Sunday, November 22, 2009

Things I Love: In The Loop

I have seen this film twice. I still love it. It's the funniest thing I've seen this year, and one of the most intelligent.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Actress of the Day: Alexandra Maria Lara

Alexandra Maria Lara!

Known best for her role in Downfall, she is a German actress who is still kind of upcoming in world cinema. She also had a few lines in The Reader, which I'm coincedentally watching as we speak. (How great is Kate Winslet in this?)

Her next role is in The Nazi Officer's Wife, a project by the drastically uneven Mike Figgis, also starring Eva Green.

Also really pretty!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Film Review: The Vintner's Luck

A depressing failure of a film. That's how I can sum up this entire review in one line. This film is a failure in storytelling, both through dialogue, structure and visuals. This film is largely a failure in acting, aside from an expectedly strong performance from Vera Farmiga. The film is a failure in editing, both in terms of narrative structure and just in terms of shitty continuity errors.

However, the most depressing thing here, is that this film could have been good or even great. There's, by all accounts, a strong and literary source material here. These actors are all talented. The director, while hardly a Lynne Ramsey or Kelly Reichardt, is at least an interesting talent. And yet this film completely fails.

The film is very reluctant to reveal any information. At first I thought it was a stylistic choice, like in a David Lynch film. After about half an hour, I realised it was just shitty storytelling. At one point, Sarbond's wife is jealous of his relationship with the Baroness. Despite him having one scene prior to this jealousy, which by all accounts was chaste and not grounds for an affair. At another point, Sarbond almost kisses the angel Xas. This is not once explained.

There's also events in the film that have no meaning or impact. At one point, the Baroness has a mastecomy. Why? It doesn't aid the story, it doesn't increase the drama and it's never referred to again.

The one shining part of the film is Vera Farmiga, who turns in the only full-bodied characterisation. If this film was good, or at all well-received then she might be in line for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. However, it's not and this film isn't going to be seen by anybody other than film enthusiasts like myself or old people in New Zealand.

This is a devastatingly artless piece of filmmaking. D-.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Things I Want To See: Nine

(From Nine - The Movie Blog)

I think the Oscar for Best Cinematography is in the bag.

Things I Love: Lady Gaga's Bad Romance Music Video

I'm not going to be silly enough to call this Lady GaGa's best video without giving it time to settle. What I am going to call it is Lady GaGa's most artistically ambitious video. It achieves an almost Lynchian level of surrealism and outright weirdness. The video shows GaGa at her most human, at her most alien, at her sweetest and her darkest. It's the only video where I've seen GaGa appear as what might be close to a human (Not exactly a criticism or compliment.)

It's a work of genius, and it amplifies the song it belongs to. There's not one doubt in my mind that these are the best music videos since Fincher. (Excepting of course Sophie Muller's work, which is right about where this is.)

And this isn't even an artist at the peak of her career. There's much, much more to go.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Actress of the Day: Alyson Hannigan

Oh my, Alyson Hannigan.

Best known for Buffy, by a pretty long shot. But I was even more pleasantly surprised when I heard about How I Met Your Mother and assumed it was going to be a dull, sitcom vehicle for the actress. How wrong was I. It's truly the real successor to Friends, and ends up sometimes surprassing that show in cleverness and poignancy.

Um. Hannigan is also really hot and pretty and good in the show.

And also above.

This is really just for me.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Actress of the Day: Lily Cole

The lovely Lily Cole.

Just saw her in Dr. Parnassus. She's.... lovely in it. Such an odd, elflike looking creature.

But she's very pretty.

Full review up tomorrow!

Things I Love: Betty White

Because why the fuck not.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Actress of the Day: Lea Michele

So Glee premiered here on Friday.

It was pretty great, especially Lea Michele and Jane Lynch. And of course Matthew Morrison is just... dreamy.

Anyway! Lea is the show's shining talent in terms of vocal. She's simply amazing.

She's also totally adorable!

More please!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Things I Love/Things I Want To See: Dead Man Running

This is incredible.

Brenda Blethyn is the veteran British actress, famous for her performance in the Mike Leigh film Secrets and Lies.

Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson is 50 Cent.

That is all.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Poster Just Because: Salt

Things I Want To See: Salt

This is the action film coming out next year starring Angelina Jolie. I'm not expecting it to be like, any great or another A Mighty Heart type slamdunk performance from her, but I'm expecting it to be great fun. (The idea is that it's meant to be the successor to the Bond films.)

And here is Angelina Jolie looking gorgeous. Just because:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Film Review: Jinx Sister

A very wise friend of mine once claimed that he was able to tell if a movie was going to be bad or good from the very first shot. I don't have this skill. However, my feeling was off on this film from the very first shot: This film had a statement to make.

However, throughout the 101 minute running time, I didn't see this. What I saw was a film that tried to hard to say -something- but didn't know what it wanted to say, and wrapped itself up in too many cliches.

For me, this film fails at the first hurdle: The writing. It simply isn't a well-written film. There is dialogue that is worth cringing at, "You're a weird chick." "People who get close to me have a habit of dying." and exchanges that ring as either false or overused in previous films.

The narrative as a whole lacks direction as well, the love story appears to be thrown in just for the sake of it and to fill time; and the family drama is awkwardly revealed through the use of the Exposition Fairy. It's way too forward and far too clunkily delivered to have any real impact. A late game reveal should have a larger impact than it actually does, but the way it comes about and the way it's reacted to by the characters reeks of the likes of soap opera.

Another late-game act didn't shock me at all; some clunky foreshadowing made it so the turn didn't have any real impact for it, not to mention some awkward and frankly unnecessary crosscutting between scenes of a woman giving birth and scenes of a woman being a drunken mess.

I also couldn't get into the characters, least of all Laura, the lead. The character is a cliche to begin with, 'damaged woman who lies to herself and deals with it through alcohol'. What's worse is that she's forced through the hoops set out for her by the script, like not getting close to anybody and suddenly turning on characters in the script since it makes her seem edgy and different. It's perfectly fine to make a character unlikeable, see Margot at the Wedding and Monster, but when your character is uninteresting and her arc unbelievable, then that is a true flaw in the filmmaking.

Sadly, the male characters were also drastically underwritten. They had no arc of their own and seemed, honestly, like pushovers and afterthoughts. The characters were there because they had to be, not because they contributed anything significant to the story.

As for performances, they're mostly unremarkable. Sara Wiseman is perhaps the most notable, if only for her uneven accent. I understand that the character is meant to be an ex-pat Kiwi who has lived in Los Angeles for a while, but that's not excuse for her accent to not even be reminiscent of a Californian accent, and if anything it sounds like it should be located vaguely around the southern part of the U.SA. That is, when it's not disappearing back into a Kiwi accent. Other than this uneven accent work, I found her work as an actress to be quite passable, if shoehorned into the common tropes of the damaged woman.

The movie was shot in HD, but I didn't count this against the film. It is a well-shot film, with not much remarkable, but it's framed perfectly competently. The only mark I can possibly count against it is the inclusion of a slow motion part of Laura riding around on a amusement park ride in slow-motion for apparently no reason. Oh, no doubt, it looks good. But it contributes absolutely nothing to the film. I also question the choice to shoot a few scenes slightly out of photo?

The best thing about this film and the only thing I truly loved was the score by Brigid Ursula Bisley; I found it to be evocative and set the atmosphere perfectly. A truly lovely composition.

This film had an interesting conceit potentially, but some clunky writing and zero character development doomed the picture to not even a soap opera level of quality. D.

Things I Love: Hating on Kristen Stewart

Triggered by her interview with Fab Magazine in which she said:
I don’t want to be a movie star like Angelina Jolie. Nothing about being a celebrity is desirable. I’m an actor. It’s bizarre to me that everybody’s so obsessive.

I'm willing to pass this off as her not being very well-articulated. But, even so: Angelina Jolie has an Oscar; and a long line of great performances to her name. Kristen Stewart has well, the above.

You've made an enemy in me, Stewart.

Things I Want To See: Amazing Tales: Three Guns

This would be the remake of the Coen Brother's debut film Blood Simple by perhaps the best director in mainstream China, Zhang Yimou. It looks like a complete change in tone for him, but judging from the original source material which is one of the Coen's best, and this trailer; it looks like it could be another slam-dunk.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Actress of the Day: Gemma Arterton

The amazingly beautiful Gemma Arterton.

Best known for being the hotter Bond Girl in Quantum of Solace, she was also in the guilty pleasure-film St. Trinians.

A quick gander at IMDB shows these things being lined up for the actress:

  • the love interest in Prince of Persia, bizarrely directed by Mike Newell.
  • The lead in Tamara Drewe, the next Stephen Frears project which looks promising.
  • Io in Clash of the Titans. No idea whether this is going to be a big role or not.
  • The St. Trinian's sequel.
Out of all of these, Tamara Drewe looks like the best shot for a chance at stardom.

She's also like, kind of really pretty!

For Gemma Arterton's official future wife.

Film Review: Kinsey (2004)

This was one of the films that disappeared during the 2004 awards glut, with only a nomination for the lovely Laura Linney in a plum supporting role as Kinsey's wife.

I haven't seen it since I saw it then, but after catching a few endearing minutes of it on TV on Saturday, I decided to get it sent from Fatso (love me some Fatso) and here we are.

It's a different film than I was anticipating, and it's quite a unique creature. It retains very few traces of the studio-made, awards-ready film that you might think of from it's awards pedigree cast and director. What we have is an engaging, if mildly middlebrow, film.

Liam Neeson plays Kinsey, the man who pioneered studies of sexology in the USA and, according to this film, revolutionized the mainstream attitudes towards sex. The lovely Laura Linney plays his wife, affectionately called 'Mac', and who thankfully steers stray of the 'long suffering wife' cliche with a thorny and amiable performance. It's easy to see why she got Oscar nominated; it's a very able performance that supports what might be seen as a weak lead performance.

Personally, I found Neeson to be very good in the lead role. He doesn't stoop to sanctifying his protagonist, and it's a subtly growing and nuanced performance without any big 'Oscary' moments.

Technically, the film is quite competent. There's some very good editing and use of crosscutting which I enjoyed, and it definitely makes this film stand apart from the rest of the award's baity films. The cinematography is quite standard, but it evokes the look and feeling of the era quite well. (The best choice in cinematography is one that I'll mention soon.)

I would have liked to see the film tackle the social discourse of Kinsey's discoveries in a much more head-on way, however. We only get a feeling that it's not very well-appreciated and then we move on, when I imagine there was much more of a shake up. However, the film does do a competent job (a word I seem to be using a lot) of approaching this subject matter, and I credit Condon's light touch for that.

The best scene in the film isn't due to it's direction, Neeson's performance or Linney's performance; it's due to Lynn Redgrave. She's in this film for barely three minutes, and she turns it right around as his final interview subject. In a brief monologue, which Condon mercifully chooses not to cut from, Redgrave essays a life of torture, heartbreak and mental anguish. The camera slowly zooms away from her as she simply pours her heart out for Kinsey. And it's not histrionic or exploitative in any way, it's just.... pure beauty. It's the best performance in the film, and I doubt I'll forget it for quite a long time.

Kinsey is a film which deals with it's theme of sexual revolution deftly and engaging performances and direction do this subject matter justice. B.

Things I Love: Christopher Walken's Dramatic Reading of Poker Face

Like twins, right?

Actress of the Day: Jennifer Tilly

Jennifer Tilly.

Tilly, aside from being damn hot, gave two of the best performances of the 1990s: as the doomed, dumb moll in Bullets Over Broadway and in the Wachowski thriller Bound alongside the amazing Gina Gershon. (To be featured at some point as well, I'm sure!)

She also gave an appealing supporting performance in Dancing at the Blue Iguana, a sorely underrated film that needs a critical reappraisal, or an appraisal in the first place.

Since then, she's turned to playing Poker professionally. And still being kind of hot.

Because. C'mon. She's hot.

For a certain person! You know who you are.