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My Blog is http://observationblogger.wordpress.com/
13 Assassins The Long Good Friday Tokyo Story They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Cat on a Hot tin Roof Amélie The Good the Bad and the Ugly African Queen V For Vendetta
I also have a blog which contains some discussion about movies and other things at http://observationblogger.wordpress.com/
Newest addition to list:
Blue is the Warmest Colour, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moneyball, Smiles of a Summer Night, Persona
My latest movie recommendations are the following -
Blue is the Warmest Colour 2013 (France)
Blue is an extraordinary love story about desire; desire to eat, desire to sleep with someone, desire to dance and it is portrayed within a relationship between two women. Blue is that gritty realism which lies at the heart of great European cinema; a similar vein to the classic works of European directors Cassavetes, Bergman and Bertolucci. I also noted similarities in themes and emotional complexity to that other standout movie about a homosexual relationship – Brokeback Mountain. I’ll have to wait to see if Blue allures me in the same way Brokeback has after repeated viewings.
Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen Brothers)
The depth of detail in each scene is remarkable. Each scene is history. People will be peeling back its layers for years, decades to come. Llewyn calls Columbia to inform Goldstien that he has his cat, the secretary clearly says "Tell him, 'Llewyn is THE cat'".
Blue Jasmine 2013 (Woody Allen) -
This is my favourite Woody Allen movie without a shadow of doubt. Cate Blanchett is at her absolute peak. Magnificent direction and fabulous script. Movie making doesn't get much better than this even if the storyline closely resembles 'A Streetcar named Desire'. One of my favourite movies of the year. Slotted it in at 49 on my list.
Winter Light 1963 (Ingmar Bergman)
I found this film mesmerizing. From the very first scene, I was pulled into this melancholic, thought provoking tour de force of art-house cinema. It is deftly directed with such sublime sensibility and intimacy. The realism is extraordinary; few if any other movies I have seen are so authentically delivered. Like many of Bergman’s movies, ‘Winter Light’ challenges us to reflect on our own lives, our very existence, essentially what it means ‘to be’.
Being There (1979)
'Being There' A fairly solid depressing tale but not an overly satisfying one.
I don't mind the odd depressing tale, but when its done so meakishly that you pity EVERYTHING in the world including every character except our protagonist Chance, it becomes an almost Sci Fi movie. Not unlike the untold history of our protagonist this movie is littered with ignorance and downright incredibility. It's like his bed which Chance says is facing north but we realise early on that he is actually facing towards the opposite direction. All the time 'as viewers' we are to believe that everyone except the maid believes he is this wondrous, illusive ingenious political player. The believing in this story is almost counter-intuitive to our good senses as insightful human beings.
He is so wise that he advises the president on policy using a simple gardening philosophy, but not the least does this feel authentic, yet we are so supposed to play along. And I try. Outtakes at the end which show the real actor Peter Sellers laughing at his own lines, is kind of a kick in the head, but reaffirming to to my line of argument. Like Kubrick's 'Dr Strangelove' which also stars our main man Peter Sellers, I was entranced for the first 50 minutes, but the remainder I was underwhelmed for the experience. May be it's a Seller's thing which doesn't rub off well on me, although I did admire his acting in this and Kubrick's Strangelove to some degree.
I get where the director wanted to go and how they wanted to get there. But to use Chance's kind of philosophy, 'it's like a bud of a burgeoning flower which sprouts its Hollywood wings to become a plethora of bigger Hollywood makings which will burden us in the 80′s with its plentiful incredulous story lines requiring an even much greater degree of 'suspension of belief.'
I don't take this movie lightly as it one of my ol' mans favourites, but unfortunately we will have to agree to disagree on this being a 'classic movie'. I wish he had seen more European movies especially those by a man called Ingmar Bergman and he probably wished I'd seen more by Sellers. Such is the way.
My 100 favorite movies http://www.imdb.com/list/Uvw_F2_GMx8/ What are your favorites?
Manhattan - A Stupendous Movie About Dating and Relationships.
I can't think of a more charming and thought provoking movie about dating and relationships than Manhattan. It possesses such realistic dialog and probing commentary on the desperate nature of human beings in search of love. Also it demonstrates Woody's unrequited love for Manhattan, which is firmly stated in the introductory narration. Although I haven't been to Manhattan, I have read numerous accounts stating that Woody Allen has captured the essence of Manhattan in this movie. This is what it feels like. Through Allen's lenses we are also seeing what a City is supposed to be.
I was amused to see Woody Allen's character Isaac sticking up for the 'only genius' he knows in Cinema - Ingmar Bergman. Referring to a new acquaintance who is the lover of his best friend, Isaac says to his 17 year old girlfriend, '...if she had made one more remark about Bergman, I would've knocked her other contact lens out.' The dialog is so sharp that it's always one step ahead of the viewer. You really don't know where the next frenetic thought of Allen will take you. Just don't expect someone to shrug their shoulders, slap their forehead and with mid-rising intonation say d'uh! It's not that kind of comedy. It's not the show, 'Friends'. Manhattan contains perplexing and often dark adult humor.
The other aspect of Manhattan which struck me was just how influential it must have been on the hugely successful 90's sit com Seinfeld and the subsequent Larry David self mockumentary, Curb your Enthusiasm. The characterizations and conversation themes are just too similar. Elaine Benes is almost a direct copy of Diane Keating's 'Mary'. Her mannerisms, modern feminism attitude and even her outfits have an uncanny resemblance to Allen's Mary. Jason Alexander did say in the Seinfeld Chronicles that when he auditioned he did basically a straight up imitation of Woody Allen. 'It was all Woody' or words to that effect.
Woody Allen is a wonderful actor. It wasn't something I had fully appreciated until seeing this. The real eye opener for me however was his 17 year old lover played by Mariel Hemmingway. Her sensitivity and vulnerability shone so brightly - a truly incredible and touching performance, and from one so young.
Oh and other things like the irrepressibly beautiful soundtrack and cinematography. Well that would require another review to mention the superlatives of each.
I found Manhattan a completely different movie to Annie Hall, but in an improved sense. The story seemed to have more vigor and I admired the acting a heck of a lot more. I might have been expecting too much from Annie since it was my first Allen movie and it had been parodied to death. I need to see both movies again to be more conclusive about which I like better. One thing is for certain, 'Manhattan' is a fantastic dating movie. If you want something to provoke an insightful relationship conversation with your better half, then Manhattan is it! I'm looking forward to seeing Hannah and her Sisters next. Supposedly Allen didn't like Manhattan, which surprises me, but I wonder was it because its totality or essence was a bit close to home? I've noticed his more recent movies involve stories which far less encapsulate an 'introspective' Woody and more driven towards showcasing other uniquely neurotic characters and harder driven stories and plots.
It's this Jewish humour (is this the Lenny Bruce genre everyone talks about?), which undoubtedly is my favourite style of humour because it is so witty and introspective and doesn't belittle the audience's intelligence.... on the contrary.
The verdict? This is essential 'Allen', me thinks, despite what Woody may think.
Winter Light (1963) Ingmar Bergman
Marta Lundberg, an atheist local school teacher sits and laments at the church pew because she is deeply in love with a pastor whose faith in God, himself and Marta is dwindling into an existential nothingness. At the point of her absolute utter despair she is confronted by Satan who takes on the appearance of the church organist. This is her Garden of Gethsemane.
Welcome to Life on Earth.
I found this film mesmerizing. From the very first scene, I was pulled into this melancholic, thought provoking tour de force of art-house cinema. It is deftly directed with such sublime sensibility and intimacy. The realism is extraordinary; few if any other movies I have seen are so authentically delivered. Like many of Bergman's movies, 'Winter Light' challenges us to reflect on our own lives, our very existence, essentially what it means 'to be'.
Many reviews remark how it is steeped in connotations of religion, but I found its themes closer resembling aspects of 'Faith'. Not just faith in God, but faith in oneself, faith in one's partner, faith in what it means to be human. For me, it didn't require multiple viewings to fully appreciate this Tower of Movie. I got why Bergman said: "I think I have made just one picture that I really like, and that is Winter Light Everything is exactly as I wanted to have it, in every second of this picture." Ingmar Bergman from Ingmar Bergman Directs by John Simon 1972.
Despite arriving at this movie without any prior knowledge whatsoever, except that it was Bergman, as the last scene faded to black an awe of respect made me laugh as I stood from the armchair of this Bergman ride from a theme park like no other. To my mind, this isn't a movie, its best described as a vision, a vision so pure and finessed to screen that its almost like walking into someone else's dream, but by the last act you realize it could be more akin to your subconscious, because really this vision has been imparted to you.
The plot, multilayered symbolism and striking metaphors to the events of 'The Passion of Christ' and human suffering (Christians and atheists alike) could be discussed at infinite length, but I'll leave that to the 'movielogians' rather than influence the mind set of someone who may intend on watching this movie. Bring all your baggage to this movie and see how it effects you without preconceived notions of the story or plot. If you revel in films that are challenging, thought-provoking and stimulating you might also find yourself living in this movie. See this film.
American Hustle (2013)
'Love and Theft' American Hustle (2013) A movie review
I was not a big fan by any stretch of the work of director David Russell. I liked The Fighter a lot, but I detested the second half of Silver Linings Playbook. I came the long way round to watching this recent critics' favorite. I was aware some months ago that Martin Scorsese was making a new movie called, The Wolf of Wall Street. I quickly got my hands on the book by the same name this movie is based. By the half way point, I was very disappointed splurging whatever I had to procure this garbage.
What didn't make sense to me was why Scorsese would put all his effort on promoting arguably one of the most vial, detesting and uninteresting characters in recent memory, that being Jordan Belfort. I had decided if The Wolf movie even closely resembled this scumbag's book, I would not pay to see it since I felt it a moral sacrilege to give my hard earn money to promoting his name in anyway shape or form. Criminals from Goodfellas I can understand, heck they were interesting and paid for their crimes. This guy Belfort as one reviewer put it, 'kills people's dreams - that's much more insidious'.
Don't worry there is a connection coming. As I browsed reviews of The Wolf on Wall Street movie, I noticed an interesting connection in what people were writing about it and David Russell's, American Hustle. What was this Scorsese connection between the two? I had to find out. As I mentioned, David Russell's previous attempt Silver Linings Playbook didn't resonate well with me and I was unsure if American Hustle would live up to the hype. I wrote a review about Silver which you can find under my movie reviews here.
Anyone even remotely familiar with Scorsese cannot deny that David Russell has lent heavily from Scorsese's quintessential best movies to make American Hustle . The narratives, the music and editing, in particular the first half of the movie all point toward a seeming homage to Scorsese's 90's work, specifically Casino. Even De Niro makes a key entrance in a role so reminiscent of Casino wearing the same ginormous glasses Scorsese left us with in the final scene. Many have described that Russell has borrowed more from Goodfellas, but I don't see it as much I do with Casino. Borrowing and immersing material from populist culture is not new to David Russell's work. I noticed in Silver Linings how a lot of the writing involved character's spilling their theories on popular books, quoting from classic literature, recalling superstitious notions regarding football teams, blatant marketing of iPods and musings about the greatest music. It seemed as though Silver was more a satire or social commentary about how materialistic and consumer obsessed our society is.
There is no denying that Russell in his new movie, American Hustle has once again demonstrated his passion for heightening the senses regarding materialism and social trends given its almost perverse saturation of 1970's references. He tries so hard to draw his audiences in by fairly superficial materialistic means like the barrage of 1970's music, John Travolta dancing, the uncanny focus on men and women's hair styles, cleavage, drugs, money, quirkiness etc etc and of course that's fine, the movie is based in the 70's. But how much of it seems real? Does hearing Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in the middle of the movie connect with what we are seeing on screen or is it thrown in because it will strike a chord with audiences?
One could argue, the movie eventually does stand on its own two feet. Unlike Silver Linings which leads to an eventual Strictly Ballroom squeamish sequence, this movie does the opposite. It leads to some great plot twists which enhance the explosivity of the situations our protagonists find themselves. Thank God, it is not predictable. American Hustle eventually does becomes its own beast. The acting is very good. Christian Bale as always is exceptional and the female cast, Amy Adams worth noting is excellent. I liked her seductress ways in The Master as well. Their are a lot of comical undertones and at times in your face laugh out loud moments you might find yourself questioning, 'Should I actually be laughing at this'? Ironically, there isn't much physical action in this, but the script is so super solid you wonder how a director could screw this up. There were apparently lots of improvisation in this movie which undoubtedly enhanced its spontaneity and feel of realism. The cheeky manipulation and seductive powers of the female leads was expertly delivered and how the embattled men craved their scanty approval was almost the stuff of Shakespeare.
These are modern times and this movie is for modern audiences. I admired Russell's The Fighter because of it's originality and I detested Silver Linings Playbook for the exact opposite reason. But American Hustle broaches the two. Love and Theft I call it, like the title of Bob Dylan's 2001 classic album which also borrows heavily from other sources, but still stands up on its own as something quite fresh. Fresh, how? That's hard to place your finger on.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
I was so underwhelmed. Be wary of the hype!
I saw it tonight and I was very disappointed. SPOILERS AHEAD! The first 40 - 50 minutes was good, perhaps even very good (it had a similar feel and authenticity to 'Good Will Hunting'), but after that it just lost the plot both literally and metaphorically. For me there is nothing worse than viewing a movie which begins to take itself seriously and then turns about and disengages from it's 'modus operandi' to impress certain Hollywood production sticklers and comply with a target market audience. Moreover it didn't represent bi - polar disorder accurately nor any major mental illness for that matter. Actions have consequences, the movie seemed to skip that major truth about life which detracted from its overall authenticity. The movie began feeling 'soul driven' and genuine, but gradually, and at times 'jaw droppingly' that feeling dissipated and by the end it was a gross misrepresentation of what it set out to be.
It was too predictable. It was frequently corny and in particular the house betting fiasco scene which was entirely off kilter with the rest of the film and so was the night of the dance (dirty dancing in reverse role scenario and rehash of 'strictly ballroom' for the egocentrics) and the penultimate scene rung too much of 'When Harry met Sally' and most other clichéd Hollywood romantic comedy endings.
From about 50 minutes onwards very little of the script was original nor was it even a smidgeon thought provoking. A lot of the writing involved character's telling their theories on popular books, superstition about football teams, the necessity to own an ipod and which music is best. One thing it did highlight well is how materialistic and basically obsessed our society is with consumerism and modern fads, but I am unsure if that was the intention of the director. Robert De Niro and Jacky Weaver were miscast and totally unbelievable in their respective roles. Particularly how Jacky Weaver was nominated is one of the greatest mysteries of Oscar acting nomination history. I did however like the music and think the soundtrack was excellent. Other than that I am giving it a 5/10.
I cannot remember seeing such a poor Oscar nominated film especially one which started off with such promise only to turn into a Hollywood satire of itself by the end. Go see something highly original and genuine throughout like 'The Master', which unfortunately hasn't been nominated as best picture probably because it's way ahead of it's time (my review http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1560747/reviews-208) or 'Life of Pi' (my review at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454876/reviews-335)
The Master (2012)
Master Class Character study of Alter Egos (Spoilers)
I had the great fortune of seeing this movie 2 days ago and it hasn't really left my mind. It seems to be challenging me to find something about how I can be more attune to understanding my weaknesses and how I view my relationships with others. 'Human frailty and search for answers /redemption' are basically the central themes of this movie.
But alas the great irony (to me anyhow), you'll find no such redemption or typical narrative Hollywood storytelling in this movie. Nor do we follow a similar path tread by any other movies, none which I can recall anyway. The acting by Joaquin Phoenix is utterly primevil and engrossing. We don't arrive at the end and say, 'oh that guy is a better person for thinking this or behaving like that'. There are no resolutions. It is a story about an intense and complicated friendship (some say love story) between two men with alter egos who despite their obvious inadequacies and at times repulsive behaviour find some extraordinary kinship in trusting and believing in one another.
Here in lies the tragedy - the summation of such a profound friendship does not equate to much by the end and this is where many viewers will find the movie unclear/inconclusive and or simply off putting..... That despite such a profound kinship between the two egomaniacs, the movie and the characters essentially ends where it begun. They seem to be souls touched but as easily untouched by each other and those around them. To me the Joaquin Phoenix character is in fact the alter ego of Hoffman's Cult Leader character which is explained in the last scene between the two. 'His sworn enemy in the next life'. I bet there are character traits about ourselves which we would swear now in this present day will be our sworn enemy in the next life. What's the message of the movie? It's just like life. Find it for yourself. Despite the movie being extremely thought provoking it basically leaves us to pick up the pieces and assess what it means to us.
I found this movie extremely absorbing viewing which I highly recommend.
I currently have it as 48 on my favourites list, but on repeated viewings which no doubt there will be I imagine it may even go higher. I would be interested to know what others think of this alter ego theory or more generally how the movie affected them.
My 100 favorite movies http://www.imdb.com/list/Uvw_F2_GMx8/ What are your favorites?
Life of Pi (2012)
I cannot remember seeing a better movie in the Cinema. MASTERPIECE!
I just got back from seeing it tonight. I can't remember seeing any movie in the cinema more captivating, spiritually enlightening and adventure-filled. This movie is indeed a MASTERPIECE which will be talked about and loved for many years to come. Like Gandhi was to politics, this movie is like an important missing piece of item to the religion baggage as portrayed in cinema.
Ang Lee is such a brave, but elegant director. I grew to love 'Brokeback Mountain' and I now consider that a masterpiece too and whilst these movies are totally different in nearly every aspect Ang Less is able to make Characters shine with such authenticity that amplifies the beauty of human imperfection like so few director's can.
The movie reminded me a lot of Amadeus. It had a similar story telling tone and intensity. I think Amadeus is better, (although time will tell) but this movie is also an epic of similar spiritual proportions and has brought to the screen something totally original and an almost child like adventurous spirit and innocence that has been missing from modern-day cinema for nearly as long as I can remember.
I do hope it wins the Academy Award for best picture. Unfortunately, 'The Master' by Paul Thomas Anderson movie wasn't nominated, probably because it's too far ahead of it's time. (see my review for 'the master' - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1560747/reviews-208)
It's about time such a movie as 'Life of Pi' gets the nod for being simply a spiritual wondrous adventure filled movie that I always wished I had seen as a kid. It's as though I was thrown back in time. I cannot wait to see it again and again.