Lars Von Trier's Apocalyptic vision



I'm a big fan of Lars Von Trier's movies. He's always come across to me as being poetically disturbed, from Breaking The Waves to Dancer In The Dark here's a fearless filmmaker that isn't afraid to push the envelope and make you feel uncomfortable. His latest is no exception, it's called Melancholia and is split into two parts - both completely different in tone and color. It's no surprise too that Von Trier made this film -just like 2009's Antichrist, while going through a sever depression.

The opening credits are stunning, showing a world come to an end via slow motion, painterly photographs and a wagnerian score that continually repeats throughout fractions of the film. These incredible images set the tone for part 2 but let's start with the beginning. The first part is a wedding between two newly weds. In fact it's a train wreck of a wedding. Everything bad that could happen happens. Kirsten Dunst's Justine is the bride and she coincidentally is also going through a severe depression. Why would the groom get married with a severely depressed -and deranged?- woman is beyond me but it's truly interesting and funny how Von Trier mocks his characters, with his audience also knowing that everybody on screen will eventually die.

In a stirringly bizarre scene, Justine leaves her wedding to stare at the stars and there appears glowing shapes of light ala The Tree Of Life on screen. Is it all happening in her head or is Justine seeing things beyond everybody else's comprehension. Later on in the movie she tells her sister "I see things" it's a clue for us to wonder if she actually went through this depression knowing an apocalypse is coming before everyone else did. In the aforementioned credits Justine is seen with lighting bolts eviscerating through her fingers. It's a reminder that what we might perceive as a mentally ill person in the film might not be as ill as we think.

The second part is incredibly hypnotic. The apocalypse is here and yet Justine's sister Christine is told by her oblivious husband -a playful Kiefer Sutherland- that she need not worry, nothing is coming and the mysterious planet Melancholia will just bypass earth. Dunst -knowing death is near- starts coming off her depression and Christine knowing death is near starts going into depression. It's a brilliant switcheroo that proves to us Von Trier has not lost his ability to be a real thinker. He knows how to manipulate then hit his audience hard. His images are memorable and his film a complete work of art.

Melancholia isn't a film for everyone but it is a thinker's movie. Love it or hate it, there is something that is being said here. Von Trier might be a madman but he's not an idiot. He is an auteur first and foremost and attention does need to be paid. In fact this would be a very interesting companion piece to 2011's best movie, Terrence Malick's The Tree Of Life - two totally different works of art but both statements about human nature and creation itself.

Fincher's dark, dreamy "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"



When I first heard that David Fincher -one of the great modern directors- was going to tackle Stieg Larsson's hugely popular pulp novel The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I held my breath. I mean here's a book that was already adapted as a movie earlier last year in its native tongue of Swedish (My Review can be found HERE) & didn't really need to be followed-up as an American remake. Little did I know Fincher would change things up quite a bit here and make something that is competently watchable even though it does give us a certain sense of deja vu.

Listen up, this film ain't perfect but what Fincher does is consequently change the material he has at hand with his own uniquely dark spin on goth girl power. Rooney Mara gives the female performance of the year as Lisbeth Salander and she is Fincher's muse throughout this movie's close to 160 minute running time. Fincher shoots her with such a keen eye for detail that the murder mystery plot that surrounds the movie is only second to our fiery heroine. It's a character study. Fincher knows Salander is the central interest for viewers and he quenches our thirst.

The eye popping opening credits are hard to describe. Computer cables, naked bodies and dark blood are showcased throughout as Trent Reznor's scorching remake of Zeppelin's Immigrant Song plays in the background. I saw it as a warning to audiences to beware and know the whiplash that is coming, if you can't handle the loud, heavy metaled credits you won't be able to handle the film itself which features rape and graphic violence. Reznor's incredible score follows up the masterful work he did in Fincher's The Social Network late last year.



This is also very much an auteur movie all the way through. Fincher frames his shots and lights his lighting much in the same beautifully obessive way he did in Zodiac and The Social Network. For Fincher, every shot counts, every gesture by Mara is key but -unlike Zodiac- there aren't clues that lie in every frame (a kind of let down for me) just incredibly nasty people that deserve much bad will.

Who are we kidding here, this is pulpy, cryptic stuff that the late Larsson concocted a few years ago in his Stockholm suite. It was bound to rub critics and audiences the wrong way and Fincher knew that all along. The film's flaws show, the sense of deja vu I was talking about earlier is very much present. Fincher can't change everything and has to lay bare with important plot details that have appeared in both the books and the Swedish movies. I can deal with that, cause my heart is with Mara -an incredible talent- and the heart and soul of this nasty movie. I fell in love with the girl and her dragon tattoo.

Rampart

In Rampart Woody Harrelson fucks, shoots, kills his way through law as a corrupt LAPD officer. It's a towering performance that show just how good this 40 year old actor can be. An Oscar nomination is in the waiting. The same can't be said for the movie - which doesn't rank in the same league as recent corrupt cop fare as Narc, Dark Blue or Training Day. The problem? Writer Director Oren Moverman - a former Israeli solider- doesn't really give his movie any real momentum, the material here deserves much more surprise and suspense than it gets. In his earlier film The Messenger, Moverman had enough solid scenes and core storytelling to get past the storytelling flaws, here he doesn't. Harrelson's corrupt cop is a shallow unlikeable man that has had kids with a set of two sisters and pimps his way in bars every night looking for a fuck. He's also in a deep media controversy after beating up a black guy while being secretly taped by a bystander. Moverman doesn't know where to take his movie. It's got a fascinating character at its core yet you're not as hooked to the story as you'd like to be. The subplots with his family are confusing and not properly explained ditto his relationship with his wheel-chair bound brother. Even worse, he has a bar hook up with an attractive sex addict -cleverly played by Robin Wright Penn- that leads to an underdeveloped friendship between the two. It's Harrelson that makes this one worth a look. He gets so under his character's skin that you actually do believe he's as nasty as he looks. It's a high wire act that Harrelson carries home, even when the movie around him falters.

The Adventures Of Tintin




I am an unabashed fan of Steven Spielberg's output of the past -oh say- 10-12 years of work and he's rarely let me down with much of the masterful stuff he's done (I forgive him for The Terminal) but boy was his adaptation of Herge's Tin Tin comic book series a disappointement. There are brilliant flashes in the film's close to 110 minute running time yet Spielberg -and producer Peter Jackson- try to fit too much in the film and don't exactly give the viewer any breathing room. When the film was over I couldn't help but feel hammered down by all the excess. Jamie Bell plays the beloved teenage detective and the motion capture technology that Spielberg uses in the film is the best use yet of this technology. Andy Serkis plays his sidekick captain but doesn't get as much to chew on here as he did in Planet Of The Apes earlier this summer.

The plot is messy and complicated but in short has to do with a kind of Indiana Jones-like mystery involving a hidden treasure and three separate sheets of paper that connect all the plot twists at the end - or something like that. I'll say this, some of the maddeningly kinetic action set pieces do work but what this really looked like to me was Spielberg trying to get back to his old school Raiders Of The Lost Ark Days. Except Spielberg forgot that in that very movie he gave his characters time to breathe and us less of a headache. Indy is a classic of the genre because it revolved around building tension and time throughout its playfully complicated plot. Consider this one not so successful but I'm still looking forward to Spielberg's next film -War Horse .. Coming out in less that 16 days from now.

"Walkabout" and its glorious, forgotten star



Watching Nicolas Roeg's 1977 Australian outback journey Walkabout, I couldn't help but notice its bright eyed young actress Jenny Agutter. She steals every scene with her genuine beauty here, encompassing an otherwise banal and middling story into a kind of meditation on loneliness and sexual repression. Agutter, 25 at the time, wasn't shy to show her entire nude body off on screen. Quite simply known as "Girl" in the movie, she's a guardian to her little brother and muse to an aboriginal guide. She's lost in the outback after her father goes bonkers and puts a bullet in his head out of madness. It's a strange, unexpected scene that perfectly sets up the -rather- slow driving narrative that follows. Agutter is the star here, with her sun soaked freckles, bright eyed optimism and school girl outfit.



The ambiguous ending is rather maddening but strangely fitting to a story that goes nowhere but really does go everywhere in its portrayal isolation and growing up. "Girl" is followed by her little brother through the movie -brilliantly played by Luc Roeg, the director's little brother- we wait for him to whine or moan as the long, arduous journey progresses but he doesn't ditto his sister. They have been sheltered their entire lives and find a new found freedom in the outback with its bewilderingly exotic creatures and biblically passaged landscapes. Agutter is game in every scene. She is the reason to watch Walkabout. Still an actress to this day, Agutter isn't in high budgeted productions but in rather unseen television performances. She is better known to mainstream movie goers as Joanne Simpson in Child's Play 2 but it's Walkabout that is likely her truest work as an artist.



There are sporadically brilliant scenes in Walkabout, yet I felt it did drag. It sought out to get a mood that it did not completely find. But the chutzpah on display is remarkable. Only in the 70's would a studio picture like this get made and only in the 70's -with mad artistic freedom in full display- would you have a scene such as the swimming sequence, which can be semi glimpsed at in some of the photos I've put in this post. It's Miss Gutter's show, she brings eroticism as well as feeling to isolation. I couldn't have liked her more in it.

(side note) I IMDB'ed Agutter right after watching Roeg's film and found out she will have a small part in the upcoming big budgeted Avengers movie due out summer 2012.

The greatest photographed movie?

Here's one movie I'd rank very highly as one of the best photographed ones. Bertolluci's The Conformist as photographed by Vitorio Storaro.


Here the colors used are incredible. Storaro finds a lightedly dark shade that practically matches the Italian actresses dress.


Blue is used very much in the movie. As show in example in the next three images.



This might just be my favorite shot.


And this might just be the sexiest shot. The serpia hue used here brings in a sexiness that Bertolluci was very much looking for in the scene.

Using the forrest to his advantage, Storaro gets the light to come on every corner of the branches in the frame. Just stunning.

Moneyball

I don't really know why it took such a long time for Benneth Miller to make another movie, especially after the triumph that he had with Capote -which dates back to 2005. That's more than 6 years between that film and his newest one Moneyball. I like Capote. It was shot in an incredibly cinematic way and had a great true story to boot. The same can be said of Moneyball which is based on Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane's incredible story, Beane basically reshaped the game of baseball with his sabermetrics system- an original way of drafting and trading his team's players through a computer generated system that some would call a number's game and other's complete bull and sheer luck. I'm with the numbers people. Anyone who loves numbers will probably dig this movie in the way it says the answers lie in the numbers than in the actual game itself. Purists be damned but it's a hell of a ride.

Steven Sodebergh was originally slated as director before he had creative differences with the film's producers. Then came Miller who brings a real sense of vitality to the film. He shoots every frame with the precise markings of a veteran. Sodebergh has kept his screenplay credit but the two main writers here are Aaron Sorkin -The Social Network script wiz- and Steve Zaillan. Sorkin is all over this one. His wit and brash "I'm too good for you" dialogue has not always had me at hello but he does more good than bad with this one. Brad Pitt plays Beane and he is just great, in fact an Oscar nomination awaits Pitt, Jonah Hill as Beane's wiz kid assistant brings incredibly sly comic relief and might get recognized too and wait until you see Phillip Seymour Hoffman as A's Manager Art Howe, he steals every scene he's in. The film is too long at close to 133 minutes -one too many fase endings- and the stuff with Beane, his troubled marriage and his only daughter is the kind of stuff that would have been left off if this wasn't a major studio release. Flaws and all this is the kind of movie Hollywood rarely makes these days, it takes its time to develop fleshed out characters and has incredibly detailed, nuanced scenes.

Midnight In Paris



It took me a while to write about this film but sure enough here I am discussing Woody Allen's frothy, latest picture. A small delight really. It actually pains me to think that this film could get an Oscar Nomination for Best Picture because it really does it an injustice. Midnight In Paris IS in fact Allen's best film since .. I'm not sure when but it's such a small treat that awards seem such a distance away. The present day setting is a dud but the middle is such a transporting treat, in fact I'd go as far as to say that its middle -which has our main protagonist time travelling to a Paris of the 20s and meeting such iconic figures as Gertrude Stein and Hemingway- is the most transporting hour and change of film I've seen all year. Really, Allen just dazzles us with the period setting and he seems much more at home than in the present day sequences, which feel forced and almost trivial. I think this says a lot about Allen's output of late. He has struggled to find a comfort in the present day stories he has presented to us over the past 15-20 years . It seems that it is only when he goes back in time that he actually finds his niche and musings. Allen has played with the past before, his 1985 gem The Purple Rose Of Cairo -part of his incredible run of great movies in the 1980s- was a heartfelt tribute to cinema and its power. Midnight In Paris is Allen back at home and in familiar ground, looking to the past just like he did in Cairo and Radio Days to bring his own self referential humor and grace. I wouldn't out this one near any "Best Picture" category but it's a light and fluff treat at the theatres. I think one of the reasons many critics have gone gaga over this one is because it is Woody and it is an actualy "Good" movie. However, I'd look at his 2001 underrated gem The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion which represents good, modern day Woody and is just as good as this one.

Festival De Nouveau Cinema - Entry # 1



It's always a blast to cover this film fest and just like I did last year, I'll be updating this blog many times in the next few days with my take on some of the hottest titles playing in Canada's oldest film fest, Montreal's Le Festival De Nouveau Cinema. In fact the film fest hasn't even started yet but I was given a few screener DVDs to wet my appetite. At this year's fest I hope to get the same treats as I got last year. Every film fest has its fair share of surprises and this year's edition should be no exception.

The first film I saw was Nadav Lapid's Policeman, an Israeli film that knocked me out for a loop. The film tells of two stories. The first half has to do with Yaron, a hard working Israeli Police Officer with a pregnant wife and a sense of unequivocal fraternity amongst his unit. The second half of the movie is more political - a group of five young Left wing radicals decide to start a revolution to protest the vast difference between Israel's Rich and Poor societies. They want to create a new order in a country they see decimated by poverty. Both stories come together and converge into a thoughtfully carried out finale that consequentially ups the tension a notch. Also showing at the prestigious New York Film Festival, Lapid's film is one like no other. He shoots it with a bracing poet's eye, choosing the right shots and experimenting with the style a little. Here's a small budget movie made into a grandiose cinematic statement, I wouldn't be surprised if more people hear about it in the months to come.

Actress turned director Sarah Polley's followup to her -in my books overrated but- critically acclaimed 2006 debut Away From Here starts off in the same vein as her previous picture, simplistic storytelling and a narrative that doesn't really give us anything new but .. it changes in its last third into a kind of vision I never thought Polley had in her. Take This Waltz is a flawed picture that takes more than its fair share of chances as it goes along. Michelle Williams' Margo is married to a lovable shlub played by Seth Rogen yet she's not contently happy and almost taken aback when she meets the next door neighbour on a business trip and strikes a forbidden chord with him. You know a movie is doing something right when you can relate to some of its characters. The questions Polley raises are valid. Is love enough and worth keeping more than isolated sexual pleasure? Does desire trump love? Williams gives her usual impeccable performance and Rogen is not bad in one of his first dramatic roles. It's a film at war with itself, a kind of schizo mess that doesn't always work but takes chances that make it worth checking out. I think Polley is headed into the right direction but she's still a work in progress.

The Ides Of March

Sometimes the best political thrillers are the ones that strip away the politics for something else surprising and .. cinematic ! The George Clooney directed The Ides Of March is such an example except it never fully realizes what it sets out to do. The schizophrenic pace that Clooney conceives here left me thinking that the writer-director-actor did not really know what kind of movie he really wanted to make. It does have some well made suspense running thought its tightly nit 96 minute running time and excellent performances from a truly talented cast that includes the great Ryan Gosling, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti yet I felt like something was missing. Clooney, never one to shy away from political opinion, takes no prisoners in his account of how torridly corrupt the political process and its players are. Is this news? don't we already know all this? Only the most naive and gullible of people would find all of this surprising. Clooney hammers his message down our throats so much that he commits missteps along the way by devising plot twists that don't make the entire film's potential come through.

Political thrillers have a way to truly suck me into their stories, this one did that at times but not enough to truly call it a solid movie. Clooney has already shown us he's a good director with his Journalism school staple Good Night and Good Luck earning him a few Oscar noms in 2005. In this film he modifies the stylistic approach he brought to that film for a more 70's look. It's no surprise then that he's to have taken some of the classics of that period in time as influences when making this film. His intentions are in the right place yet the story isn't substantial enough to warrant an extraordinary reaction from critics and audiences. The Oscar hopes that were set for the film way back since its initial premiere at the Toronto Film Festival seem to have been pre-matured and not exactly in the right place. Don't get me wrong it's an intriguing project but it didn't live up to its potential.

"Drive"



Nicholas Winding Regn is a mystery to many North American audiences, yet he's made a name for himself in Europe with his killer visuals and well thought out soundtracks. Well guess what, he roars into our neighbourhood with Drive - a B movie fetish film with not much dialogue, Pop Art images, gory violence and a lack for linear narrative. People are ready to castrate Drive for its obvious artsy ambitions and the way it doesn't succumb to Hollywood formula. Well, screw them. This is my kind of movie. Filled with sexiness, violence and a great cast. Ryan Gosling is so calm, cool and collective as "The Driver" that you'd think he's Steve Mcqueen. Hell, this movie is semi-inspired by all those great Steve Mcqueen flicks of the 70s except it's set in the 80s.

Dig the killer soundtrack inspired by 80's synth pop formula and the way it blends seamlessly with the haunting images Refn gives us. Case in point College's A Real Hero, which ends up being more than just background music for a film about a Travis Bickle-like anti-hero. "The Driver" is dead set to save Carey Mulligan's Irene from the misery she has in her life ala Travis Bickle but if Drive doesn't necessarily have the substance of that said Scorsese Masterpiece it does however have incredibly tense scenes to electrify our nerves. Check out the killer opening as our anti-hero tries to evade the cops in a silently done cat and mouse game or check out a botched heist that leads to dire consequences. Did I mention the elevator scene that everybody seems to be talking about? Or a violent strip club attack that makes our man look possessed? These are the 4 scenes that stuck with me but there are plenty more and they're all tightly edited to get us hooked on its cinematic juices.

Of course Drive is not a perfect movie but it has all the traits and reasons that had us watch movies in the first place. Or at least the majority of us. It's a violently artsy action picture that doesn't meander to a particular audience. It has a way of being unique and uncompromising in its visionary dreaming. It knows what it wants to be from the get go and goes along with it. Its 100 minutes zip by like a bursting fuel drag-racing at night & Gosling -along with an incredibly villainous Albert Brooks and a heartbreaking Bryan Cranston- brings a kind of coolness that lacks in most pictures these days. By the time The Driver puts on his stunt mask and makes all hell breaks loose in the film's over the top but scattering finale, it is clear that Drive is a movie that can haunt your dreams.

Best of 2011 (so far) ...

Pretty average year thus far but some great ones still to come out within the next few weeks .. months? Anyways I'm counting on it cause I don't even think half of these belong on an annual ten best list. Here's what stuck with me so far this year

Tree of life
Malick. What else can you say. An experience, a frustration, a poem, a trip and a sense of wonder in its soaring -almost too good to be true- images.

Drive
Just beautifully shot and gripping in many spots. A review to come in the next week or so. Director Nicholas Winding Refn is an interesting fella.

Incendies
Yea yea yea I know this already made my top ten list last year but it actully got released in the states this year, so I'm counting it in + it's just really damn great.

Source Code
It ain't perfect but wholly original and interesting til a botched finale. Duncan Jones is the real deal.

Midnight In Paris
Woody Allen toasts Paris in a fluffy, breezy romantic comedy. The movie hits a high during its middle.

Certified Copy
An ambiguous film that really embraces its ambiguousness + a great performance from Julliette Binoche. Maddening as hell.

The Lincoln Laywer
What can I say, I'm a sucker for Legal dramas and this one comes from a solid source material - a good book.

Uncle Boonnmee
Talk about maddening -I guess I like those kind of films- here's a Thai film that really demands attention and requires conversation afterwards.

Limitless
I'll get some heat for this one but what can I say, it worked its craziness on me & Bradley Cooper was not annoying in any way.

Bridesmaids
Just really fun and refreshing to see a comedy with female soul and heart + these chicks really outranked those Hangover guys this summer in terms of raunch.

Super 8
Didn't really like the ending but its first 2/3 are pure Spielberg-influenced movie magic + has a great train wreck scene.

Annual Awards database




In honor of the Oscars ...


2010
Best Picture


(1) The Social Network
(2) Dogtooth
(3) Black Swan

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
Christopher Nolan (Inception)
Gaspar Noe (Enter The Void)
Roman Polanski (The Ghost Writer)
Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island)

Best Screenplay
Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network)
Roman Polanski (The Ghost Writer)
Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
Debra Granik (Winter's Bone)
Another Year (Mike Leigh)

Best Actor
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
Joaquin Pheonix (I'm Still Here)
Collin Firth (The King's Speech)

Best Actress
Lesley Manville (Another Year)
Nathalie Portman (Black Swan)
Annette Benning (The Kids Are All Right)
Jullianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right)
Katie Jarvis (Fish Tank)

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right)

Best Supporting Actress
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Greta Gerwig (Greenberg)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)

Best Cinematography
Matthew Libatique (Black Swan)
Benoit Debie (Enter The Void)

Best Animated Feature
Toy Story 3
Le Illusioniste
How To Train Your Dragon

Best Foreign Language Film
Un Prophete
Incendies
Enter The Void
Le Illusioniste
Dogtooth


2000's Best Picture

1) Mulholland Drive
2) A History Of Violence
3) Memento
4) No Country For Old Men
5) There Will Be Blood
6) The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy
7) Cache/Hidden
8) Dancer In The Dark
9) Spirited Away
10) Y Tu Mama Tambien
11) The Wrestler
12) Children Of Men
13) The Departed
14) City Of God
15) Borat
16) Sideways
17) Old Boy
18) WALL-E
19) A.I/ Artificial Intelligence
20) The 25th Hour
21) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

2009
Best Picture(1) The Hurt Locker
(1) Up In The Air
(2) Hunger
(3) The Fantastic Mr. Fox
(4) The Hurt Locker

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Wes Anderson (The Fantastic Mr. Fox)
Steve Mcqueen (Hunger)
Joel Coen (A Serious Man)

Best Screenplay
Joel & Ethan Coen (A Serious Man)
Jason Reitman (Up In The Air)

Best Actor
George Clooney (Up In The Air)
Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
Nicolas Cage (Bad Lieutenant)
Joaquin Phoenix (Two Lovers)
Michael Fasbender (Hungry)

Best Actress
Meryl Streep (Julie And Julia)
Charlotte Gainsbourg (Antichrist)
Carey Mulligan (An Education)

Best Supporting Actor
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Woody Harrellson (The Messenger)
Fred Melamed (A Serious Man)
Peter Capaldi (In The Loop)

Best Supporting Actress
Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Two Lovers)
Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds)
Mo'Nique (Precious)

Best Cinematography
Christian Berger (The White Ribbon)

Best Animated Feature
The Fantastic Mr Fox
Up
Ponyo

Best Foreign Film
Broken Embraces
Lorna's Silence
Ponyo

Best First Film
District 9
Moon
(500) Days Of Summer
Paranormal Activity

Best Documentary
The Cove
Anvil
Tyson


2008
Best Picture


(1) The Wrestler
(2) WALL-E

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)
Clint Eastwood (Changeling & Gran Torino)

Best Screenplay

Best Actor
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)
Sean Penn (Milk)
Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD)

Best Actress
Sally Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky)
Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)
Meryl Streep (Doubt)
Angelina Jolie (Changeling)

Best Supporting Actor
Eddie Marsan (Happy Go Lucky)
James Franco (Pineapple Express)
Brad Pitt (Burn After Reading)
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)

Best Supporting Actress
Marissa Tomei (The Wrestler)
Roemary DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married)

Best Cinematography
Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire)
Maryse Alberti (The Wrestler)
Wally Pfister (The Dark Knight)

Best Animated Film

WALL-E

Best Foreign Film
4 Months, 3 Months, 2 Weeks
Un Conte De Noel
Tell No One
Flight Of The Red Balloon

Best Screenplay Robert D. Siegel (The Wrestler)
Mike Leigh (Happy Go Lucky)

2007
Best Picture

(1) No Country For Old Men
(2) There Will Be Blood
(3) Zodiac

Best Director
Joel Coen (No Country For Old Men)
Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)
Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell And The Butterfly)

Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
George Clooney (Michael Clayton)
Tommy Lee Jones (In The Valley Of Elah)

Best Actress
Carisse Van Houton (Black Book)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Marillon Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart)

Best Supporting Actor
Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men)
Hal Holbrook (Into The Wild)
Casey Affleck (Jesse James)
Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)

Best Supporting Actress
Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)
Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
Cate Blanchett (I'm Not There)
Lesliee Mann (Knocked Up)
Zoe Bell (Death Proof)

Best Screenplay
Joel & Ethan Coen (No Country For Old Men)
Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)

Best Animated Feature
Ratatouille

Best Cinematography
Robert Elswitt (There Will Be Blood)
Roger Deakins (No Country For Old Men)
Janusz Kaminski (The Diving Bell And The Butterfly)

Best Foreign Film
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly

2006
Best Picture
(1) The Departed
(2) Children Of Men
(3) The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

Best Director
Martin Scorsese (The Departed)
Alfonso Cuaron (Children Of Men)
Paul Greengrass (United 93)

Best Actor
Sacha Baron Coen (Borat)
Forest Whitaker (The Last King Of Scotland)

Best Actress
Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada)
Helen Mirren (The Queen)
Penelope Cruz (Volver)

Best Supporting Actor
Jackie Earl Haley (Little Children)
Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine)
Djimoun Honsou (Blood Diamond)

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls)
Rinko Kikkuci (Babel)

Best Screenplay
William Monahan (The Departed)
Little Miss Sunshine (Michael Arndt)

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki (Children Of Men)
Guillermo Navarro (Pan's Labyrinthe)

Best Foreign Film
Pan's Labyrinthe

Best Animated Film
Cars

Best Documentary
Borat


2005
Best Picture

2005:
(1) A History Of Violence
(2) Cache/Hidden
(3) Old Boy

Best Director
David Cronenberg
Michael Haneke

Best Actor
Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote)
David Strathairn (Good Night And Good Luck)

Best Actress
None

Best Supporting Actor
William Hurt (A History Of Violence)
Ed Harris (A History Of Violence)
Matt Dillon (Crash)

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bello (A Hitory Of Violence)
Amy Adams (Junebug)

Best Screenplay

Noah Baumbach (The Squid And The Whale)
George Clooney (Good Night And Good Luck)

Best Cinematography
Robert Elswitt (Good Night And Good Luck)
Robert Rodriguez (Sin City)

Best DocumentaryGrizzly Man

Best Animated Film
Wallace And Gromitt - The Curse Of The Were Rabbit

Best Foreign Film
Cache
Old Boy
Downfall

Best First Film
The 40 Year Old Virgin

2004
Best Picture


(1) Sideways
(2) Eternal Sunshine Spotless Mind
(3) The Aviator

Best DirectorAlexander Payne (Sideways)
Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine)
Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby)

Best Actor
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby)
Jamie Foxx (Ray)
Leonardo Dicaprio (The Aviator)

Best Actress
Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine)
Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby)

Best Supporting Actor
Thomas Hayden Church (Sideways)
Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby)

Best Screenplay
Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor (Sideways)
Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine)

Best Cinematography
Christopher Doyle (Hero)
Robert Richardson (The Aviator)
Dion Bebe (Collateral)

Best Animated Film
The Incredibles

Best Documentary
Fahrenheit 9/11
Super Size Me

Best Foreign Film
Maria Full Of Grace
The Motorcycle Diaries

Best First Film
Maria Full Of Grace
Hotel Rwanda

2003
Best Picture

(1) The Return Of The King
(2) Mystic River
(3) Lost In Translation

Best DirectorPeter Jackson (The Return Of The King)
Sofia Coppola (Lost In Translation)
Fernando Mereilles (City Of God)
Clint Eastwood (Mystic River)

Best ActorBill Murray (Lost In Translation)
Sean Penn (Mystic River)
Johnny Depp (Pirates Of The Caribbean)
Ben Kingsley (House Of Sand And Fog)

Best Actress
Naomi Watts (21 Grams)
Charlize Theron (Monster)

Best Supporting Actor
Tim Robbins (Mystic River)
Peter Saarsgard (Shattered Glass)

Best Supporting Actress
Shoreh Aghdashloo (House Of Sand And Fog)

Best Screenplay Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini (American Splendor)
Sofia Coppola (Lost In Translation)

Best Cinematography
Harris Savides (Elephant & Gerry) Lance Acord (Lost In Translation)
Andrew Lesnie (The Return Of The King)

Best Animated Film
Finding Nemo
The Triplets Of Belleville

Best Foreign Film
City Of God
The Barbarian Invasions
The Triplets Of Belleville
Swimming Pool

Best Documentary
Capturing the Friedmans
Spellbound

Best First Film
City Of God
Capturing The Friedmans

2002
Best Picture

(1) Spirited Away
(2) Punch-Drunk Love
(3) Y Tu Mamá También

Best Director
Martin Scorsese (Gangs Of New York)
Steven Spielberg (Minority Report)
Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien)
Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away)

Best Actor
Daniel Day Lewis (Gangs Of New York)
Adrian Brody (The Pianist)
Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt)
Campbell Scott (Rodger Dodger)

Best Actress Diane Lane (Unfaithful)
Julianne Moore (Far From Heaven)
Parker Posey (Personal Velocity)

Best Supporting Actor Dennis Quaid (Far From Heaven)

Best Screenplay
Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation)
Alexander Payne And Jim Taylor (About Schmidt)

Best Cinematography
Edward Lachmann (Far From Heaven)
Conrad L Hall (Road To Perdition)

Best Animated Film

Spirited Away

Best Foreign Film
Spirited Away
The Fast Runner
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Time Out

Best First Film

The Fast Runner

2001
Best Picture

(1) Mulholland Drive
(2) Memento
(3) Ghost World

Best Director
David Lynch (Mulholland Drive)
Christopher Nolan (Memento)
Steven Spielberg (Artificial Intelligence)

Best Actor
Denzel Washington (Training Day)
Tom Wilkinson (In The Bedroom)
John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig And The Angry Inch)
Guy Pearce (Memento)

Best Actress
Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive)
Halle Berry (Monster's Ball)
Sissy Spacek (In The Bedroom)

Best Supporting Actor
Steve Buscemi (Ghost World)
Ben Kingsley (Sexy Beast)

Best Supporting Actress
Scarlett Johanssen (Ghost World)

Best Screenplay
Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan (Memento)
Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums)
Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World)

Best Animated Film
Waking Life
Shrek

Best First FilmTerry Zwigoff (Ghost World)
Todd Field (In The Bedroom)

Best Cinematography
The Man Who Wasn't There (Roger Deakins)
Mulholland Drive (Peter Deming)
Amelie (Bruno Delbonnel)

Best Foreign Film
Amelie

2000
Best Picture

(1) Dancer In The Dark
(2) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
(3) Traffic

Hamlet/Meet The Parents
Nurse Betty

Best Director
Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous)
Steven Sodebergh (Traffic)
Lars Von Trier (Dancer In The Dark)
Darren Aronofsky (Requiem For A Dream)

Best Actor

Tom Hanks (Cast Away)
Michael Douglas (Wonderboys)

Best Actress
Laura Linney (You Can Count On Me)
Bjork (Dancer In The Dark)
Ellen Burstyn (Requiem For A Dream)

Best Supporting Actor
Benicio Del Toro (Traffic)
Willem Dafoe (Shadow Of The Vampire)

Best Supporting Actress
Frances McDormand (Almost Famous)

Best Screenplay
Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count On Me)
Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous)
Curtis Hanson (Wonderboys)

Best Cinematography

Roger Deakins (O' Brother Where Art Thou?)
Peter Pau (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)

Best Animated Film
Chicken Run

Best Foreign Film
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Best First Film
Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count On Me)

1999
Best Picture

(1) American Beauty
(2) Being John Malkovich
(3) Election

Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia)
Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich)
Stanley Kubrick (Eyes Wide Shut)

Best Actor
Kevin Spacey (American Beauty)
Russell Crow (The Insider)
Richard Farnsworth (The Straight Story)

Best Actress

Hilary Swank (Boy's Don't Cry)
Reese Whiterspoon (Election)
Annette Benning (American Beauty)
Kate Winslet (Holy Smoke)

Best Supporting Actor
Tom Cruise (Magnolia)
John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich)

Best Supporting Actor
Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich)

Best Screenplay

Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich)
Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor (Election)
M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense)

Best Cinematography
Conrad L. Hall (Road To Perdition)

Best Animated Film
South Park
Toy Story 2
The Iron Giant

Best First Film

Kimberly Pierce (Boy's Don't Cry)

Best Foreign Film

The Dreamlife Of Angels

1998
Best Picture

(1) The Truman Show
(2) Shakespeare In Love
(3) Happiness
(4) Saving Private Ryan

Best Director
Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan)
Peter Weir (The Truman Show)

Best Actor
Jim Carrey (The Truman Show)
Edward Norton (American History X)
Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful)
Nick Nolte (Affliction)

Best Actress
Cameron Diaz (There's Something About Mary)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare In Love)

Best Supporting Actor
Billy Bob Thornton (A Simple Plan)
Dylan Baker (Hapiness)

Best Supporting Actress

Lisa Kudrow (The Opposite Of Sex)

Best Screenplay
Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare In Love)
Todd Solondz (Happiness)
Peter Weir (The Truman Show)
Sam Raimi (A Simple Plan)

Best Cinematography
Janusz Kaminski (Saving Private Ryan)

Best Foreign Film
Life Is Beautiful

Best First Film
Tony Kaye (American History X)
Vincent Gallo (Buffalo 66)

1997
Best Picture

(1) L.A. Confidential
(2) The Sweet Hereafter
(3) Titanic
(4) The Ice Storm

Best Director
Curtis Hanson (L.A Confidential)
James Cameron (Titanic)
Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights)

Best Actor
Robert Duvall (The Apostle)
Peter Fonda (Ulee's Gold)

Best Actress
Kate Winslet (Titanic)

Best Supporting Actor
Burt Reynolds (Boogie Nights)

Best Supporting Actress
Joan Cusack (In And Out)
Julianne Moore (Boogie Nights)

Best Screenplay
Brian Helgeland (L.A Confidential)
Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter)

Best Cinematography
Dante Spinotti (L.A Confidential)

1996
Best Picture

(1) Fargo
(2) Breaking The Waves
(3) Secrets And Lies

Best Director
Joel Coen (Fargo)
Lars Von Trier (Breaking The Waves)
Mike Leigh (Secrets And Lies)

Best Actor
Geoffrey Rush (Shine)
Woody Harrellson (The People Vs. Larry Flynt)

Best Actress
Emily Watson (Breaking The Waves)
Frances mcDormand (Fargo)
Brenda Blethyn (Secrets And Lies)
Laura Dern (Citizen Ruth)

Best Supporting Actor
Edward Norton (Primal Fear)
William H Macy (Fargo)

Best Supporting Actress
Courtney Love (The People Vs. Larry Flynt)

Best Screenplay
Joel & Ethan Coen (Fargo)
Mike Leigh (Secrets And Lies)
Milos Forman (The People Vs. Larry Flynt)

Best Cinematography
Roger Deakins (Fargo)


1994
Best Picture
(1) Pulp Fiction
(2) Quiz Show
(3) The Shawshank Redemption
(4) Ed Wood

Best Picture
1993

(1) Schindler's List
(2) The Piano
(3) The Remains Of The Day

1992
Best Picture

(1) Unforgiven
(2) The Player
(3) The Crying Game


1991
Best Picture

(1) The Silence Of The Lambs
(2) My Own Private Idaho
(3) Barton Fink
(4) Terminator 2

An unnecessary remake



I do get why director Rod Lurie would want to remake Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, it is an under seen, ugly but futilely exhilarating film experience that came out more than 40 years ago but is still remembered for how it pushed buttons back then (and still does today) However I suggest a slight pass on Lurie's film because it has nothing new to say and is just as ugly as the first one -without the artistic integrity or sheer balls of the original. The rape scene is tamed down, the characters much less focused and the cast -Kate Beckinsale?- slightly miscast. What made Peckinpah's original so great was how bold it was and the questions it was asking. What constitutes rape? Is the main heroine actually being raped or is she somewhat enjoying the feeling of being physically hurt by an ex? The audience was never really given any answers and had to figure it out on their own, whereas in this version Beckinsale's performance leads towards a more negative direction.




Peckinpah did not just tackle rape, he wanted to know what exactly it meant to be a "man" - masculinity was an incredible part of his classic. Does not defending yourself when the time needs be and just walking away make you a coward or just plain smart & mature? The Lurie version seems to be celebrating violence, whereas the Peckinpah version -although having its main hero played by Dustin Hoffman kicking ass- had you cheering for blood in a very ugly way. Did it really have to be like this? did Hoffman's character have any other choice but to take the law in his own hands? It's questions such as these that are missing in the remake but also a sort of freshness that made it incredible to watch Peckinpah's version for the first time. Lurie follows the story and doesn't change much of the structure, which is a real shame cause imitating Peckinpah is practically near impossible. Lurie should stick to doing his own stuff, such as the underseen but valuable Nothing But The Truth from just a few years ago.

Summer Movie Weekly Roundup


The Devil's Double (R)
Saddam Hussein's son -Uday- had a body double that followed him around in every one of his coked up, girl raping, partying ways. It was only a matter of time before a movie would come out about this spoiled, nonsensical brat. What director Lee Tamahori does here is run excess on everything. The gestures are over exaggerated, the violence is over the top and the sex is kinky. It's a wild, mind numbing time at the movies and should not be taken very seriously or as a true document of Uday. Which doesn't mean it's not trashy entertainment. Tamahori knows he's doing every scene over the top and with flashy style but it's not his direction that caters the movie through, It's Dominic Cooper's sensational double performance as both Uday and his body double Latif - the fact that you can tell both characters apart at all times is a testament to his talent. Watch Cooper - a firecrackingly good actor- run through his own portrayals of both good and evil in one of the best performances of the entire summer. ★★½

Our Idiot Brother (R)
Paul Rudd nearly saves this film. Notice, I said nearly. Rudd is one of the most underrated comey actors working today, especially when he's working with writer/director Judd Apatow. In Jesse Peretz' Our Idiot Brother, Apatow is nowhere to be found. This is a movie that blindly riffs off of the Coens' The Big Lebowski in all its hipster, trippy glory. Yet, I wouldn't even think twice about putting that cult classic alongside this rehashed, slight affair. Rudd plays the role of the hipster, naive brother perfectly but the rest of his female sisterly castmates can't compete. Zooey Deschanel -usually great- seems lost and Emily Mortimer -an indie Darling- tries her best in an underwritten role. The film premiered at Sundance earlier this year and continues the angering trend of having average Sundance favourites hit theatres over the past few years. It's turned into a festival that has replaced mavericks with sun-shined, holy business. Gone are the days of Memento and Reservoir Dogs. ★★

30 Minutes Or Less (R)
Fresh off his triumphant performance in The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg decided to choose a Hollywood action thriller as his next project. In 30 Minutes Or Less the action comes out blazing at you in a relentless pace. The screenplay might be midly tired out but the cast makes it a vibrant, joyous 86 minute ride. (Loosely based) on real life true events that involved the kidnapping and bribing of a pizza delivery guy, the film boasts some of the better comedians out there at the moment. Aziz Anzari spurts out dialogue in such snazzy style and Danny Mcbride -fresh off the debacle of Your Highness- redeems himself in a performance that had me itching for more of his perverse, unscripted lines. In fact, the whole film feels like a loosely improvised treat. There's isn't much that stays with you once the lights dim up but here's a film that doesn't think too highly of itself and just want to have fun. ★★½

Tough subject matters finally inhabit the Summer Movie season




If the last planet of the apes has showed us anything, its that apes are super smart and you don't fuck with them. OK, that's not the best way to start this review but I found James Marsh's Project Nim an entertaining and rather sad documentary. The titular subject is a primate that was part of an experiment in the 70s done by scientific hippies setting him up from birth with a family and watching his every move, trying to find a correlation between his and human behaviour. Did it work? the report was inconclusive but what we see is some amazing footage of the primate taking part in conversations through sign language with the scientists and showing real feeling and humanistic behaviour in the process. BUT did he really mean his sign communication? or was it just a way for NIM to repeat gestures and signs that he's learned by hard through humans. It's an interesting question that doesn't fully get answered but Marsh -a talented filmmaker- gets us involved through recreated scenes, found footage and interviews on the people that NIM touched along the way. It's an experience like no other that makes you think about our relations with primates but also our connections and similarities to animals themselves. It's a cry for help and -despite minor missteps- Marsh does the subject proud.

Based on Kathryn Stockett's best selling novel about black maids in a bigot-riddled Mississippi of the 1940's, The Help is a botched job of an adaptation, a mess that never fully comes together even though the pieces are there. Those pieces have to do with the great cast starring with the maids themselves -indelibly played by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer - and the white housewives - a never better Bryce Dallas Howard as the racist, a radiantly comic Jessica Chastain as the one with a heart of gold and Emma Stone as Skeeter, a wide eyed young author with good intentions. It's a film that had potential, a story told from the black housemaid's point of view, but darkness never lingers, there's too much sunlight and not enough hard truths. What this adaptation needed was a bit more black coffee and a little less cream .. and a competent director to give us better filled frames and a real sense of auteur-ship. The scenes are brightly lit for such a heavy subject matter. Director Tate Taylor was handpicked by the author to helm the film, problem is this was her first movie and the job is not competently done. It's a TV movie with a solid subject matter but without the necessary execution to complete it. High expectations towards the film's release will please the book's female fans but won't win awards or won't leave a lasting mark.

"Apes" and a second "Earth"



If summer 2011 has taught us anything it's never go in to a movie with high expectations. There have been enough disappointments to cover an entire year's worth of releases. Which is why I dug Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. Everything was supposed to go horribly wrong with this latest reboot of the franchise - Tim Burton's much maligned reboot in 2001 starring Marky Mark has been consistently mocked. This latest version is directed by Rupert Wyatt, a relative unknown that made his feature filmmaking debut in 2009 with the rather mixed reviewed The Escapist. Haven't really heard much about that movie but suffice to say he does a remarkable job here with the rather slim material he has at hand. It's a popcorn movie through and through even if I couldn't care less for the romantic subplot that the movie slightly invests in but as I said Wyatt only slightly invests in it and it's a smart decision. The real star here in Andy Serkis who plays Cesar, an ape that is at the central part of the film's dilemma. Caesar is raised by Will (James Franco) a scientist that has a father suffering of a severe case of Alzheimer's - the always great John Lithgow plays the said father and he is the driving force for Franco's Will to break the rules and test out a chemical called ALZ 112 on both he and the ape. It works, but not through and through. I won't spoil much but I will say this; Serkis deserves an Oscar nom for the way he brings real feeling to what is essentially a CGI based character, just like he did with Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings. It's a tour de force performance that elevates the movie into something more than just crass entertainment. Twentieth Century Fox has a real winner here and word of mouth will surely bring much mula to the movie's box office. Well deserved might I add.

However, for some Wyatt's movie might be too big, conventional and bombastic for their tastes (I don't blame them) .. which brings me to Mike Cahill's small, low budget Sci Fi enigma Another Earth. A rather flawed but thought provoking journey into a guilt ridden woman's head. She's haunte by a night when she killed a pregnant mother and her son while driving under the influence - the father survives and when she finishes her 4 year jail stint she tries to correct the ties back by masquerading herself as a cleaning lady and developing a risky friendship that could result in dire consequences. Oh and all in the while, in the background, a mysterious second earth has been discovered and is slowly being dissected. It's of course not even close to being scientifically possible but who cares, the film is interesting to a certain point, despite all of its flaws. The ambition is high despite the familiarity of the story. The Conclusion is a satisfying head scratcher despite occasional lapses into dullness. The actors are incredibly intense, especially newcomer Brit Marling who co financed the film with her director Cahill, an ex flame - both worked on the project for years and both are finally getting rewarded for their efforts. The film won a prize at Sundance and the reviews are considerably positive. It's a worthy effort that shows real promise despite the bumps.

Mini Reviews (The Trip & Crazy Stupid Love)

People have been bitching how I've practically liked nothing this summer. Well, continue bitching. It's not my fault that we have to endure such miserable quality produce. If you want the good stuff you'll have to go to your local art house and watch Terrence Malick's masterful The Tree Of Life or Woody Allen's playful Midnight In Paris -more on that one next week-

Crazy Stupid Love (PG-13) ★★

Here's a movie that tries to be too much. You can't fault ambition this summer, it's a plus. Directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra try to get to the bottom of love in a much different way than their underrated effort I Love You Philip Morris from last year. They overreach but get prime performances from Ryan Gosling and my current Hollywood love thorn Emma Stone. Steve Carrell and Juliann Moore also star in otherwise underdeveloped roles. The movie grabbed me in its first half only to pile on the cliches in its second. This to me is the worst feeling possible to have in a movie -one with promise that ultimately fails. Back to Stone. She's a natural Hollywood beauty with acting chops to boot. As Easy A showed us last year, she has mass potential and even if a movie such as this one doesn't fully show it, you know it's bound to happen with the right script.

The Trip (R) ★★★

A film export from the U.K starring the great Steve Coogan and British comedian Rob Brydon. Coogan is asked by The Observer to tour the country's finest restaurants, he sees it as the perfect romantic getaway for he and his beautiful American girlfriend. However, she backs out on him, he has no one to accompany him but his best friend Brydon. A competitiveness starts to build up between the two as they try to one up each in conversations involving impressions. all in the while trying to grasp each others company throughout the trip. It's a simple formula and it works. There aren't any special effects or overcooked plot lines. Just two actors, great food and a real sense of wonder at some of England's best locations. Definitely not for everybody's tastes but here's a real zesty, underrated treat.


It's not that Horrible Bosses isn't worth the R rated hype it's been getting the past few weeks, it's more the fact that it's a skecthed out R rated comedy that features hit and miss jokes. The plot, involving three guy that each plot to kill their own dead beat bosses, is so over the top that at some point during the movie I was telling myself "Is this actually happening?" - not a bad thing to say in a summer movie season filled with dread. However, incoherence is at work here. What saves Horribles Bosses is its performances. They are enjoyable because they feel so natural in an unnatural setting. Jamie Foxx is a highlight as Motherfucker Jones -that's right Motherfucker Jones- a hired assassin that helps our boys get through their tough ordeal. Props must also be given to Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day as our beloved, main dim wits. Sudeikis' over the top, stretchingly funny performance doesn't feel as inspired as Zach Galafanakis' turns in the Hangover movies but does bring some much needed looniness. Watch out for the scene in which he accidentally sniffs cocaine. How about our main villains? The bosses. They also keep the movie alive, even when it falters flat. Kevin Spacey is at his snarky best, Colin Farrell -check out that hilarious combover- hits a comedic peak and Jennifer Aniston gives one her sexier, better performances. Well then, after all this positiveness why do I not recommend Horrible Bosses? Its script -by Jonathan Goldstein- is a lost case, a story that doesn't know where to go and ends up going nowhere ditto the bland filmmaking from director Seth Gordon. It's a film that could have worked but instead does the job in a half assed kind of way.

★★½

Transformers 3 and why I'm allowed to say whatever the hell I want to say


Megan Fox, where art thou?

It takes a lot of bad to make a movie practically unwatchable. Michael Bay has had a knack over the years to make the unwatchable jump out on screen. His lack of cinematic subtleness is completely overdone and - combined with his knack for never having a a single shot lasting more than a few seconds - almost mind numbing. But don't worry little kiddies, Transformers 3 is primed and ready to fit the needs of horny teenagers all around the world and give hard-ons to macho juiced car crazy dumb asses with an IQ lower than 70. There's no concrete plot here, just bitches, robots and cars. Sounds like fun? it sure isn't. Combine that with the absence of Megan Fox, the only reason that made me give that damn single star digit rating to the first two films and you got a recipe for prime Michael Bay disaster. My question is what exactly is the limit to bashing such a money hungry enterprise? Should I have even reviewed such a film or just let it go and spared the filmmakers my two cents. I mean seriously, what were the chances I'd even like this film? Then again this is a free democracy we live in and we are allowed to give our two cents about any damn thing we experience. I'm reminded of a time when Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Travers bashed Bay's very own Con Air in a review so scathing it got Bay himself to write a letter of complaint to the Rolling Stone editors. Bay wanted Travers fired and said there was a clear bias in his review. They stood by Travers and his right to say what he wanted to say. Bay lost his war to shut down an opinion (and thank the heavens for that). Bay's movie has a kind of deliberate brainwash aspect to it that can easily infuriate the most adevnturous of movie goers. Add to the fact that its a mind numbing 157 minutes and is -of course- in 3D. Then again why wouldn't it be? This being a cash cow enterprise that wants to suck every possible penny out of its customers, the 3D is just an excuse to get the extra 3 bucks from its customers. This is the kind of movie that is not art at all, it's business as usual.


Why suck it out and even write a concrete description of the plot when it all feels just so useless. Bay is probably in bed with some hoes, burning 100 dollar bills as we speak and I'm here in my laptop writing about a movie that most likely represents the end of civilization as we know it. It's a discouraging image but one that most truthfully represents the Hollywood state of mind. Movie companies are paying bloggers and writers to like this shit. They're brainwashing the mainstream to buy into a formula that has long been dead and that surely belongs in the anal of cinema. However I do believe Bay is hating the negative critical reaction that has been thrust upon him following the release of his beloved Transformers 3. One can definitely see that with his bout against Peter Travers. A Cash cow doesn't just want money but also wants to be loved. Forget about it. He might be a Box Office darling but Bay is a critics nightmare - he's a director that has made a name for himself by treating his slam bam action in such a pornographic matter that it makes his sleazy, sexist depiction of women look tame in comparison. He loves to get close ups of female asses, bright glossed lips and perky tits. He's a male perv that is talking to the subconscious of all pubescent American teenagers. They dig this stuff. It's like soft core porn to them. Me? I'd rather watch paint dry or go to a seven hour workshop on customer service than get stuck in this movie hell hole ever again.

The first great movie of 2011



It isn't for me to actually call a movie a "masterpiece" or "great" but Terrence Malick's The Tree Of Life is just that - a mosaic of a film that tests an audiences limitations but more importantly the cinematic medium's limitations. No matter what faults you may have with Malick's movie, you cannot deny the sheer chutzpah and originality that went into its creation. There has never really been anything quite like it and I highly doubt there ever will be. Malick tries to transcend the boundaries of life itself by trying to find a kind of meaning that can possibly bind us with a higher power. His search is for transcendence, in the little moments that make and shape us. Death, morning, rebirth, transcendence are just a fraction of the themes being tackled here, suffice to say I don't think the Transformers 3 crowd will very warm up to the film's non linear narrative and constant use of abstract shapes and colors representing a kind of big bang.

This is a welcome return for Malick, who's last picture -The New World- I hadn't so much warmed up to as much as was just puzzled by its mystical nature. The Tree Of Life I got. I understood what Malick was aiming for, what his obsessions were and what he was trying to get at. The spiritual nature of the film is undeniable. Here's a film so ambitious that it sets out to find the meaning of life in its images and contrasting colors. It sets out to bring a kind of ecstasy to its audience, a maddening one in fact, that can resort to turning off the most austere, ignorant of audiences and puzzling the more adventurous ones. This is basically Malick refusing to please us with any easy answers and deciding to please his own subconscious in creating something that turns him on and that makes him curious about life itself. He is not only tormenting us but tormenting himself in saying there is no easy answer to be found in all this.

Malick tries to find his answers though the simplicities and cracks of life. He evokes memories of his own childhood into the life of an American family going through life's trials. Brad Pitt is Mr. O'brien, an overbearing, aggressive father to three children and husband to a quiet, fearful wife. She is played indelibly well by Jessica Chastain in a performance so incredible it will be talked about for ages upon ages in every film school imaginable, ditto the film of course. She is quiet because she has no power in the house, she is controlled and so are her children. The rare time we see her smile is when her husband is out of town and she celebrates with such giddy, exuberance, running with kids around the house. The scene is memorable because it shows darkness leaving and light entering. Every scene Pitt is in brings fear and trouble to the settings. He is a controlling, failed man that has lost touch of who he is. It's an incredible performance that might win him an Oscar nomination just like Chastain.

The Tree Of Life is a groundbreaker because it brings out a dimension to life we never thought existed. We get to see things we couldn't possibly imagine with Malick's poetic eye. Frustration might at times linger and it is nowhere near a perfect film (Why Sean Penn? What's with the ending?) but I'm reminded of a great quote by late film critic Pauline Kael who once said "great movies are rarely perfect movies" - that's how I feel about Malick's visionary mind fuck. It is such an inspiring work of art that you can't help but break out a smile at its originality. There hasn't been a more thoroughly breathtaking cinematic vision on screen in -it seems like- forever. People might hate it, people might curse it but they cannot deny its importance to the way we view the way we live and the way our world is shaped. Through the infinites of our deepest subconscious Malick asks us to take his hand and jump along with him, hipsters and tipsters might dig the hell out of his ideas but so could you. Go along with him.

★★★ ½ (PG-13)

A few more movies to prove that this summer movie season is a total disaster



Did we expect The Green Lantern to be any good? I didn't. Yet I still went to a screening hoping for it not to be a total disaster. Sadly it was. You can put it on the long list for worst movie of 2011. Director Martin Campbell -who did a solid job with Bond in Casino Royale- doesn't have much to work on here. Who are we kidding here, the Green Lantern was never one of the more exciting superheroes. The film adaptation proves it. It doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it an outer space film? is it a monster movie? is it a comedy? is it a drama? What if I answered none of the above .. anyways you get the picture. Add to the fact that I was never a big fan of Ryan Reynolds' -how shall I put this- acting chops and you got a movie recipe made in hell. The character's are hilariously sketched out in an unintended way and the space scenes are ridiculous. It's a great comedy. Seriously though, is there anything worth watching here? maybe the 3D which is better than most of the other 3D I've seen this summer (Cars 2 below) - However, I'd rather look at paint dry than watch this movie again.

I love Pixar so damn much. The classics they've released over the past 10 years are tremendous (Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, Toy Story 3) yet there's always been much hate directed towards 2006's Cars which -I'll admit it- did not have the inventiveness of the previously said titles but had a sweet, good natured simplicity to its Americana colors. I loved every second of it when I saw it 5 years ago at a screening room in Alberta's Lux movie theatre. Cars 2 I did not love. It is by far the worst movie in Pixar's short 17 year history. While the original had a sweet, simplicity to it, this one is all flash and turns into a predictable spy caper. The characters are wooden and the marketing for Cars products is all over the map. Not surprising considering Cars has become a billion dollar industry, from lunchboxes to toys Pixar has been milking it ever since the original's release. Another big mistake is concentrating the center of its plot on red-neck talkin Mater, a caricature that ranks amongst Pixar's worst. Here's to better Pixar in 2012 when Brave rolls out amidst great buzz.

Cameron Diaz does wonders with her role in Bad Teacher - a raunchy comedy that delivers in some scenes and drags in others. The film comes out after a slew of "Bad" films have been released over recent years, sadly this doesn't rank in the same bogusly outrageous MVP league as Bad Santa or Bad Lieutenant. At times the film earns its R rating and at others it's just too bland to be anywhere near PG. Yet Diaz nails her role as a slutty teacher that has always looks for the guy with the big paycheck. Low and behold a new teacher shows up -played geekily well by Justin Timberlake- a heir to a french watch company and the perfect target for Diaz's ambitions. From there on in it's hit and miss. When the jokes work they work well, when they don't it's a complete mess. As for what passes as a so called plot, well it's thin. The story is more sketch than actual movie and resorts to sap in its finale. The usually great Jason Segal can't do much for an underwritten role. It's Diaz that's the only one that comes out of this one alive, she's dynamite. I guess in Summer 2011 you just can't win them all.

The Green Lantern (PG-13) ★
Cars 2 (G) ★★
Bad Teacher (R) ★★½

JJ Abrams & "Super 8" try to lift up a summer filled with bummer



Here's a film that shares a distinct commonality to some of the great science fiction movies of the last decade such as Spielberg's War Of The Worlds and Neil Blomkampf's Distrct 9: Its ending sucks. You know what I say? It's just the ending. Before that Super 8 is really just a blast and is carried off by its young lead actors who show a remarkable presence on screen. I won't give too much away cause this is really just one of those movies you got to see without knowing much about. There's a train wreck in a small town and it's caught by these film obsessed kids shooting a movie of their own. The tragdy twists everything around in an otherwise quietly simple, mundane town. It's really in its mysteries that the film works best -- the guessing game is relentlessly inventive with a sly approach to not giving too much away to the audience and their hungry appetite for answers. Of course once the audience is fed the said mystery Super 8 crumbles in its own pretentious Hollywood formula, which is a real shame cause it really is just tremendous fun.

This nifty little -or actually big- project comes to us from Spielberg protege JJ Abrams, who always has nifty little tricks up his sleeves - The Lost finale anyone? -but has a knack to sometimes outdo his own ambitions such as what in fact happened in Lost's preaching finale and this film's final 20 minutes. Which is really all good since I'd rather have an artist strike out and miss with something fresh than watch the same, same old retreads weekend after weekend - Pirates Of The Carribean 4 anyone? The Green Lantern? What it really comes down to is ambition and none of the big studio movies out there right now have Super 8's ambition. Acknowledgment must be given to the true stars of the film, who aren't big names but in fact teenagers that have a natural way of showing to the camera what it really is like to be young and frightened. Elle Fanning -Dakota's younger sister- is a standout and really just knocked me out in an emotional scene at the beginning.

We still haven't found that one great movie of Summer 2011. Usually every summer brings us a film that will combine both artistic integrity with mass appeal (The Dark Knight, Wall E, Up, Inception) to create a work of art that almost everybody can agree upon. Super 8 tries to be that film but its too simple a concept and too familiar to really warrant a mark of greatness or a place in sciene fiction history. What it does have is heart and I wouldn't even be able to name you 1 movie so far this summer that has had enough heart and smarts to capture an entire nation hungry for the next big thing in theatres. It ain't coming folks, unless you're -of course- looking forward to Transformers 3, then you shouldn't even be reading this blog in the first place.

Super 8 (PG-13) ★★★

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