and becomes much more straight forward period drama where it focuses more on Proust's social circle and the events occurring around them. The focus is taken off Proust's direct memories and it becomes a confusing clutter of Proust seeing through people's stories. This part was less emotionally engaging and often left me puzzled as to why it had strayed. Having never read the book perhaps there is a good reason for this, but judging the film on it's own it makes it quite uneven. This is the first film I had seen from Raoul Ruiz and he impressed me with his lush visuals. Everything has a yellow tint to it to serve as a constant reminder of the stimulating effect everything we are seeing is having on the dying Proust. The film navigates a great deal of time, but with the exception of a young Proust every actor inhibits the character and we see that idealized version of the person that was immortalized into his coincidence. It ends on a very good note, but despite it's success at times to examine the tangential aspect of memory, the bulk of the film fails to live up to the theme. For material that was said to be unfilmable it is certainly an admiral attempt, but ultimately there is too much here that doesn't work.
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People who added this item 1287 Average listal rating (853 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.8
Hanna (2011)
February 11th - Boasting the tropes of your typical action film Hanna is much more akin to a piece of pop art than churning out another genre spy action thriller. Joe Wright uses the genre as a platform to really experiment with audio. Fueled by a fantastic score by the Chemical Brothers there is a constant array of sounds and noises packed into each sequence. Even in the most subtle ways Wright is able to pack in sound cues and we become so hyper aware and disoriented of the surroundings just like Hanna. Hanna's theme that the Chemical Brothers made for the film is the best original song for a film last year. It is hauntingly beautiful and gives a great reinforcement of the fairy tale like qualities they are aiming at. Not just a audio experience Wright also takes great care with the cinematography and editing. The lighting is very impressive using fluorescents and different colored light as well as playing with the light source. The fight scenes are very thrilling and well choreographed and there is some impressive camera work during them. While there is your standard shaky handheld cam that so many people use in action scenes nowadays, there is also tracking shots and steady cam shots as well to give a nice variety and fluidity. Those scenes are also edited very well pulled out scenes and using jump cuts in a way that makes everything even more thrilling. The story is minimalistic and is just a framework to propel the film forward, but it is quite silly and there are some moments where it is tough to really make as big of a logic leap as the film wants you to take. There is an intention of creating a dark fairy tale, and it is mostly successful. The visual and audio elements do give it a mythic quality, but the writing falls short in that department and results to directly having people say it aloud to get that point across. There was a missed opportunity to really flesh out the characters to elevate the film to that next level. There were some wonderful character moments with Hanna where she began to reveal herself, but the scenes between the action and the more revealing character moments where the opportunity to characterize everyone and allow them to be completely understood are squandered. Saoirse Ronan is able to inhibit Hanna with the girl from the wilderness shyness, a hardened killer demeanor and a naive little girl all at once. She is a big reason why the character of Hanna doesn't devolve completely into a frail child. She is very cold and calculating in what she is doing, but there doesn't seem to be any malice or enjoyment which makes her more complex. Cate Blanchett hams it up as the unpredictable villain with a gloriously bad Southern accent and Eric Bana is good in his supporting role as her driven father. Hanna lacks the strong characterization to become a great film, but it is a stylized action film that Joe Wright turns into an audio and visual sensory explosion that lovers of the more technical aspects of cinema will enjoy. It misses being a great film, but it is a very good one that deserves more of an audience.
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People who added this item 312 Average listal rating (163 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.1
February 12th - With the exception of a title card at the beginning, another towards the end with the epilogue and a letter that the camera captures for us to read The Last Laugh tells it's story completely
through images and acting. F.W. Murnau is one of those talents that was experimenting and pushing the medium beyond the narrow scope others had defined it. He is a master of his camera and such a finely honed instinct of being able to place it in exactly the way that gives it an unique perspective. He uses such affecting camera angles and just effortlessly uses long swooping shots or dramatic push-ins. The connection he is able to foster with his audience though his technique in crafting each frame into something expressive is awe inspiring. Not surprisingly being a German Expressionists it is very grim where we see a man who loses his identity and endure humiliation at the hands of his employer and peers. It is heart wrenching to see what this man goes through and is all the more powerful with the acting of Emil Jannings. We can see the anguish on his face and the pain in his eyes and everything that happens to him just cuts us even deeper. There were a few instances where people's reactions were a little too big and unnecessary and shaded a little too much into the melodramatic territory. The epilogue and tacked on ending is pretty jarring. I would be interested in hearing whether this was done with Murnau's blessing or not. It is such a polar opposite of everything up to that point. It almost seems even more cynical to tack on such an implausible happy ending, but with the title card that announced it directly as a epilogue it is easy to disconnect it with the rest of the film. Profound and deeply affecting The Last Laugh is a wonderful film and a testament to the mastery of the mechanisms of cinema that F.W. Murnau possess. The more films of his I see the more impressed I become.
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People who added this item 198 Average listal rating (100 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
February 17th - Of Gods and Men is a film that examines the capacity that mankind has for faith and also the depth of their faith as well. It displays faith not as something all inclusive and doubt defying but rather as something that is a constant struggle and battle to maintain. The monks in the film are human beings who doubt themselves and their mission in times of great crisis, but never becomes judgmental of them or even allow them to become judgmental of each other. It finds a very honest middle ground to examine faith without glorifying religion or belittling these men's lives. Since we are dealing with individuals internal search for faith to find the strength to do what is right there is some low key and restrained acting as we see these people go about their daily tasks of helping others and maintaining their place of worship sparsed with some wonderful shots of them framed in the world around them. All of it creates a meditative atmosphere that is true to the characters and we ponder the same things they are. Where it comes up short was choosing to reign in the shots a little bit and avoid from using too many long takes. With the pace and internalization of what is taken place it is crying out for longer shots to best relate to the contemplative atmosphere. With Of Gods and Men Xavier Beauvois shows us the quiet rhythms of monastery life and the collective strength of the brotherhood. A very thoughtful film that hits full stride towards the end and ends on a very powerful note.
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People who added this item 51 Average listal rating (26 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
February 19th - Steve James the director of Hoop Dreams returns to Chicago to capture a year of a group of violence interrupters working for a group called CeaseFire. It documents their struggle to interrupt the flow of violence in their communities, especially amongst the youth. The Interrupters brings up an interesting perspective of viewing the violence in these neighborhoods as a disease. This violence has causes and symptoms and gets transmitted from person to person. It examines this perspective mainly from three different individuals and as we see them try to interrupt potential violence as it is occurring or read the symptoms and attempt to impede it before it starts. As the documentary goes on we start to hear them discuss their own stories which makes what they are doing even more meaningful as we attempt to see them try to prevent members of their community from getting drawn into the same mistakes they already made. There is some very touching footage of the violence interrupters barring their soul to the camera in addition to seeing the toll this violence and death takes on the family and the community. It touches upon the causes of these people turning to street life, but despite the fact that these kids all have similar stories and outlooks it would have been interesting to have seen a deeper investigation to identifying the causes as well as the steps that could be done to irradiate them. It is a sad story and one that often times looks like there will be no end in sight, but there is a glimmer of hope as we see a few individuals guided towards taking positive steps to their life. It is powerful and inspiring to see that there are people working towards bettering their communities and trying to make a difference.
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People who added this item 550 Average listal rating (300 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 8.4
February 21st - Man with the Movie Camera right from the start tells you it's intentions to be (in it's own words) an experimentation in the cinematic transmission of visual phenomena. It is film about exploration and the love of expression through the cinematic language and uses no inter titles, no scripted dialog and no actors. Wonderful cinematography, invigorating editing, bold camera techniques, a unique percussive musical score, the sheer amount of unique and at the time cutting edge filmic devices still to this day is impressive. Lacking a traditional narrative it relies on those cinematic techniques to relay its thesis of the chaos and the perpetual motion of modern life. As effective as it is it does use some images a few too many times to the point where those images end up becoming repetitive. Even today despite it's age this stands as a bold experimentation and looks so modern as a result of being so far ahead of the curve. Every moment of the film pulses with energy and feels alive. Having heard of several different scores that have been created for the film I look forward to repeat viewings.
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People who added this item 137 Average listal rating (83 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.5
February 24th - As far as early film noir goes This Gun for Hire is a mixed bag. The brooding and mysterious anti-hero assassin Raven is quite compelling and Alan Ladd in his breakthrough role does a great underplaying him to make the performance quite chilling. Sadly though, towards the end they fall into the trap of having Raven pretty much blurt out what makes him tick and there is a halfhearted psycho analysis to try and explain him away which removes a great deal of intrigue from his persona. Veronica Lake is as ever ravishing and her on screen chemistry with Ladd is good, but she lacks the edge to make an effective femme fatale. It is tough to buy her as a spy or as anything other than the de facto movie star needed to sell the film and a plot convenience. The lighting and shadow used in the film in addition to the cinematography are utilized creatively to set the darker mood and atmosphere, but the film devolves into B-movie ridiculousness so often that it undercuts those efforts. This Gun for Hire boasts the traditional noir narratives that give it a classic feel but the story is so contrived relying on far too many coincidences and spending anytime thinking about it plot it is so easily seen how convoluted it is. Although there are other films in the genre much better, admirers of noir will find enough done here to make the film watchable if slight. The fact that the character of Raven and some of the better parts, such as the opening shot of Raven lying in bed and also the sequence where Raven runs across a bridge over a train yard, appear to have inspired Le Samourai was probably the most exciting part to me. Having aspects that Melville was influenced by in his masterpiece shows they were close to something, but ultimately fell very short.
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People who added this item 710 Average listal rating (438 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.3
A Separation (2011)
February 25th (Cinema) - Personal perspective is the basis of all morality and A Separation does a phenomenal job of baring to us a complex psychological portrait of people facing a spiraling amount of moral and ethical dilemmas that frankly, there is no justly moral answer for. Like life these situations are rooted in nothing but grey area and the film sits us in a position to make a judgement of these characters and their actions and decisions, but you can't. You just can't condemn anyone for what they do or don't do. Is the moral thing to tell the truth even if it prevents you from taking care of our family? If the law sees in black and white and the reality is grey then is it moral to lie? Those are just a tip of the iceberg of the quandaries in A Separation and each one is a honest and sincere manifestiation of the screenplay. It is a wonderful piece of writing devoid of any manipulation or over-moralizing, it is just a simple story told in a way that reveals the layered complexities that lie in every decision we make. We are nothing more than our decisions and there are few films that show have shown it so conclusively as A Separation did. It does a very effective job of having the story stand for a microcosm of class and culture in modern Tehran. The cast all do a tremendious job of giving natural performances to give life to these three dimensional people. Although Asghar Farhadi deserves the most praise for his screenplay, his restraind direction in keeping the camera and editing so nuanced and subtle that it does feel like we are seeing real people's lives play out rather than something manufactured. While the visuals themselves might be slightly underwhelming, they are used to service the wonderful script. A towering and powerful film that is among the best of the year and deserving of each accolade it receives.
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People who added this item 289 Average listal rating (178 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.7
February 28th - Silent Running uses it's Sci-Fi elements as a launching pad to examine a bigger meaning like most good films in the genre. The problem is that while it's environmentally conscience message is one that is important and even more relevant now, it is incredibility shallow resulting to hammer it's points home with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. It isn't helped by a flat script that has no semblance of psychology or meaning behind anything. Douglas Trumbull is a wonderful visual and innovative effects specialists and while some of the model work does look dated the rest of the visual effects are quite well done and are by far the best part of the film. The problem is his skills don't translate as well to directing and Silent Running is often sloppily edited and is so cold and distance with no amount of humanity that the film is advocating. Bruce Dern does his best with the material that he is given, but with horrible dialog and a poorly drawn character makes his effort a tough sell. The music is also really horrible and so poorly used and matched to the material. With all the advances in technology and the fact that Sci-Fi films tend to build on what the other films of it's genre have done before it may make Silent Running a victim of being seen in a modern context instead of the time that it was made, but considering 2001 came out four years prior and still stands as a masterpiece that deflates that idea. This is just one of those films right from the start never seems to get out of the gate and just keeps on dragging along.
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March 2nd - This documentary couldn't have come at a better time for me as I try to make a concerted effort to watch more of Woody Allen films. Woody Allen: A Documentary takes a very balanced approach towards examining both him and his career. It is made up of a series of interviews with various film critics, collaborators and Allen himself mixed with archival footage and scenes from his films. Like Allen himself the documentary stays with the authority to say what it sets out to achieve with great humor and pathos, but then quickly moves on to the next topic. It helps pace the film quite well as it never lingers too long. I would have liked to have seen it dig a little deeper into some more of his pet themes other than his fear of death and explored his view on intellectualism and relationships. While it does bring up his scandal, it mostly glosses over it. Like Allen says however, a lot has been said about him in public and whether people sympathize, hate him, or feel indifferent to him for it they are entitled to their opinion. With that view it is tough to justify beating a dead horse any further. Woody Allen: A Documentary doesn't have any new revelations or dig overly deep, but it does provide a good contextualization of the trajectory and longevity of the artist will also gleaning a composite of the man and his work ethic.
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People who added this item 310 Average listal rating (169 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.4
Interiors (1978)
March 3rd - Interiors is a curious film in Woody Allen's filmography. It was his first film devoid of any wit or humor and was instead a probing psychological study into the insecurities of a upper class family. While this is a rapid departure for him it was also important as establishing him as an artist. Nowhere is that more apparent than with the technical aspects. The shot compositions are some of the best of his filmography. There are mostly wide shots and open space which portray the loneliness and isolation of the individual. Even when there are other people in the frame there seems to be a world of distance between each other. Gordon Willis makes good on his "Prince of Darkness" nickname and captures the darkness and melancholy with shadows engulfing each person's face and shows the darkness within that is conquering them. It is impressive the lack of light he uses in every scene and especially at the Beach House finale where there is darkness at the top of the screen but a little more light at the bottom. It sets the haunting and eerie atmosphere perfectly. Allen has always spoken of his influences and Interiors was unabashedly Bergman influenced. Like which it is inspired by Interiors shows the suffering of the individual as they drown in hopeless with a lack of ability to connect with the those around them. Woody has always been a writer with great respect for the character and he makes each sister a fully drawn and integrating character that represents an emptiness of the artist. One is coming to terms with the fact art will not save her, another is struggling with expressing her feelings through her artistic voice and the other, as the film puts it, is form with no content. It is very heavy subject matter that is handled from a sure hand of someone mostly known for his comedies, but he revels too much in the coldness and selfishness of everyone. It becomes just as unbearable to watch as it must be for these people to live at times. Bergman is always able to balance the suffering with some flicker of humanity, and Woody forgets to show glimpses of that. Interiors may not be the best of what Woody Allen has to offer, but it is a worthy addition to his legacy and is often overlooked and unfairly criticized.
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People who added this item 1919 Average listal rating (1342 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.6
March 4th - A great deal of effort went into making the apes look and feel real and it shows with the final product. Driven by Andy Serkis's motion capture performance it isn't just some concoction of 1's and 0's but instead there is something alive inside of Caesar. You feel for him and develop just as strong of a bond with him as you would a normal human. The digital artists also did a wonderful job of bring the motion capture performances to life. If only the same effort had gone into the plot. It is pretty apparent right away where the film is going and it always seems to tip it's hand to remind you just in case you forget. All the human characters are just so flat and dull too. It seems they felt a little skittish about making a film where the apes are the focus and are who we completely root for, so they treated the human characters as equals, but the depth and development wasn't the same. When an ape wasn't on screen I found myself much less engaged. I wish they would have had more conviction to make it totally Caesar's story, but they had the guts to go most of the way so the film makers do deserve some credit. Despite it's problems, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is still a cut above many Hollywood blockbusters. The director Rupert Wyatt guides what appears to be an ill advised attempt to milk a franchise to solid entertainment that is well paced with tight direction and at it's heart has an interesting story that it wants to tell.
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People who added this item 11 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.9
Bodysong (2003)
March 7th - The ending of Bodysong proclaims that each shot in the film tells a story. With that statement it became clear that Simon Pummell was focuses on the film from each small detail instead of taking a look at the big picture. Each shot is made up of footage combined together in a segment. The footage used are both familiar are rare and runs the gambit from fascinating to dull. While some segments are better than others, each one stands on it's own fairly well in the story it tells. What is so problematic is those segments do a poor job of expressing the overall thesis. It quickly takes a portentous tone and instead of being a flowing visual song of the human condition it becomes a segmented and uneven combination of footage. What is the make or break point for those types of films is the overall message and when it becomes easy obscured it is tough to come back from. The highlight of Bodysong though is the Jonny Greenwood score. His work is truly mesmerizing and is what consistently held my full attention. The aggressiveness of the music as he combines genres of classical, jazz, rock and sync music goes a huge way towards sheltering the film during the more frustrating moments. While it is tough to value a film exclusively for it's music in a visual medium, Jonny Greenwood makes his best case for it. These types of films are far and few between so it is sad to see the film miss it's mark, especially when the music is so well suited to it.
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People who added this item 233 Average listal rating (128 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 7.9
March 9th - What makes the Servant a potent psychological drama is the subtlety that the man servant Barrett creates a black hole that consumes his master Tony. Right from the beginning Joseph Losey makes a general sense of unease with his sneaky camera movements and angles that always appear to be obscuring something from view. He uses such vivid and impressionistic black and white images with mirrors and shadows to help complete the foreboding feeling that things are not quite what they seem. Things that Barrett does like barging in on Tony and his fiance, insisting on keeping the house arranged in his manner and his pokes and prods in conversations seem like innocuous actions. Eventually Barrett's game of cat and mouse is revealed, but it is already too late. He got his hooks into his master by gaining his trust and made him totally dependent on him and then broke him down. He alienated him from the only human contact that he had and manipulated him to totally give in to his vices. We see a man who's psyche has shattered and see how fragile it is, but it was missing a definitive breaking point. It is interesting the way it plays with the themes of the British class system, although it does it in a more obvious and deliberate manner than the way the rest of the film is handled. While we feel sympathy for the servant in the beginning and despite the romantic idea of seeing the proletariat rising against the bourgeoisie, the malice in which he disposes of his master for no clear reason makes it hard to stomach. He won, but for what gain and why? All the acting is quite good and Dirk Bogarde does a great job in the role of Barrett playing the chilling passive aggressive presence where we are never sure what is boiling underneath. The Servant is well directed, written and acted film that dives into the exploration into the balance of power.
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People who added this item 508 Average listal rating (273 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.7
Like Crazy (2011)
March 13th - Few films are able to be such an effective depiction of the emotion that comes from the inexplicable bond that exists between two people hopelessly in love. This bond is shown on the screen by the actors improvisational gestures, dialog and movements. That bond forms between them and feels so strong because there are two people people living in the moment and being inspired and reacting to each other. Drake Doremus is fearless in his improvisational spirit and that extends to the fluid hand held camera work that is organic and natural. It makes every scene feel lived in and authentic. The editing is also well executed mixing and matching without being able to predict what the next shot might be or when the next scene will be coming. It uses a fair amount of montages accompanied by music that is usually a ploy for some cheap stylishness, but each one is more of a genuine attempt to show the compression of time. Each actor appeared to be largely responsible for creating and showing their characters on screen. Anton Yelchin seemed to struggle with this slightly, the performance is solid but he isn't able to bring out the subtitles that Felicity Jones does. With the responsibility given to her she excels at using her mannerisms and face to reveal Anna to the camera. Like Crazy is a simple story well told, but sometimes with it's simplicity some flaws show. It stays a little too close to archetypes of men being afraid of commitment and at the beginning treads dangerously close to manic pixie dream girl territory. There were some details that get glossed over or excluded and others end up being pretty silly. The way that the characters end up growing and changing are rather superficial. However, Drake Doremus does not want you to get bogged down with cause and effect or character study and instead wants the emotion and atmosphere to grip you which it consistently accomplishes. Everything else is simply in service to it so it is easy to look past the flaws. Like Crazy is a beautifully shot film that is sad but also endearing building to a strong emotional crescendo.
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People who added this item 888 Average listal rating (458 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.2
The Rum Diary (2011)
March 17th - It was nice to see Johnny Depp tackle a passion project or take a role that is more than playing dress up and being over the top. His performance stumbling around in a drunken state with great comic timing is quite good, not his finest work, but a breath of fresh air to see him tackle more challenging things. He played a big role in getting this film made, producing it and recruited Bruce Robinson to direct and write. The thinking was the man responsible for Withnail and I and How to Get Ahead in Advertising would slip easily into Hunter S. Thompson's exciting style and gonzo characters. The problem is he didn't. The Rum Diary fumbles around a few ideas before it becomes overlong and limps and stumbles to the finish line. From the outset it appears to want to be Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, except set in San Juan. The problem is it doesn't commit all the way to the absurdity and reckless abandon and it ends up being flat and defanged. It becomes clear later on why, this is a film about showing a writer who doesn't have a voice and is searching for one. It doesn't want to get bogged down in the self destructiveness and debautury so we can see someone searching for their voice, but it is still nothing more than an afterthought. At that point a film with a cursory political values becomes an activist film for the plight of Puerto Rico and the excesses of Capitalism, but it earns none of it and can't be taken seriously. It ends on a muddled note that is even further enraging with a horrible unneeded postscript. There is a strong supporting cast with Aaron Eckhart, Richard Jenkins, Giovanni Ribisi, Amber Heard and Michael Rispoli, although other than Rispoli none of their characters are anything but one note. Occasionally The Rum Diaries strikes an interesting note when we see some oddity play out on screen with a talented cast, but when the foundation is laid so poorly to be built upon they are nothing more than a fleeting moment.
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March 22nd - Brand Upon the Brain is a roller coaster ride of a cinematic fever dream that is fiercely unique and always engrossing. It is framed around an exploration of the innocence and memories from a childhood, but being a Guy Maddin film it isn't quite as simple as all of that. There is a self titled character and what appears to be a deeply personal depiction of his childhood making a self referential tale, but it is also so bizarre and surreal that it is tough to find where the truth ends and the fiction begins. Maddin as always embraces the silent film aesthetic using similar camera and lighting techniques in black and white as well as classical music cues and accompaniment which creates a strong nostalgic glow. This aesthetic also makes for some truly impressionistic moments where the film seems to reach out and touch you. The editing is frantic and in tour face right from the beginning with a ton of cuts. It takes some time to get used to, but once you sync up to the film it flows smoothly. Brand Upon the Brain also makes use of pretty much every story telling technique from inter titles to voice over to impression silent film acting to visual story telling. That Isabella Rossellini voice over didn't complete win me over. I grew to enjoy it more as the film progressed, but I still felt the moments without it were more effective for me. Love or hate the film it undeniably one of a kind. There were a dozen times I had to prevent myself from using the word "unique" to describe the film in fear of being repetitive. Brand Upon the Brain may be noting more than a 99 minute examination of Guy Maddin's mother issues, but when the end result is something this crazy and visually audacious, does it really matter?
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 59 Average listal rating (31 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.4
Project Nim (2011)
March 25th - On the surface Project Nim appears to be just a documentary about the experiment of trying to explore a chimps capacity for language by teaching him sign language. However, as the film progresses it is quickly evident that this is Nim's story. That scientific study is only a small part of his life and what he is able or unable able to prove is irreverent. He is a living, breathing animal and the documentary is able to display that and create a connection between him and the audience without resulting to cheap tricks or over sentimental ideas. That is what makes it so heart breaking to see just what Nim is capable of and then see what ultimately happens to him. They raised him as a human, but then later on when it gets tough they treat him as an animal. It says a great deal about human arrogance that they only thought about what they could gain with no regards of the eventual consequences. Project Nim maintains a fair amount of objectivity and does a fair and evenhanded depiction of the events and people in Nim's life, but strangely the film dances around some of the moral and ethical quandaries only to mention them in passing. It is odd since James Marsh is aiming at something and could have clearly said it without losing the films objectivity. The craft that James Marsh puts into the documentary is admirable with some very tight editing and a mix of re-enactments, archival footage and interviews that keeps it visually interesting. All of footage or pictures of Nim signing, running around playing or hanging on to people could get repetitive, but he always finds a way to bring out the energy and excitement of Nim. What could have been a very one dimensional story a scientific study turns into a fascinating discovery of both human and animal nature alike.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 229 Average listal rating (116 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 7.9
March 30th - Diary of a Country Priest is centered around the titular priest where we get an intimate knowledge of the man. Instead of seeing him as an external force would or leaving room for interpretation we get the direct thoughts and knowledge of the man as his thought filter directly from his brain to the page in his journal. There is no filter or spin that an individual portrays to others or the cursory and self-centered impressions of an individual, just the gleaming of a man's soul. While that soul yearns for spiritual transcendence he fights with his failure and self doubt. At times he appears to be touched with that divinity that he craves, but doesn't know how to use it and is incapable of making a difference. Robert Bresson's handling of actors to remove any sort of performance and instead using them as a blank slate is legendary and Claude Laydu is the perfect template for him. He does a wonderful job portraying the classic Bresson aimless and imprisoned individual. We see the priest go about his existence, but his sickly face and demeanor reveal a man who the world is eating away at externally as his body is eating away internally. Bresson muddied up laconic minimalist cinematography and insistence on never moving the camera creates the cold and callous world that is beating down on him. It sends chills to the bones. The priest is always shown in a way that permeates alienation as he is framed in a way that literally looks like he is being torn apart. This strong visual style is what speaks the strongest and tells us the truth. Others may find Bresson's uncompromising vision unengaged but he has no concern or reverence for the details, only for the big picture. If you get caught up in the hows or whys you fail to see that it doesn't matter to the world. Being that Bresson was finding out his style there were a few rough edges. He stumbles at times in how to use other actors in this new world he created. The beginning is a bit choppy and there are a few scenes towards the end that don't really resonate with the economy of his style. There is an interesting young girl who isn't used to her full potential and at one point appears to betray the film in what was a missing opportunity (although one he seizes with Mouchette). Despite the missteps Diary of a Country Priest is a powerful and profound well made work that will enlighten the souls watching as it crushes a soul on screen.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 2965 Average listal rating (2024 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.2
March 31st (Cinema) - The Hunger Games appears to have aims above being just another action blockbuster with statements about class divide and the role of violence and malevolence plays in entertainment, but creating scenarios and giving a cursory glance into these ideas doesn't cut it. These ideas need to be explored and developed for them to take hold. The entire film is nothing more than a flat series of bland and emotionless plot points. Much is discussed of the back story of the world but there is no sense of history at all. There are scenes that play to this, especially in the beginning but it is all just white noise. To films credit though, when it comes to developing the story of Katniss, it does a good job of making her a well rounded character. It is always nice to see a strong female character at the center of a big blockbuster and Jennifer Lawrence handles it with grace and intensity to make her such an compelling character. Some of the character moments too are quite touching, but when something cold and devoid of emotion all of a sudden has a flood of it, the end result is highly manipulative. It doesn't help either that instead of focusing on some of the supporting cast it trots out many poorly drawn supporting characters, many whos arcs are obscured. Most frustratingly is the romance. Just having two young characters in proximity to each other doesn't create intimacy. I can't tell if the horrible way they show two people cultivate caring about each other is showing that the relationship was not genuine, or merely sloppiness. The games themselves having been built up in every moment are a letdown. For all the talk of violence, mob mentality and the idea of having your identity changed everyone ends up being who they always were. The 4 people that were raised to be killers are killers and the other ones are just trying to survive. I am not saying it should have been the gore fest that Battle Royale was, but at least make the deaths mean something and honor the amount of time you spend building to have the end result mean something. Nothing is allowed a chance to breathe and take hold. It is constant movement narratively, but also visually with the camera work. The camera is constantly moving around while focusing and zooming like an ADD child. It can't seem to stay in place for more than a few moments. This kinetic energy could be applied during the games but during the beginning and quieter moments it uses this as well which is just maddening. Shaky cam alone does not excitement. It is an aesthetically barren film with generic forestry settings, grey muddy districts and a dull futuristic city. The Hunger Games is really just a strong central character surrounded by a less satirical version of Battle Royale, dystopian future cliches and tween romance. While that may appeal to some, personally, I crave something that is better written and made that doesn't bungle every big idea it tries to handle. The bottom line is The Hunger Games is another half-hearted literary adaptation where the studio fails to acknowledge that doing a direct adaptation of a book to appease fans doesn't equal good cinema.
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People who added this item 1116 Average listal rating (627 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.4
April 3rd - While David Cronenberg is a talented director, he never seemed to fully feel comfortable with A Dangerous Method. At the beginning he relishes in his pet theme of psychosis and when Jung is having adversarial conversations with Otto Gross he is fueled by the conflict that exists between the men's ideas, but when it comes to the more subdued parts of conversations and mundane human acts he doesn't seem to know how to capture these moments with the same energy. Even the more kinky and sexually charged scenes feel tame. It is strange that a film all about psychoanalysis takes only a passing interesting in the psychology of the characters. The script and direction of the film is never able to fully capture the complexities of the relationships between Jung and his wife, Fraud, patient/friend/mistress Sabina and Otto Gross. On face value these relationships hold your attention, but they never coalesce into the integrating and engrossing area it strives for. It is nice to see Cronenberg working outside his comfort zone and with more subdued material and he rightly cuts down on his signature style, but a visual touch it is practically non existent. It is surprising how uncinematic A Dangerous Method is. With so much intrigue afoot it is disappointing to see it drift away so early on. While the film doesn't quite match the complexities I was hoping for, it rarely ever hits a false note. It is constantly intelligent and quite economical. In particular the dynamics between Jung/Fraud and Jung/Sabina are very interesting and the conversations that arise as a result are the bright spot of the film. However, it is the acting that really stands out in the film and Cronenberg largely steps out of the way and let's them do their thing. Once she gets past some of the over the top and showy hysterics (which I partly think Cronenberg is to blame for not having her scale it back) Keira Knightley gives a good and an intense performance. Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender both are the wry, smart and analytical doctors and provide the film with an anchor.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 60 Average listal rating (37 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.8
Sweetie (1989)
April 6th - I admired the technical aspects of Sweetie, but I found the strange mix of tone in the film that accompanied it to be too wildly inconsistent. The examination of dysfunctional individual and mental illness all taking place in a very real setting of middle class Australia is hard to reconcile with the odd almost dark humor and a strong detachment from reality. It keeps hitting the pendulum back and forth between those tones inside of folding them into each other and I quickly become quite annoyed. There is also a rigid compartmentalization of focus from Kay to Sweetie to the family with no transition and no regard for consistency. It is hard to care about these characters with such idiosyncratic behavior and actions or non-actions and the end result feels like a farce. It isn't disturbing or hard to watch and certainly isn't quirky or cute, I just didn't feel anything towards the film. It wasn't for a lack of technical proficiencies however. Jane Campion has such a wonderful eye for shot composition and the film is littered with beautifully framed and distinctive images. She is so deliberate in what each shot represents and means and creates a rich mosaic of images. For this reason alone I really was pulling for Sweetie, but I just couldn't find myself invested in it. Maybe unfairly, I was expecting Sweetie to be lyrical and poetic and while it does have some of those moments, the overall tone is far from it. I have always been one to put the technical and visual aspects of a film above all else, but I still need to feel moved and engaged at some level and Sweetie just didn't do any of that for me.
Uncreative Name's rating:
People who added this item 352 Average listal rating (226 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.5
April 7th (Cinema) - Jeff Who Lives at Home may not be a film that is able to piece all it's parts together perfectly into creating an explicit greater purpose that Jeff is strives for, but isn't that kind of the point of the film? It isn't the fact Jeff meets his fate or destiny, but rather that he and his family go on a journey filled with self realization and the comedy of life. The Duplass brothers still employ their low-key natural aesthetics with natural light and digital handheld cameras with quick zooms and whips. They are making strides with these techniques as that natural aesthetic is a lot less directly noticeable as it has been in the past. There is a great cast of character actors that seizes the spontaneity of the Duplass brothers improvisational dialog and style. Mark and Jay Duplass have always had the capability for creating very interesting characters brimming with humanity and humor, but to their credit they are trying to evolve a little more by using those people to make statements of the human condition. Some of doesn't totally work as evident by the underdeveloped storyline with Susan Sarandon, but most things do. Right from the beginning they portray humanities ability to create sense out of the senseless with Jeff's soliloquy on finding meaning of the horrible and rambling Signs after repetitive viewings. They capture our eternal ability to take those we love for granted and inability to express our feelings for them. It shows that sometimes the most menial tasks and things can be the most rewarding. It's nice to see the Duplass brothers not totally fall into the rut of trying to make studio assisted low budget comedies but try to do something a little more. The film may lack polish with slightly too many far-fetched coincidences and betrays itself in a third act melodramatic finish, but there are too many odd magical and uncynical moments that build to an potent emotional climax to not see the film as endearing.
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People who added this item 824 Average listal rating (458 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7
April 8th - Michelle Williams is a tremendously talented actress and she earns that Oscar nomination and provides the bright spot in an otherwise minor film. She could have easily been intimated by Marilyn Monroe's public persona and given into the theatricality of it, but she stands strong finding the essence of her. Michelle Williams balances that public act with both the vulnerability and humanity mixed with the darkness and also cruelness. It is a shame the rest of the film doesn't live up to the high standard of that performance. It is based off the memoirs of a then 23 year old 3rd assistant director named Colin whose perspective the story is told through, but they couldn't have picked a more bland individual. He has no charisma and a composite cliched personality of youthful optimism and naiveness. He is a rich kid who is handed a job on a major motion picture with a constant smirk on his face in a film that brags about his time with the hottest women in the world. How can you not hate this kid? The hard part should be trying to show how Marilyn would give this kid the time of day let alone have fling with him, but the film actually does make it seem possible. With the pressures of her fame and acting on the film at a tumultuous time in her life it does seem at least remotely plausible she would embrace this young kid who admires her and is willing to tell her the truth. It is everything else involving Colin that feels dishonest. He sweeps a crew member off her feet who he spurns for Marilyn, everyone on the set from Olivier to Vivien Leigh Dame Sybil Thorndike confides in him, despite the fact he is in way over his head he never falters in any aspect of his job and when Marilyn says the fling is over he quickly accepts it and moves on. He is both naive to ways of the world and wise beyond his years. Whether it is the folly of memory or a self-serving desire to make himself look good it destroys any credibility the film may have. Instead of making a film with a strong dramatic center point that speaks to the complexities of Marilyn Monroe or the helpless of being under the spell of someone, the film makers seem content with a lightweight and breezy truth is stranger fiction story of a kid that became involved with a star for a week.
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People who added this item 334 Average listal rating (182 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.4
April 11th (Cinema) - The Dardenne brothers are masters of showing marginalized members of society and with The Kid with a Bike they do just that for a young boy who's father abandons him. As always the Dardennes find that middle ground to tell their story that is neither heaping on the suffering and despair or sentimentalization and sensationalism. That area between is where they find the truth and the painfully real ways of life. The Dardenne brothers have a distinct realist visual style and they very much continue with that vibe here with their empathetic camera. They know how to perfectly create such intimacy while at the same time letting their subjects breath and move in the frame. Like Bresson or Godard the brothers use some classical musical cues in The Kid with a Bike that sync up perfectly to the emotion within a scene or leads into it. These cues are something new for the brothers and give them yet another tool in their toolbox. The story doesn't quite have a consistent emotional appeal at the beginning and takes a little bit to ramp up but it soon picks up with numerous flurries of dramatic bursts. While some of the characters motivations are a little too obscured the child is wonderfully written and acted. Thomas Doret gives a revelatory performance as the child trying to bury his pain since his father won't return his unconditional love. This may not be a violent shake up of the Dardenne brothers style but they have enough variation of their subjects and some growth in other areas to make this another worthy addition to an already stellar filmography.
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List of films I have watched in 2012 and my rambling thoughts about them

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