Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Monday, July 23, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
Ashes of Time (Kar Wai Wong, 1994)
The DVD transfer for this film is atrocious, as both sound and image are desaturated, the sound effects (especially the swordplay) was embarrassingly campy, and I've never been a fan of Kar Wai Wong's overuse of slow shutter speeds, but aside from that, this is another solid film from the Chinese auteur with an amazing script.
"...nothing matters...because everything changes."
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (Russ Meyer, 1965)
A very interesting harbinger of the cult exploitation films involving suggestive campy dialogue, gratuitous violence, and an abundance of cleavage. The script is pretty solid, as is the photography, despite the over the top nature of the film. The acting however is pretty bad, but oddly fitting. Strangely enough, I found Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill to be reminiscent of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre at moments.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Heaven (Tom Tykwer, 2002)
The first of a planned trilogy Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz wrote before Kieslowski's death: Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. Lovely score, visuals, and overall well executed directing as always with Tykwer, but the story seemed a little dense; the opening and closing sequences were a nice framing though.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Gandhi (Richard Attenborough, 1982)
Ben Kingsley delivers one of the greatest performances to ever be committed to celluloid in his portrayal of one of the most beloved and unique men to ever grace the earth.
"The object of this massive tribute died as he had always lived - a private man without wealth, without property, without official title or office. Mahatma Gandhi was not a commander of great armies nor ruler of vast lands. He could boast no scientific achievements or artistic gift. Yet men, governments and dignitaries from all over the world have joined hands today to pay homage to this little brown man in the loincloth who led his country to freedom. Pope Pius, the Archbishop of Canterbury, President Truman, Chiang Kai-shek, The Foreign Minister of Russia, the President of France... are among the millions here and abroad who have lamented his passing. In the words of General George C. Marshall, the American Secretary of State, "Mahatma Gandhi had become the spokesman for the conscience of mankind, a man who made humility and simple truth more powerful than empires." And Albert Einstein added, "Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth."
"An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. "
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Friday, July 06, 2007
Funny Games (Michael Haneke, 1997)
Funny games is a brilliantly complex self-reflexive film that analyzes itself within the film. Two young boys begin terrorizing an affluent family with sadistic games. The killers communicate with the audience sporadically acknowledging that the spectator is in fact watching a film, but also an accomplice to the crimes while simultaneously, identifying with the family and suffers along with them. Interestingly enough the film sort of mocks or at least reproaches the media and films like Hostel among others (although Funny Games was made before), along with the viewers for becoming so desensitized to violence. It's a unique cinematic experience and incredibly well acted and intellectually stimulating.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Transformers (Michael Bay, 2007)
Transformers is either the worst film I've voluntarily watched in the past couple years or a 2 and a half hour car commercial with a pathetic sense of humor, and arsenal of clichés. Semantics aside, it's almost as if Michael Bay is intentionally trying to outdo himself with a worse big budget blockbuster film each time he makes one, while still managing to make a killing at the box office. I can't deny the CGI was impressive, but it was overwrought with cheesiness and predictability to the point of South Park-like parody. It was further hindered by the constant attempts at unfunny humor. The most painful scene I can think of is when the 40ft robots are "sneaking" around Shia LaBeouf's parent's home; causing earthquakes and talking to him without ever getting noticed. The lazy writing is perhaps the most disgraceful part of all. My left was left agape as Optimus Prime explained how vastly superior alien robot race learned English via the internet, and located Labeof and his grandfather's glasses through Ebay. In the hands of a more capable filmmaker, this film might have been salvagable. It's a pretty remarkable accomplishment to ruin a film that consists of giant transforming robot aliens dueling it out, but Michael Bay does just that. His over inclusion of the human aspect is highly detrimental, especially considering the robots are more believable than the humans as characters who are actually more like caricatures.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Paris, je t'aime (Various, 2006)
Paris, je t'aime is an anthology of short films about love in Paris from 18 directors, including Olivier Assayas, The Coen Brothers, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuarón, Alexander Payne, Tom Tykwer, Walter Salles, Gus Van Sant and a plethora of stars. Although I enjoyed all of the stories, my favorites included the Coen Brother's comic piece featuring Steven Buscemi, Gus Van Sant's mystic connection between an American and Frenchman, Tom Tykwer's frantic visual poem starring Natalie Portman, Alexander Payne's bittersweet story of a lonely middleaged woman, and the surprise sleeper from Oliver Schmidt about a lost connection between two French African immigrants. If I had to pick a disappointment, I'd have to say Wes Craven's segment which was atypically romantic rather than horrifying. It also had the misfortune of having to follow Vincenzo Natali's vampire love tryst starring Elijah Wood and beautiful Ukrainian actress, Olga Kurylenko.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Vampyr - Der Traum des Allan Grey (Carl Theodore Dreyer, 1932)
This is one of the early horror films with obvious influences from the German Expressionist movement that would later influence the American horror movies, especially the Universal monster films. Dreyer employs mesmerizing camera work which was ahead of its time and still impressive today. Most notable are the hand held work as well as the 360 degree pans. Perhaps the most memorable scene is when we see our hero in the coffin. The editing alternates between first person perspective shots of the main character while he is being carried to his grave (similar to Tarantino's "trunk shots" which he gets credit for, despite not being very original at all) and third person objective shots of Allan in the coffin. Unfortunately the print is in pretty poor condition.