Che Part 1/ The Argentine



The above first picture is iconic and represents counterculture in ways you wouldn't believe. It is a symbol of revolutionary depth and rebellion. It's been used in countless T-shirts by people that have no idea what it actually signifies or represents. Che Guevara WAS a communist but that's besides the point- he was a doctor, a poet and a revolutionary fighter that helped Castro build his army and power. He DID kill people that defied his side but what he achieved is historical and bold. Steven Sodebergh's two part Epic called Che is more than 4 hours long- I've seen the first part called The Argentine- Now available on DVD- and although flawed, it is fascinating. Right-Wing nutjobs can wine all they want that this is a 'Valentine' to communism, they've obviously not seen the film. Benicio Del Toro doesn't play Che, he is Che and it's something to see. The battles scenes are harrowing and the presence of the man is even more grandiose. Walter Salles released The Motorcycle Diaries in 2004, it recounted Che's young days in Latin America as a doctor and the affection he got for his homeland via interaction with the people. That was a very good movie and paved the way for golbal Che acceptance. If Salles' film was about a young adult maturing into a man- Sodebergh's movie is about the man already matured and ready to take on the world. I'm impatiently waiting Part 2.

Image(s) 7/30/09

Talking about movies such as 500 Days Of Summer and Eternal Sunshine made me completely forget Sofia Coppola's divine Lost In Translation. As Thelma Adams stated 6 years ago 'Getting lost never felt so good'. A beautifully shot film.




To whom it may concern...



She started off as a 12 year old isolated with Jodie Foster in David Fincher's edgy Panic Room but Watching Greg Motolla's hip 80's retro Adventureland the other night- I couldn't help but get awestruck at Kristen Stewart's understated performance and completely forgot the sin she committed as that Vampire lover in Twilight. Fact of the matter is she deserves better roles- roles that don't involve Robert Pattinson or blood sucking but roles that are as sweet and resonant as the character she plays in Adventureland or Emile Hirsch's girlfriend in Sean Penn's Into The Wild. Here's to her choosing smaller, smarter movies and -at some point in her career- flashing us her breasts.

(500) Days Of Summer



Van Morrison once said 'To live is to love is to love is to love is to love is to love'. That's as close to a concrete explanation of love as were likely gonna get anywhere. It's messy, frustrating, amazing and -above all- unexplainable. Director Marc Webb knows that and his new film called (500) Days Of Summer IS in fact messy, frustrating, amazing and unexplainable. Add the words Original, sweet and thoughtful. It stars Joseph Gordon levitt, the awesome Zooey Deschanel and gives us a peak at their 500 days together in a fragmented, twisted narrative. This film is so truthful and ambivalent about love that I was reminded of past relationships and past -shall we say- forgettable circumstances. It's a small movie, very hard to find but look out for it.

Levitt and Deschanel are Incredible-they bring the film to a much higher level than it deserves to be at. Especially given the fact that it does have the misfortune of going all saccharine on us towards its conclusion. As for Levitt, I'm not sure why this guy has not hit it big yet, every film he's in just surprises me and makes me realize he's one of the better actors of our generation. No, I'm not joking and Yes I do realize he's the kid from 3rd Rock From The Sun. Want rental advice? watch him in The Lookout.

It's rare to find a movie this truthful and honest about attraction- not many films in the past few years have actually had anything interesting or new to say about what it is to be with someone. I can think of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, in which Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet erase each other from their memory -literally- only to get back together not knowing it had already happened. Fate? not sure. That's another thing about (500) Days Of Summer that interests me- the notion that love is possibly not only about fate but the right and wrong decisions you make in between. It's sweet but real and I believe the people that see it will likely enjoy diving into its pool of pain, sorrow and happiness + any film that has references to The Smiths and Springsteen is perfectly fine in my book

David Ansen

I've been reading David Ansen in Newsweek for many years now. So, much to my dismay, I find out that he is no longer writing and has decided to go his own way. Replaced by a -shall we say- degenerate robot writer. He's not the only one, film critic Glenn Kenny has done the same thing- except he was fired from Premiere Magazine. Most of these unemployed critics are resorting to blogging as a form of expression. Although it does not bring much money, it is their only way to write about film (not including books). I guess when you got no choice, you got no choice- Newspapers are cutting down and film is one of the targets. I had the chance to have a quick chat with David Ansen a few days ago and he claims it's all for the better. 'Im still writing, just not as often... had a piece in newsweek on bruno and one on ang lee's new movie next week, and did something for The Sunday NY Times about a month ago, my new contract with the magazine calls for 11 pieces a year' He talked about the mediocirty that exists in movies today and how he is happy he no longer has to 'watch boring movies every day'. I'm worried. more people are hooked online and less take the time to actually buy a newspaper or read a magazine, which means cutting down and more cutting down. The horror of it all pains me and it's only going to get worse.

Slow week



It's been a slow movie week, not much on the forefront except for the San Diego Comic Con happening as we speak and news that a new Batman film is in the works. I can't forget to mention some of the negative response to my Watchmen post- in which I call the film lazy and pointless. Reactions to the film have been mixed but it still has its die hards and still has a strong following- just like the graphic novel. I ended up watching it again and guess what? It's still lazy, pointless and boringly directed. Without an ounce of visual or artistic flair. Not my cup of tea I suppose.
The movie everyone is talkin' about is Kathryn Bigelow's war movie The Hurt Locker and I'm hopefully planning on screening it during the coming week, along with 500 days of summer and my review of Che on DVD. Some interesting viewing ahead and an all together more interesting week to come. Have a great weekend.

Lynchian Modesty



A filmmaker doesn’t have to suffer to show suffering. You just have to understand it. You don’t have to die to shoot a death scene.

Only David Lynch can resort to answering questions in a remarkable kind of eccentricity. He basically gives all the answers one would need as to why watching a film on a laptop takes away from the main experience. Take note, there is no better way of watching The Godfather than on crisp, clear HD sound and there's no better way of taking away from visuals than to watch it on a modest 12' laptop screen. Watching film on your PC or Mac takes away from the experience- as Lynch says, The visuals are ruined and all you end up with is plot, now what's the fun in that? I cannot imagine watching movies like 2001 and Lynch's own Mulholland Drive for the first time on a small screen. It takes away from the visceral experience and prevents any atmosphere from happening. As he states 'Some people think they have seen the film but they really haven't'. In his own words 'it's a pathetic horror story'.

The below interview he gave to The New York Times Magazine is great and definitely worth a read- the most revealing quote comes at its conclusion and talks about memory.

Do you plan to film your wedding?
No. It’s a hassle. So many things these days are made to look at later. Why not just have the experience and remember it?

Because most people have the experience and forget it.
Some things we forget. But many things we remember on the mental screen, which is the biggest screen of all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKiIroiCvZ0
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/23/magazine/23wwln-q4-t.html

Image Of The Day 7/20/09



A strange thing happens during The Shining. In fact, I never really got the scene's purpose within the story. As the chills build up and as the scares come up, we see a man in a bear suit giving head to a properly dressed man. The fact that these 2 random strangers are a somewhat ghostly presence in the house only reinforces the oddness of it all. Case in point, to this day people are still trying to find an answer to the absurdity on screen. What's the point? If there IS in fact a point. Don't get me wrong, creepy scene but very random.

Where's Nathalie Portman?



The above picture is as iconic as any in the graphic novel world. Coming out on DVD tomorrow is Zack Snyder's Watchmen. A completely botched take on Alan Moore's classic and another example of how Snyder has no artistic or directing flair. It's one thing to be this ambitious but it's another to leave it to incompetent hands that will botch every detail- this is by all means not a horrible 'ed-wood-esque' fiasco but what pisses me off most is the fact that there was so much potential, especially given the fact that the novel was voted one of the 100 greatest in Time Magazine. Or it could all just mean that Moore's novels don't translate well on screen (From Hell, Extraordinary gentlemen, Spawn). V For Vendetta being the sole exception to the rule and I'm being biased considering I'm hooked on anything Nathalie Portman does. No matter the reason, The Watchmen is just a bad movie.

'Venturing into the slipstream'



If music was ever made in the heavens, this is it. A mix of Celtic, folk, blues, jazz and rock. You've never heard anything quite like Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. It's a dreamy record and possibly my favourite one ever. To listen to it is to get immersed in its dream world where nothing makes sense but everything does. Renowned Rock critic Lester Bangs supposedly locked himself up in his final days of madness and all he would listen to in his surreal state was Astral Weeks. To listen to this record is to experience something unique and surreal. At one point during a song, Morrison keeps repeating 'You breathe in, you breathe out' countless times. You have no idea what he means but there's a spiritual sense that he truly believes in whatever he's saying and that he's getting into something highly spiritual and revealing. As the weekend starts- there's no better record that captures an Irish summer at its dreamy best.

'Bruno'



I consider Borat one of the better comedies we've had this decade- it delved into our society and made a proven point that bigotry still exists no matter where you go. Not only was it funny but it was smart and highly reminescent of 17th centruy Irish satirist Jonathan Swift. Bruno is the same -albeit more vulgar- setup but it doesn't feel as fresh and its mean spiritedness gets to be a bit too much. Ok, To tell you the truth I was too distracted with this awesome girl sitting right next to me in the theatre- but that's another story. From what I did see of Bruno, it is everything you'd expect from Sacha Baron Cohen- it's crude, vulgar, mean and highly graphic. At one point during the film he vows to be 'The biggest austrian celebrity since Hitler'- yea it's just that kind of a movie. I don't think I've ever seen this many penises in a Hollywood film before. I also have no idea how he ended up interviewing a Hamas terrorist -calling Osama a 'sleeveless wizard' in the process- and pitching a TV show to NBC execs with a talking Penis. On a side note, that very same terrorist ended up threatening Cohen on Al Qaeda just a day ago and putting a bounty on his head. Even worse is the finale, where Bruno ends up fighting a cage match in a homophobic filled Alabama arena- This is essentially what the film is about: Shock value. Sometimes Cohen forgets about his goal to satirize/smarten up his subject and instead gets lost in his own bewildered wonder to entertain. It's a mess of a movie- or I could have just been highly distracted by the girl sitting next to me.

Outrageous Momma



Ah yes, a face only a mother could love. Flipping through channels the other night, I stumbled upon a film I had seen many years ago- Throw Momma Off The Train. A dark -and incredibly strange- comedy about a man that has the most despicable and repulsive mother imaginable and ends up hatching a plot to try & kill her. Althought it was a highly forgettable romp back when I saw it many eons ago, I cannot help but remember Anne Ramsey Playing Momma- she is absolutely, terrifyingly funny and will haunt any decent human beings dreams. Just look at that horrid face. In no way shape or form did I continue watching it the other night but I just have to lay it out to people that this movie DOES actually exist.

'Milk'



'I'd rather be black than gay because when you're black you don't have to tell your mother.'

It took me a while to finally get to watch this one. As with any film that is 'Gay Themed', the mainstream audience will undoubtedly talk about the scenes where Sean Penn sleeps with James Franco instead of actually focusing on the theme and emotion of the story. Same thing happened with Brokeback Mountain-a far less superior film to Milk. Both films are conventional and both films deal with what it is to be queer in America. I always go back to the saying 'Closets are for clothes' in which the dealing of homosexuality is given an abrupt and unequivocal challenge.

Penn Plays Gay Civil Rights leader and -first openly gay politician- Harvey Milk. He won an Oscar for it and there's not enough praise to let you know it's the sweetest, most endearing performance of his career. I never thought I'd see Sean Penn kiss so many men but there he is, Gay as a kite and you believe in his sincerity, his honesty and his humble gestures. A gay friend of mine admitted that he had a few 'Oprah like' moments watching the film because 'that was our history on screen, the struggle and the continuation of it'. That is precisely why a movie like Milk is important, People can deny hatred all they want but that does not mean it ceases to exist and there can only be continuation to the ignorance- it's everywhere. Just look at the marriage bans all across the states and the countless Religious zealots that still believe in it being a disease. I guess you can call this an important film.

Comments are FINALLY up and running

Huh?



Supposedly this new picture of Obama is causing quite a stir.
I don't get it. Is he not allowed to look? This is what happens when a thoughtful, litterate Democrat comes to office. Republicans try to find every single possible way to lower his image and make him vulnerable for the next 4 years. If the picture above would be considered highly profane, then what would the picture below be considered-

Exhibit B?


Exhibit C?


And so on and so on..

Food Inc.



A new documentary by Robert Kenner is making waves in the cities its being screened at. I'm not sure why. Firstly, its topic is an important but highly overused subject- the decline and horrid consummation of processed food & the importance of Organic/Raw. Yes, I do know what we're eating is bad, yes I do know that Natural is the way to go,- although way overpriced-yes I do know about the way Cattle is treated and the many diseases that come along with it, yes I do know about fast food chains etc. I could go on and on- it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure all these things out and although these are important stories for non believers, I felt like I was being preached upon by a raw obsessed cult. At least what Morgan Spurlock did with Super Size Me 5 years ago was highly entertaining and memorable- while incoporating the neceassary educational stuff. They should have renamed this doc- 'Organic Food 101 for dummies'. I decided to get a double cheeseburger right after the movie was done, weirdly enough the same thing happened after watching Super Size Me.

Quote



'I don't regret a thing I've done. I only regret the things I didn't do'
Ingmar Bergman

Late night thought



I'm somewhat taken aback at the lack of coverage from Iran during the past few weeks on television. A revolution is happening yet all we're hearing about is Michael Jackson. It doesn't mean I wasn't a fan of the guy- I was even suckered into buying a memorial shirt off the street- but what's happening in Iran is enormous. A country known for dictatorship and the denial of free democracy through censorship, is waking up. Its citizens are rebelling and there is an undeniable sense of rebellious courage running through the people's veins. Youtube has helped enormously in transmitting the message and so has Facebook with its numerous groups and posted videos. We are not only seeing a revolution happening in Iran but this is also a landmark time for the way news is being served to its audience. People are no longer reading newspapers, people are no longer watching CNN or Fox News- instead people are looking for more truthful and personal accounts through internet blogging and video posting. No one even knew what was going in Iraq during the invasion in 2003, 6 years later and we know a little more. People are blaming the economy for ruining newspapers worldwide but maybe the picture is greater than we think. Soldiers posting personal video journals on Youtube and internet bloggers giving various opinions have opened up the internet to a whole new breed of journalists- the citizen.

Indie support (Moon & Girlfriend Experience)



If the summer movie season is a mix of hell fire and flatulence for film buffs, there are always a few small independent movies that come out of nowhere and remind you that intelligence and originality still exists in a land of mediocrity. Sometimes it's better not to know anything about a film and just go watch it. Directed By newcomer Duncan Jones- David Bowie's son- and starring a never better Sam Rockwell, Moon is exactly that. A film made for a chump sum of money -5 million dollars- and a film creating more energy and excitement than any scene involving Megan Fox in Transformers 2. The plot is simple yet there is layer after layer of intrigue in here. An Astronaut is nearly done his 3 year stint at the moon and about to leave in just a few days- then things start to get weird and he meets a man that is his exact twin. I need not say more, just go watch it. It's the kind of film that will get more and more popular as word of mouth spreads around cities screening it- Don't pay attention to the trailers or IMDB, just don't find out a thing.



I'm not a porn connoisseur but supposedly Sasha Grey is very big in the business, in fact she's huge. So much so that Steven Soderbergh (Traffic & Erin Brokovich) hired her for his new film, The Girlfriend Experience. It's definitely something different but its originality is pure Soderbergh. There is no typical narrative, the story is basically told in 5 different times but it blends well and kept me interested. Grey surprised me, she's rarely naked and when she does have sex on screen, it is not graphic- in other words this is not a movie for her fans. It's sophisticated and very pronounced. Basically what Moon and The Girlfriend Experience offer is something mature and something very different- an alternative of sorts to the firecracker fest populated in these dog days of summer. They offer up hard questions and stylish cinematography that lures you into their intriguing and fascinating webs. These films leap into the wild blue and dare you to leap with them. Go for it.

Random thoughts



It's a question that can probably never get answered. What's the greatest film of all time? Is there such a thing? I clearly don't believe in it, there is no such thing as universal acclaim. If there ever was, I wouldn't be writing about film and we'd all be robotic figures. But seriously, why get into a debate about what's THE best, when you know there will never be a unanimous consensus. Not just in film but in any artistic concept, universality does not exist. I can be a pompous ass and claim that Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief is the most flawless work of cinema I've ever seen -it is- or that The Godfather Part 2 is as good a hollywood movie as I've ever seen -it is- but numerous opinions -and polls for that matter- will disagree with me. As I've said before; Art is not meant to be rated, it is meant to be seen as a creative expression- now why in the hell would I want to rate that?

'Blame it on the lies that killed us'



I guess you can say I'm infatuated by Bruce Springsteen- I see him at least 3 times every tour and I personally consider his discography as the third best one in Rock and Roll, behind The Beatles and Dylan. Those who claim he is no longer relevant have no idea what they are missing. He still pulls out 3 hour shows -with no break- and plays a heavy batch of new songs from the past 10 years of music. His latest appearances at Bonnaroo and Glastonbury have only heightened his relevance and kick started a wave of younger new bands that cite him as an immense influence (The Killers, Hold Steady, Arcade Fire, Coldplay, Gaslight Anthem, The National). Consider this- during his hot streak this decade, he has released 3 great records and sold out countless stadiums worldwide. His older records have aged admirably well and are only gaining more and more listeners. Where to start ? Buy -or download- Born To Run and Nebraska, two admirable and highly different records that hold the spirit of what makes him so great.

Happy 4th of July !



To my American readers, Happy holidays and please stop watching Transformers 2. I'm sure your brain cells will be better off without it.

'Public Enemies' & 'Drag Me To Hell'



Michael Mann's outstanding new film Public Enemies opens today. It's a crime saga with flair, style and an interest all its own. Only problem? it's too long- which wouldn't surprise most cinematic connoisseurs familiar with Mann and his stylishly overdone epics. Heat, Ali, Collateral, Manhunter and The Insider- All fascinating but all flawed and epic in length. Structurally it is very much in the same style as we would expect from the crime genre but stylishly Mann is unto a whole other ballgame here. He shoots in Digital video and -unlike Miami Vice- it actually works and suits the picture very well- in fact It's more a character study than a action driven movie. The thing I've always liked about Mann is the way he injects steroidal machoism to his films but has always managed to keep it artistic and -especially with this film- relevant to our times. What would I cut from the film ? maybe the last 10 minutes, which go out in a very conventional -dare i say- safe way and the Romance with Cottilard does tend to slightly drag the film near it's conclusion but Mann's macho heroism is at full swing here and there's something very iconic in seeing Depp portray crime king Dillinger in a playful, playboy-esque manner. In these dog days of summer, I'd say Public Enemies is a blessing from the sky and an incredible alternative to the drivel we've been getting of late- Transformers anyone?



Going into a screening of Sam Raimi's latest, I was literally dragged. My expectations were low and I didn't really want to see a movie about a gypsy curse and the poor farm girl that comes into contact with it. Boy was I surprised. This isn't only one of the stronger movies I've seen this summer but it's also one of the most amusing ones. Some of the stuff in here can be traced way back to Raimi's Army Of Darkness roots and has a spalsh of what made Spiderman 2 one of the more entertaining superhero movies of the past decade. It also has one of the most forumla convulting twists I've seen in a while. Basically whatever you would expect from the typical horror film is blown away here and twisted upside down. I guess you can say I liked it.

Image Of The Day 7/1/09 *Canada Day Edition*



This being Canada Day, what better way celebrating than to showcase an image that perfectly describes Canadian cinema- Actually change that to French Canadian Cinema. Marie-Jose Croze in Denis Villeneuve's sexual, dreamy Maelstrom. Criminally underrated, highly worth seeing and much better than his follow-up, this year's Polytechnique.

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