I will say I was very much looking forward to Gary Ross' Free State of Jones. Ross has always been a filmmaker that delivered what was asked of him in such a professional and gracious manner: Pleasantville, Seabiscuit and The Hunger Games all consummate and entertaining Hollywood vehicles. Judging from these early reviews though Free State of Jones will likely not make it 4 for 4. I skipped this morning's press screening, I had a few things to attend to, but it seems like I didn't miss much as these reviews have been horrendous. I presume that Warner Bros. now has second thoughts about giving this guy the reigns to its all-female Ocean's movie. Again, I haven't seen this new Matthew McConaughey film, but it looks like a complete strike out by the hints of it. I'll be catching a screening on Friday afternoon.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Recounting the story of Nat Turner, an African American Slave that lead a rebellion in 1831 to free African-Americans in Virgina. There’s blood soaked, sweat induced, passion in every frame of Nate Parker’s flawed film. You can never discount this kind of brazingly ferocious filmmaking, even when it’s by a first-time filmmaker still learning his narrative steps. The aptly titled film is bound to cause a stir when it gets released later this year, choosing the title of D.W Griffith’s grand, but very racist, 1915 masterpiece is a sign that the times might be in fact changing. Winning the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award is a sign that this movie is about to take Hollywood by storm. It was made to piss people off and get them out of their seats shouting, what more could you ask for in a movie?
Andrea Arnold's American Honey finally gets a trailer. I saw it at Cannes and, suffice to say, was quite impressed by its loose, structure-free narrative. It's a pummeling 160 minutes, but has moments of sheer beauty in its inner and outer contours. I don't think there is much awards hope for this one as it is too "out-there" for the academy to consider, but a push by critics for their awards is inevitable. It's a love it/hate it movie, but consider me with the former as I dis find its take on 21st century Americana quite breathtaking.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Over at Hollywood Elsewhere Jeffrey Wells is pondering how The Conjuring 2 is getting well-reviewed and, yet, Personal Shopper's reviews have been mixed so far. You can read the post HERE.
Yes, I'll agree the latter is an above average chill-inducing stunner that will deserve all the love and support come its release this fall season. The Conjuring 2 seems to be repeating the usual tropes that have made the horror genre go down the drain these last couple of years. Of course James Wan is a talented "horror" filmmaker, but he doesn't even come close to having the artistic chops of an Assayas or even a John Carpenter at his peak. The Malaysian born filmmaker is a competent and well-informed filmmaker that can carry a film to a certain extent, but not further enough to make great art.
This is an excerpt from my Cannes review:
"This is top-notch filmmaking with an impeccable performance by Stewart, who hasn’t really had to carry a full movie on her own until this one. She is alone in many scenes throughout the picture and does an admirable job leaving you in a state of hypnosis with her mannerisms and quirks. Assayas, a great director, quite clearly wanted to create a supernatural atmosphere, with much influence on the 1960 classic The Haunting. As far as those kind of movies go, there is nothing wrong in putting Personal Shopper next to them. The film is meant to be absorbed for what it is: A taut, terrific venture into the unknown."
Monday, June 20, 2016
"O.J: Made in America" is better than almost any 2016 movie. I've been to Sundance and Cannes as well, almost nothing comes close to the gripping, assaultive nature of this 464 minute documentary. I found it was more engrossing than its FX counterpart, which, by the way, was pretty great, because it meticulously fleshes out the larger picture as compared to the aforementioned mini-series which had to balance informative content with dramatic obligations. The fact that this documentary splits the screen time between the racial issues in Los Angeles and O.J. Simpson's story is a decision of sheer genius and, really, the definitive way to tell this story. All this to say that it is a towering achievement for director Ezra Edelman whose only other work as a director came from ESPN sports docs. He does have one hell of a story to tell though, one that is both tragic and hilarious. I'll update this post later on with more thoughts on the film. I'll leave you with a quote from the L.A. Times review of the film "Historically meticulous, thematically compelling and deeply human, O.J.: Made in America is a masterwork of scholarship, journalism and cinematic art."
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