Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Fistful of Thoughts...about fallen Princesses, comebacks and cinematic loneliness!

Yup, it's that time again for us to shoot the shit!

So this week has been a bounty of awesome, and I really was debating biding my time a bit and posting this on Friday, in case more surfaced I wanted to talk about, but I couldn't wait.  I have been watching a certain Emma Stone video non-stop for the past two days, so I just had to go ahead and get your thoughts on this.

But first...

So, we’re on a first name basis now?

Nicolas Cage’s name has been a real deterrent for me when it comes to movies over the past few years.  I honestly actively avoid anything with his name attached.  I can’t honestly say that, until ‘The Croods’ last year, I had not seen a Nicolas Cage film since ‘World Trade Center’ in 2006.  In looking over his filmography, it looks like I didn’t miss much at all.  Now, when ‘Joe’ was announced I was intrigued because of two things.  First, David Gordon Green, while not a director I adore, has a pretty interesting filmography.  He has a unique style of direction, earthy and honest, and he likes to build on very human themes.  Second, and possibly more intriguing, was that it was staring (or co-staring) young Tye Sheridan.  Now I had just seen ‘Mud’, where Sheridan completely stole the show and cemented himself as one to watch.  I couldn’t wait to see him sink his teeth into something else.

But then there was Cage’s name at the top of the poster, and I hesitated.

I’m glad that the hesitation was brief, because while ‘Joe’ is not a perfect film, it is a very good one and offers Cage’s best performance since he won an Oscar, and one that completely strips him of every hammy, overbearing tick he has created as an actor and forces him to live outside of his persona and create something very intimate, very controlled and human.

But the film still belongs to Tye Sheridan.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

When this aired at Tribeca and then was subsequently released online by the film’s writer/producer Joss Whedon, I was excited.  The film looked, in stills at least, to be a beautiful film, and the concept was quite intriguing.  About ten minutes in, I knew that this was not a film for me and it had me questioning whether or not I even wanted to commit the entire hour and forty minutes to it.  I did, ultimately, watch the whole thing.

Maybe I just don’t get Wedon.  He’s been raved by so many who have been loyal followers of his television work for years, but I don’t watch TV and I have never seen the shows he raved about for.  Nope, never seen ‘Buffy’ or ‘Firefly’ and I honestly don’t care to.  I have seen his recent output theatrically though (whether directing or writing) and I haven’t been blown away.  ‘The Avengers’ was nice, but ‘Cabin in the Woods’ was so oversaturated and absurd and his take on Shakespeare was littered with actors who just dropped a thousand balls.  This cult following he has for churning out made-for-TV movies baffles me.

Less than ten minutes in and I was reminded why I never watch those ridiculous teen soap operas on The CW.

Today is a sad day...a very sad day.

I hate waking up to tragic news like this, but Bob Hoskins has passed away from pneumonia.  Back in 2012, Bob retired from acting after being diagnosed with Parkinson's.  I've been a fan of this man for years.  He was genuinely one of the finest actors of his (or any) generation, and this loss is heartbreaking.  I'm so sick and tired of this shit.  Gandolfini, Hoffman and now Hoskins!  We are losing some of the best actors to grace the big screen (and small) and it's starting to get to me.  My day is going to suck.  My heart goes out to his family and friends.  We lost a true legend, and they lost a beloved man.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Let's Review Something: Saving Mr. Banks

I know that I was supposed to hate this, but I honestly spent two hours last night crying, smiling and falling madly in love with ‘Saving Mr. Banks’.  Sure, it is a flawed film, in more ways than one, and the overt sentimentality of it all is sure to rub people the wrong way, and is one of those things that I have been known to criticize in other films, and yet there was something so pure and utterly enjoyable about every frame here that I couldn’t help but feel a deep swell of affection for this film, from start to finish.

It doesn’t hurt that ‘Mary Poppins’ is one of my favorite films of all time.  But then again, who doesn’t absolutely melt for that cinematic masterpiece.  The perfect blend of wit and charm coupled with a real emotional burst and some splendid life lessons, ‘Mary Poppins’ is a magical and perfect representation of what Disney stood for and continues to stand for. 

A film about the collaborative creation of that big screen classic is daunting, for sure.

Let's Review Something: Out of the Furnace

Sometimes you look at these small films that fly under the radar with reasonable reviews and find yourself a real gem.  They have powerful narratives and ample actors and they carry with them a pedigree that seems ripe for the taking, and the under the radar aspect only heightens the glisten when it really does pull something special off.  I had those high hopes for this film going in.  I love the ensemble, or at least generally respect them, and the trailer had me really excited.  The good notices yet no awards traction bolstered my anticipation because it felt like one of those small movies that had a lot to offer yet was unfairly disregarded or overlooked.

And ever since 2007 I’ve been waiting for Casey Affleck to just become a really big deal.

2014 Watch List: Second Third

Well, it's about time to post my next batch of anticipated films for the next four months.  I posted one back in January for the first third of the year, and in like manner, I'm going to post thirteen films (a Baker's Dozen) coming out in the next four months that I'm most excited for.  This doesn't mean that I'm going to see them all, but I'll make my best effort to.  Out of the thirteen films I wanted to see most from the first batch, I only saw five of them, despite having seen nine films (Nymphomaniac counts as two films, and I have yet to review In Your Eyes).  Still, I'm going to try really hard to see all of these (and catch up on the ones I missed from the first third).

This was much harder to narrow down, as there are a lot of films coming out of festival talk and big blockbusters and early Oscar fare and so narrowing this down was a real pain in the ass.  As it is, I left off films that I do plan on seeing regardless, and some that I may even see more easily (or readily) than some that made my list, but this is a list of the ones I'm most excited over, not necessarily the ones I'll see first.

Here we go!

A Fistful of Thoughts...about sputtering westerns, rousing epics and real head scratchers!

So, this is quickly becoming my favorite series here at A Fistful of Films because it gives me a chance to just talk about a ton of stuff that caught my eye over the week, weekend or just yesterday.  I originally intended this to be a once a week type thing, but I'm thinking that this is just going to happen anytime I have five or more stories to weigh in on.

I have five things to talk about!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Poetry in the Movies Blogathon

So, Dell on Movies is hosting his first ever blogathon, and it is inspired by National Poetry Month.  Yes, this is a poetry based blogathon, and as a longtime lover of poetry, it was something I really wanted to partake in.  My only wish is that I heard about this before, you know, YESTERDAY!  Wendell, you are now on my blog-roll.  I won’t miss another one of these!

So, sadly, this may feel a tad rushed because of the fact that I have pretty much today to put this together (I don’t blog on the weekends and the blogathon ends on Sunday) but I encourage anyone seeing this that has the time to put a post up to do so!  Now, Two Dollar Cinema set this bar really, really high with his…um…poem, but I’m not even going to attempt that.

I really wanted to, but…no.

Here are the rules:

A Fistful of Links...

Posts That Made Me...

And So It Begins gives us a nice look at the career of the legendary Bill Murray.

Two Dollar Cinema reviews one of the best movies of 2008...In Bruges!

So, it was Shakespeare's birthday last week...and Fandango Groovers give him some love!

While it makes me jealous as fuck, it also makes me smile that Film Actually was at Tribeca for the Festival.  Here is his take on the films he saw.

The Matinee is at Hot Docs right now, and is constantly updating his blog with reviews of what he's seeing.  If you're into documentary films, check out his take on what you should see this year!

This isn't really from this week, but I'm new to Dell on Movies, and he's hosting a blogathon (that is due in like two days) that is so poetic I think I'll have to cram it in this afternoon!

Sometimes a great cast does not equal a great movie, and Flixchatter asks us to come up with examples of this sort of letdown.

My Filmviews is always good for a question to ponder, and the latest trend of movie 'previews' offers great fodder for consideration.

I love that some actors work so well together they form lasting cinematic relationships.  Focused Filmographer asks us to think (and vote) on our favorites.

The Movie Scrutineer offers some great food for thought on the current state of the horror genre.

I love that Film Lovers Paradise posted their 1995 Top Ten the very same day I posted my Fisti Awards!

So, And So It Begins is quickly becoming my favorite blog on the web (thus landing on this link-off TWICE) and his breakdown of the best director/actor collaborations is yet another reason as to why!

Defiant Success picks up the baton and sets off on a sprint with The Ten Most Iconic Movie Characters relay.

The 2003 Supporting Actress Oscar race has been largely debated, mostly due to that win, but who doesn't want to debate some more...and The Film Experience offers us up their take (and the take of many others) on the race!

I was going to link his poll, but as of today The Cinematic Spectacle's award have a name!  Here is the first official ballot for the CinSpec Awards!

I've already posted my predictions, but it feels about time for an update, and Tit for Tat just posted his take on the inevitable race.

I've been really debating whether or not to waste my money on Transcendence this weekend, but more and more ink like A Space Blogyssey's makes me question my desire more and more.

Gotta love Devil's Advocate, and while most everyone I talk to ADORES Inside Llewyn Davis, Rambling Film raises some doubt.  

I hate to say that I actively avoided Bollywood all these years, but it's true...but this post from Being Norma Jean has me wondering if I'm missing something special.

Lastly, I have NOT read this analysis from Cinematic Corner on the mindfuck known as Enemy, but I'm sure it's great food for thought, and the minute I actually get to see this movie (cannot wait) I'll be sure to weigh in on her thoughts as well!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Fistful of Thoughts...about Disney, hotties and perverts!

So, a lot of shit is happening this week and is continuing to happen and, while I was planning on holding off until next week for another one of these posts, there is just too much going on and I really wanted to talk about all of this now!

I'm sure there will be much more to discuss next week as well.

This edition of A Fistful of Thoughts is giving us everything from beloved fables being beaten to death, a group of hotties either getting due recognition, getting casting calls or lowering their standards and then, right smack dab in the middle, we get to talk about one of the most salacious and controversial scandals to float Hollywood since that open letter penned to Woody Allen.

So let's shoot some shit.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What is overrated?

So, yesterday I stumbled onto a list put together by Tim Robey, a film critic for The Telegraph.  I think most of the world saw the list, or at least the cinephile world that I often associate with.  The list was on the ten most overrated films of all time.


I’m not going to get into some serious bashing here, because that’s never really productive, but his list (which is kind of ridiculous on so many levels) got me thinking.  What does ‘overrated’ really mean?  In looking at this list, I’m not sure that Tim Robey even knows.  His list is a strange mixture of films that the majority of people have never seen, some films that Oscar embraced but film enthusiasts have disregarded and then some films that the average moviegoer fell in love with.  So, pick your vein.  Is a film overrated because the average family man loves it, because Oscar loved it or because the critics loved it, but on this list it’s a little confusing since rarely do these attributes crossover. 

I don’t think that putting a definitive list like this together is possible, or health really.  It’s really more pretentious than anything else.  Now, I’ve put lists together before, so I’m not saying that lists are a bad thing.  We live in a society where lists are just really, really popular.  Everyone I know, especially those who are infatuated with film or music or art of some medium, love to list, rank and evaluate their opinions.  I’m an advocate for this, but putting together a list of this nature can get complicated and messy.

It’s too vague.

I mean, let’s take a look at Robey’s list:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Let's Review Something: A Touch of Sin

Some films feel very important and feel as though they grasp at a deeper meaning but also feel as though they can’t possibly reach that meaning to a wider audience because their scope is limited to a specific environment.  You watch these films with an open mind, but because you are so far removed from the subject it all washes over like broadly stroked portraits of events that mean one thing to us (Violence!  Greed!  Corruption!), but don’t truly mean to us what they mean to those who live in the midst of it.  Yes, we all experience the universal effects of things such as violence and corruption, but a film that dwells on the immediate effect felt by the Chinese can’t possibly probe that same feeling in the hearts of an American man who has never set foot on Chinese soil or read up on their political history.

Unless it’s filmed with a sense of awareness of that fact.

A Fistful of Thoughts...about sloppy-seconds, desperate actors and some wishful thinking!

Another week, another edition of A Fistful of Thoughts!  Let's see how long I actually keep this up for.  When compiling this I actually felt like dedicating this to my fellow-blogger and vocal JLaw hater, Sati, but I didn't (or did I?).  Yes, Jennifer Lawrence is all over this news coverage (sort of) or at least smack dab in the middle of it!

So what are we talking about this week?

Monday, April 21, 2014

1995 Fisti Awards!

WHAT!?!?!?!  I didn't win a Fisti?
So, I finally wrapped up the 1995 Fisti Awards and posted them on Friday.  It was late though and so I didn’t post any kind of alert here that they were up.  I wanted to have some time to write something about the year itself, since it’s kind of an amazing year for film.  I know that a lot of people will remember this year for that garish soap opera known as ‘Braveheart’, but while the film was very pretty, it was not one of my favorites of the year (not by a LONG shot). 

No, 1995 was a lot more earthy and honest in my eyes.  My top three films have a very dark central theme and share a similar morality conundrum that makes them so richly fleshed out. 

1995 is also an odd year for me in that it is largely American in scope.  If you have been following the Fistis, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of foreign film.  Only three times (so far) has my Best Picture ballot contained ONLY English language films, and even then they have been littered with nominations in the top 8 for foreign films, either for writing or acting or directing.  1995 only has ONE foreign language film nominated in the top 8 categories, and it’s a writing mention (and a 5th place one at that).  This year was just SO RICH with American films.  Also, 8 of Oscar’s acting nominees are present here (9 if you count Spacey, who is nominated for a different film) and in retrospect, my lineups all look very Oscary (there are a lot of ‘stars’ in my lineups).  Still, I can’t help but love what I love, and this year brought some of our biggest stars their best roles!  From period pieces to sadistic thrillers to the birth of Pixar, 1995 is just kind of amazing!

So, what do you think of my ballots?  Feel free to comment your thoughts below.

Blind Spot Series 2014: Shadow of a Doubt

Well, it's the end of April (well, not quite but almost) and the due date for this month's Blind Spot entry was bumped up a week, which works out great for me since I'm always early with this anyways.  This month I even held off on watching the film and took it in over the weekend (and in one sitting this time, which rarely happens for me thanks to all the kids).  I have to say, this month's blind spot was,  without a shadow of a doubt, the most rewarding so far and it has me so anxious to dig into next month (La Belle et la Bete is actually recording this week off TCM, so YAY for life!), but I'll do my best to hold off a few weeks.

This is my fourth blind spot this year.  If you haven't yet, you can read my thoughts on Sergeant York, Penny Serenade and The Shop Around the Corner as well.

Friday, April 18, 2014

God is in the Movies!

I’m going to be honest with you all.  I started this blogathon for one really dumb reason; I liked the name of it.  I felt clever for once and was like “that sounds like it would be a cool blogathon” and then I felt almost instantly in over my head.  I tried this blogathon thing once before, and it was kind of an embarrassing failure, but try and try and try again, right?  So, without thinking too much about it I put it all out there. 

Come, be my follower!

All that hesitation and skepticism and trepidation aside, the more I thought about what this blogathon could bring to the surface the more I was really, really glad I just went for it.  Faith, religion, God…these are all so personal and present us all with so many conflicting and passionate feelings.  You want to know a surefire way to make someone angry, and I mean ‘throw a tantrum, call you a heathen, wish death upon your entire family’ kind of mad?  Debate their religious beliefs with them.  I’ve always found this aspect of human nature alarming in a few ways.  First, why are we so savage when it comes to ideas about a God who is supposed to be so kind and loving?  I mean, do we really think that God is smiling down at us while we are seething with anger and berating someone for their personal beliefs in him?  I’ve never understood how someone can be so tactless and so vile when speaking about a symbol of love.  I wasn’t brought up that way.  It doesn’t mean I agree with you, but I’m not going to cast down fire from the heavens to swallow you up either.  The other reason I find this alarming is because I feel like this passion alone makes the subject so valid.  I mean, we don’t get fired up about things that don’t matter.

I’ve often said this to my wife, when we have one of those stupid arguments that ends with us wanted to scream “I hate you, I want a divorce”; you can’t have love without hate.  You can’t really love something if it doesn’t affect you so deeply to the point where you absolutely HATE it from time to time.  In line with that, I guess that real passion, real love for something as complex as God can give us those same explosive feelings.

It really only makes sense then that film would discuss God in so many different ways.  Film is essentially a medium for passion, and what isn’t more passion driven than faith?  So I put it to my fellow bloggers to find a film or a specific avenue of depicted faith that moved them the most and that made them want to keep watching.  I results were as varied as they were interesting.

But before we get to them, I guess I should answer my own question.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Fistful of Links...

I know that it's not Friday, but I have something else planned for tomorrow (God is in the Movies!) and so I'll be linking more posts for that, and I didn't want to go overboard in a singular day with link after link after link, and then again, I just started my 'Fistful of Links' last week and didn't want to skip a week already,'s here a day early.

But, since when is that a bad thing?

Following a similar format:

Posts That Made Me...

I hate that Bruce Willis is an afterthought for so many when it comes to Pulp Fiction.  His segments in the film are probably my favorite, and he really deserved an Oscar nomination!  Thankfully, The Film Experience chose to highlight him this week.

I love anything relating to Vertigo, and Rambling Film chose it for her Blind Spot this month!  I know she'll get a link elsewhere at the end of the month for this, but I love how honest Britt is with her Blind Spot reviews.  Who cares what the rest of the world thinks...SPEAK YOUR TRUTH GIRL!

jdbrecords is always so kind as to highlight the work of others, and this week is no exception.  He has the most eclectic taste in music and art, and it shows in this post regarding the work of Jeremy Olson.

Surrender to the Void pens a beautiful (and accurate) review of the 2004 Best Picture winner.  Finally, someone else who loves this as much as I do!  WHY is this film so berated?

Film Actually reviews a film I haven't seen but think I aught to!

I know that this post is technically from last week, but I really wanted to highlight a Kickstarter campaign for a special cause.  Please check out the work The Matinee's wife is doing.

The two Andersons (the ones that matter) are up for debate over at Keith & the Movies!  Love this post and love this discussion!

Another Oscar Oddity from The Cinematic Spectacle!  

Who doesn't love a great dual role?  I mean, when an actor you know and love can tackle TWO characters in a single film and make it work, it's heaven!  And So It Begins breaks down his top ten.  Do you agree?

I don't have the highest esteem for Denzel Washington.  It's not that I don't think he's talented, but I do find him severely overrated.  That being said, he exudes such charisma and I often forget that.  Serious Film reminded me of that this week.

Speaking of someone I'm not as keen on as the rest of the world, I also find Jessica Chastain incredibly overrated, but My New Plaid Pants gushes a little over her, and over a performance that I particularly found bland.  Should I give it another watch?

I've written my thoughts on The Broken Circle Breakdown (I didn't really care for it), but Defiant Success really did, so take a gander at their post regarding the deeply emotional and controversial movie.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It all falls flat in the Amazon…

I didn’t watch the original ‘Rio’ until earlier this year, and the only reason I did that was because my kids really wanted to see ‘Rio 2’ and I refuse to see a sequel without first seeing the original (or something like that).  I don’t know.  ‘Rio’ was playing on the Disney Channel or something like that and so I decided to give it a go despite not being interested in seeing it at all.

So, I rather hated the original.  It’s not that the film is bad, it’s just so dull.  How can something so bright and cheery and colorful be so unexciting?

Sadly, I had the same question while watching ‘Rio 2’.

For a film that has so much going on, so many different characters, so many side plots, so many voices and, like I mentioned, so many colors, there is something so incredibly mundane and uninteresting about ‘Rio 2’ that it winds up being a complete bore of a film.  I know that this is not the consensus (or is it?) but I can’t help but be completely bewildered by all the praise that this film, and the original, received from my friends and family.

You liked this?

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: The Letter

Procrastination is a bitch.  I mean, I seriously sit on things for too long, or maybe it is just that I have so much I want to do that I forget to prioritize.  Either way, when Nate over at The Film Experience announced his lineup for upcoming 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' entries, I knew that I wanted to participate, especially for this one.  As soon as I saw 'The Letter' in the lineup I knew the shot I wanted to choose.  So I guess, in this case, procrastination didn't hit me too hard since it was a VERY easy choice.

Before I unveil that pic (and yes, I'm going to stick to rules and not even show any other pics) I just want to note something.  'The Letter' may have the single best bookends to any film ever made in the history of forever, and I know that that is pretty intense hyperbole, but it is richly deserved.  While censorship demanding the ending the film received, it is one of the rare times when that censorship actually works to the benefit of the film and leaves the viewer with such a haunting and lingering feeling.  The film just blares into existence and then leaves us in a very similar yet contrasted way (similar actions, contrasted tones) that it feels so alive and so unbridled.  

I will always have a soft spot for this film.  It was one of the first classics that my wife actually watched with me.  All too often I find myself alone at midnight watching TCM and wishing I has someone to share it all with (thank GOD for the cinematic blogging community), but one rainy night my wife said "I'll watch one of your black and white movies with you" and we settled on this one.


A Fistful of Thoughts...about King David, angry rappers, and some Oscar snubbies!

I'm writing too many reviews.  Well, not really, but I don't want this blog to basically turn into one long feed of review after review.  That wasn't the only intention I had when starting this blog.  I wanted to talk about all aspects of film!  I know, I do that, but lately I've been catching up on so many films that it feels like I only have time to post one review after the other.  In fact, I'll probably post a review for Rio 2 this afternoon.

So let's take a few minutes to just shoot the shit.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Let's Review Something: The Book Thief

This may make me sound really stupid, but it always takes me aback when I realize that the atrocities of the Holocaust and Hitler’s regime took place during the 1900’s.  Seeing dates that took place in the late 30’s and early 40’s splash onto the screen while watching this film made my stomach curl a little more because it made these events feel so recent, and in my mind they aren’t.  I guess that is the horror of real life, the realization that these things do happen and happen in the lifetimes of those we know, love and hold dear.  It isn’t that I didn’t know they took place so recently, because I did, but it isn’t a reality that I acknowledge enough for it to not be shocking.

Am I making sense?

Anyways, that was the first thing that struck me about ‘The Book Thief’.  These events, while harrowing in their historical relevance, are still relevant today because they are much closer to home than we often realize. 

Sadly, the second thing I noticed was not as endearing.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Fistful of Links...

I just want all of my blogging friends to know that, yes, I do read your blogs.  I love you guys all so much and love this little community that we have created here (truth be told, it was established well before I started this blog, but I'm so privileged to be a part of it) and I think that it is important to let each other know that.  I know that when I first started writing reviews for films, about ten years ago, it was all about me.  I just wanted to write everything down because film really became ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT.  That really hasn't changed.  I think about film about 17 hours of the 24 in the day, and the only reason I don't think about it for 24 consecutive hours is because I have to sleep...but when I wind up awake in the middle of the night with a teething baby or a sick child, I'm usually on the couch watching...a MOVIE!

Anyways, when I first started this journey into the world of movie critique, I didn't even bother with what anyone else had to say.  I just wrote and posted (on Amazon) and then wrote and posted some more.  Then I stumbled onto a little site called AwardsDaily and found their forums and I realized that writing and posting without any sort of conversation, communication, debate...whatever...was just so incomplete.  How can you love something or grow in that love for something unless you talk with other people who love it too?

Those forums are now AwardsWatch, and they also have their own site now (separate from the forums) and they are pretty much my home away from home.

From that forum spurned the desire to have my own blog, a place where I could just talk and talk and talk and hopefully find more people who share my love that I can communicate with on the regular (wow, that was an outdated phrase).  It was a slow start, but this blog has grown and my personal community has grown and I just love you all so much (did I say that already?).  

So, in ode to my fellow bloggers, I have decided to make my Fridays a linktastic day of the week (unless, you know, I'm on vacation) and have 'A Fistful of Links' to close out the end of the week and highlight the posts that have caught my eye and made me think, smile, question or debate over the course of the week.  A number of you already do this, and I have to tell you that receiving a link form you is one of the best feelings I have as a blogger.  I honestly have a very Sally Field moment each and every time.  "You love really love me!"  I tell myself almost every Friday that I'm going to do this and then the day gets away from me and I forget.


So, going back to the opening comment, I want you all to know that I do read your posts.  I don't always get the chance to comment, and sometimes I actually forget to even though I have something I really want to say, but I am constantly visiting your blogs and reading through and even going back and seeing where you started from, what you were thinking months ago, because for me getting to know you is what makes blogging and being part of your blogging family so special.  

Now, don't go digging here, since the first few posts on this site are a true embarrassment.

So, enough talking already!  Get to the links!  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Let's Review Something: The Past

Sometimes, when you have such a dramatic high, the world expects too much of you to the point where nothing you put out, even the good stuff, is met with this glance of disapproval and disappointment because it just isn’t what everyone expected.  Lofty expectations can be a killer, to both the audience and the filmmaker.  A lot was made of Asghar Farhadi’s follow-up to the sensational Oscar winner, ‘A Separation’.  I know that it was high on my ‘must see’ list, and everything about the film, including the mystery surrounding the plot, had me all in.

I couldn’t wait for this!

Sadly, I missed this in the theater (or is it a sad thing?) and so I had to wait for the DVD to drop, but once it did I snatched it up and settled in the other night to take in what I expected to be sheer greatness.

I was left scratching my head a bit, completely disappointed in this film and wondering if it was because I expected too much or because the film just simply isn’t very good.

I’ve settled on the later.

Let's Review Something: Kill Your Darlings

I will admit, I am not entirely familiar with the Beat Generation.  In fact, I hadn’t even heard the term, despite knowing the names involved, until I saw this film.  How embarrassing is that!  On the other hand, I was familiar with the time, the place and the people mentioned, to at least a degree strong enough to make their names, actions and contributions ring true to me.  While never having read any of his work, Jack Kerouac is a name I’m very familiar with, as is William S. Burroughs, and while I didn’t know all the surrounding circumstances, I was at least familiar with the murder of David Kammerer.

I knew it happened, and that Lucien Carr was responsible.

For me, a film like ‘Kill Your Darlings’ works almost for the same reason that it doesn’t work.  It is, in essence, two separate films wedged together to create something that resembles a whole film, but because of that it steps away from the obvious at times long enough to create something that feels more stimulating.  While it does deal with the murder itself, and the relationships that surround the people involved (either through actions or knowledge), the film is steeped in something bigger than that.

And yet, one can easily fault the film for spreading itself too thin in an attempt to cover more than necessary, for some of the issues it claims to consider wind up feeling very lost in the shuffle.

It’s a mixed bag, and so is this review.

Let's Review Something: The Great Beauty

So few films really exemplify their titles the way that ‘The Great Beauty’ does. 

Not only is the film visually stunning, but on the flipside, the film finds ways to not only become emotionally ‘beautiful’ but also exploitive of the not so beautiful moments, the moments glossed over with a beauty that is not wholly admirable or lasting.  ‘The Great Beauty’ is, without a doubt, a film about life in its entirety and as such it is beautiful and ugly at the very same time.

I hate the saying ‘they just didn’t get it’ even though I have used it in the past.  It just feels so passé to say that the reason someone doesn’t like something is because they ‘didn’t get it’.  The truth of the matter is that there are times with there is nothing to get, and even at that, we all respond to films (well, life in general) in different ways and with different vantage points and so there are times when something we see in a film is not seen by others simply because, for them, it isn’t there.  Who am I to say that they NEED to see the beauty in something that they so clearly don’t.  For me, film is such a personal experience, and because of that I gravitate to films that find a way to touch me personally.

‘The Great Beauty’ did that for me.

Let's Review Something: The Counselor

I don’t know about you, but I really hate when a film I’m highly anticipating shows itself to be a huge waste of time.  When the year began (2013) there was one film that was at the VERY top of my most anticipated list; ‘The Counselor’.  This just had everything I wanted in a movie.  First, it had an original screenplay (the first) written by Cormac McCarthy, who writes such marvelously constructed books that served for some really great films in the aughts (namely ‘No Country for Old Men’ and ‘The Road’).  Next, it had a pretty stellar cast.  I mean, Fassbender is so hot right now (in more than one way) and the idea of Cruz, Bardem, Pitt, Perez and Ganz in the same film made me really excited.  Third, early word was that the script was crazy and that the plum role of the devilish Malkina was going to Cameron Diaz, an actress who is really underrated and deserved a break, critically.  But really, the sole reason I was rooting for this to work was that Ridley Scott is in dire need of a true comeback, and I was praying that this was going to finally be his Oscar ticket.

This was absolutely, undeniably, 100% abysmal.

Let's Review Something: The Kings of Summer

I think I’ve come to the realization that you just cannot be cool anymore unless you watch TV, and I mean regularly.  I never watch anything on television that doesn’t involve some sort of competition or isn’t some syndicated rerun of a show that was around when I was a teenager.  I don’t really know why, but maybe it has to do with the fact that there are only so many hours in a day and only so much time I have allotted for ‘in front of the TV’ and so I either watch brainless stuff I can veg out to while I’m awaiting sleep to overtake me, or I watch a movie.  Still, with myself FINALLY getting on Twitter, I have come to see that everyone I follow is constantly ‘tweeting’ about this show and that show and this actor in that show that I don’t watch and thus have no idea who they are, and I feel so constantly out of the loop.

What does that have to do with this review?

Well, I had no idea who Nick Offerman was until I saw ‘We’re the Millers’ a few months ago, and then seeing him here and hearing all the “OMG we love him” come from everyone who has seen this or who I’ve talked to about this made me realize that if I don’t start watching TV soon I’m not going to know who anyone is anymore.  I mean, this cast is made up almost entirely of television actors.

Nick Robinson…‘Melissa & Joey’
Gabriel Basso…‘The Big C’
Moises Arias…‘Hannah Montana’ and recently ‘The Middle’
Nick Offerman…‘Parks and Recreation’
Erin  Moriarty…‘One Life to Live’, ‘Red Widow’ and now ‘True Detective’
And we all know who Megan Mullally is.

Seriously, I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve seen NONE of these shows and knew who NONE of these people were, outside of Mullally, and that’s because I watch SYNDICATED ‘Will and Grace’.

I’m so out of touch.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A wide-eyed European spectacle…

Wes Anderson has such a distinct visual style.  His films are always uniquely his own, carrying his stamp of stylistic integrity and feeling very identifiable.  You’ll never see one of his films and wonder to yourself, “who directed this?” because his work is that identifiable.  This is a good thing when you’re style and identity is as wonderfully fleshed out and ‘complete’ as Wes Anderson’s.  This isn’t to say that I fall head over heels for everything he does, because I don’t.  I’ve been cool to a few of his films, but after 2012’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’, it was apparent to me that Anderson was about to be on a streak. 

I was wholly smitten and still consider it a masterpiece.

When it was announced that ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ was going to be his next film, a lot of bees began buzzing about the tremendous cast he compiled, and despite the fact that it drew to mind the unfortunate ‘The Exotic Marigold Hotel’, no one ever had to worry that this film would suffer the same fate, despite having Tom Wilkinson (who was easily the BEST thing about that ‘Marigold’ movie) in the cast.

I think I drooled for about a week after the trailer was dropped and Ralph Fiennes was seen in full on comedic awesomeness.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Five for the Fifth: or my answers to Ruth's questions from...SATURDAY!!!

I know I’m late.  It’s the 7th, and I generally try and knock these out on the day that Ruth posts them, but that was on Saturday, and as a rule (that is VERY rarely broken), I don’t touch my blog on the weekends.  I’m obsessed enough with it as it is, so devoting my weekend to nothing but my friends and family is kind of a must for me.

So here we are, two days late and so I’m tempted to turn this into a ‘Seven for the Seventh’ and ask Ruth two questions, but I’m just not up to that right now.

I’m so fucking tired.  Teething children are the devil.


Anyways, enough about me, let’s talk about Ruth, or more specifically, her five questions!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Ten: most iconic movie characters RELAY!

Blogathons are so much fun.  They give our community a chance to come together with different ideas and blend those ideas into a composite post that lets the blogging world get a taste of so much in one blast.  Nostra, over at My Film Views, has put together a special kind of blogathon, a relay race if you will, where the blogosphere can unite in coming up with a composite Top Ten.  This Top Ten is concerning the most iconic characters in film history.

So much pressure!

This relay has already exchanged a few hands.  It all started with Nostra’s initial list, which was altered by Keith and then by Ruth and now, thanks to Ruth, it’ll be altered yet again by me.

Here are the official rules, straight from Nostra’s mouth:

A list of 10 iconic movie characters has been made. That list will be assigned to another blogger who can then change it by removing one character (describing why they think it should not be on the list) and replace it with another one (also with motivation) and hand over the baton to another blogger. Once assigned that blogger will have to put his/her post up within a week. If this is not the case the blogger who assigned it has to reassign it to another blogger. After you have posted your update leave the link in the comments here and I will make sure it gets added to the overview post.

So, before we get to my alterations, here is the list as it stands:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Trailer Break: Lucy

Yes, this could very well be a hot mess, but ScarJo looks incredibly badass here and this trailer is cut to fucking perfection!  Oh dear lord does this look amazing.  The return of ScarJo is one of the greatest things to happen to film in years.  Yes please...YES PLEASE!

An early look at Oscar frontrunners...?

And you get an Oscar, and you get an Oscar, and you get a...nomination!

Alright, so if Josh and I weren’t already crazy enough trying to predict the nominees this far out, we’re also tackling who we think is going to take home to gold, based on our early predictions.  I have to say, we are extremely varied here, which is pretty awesome.  We agree on a few names, but overall it is clear where our bullish predictions lie and which films we are either assuming will hit hard with AMPAS, or maybe secretly hoping and praying will.

Let’s take this one category at a time…

Drink a pint in remembrance of a true Legend...

The man, the legend...Alec Guinness!
He may have left us nearly fourteen years ago, but his legacy will remain forever and there are many reasons as to why.  Today he would have turned 100!  So, why do you love Alec Guinness?  For me, the reasons are clear.

For me, Guinness will remain one of the greatest of all time because he delivered us:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

And the Fisti goes to...

Wait...what the FUCK?  Not a single nomination?
So, I'm finally ready to post my personal ballots for the 1981 Fisti Awards.  You can find them here.  This was a really rewarding year for me.  Going in, I had already seen the Oscar nominees (at least in Best Picture) and was impressed, if not a tad underwhelmed.  I actually really like the year's Oscar winner despite the fact that it is not mentioned ANYWHERE on my ballots.  That wasn't intentional at all, but this year was just so rich.  It was like every film I saw was better than the last.  My acting winners are some of my favorite ever, especially in the Lead categories.  This is also the second confirmed Musical win in the Best Picture category!  The previous winner was Les Girls, from 1957.  Have a gander.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Official April Oscar Predictions

There are so many contenders this early out that predicting is really hard, as we all know, and best we can hope for is to get one or two of these correct.  I really didn’t want to labor these too much.  Last year I spent MONTHS compiling possible contenders in all categories and trying to reason out every alternative and it was all so exhausting.  I can’t get into that now.  So, I’m just going for it. 

Again, as with last year, I teamed up with Josh over at The Cinematic Spectacle to post simultaneous predictions, seeing where we match up and which films we are supporting separately.  We are in far more unison this year than we were last year.  We seem to have our eyes on the same batch of films and names, so I’m ready for some shake ups to come!

Let’s get this thing started: