Thursday, November 12, 2009

Best Of The Decade 2000-2009: Non-Fiction

Here's the first of what will likely be a weekly segment as a sort of 'wrap up' to the past decade of cinema. I'm starting it off with documentaries & I probably wouldn't have done it if it were the 90's, mostly because Doc's came out booming this decade and made many Hollywood movies feel shameless and meaningless. Their bravura and rebellious spirit brought back a kind of rule breaking intensity that many movies have been missing and looking for.

Of course, THE prime boomer of this movement is Michael Moore -Whose Bowling For Columbine tops my list & whose first two movies this decade showcased what would be an influential take on the genre. I also cannot ever forget an extraordinary achievement called Capturing The Friedman's, which has not been seen by many, but those who have were left shaken by Andrew Jarecki's camera and instinctive drama. Ive suggested Capturing The Friedman's to a bunch of friends and they all had the same reaction afterwards- That of awe inspiring anger.

1) Bowling For Columbine
2) Capturing The Friedman's

3) Etre Et Avoir
4) Fahrenheit 9/11
5) Spellbound 

6) The Cove
7) Anvil: The Story Of Anvil
8) Grizzly Man
9) The Kid Stays In The Picture

10) Super Size Me

There ya go, 10 movies with 10 very different subject matters and all as relevant today as they were the week they got released. I'll be back next week with The best in Animation & boy was it an amazing decade for that also with some marvelous, original & incendiary stuff coming out from -of all places- Hollywood.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Concordian- 'Antichrist'

Although I already wrote about it a few weeks back, here's my published review or Lars Von Trier's latest, a movie that i have mixed feelings for and that tries to push boundaries in all the wrong ways. The Concordian is published on a weekly basis and is the official paper for Concordia University. I'll be posting more stuff I've written in the weeks to come REVIEW

Rosebud this & Rosebud that

...And although it is the center image and theme of this fascinating & original movie- which I just finished watching on glorious Blu Ray in a paramount theatre- One image is as powerful and immensely moving as the image above. It is that of Charles Kane standing isolated, rejected and near the end of his sad/epic life. His eyes watered and ready to explode with tears that he's been keeping for 60 years of his life.

Monday, November 9, 2009

In which I half ass an assignment & come up with something genuine/ my first -and last- compliment to fox news

People’s dependence on newspapers is shrinking & there is the overall attitude that it is becoming less and less relevant to actually sit down and read a newspaper. What with the high influence of Online media -including blogging- that’s taking over & those very same newspapers going into this fad by opening up their very own website where you can -oh gosh- read the paper for free, online at the comfort of your own home. Not only are newspapers giving us free readings online, they are also going into the trend of blogging which gives their writers more independence to voice their opinions and share their thoughts on a breaking news story. The ifs and buts of the whole idea of online news seem to be shrinking and the attitude amongst our generation is that ‘hey if I can get it for free online’ why should I pay for it outside? - ahhh purists must be mad as hell and can't take it anymore.

Forget about what I just said for a moment and look at how closely but surely Contemporary News Media is starting to get shaped in the 21st century as an online induced hot bed of information. It's not just that independent news outlets -such as bloggers & alternative media sources- are gaining a bit more recognition because of people’s disgust towards biased information being perpetrated in mainstream outlets such as Fox News or -hell- the New York Post. Fact of the matter is at the end of the day people will want a different source of news and not just the biased, corporate based info they are getting through mainstream outlets. Furthermore, the rise of blogging has -more than ever- given people their own voice to shout out they ain't gonna take it anymore, it is a reassembling of cultures and ideas that come together to give a new perspective on what one might and should think in any given circumstance.

It is a refreshing perspective on where we have come from and the shambles that have angered many while watching a news program that -shall I say- never gives all the details necessary in spite of what has actually happened. Hey listen, it happens to the best of us- we are so concerned these days with getting the defining truth of an event that we sometimes forget that there never really is one truth to an argument & that an opinionated debate is always the way to go, of course a media source such as The New York Times or any other newspaper cannot really rely on debate and -sometimes- just have to give the news in a ‘straightforward’ fashion to us but that’s where the blogging comes and the infinite astonishment that ‘hey there’s someone out there that has opinion ! & there’s someone out there that sees this situation in a differentlight’ that’s where it all comes together and you start to realize why blogging is a universal and conceptually real argument for contemporary news media.

From all I have stated so far it is clear that I am wagging my finger at the media for its own downfall and I will not refrain from mentioning it again that I truly believe this to be the case, especially when you take all the arguments I have pointed out in here & when you look at the way news is reported. It is their own demise and their own falling traps that have given them a sort of wake up call to liven up and start being more relevant- or at least they are trying to do that. Compare what is happening now to 10 years ago when the internet wasn’t half the force it is today- it is a powerful medium that has changed our courses of actions, awaken us to the temptation that there actually is a lively voice out there for news and it’s not just the usual bullshit that has turned the medium into a zombie like force.

It turns out that that voice is the people and the people’s voice is a powerful thing, full of ideas and writings actually conceived by human hands- compared to the controlled hands of what we call the man -err- should I say the Mainstream. Blogging is -and has- always been an alternative to our own universe of simplified and dull information. It is a lively concept that has scared the be Jesus out of every media imaginable and in doing so has rewritten what we perceive as Contemporary news media. Because it is a person writing and because that person is writing about something that might have been deemed to harsh or risky by the contemporary mainstream media, makes it all the more relevant, no matter how biased the article might be- because listen I won’t lie, when you’re dealing with a blogger there will be a bias because it is his or her opinion.

Which will make me conclude in a -how shall I say this- risky manner & state that although it is biased and although it is a preposterous account of what the media should be like, the reason why a successful media outlet such as fox news is -shock- successful might be because of the opinions and alternative universe it gives to its viewers compared to the stale and utterly by the numbers one of something like CNN or MSNBC. Fox has been deemed biased, been deemed loud and has had controversy lying all over it because of its right wing and thoroughly controversial agenda. Know what? That’s how blogging is and for all of its flaws and all of its nihilistic points of view at least its got style & has something that most news outlets out there don’t have- Balls.

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days

There's a mesmerizing scene midway through 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (4/5). An illegal abortion is about to be done but there is cringing and paranoiac disillusionment among the three people in the hotel room. You're on the edge of panic as you see 3 characters on the brink of killing a fetus and taking a chance for the sake of not having a kid. This is clearly not Juno, nor is it the Hollywood world of Knocked Up. It's real life and never has an abortion been this real and hard to watch on screen. Kudos to Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, working with handheld camera and giving his unflinching movie -winner of last year's Palme D'or at Cannes- an unforgettable feel. Talking about Juno and Knocked Up, I wasn't a big fan of their quirky melodramatic worlds, that had cartoon fabrications instead of real people and took the topic of female pregnancy as a kind of joke -mistakenly perceived by critics and audiences as mature portraits of the female psych. Mungiu's film doesn't fall inside that trap and instead of putting some light humor in his film, suffocates it with pulse pounding tension and seriousness.

Set in 1987 Romania, where Abortions are illegal to the communist regime. A friendship is tested as a 5 month pregnant girl wants an abortion and gets it through the help of a loyal friend that would almost do anything to assist her. The abortionist is a sleazy fella that gets paranoid by almost any movement or word said. the scene is as tense and revelatory as any in the film and is in fact the whole centerpiece that bring A and B together. Mungiu comes out as a singular director operating with no strings attached and evolving a master at his craft in more ways than one. You'd think that what is actually being watch is a documentary and not a fictitious movie. Mungiu pursues the virtues of what it is to live- love, happiness, death & panic, sheer and utter panic. That panic is the unsettling truth that reigns among this compulsively watchable movie's running time.

There is however one scene that is so absurd and so overdone that it almost ruins the film- but doesn't. It's a scene that has the main character sitting on a dinner table silently as the people around her jabber along and in the process annoy the viewer. It's a sort of experimental scene to try and convey a time and place and -suffice to say- suffocate the viewer with cringing suspense of what is the aftermath of a girl that is sitting alone in a hotel room, after having had a stressful abortion. It is almost impossible to describe Mungiu's film and its affects in a movie review, it is best to be watched and carefully constructed in a way that it lingers in your head long after its final scene has finished and you are left completely stunned and needing air, because you have just witnessed 100 minutes of pure and utter life on the screen. This is art.

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