Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Remaking: Cronenberg's The Brood....Really? Quit While You're Ahead.

I am really at a loss right now. How are these endeavors being financed? /Film reports that Crazies director, Breck Eisner, is in the talks to remake David Cronenberg's The Brood. Why are they even trying? This is totally having my faith in this industy, slip further. Cronenberg is a genius and cannot really be topped in my oppinion. Like how is anyone making Videodrome again...HOW? Or how bout Dead Ringers for that matter. Like give up before you start I say. How this is being approved for a remake is beyond me.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Vicious Kind

Went to a screening of The Vicious Kind this evening. You may have heard of this film more recently, since its been nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards. One for Best Screenplay for Lee Toland Krieger, and one for Best Male Lead for Adam Scott. However this film premiered at Sundance last year and, if I am not mistaken, has been making the rounds to numerous film festivals winning all of the awards it been nominated for. Woohoo!

Firstly I must applaud the screenplay because it is quite something. I believe this brand of subtle comedy comes about-properly-very seldom. It's that type of laughter that is generated hesitantly...if that makes sense. That type of laughter that surfaces so subtly within a dramatic text that your not quite sure if you should be laughing or not. Which, I believe, further emphasizes the authenticity and human quality to the film. In doing so, the film very much deserves the praise it's getting. However, in addition to this the acclaim is duly noted and also depends on the acting; mostly and importantly due to Adam Scott's performance.

There is a reason Scott is being nominated with the likes of Jeff Bridges and Colin Firth he's quite the revelation in this film. It was revealed, at the Q&A after the screening, that a large portion of Scott's little quips in the film that highlight and generated the type of laughter I spoke about above were improvisation on his part. This shows a true understanding, on Scott's part, of the material at hand and demonstrates his abilities overall. In the long run we'll be seeing a lot more of him to come, that's for sure. Also I must mention J.K. Simmons as an unsung hero here, he was great too, but not featured enough to have the opportunity to outshine Scott's performance.

I must commend the film all around as it just goes to show how an emerging filmmaker, with the right components--a very hard working team, great performances, a superb screenplay etc.--can achieve the appropriate praise it deserves. Bravo!

I very much recommend this film to all, as it demonstrates a type of cinema that is authentically human. A type of cinema that is scarce these days, and shouldn't be. Spread the words folks! This is how films like these get around town...with the moviegoing public's help! So spread it!

Happy moviegoing!

Side Note: One of the producers of the film wrote a contribution to the magazine I worked for, Moving Pictures, here is the link.

Again happy moviegoing!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Requeim For A Dream

Hoping to generate some type of discussion with my peers about it, I feel like this needs to be posted. Thing is I am at a loss on how to assess my verdict for the film (for this particular viewing) because I couldn't finish the last ten minutes. I fast forwarded through in addition to shielding my eyes. I have to confess that this reaction was mainly due to the snippets of Ellen Burstyn being electrocuted but that's besides the point. How does one assess or make final conclusions on a film that they couldn't see through? Normally I wouldn't think twice about it and merely pass it by. But the film is just too good to pass up a chance to talk about it.

I started the film and was amazed that this has slipped through the cracks in my years of continuous movie watching. The split screens, fish bowl lenses, the music, the score, cinematography. Holy shit the acting. Ellen Burstyn is absolutely amazing! She is a marvel unto herself. Scenes where there is split screen, stand out for me, like when Harry and Marion are right beside each other, just stunning. What's so impressive, in my book, is how each formal aspect of the film supports one another, they all play into each other, while simultaneously highlighting specifics where necessary. In addition I think, these formal features become a performance within it self. They further externalize either a state of mind or feeling, emphasizing the fragile or fractured state of mind each character may be in. I thought it was just impeccable!

But how to conclude? Questions arise obviously. Does this film still obtain it's potency when you don't finish it properly? Does it still carry the same legitimacy as a text when it makes an audience stop viewing it? Not sure. But I will say this...that this film is scary. Scary but fucken incredible. I recommend the viewing to anyone who want to see great quality within cinema. But with warning.

Happy moviegoing folks!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Finally Saw Inglorious Basterds

And let me just tell you....HOLY MOTHER OF MERCY.

I went to a screening of Inglorious Basterds hosted by Creative Screenwriting Magazine on Wednesday with a Q&A following the screening with Quentin himself. I've had a few days to process now so this is what I've concluded. Quentin Tarantino is becoming just more and more impressive. He's unreal.

I don't want to talk about how the movie is about movies and such. Although that could be a whole other post to itself. But I'd like to focus on formal features which make the film quite the piece. The opening scene is absolutely impeccable, it's pretty much flawless. The genius in screenwriting is highlighted best here. Obviously the screenplay is one of the best features of the film, but I don't expect less from Tarantino. The cinematography in this film is also once of its outstanding qualities. The scene when Shosanna gets dressed for the premiere with "Cat People" playing along, stunning. You can see here, merely from the photos posted, how gorgeous the film is shot.

Acting. Unfortunately I have to mention that I feel like Brad Pitt's character could have been played by merely anyone. Not that he wasn't enjoyable but he was merely there, and not present. Now Christoph Waltz on the other hand, he plays Col. Hans Landa(seen above), was perfection. I can't imagine anyone else there. I can't believe how present he was. It's just odd cause that thin silver line that differentiates those moments of good acting between great acting in a performance disappears here and he was just on the whole time. Fucken brilliant.

Hearing Quentin speak about his process after the screening revealed just how much he goes through to punch out a product like this. He types out ever page by hand on an old Smith Corona from the 80s. One finger at a time. Wow huh?! In addition he explained how the story came into being, morphed into an insane 12hour mini series, soap opera and then widdeled down and polished into the piece you can see today. Finally finished for a 153min running time because Luc Bresson made a comment on how Tarantino is the one of the directors that actually make him want to get up and go see a movie in the theater.

The learning experience it would be to have a chance to work on a film like this is unsurmountable in my brain. I can't even imagine at this point, he was swearing up a storm and could not stop fidgeting or staying still. Mayhem!

Either way I recommend this to anyone who likes Quentin's previous stuff, and for anyone who wants to see a damn great movie.

Happy moviegoing!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Nine! It's About Time I Write About It

So I have to say despite my hesitations about having any expectations for this film whatsoever I must say I am super excited for it already. Not only is one of my favorite actors playing my favorite director, but all of the released footage and photos look stunning. Here is the newly released trailer so you can see what I mean. I am really excited to see what Rob Marshal has cooked up now. He managed to make, the "unfilmmable" play, Chicago well. So I guess we shall see.
Happy moviegoing!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oh yes! How magic is this?

Tim Burton's TV spot for his exhibit at MOMA.

Treasure Found: Charlie Chaplin Footage Purchased for $5!!!

So this man, Morace Park, buys $5 can of film stock from an guy on ebay. What he ends up getting is all kinds of magic in my book. Footage of planes flying during World War I, some early stop animation and some outtakes of Chaplin films. WHAAAAAAA???? Can we say that's totally awesome! Forget the war footage, but animation and Chaplin from the early 1900s! Holy amazing. This would be the find of the century for me, aside from unseen Fellini footage. But wow! I'm excited for this guy, I am. Should be awesome. Hopefully they'll release some of it to the public. So we can all enjoy.

Happy moviegoing!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Look who's talking...Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

/Film just reported about Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Click here to see the post. Click here to see the post I did a while back about it. Looks like this thing is actually under way. I'm excited!

Happy moviegoing!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Steve Martin Co-Hosting the Oscars!...Umm Let Us Assess for a Second....

I heard it several times in the past few days that Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were set up to host this year's Academy Awards Ceremony. /Film confirms that yes Martin and Baldwin will co-host the Oscars. Now let's just asses for a second cause, despite my reservations about Alec Baldwin, I am super excited about Steve Martin and I think it will be awesome because of him. /Film says Steve's statement on the decision is: “I am happy to co-host the Oscars with my enemy Alec Baldwin.” This is why the show is going to magic! Can't wait!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mary and Max

This stuff just gets me going. I love it. From award winning director and writer of Harvey Krumpet, Adam Elliot, Mary and Max, tells the tale of two pen pals. Voiced by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Toni Collette, Mary and Max form an unlikely friendship from across the world. Max, a forty-four-year old, obese man, with Asperger Syndrome hailing from New York and Mary, an eight-year old living in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. The film is being praised for its "genuine celebration of the value of difference." It opened up the Sundance Film Festival. Being one of the only, if not the only, animation film to ever open the festival since it's beginning. I am super excited to see this and I don't think it can disappoint. Trailer is below. Enjoy! Happy moviegoing!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Le Samourai Remake??? Please No!

What the hell is going on here??? /film reports that John Woo wants to remake Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samouraï. My response is simply NO. Stop this nonsense. Think of something else.

For those of you who don't know, Le Samouraï (1967) is a film starring Alain Delon, in one of his most memorable roles, as a contract killer with the distinction and poise of a samurai warrior. I own this on criterion and its one of my favorites. Criterion describes the film quite perfectly as: "A razor-sharp cocktail of 1940s American gangster cinema and 1960s French pop culture..." It's too plain to say but this film is just cool. It's just too perfectly cool. Alain Delon defines a history of assassins on film in this feature and does so in a performance met by no other. And despite the comment below the film is gorgeous, subtle, simple, but gorgeous, without even trying, which makes it brilliant.

Let me give you some words from the director himself. Melville said about Le Samouraï: “I don’t want to situate my heroes in time; I don’t want the action of a film to be recognizable as something that happens in 1968. That’s why in Le samouraï, for example, the women aren’t wearing miniskirts, while the men are wearing hats—something, unfortunately, that no one does anymore. I’m not interested in realism. All my films hinge on the fantastic. I’m not a documentarian; a film is first and foremost a dream, and it’s absurd to copy life in an attempt to produce an exact re-creation of it. Transposition is more or less a reflex with me: I move from realism to fantasy without the spectator ever noticing.”

Now please tell me how Mr. Woo plans on achieving anything quite like this? Has he seen his own films? I think not. Either way I urge seasoned filmmakers to take the time to sit down, read something, or maybe even just stare at some nature, but please don't make films you cannot live up to. Let's leave em where they stood. You want to honor it and bring it to the new generation? Fine. But do it in another fashion. Re-release, or do a lil party to commemorate. You want it to inspire your work? Fine. Let it, enjoy, nothing is truly authentic anymore. But please don't think that you can take on the task of remaking something that cannot ever be duplicated. Don't do it. I hope this never transpires.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Proof that the field of animation is the most exciting and innovative mediums out there today. This is beyond impressive and I can't wait to watch it.

Happy Moviegoing!

Monday, October 5, 2009

John Woo's Red Cliff

All I can say to this is, simply, Tony Leung and Takeshi Kaneshiro.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Oh yes! You heard me correctly. Hansel and Gretel kicking witch ass. ImdbPro says this:

"Catching up with Hansel and Gretel 15 years after their incident involving a gingerbread house, the siblings have evolved into bounty hunters who hunt witches."

Paramount is backing this and Will Ferrel is listed as one of the producers. The director, Tommy Wirkola's, last film was about Nazi Zombies in the middle of a Student Ski Trip. Sounds like a good time to me.

So naturally I am kinda, really, excited about this. It'll most likely be an animated feature so there's lot running through my brain, resulting in just more excitement. Nonetheless this looks like this has the potential to be really awesome and I am intrigued to see how this goes. We'll see. Keep your eyes and ears open.

Happy moviegoing!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Spielberg to remake Harvey...really? are we doing this?

I'm sorry but this is crazy now. What does this mean we're going to go back and remake A Philadelphia Story too; Starring Hugh Jackman, Greg Kenner, and Lindsay Lohan? Steven we love you and all but jeeze man. I really hope that this is done with the utmost respect and precision and only honors the old one as opposed to changing anything about it. Please read my review on the original Harvey starring Jimmy Stewart. I hope you agree that this is not the best idea.

Two more weeks folks...

enough said...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Proposition

So after four years I've finally seen The Proposition. I've been meaning to see it for a while now, and I am ashamed to admit that it has taken this long. But I've finally seen it and it definitely delivered all that was anticipated. The director, John Hillcoat, has created, I think, one of the best movies about family I've ever seen. This film is not for the faint of heart, but it's definitely amazing. It deserves all the praise it was given and all the praise it receives further. The film aesthetic is so simple yet so intricate, it's a gorgeous piece. Everything is executed to a hill everything composed in a specific manner, colored specifically. You can feel the filth as everyone melts away in the Australian outback. Everyone is dirty in this movie, rightly so, but a dirt so black that you can feel it. Guy Pearce's transformation is one of sheer brilliance. This man can do no wrong in my book and I don't think he's given enough praise. He completely transforms himself each time he does a film, it's quite something to watch. Considering I posted a few weeks ago about The Hurt Locker. The fact that he does a very small part as an American soilder in that film and is a complete turn around here is just amazing to see. But the film stands alone, the characters are all equally complex, and only running 1hr44mins you think it would take longer to have characters develope like they do in the film. It's quite something to see. The screenplay is just so well done. The film begins with high energy and slows to a hilt, makes you wait, makes you anticipate, makes you wait real long, then the shit hits the fan. Like crazy. In the middle of an Austrailian christmas nonetheless. It's hard to decribe everything without giving it away, but the premise is this: Charlie Burns (Pearce), in exchange for the freedom of his younger brother Mike (Richard Wilson) is asked to kill his older brother Arthur (Danny Huston). Watch and support films like these folks it means a lot to getting the word out there and celebrating these artists accordingly. Hillcoat's newest cinematic endeavor The Road, starring Viggo Mortensen, looks to be just as good if not better. If you haven't heard about it, you will, but here's the trailer just in case.

Happy moviegoing!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lets just assess for a second....

Be excited. Be very excited...
Yes Jeff Bridges with a braid!
Yes Kevin Spacey is back!

This looks magic! Why I am only hearing about it now? Not sure, but I am glad I stumbled upon it nonetheless.

Happy moviegoing!

I couldn't even wait to post this.... Chris Nolan = GENIUS

Sunday, September 20, 2009

San Diego "Hot" News

So I wont usually do this, but I thought this was necessary considering the circumstances. I was in San Diego this weekend to enjoy a Killers concert and amidst the rendezvous of record shopping my roomie and I were informed of this...The San Diego Union Tribune, "Hot" News reads:

"Tony Curtis walked down Memory Lane here yesterday - in high heels. In a 50-year anniversary observance of the cross-dressing classic Some Like It Hot, filmed, in part, at the Hotel del Coronado, Curtis reminisced with reporters about wearing heels. The hardest part of walking in them, he said, was making sure one foot was firmly planted before the other was lifted. As for what it was like, in his role as Josephine, to have a bosom, Curtis quipped: "I couldn't see my wrist watch." He has returned to Hotel del Coronado this weekend for a series of commemorative events..."

Oh yes folks! Oh yes! Now I can't say I saw the glorious Curtis himself, but we definitely made a B line to the Hotel del Coronado and saw just how great this place is. Also there was a collection of paintings done by Curtis himself. Now I couldn't take pictures, but I managed to snap some on my phone so they are a bit blurry. If you notice in the corner Tony Curtis has signed all of them. Ahhhh! Oh yes ladies and gents, Tony Curtis, actor, author, and painter. In addition the Hotel was absoluetly stunning and if I could afford the $340.00 ticket I would have saw Curtis that night at his Q&A about him, his book, and the making of Some Like It Hot.

Happy Anniversary to one of the greatest movies of all time! AFI ranks this at the top of their list of best Comedies of the century. If this doesn't sway you to watch it, then how bout Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag. And if that doesn't sway you, how bout Marilyn Monroe singing, or Monroe herself. How bout one of the greatest writers Hollywood has ever seen? Wilder anyone?. Either way Billy Wilder is one of the greatest screenwriters/directors of all time. A good portion of his films are some of the most quoted in Hollywood history. His skills are key to creating some of the most memorable moments in American cinema history. "All right, Mr. Deville, I'm ready for my close-ip" anybody...anybody...? Oh yes folks, I cannot doubt that you wont be roaring with laughter from this film, it's so superbly executed and so well done. It's a gem!

Billy Wilder is a genius and if you haven't seen this film I suggest you do so straigth away...straigth away! Other examples of Wilder genius include but not limited to: Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd., Sabrina, The Seven Year Itch, and The Apartment.

Enjoy folks & happy moviegoing!

Some Michael Caine Anyone?...

Holy who's excited about this???
Michael Caine is 76. 76! This man is going to kick ass, and it's going to be great!

P.S. The films director, Daniel Barber, was nominated this past year at the Oscars for The Tonto Women. The film actually looks well executed. I am rather intrigued to see this film, despite the fact that Michael Caine is playing the protagonist.

Kisses & happy moviegoing!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mermaid (Rusalka) 2007

Though I've been meaning to write about this for some time now I feel that it's being posted just when needed. I watched Mermaid at the Palm Springs Film Festival. It was my first screening of the festival and it wasn't topped by any other. The film tells the tale of Alisa, a young girl coming of age in the big city, Moscow. She moves from a small coastal town at the edge of the world it seems with her mother and grandmother. And so begins her journey. I'm not gonna tell you much else beside this...Alisa is a very special person, she has the ability to make wishes come true.

Although I've read on several occasions that this film is "the Russian Amelie" I don't think it compares in the least. I believe the two films are much different from each other and cannot be compared as similar entities. So don't let that sway your perception of the film because it is a truly original piece.

The film is shot so beautifully and this is one of its strongest features. Within the walls of a gray city it's safe to say that to find such beauty, color and magic is quite a task and the director, Anna Melikyan, executes it so wonderfully and this show prominently in the films overall style. Not everything needs to sparkle to be filled with wonder and awe. And to achieve the pure sentiment of wonder and awe in Alisa's world shows just how masterful Melikyan is; she someone to look out for that's for sure. I think what best describes the personality of Alisa is this constant state of wonder and awe she's in throughout the film and it's her perspective that allows the audience to envelope themselves in this mind frame and enjoy everything as she does.

Although it's hard to get your hands on the film I shall leave you with a trailer; cause there are many. I think the films strengths ring true here. And it is made quite clear just how great this film is from this small taste . Enjoy!

Ps. Soundtrack is amazing. And if you are itching to watch it, which you should be, IFC has picked it up and it should be able to view on the IFC. If I am not mistaken its also still running along the festival circuit think it just played at Telluride so it might be closer than you think. Happy hunting! Spread the word and enjoy!

Holy Shit...Lars Von Trier's Antichrist

I think the trailer speaks for itself, this is going to be really really good. Looks superbly executed. This is the only contemporary horror film I have been excited to see in quite a while. Take a look and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Hurt Locker

Rather than explain the tardiness of this post I shall say only a few words. If you haven't seen this film already I suggest you get off your couch and watch it straight away. One of the best movies I've seen all summer. Absolutely amazing. Had me on the edge of my seat, literally, the whole time. Movie was amazingly executed by Kathryn Bigelow, who her keeps proving how amazing she is time and time again. A tour de force of outstanding performances by Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty. With a peppering of spledid appearances by the likes of Ralph Fiennes, David Morse, and Guy Pearce. I am adding this hyperlink to Moving Pictures Magazines video interviews with the main cast, director, and writer, Mark Boal. It just goes to show how amazing this feature is because of how proud the cast is even to be apart of it in a small capacity. Take a look and enjoy!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

There is a holiness to the hearts affection…

Oh Jane Campion…what a marvel this women is. Her newest cinematic release, Bright Star, which premiered in May at the Cannes Film Festival and is slated for limited release for September 2009, looks absolutely stunning. This film follows a three-year romance between John Keats and Fanny Brawne. The synopsis, written by Campion which appears in a most amazing website for the film says this:

“London 1818; a secret love affair begins between 23 year old English poet, John Keat, and the girl nest door, Fanny Brawne, an out spoken student of high fashion.
This unlikely pair began at odds, he thinking her a stylish minx, while she was unimpressed not only his poetry but also by literature in general.
However, when Fanny heard that Keats was nursing his seriously ill younger brother, her efforts to help touched Keats and when she asked him to teach her about poetry he agreed. The poetry soon became a romantic remedy that worked not only to sort their differences but also to fuel an impassioned love affair.
When Fanny’s alarmed mother and Keats’ best friends finally awoke to their attachment the relationship already had an unstoppable momentum. Intensely and helplessly absorbed in each other, the young lovers were swept deeply into powerful new sensations, “ I have the feeling as if I were dissolving,” Keat wrote to her. Together they rode a wave of romantic obsession that only deepened as their troubles mounted.
When Keats fell ill a year later, the two young lovers faced not marriage but separation. In Keats’s own poignant words “forever panting and forever young.” ”

How beautiful; Campion wrote the screenplay at which the title of this post belongs to. Watch the trailer below. There is no way anyone should miss this.

Keep an Eye Out For...

Tron Legacy (2011)

Hold the gasps, but this might actually be a pretty awesome remake. This trailer is proof that this one will surely be aesthetically pleasing. Despite that I am the first to opt for less remakes, sequels and prequels I must say I am rather impressed by this trailer and am quite excited for this to come out. Writer Sam Lanckton wrote an article for Moving Pictures Magazine called "Revenge of the 80s" you should check it out. Hopefully it might help you make up your mind about your feelings on the upcoming remakes slated for the next few years(which incidentally hail from the 80s for the most part). All in all Tron Legacy looks pretty cool and I want to see it based purely on this trailer above...and some zen Jeff Bridges ever now and again isn't gonna hurt anyone either. ;)
Live long, prosper, and keep movie-going!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Can We Please Get Excited for This...ASAP

Wes Anderson's The Fantastic Mr. Fox
adapted from Roald Dahl novel of the same name.

Friday, June 5, 2009

New Hayao Miyazaki! Ponyo Coming Out Soon.

New Hayao Miyazaki! Based upon the Hans Christian Andersen favorite The Little Mermaid. Miyazaki brings to you, again, something like we've never seen. Disney ain't got noting on Mr. Miyazaki. Watch the trailer here. The video is in Italian but it's the best quality I could find. I'm super stoked for it. Hope you are too!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Le Notte di Cabiria

Per l’amore di Dio. Fellini does this to me every time; every single time. He’s proven to me again why he’ll forever be my favorite director.

So I haven’t posted in a while and I thought to myself which film should I watch to review for the blog after almost two months absence? What would prove to be so emotionally bountiful that it would have me writing for an entire afternoon? Eureka! Fellini I tell myself. Put some Fellini on. Since I have collected a plethora of used Criterion Collection Fellini picks I put one of them on. One I haven’t seen. Le Notte Di Cabiria.

Unsure of it’s premise—as I refused to read the backs of DVD’s anymore—it begins. My notes for the beginning of this film consist of, mentioning the music as it’s pure Nino Rota magic. *Side note: Something needs to be written about the collaboration with these two men because it’s one of legend. Anyways, back to my notes on Cabiria. So I mention the music, Gieulietta Masina’s height (as she’s ever so tiny and lovely I might add), her eyebrows, which are a marvel unto themselves in this film, and small aesthetic things, like the lighting, the compositions, and such(which I’ve added pictures for as examples of how brilliantly this is executed). But really by the forty-minute mark, I wasn’t quite sure if I had picked the emotional opus I was hoping for. Let me say one thing, and this is why I never walk out of movies, this impatience I had throughout the whole film ended up kicking my ass into a blubbering fool by the end. I was in ruins by the end of this film, crying and sobbing like a child. Giulietta Masina is phenomenal and she will melt your heart with one look. Really her and Fellini, (and I’ll repeat it) had me in ruins by the end of the movie.

I just realized that this is the first Fellini movie I’ve written about since I started this blog. I don’t think I am out of line to say that this movie is remarkable and I can see why it is considered one of Fellini’s very best. It's a black and white marvel. If you have the chance to go out and watch this film please do. It will definitely leave you a bit shaken. Watch it and make up your own mind. One thing is for sure though, there nothing else out there like it. And above all else what better reason should one have to watch movies than that?

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Just watched Milk. Despite what I’ve heard about it-that it’s more of a character study than a feature film-I just watched Milk. I just watched Milk and I don’t even know what to do with myself.

Unfortunately I was hesitant to watch this film cause I was afraid it would be boring, however I was proved very wrong. Sure this film, in terms of basic form and style, is not one of the best but what I can assure you is that it goes beyond this because of the time it was released and what it represents to the public today. Was Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song a “good film” maybe not but it was important and pertinent for the time it was released and what it represented to its public. Yes. With an incredible script, and an outstanding cast, which shows superb acting from some of our prime veterans to some of our young and brightest, Milk for me is exceptional. As a film lover and scholar, Milk presents another example of a film that is significant and will be spoken about for years to come because of—very importantly—it’s timing.

Right now we are in a period of unrest. Sadly on November 5th 2008 millions of people voted YES for Prop 8 in California, they said YES to bigotry, YES to discrimination and YES to second-class status for same-sex couples. What difference does Prop 8 have in comparison to Prop 6 that Harvey Milk was fighting? Everyone deserves the same rights and the fact that Prop 8 passed is sickening!

On there is a quote from activist and writer Anne Lamott, she says “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” Milk will be a representation and message of what some of the film community was trying to say about Gay rights during this period. It’s message is a hopeful one. A reminder saying never to give up, never give up, because if you never give up you’ll never fail and things will get better. No matter who’s eyes are watching we are all created equal. It’s quite simple, don’t be small and closed minded. Don’t support bigotry and discrimination. We all deserve the same rights.

Monday, February 16, 2009


There are few films that make me sick to my stomach; Matteo Garrone’s Gomorra has now been added to that list. However it’s brilliant. Italian film like I’ve never seen it before. Based on the non-fiction book by the same name the film looks at the Camorra, the biggest mafia syndicates in Napoli, Italy. Gamorra won the Palm d’Or at Cannes this past year and was nominated at the Golden Globes for best foreign language film this past month.

What I want to talk about most in regards of this film is its place within the realm of Italy’s social problem cinema. This film is the mafia movie like I’ve never seen it before. I don’t know why but when I walked into this movie I expected something a little more satirical. I guess I am used to the cinema of Italy dealing with issues like poverty, war and such with that little comedic smirk. But once Gomorra began I realized that there wasn’t even a smudge of comedy, as the film is just brutal. Bearing all of Napoli’s dirty laundry out to dry is an understatement. Despite all the drugs, murder, deceit, and hate displayed in this film, for me, it’s heartbreaking for one big reason. The reason is when Garrone shows Don Ciro a financial associate to the Camorra walking away from a gun slaughter—maybe about 200ft—then pulls the camera back to show just how close all this is happening to the main highway, and the rest of Italy. Throughout the film you think this is the slum, these people are secluded, away from all the rest of Napoli, but there not. This is happening in Italy’s backyard and it’s being tolerated, and left alone. This is what is sickening and this is what makes this film a progression for the social problem film in Italy. It creates a new vein of films that aren’t afraid to show—in brutal bloody honesty—just what is going on. It sucks that Gamorra wasn’t nominated for the foreign language category for the Oscars. But in spite of it making me sickly, I highly commend and recommend this film; it's a must see for any lover of Italian cinema.

Monday, January 26, 2009


This film was an absolute delight to view and I am glad I made time for it, cause I almost missed the screening. In any case this is a "just 'cause" film. There is no striking revelation; there is no deep seeded message. The film just exists as life, memory, and experience has created it. This film didn’t profoundly move me but I was touched by it’s honesty. O’Horten’s writer/director Bent Hamer brings us an enchanting old man, Odd Horten. Odd is a train conductor and on the eve of his retirement he goes through a series of, what one could only expect, unusual, out of character experiences.

The film is set in Norway, in the dead of winter, and the score and music generate this otherworldly wonderland of snow, trains and childhood. As children play with train sets, Odd and his co-workers play guess what train with audiotapes. There is this beautiful sense of coming of age to this film which was quite unexpected, since the film has a sixty-seven year-old as it’s protagonist. But Odd is breaking apart from certain sets of codes and conduct he has come to understand, accept and have regulate his life. However he's experiences aren't subversive or inappropriate, Odd is just a man, and we’re just bearing witness to this life-changing event, as he is growing up.

It’s Norway in the dead of winter and there is Odd and this burning flame of liberty and independence. For Hamer to have a sixty-seven-year-old ignite, in a twenty-two-year-old, a sense of liberation is something I just can’t help but applaud. This is a true coming of age film. Odd is almost analogous to Alise (pronounced Aleesa & picture below) from Mermaid which I also watched at the Palm Springs Film Festival that you will read about soon. But Alise is eighteen and Odd is sixty-seven; so what this film accomplishes is remarkable. Overall Hamer has created a charming, and captivating film revolving around (I believe at least) a simple question; do we ever stop growing up? If you asked Odd Horten or me, we would have to say no, we never do.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Public Service Announcement

If your curiosity is peaked (even in the smallest degree) by any of the films that I will post about in the coming weeks please take the time to find a way to watch them. It’s a shame that so many extraordinary films are left unseen by a number of the film going population. As people give up on seeing them because they’re foreign or not playing in the most obscure theatres in their city, many of these film go unnoticed. Make a legitimate effort to watch these films or get other people to watch them, or hear about them because that's how we can spread the word and celebrate them. So many remarkable films go unacknowledged because they don’t get circulated enough. I believe if more time is taken to watching movies like these and making a viable effort to spreading the word about them they will get the recognition they deserve. Please make the time to go watch movies; movies that you cannot find at your local Blockbuster Video Store.

Your Cinephile at Arms,
Amanda Ondretti

Friday, January 16, 2009

Palm Springs International Film Festival

So this past weekend I went to the Palms Springs International Film Festival courtesy of my recent employers, Moving Pictures Magazine. As a sponsor of the festival, Moving Pictures Magazine was offered in the filmmakers lounge at festival events but wasn’t participating in any interviewing for the festival. So I was there to observe and enjoy the spectacular array of global cinema the festival prides itself on celebrating. I saw a total of fourteen films in three days and only two of those titles were in the English language. So aray of global cinema...check!

The drive down to Palm Springs was nothing short of spectacular. You’ve never seen the desert until you’ve seen it at night. There was this enchantingly eerie field of larger than life windmills on the drive down. Eerie because it bore a striking resemblance to a location in one of the defining films of my childhood, Mac & Me. Otherwise once in Palm Springs your surprised at how a small and synthetic it seems. I was thinking of Blazing Saddles the whole time and just waiting for some of the buildings to blow over like cardboard.

The average age of the inhabitants of this town is about Sixty-eight. I can’t help but be skeptical about the elderly because most of the ones I know in my life, coming from small towns in Italy, are rather narrow-minded and don’t care to know much else about the world around them then what they already know. But the folk in this town, well some live up to the stereotype I’ve just reiterated, but the ones that I had the pleasure of speaking with were rather delightful and refreshing. Despite all this I still couldn’t help but get the film Cocoon out of my head. (Click the photo to see Governor Schwarzenegger’s address to the festival)

Over the next few weeks I will post my reactionary revelations about five of my favorite films that I saw at the festival. Hope that if I can achieve anything, you are intrigued enough to look into the films and hopefully watch them. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stay Tuned

Please stay tuned for my posts about the Palm Springs International Film Festival and some of the amazing films I saw there this past weekend!

Elderly Man: Where's Harvey? Jimmy Stewart: Harvey has a cold and is back at home.

At the request of a dear friend, Ms. Shaw, for more reviews I am taking this one out of the wood works. I watched Harvey a while ago and kept it in my notebook for this precise purpose. I will focus on Jimmy Stewart’s character, Elwood P. Dowd, and just my reaction to him in general.

Stewart has an introduction before the film begins where he informs the viewer about his time working on Harvey and his experiences with the processes from stage to screen. As Harvey was a stage play before it was a film, Jimmy had the pleasure of playing Elwood P. Dowd on both mediums. He said that once he was doing a matinee show and there was little boy in the first few rows and as the play progressed he watched the child grow increasingly antsy. By the middle of the second act the child stood up from his seat and yelled at Jimmy, “Where’s the rabbit?” When I heard Jimmy saying this I was slightly baffled about why people wouldn’t just accept that Harvey existed as long as he exists for Elwood P. Dowd. But to my surprise I found out that more then one person feel this way about Harvey and get frustrated as they can’t get their heads around that you can’t see the rabbit throughout the whole film.

Now I’ve never had an imaginary friend, although I know people who have, mostly as children but have had one nonetheless. And I what I can’t get my head around is just why people wont tolerate this occurrence in someone’s personality. Now my tune my change if I had to deal with it directly, I am sure, but for now I will just entertain this idea as a third party. If I would be dealing with Elwood P. Dowd, not as character in a film but as one in my life I would be confused as to why anyone would want to rob him of something that makes him as pleasant as he is. Elwood P. Dowd is one of the most genuinely nice characters I’ve ever encountered in cinema and I think this should be measured against him as a person not the fact he has a imaginary friend.

Aside from this Jimmy Stewart is just a gem per usual. It’s stunning how well this man can charm the viewer even when playing a thirty-year old plus man with an imaginary seven foot rabbit for a friend. It’s incredible that despite the babbling man most people parody Stewart for, he has a bumbling magnificence that not one actor can duplicate in cinemas history and this is demonstrated in Harvey. This film was just a joy to watch and if you are a long time fan of Stewart or just getting to know him this film satisfies fully.