Sunday, September 30, 2007

Let's Go To The Movies???

Something bizarre has happened in my mind over the past couple weeks. I've become less excited for the upcoming award season.

Don't get me wrong, there's still certain films I'm eager to see.

But as I look over the award caliber films...films with strong writers, directors, and acting talents, I have found myself somewhat sickened at home many of these films will simply be dark and violent. I'm not one who's strictly opposed to violence in film, last year's Letters to Iwo Jima was one of my favorite films, and found it's violent elements harrowing but effective.

Yet earlier in the year I talked about many of the violent horror movies coming out that could be categorized as torture porn, and as we head into the award season there are so many films about war, torture, and abuse. And simply enough, while any of these films might be good displays of film aesthetics or quality acting performances and writing, yet very few of the upcoming films are ones you'd be excited to see on a date, with a mixed company of friends, with family members.

Will Gray has spent sometime talking about films that are good films but have "potentially offensive elements (POE)," and it looks like this award season will be riddled with films of this nature. As soon as Eastern Promises came out all people could talk about was it violence and the Viggo Mortensen nude fight scene. Also, I imagine that violence and nudity can also be expected for other heavy releases we're going to see this year.

Also, there was a lot of buzz and frustration over the child-abuse drama Hounddog that starred child actress Dakota Fanning, but that's not the only child abuse film that will torture the eyes and minds of viewers in 2007. There's also the two real life stores that will play out in An American Crime (with Catherine Keener and Ellen Page) and Savage Grace (with Julianne Moore).

Movies like The Kingdom, Rendition, Lions for Lambs, Stop Loss, War Inc., Grace is Gone, Charlie Wilson's War and In the Valley of Elah all look at different angles of the American War on Terrorism, the effects of war, and the middle east. Some are certainly going to be filled with violence.

And Atonement, The Kite Runner, American Gangster, 3:10 to Yuma, Sweeney Todd, The Brave One, No Country For Old Men, and There Will Be Blood, are not be immune to their own fair share of violent acts.

If you want something that's artful and not riddled with violence and torture are you left with options like Fred Claus, Enchanted, and August Rush?

Who knows what films might surprise up in the next months, but the movie that looks different to me, and which I sense my excitement growing to see is Juno. I want to see a story about people, there relationships to one another, real life stories, artfully made films.

But I can not see any healthy reason to expose myself to the gammat of the violence and torture, and hopelessness of 2007. And I certainly, am not gathering a mixed group of friends to go see these films. So who knows what movies will get my dollars in the theater this year...but I'm craving something variety that I'm not seeing in the months ahead.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Reel People: Julianne Moore is Barbara Daly Baekeland

The film is Savage Grace, directed by Tom Kalin.

Barbara Daly was a model who married Brookes Baekeland, a wealthy sociality who's grandfather had made his money as a chemist who invented Bakelite in the early part of the twentieth century.

Barbara was characterized as having an unstable personality, often drinking, having sex with multiple partners, as well as manic-depressive behavior. Brooks left Barbara had a son named Anthony, and got divorced.

Anthony and Barbara had a very dependent relationship on each other, that became incestuous. It is believed that the primary reason Barbara wanted to have sex with her son was because Anthony was gay, and she was trying to cure him of his homosexuality.

Barbara and Anthony would get in fights frequently, often involving knifes, and while Anthony, like his mother showed mental health related problems, his father refused to pay for psychiatric services because he viewed them as amoral.

In 1972, Anthony, at the age of 25, killed his mother, stabbing her in their London home. Anthony was institionalized, later got out, stabbed his grandmother in New York (she survived), Anthony was institionalized again, where he killed himself by suffication.

The film is based on the book by Natalie Robins. Eddie Redmayne plays the part of Anthony, while Stephen Dillane plays the part of Brooks Baekeland.

Will this biographical film earn 4 time academy nominee Julianne Moore her fifth nomination this year for his portrayal of this Real (Reel) Person?

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Reel People: Mathieu Amalric is Jean-Dominique Bauby

The film is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Scaphandre et le papillon, Le), and is directed by Julian Schnabel.

Born in France in 1952, Bauby became involved in journalism, and became the editor-in-chief of the French ELLE magazine. In 1995 Bauby suffered a unique stroke. After 20 days in a coma he came out of the coma, but was completely paralyzed, only able to move his left eyelid.

It was shortly after that he began, with great assistance began writing his memoir. The memoir was written by someone reading through the French alphabet (more common letters first) and Bauby blinking with the speaker said the correct letter. The book is apparently hopeful in nature, explaining everyday events as well as hope as he continues to live in his mind, even though he can no longer live in his body. The title of this memoir was Le Scaphandre et Le Papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)

In 1997, Bauby died due to heart failure, just 3 days after the French version of the book was published.

The film also stars Academy nominee Max von Sydow as Bauby's father. The film was well received earlier this year at Cannes Film Festival as Schanabel won best director, and an award for the highly regarded cinematographer Janusz Kaminski.

Will this biographical film earn Mathieu Amalric some critical awards attention this year for his portrayal of this Real (Reel) Person?

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Small Towns Focused on the Past: Radiator Springs & Empire Falls (some thoughts)

In the movie Cars and in the Pulitzer prize winning novel Empire Falls by Richard Russo, both stories, although very different, deal with the stories of small towns that are beyond their glory days. The individuals of Radiator Springs and Empire Falls both deal with their challenging economic days they both have hope for economic revival.

For citizens of Radiator Springs it is hope that people would again recherish the drive along Route 66 despite the creation of interstate system, and for the citizens of Empire Falls it is hope that an outside developer would come and buy up the old shirt factory, creating jobs and bring the town back to it's economical validity.

The other day I wrote a post about the film Viridiana and how it challenges ideas of hope and idealism when they are not based on reality. In a related thought, when it comes to the typical citizens in these towns you can't help watch a film or read a book about a struggling small town and think...why don't these people move, let the past die, and let themselves carve out a new future for themselves, instead of waiting on others to understand why others should love their town as much as they do.

And yet in both of these stories, the end with varying degrees of hope. There is especially a message of hope in Pixar's Cars as Lighting McQueen's attachment that grows for the town and it's forgotten citizens allows him to revive the town by setting up his racing headquarters there.

Towards the end of Russo's novel, there is a little detail given to some revived economics in the town once condos and business districts are set up along the river that runs through the town, but it is not as romanticized as what is the movie Cars.

I think we can be like this often, where we expect other people to change what's important to us rather than us being an active agent in creating the change we long to see. I've talked before about Inspiration Overload, and how there are so many things people want us to care about, but I think it's important to search ourselves, find what's important to us, and try to be the change we want to see, not just waiting for other people. And at times, I believe we must push on ahead, not stuck trying and hoping to rebuild the past.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dis-Hope in Luis Buñuel's Viridiana

A couple weeks ago I watched Luis Buñuel's Viridiana, as I was watching I was taken away with it's unique message.

Viridian's plot is unique and complicated in, and also considered very blasphemous by the Vatican and the country of Spain which banned the film from showing for 15 years in Spain.

In a nutshell...the movie tells the story of a nun who returns home for a short trip to visit her wealthy uncle, who has hopeful delusions his niece will live with him and marry him, but when she refuses he poisons her and pretends to take her virginity. As the plot progresses and the old uncle hangs himself, Viridina (the nun) suddenly has chosen not to continue her path as a nun, but in a refreshing 2nd act she is helping and aiding the homeless and indigent population around her wealthy uncle's mansion. Yet when Viridiana must leave for around 24 hours to finalize some paperwork with the lawyers, the homeless people disrespect all of Viridiana's protocols, and run a muck and recklessly, in a way drastically different from all Viridiana's ideals.

While there is a lot of other unique scenes, dialogue, and images in this film, the final feeling that you feel as a viewer is one of dis-hope. It's a feeling that says to throw away your ideals, don't try.

There are so many films that set there aims on being inspirational, or at least in the end show redemption, because messages of hope push us along, urging us to keep at it, and to strive after our ideals.
Obviously, many film makers and writers have instead tried to be more realistic rather than romantic. This drive to be realistic has created a countless number of films which end in death or other horrific moments.

Yet, never before I saw Viridiana did I see a film that did not set it's goals on being inspirational, or realistic. Instead it went at least one notch away from realistic into a category of uninspirational, or dishopeful. It's like a negative fairy tale, with a moral that says don't try, it's all a waste.

I certainly can appreciate this film, it's unique story telling, and many things about it. I think I can even appreciate it's balance to the spectrum of film messages. Yet at the same time, it can leave one with a sinking feeling scratching your head saying "What do I make of this? How would one live in a world with out hope?"

(This post is part of a contribution alongside other post in the Buñuel blog-a-thon hosted by Flickhead)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Heroes: Origins - Big Screen Directors on the Small Screen

Yesterday my wife, a friend, and I had a Heroes-a-thon beginning in the late afternoon and extended into the evening as we watched episodes 3-10 of the first season of the popular show. Of course, we're very into it and have ten bazillion questions...so don't spoil anything in the comments.

Obviously impressed with show created by Tim Kring (pcitured right), my eyes were drawn to the story I was reading today about how NBC is bulking up season 2 of Heroes with a 6 week late spring segament called "Heroes: Origins." Origins will be a six stand alone episodes of the popular show where new characters will be introducted, as viewers see there super-powers and how the new character discovered their powers.

NBC chief Kevin Reilly says the Origins episodes will feel similar to the way the story and character of the waitress Charlie (Jayma Maye) was shown and developed. (Maye is pictured above).

There also has been talk that NBC will create an interactive element, allowing viewers to vote on which character will become a part of the regular story line.

What is making the Origins series less gimmicky sounding, is the fact that big screen directors are signing on to write and direct these episodes.

In July, Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Mall Rats, Dogma) announced at Comic-con he's be writting and directing one of the episodes.

And now two other writer/directors have entered the Heroes: Origin line up...

Michael Dougherty
(X2 writer, with upcoming credits including writer/director of Trick r'Treat and writer of I, Lucifer).

The other big name...Hostel writer/directer Eli Roth (pictured right, who I wrote about earlier this year when Hostel II was released)

It's made me curious to wonder who else we write and direct these episodes? I would love to super-hero-loving author Michael Chabon write an episode! or how about Christopher Nolan? or Paul Greengrass? How about David Fincher?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Announcing: Film+Faith Blog-a-thon, November 7th-9th

Art has always been about faith. Early art filled the walls of temples and other places of religious ritual. In fact, the church used to be the primary patron of the arts, whether it be the visual art, drama, literature, or music. In the history of art, the film genre is one of the youngest forms of art, yet in today's world the movies play a big part of our life and how we see and understand the world. There are ways the visual image of film can deeply touch and impact our soul and ways we view the world.

As the film medium has been used to entertain, inspire, escape, understand other cultures, to make political statements, I believe it still frequently says something about faith, God, and other spiritual ideas.

As film has carved out it's own unique place in the arts, I'm asking people to delve into the religious and faith themes that have developed in the last 100 years of film. Perhaps there is a unique film that has resonated with your soul, or maybe offended your spiritual thoughts so deeply. Maybe you would want to discuss the role religion has played on the development of film art. Or maybe there is the faith of a film character that has stuck with you for a long time.

Whether it's a film, a character, a theme, a director, or a performer, I ask you on November 7th-9th, 2007, to take some time to delve into the world of faith + film and write some of your own thoughts, memories, and experiences.

During those three days, I will also create a running list of links to your blog posts on the topic. So when you write them, send the link my way, either by e-mail or in the comment section. Also, let me know if you're interested and I will send out reminders as the Faith+Film Blog-a-thon gets closer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

15 Potential Best Actress Nominees

Last year at this time, I felt confident enough to say that Helen Mirren would at least get an academy award nomination for The Queen, and I began to question whether or not she'd be able to win.

Last year at this time, I also identified 12 actresses who could fill the other 4 spots. Penelope Cruz, Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, & Meryl Streep were on that list and did go onto receive Academy award nominations.

This year, I don't even feel confident enough to suggest there is a gaurenteed shoe-in Actress nominee like Mirren was at this point last year.

Yet, in a little over two months the Golden Globes and the National Board of Review are going to start naming the best of the year, and you've got to wonder who will they name in this catagory.

It's not even as though the catagories neccesarily weak like it is some years, but rather the names on the short list are big names, many with previous wins and nominations, many of which are in films that haven't come out yet.

Many rallying around Keira Knightley in Atonement, but at this stage in the game Atonement is the in film when it comes to Oscar predictions, but in a cast heavy picture like Atonement, it's hard to tell who people are really going to pay attention to.

Of the following 15 leading ladies which ones will receive academy award recognition this year?

Previous Winners:
Julie Christie (Away from Her)
Jodie Foster (The Brave One)
Cate Blanchett (The Golden Age)
Nicole Kidman (Margot at the Wedding)
Halle Berry (Things We Lost in the Fire)
Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart)
Jennifer Connelly (Reservation Road)
Meryl Streep (Lions for Lambs)
Reese Witherspoon (Rendition)

Previous Nominees:
Keira Knightley (Atonement)
Laura Linney (The Savages)
Naomi Watts (Eastern Promises)

No nods...yet:
Ellen Page (Juno)
Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose)
Kari Russell (Waitress)

(From the looks of this list, you'd think that Actresses needed to win an Oscar to even be considered this year?)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pixar Features Ranked

Recently I posted my top 5 animated Disney films. In this list I excluded the feature length films made by Pixar animation studios.

Here's my rankings of each of the Pixar films that have been released so far.

1. Ratatouille
2. Toy Story 2
3. Monster's Inc
4. Toy Story
5. Cars
6. The Incredibles
7. Finding Nemo
8. A Bugs Life

What's your list look like?

**Updated: Thank you jasdye for pointing out I had failed to include Finding Nemo! Completly my bad. The list has been updated. **

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Tears and Cheers for Julie Christie in Away from Her

To be honest, I probably am more likely to tear up in a movie then my wife. Last year I talked about the movies that have made me cry the most. But, while my eyes remained relatively dry, I've never seen my wife cry so much as when we recently watched Away from Her.

In this film the story of a woman having Alzheimer's, being sent to an assisted care facility, forgetting her past, including her husband, and finding companionship with a male Alzheimer's patient makes for an emotionally draining tale. And while the story is compelling, writer/director Sarah Polley is not so much concerned with plot, but with characters and emotions. And Oscar winner Julie Christie does a remarkable job playing Fiona.

With award season, big films, and precursors months away I hope that Academy Awards voters remember this film and Julie Christie's performance for best actress contention, because it is certainly nominatable, moving, and powerful.

Plus, I think this film is an important film to open up discussions on Alzheimer's, as well as how children, spouses, and families deal with this real disease and its symptoms.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Juno In December

I love this time of year, a time of year when critics and film writers get the chance to see movies in Venice and Toronto, and anticipated films start being released in theaters. Certain movies and roles begin to take flesh, and suddenly out of nowhere smaller films and new acting roles generate buzz.

I love reading the buzz that Ellen Page's role in the movie Juno has created in Toronto at TIFF. And not just that Ellen Page does a good job but that people genuinely have enjoyed the film, not just appreciate Page's performance.

Roger Erbet said a couple days ago: "I predict will become quickly beloved when it opens at Christmas time, and win a best actress nomination for its 20- year old star, Ellen Page."

Juno is a comedy/drama about a 16 year old girl who becomes pregnant and decides to put the baby up for adoption, but there is so much praise for the unique texture writer Diablo Cody brings into the film.

Juno is directed by 30-year old Jason Reitman who directed last year's Thank You For Smoking (a film which WAS hanging on in my top 10 of 2006, until The Lives of Others recently booted it off). If Juno is what critics are saying, than I'll be keeping my eye on Reitman, because the film terrain could use a little more intelligent comedy these days.

Ellen Page is certainly slipping into the right types of roles, and clearly has talent after her critical turn in last years Hard Candy, and playing an intense role in An American Crime, as well as an intense line up for 2008 (including Jack & Diane where Page will play a teenage lesbian alongside Olivia Thirlby, who also plays a supporting role in Juno, pictured above). Although more people will probably recognize her from X-Men 3 playing the part of Kitty Pryde.

With big name stars like Laura Linney, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Julie Christie, Jodie Foster, Halle Berry, Keira Knightley, Angelina Jolie, & Keri Russell all having a possiblity of a best actress nomination, could Page really creep in to the short list as Ebert predicts?

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Foreign into Fall: Part VII

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part VI can be read by click on the links. Here's my most recent Foreign Film's viewed for this series and have been selected from Edward Copeland's best of non-English film nomination list.

Viridiana (1961) directed by Luis Buñuel
(Mexico/Spain)
This Cannes winner unfold in an unusally disconnected way, almost in three different episodes with different principle characters and tones, yet the different episodes connect with a very powerful anti-idealism message.

The movie tells the story of nun who's mother superior request that she visits her elderly uncle and benefactor, despite the young nuns desire to go. After a series of the oddest events take place, the young pious nun, Viridiana, finds her self head of her uncle's house and leaving her trajectory as a nun. Yet, as she tries to do right and minister in a powerful way, she is faced with a disillousionment and disappointment that her ideals were unachievable.

The films message is so unique, that it's unflowing construction is worthwhile to overlook.

(France)
This very progressive story for pre-war WWII Europe was said to have set an outrage with many of the films many characters having multiple sexual partners, affairs, and past lovers. The aristocrates and the servants find themselves intermingling at a large event, where everyone's secret and past love interest come to light in a dangerous dramatic and comical way.

The film is enjoyable, yet at many times it seems like a stage play, rather than a motion picture in its dialogue, characters, and tone.

(Soviet Union)
The story in this film is not so original in the wide world of film, in that it is the story of a young woman who falls in love with a man shortly before WWII, and he dies at war while she remains hopeful that he is alive. Yet what made this film unique to me was the fact that it was a Russian story, not European or American, and that some of the film shots and editing were very unique and artful relative to other pictures I have seen.

There is a tremendous scene were bombs are going off overhead and the lead female refuses to leave the apartment, and one of the male leads plays piano amidst the warning sirens and flashing sounds and lights of the bombs. It was a wonderful scene.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Reel People: Emile Hirsch is Christopher McCandless

The film is Into The Wild, written and directed by Sean Penn, and based off the 1996 book also titled Into The Wild, written by Jon Krakauer.

Christopher McCandless, born 1968, grew up in Annadale, Virginia. He graduated from Emory University in 1990 with a degree in history and anthropology, and is remembered for shunning American-dream-consumeristic society, such as refusing his invitation to be a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

When he graduated he donated his savings ($24,000) to Oxfam International, an organization who's primary goal is to fight hunger and famine. Often using the name Alexander Supertramp, McCandless traveled throughout North America, at times securing jobs, and at other times living in isolation living off the land.

In April 1992, McCandless hitchhiked to Fairbanks Alaska were he lived for several months completely on his own, living off of the plants and animals in the region. While there he kept a journal and lived in an abandoned bus. From his journal, it appears he tried to leave the area but was trapped by a river that had grown wider after he had lived there for a few months.

McCandless was found dead in the bus in September of 1992 by two hikers and a group of hunters, with an SOS note on the bus door about needing help, being injured and sicked.

In the film Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt play the parents of Christopher. Other acting talent in the film includes Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, Hal Holbrook, and Jena Malone.

Will this biographical film earn young actor Emile Hirsch some critical awards attention this year for his portrayal of this Real (Reel) Person?

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Foreign into Fall: Part VI

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, & V can be read by click on the links. Here's my most recent Foreign Film's viewed for this series and have been selected from Edward Copeland's best of non-English film nomination list.

(France)
What a bizarre story of a bizarre love triangle. At first I it seemed like this was going to be an early Brokeback Mountain and the two male leads Jules and Jim were going to fall in love, but it certainly is not. Once Catherine enters the picture the sexual deviance of a manipulative woman who can't decide who she's in love with (Jules, Jim, or others), gets out of control as the overly passive Jules continues to live with his ex-wife and best friend when they get married. Talk about drama! It's a unique story, I loved how it was filmed and quickly narrated, the final ending is very cinemagical.

(France/Italy)
I loved this movie. It's like Armageddon, Speed, or Spielberg's Duel, and you haven't seen wages of Fear, then you're missing out. 4 down-and-out men in South America are selected to make a very dangerous nitroglycerine, which assuming they survive has the potential to be financially lucrative. After they are selected, and begin their journey in two different trucks, some of the most exciting and tense action scenes play out before your eyes.

This film was so unique from any film I've watched, the characterization, filming, and effects are incredibly realistic, making this a definite new favorite film.

(France)
Like Jules and Jim, another French love triangle movie. This time their isn't any weird marriages, but instead two guys try to con an English student into helping them steal money from an old man she lives with. Godard's story isn't all that magical, rather it's the style and tone that really stood out to me. There are some gimmicky moments in the film where the narrator's tone is very unique, and intercepts the story line.
There is an incredibly fun and memorable dancing scene in this film where the narrator describes what each is thinking. In 2005 this film was included on Time's list of top 100 movies of all time, to me it was not quiet that enchanting, rather more unique and original.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Come on Elmer, How About Some Edible Glue



What is wrong with Elmer's glue? Clearly a back to school staple, but what are they doing the other 11 months of the year when Walmart shoppers aren't stocking up on the many available sizes of "glue-all."

Berwind corporation recently bought out Elmer's Products Inc. (which was originally marketed by Borden Milk Products, the milk brand with Elsie the Cow as a mascot). And Berwind, it's time to start thinking edible glue.

I'm thinking your standard "Laffy Taffy" flavors (Banana, Sour Apple, Strawberry-Kiwi, etc.). You figure every kid is going to try eating the paste once in their life, make it taste good, and just maybe they'll come back for more glue mid-October to try a new flavor, or because they ate all their Cherry-Vanilla Glue in art and crafts?

Here's a fun video I found when I saw searching to see if edible glue already exist.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Things That Change Us

This past summer I did a post on the movies of Robin Williams and how life change will happen through interconnected relationships. I still believe that. But I also wanted to present an abridgement to that idea as shown in last years academy award winning The Lives of Others (winner of best foreign language film, from Germany).

In the film (spoiler alert) an East-German secret police man overseas surveillance over a dramatist in the years prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yet while this secret policeman, Wiesler, performs surveillance his very strong pro-GDR stance is weekend, largely by the power of art, music, and the written word.

This is a beautiful moving, and very deserving of all the praise it's received. And I believe in it's thesis that art can change us. The movie draws forth a Lenin quote saying, "If I had listened to Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata more, I might not have finished the Revolution." In this way, life imitates art in the film and over time someone who wants to protect the state interest, suddenly is willing to go against the state to protect something that he thinks is beautiful.

Is the idea that art can change us real or just a romantic notion?

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Foreign into Fall: Part V

Part I, Part II, Part III, & Part IV can be read by click on the links. Here's my most recent Foreign Film's viewed for this series and have been selected from Edward Copeland's best of non-English film nomination list.

In the Mood for Love (2000) directed by Kar Wai Wong
(Hong Kong)
In this film, two couples move rent rooms from next door apartments. Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan (Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung) each are left alone and become very lonely and form a unique bond as they deal with their belief that there spouses are having an affair.

The tone of the film reminded me of Lost in Translation, even in the sense that these two people want to do the right thing and remain faithful, even if there own spouses have abandoned them. The choices they make are very powerful and moving. This is an excellent film.

The Vanishing (1988) directed by George Sluizer
(Netherlands/France)
Definitly a thriller, but it's tone and resolve is different than most American thrillers. In this movie a man's girlfriend disappears at a gast station. Unlike, many films, this movie spends more time showing the kidnapper and his preperation more than the man searching for his missing girlfriend.

I felt like Sluizer did a good job creating the suspence, althought this was definitly the worst musical score of any movie I've seen in a long time.

Cinema Paradiso (1989) directed by Giuseppe Tornatore
(Italy)
Obviously a classic among film lovers. This movie tells the story of Salvatore as he grows up in a small Sicillian town, and his rebellious love for movies and a deep father-like relationship formed with Alfredo, the projectionist, at the Cinema Paradiso. The film follows the story of the power of the relationship between these two people and the Cinema in a powerful and moving way. I'm definitly glad I finally got a round to seeing this movie.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Award Season Anticipation

With 3:10 to Yuma coming out this weekend, I'm getting geared up for true award season anticipation. I know half these films are going to fall flat or bomb out, but assuming all goes well, here are the top 10 films and best bets that I hope are great in the final third of 2007.

10. Michael Clayton
9. Charlie Wilson's War
8. Sweeny Todd
7. Elizabeth: The Golden Age
6. 3:10 to Yuma
5. There Will Be Blood
4. Rendition
3. In the Valley of Elah
2. The Kite Runner
1. Atonement

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Foreign into Fall: Part IV

Part I, Part II & Part III can be read by click on the links. Here's my most recent Foreign Film's viewed for this series and have been selected from Edward Copeland's best of non-English film nomination list.

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
(West Germany)
In a touchingly intimate film, an older widow and Moroccan Arab have a chance meeting and learn that they can satisfy each others loneliness and need for compassion, yet at the same time must be ostracized by their various close communities, especially once they get married.


Although there was a couple turns in this film that I didn't particularly track with, I thought the character portrayals, especially that of Brigitte Mira playing the elderly Emmi was touching and real.


Seven Samurai (1956) directed by Akira Kurosawa
(Japan)
This very long movie was enjoyable, but very long (3.5 hours). Despite it's length, I enjoyed how it played out in chapters, with different stages in the story, from the recruitment of the Samurai, to the preparing in the village, to the battle with the bandits. I thought the level of production that went into this 1950s Japanese film was incredible, from sets and the staged fighting, to use of slow motion during fight scenes.


The message I saw in this film, especially with Kambei Shimada's final lines saying "Again we are defeated. The farmers have won. Not us." Is definitely a powerfully and partially uncomfortable unique message this film has, I would like to delve into this message further.

Eyes Without a Face (1962) directed by Georges Franju
(France)
If there was ever a horror movie worth redoing, especially with current film fascinations with torture, it would be this one. It has such a haunting style that is as engaging as many Alfred Hitchcock films. The story is about a surgeon and his assistant who kidnap young girls, remove their faces and tries to perform a successful face transplant on his own daughter, who otherwise wears a mask and is presumed dead to the world.

This film is engaging and his tremendous special effects and makeup, there were certainly points where I was squeamish and squealing as I watched it.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Animated Disney - Top 5

Recently I mentioned watching the French film The Beauty and the Beast (directed by Jean Cocteau).

It seems wrong to mention this French-language classic with out mentioning the American-animated Classic with the same name. Developing a top 5 of Disney feature length animated films (excluding Pixar) is a challenge because some of them certainly have some amazing technological achievement while others have amazing entertainment value, and others hold symbols of childhood based on when they were first experienced, etc.

Yet, it's not a challenge in the least to chose a #1 Animated Disney film for me, because it is clearly Beauty and the Beast. The story, the music, the tone of the film (both fun and serious), make it a standout in my opinion.

5. Tarzan
4. The Lion King
3. Fantasia
2. Jungle Book
1. Beauty and the Beast

What's your top 5?

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