8 items from 2014
20. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Directed by: Terry Gilliam
So…drugs, right? Based on Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel of the same title, Fear and Loathing stars Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro as Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo, respectively. The pair is heading to Sin City, speeding through the Nevada desert, under the influence of mescaline. From there, the film is series a bizarre hallucinations seen through the eyes of Duke. So, we jump from hotel room to hotel room, all of the action a blur of what is happening and what really isn’t. Throughout the course of the film, Duke and/or Gonzo ingest the following drugs: mescaline, sunshine acid, diethyl ether, LSD, cocaine, and adenochrome (probably more). Duke – who is a Thompson stand-in – is supposed to be writing an article before heading back to Los Angeles, but tends to get sidetracked quite a bit. In »
- Joshua Gaul
Abel Ferrara has always been known for creating characters and stories that delve into extreme human behaviour, but his last couple of films have concerned events that he did not have to dream up. This summer, the filmmaker unveiled "Welcome To New York," the fictionalized tale of former Imf chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and now, just a couple of months later, Ferrara is in Venice where he's premiering "Pasolini," a feature about controversial, slain filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini. And a pretty great first trailer for the film has arrived. Vacillating between English, Italian and French, this looks to be a respectful and quite beautiful look at the director who brought "Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom" and "The Gospel According To St. Matthew" to cinemas. The movie will focus on the events surrounding Pasolini's murder: while a male prostitute initially confessed to the crime, he later said the act was coerced via. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Rome – The still-mysterious 1975 murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini, the Italian filmmaker, poet, and novelist known for “The Gospel According to Matthew” and “Salò – or the 120 Days of Sodom,” among other works, will get yet another cinematic treatment in Italian director David Grieco’s “La Macchinazione,” which started shooting today in Rome.
Grieco, who worked with Pasolini as a thesp in his “Theorema,” before becoming a journalist and, more recently, a helmer, is claiming he will shed new light on the final months in Pasolini’s life. The visionary Italian cultural figure, considered a towering figure of contemporary European cinema, was murdered on on All Soul’s Day Nov. 2, 1975, when he was run over by his »
- Nick Vivarelli
To say that our top three critics don’t always see eye-to-eye would be an understatement, but they can all agree on at least one thing: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is one of Wes Anderson’s best movies, and one of the strongest entries in a year that has so far offered no shortage of cinematic excellence. Also mentioned by at least one critic: a steamy gay-cruising thriller, a hotly debated biblical epic, and two staggeringly ambitious magnum opuses that clocked in at more than four hours apiece. There will be many more hours (and weeks, and months) of moviegoing to come before they have their final say on the year in movies, but at the moment, 2014 is off to an excellent start.
Here, listed in alphabetical order, are our critics’ picks for the best films released theatrically from January to June 2014:
Re-reading my Variety review of “Moonrise Kingdom,” I found the line, “While (Wes) Anderson is essentially a miniaturist, making dollhouse movies about meticulously appareled characters in perfectly appointed environments, each successive film finds him working on a more ambitious scale.” His latest is the apotheosis of that aesthetic — a nested series of stories as complex and intricately detailed as fine Swiss clockwork, given soul by the great Ralph Fiennes.
Between this and “The Lego Movie,” we’ve been spoiled by great animation this year. My expectations were sky-high for the follow-up to DreamWorks cartoon coming-of-ager, and writer-director Dean DeBlois exceeded them, delivering a sequel with integrity, one that respects and expands upon the original while aging the characters five years — a rarity in a medium where Bart Simpson has spent the last 25 years repeating Mrs. Krabappel’s fourth-grade class.
What an exhilarating experiment: Using just one actor (Tom Hardy), one location (a moving BMW) and a series of phone calls as his script, writer-director Steven Knight has crafted a gripping character-driven drama. It’s the polar opposite of all the comicbook movies hogging screens these days, not simply for its lack of visual effects and spandex suits, but because “Locke” recognizes that a flawed human being is infinitely more interesting than a superhero.
- Variety Staff
And here we are. The day after Easter and we’ve reached the top of the mountain. While compiling this list, it’s become evident that true religious films just aren’t made anymore (and if they are, they are widely panned). That being said, religious themes exist in more mainstream movies than ever, despite there being no deliberate attempts to dub the films “religious.” Faith, God, whatever you want to call it – it’s influenced the history of nations, of politics, of culture, and of film. And these are the most important films in that wheelhouse. There are only two American films in the top 10, and only one of them is in English.
courtesy of hilobrow.com
10. Andrei Rublev (1966)
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
A brutally expansive biopic about the Russian iconographer divided into nine chapters. Andrei Rublev (Anatoly Solonitsyn) is portrayed not as a silent monk, but a motivated artist working against social ruin, »
- Joshua Gaul
Look no further for a bracing antidote to hoary biblical epics on television and escapism that stretches belief from Ben Stiller
Every year, the aisles of Easter greeting cards in stationers' shops grow wider, as more commercial enterprises clock to the holiday's prettier-than-Christmas potential but the film industry, by and large, has resisted. The list of great Easter-related films is short, and the list of those available online considerably shorter. Happily, iTunes recently identified an exception by adding Pier Paolo Pasolini's rapturous The Gospel According to St. Matthew to their download roster and you could not ask for a more bracing antidote to the hoary biblical epics that TV programmers routinely trot out over this particular weekend.
Not at all the reading one might expect from the bristly gay Marxist, this spare, serene observation of Jesus Christ's trajectory from birth to death to, well, beyond instead surprises with its devotion to the text, »
- Guy Lodge
Written and Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
As an avowed Marxist, homosexual, and atheist, Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini may seem to some a dubious choice to have made one of the most austere, faithful, and simply one of the best films about the life and death of Jesus Christ. But, with The Gospel According to Matthew, from 1964, that’s exactly what the controversial filmmaker, poet, novelist, and theorist did. This gritty and unpolished depiction of the life of Christ contains many of the narrative hallmarks featured in other film versions of the same story: the virgin birth, the early miracles, the apostles, Christ’s persecution and, ultimately, the crucifixion. However, no other cinematic depiction of this well-known chronicle looks, sounds, or feels quite like this one.
- Jeremy Carr
With Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” and Ridley Scott’s “Exodus” preparing to duke it out for Old Testament auteur supremacy, Hollywood’s religious renaissance gets off to a none-too-spectacular start with a chewed-over New Testament appetizer called “Son of God.” A clumsily edited feature-length version of five episodes from History’s hugely popular 10-hour miniseries “The Bible,” this stiff, earnest production plays like a half-hearted throwback to the British-accented biblical dramas of yesteryear, its smallscreen genesis all too apparent in its Swiss-cheese construction and subpar production values. Yet while Jesus’ teachings have been reduced to a muddle of kindly gestures and mangled Scriptures, the scenes of his betrayal, death and resurrection crucially retain their emotional and dramatic power, which the charitable viewer may deem atonement enough for what feels, in all other respects, like a cynical cash grab.
As the first quasi-bigscreen account of the life of Jesus in the »
- Justin Chang
8 items from 2014
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