Sunday, January 31, 2010

History is in the Making! Kathryn Bigelow Wins DGAs Top Honor!

Happy sunday! Kathryn Bigelow, director of The Hurt Locker won DGAs top honor yesterday. Being the first women to take this award home EVER! She's been winning everything except the Globe (but the foreign press is blah). She is the front runner for the Oscar because of this. She is making history here. So excited! Bravo Kathryn Bigelow! BRAVO!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sita Sings the Blues

I've been meaning to see this film since I first heard about it when I was working at the magazine. Then I saw a post on it in Roger Ebert's Journal. As I searched for it on the World Wide Web with no luck, a sparkle of magic happened just recently when my wondrous cousin Jenna somehow found a full version of it on YouTube. So my search was over and I finally got to see it.

WOW. When Ebert says I was enchanted and swept away, I didn't realized just how much I would be too. The best description I've seen so far is the one the Hollywood Report gave. It says:

Being dumped has longed served as a catalyst for artistic inspiration, but rarely has a dumpee turned their heartbreak into an end result as charming as "Sita Sings the Blues." This low-budget animated film was written, directed, animated and edited by Nina Paley, who proves that an army of technicians isn't necessary to produce something as terrific as anything by Pixar.

So trust me it is as wonderful as it's sounding. This film wont disappoint, and if it does then I am sorry but your heart is stone. Nina Paley is a marvel. This film is a revelation.  How Paley did so much all on her own with such a wonderful end result without the intervention of the money bags in Hollywood is just something to revel in. Bravo!

So as the Hollywood Reporter has alluded to the inspiration for the film comes from a break-up. So we see the story of the Ramayana-the love, marriage and break-up of the god Rama and his first wife Sita-and, one can only assume, Plaey's own break-up played along side each other throughout the film, with the focus staying mainly on India with Rama and Sita. The wonderful part about this touching break-up story is when Sita sings her blues, it is to 20s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw. It's stunning to say the least. All the different forms and types of animation that are used in this feature is just amazing, you can't imagine what you'll see. I am going to let the film speak for itself (you can watch it here) and I can't stress how much you should watch it. However, I am going to post a bunch of pictures here so you can get a sense of just why I and so many others are so amazed by this film.

Nina Paley will be someone to watch out for, for sure! I hope that when you do get a chance to watch this, you love it as much as I did.

Happy moviegoing!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Spike Jonze, you're amazing...

This is why Spike Jonze is one of the most amazing contemporary directors working today. I don't think I don't LOVE anything he has done. Just amazing. Take a look at the trailer for his new short film I'm Here, below. It's a robot love story or "a love story in an absolut world". The website alone is amazing Sign up online to make sure to be the first to see it. Cause it's only being shown on the website. I'm beyond words for the most part. I just can't believe he doesn't get the praise he should.

In addition why has Where the Wild Things Are been completely over looked this award season? It's was clearly one of the best films of the year. Overrated recycled FernGully crap like Avatar being praised the way it is it better have bloody blue people and sparkly plants! But I guess the best filmmakers really never get the "awards". Too bad. I can't wait to see this though! Cannot wait!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


So I was having a heated - ya I would say heated - discussion with a friend about originality and remakes via chatting about the legitimacy of Scorsese's The Departed this morning. I would say both this friend and I are fans of the original Infernal Affairs then The Departed. But I was trying to  argue that The Departed as a remake is good considering some of the crap that is being produced today. In addition we got into it about Scorsese's filmmaking in general as this friend considers his work to have "dwindled" since Raging Bull. Now I don't want to get into how we disagreed, however I would like to discuss a deeper issue that this conversation brought up.

The concerns deal with originality and with it, authenticity. Firstly this brought to mind a quote that Jim Jarmusch said about authenticity. He states:

"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. if you do this, you work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity  is invaluable; originality if non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to."

How could anyone say it better then this?

I completely agree. I think that having the ability to honor and commemorate, in any which way you can, the things that inspire and fuel your imagination, and further more you soul, is a great thing. Sometimes I don't think it needs to be done by remaking a film, like let's not have someone remake Gone with the Wind, it just should not happen. Even though in the end source material should not matter,  it does. So to remake a contemporary film like Infernal Affairs (or Cache, which I wrote about yesterday) which went under the radar in America (like most great international films do these days) in order for people to discover the original isn't as much as a crime as some might think.

In my very first post on this blog I quoted one of my dear film professors saying: “More than simply a medium, film was one of the central social forces of the 20th century, and may be for this one as well. Film…gives us a rich language for discussing and describing the world.” If a remake, and I can't believe I am saying this, even a bad one(to some extent), outspokenly tells the world where its inspiration is based on and subsequently allows this to shed even a little light on its original source then I think this is good thing. This allows us to see how different parts of the world interpret the same story. Would we ever have the Kurosawa masterpiece Ran if it wasn't for Shakespeare's King Lear, and those two pieces are worlds apart. But nothing is really original these days is it? Everything either is adapted from a novel, short story, or other film, short film, anything. The point is to experience and discover new places and things, learn how others deal with and understand the world around them. I think this is something commendable.

Hope you agree even slightly.

Happy moviegoing!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Scorsese to Remake Caché

Roger Ebert's Journal reported today that Martin Scorsese is going to remake Michael Haneke's Caché. The original film premiered at Cannes film festival in 2005. It stars Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche and is about how a family deals with recieving numerous videos of their home being taped for hours on end from across the street. The mysteries ensue. If you haven't seen it STOP, drop what your doing and go rent it, put it on your netflix queue, or whatever it is you do to access films these days, the point is just watch it. I had heard about this film when it came out but never really got the chance to watch it until a my Postmodern Film class in 2007. What was great about watching it in that class first was the forum structure the class took to discussing it. Which was great to understanding just how "Cache" resists any simple solution, like Ebert states. Everyone in the class had their own take on the story, what the solution was, and how it all happened and transpired. Yet as Haneke says, "No matter what you come up with, there's a flaw. And yet nothing in this film is impossible. These are the people, it happened to them. These are the events, they took place. No explanation is satisfactory." This film is shot so simply and is just gorgoues. The performances are stellar; Julliette is amazing as usual. However as Ebert says "Scorsese has his work cut out for him in making this film." If you haven't seen it, watch it and you'll understand why he has his work cut out for him, but I think if anyone can rise to the occasion it surely is Marty.

I'm excited to see how it turns out.

Happy moviegoing!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Zemeckis To Remake Yellow Submarine = I Just a good way.

/Film reports that Zemeckis has now found his vocal cast for his remake of Yellow Submarine. They are as follows: Cary Elwes as George Harrison, Dean Lennox Kelly as John Lennon, Peter Serafinowicz as Paul McCartney and Adam Campbell as Ringo Starr. Now I am kinda ashamed to say this is the first I am hearing about this project. And with all the recent posts I've been doing about crazy remake endeavors, I am pleased to post this one. This is the first remake news I've heard that I'm excited about since I heard and saw the trailer for Tron Legacy. Zemeckis is magic and he's been working in the main stream animated field since The Polar Express so I am super excited about this. /Film also says that despite the new story Zemeckis is rotoscoping in CGI over the films original animation and using mocap to have the Beatles movements be more realistic. Like wow! I super super excited to see what turns out!

Monday, January 4, 2010


So I've watched it. Finally. My conclusions? It's good. Not great. But good.

I don't mean any disrespect to the original source or it's creators, but I feel like the stage version, is a parody then homage to an artist, which I had hoped when I was an eager film student waiting for the curtain to roll back to begin watching the musical long ago. When something becomes mere attack then it's power deflates in my opinion and becomes less potent over time. The film though decides to try to make an homage and yet makes a continuous barrage of insult to the great maestro, by being chinzy and a deflated version of anything close to what Fellini could have created.

There are just too many frames that I noticed that are taken specifically from a film that I've seen of Fellini's. What is this a remake? I am sure there are even more from the films I haven't seen. The film still doesn't show the protagonist, Guido Contini, in a flattering light, not at all. Bad people can make great art this is true but what is the point of all this? Why are we being told this. Try and maybe be less accusatory and more understanding as a piece of art, and then maybe we will get somewhere. I'm not saying we have to praise praise praise but it's nice to be a little more objective in are understanding of things then ignorant.

Performance must be spoken about. I think the female cast is gorgeous. They're placed quite well from Sophia Loren down to Fergie (I wasn't as bothered by her as much I thought I would be, she's not bad). Judi Dench is marvelous as usual, and Marion Cotillard, who is superb, will join her as my favorites of the film. They're musical numbers are some of my favorite. Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz are great but just kinda there. Plus Cruz's performance just reminds me too much of Vicky Christina Barcelona to have her stand out enough. Kate Hudson is a token of decoration at best. Daniel Day Lewis though, I have to regrettably say, is in this film in my least favorite performance of his to date . He is beautiful, powerful and has that suffocating artist manner down, which saves him. But what ruins it for me is the accent. He just didn't get it. It was really not right actually, and it hinders the overall performance more then I would have thought.

I do hope you go out and see it still. Maybe you might feel the same as I. Maybe not. Despite whether you agree with me or not the film is not really bad. I don't think anyone can deny or not appreciate the mere mechanics of turning this original stage musical into what you'll see in theaters today. Bravo to that. However it falls short and it shows too much. Marshall did dedicated the film to the memory of Anthony Minghella, who co-wrote the screenplay, so that's always a bonus point in my book.

Happy moviegoing!