Thursday, September 10, 2009

DePalma (3 Movies)

It's a DePalma kind of week in New York, with a Blogathon hosted by Cinema Viewfinder. I'll join the party by chiming in a bit on Brian DePalma and his endless, messy ambitions. I`m gonna name my 3 favourites of his in a sort of mini essay that will contribute to what Tony Dayoub is doing over there at Cinema Viewfinder. DePalma is one of the more polarizing filmmakers around- one day he makes an incredible piece of filmmaking such as the 3 listed below and then the next he pulls out a Mission To Mars or the unwatchable Femme Fatale.

His best movie- (1) Blow Out- is a smart, hallucinatory take on voyeurism & is more relevant now than it ever was 29 years ago. John Travolta with his sound equipment evokes to me an image of what DePalma can do truly do with cinema- it's his only perfect movie and succumbs to the Hitchcockian tradition in the best of ways. It's also the best Joh Travolta performance I've ever seen -safe from his Pulp Fiction comeback- in fact I think Blow Out is far superior work than his trashy Dressed To Kill, which has the kind of kitsch overcooked superficiality I despise in the some of his other movies.

(2) Carrie does not have that- from the get go you know it's a horror delight, featuring the greatest prom scene carried out on film. Sissy Spacek is the perfect match to DePalma's weird ways- her face is not that of supermodel & very much out of sync from DePalma's usual choice of females. DePalma has the tendency to overstylize everything & bring a sort of what I`d like to call `Hitchcockian queerness` to it all. This is one of the rare times that DePalma takes a back seat and paves the way to a towering performance. There's an abandon in the filmmaking that I don't think DePalma ever achieved again- a fearless, joyous abandon that makes you realize how talented the man truly is.

2 predictable choices that will likely solicitate yawns but the third one is a less conventional choice. It isn`t the towering Pop of The Untouchables or the overrated assault of Scarface. My third choice is (3) Carlito`s Way, a personal favourite that is everything his 1983 Scarface was supposed to be. Sean Penn is amazing -tell me when he isn`t- & the overall excitement is palpable. It`s pure DePalma with a story that grabs you as if -Taking a cue from the honorable Glenn Kenny- you`re being cuckolded. I guess we can end this mini essay with that.

On a night in which I cannot sleep, I am reminded of Detective Dormer -played by Al Pacino- in Christopher Nolan's Insomnia. A man that cannot sleep in an always sunny Alaska & a man that clearly doesn't want the light at the end of the tunnel. The movie is a fever dream of elegance and reminiscent of a time when I actually cared a lot more about film and believed in the fever pitch of a dreamlike setting. Detective Dormer is lacking the sleep he needs and still believes in catching a killer on the loose. Pacino's Dormer ends up shot at the movie's conclusion & as he's slowly dying he whispers 'Let me sleep' to his co-officer. How perfect is that?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Protest at TIFF

If only these supposed protesters -which include Jane Fonda, Ken Loach & Danny Glover- would understand that just because this year's program is showcasing Israeli movies does not mean it is supporting a certain cause or subject. The idiocy and utter ignorance is horrific and furthermore proves the confusion that people have had on this conflict. On a side note, this will probably be the only time Jane Fonda's name will be mentioned on this blog- enjoy it while you can Ms. Fonda.

Talkin' about the Toronto Film Fest, I got a sneak peak the other day at a popular ticket at the 2009 fest. The first movie to sellout and possibly the most controversial one- Lars Von Trier's Antichrist. My thoughts on this incendiary movie tomorrow. In the meantime here's the controversy I wrote about in June- Click Here.

Five that changed the 80's

Platoon (1986)
Dir. Oliver Stone

This is Easily Oliver Stone's best movie & possibly the greatest ever made about Vietnam- yes even better than Apocalypse Now. Platoon is a masterpiece because it sets you right there, right into Vietcong and right into the hellfire that took countless lives. It justly won the Oscar in 1987 and provided a whole new voice for the veteran- Oliver Stone would never again be as relevant.

Blowout (1980)
Dir. Brian Depalma

Ever heard of this one? Time to find out. John Travolta and Brian DePalma team up for a movie about political conspiracies and the importance of sound. It''s by far DePalma's best movie and put's his other flawed stuff to utter shame. An underground classic.

Raging Bull (1980)
Director: Martin Scorsese

What more can be said about Scorsese's Masterpiece Raging Bull- featuring an astonishing performance by Robert Deniro. As many people have already stated Deniro doesn't play Jake La Motta.. he IS Lamotta. He portrays a man that was as violent outside the ring as he was inside. A noteworthy scene is the one where Jake believes his brother -Joe Pesci- slept with his wife. Violent consequences ensue but more importantly guilt that will stay with Lamotta for a lifetime.

Blue Velvet (1986)
Director: David Lynch

I can talk for hours about what Blue Velvet means to me and what the hell it's about- cause no matter what I say, someone will always have a different interpretation of the film. It's twisted, perverse but incredibly surreal and dreamy- I still discover new things every time I see it & there's something very entrenching in watching Dennis Hopper's psycho Frank listening to Roy Orbison's In Dreams. A fitting song & one hell of a movie.

Do The Right Thing (1989)
Director: Spike Lee

Ya dig? Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing is the most powerful cinematic experience I've had in my lifetime. There's no telling how great and how involving the movie is- you need to see it for yourself. It still socially relevant and shocking to this day. His take on Racism in America is as scathing and real as ever. With a violent and uncompromising finale. Here are more thoughts.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Cove -Redux-

If you still haven't seen The Cove- see it ! It's a thrilling documentary about Dolphin slaughtering in Japan. My review can be found here & judging by the following link, it sure looks like the movie has stopped the slaughtering for now.
Yesterday, O’Barry returned to Taiji for the start of the dolphin killing season, but this time, he says, “there were no dolphin killers in sight.” Granted, this time he came with a small entourage of international journalists, including members of the Japanese press, so only time will tell whether the practice is over for good. But like Super Size Me (which seemingly got fast food restaurants to offer more healthy choices on their menus), and An Inconvenient Truth (which injected global warming into the mainstream discussion in a big way), the makers of The Cove can feel proud that at the very least several dozen dolphins are alive today thanks to their efforts.
I couldn't be happier and think this doc is mandatory viewing. I'll be back on Tuesday with My thoughts on 2009 so far and Review of Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker. Til then Have a great Labour Day Weekend !

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