"Treasure of Sierra Madre" is one of the best Western films, even though some may not consider it a Western. Humphrey Bogart, famous mostly for his looks and not his talent, is exceptionally good in this film. The fact that money and power changes all, or mostly all, is nicely conveyed by a symbol and metaphor, in this John Huston must-see film.
"Natural born killers" is MTV on LSD. In a barrage of images juxtaposed in jump cut style editing that last no longer than a few seconds, we become passengers on a hallucinatory and murderous trip.
Oliver Stone's film shows the creation of the celebrity culture through television and its negative impact on our understanding of entertainment. Mickey and Mallory Knox start as murderers but they are escalated into stardom by reality TV host Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.) and his hunger for higher ratings.
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is a martial arts ballet told in shades of green.
In Chinese philosophy the color green symbolizes knowledge and this film is the "greenest" film I have ever seen. Not only is the sword green but the environment around the characters is almost exclusively the shade of that color.
I'm not going to talk about the plot of the film; you can find that information on numerous review sites. What I want to talk about is the film's message and what it meant to me. After seeing "You will meet a tall dark stranger" I was a little reluctant to see “Midnight in Paris”, because Woody Allen has made some hit/miss films for the last several years. I was hoping to repeat the eye-opening, funny and charming experience that I had when I saw "Vicky Christina Barcelona."Even though it lacks the depth that is prevalent in his earlier work, “Midnight in Paris” is a beautifully photographed film with a strong and prominent message.
Touch of Evil was released by Universal in 1958 on the bottom half of a double bill, in a version butchered by the studio over Welles’s passionate protests.
By 1965 Touch of Evil still had virtually no recognition in the United States. Though it earned high praise from Truffaut and Godard in 1958, Americans generally thought it a sleazy crime picture. By late 60s, the film was regarded as international film masterpiece.
A friend of mine told me "You should see DRIVE. You will like it." I just said "Yeah?" and kept going on with my day.
I'm not big fan of Hollywood cinema; they tend to make the same film over and over again. The formula works and many enjoy it, but I want to see something different; something that will make me think.
Then another friend said, "Did you see DRIVE? It's not an action movie." Well, now I had to see it; not because it wasn't an action movie but because I was curious to see what my friends thought I would like in a movie.
To watch the film is to experience a visual symphony with minimalistic sound.
The film is broken into 4 segments - The Dawn of Man, Mission to the moon, Mission to Jupiter and Re-birth.
All of the segments are open for interpretation so here is my take on it:
“Hitchcock only finishes a picture 60 percent, I have to finish it for him,” says the composer Bernard Herrmann during an interview with Brown.
Even though I think that Herrmann’s statement might be an exaggeration, to some extent there is a lot of truth in it. Let’s imagine the famous scene from Psycho – the murder of Janet Leigh and the unforgettable violent sound of violins. How would the scene have felt without violins, as Hitchcock wanted initially? It would have lost its momentum, and the entire film would have left a completely different impression on the audience.
The Elephant Man, is a touching story that left me with mixed feelings. I not only felt empathy and emptiness, but also an anger with the world. Human cruelty is always present, and the hunger for entertainment often sacrifices morals and values. This type of entertainment profits off of weakness and misfortune to satisfy the masses.
Requiem For A Dream, explores the lengths to which people are willing to go to achieve their dreams, while simultaneously demonstrating the destructive nature of addiction and its uncontrollable influence on the addict. The production is Darren Aronofsky’s vision of this tangled “journey” filled with good intentions, wrong choices and resulting destruction portrayed beautifully in the film’s three plot lines-Summer, Fall, and Winter.
In many of Hitchcock's films, the story unfolds through the point of view of his male lead. He has the strange ability to portray both scopophilic and voyeuristic tendencies and to objectify women in such a seamless way that it can escape the attention of the audience. Moreover, in Rear Window, the gaze is the catalyst for the progression of the film’s narrative and the commentary that the apartment complex represents.
The film,"I am Cuba", is a remarkable piece of cinematography. Thematically the content is Anti-American propaganda which is unappealing to me. But as a film, it's truly overwhelming. According to my understanding of the art of cinematography, I will rank the film as one of my 10 favorites, along with Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, L’Aventura, The Conformist, and Rashomon.
There are numerous shots in the film, which are mind boggling and I still can't figure out how they achieved them. There were no special effects and no computer manipulation. This film is a visual tour-de-force and I recommend it to anyone interested in directing and cinematography.
What irritated me the most was the narration. I felt that the visuals were expressive enough without the additional voice-over.
Nevertheless, It was an extraordinary experience watching the film and I’ll never forget it.
4 / 5
Director: Mikhail Kalatozov
Staring: Enrique Pineda Barnet, Yevgeni Yevtushenko
What audiences need is more films that can tell simple stories as well as provoke us with subject matter. Stories that urge us to congregate at the coffee house post-screening and “force” us to discuss how our daily lives parallel or differ from what we have just seen. Stories that make us think about changing our habits of narcissism and self-absorption. Stories that encourage us to think outside the box and contemplate how we might change the corporate driven society we live in with its myth of personal freedom .
After all the glory following the cultural rebellion of the 60s, what was left as the 70s approached, was a strong sense of decaying values in every aspect of life. If we cannot learn from the past then we are going to lose the true sense of ourselves, of who we are.
What Gimme Shelter portrays is a lost decade, with lost ideals, where the next stage to follow is attitude and hunger for money, as we see in Spinal Tap.
The film takes place in Harlem, New York from 1928 to 1931 and combines song and dance with drama. The director, Francis Ford Coppola, looks back at the peak of the legendary Harlem nightclub where blacks performed to a white audience. Most of the gangster scheming, normal for that era, were staged in public places, like the Cotton Club.
Lone Star, by John Sayles, is a feature film that blends drama, mystery, romance and social issues. The film deals with a murder and a love story but is mostly about how people from different cultures and generations try to live together.
The narrative of the film is about borders. While jumping about in time, the story unveils different borders that often separate, instead of promote a crossing point for peaceful exchange - between countries, between past and present, and between cultures. The director's editing technique where the camera “pans” to the past without fade-outs, cutting, or breaking the action, suggest that the present and past are tied intimately together, and both live within us. Every individual is free to choose whether to bury their past, merge it into the present, or just live for today without looking back: “The blood only means what you let it.”
The final scene shows Pilar and Sam sitting at a blank screen and discussing their future. Pilar, who is a history teacher says: “Forget the Alamo.” This shows that both of them decide that the knowledge of their blood relation doesn’t change the feelings they have for each other. They choose to forget the past, the history, and destroy the border that stands between them. The border that exists only in their minds.
3.5 / 5
Director: John Sayles
Staring: Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Pena
The cinematic theme that Godard uses in his film, Tout va b!en, is estrangement. None of his characters inspire an emotional investment nor empathy from the audience. On the contrary – we have multiple individuals: the boss, the correspondent for the ABS, her husband, and the factory workers, who speak their mind directly to the audience through the camera. Their commentaries are direct observations on the political system and political situation in France in 1972. Tout va b!en is also about provocation. It provokes us through camera techniques, the long and repetitious tracking shots (like the one in the supermarket), and with direct references to the actual making of the film. The subject matter and the commentary are all aimed to dissatisfy us, to make us think and to possibly change us.
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Staring: Yves Montand, Jane Fonda
LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTION
The Weather Underground exceeded my expectations for a documentary piece about the sixties. For some reason, that era has never been an inspiration to me, and I always thought of it as a reign of anarchy, drugs, and promiscuity.
This year there isn't much to see on the big screen. Do yourself a favor and go and see "Rust and Bone." You won't forget it just as you won't forget the characters played by Marion Cotillard (Stephanie) and Matthias Schoenaerts (Ali). It's a strange love story told with bold editing and daring staged scenes. It's a film unlike any other this year. Both, Ali and Stephanie, bring back each other's spirit in such an audacious way that both of them deserve an Oscar nomination.
4 / 5
Director: Jacques Audiard
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts
Citizen Kane is an assembly of beautifully arranged scenes, and one of these days I might write about every single one of them. Here is the second entry in my blog from that film – The Declaration of Principles.
It starts with a medium shot on Kane and Jed Leland standing by the window. They appear locked in the window frame in the office of the “Inquirer”. Kane writes the Declaration of Principles facing the window, indicating how important it is to the readers and the people outside.
Often labeled as a genius, Orson Wells arrived in Hollywood in the late 1930’s to pursue a film career. Hollywood’s society of filmmakers was expecting him, counting on his talents, and hoping he'd create a production like nothing before. He didn't disappoint.
In 1941, Citizen Kane was released, ushering in a new era of filmmaking.
I will talk about one scene – The release of Jed Lealand – even though the entire film is an assembly of beautifully arranged scenes from start to end.
The moment I heard "Killing Them Softly" was more of a talking thriller than an action-packed movie, I knew that I had to see it. It left me with mixed feelings. I liked it and I didn't. I liked seeing the various crimes portrayed in the movie. I liked the parallel between the incorporated mentality of the crime world juxtaposed with the incorporated lies of politicians. There are two other aspects that I liked a great deal. The sound is so engaging it pulls you into the world of the movie. It forces you to experience it, to really feel the anxiety, which is very unsettling. The sound in the robbery sequence is outstanding and reminds me of the sound in the opening shot of "Touch of Evil." On top of that, you have James Gandolfini, who is so mesmerizing that I couldn't stop thinking about his portrayal of this pathetic and sad character. He is definitely an Oscar winner for supporting role, in my book. I like Brad Pitt and applaud him for stepping out of the usual roles that he plays by taking on a riskier role. On the other hand, it felt like the movie was a collection of scenes instead of one coherent piece.
3 / 5
Director: Andrew Dominik
Starring: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins
I went to see the film, because I loved "The Fighter" and I wanted to see what's next for David O. Russell. He didn't disappoint me. Both of his films are about mid-lower class families that struggle with medical problems (addiction, mental illness).
What can I say - when Hollywood makes a good movie they make a film. The film captures you right away with its exposition - the editing, the writing and the meaning behind it. The cinematography adds the final touches completing the filmic experience. Everything matches the main idea - we are living in a prison blinded by the government. We know the plot, or we think that we do. It takes unexpected turns while it reveals more evidence of the coup-de-tat that took place on November 22, 1963. The editing is frantic at times but always engaging. The overhead hot lighting creates the claustrophobic environment of a prison cell, while the weird conspiracy characters take over. If you want to find the real meaning of the word "patriot' watch it and pay attention.
Director: Oliver Stone
Starring: Kevin Costner, Sissy Spacek, Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon
People who critique moving pictures fall into 3 general classes:
1. Reviewers - are generally journalists who describe the contents and general tone of a movie, with only incidental emphasis on aesthetic evaluation.
2. Critics - are also journalists for the most part, but their emphasis is more on evaluation than on mere content description.
3. Theorists - are usually professional academics, often the authors of books on how movies can be studied on amore philosophical level.
I'm a film critic and I like to write about films that are exceptional and stand above the rest.
"The role of the critic is to help people see what is in the work, what is in it that shouldn't be, what is not in it that could be. He is a good critic if he helps people understand more about the work that they could see for themselves; he is a great critic, if by his understandings and feeling for the work, by his passion, he can excite people so that they want to experience more of the art that is there, waiting to be seized. He is not necessarily bad critic if he makes errors in judgement. He is a bad critic if he does not awaken the curiosity, enlarge the interests and understanding of his audience. The art of the critic is to transmit his knowledge of and enthusiasm for art to others." ( Pauline Kael )