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Thoughts and reviews and other notable items.

 ♥ hated it . ♥♥ 'sok . ♥♥♥ liked it . ♥♥♥♥ loved it . ♥♥♥♥♥ will force you to watch it

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Tuesday
Mar152011

True Grit

♥♥♥♥

Let it be known, that this was the movie that got be back on the Coen Brothers in a big way. After No Country (which I also loved) and A Serious Man (which I didn't), I was all worried that the brothers were starting to take things too seriously. Sure, Burn After Reading happened as well, but that was kind of not very good, so I'm going to pretend that didn't happen.

I haven't seen the original, so I'm just going to judge this as its own entity. Hailee Steinfeld really was somethin' fierce in this. She is literally in every scene, and she held it together intelligently. It would be so easy for her character to grind on the nerves of the audience, but she, I liked. She's got spunk, which is the whole point, but I love her for it. Jeff Bridges was strong and great in all his exulting Jeff Bridgyness. Matt Damon, was, hilarious. I love it when he's doing dim witted characters.

It had a great sense of humour, not as silly as your Coen Bros of yore, but it was a good balance of laughs with the touching. This was very touching, I was invested in the characters almost immediately upon meeting them. That long, sentimental horseride scene under the stars I could've done without, but these are small gripes. The ending is kind of abrupt, but I kind of like it that way. If you think about it, what happened after really isn't important as what actually happened that makes you care about how they ended up. It's like the end of the Harry Potter books. I mean, she had to, but reading about Harry and Ginny with a family almost ruins the entire series, right? Right?

Tuesday
Mar152011

Enter The Void

I'm not sure how even to begin reviewing this. And, as you can see, I'm not quite sure what to rate it either. It needs to be rated on its own scale, I think.

I definitely think it's worth seeing. I'm glad that I saw it. If only I could do that, without actually sitting through it.

To sit through all of it is kind of the point of it. And infact, if you can find the uncut version that's shown everywhere else but America, the better.

Only one word of advice, don't sit in the front row.

Tuesday
Mar152011

Animal Kingdom

♥♥♥1/2

It's been three months since I've seen this, so the memories are fast fading. That alone should tell you something about this film.

I would like, for once, for an acclaimed Australian film to come out that's not about gangs and drugs and crime and/or subject matter that needs to be filmed in that dark, sickly greens/blues colour palette that I've come to associate with Australian films. We do have stories that are outside of this genre, I swear!

That being said, this is a fine piece of filmmaking. It paints a lot of affecting still images, the action of the script is paced well, and the characters are interesting and it has a lot of very good actors in it. Problems: the goddamn pauses. Used sparingly, it could have been a very effective tool, but the way this film used it, punctuating the action makes it seem like a photo story, which is in itself not a bad thing, but I felt it broke up the story too much. There's even a few shots that were completely wtf moments where it had nothing to do with either the atmosphere, or the plot.

Jacki Weaver was nominated for an oscar for this performance. On the one hand, good for her, she gets to put on a pretty dress and walk down the red carpet for a night. On the other, this was not that exceptional a performance. The character is delicious and she gets to say and do all these creepy fantastic things, and she was just the right amount of creepy and fantastic in it, so it's really the writing thats getting the nomination here. James Frecheville played the teenage protagonist, as a gorrila. I understand that it's the character choice, but I would've liked him to respond in more than monotone, monosyllabic grunts. Barring one emotional moment, he was impassive and difficult to connect with. Listening to an interview, it turns out that was a directorial choice, the young man is actually quite eloquent and expressive.

I last saw Joel Edgerton as Stanley in the STC production of Streetcar when they came to BAM last year. He surprisingly held the part quite well. He was likewise brutish and lovable in this, being the only member of the family that is not deplorable. Which brings me to Ben Mendelsohn, who was really quite fantastic in his usual Ben Mendelsohn kind of way. I felt my body tensing whenever his presence was felt, scary stuff. Guy Pearce as a straight guy is really sweet and conventional. He seems like he would be a good cop, that sort of thing. Not much else to say about him really.

I enjoyed sequences of this film a lot, actually, with a bit more cutting so that the direction gets out of the way of the story, this would really be something that I would remember more of, three months on.

Tuesday
Feb152011

Huluplus Criterion

I have about 5 reviews to write. I'm saving them for a rainy weekend when I don't have houseguests or a million things to memorise and rehearse. But this is a quick news update on something that could potentially be exciting for people.

Huluplus has now secured rights to stream contents from Criterion's extensive digital library. At the moment there are 147 titles currently available, the bad news is most of them are currently on netflix instant play. But they are promising to be adding up to 700 more titles so this is a space to watch.

I have gone through the list and here are what I (in my own narrow, humble knowledge) find to be the notable ones that are not on netflix.

All of Chaplin's major titles, including; "The Kid", "Modern Times", "City Lights", and "The Great Dictator".

Luis Buñuel's "The Extermanating Angel".

the 1958 cult favourite "The Blob"

Agnes Varda's debut "La Pointe Courte"

Roberto Rossellini's "Rome, Open City"

William Klein's "Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?"

Tuesday
Jan112011

Blue Valentine

♥♥♥♥♥

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UPDATE: since this is my favourite film of 2010, I wanted to bump this up.

Original review below

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Heartbreaking, bittersweet, and a whole lot of other words in that oeuvre. It's a film about the fight for love and the fight of love, and the senselessness of it all.

"Nobody baby but you and me"

It helps that the tagline of this film is also one of my favourite romantic notions. And it lives up to it, the entirety of the film is carried by its two lead actors. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are easily two of our best young working actors today. Both have churned out performance after solid performance in interesting projects (if you haven't yet seen Half Nelson, do yourself a favour and rent it.) To be perfectly honest with you I was predisposed to love this, simply because these two actors both make compelling choices. After I heard that the actors had to live in a house with their on screen daughter for a sustained period of time as a sort of real life rehearsal, and then seeing the trailer, it already had my heart. Oh, did I mention that Grizzly Bear scored it?

Oh yeah, it's sweet as all hell. They had amazing chemistry, probably due to the living together. Not amazing fiery sexual chemistry, but the calm, familiar, I've always loved you kind. The shots were stunning. No, you don't get it, the images it composed were agonisingly beautiful. It never once dips into the saccharin or sentimental, opting rather for what certainly played like truth, which can still be pretty damn sweet, if not sometimes a little brutal. There isn't very much to give away; the two people's marriage ravaged by reality is juxtaposed with the passionate beginnings. Does it make me want to start relationships repeatedly and aborting ship once the initial phase fizzles? Perhaps a little.

As heavy as it can be, the film always fights on the side of love, and it's the struggle that makes it painful and beautiful. It makes you crave love, crave life, it makes you want to grab hold of someone and swallow them whole.