Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Symbol of Peace (2012)
"The Symbol of Peace" was a rare case where I didn't want the film to end. It's short, it's informative, and it creates an aura of peace with its visuals, movement, and music. It doesn't rely on Enya or Sigur Rós to give it that sense of tranquility but instead creates something new and refreshing.
This film played at the 2012 Austin Film Festival, and though I missed it while there, I had an opportunity to meet the director. Seeing the film after the fact, I'm even that much more impressed that he was only 17 years old. It will be interested to see where Mr. Vel goes from here. "The Symbol of Peace" is a good step in a great direction.
Big Fish (2003)
Tim Burton's Best Film?
Perhaps Tim Burton's best film, "Big Fish," I believe, is his most personal. It seems to have more heart and visual originality than his other pictures, and it was the beginning of his lasting partnership with John August. "Now wait," you say, "I think his style is unique to him." That may be the case nowadays, but go back and watch any of the German expressionistic or Universal horror films and you'll see where his inspiration originated.
The story of "Big Fish" is phenomenal and the visuals really complement it. Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor, Billy Crudup, and Marion Cotillard are phenomenal. This is by far, Burton's best overall cast he's worked with.
In the hands of any other director, this film would have been good. In the hands of Burton, the film becomes great! Not everything he touches becomes gold, but in this case, it did.
I wish the film would have gotten more academy attention, but Burton hardly ever turns their heads for anything other than his technical achievements. I hope that one day he can get recognized by them for his talent AND visual grandeur, but I think he'll have to direct another film of this caliber to get that recognition, and a film like "Big Fish" doesn't seem to be in Burton's future anytime soon.
The Long and Short of It (2003)
A lot of times, filmmakers and film students try to complicate things too much and end up creating a big mess of a story. Astin took a very simple idea and theme, planned and shot it well, and ultimately created a small work of art. Simplicity and great execution tend to be the characteristics that create really good short films. Think of all of the Pixar's shorts. Maybe that's why they bring home the best short film Oscars most of the time?
Cinematographer, Andrew Lesnie, does a great job in his acting debut as the grizzly painter! The part fits him well! Fon Chansantor is perfect and brings a smile of your face the first time you see her on screen. I can't forget to mention "Tall Paul" Randall who does delivers a fine wordless performance as well!
Congratulations to Mr. Astin on such a fine short. I've seen a lot of short films, but this is on of the best and my most favorite live-action short I've seen to date.
NOTE: Look for a cameo by Peter Jackson. It's pretty obvious which one he is!
Being There (1979)
Why did you have to die so soon?
I have always been fond of Peter Sellers, and "Being There" only solidified my love for him as this is his penultimate film.
The film stands alone as a good film, but it's themes about society and life are timeless. "Being There" will be one of the few films still admired a hundred years from now thanks to Deschenel's visuals, Sellers acting, and Ashby's direction. All of them are at the top of their craft. Uncontrived storytelling of this sort is something to be envied today.
This film made me smile the entire time, and the final scene was just the icing on the cake.
Check it out on BluRay and watch the special features. They're few but insightful, especially dealing with that final scene.
It's a shame that Sellers would die soon after "Being There" was released. I would have liked to see him in more dramatic roles. However, this one will suffice
The Hurt Locker (2008)
A good film in a year full of duds
An intense study on how war effects its soldiers, "Hurt Locker" is never cheesy or melodramatic (like many war movies tend to be at times), always believable in character and dialog, and unbearably nerve racking most of the time.
I really liked how extremely great and famous world actors show up for a few minutes and then they're gone. In fact, two appearances were so brief that I thought it was only someone who looked like that famous actor. Surely someone of their screen strength would get more time. Not so. That really was Guy Pierce and Ralph Fiennes and David Morse. Look closely, but don't blink, and you'll see them!
The "newer" actors in this film were top notch as well. Jeremy Renner deserves his nomination for best actor as does Kathryn Bigelow for directing (I'll be upset if she doesn't win). Those his work was top notch, Renner will probably lose to Jeff Bridges.
I think this film deserves best picture and director of the year. I don't think it'll win, but it's the best, most solid film I've seen in 2009.
Ram Dass, Fierce Grace (2001)
One of the best documentaries I've ever seen
As I watched it, I realized that it continued to get better and better as the runtime went on. Whereas most docs tend to wear down over time, this one did the exact opposite, and it ultimately has become one of the best documentary I've seen lately.
It doesn't have an agenda or message, and it doesn't rely on any manipulative music or narration to get a point across. It's just there for what it is, and it is amazing.
Ram Dass was and is still such an inspiring figure. The theme of death and seeing him so feeble makes me feel for the world when he finally passes on. If you have any interest in him, you should without a doubt watch this film. Even if you don't have any interest, you should give it a go. You might find him to be one of your new favorite philosophers and teachers!
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
From Disasterpiece to Masterpiece
Up front I'll say that I pretty much despise Quentin Tarantino. His arrogance, attitude, and elitism are quite unnerving. Before I saw "Basterds," I thought he'd only made two good movies.
Now, after watching this one, I'd say he's made three. I couldn't help but love almost every inch of the film. With Eli Roth en-tow and carrying the baggage of the "Grindhouse" disasterpiece, I thought we might be in for "Hostel part III" circa 1941. Seems I was wrong. The picture wasn't nearly as gory as I thought.
As always, Tarantino's eye for framing and storytelling puts him back toward the top of the American directors list for me. Even though his cockiness is still apparent, I feel it may be waning a bit (see the LA Times interview between him, Jim Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow, Peter Jackson, etc.), and he's just out to make amazing films. There were a few things where I thought, "Come on...really?" But for the most part, I really liked this movie. I think it and he deserve all of their hype. Mr. Tarantino, thanks for proving me wrong about you.
The Road (2009)
Perhaps the closest book-to-movie adaptation ever
One of the best books I read in 2009, and now it's one of the best movies I've seen in 2010. Someone please give Viggo Mortensen an Oscar. The man is one of the few true artists and best actors in Hollywood.
This is the closest book to movie adaptation I've ever seen. They didn't miss a beat, add anything (except for an earthquake), or take anything away that wasn't necessary. The movie captured the themes, visuals, and characters perfectly.
The movie, like the book, is very depressing, but it's nevertheless a fantastic film. I wish this film wouldn't have had so many blunders in its releasing, because I think that hurt it financially and with the Academy Awards.
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Who else does he have to talk to?
Vincent Price is one of my favorite actors, and this is one of his best movies. This, alongside "House on Haunted Hill," his minimal work in "Edward Scissorhands," and a few of his Edgar Allan Poe pictures, is by far his best work.
The movie has a good premise, though by today's standards seems overdone. This is the first incarnation of the "I am Legend" tale, and I'm sure it's the best. In fact, I put in the latest version with Will Smith in afterward, and I turned it off after 10 minutes. The most modern remake couldn't hold a candle to Mr. Price.
The movies has its share of camp and overused voice over, but he IS the last man on earth. Who does he have to talk to?
Note: I have yet to see any other incarnations of this tale, but I don't intend to.
It Might Get Loud (2008)
The Greatest Guitarists Of Their Generations
If you're a guitar player, you'll absolutely love this movie. I'm not a guitar player, and I liked it very much. The three players, The Edge, Jack White, and Jimmy Paige, are all equally as intriguing as the three potentially greatest guitarists of their own generations.
It's nice to see where and how each of them lives their life and hear some of the stories about their work and how they work. The Edge and Jimmy Paige have the most interesting back stories, the Edge dealing with the Irish violence of the 60s and 70s and Paige's background in early rock and roll, but Jack White's utter talent and creativity still manages to make him as interesting as the other two.
If you don't already love these three guys, you will when it's over. If you love them already, it'll only be increased that much more. Personally, I'm a huge fan of them all.