Saturday, October 17, 2009

In response to Obama's Nobel Peace Prize

"He became the first African-American president in a notoriously racist country, which has given hope to oppressed peoples throughout the world.While campaigning for and after winning that job, took the opportunity to tour the world expressing his ideas and beliefs about equality, race, mutual respect, honoring each others' histories, appreciating cultural differences; understanding that one country is not automatically better than any other but that we all have important and legitimate ideas to bring to the table, and knowing that to move forward in a positive direction we must do our level best to use diplomacy to work together in peace. He has stuck firmly to these notions and continues as an excellent example of thoughtfulness and reason as the leader of, arguably, the world's most powerful state or, as the Nobel committee more succinctly put it, for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples"

-Clara Sturak

"Anvil" & "Sin Nombre"

Two movies -one Canadian & one Mexican- try to be a breath of fresh air from the hollywood junk we are used to in theatres. Both are coming out on dvd this Tuesday and both are worth seeking out. If you are tired of the consumer junk polluting the cinemas, this post is for you.

Anvil ! : The Story Of Anvil (4/5) is the kind of documentary I love recommending to people that still think it's a worthless format or -even worse- a boring one. Anvil is neither one of these commodities, in fact it's better than anything coming out on dvd this week. The fact the self titled Metal band has been around for close to 3 decades and have inspired the likes of Lars Ulrich and Slash is astonishing- what's even more astonishing is how unknown this band really is. The struggle and courage to carry on and live the dream is a somewhat repetitive theme in the film- which is a kind of real life based Spinal Tap, without the atrociousness & implausibility of course. The Canadian based band is seen going on a worldwide tour where they end up performing -in some instances- to just about 5 people in the crowd. To say this movie has the Rock And Roll spirit is an understatement, Singer Lips and Drummer Robb are not just looking for fame- they are driven by the music and want to spread the word around. It's a shame not many people will catch this heartbreaking and hilarious gem- due to the fact it is so small and so rebellious in its filmmaking. Seek it out and spread the word.

Also out is Sin Nombre (3.5/5), a devastating road movie from Mexico that tells the story of a Teenage gang member that wants out &--in the process- meets a young Mexican girl who wants out of the country w/her father & uncle. On a train they try to reach the border illegally & meet unfortunate circumstances in the process. The movie packs so much in so little time that there really is no room to breathe, in fact there is a reminescent feel to it following such films as Maria Full Of Grace & the more recent Sugar. No worry, Bravely directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga- it's a bold statement on the poverty and gangland that always seems to be around in Mexico. If the ending seems pat and predicatble the rest of the film is fascinating wildride into the Mexican outland- go for it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker"

Now if only every war movie were quite like this one. Yes. It is exhausting. Yes. It is flawed. But is it something to behold in its tightly nit suspenseful sequences, carefully drawn character sketches & Immensely powerful impact that doesn't hit you til the film is done. I'm gonna refrain from what others have done and not call Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker a masterpiece- instead it is as relevant and as poignant as any movie we will likely see this year. It is also the best movie -fiction or non- to be made about the current war in Iraq. A war that is starting to look more and more like Vietnam more than 4 decades ago. The fact that this was directed by a woman is even more astonishing, she has better visual technique than any of the supposed male action directors out there. Bigelow stages every single action sequence as if it were her film's last and the overall impact she gives because of the time she takes gives the film a kind of Western-like feel that makes it feel unforgettable and unvarnished from reality.

The film hits rough patches that don't quite gel with the rest of the sequences & you better get used to watching a plot free movie- then again, there's so much to be had here that it's automatically forgotten once the next action set piece hits. I was struck at how rich & unambiguous her film was. By the end of it, we get to know our three soldiers -including an incredible performances by Jeremy Renner- & you come to the infuriating thought that war is a clueless consequence but a heroic one at that- fuelled by naturally drug induced testosterone. The film opens with a quote that says 'war is a drug' a quote that fits the movie's central character quite well, as his adrenaline and visceral like being takes over any kind of anxiety. Ms. Bigelow has done herself proud and I wouldn't be surprised if we see her honoured by the Academy this year.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"An Education" into making a great movie

There are only 3 months left to the 2009 movie season and -as far as I'm concerned- Hollywood hasn't churned out many great movies, here's one; Lone Scherfig's An Education will renew your passion for film. I wasn't bored by a single one of the 95 minutes I saw and -trust me- that's high praise these days. There is an almost typical naivete to Jenny -incomparably played by Cary Mulligan- as she meets the first love of her life David, a Jewish fraud artist that Jenny sees as the perfect man. David is played by the always reliable Peter Sarsgaard & the character is so well thought out that one might wonder how such a humane character can also be so conniving & -oh boy- thoughtful.

What works so well with Nick Hornsby's screenplay is the way it avoids the usual cliches that usually drown this type of film. I was struck by the number of times I thought 'oh no it's going that direction' & then it goes the other way and surprises us. Buzz has already been talked about on Mulligan's performance, so much so that I won't take much time on it and just say that it is an exceptional one- deserving of all the awards that will likely come her way in the next few months. Jenny isn't exactly a victim in the mess she gets herself into, if anything, she is going through a learning experience that even school cannot dare give her- As Lisa Schwarzbaum pointed out in her review, Jenny could easily be the main character in The Beatles' She's Leaving Home, a song that aptly describes a time when innocence and truth came out for so many women -and- men.

The crisis Jenny goes through in this exceptional movie is a universal one that -sadly- every female had to go through in the early 60's. A decade that would change all that and would quickly position woman's rights as -almost equally-powerful & relevant as men's. Alfred Molina Plays Jenny's Dad and he is as confused as she is about her future. He wants his daughter to have the education she so richly deserves & go to Oxford but he knows that a man like David is an even better choice, because it is a more plausible and successful option than having a diploma & being a woman in the 60's. The film comes out in November, I advise you seek it out.

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