Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Crimson Peak (2015)
Del Toro's gorgeous beast
"Crimson Peak" is a beautiful, melancholy, grotesque dream/nightmare; it's a true hybrid, a blend of Gothic romance, horror and fairy tale - the Brontes and Hitchcock, and much much more, all filtered through a wonderfully crazy Mexican genius. I do feel del Toro has created a new breed of beast, comprised of many different parts, a kind of Frankenstein monster, but gorgeous and feminine, tragic and beautiful, unique and multi-layered. The acting by Wasikowska, Hiddelston and Chastain is absolutely first rate - it's melodrama, as in classic Hollywood, but not maudlin or cartoonish, the actors still manage to be naturalistic and not come off artificial; they're both dramatic and subtle (beautiful work). The characters, representing the polarities of love/fear, past/future, transformation and decay, and the tension between, are archetypes, but, at the same time, they're complex individuals and profoundly human they must choose their own destiny.
What I feel is often missing these days, with all the formula, box- checking approach to movies, is real individuality - Crimson Peak is the full expression of a creative artist, it's not following trends or determined by committees; it's one person bringing multiple talents together to express a vision. This film is visually fantastic, romantic and hallucinatory, tragic and outrageous - it creates its own "logic" within a waking-dream reality.
A film like this, that blends genres, can bring out many different responses - it's not clearly, obviously, one thing, meeting one set of expectations, but if one approaches it with an open mind, engaging the imagination, it will resonate deeply long after viewing.
Madame Bovary (2014)
Mia Wasikowska in this new, atmospheric film adaptation of "Madame Bovary" (a revolutionary classic) makes a fascinating, sensitive, and convincing Emma; one that resembles not so much previous Bovary's from previous films, but actually the complicated, twenty-something, anti- heroine of the novel, which I've long loved. To me she captures a lot of the paradoxes and ambiguous aspects of Emma, and manages to create empathy while making so many foolish, self-destructive choices. I've watched the film twice, and by the second viewing I got past the differences from the book (I know all the dialogue and scenes) and the gradual pace of the film, and got into the stillness that builds to the emotional release. I haven't really felt any movie has come close to capturing the book (which may be an impossible feat) but this one has it's own poetic perspective, mystique and beauty (without the irony of the novel) and Mia's portrayal has the enigmatic, haunting qualities that have made me a Bovary addict.
Scenes of Emma running ornately clad through cow pastures vividly show her stranger-in-a-strange-land status (a peacock surrounded by peasantry). There were many references to her conflicted relationship to nature, including the hunt with the Marquis that I thought worked well, showing her, after the killing of the stag, seeking some power equal to men - in her case, she expressed it in her sexuality (through adultery), and conspicuous consumption; of course, this didn't work out too well. I think that in both the book and this film, Emma is seeking some measure of power, and of course love, but in a very unconscious way. The final, climactic scene was movingly done; it felt real to me. This version of "Madame Bovary" is quite haunting, with a sad beauty of its own.
The cinematography and the costumes are simply gorgeous, but they're more than eye-candy, they are integrally connected to the emotional changes in Emma and the times in which she lived.
Maps to the Stars (2014)
A Greater Constellation
"Maps to the Stars" is audacious and amazingly divisive - it's like some satirical, Greek tragedy, soap opera/sit com from hell. The film has brilliant acting all around, especially Julianne Moore and Mia Wasikowska (last seen together in "The Kids Are Alright") and some people will find it masterful and darkly funny, others will find it repellent (all those reactions are understandable). "Maps" is definitely disturbing - the ghoulishness of the characters may be too much for some, but I found it compelling, sad, and impossible to ignore. David Cronenberg doesn't make films for the faint of heart, and Bruce Wagner's script drips venom (while deftly embedding celestial and Dharmic law). Movies that dissect Hollywood have obviously been done before, but this one is about more than Hollywood (Heart of Darkness), and it may require more than one viewing to pick up all the threads and to connect all the "Stars" that individually burn and implode, but that when viewed from some distance, form a greater constellation.
Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
We've got all the time in the world ...
"Only Lovers Left Alive" is a film that's both poetic and ironic - it's underground, languid and cool. If you're not on it's wavelength it may just seem slow, but if you relax and give yourself over to its we've-got-all-the-time-in-the-world pacing, you begin to enter its hypnotic stream, and then what a pleasure it becomes. The film deals with love and mortality - the passage of time, what's of value and lasts, and what is just of the moment. There also is a generational theme, embodied in the four vampire characters (relative to vampire years): childhood, adolescence, mature adult, and old age. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddelston, as Adam and Eve, make a lovely and deeply romantic vampire couple - one for whom endless time has not been wasted - they're philosophical, sophisticated and so much in love. Tilda and Tom are perfection in these roles, their chemistry really holds the film together. John Hurt is the elder vampire mentor, Kit Marlowe, who has seen it all and has described it profoundly in the writings attributed to Shakespeare (a humorous dig at the old bard). After a while, Ava, Eve's impulsive little vampire-sprite of a sister, enters the film like a whirlwind out of L.A. ("Zombie Central") and proceeds to upend Adam and Eve's gentle world. Mia Wasikowska has a hell of a good time playing Ava as a wild, touchy-feely little jungle cat, always hungry, looking for diversion and a means to quench her endless thirst. Where Adam and Eve contemplate eternity, art and science, and a loving connection, Ava demands to be fed and wants to party. Finally, Ava's dangerous urges create a crisis that forces the vampire couple to set on another whole course. "Only Lovers Left Alive" is sensual and delicate with beautiful cinematography and a wonderfully evocative soundtrack. The film is refreshing and unique - it's both contemplative and funny, a welcomed antidote to our ADHD society and all it's endless noise, "full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing".
The Double (2013)
"The Double" - creative and quite brilliant
I got to see "The Double" at the San Francisco Film Festival. I thought the film was brilliant - very creative. It's surreal, eccentric, humorous and sad (it has a beautiful, unique look). I read somewhere a reviewer wrote, "whoever said nightmares couldn't also be funny". The film is kind of an existentialist, absurdist comedy, but also deadly serious. I was actually surprised that I also found it quite touching - I wasn't expecting that. Jesse Eisenberg does a great job in both roles, and the rest of the cast is flawless - Mia Wasikowska makes a luminous, lonely dream girl that Simon can't help feeling protective toward, but her character also has a darker side. I definitely want to see this again in it's theatrical run, and eventually get the blu-ray. For me this is going to be one of those multiple viewing movies, the kind I value the most.
"Tracks" - an authentic, beautiful film
After reading the book "Tracks", I found it difficult to imagine anyone being able to transfer it properly to cinema. Well, it took them years to do it, but thankfully they've achieved what seemed almost impossible. I saw "Tracks" yesterday and I found it truly moving. It's a beautiful film - not just in its transporting cinematography and landscapes, but beautiful for its truthfulness, its honesty. "Tracks" is both sublimely poetic and ruggedly authentic - it's emotionally raw. I didn't find one false note in the movie - no melodrama or stereotype characters that you see in most Hollywood films. Mia Wasikowska's performance demonstrates that old line from Keats, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" - it's a great performance - the epitome of soulful. The journey is as much her character's internal coming to terms with herself and the world, as it is the external journey, but nothing is spoon-fed to the audience. The film is psychological and spiritual and the landscapes and the actions reflect the central character's shedding of burdens and confronting herself in a naked environment - it's universal, but profoundly personal. One reviewer described it as "achingly beautiful", having now seen "Tracks", I feel that's an apt description. I think director John Curran and everyone involved in making the film has pulled off an extremely challenging project and have created something of lasting value. Congratulations.
Jane Eyre (2011)
An exquisite take on a timeless classic ...
Mia Wasikowska is brilliant as Jane Eyre - she brings soulfulness, intelligence and true pathos to the character. Michael Fassbender creates a living and breathing Rochester who is powerful, sensitive and magnetic - the two actors, together, truly create magic on-screen - I would say this is easily my favorite version of "Jane Eyre", by a wide margin. Without great central performances like these all would have been for nothing, but, fortunately, the actors delivered the goods, and then some (Wasikowska is truly a revelation). The film, however, has everything else going for it, too: the direction, the script, the brooding and gorgeous cinematography and a score that is one of the most memorable I've heard in some time (it accompanies and supports all the scenes perfectly and also holds up on it's own). This was such an exquisite film that I had to go back and read the novel all over again - when I did, I couldn't help but picture Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender and Dame Judi Dench as the characters - I now probably always will. "Jane Eyre", the book, is not some musty and quaint relic from the Victorian past, it is a timeless story that deeply touches our humanity - I was thankful for this film sending me back, once again, to Charlotte Bronte's wonderful classic.
Disturbing and beautiful
"Stoker" is a beautiful, twisted, hypnotic trance - it's meant for an audience not overly concrete in it's thinking but who have an open imagination and are able to take the plunge into the darkly poetic vision of it's director. "Stoker" doesn't exist in a normal, everyday reality - it's more of an alternative dream reality, hyper-aware and sexually charged. The three principle actors are superb, but Mia Wasikowska really gives the film a beating heart, as she emerges from her innocence into her latent self - a mesmerizing performance. This movie is filled with images that are as disturbing as they are lyrical and open to endless interpretation (along with a subversive wit). I've seen the film multiple times and find that my impressions change with each viewing and that it has really haunted my imagination. "Stoker" is one of those unique and mysterious masterpieces that I'm sure I will be returning to frequently over the years - there's much to drink in, as the well runs deep.