Showing posts with label Cinema. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cinema. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The French Dispatch


There are only a handful of films that I really wanted to see this year, and The French Dispatch is at the top of the list.
The message from the Cannes Film Festival is: Corona or not, the show must go on. The iconic French festival, which was as scheduled to run May 12-23 but was forced to cancel its physical event due to the coronavirus pandemic, on Wednesday unveiled its lineup for Cannes 2020, a selection of films that will carry the Cannes brand to screen at other events around the world.
The Cannes 2020 program includes many of the year's buzziest art house and indie titles — among them Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch, Naomi Kawase's True Mothers, François Ozon's Summer of '85, ADN aka DNA, directed by, and starring French filmmaker Maïwenn (Polisse) and Thomas Vinterberg’s pro-drinking drama Another Round. (Scroll down for the full line-up).

Don't take this to mean that it is the only thing I wanted to see. I suppose there are a few others, we don't get a Wes Anderson movie like this one often enough.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not just delaying the release of movies that are already made but it is also delaying the filming and production of movies that had been planned. And we all know how things fall apart--funding, whatever and what have you dries up when there is a delay. Add to that the struggles of everyone who works on films and you have a perfect storm for when we might have to settle for re-releases and encore presentations.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Jesus Rolls


Everything about this film looks wonderful:
Riding Off Into the Sunset: The Jesus Rolls feels less like an update of Blier’s blithe style and more like the kind of comedic whatsits of Italian directors Dino Risi, Mario Monicelli, Pietro Germi, and Alberto Lattuada. But this isn’t the first time the Italian Turturro has dipped a toe in the sandbox of Italian film: His 2005 musical Romance and Cigarettes has sincere Germi-influenced anarchy in its DNA; his 2010 historical drama Passione is all about the songs and dances found in Naples; he’s adapted a play set in pre-industrial Rome (Illuminata); and he’s acted for Palme d’Or winning Italian director Nanni Moretti among others of his fellow countrymen. 
That cultural affection is all over this film. Turturro manages to make upstate New York look like the Italian countryside, the dance breaks and wine on every table are snagged from a midcentury Italian romp, and the film liberally breathes between the gags. Scenes of Turturro and Cannavale riding innumerable trains to flee police are downright soothing, as is an extended detour at a beach house. This is a movie all about the weird pleasures of hanging out with friends who never say no to sensation, and the only time the fun threatens to come to an end are when they get close to death, which, thanks to the sweet and mournful tone, feels almost welcome.
It may not be the film you want, and there might only be a handful of super heroes in it, but this is the film America needs right now.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Parasite


The South Korean film Parasite is going to make a lot of heads explode. It is the work of a true auteur, depicts a culture that is entirely separate and unique, and it covers themes that are universal in size and scope. There is a version of this film that you could make in any language, any time, any culture.

Watching people go nuts because this film won multiple Oscars is worth the price of admission.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

You Were Never Going to be Happy


I won't properly review The Rise of Skywalker here, nor will I spoil anything for you. I will say this--American cinema is in bad, bad shape.

My overall, general reaction to this film is that it typifies the need to please everyone, especially foreign film markets, without having any core beliefs present in the actual film or story. This is a summer movie, released at Christmas, that should be taken as a fun ride through a world that is already familiar. If you take a step back and look at the Lucas films (the original three), the prequels, and the JJ Abrams series (Rian Johnson's lone contribution is meaningless here) as something to watch when nothing is on, they're fine.

Really, you could turn Brendan Fraser's Mummy movies into the "new" Star Wars and not miss a beat as long as you don't bring JJ Abrams in to ruin everything.  Neither are cinema. They're intended to be entertainment, and there's nothing wrong with that and there's no need to be snobbish about it. The fact is, they work on many levels. But they are not "elite" storytelling, nor are they as important as they are made out to be. In fact, they're just simple, enjoyable films that provide a lot of visual excitement. They are not films where adults speak to one another. They are films where adults escape from reality and shoot things that you don't mind seeing killed.

Here's my overall problem with that. Every attempt to make that excitement happen comes with a suspension of disbelief that gets old after a while. There's only so much you can take. And these films overload you with things that seem to be about marketing toys than they are about story telling.

Overhyped kiddie movies that are designed to appeal to teenagers in China? Yeah, I would agree with that. We make far too much of that crap right now. It's choking out actual creativity, little by little. Star Wars was supposed to revolutionize things. It did so visually, but did not improve story telling at all.

There's a really good story embedded here, and some day, someone will reboot that story and focus on it in a way that will really enhance it for an audience that, I hope, will be ready to experience it. There are hours and hours of performances from great actors that stumbles on dialogue that was added as an afterthought. Is there a single Star Wars screenplay that doesn't read like absolute shit? Honestly, with all of the writers in the world, you couldn't find someone to make the script work? Ever? And, yes, I remember the work Lawrence Kasdan did on the original films. Even he couldn't fully shine the turd.

You have talented actors in every scene, and some of the moments really shine. As a whole, there's not much for them to do except adapt to things that bounce around on a sound stage. There's very little acting between people, but, when there are real conversations, they are brief and forgotten on the next amusement ride through the green screen world that appears, as if by magic, and right on cue.

Star Wars was always more enjoyable as a book, for me, than it was as a film. I can remember reading the original movie tie-in books, as well as Splinter of the Mind's Eye and the series of canonical books that were released in the 1990s. This was always escapism for me, and I like that sort of thing. In the hands of skilled writers, the story is far more enjoyable than in the hands of film makers who are pressured on all sides to make something everyone will like that is full of things everyone will buy that won't offend everyone who lives in a part of the world that hates originality and rebellion.

Having said all of this, Rogue One is still the only decent Star Wars movie. I will welcome your agreement.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Slumming With Another Star Wars Movie




Given all of the nonsense and negativity that surrounds starring in a Star Wars movie, this is kind of a surprise:

Keri Russell is headed to a galaxy far, far away.

Sources tell Variety that the “Felicity” alum is in early talks to join J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: Episode IX,” which Abrams is writing and directing. Russell and Abrams last collaborated on 2006’s “Mission: Impossible III.”

The role calls for action-heavy fight scenes. Russell has shown her ability to perform tough stunts in projects like FX’s “The Americans,” “Mission: Impossible,” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

Abrams and Lucasfilm execs met with several actresses for the role in the past two months and settled on Russell right before the Fourth of July holiday. Abrams will likely cast two more actors by the time the film begins production at the end of the month. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver are all expected to return.

I hope they give Russell something interesting to do, and I hope it's more along the lines of what they had Laura Dern do the last time they put a female character in their little money-making thing.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Fate of the Furious




This movie could have been a bomb, but so what?

The eighth instillment of the 'Fast' franchise has already pulled in $432.2 million internationally. 

With only hours left in the weekend, ‘The Fate Of The Furious’ is on track to shatter the opening-weekend box office record set by ‘The Force Awakens’ in 2015.

As predicted by pundits, the eighth edition of the film series performed hugely in the worldwide box office in its opening weekend. In North America alone it earned $100.2 million – though, as Comic Book Resources note, this was actually lower than expected.

However, the movie went above-and-beyond for fans internationally pulling in $432.2 million which leaves the film at a projected total of $532.5 million.

If you're going to evaluate these films as if they were serious, thought-provoking treatments on family, international car theft, and mayhem, you could sit and dismantle them one by one. The entire series spans the careers of everyone involved. I'm not going to write a serious review. No spoilers here. I'm just going to give my reaction.

One, the whole thing is lacking in the Paul Walker department. Even CGI Paul Walker would have been welcome. Something. Anything. It's really sad, and Scott Eastwood is no Paul Walker.

Two, everything is implausible, but that's okay.

Three, Charlize Theron is a terrific villain. Hollywood should probably notice this.

Four, you can see why Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel don't get along. They are two alphas in a world full of wisecracking betas. This film looked like it took forever to shoot. If anyone or anything were to delay filming on such a complicated movie, I would get pissed, too.

Five, the real star of all of this should be Michelle Rodriguez, and she should get her own franchise. She's a tremendous star and is allowed to be tough and resilient and powerful in these films, but just not enough.

All in all, it was worth it and I was not disappointed. I did not arrive with huge expectations. They spent every penny of their budget well, and used more stunt persons than actual actors, it looked like.













Monday, January 9, 2017

Tom Hardy is the New Mad Max




I will always have a special place in my heart for the second Mad Max film, The Road Warrior. I think it was the best of the original trilogy and stands apart as one of the greatest dystopian films ever made.

Having said that, it would be foolish not to keep Tom Hardy in mind as the "new" Mad Max and it wouldn't be out of the question to make a new version of that original classic:

It's pretty much undeniable that the gritty, epic Mad Max is a masterpiece, certainly in part because of Tom Hardy's incredible acting. Now, it looks as though there will be Mad Max sequels coming, and Hardy says he'd be down.
When TheWrap asked Hardy about whether Mad Max sequels would be happening, he replied, "Yeah I believe so! I don't know when that starts, but I believe that's in the books. There's a couple of those floating around. I'm waiting for the call to come. It was so good, man."

I thought there were excellent characters in The Road Warrior, and I think it could be expanded for a modern re-telling.  That's not to say that a completely new and updated original movie wouldn't be welcome, either. But if you were going to remake something, you could do a lot worse.













Monday, December 22, 2014

None of These Clowns Are Worth the Attention




At some point, the trolling has to stop:

North Korea threatens to 'blow up' the White House after claiming to find 'clear evidence' that the GOVERNMENT was behind controversial Sony film The Interview

It now looks more like an inside job at Sony Pictures than it does anything else. And it looks to me like the extra attention granted to all three parties--Kim Jong Un, James Franco, and Seth Rogen--is about as shopworn as using a ticking time bomb as a plot device.

In a world...where things actually mattered...nobody would be talking about any of them. Ever.