Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Grading the 9 Best Picture nominees

The Descendants B-
Hugo B+
War Horse B
The Help C-
Moneyball B+
Midnight In Paris B-
The Tree Of Life A
Extremely Loud And Incredibly Loud C-
The Artist N/A

Meh, one of those years where they really didn't pick the right ones. Extremely Loud? Really? Where's Drive? That practically made every top ten list and was as visionary piece of work as almost anything else in 2011. At least they had the guts to vote for Tree Of Life, which I'm sure will get many of the wrong people (we know who they are) renting it and having a WHAT THE FUCK reaction to it - now that's something I'm looking forward to more than the awards show itself. ps promise promise promise to watch The Artist very soon.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A note on "Shame"

I absolutely adored photographer turned director Steven Mcqueen's debut feature Hunger way back when I saw it in 2009. It was the kind of film that not only made you see the world in a new way but showcased the emergence of a bright new talent. So of course I was very much looking forward to his next effort Shame which again starred his Hunger lead actor Michael Fassbender as a sex addict. Dissapointed wouldn't even begin to explain what I felt while watching it. Shame pits Fassbender's sex addict in one deliriously uncomfortable sex scene after another along with slow, unending shots (a given for Mcqueen) yet it all doesn't add up in the end. What we get with Shame is a shallow exercise in style, done with no depth or sense of intimacy. Michael Fassbender is great as the main character but I found Mcqueen was concentrating more on style and less on the character himself. There's a great movie hidden somewhere here but I couldn't find it, even if some scenes did work and the actors got the best they could out of the material. I found it to be an unimportant and self-congratulatory film, the opposite of what Hunger was.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

War Horse

What we are seeing lately with critics as much as audiences in 2011 is a kind of rebelling of safe entertainment. If released any other year Steven Spielberg's sappy, patriotic War Horse would be a shoo-in for Best Picture and make more than its fair share of money at the American Box Office. And so the story goes that the reviews were split for Spielberg's WW2 horse epic and its Box Office .. meh. I wouldn't call War Horse a bad film -far from it- its ambitiously epic and lush structure did wonders on me, even when some of its episodic nature could have been trimmed - I didn't need the maudlin story of the French Grandpa and his talkative Granddaughter. Nevertheless Spielberg hasn't lost his chops for great storytelling, he is a visionary and judging by the great movies he has released the last decade -Minority Report, AI, Munich - he hasn't lost much of his famous touch. There's a scene near the end of the film where our beloved Horse runs wild through WW2 wire ravaged fields. It's a horrific scene that hints at darkness and makes you feel the Horses pain as the wires skim through his skin. However, War Horse doesn't belong in the list of great Spielberg's because it feels too familiar, almost too facile an exercise. It feels like a movie that could have won the Oscar 15-20 years ago, yet the times are changing and the way we see movies even more so. Welcome to the new decade of cinema. 2011's best movies were not easily suckered into formula, we are seeing a kind of revolution happening - Terrence Malick's The Tree Of Life and Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive are perfect examples of the new language being created. Spielberg is still stuck in his glory era, which is not to say it's a bad thing but more to say that he hasn't adapted to the times. War Horse is not a risk-taking film and the lack of Awards attention towards it shows just how far we've come and how reward now comes with a price- originality.

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