My article on the foreign language race is up now at Sasha Stone's fabulous site Awardsdaily. I haven't seen Timbuktu yet but I think I've possibly set something up to get to see it in the next week or two. It's been on my radar for quite a while now and cannot wait to check it out. The race is starting to shape up as a highly competitive venture for each of its participants, the foreign language movies I checked out this past year at various film festivals were quite exceptional, so much so that I already have a solid top ten list for 2015!
Happy weekend everybody, hopefully I'll be able to post either today or tomorrow.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Here's a movie that doesn't pander to you. It doesn't try to manipulate to you, nor does it try to get a cheap thrill for the sake getting a cheap thrill. Benneth Miller's quiet -and I do mean quiet- new film "Foxcatcher" is so simple that it can sneak up on you way after the end credits have rolled. Based on the story of Olympic winning wrestlers Dave and Mark Schultz and John Du Pont- the rich profiteer that took them in and eventually betrayed them- the film is a devastating american tragedy of the highest order but while watching the film you wouldn't even know it. All you know is that within each and every frame lies a dread that is almost indescribable- it fills you up with a feeling that cannot be shaken. I was angered, thrilled, bored, confused and stung by "Foxcatcher". The fact that Miller leaves out a lot of the story only enhances the fact that it might just be the most inaccessible studio picture in quite a bit of time -and I do mean that as a compliment.
It plays almost like a shakespearean tragedy with all three of its actors delivering on the buzz that has been building up since the film's debut this past May at Cannes. Steve Carrell -wearing a devilish prosthetic nose- is superb as Du Pont, a man that has been spoon-fed everything in his life. Getting rejected or having anybody say no to him is unacceptable, he gets his way, he always has. Channing Tatum is Mark Schultz an aspiring wrestler that has already won Olympic gold and builds up a unique but disturbing friendship with Du Pont after the heir takes him into his Foxcatcher ranch and builds a wrestling facility all for him. Mar's brother Dave -also a gold medalist- is played by the always talented Mark Ruffalo who makes the most of his limited screen-time.
It is quite obvious that it doesn't end well for any of these tragic Shakespearian figures and chances are you already know about the tragedy that happened at the ranch back in the late 80'sFoxcatcher isn't the kind of movie you can love, it's the kind of movie you have the upmost respect for because of how courageous and bold it truly turns out to be. It's a bleak portrait of the American dream gone haywire. Miller doesn't let you go inside any of his characters' heads and leaves you out with not many questions answered. That can sometimes be very frustrating and
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Let's be real, we all knew we were being watched, it's the stuff that we usually joke about with friends. "Oh shit did I say that out loud? I'm sure someone's listening in on this conversation" and so on- I don't think after watching Laura Poitras' Citizenfour you will look at that joke the same way again. Poitras is a competent filmmaker with a decent hand at making absorbing stuff out of post 9/11 america. Truth be told the reason why she's getting such rave reviews for this newest film is because she struck gold by getting an in-depth 8 day hotel room interview with former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, in fact most of the documentary takes place as the news is about to break about the dirty little things the NSA has been doing on not just its own citizens but many foreign countries around the world. The footage is landmark, historic, jaw-dropping as you see Snowden reveal details to stunned Journalist Glenn Greenwald from the Guardian and Poitras herself in a tiny Hong Kong hotel room. The film is so fascinating because even after all is said and done you still haven't quite figured out Snowden's intentions and the exact reason why he is putting himself and -eventually- his family and 10+ year girlfriend in this absurdly chaotic situation. It's mesmerizing stuff that -to me- was just as interesting from a journalistic point of view, the role of a journalist and the lengths one may go in getting this kind of information out in public no matter the consequences.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Coming out in a week or so is Jennifer Kent's The Babadook which has been building considerable buzz for a few weeks now and has been compared -for some reason- to the horror greats. I wouldn't bank on the buzz. You just wish the movie were half as great as perennial classics like The Shining, The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby and -hell- even 2015's upcoming It Follows. What's missing from Kent's films is a move away from the usual formula. Yes The Badabook is a good by-the-numbers horror flick but it is nothing more. The script is conventional but -thank goodness- Kent's direction isn't. She infuses some much needed freshness to tried and tired formula that's been done two folds. A mother trying to protect her son from some sort of demon taking over the house and so on and so on. You're going to be hearing a lot of positive things about this movie in the coming week, don't keep your hopes up, just be warned that it does the job but nothing more and nothing less. Simple as that. Kent tries her best to raise the material to something more artful but the script she works with just can't go to that level.
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