If you haven’t seen Star Trek: Into Darkness and want to avoid MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS leave now. For the rest of you who have seen the movie and are as irritated with a certain tired plot trick as I am, please join me below the jump.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Monday, May 20, 2013
I don't think there is much debate over whether JJ Abrams' version of Star Trek has thrown brains overboard in favor of hyper-charged action. It has. Case closed. No, the question, as far as I can tell, is how much should I care? If they're fun through and through who cares if they are ultimately as flashy and weightless as one of Abrams beloved lens flares? That's the question for this week's episode of Burning Questions.
CLICK HERE to check it out and chime in.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Saturday, May 18, 2013
The Oscar tracking pages are now open in all the acting categories.
As is usually the case this time of year, they are still sparsely populated, but with Cannes in full swing new names pop up almost daily. It was tough to pick out on any standout names from the across-the-board raves for the Coens' Inside Llewyn Davis, but some names were definitely singled out for praise when Asghar Farhadi's The Past hit the town.
You will find those names and more possibilities on the charts:
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
(this review is reposted from my NYFF coverage at The Film Experience)
Frances Ha is the type movie experience I’m hoping for every time I plunk down my ticket money. It knows exactly what it wants to do and how it wants to do it and as a result it grabs you by the sleeve and pulls you right in. It is Noah Baumbach’s finest film to date and the big breakout due for Greta Gerwig for some time now.
Frances (Gerwig) is a dancer who shares a Brooklyn apartment with her bestest buddy Sophie (Mickey Sumner). Pushing thirty and stalled professionally and personally, she is right at the age when spending her nights flitting around the city getting wasted with her girlfriend stops being cute and starts being a cause for concern. When events transpire to threaten Frances' holding pattern the wheels quickly come off her cushy existence.
With this film Baumbach has not expanded his style so much as smashed it into a thousand pieces and arranged them into a collage. Frances Ha leaps in and out of scenes with abandon, staying only long enough for a quiet moment or a snippet of dialogue. Baumbach will pile up a dozen tiny moments in a row before settling down for a complex five-minute scene. It’s an exhilarating way to capture Frances adrift in her own life. I know an Oscar nomination for best editing is a pipe dream, but it deserves one. Same goes for the film’s striking black and white cinematography, which fearlessly calls to mind Woody Allen’s Manhattan and then proceeds to earn the comparison with its time capsule-ready portrait of present-day New York.
Less immediately noticeable than the bold style is the change in tone from Baumbach’s previous films, no doubt due to the influence of Gerwig, who cowrote the screenplay. The merciless edge of his writing is somewhat softened here. France Ha is no less perceptive than Squid and the Whale or Greenberg but it is a gentler, less acidic voice. Frances is too endearing to stay angry at even with her maddening, self-sabotaging behavior - not something that could be said of Baumbach’s other protagonists.
Even with the beautiful craft and the sharp writing the headline here is Gerwig’s performance. The film’s distributor would have to drop the ball big time for her to not feature in the discussion of the year’s best performances. The supporting cast is aces too, particularly Mickey Sumner as Sophie and Adam Driver who delivers a brief but devastating take on posturing Brooklyn cool.
Any complaints? Maybe things get tied up a trifle too neatly in the closing moments. To continue with the Manhattan comparison, Frances Ha never finds the surprising power Allen found in the final scenes of his New York opus. But this is just me being stingy with the masterpiece label. My primary reaction is one of admiration and joy. Frances Ha is heading for a prominent place on my list of the year’s best films.
Verdict: 9 out of 10
Verdict: 9 out of 10
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
First off - I love that Alexander Payne had the cojones to shoot Nebraska in black and white, even though that's a huge turn off for the average Joe Popcorns of the world.
Second - You can tell instantly that this is up to Payne's standard of sharp writing. The usual smarts and observation. "God musta changed his mind or something' is such a perfect line. That doesn't guarantee another Sideways/Election masterpiece - it could very well turn out to be another B+ Descendants level production - but Payne never phones it in.
Third - He doesn't get to do much in this clip, but knowing what I know about Payne's gift for handing actors roles they can shine in, I'm ready to write Bruce Dern's name into the lead actor ballot right now.
We recently passed the 1/3 mark of this new decade, so I figure why not take stock of the current best of the decade rankings. By this time last decade we had already seen The 25th Hour, Talk to Her, City of God, Almost Famous, The Royal Tenenbaums and In the Mood for Love - to name just a few that featured prominently in the best of the decade retrospectives.
This is where I see the standings so far:
Best Films 2010 - Present
2. Black Swan
3. The Social Network
5. Moonrise Kingdom
6. I Am Love
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
8. It's Such a Beautiful Day
9. Frances Ha
10. The Master
You can't expect all the choices from your end of the lists to maintain their order as the years roll on. Some films gain in standing, others lose ground. So far my lists (2010, 2011, 2012) are holding pretty stable. The only real movement is Farhadi's A Separation, which finished second in 2011, climbing into the top spot. The power of that film continues to grow and grow.
Next up: Richard Linklater's Before Midnight, which will qualify as a disappointment if it doesn't bump The Master off this list.
Monday, May 13, 2013
I've kicked off the 2013 Oscar tracking pages with the early contenders in Best Picture and Best Director.
Unlike most Oscar pages I'm not posting predictions based on speculation but only tracking those films which have actually been seen by audiences. From way out here in Spring, we have three acclaimed little films with big potential jockeying for the indie breakout position.
Big box office aside, I'm marking Gatsby down as a bust outside the visual categories. I did however toss in Shane Carruth on the director's page because, odds be damned, he deserves to be in the conversation.
The rest of the categories coming soon.