Saturday, June 18, 2016

Barry Lyndon - A masterpiece gets re-released

Barry Lyndon 2

Barry Lyndon. It’s one of Stanley Kubrick’s greatest achievements, and yet it is has rarely been uttered in the same league as A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Dr. Strangelove. However, as the years have gone by they’ve been very kind to Kubrick’s 18th-century tale. It was ranked 59th on Sight & Sound’s prestigious critics poll of the greatest movies ever made and has been hailed by Martin Scorsese, among many others, as his favorite Kubrick film. John Alcott’s cinematography also ranks as one of the landmarks of the field of photography, with its ingenious natural lighting that, in one very famous scene, lit up rooms with dozens of chandeliers. Its impact has been felt all the way to last year’s The Revenant, which also used natural lighting and was clearly inspired by Alcott’s famous lens.
All this to say that Barry Lyndon is set to be re-released in the London on July 29th and will roll out in other U.K. cities in the following weeks. This is the way one must watch Kubrick’s masterpiece, on the big screen, with its bright, intricate colors and impeccable production and costume design shining ever so brightly on epic, accentuated canvas.
London seems to be in the middle of a Kubrick phase. The Brooklyn-born filmmaker will also be honored with a new exhibition at London’s Somerset House this summer. The late filmmaker’s widow, Christiane Kubrick, and Warner Bros. will lead the way with an exhibition that will feature creative art work tributes from the likes of Daft Punk, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, and actress Samantha MortonConsequence of Sound reports.

Reputation Is Everything In This Examination Of Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds’

Reputation Is Everything In This Examination Of Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds’
“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” So ends John Ford’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” the last masterpiece of Ford’s in a career full of them. Quentin Tarantino, no slouch in his unadorned love for the western genre and Ford, took that saying to heart when he made 2009’s “Inglourious Basterds,” which fitfully ends with a character pronouncing the final line: “This may just be my masterpiece.”
The highly acclaimed Tarantino film uses legend and fact to build up its characters’ traits and reputations. The people that fill up Tarantino’s twisted revisionist WWII film take pride in the mythic reputation that has been built up around their names, as Drew Morton explains in his latest video essay for Fandor Keyframe, “Tarantino: Reputation is Everything.”
We get our first glimpse at mythic name-making when Hans Landa asks at the beginning of the film, “You know what they call me?”, and of course we do because Landa, now an infamous movie character etched in the cinematic time capsule, is known as “The Jew Hunter” and he rides by that reputation for the duration of the film. He’s the Nazi that has a worldwide reputation of capturing Jews in hiding. “I love my unofficial title precisely because I’ve earned it,” he claims mid-way through the film.
The same thing can be said about the heroes of the film, who are in the polar opposite of the spectrum, ambushing Nazi troops and scalping them throughout the land. “The Germans call them the Basterds” says Mike Myers’ General Ed Fenech. Their reputation precedes them and the Basterds wouldn’t have it any other way, as they take pride in the legendary status the Nazis have bestowed upon them. “Through our cruelty they will know who we are” exclaims Basterds leader Lt. Aldo Raine, himself granted the name of “The Apache” by the Germans. The blade-sewn swastika the Basterds place on their victims’ foreheads is their way of telling the Nazis “the Basterds were here.”
Landa and the Basterds constantly tell other characters about their actions. They take pride in their accomplishments and ride with their legend. Just like in ‘Liberty Valance,’ the legend has become fact and it gets printed throughout the film’s deliciously lurid 153 minutes. “Inglourious Basterds” is about characters trying to manage a reputation that far exceeds normal life. Sgt. Donnie Donowitz, as played by Eli Roth, is known as “The Bear Jew” a baseball-bat carrying menace so legendary and feared by the Nazis that just the sheer mention of his name sends chills down a German spine. At one point Hitler tells his commander “the bear Jew is never to be referred to as the bear Jew again” for he knows the name alone instills fear.
“Inglourious Basterds” might be a WWII film, but it is indelibly drenched in the DNA of Westerns that also thematically played with the ideas of legends, myths, and reputations. Check out this video essay and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Palme D'or winner "I, Daniel Blake" trailer

Palme D'or winner "I, Daniel Blake" finally has a trailer. Most film critics, I know there a few that did think it deserved the Palme D'or, feel like it didn't deserve the top prize at Cannes. It's a defiantly old-school film that doesn't really break any ground, but there's enough powerful stuff here to be worthy of, at the very least, a deeply incisive watch. 
Writing for The Young Folks:
"Although there might be better, more deserving directors to take the honor, Cannes’ love for 79 year-old British writer-director Ken Loach’s films is entirely endearing. In a career full of art-house hits and misses, Loach has always remained true to his blue-collar spirit and the fest has loved every minute of it, choosing more than a dozen of his films for their festival. Whereas some of his British contemporaries, such as Mike Leigh, have occasionally decided to tackle new territory in some films, Loach has always remained true to his roots. His latest "I, Daniel Blake" (7/10) is a problematic, but important critique of the British social system.
The titular character (as played by Dave Johns) hops from one government agent to the next with not many answers to his questions. He’s just had a heart attack and his doctors are telling him he can’t work due to his delicately, risky health condition. The people over at the benefit office for the unemployed want to hear none of that, in fact they don’t want to explain anything to Blake, instead they want him to go online and figure everything out. Problem is our hero is computer illiterate, he’s never used one in his life, to make matters worse he’s a stubborn, hot-blooded, old-fashioned kind of guy."

Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story)

When Larry Clark came into the scene more than twenty years ago now with his ground-breaking and incendiary “Kids,” you could feel the shockwaves going down your system as you saw the most provocative depiction of teenage sexuality imaginable on screen at the time. Clark, not one to be tamed down, continued his onslaught of shockingly graphic content with his ensuing films “Bully” and “Ken Park. All of this to say that the “shock movement” that Clark started with “Kids,” isn’t all that shocking anymore. We’ve learned to accept teenage sexuality as a normal thing; maybe the way Clark depicted it wasn’t and still isn’t the “norm,” but, if anything, we’ve become numb to watching teenagers get down and dirty onscreen and off.
All of this leads me to “Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story),” which, if released say 20 years ago, might have spurned shockwaves throughout the film community, but since it’s 2016, we might just shrug it off as if it were nothing more than another sexually charged teenage drama. This is, of course, a major disservice to French director Eva Husson’s drama, which does try to give a fresh new spin to the genre by not only incorporating new shock tactics, but actually investing real emotional charge into the surroundings.
Based on true events that happened in a Paris suburb, the film tells the tale of 16-year-old high schoolers who, taking advantage of a friend’s parents being out of town, organize orgies in a secret group they dub “the Bang Gang club”. It all starts with an innocent game of spin the bottle which quickly gets out of control, and their raging hormones start acting up. Impromptu orgies occur, but as with all sexual activity, some emotional undercurrents can sometimes sneak in. There’s a Lothario (Finnegan) who uses the orgy to his advantage to play around with the affection of two girls who mostly just want the attention. And then there is the soft-spoken musician who lusts for the girl of his dreams, but wants her for more than just an evening of ménage-a-six.
Although these characters are mere background for the main events, the orgies, Husson refuses to have any real focus on character until the very last third of the story. The film is an indelibly forceful look at teenagers trying to find themselves in an almost numbing world. They don’t seem to care about the consequences of their actions; they just want to feel something physical by going skin to skin with as many “friends” as possible. Yet, as with all stories about sexually explicit content, it all comes down to that one connection you make amidst all the chaos, rather than the actual sex.
There is the inevitable downfall that comes with many of these kinds of tales, but with this being a 2016 film, it refreshingly deals with how social media can be the ultimate affecting depressor for young millennials. Imagine Larry Clark’s teenagers with a Facebook account, Twitter, or a cell phone. Armed and ready to spread the nitty gritty dirt.

There is a great deal of nudity in Husson’s film, but it’s all purposely done to be not very erotic. The editing is akin to a music video, but for a feature film debut, Husson has brought out something interesting and grounded. She’s made a Larry Clark film for the millennial generation without some of the bland tropes that have dodged some of his more recent films. I find it’s better than Clark’s movies, more subtle in fact, and can sometimes encompass a world of emotions in a single frame. It truly is a modern love story showing us how sexually liberated today’s generation is and how misguided their attempts at finding love can be. [B]

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"Finding Dory" is modest, minor Pixar, but isn't that better than 99% of summer 2016?

I'm a Pixar nut. I think "WALL-E", "UP!", "Ratatouille", "Toy Story 3" and last year's sublime "Inside Out" are among some of the most creative and brilliant studio films the last two decades, but I do also know that they have a knack to give in to the money muckers and give us a sequel every few years. Lately it's been 1 every 2 years and I HATE it with a passion, but that's the movie business this decade. I had high hopes for "Finding Dory" and, of course, it didn't meet them. I mean, how could it? "Finding Nemo" is a classic and the critical success they've had with the "Toy Story" movies is a rare feat that can't be done for every film.

This is lower-tier Pixar, but not as bad as "Cars 2" or "A Bug's Life" which remain the two worst films they've released, but do take note I haven't seen "The Good Dinosaur" which I completely forgot about and will have to catch soon now, but that one was not well received at all by critics. No, "Finding Dory" is more on the level of "Brave" or, dare I say it, the underappreciated and fun "Monsters University".

It is modest and minor Pixar. It has great moments, but seems to go along on around the same trek that the 2003 film went. There are a few surprises here and there, but this is run-of-the-mill stuff that Pixar can concoct in their sleep. I'll take that over almost anything we've seen this summer, safe "Captain America: Civil War", maybe. My abnormal expectations are now lowered for any other sequel they have up their sleeves, unless it's "The Incredibles 2".

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Update: Recent Screenings

The "Recent Screenings" tab on the right of your screen has been updated with summer movies. So far not much has come our way worth recommending in terms of the big summer releases, with the exception of "Captain America: Civil War". I'm still holding out hope that "Finding Dory", "The Free State of Jones", "Pete's Dragon""Jason Bourne" and "The Founder" pan out.

Recent Screenings

Weiner A-
From Afar B
The Lobster B
Holy Hell C+
Maggie's Plan C+
Neighbors 2 C+
Money Monster C+
A Bigger Splash B+
The Nice Guys B
X-Men: Apocalypse C-
Captain America: Civil War B+

The Visual Poetry In The Films Of Alejandro González Iñárritu Is Beautiful & Brutal [Video Essay]

The Visual Poetry In The Films Of Alejandro González Iñárritu Is Beautiful & Brutal [Video Essay]
Alejandro González Iñárritu has been putting forth his vision onscreen now for almost two decades. In the last two years, he’s directed two movies (“Birdman” and “The Revenant“) that have pushed the boundaries of the medium and won him consecutive Directing Oscars, a feat only done twice before in Oscar history.
A well-crafted video essay of the work Iñárritu has done these past 16 years was created by Vugar Efendi Films. It juxtaposes the haunting beauty that comes with the Mexican-born director’s work. It’s a well-done summation and tribute to a filmmaker that continues to try and break new ground with his craft and produce one artistic statement after another.
Iñárritu’s unique visual style and grim subject matter has made an impact on cinema ever since his astonishing 2000 debut “Amores Perros” (translated “Love is a Bitch“), a Mexican mosaic of dread that kick-started his career on an exquisite high. He’s never shied away from making you feel the suffering and emotional state of his characters, and boy do they suffer: in “Biutiful,” Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is a father of two, with a manic depressive wife, living in a crime-ridden Barcelona, when he finds out he has terminal cancer. In “21 Grams,” Paul (Sean Penn) is a terminally ill mathematician who strikes up a friendship with Cristina (Naomi Watts), a grieving mother whose child recently passed away. “Babel” had a Japanese girl dealing with rejection, the death of her mother, a disability, and alienation. Of course, last year’s “The Revenant” had an Oscar-winning Leonardo DiCapriogetting tortured, mauled by a bear, shot, frozen, and stabbed. Welcome to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s world, where almost no one can escapes the wrath of life unharmed.
His focus on the stark, honest, and frequently brutal side of humanity could be seen as ponderous or even pretentious by some, but Iñárritu surrounded it all with an immaculate palette of visual wonder. The gritty, handheld filmmaking that invaded the first half of his career, alongside his four-film partnership with cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (“Amores Perros,” “21 Grams,” “Babel,” and “Biutiful”) conjured up images that were as ugly as they were beautiful. There was a titillating sense of turbulence to his camera that lent itself exceptionally well to the content of the story. His use of color during this time period was very interesting, with the frequent inclusion of red-soaked imagery influenced by the magical realism of Latin American literature.
Then along came “Birdman” and “The Revenant,” but more importantly, his newly-formed partnership with cinematographer extraordinaire, Emmanuel Lubezki. To say this enhanced the visual imagery that Iñárritu could convey through his camera lens would be an understatement. Lubezki brought a whole new level of artistry to Iñárritu’s art, with rhythmic long takes and surrealist imagery. Their use of visual elements mixed with special effects created something horrifying, engaging, and kind of beautiful that also never felt forced. What they created was a new language for cinema, one in which the cinematographer had as much of a role in the creative process as the director.
Vugar Efendi’s video goes on to show how Iñárritu’s style has evolved over time and how much more mature the content has become. Gone is the grim sentimentalism that could burden some of the scenes in his earlier films, replaced by a more detached and forward-looking style that strives for the most grandiose of ambitions. Even when he aims high and sometimes misses, the feeling is nothing less than exhilarating.

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