Monday, September 27, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Seriously though, Uncle Boonmee is a revelatory piece of cinema - especially considering my sordid past with the films of Joe's strange little oeuvre (and I don't mean that as condescendingly as it may sound). More oft than not I have had rather tepid reactions to the works of Weerasethakul. Blissfully Yours and Mysterious Object at Noon were interesting experimentations but held no real lasting flavour. Meanwhile Syndromes and a Century (first seen at this very festival four years back), though praised to the high heavens by just about every self-respecting critic out there, and though quite charming throughout, fell rather flat in this particular critic's esteem. Only Tropical Malady (first seen at this very festival six years back) made a lasting impression on me (enough of one to make my top 10 that year). That is, until now, and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The results were as follows.
Monday, September 13, 2010
The one that started it all is gone. Considered the first of the Cahiers du cinema critics to release a feature film and kick off what would come to be known as the Nouvelle Vague (aka, French New Wave) with his 1958 debut Le Beau Serge. I must admit to never being quite attuned to M. Chabrol as I have to his compatriots Truffaut, Godard and Rivette (Rohmer is in the same boat so to speak), and must also sadly admit to only having seen four of the auteur's films, but what I have seen I have enjoyed and his unique brand of Hitchcockian neo-noir (or should I say Hitchcocko-Hawksian as Bazin said of M. Chabrol and his pals?), many starring the great Isabelle Huppert, will certainly be missed in and around the cinephiliac world.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Taking Upton Sinclair's Oil! (or at least the first few chapters and epilogue) and transposing it into a postmodern Citizen Kane, Anderson has perfected the very art of auteur filmmaking. Taking what he did with the essence of Scorsese in Boogie Nights and the spirit of Altman in Magnolia, Anderson has multiplied it a million fold with the biblical monster movie There Will Be Blood, and going beyond mere imitation or homage like De Palma or Tarantino, he has entered a magical realm of honest loving cinematic genuflection the likes of which we have not seen from an American director, with the lone blazing exception of David Lynch and his Mulholland Dr., since the days of the director driven cinema of the 1970's American New Wave. This is a bold new American cinema being born, Phoenix-like, from the bloody ashes of all that came and went before. As iconically American as Kane or Chinatown or Taxi Driver or Greed - and just as caustic - this motion picture is something truly incredible. This is something that cannot be missed. This is something superhuman, something supercinematic. To sound quite genuflectory myself - and I cannot help but do so (sounding more like a studio adman or perhaps Anderson's own press agent than the hard-nosed film critic I claim to be) - this is not only the best film of 2007, this may very well be, no make that this is one of the greatest films ever made. Ever.
As far as the story goes, it is a tale of old testament fire and brimstone - literally and figuratively. As pertinent today as it was when Sinclair wrote it in 1927, Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood is a staggering monster movie pitting God vs. Greed, and in the end, as is always the case, Greed wins. This is the story of the deceptively named Daniel Plainview, who we first meet in the dark numbing silence of a makeshift silver mine, then crawling on his back, shattered leg in tow, across miles of rocky terrain just to make his claim and finally as the explosively charged self-proclaimed oil man offering up his services to the throngs of genuflecting would be oil barons, all the time growing richer and richer upon the backs of these naive cash cattle with each successive bursting oil well exploding from the dry dusty ground as if trying to escape the very Devil himself, only to find an even worst beast above the surface.
Played with a ferocity that surpasses even Gangs of New York's Bill the Butcher, Daniel Day-Lewis is an ever-simmering, constantly bubbling, potentially explosive demon of a human being as Daniel Plainview - Moloch devouring all that lies before him. Channeling John Huston's Noah Cross with each and every deep long breath and every hulking purposeful step (as I said before, his water is oil and it turns to blood in his own private 'Chinatown') Daniel Day-Lewis proves once again that he is the most intensely superhuman actor working today - and probably the most powerful since the early days of Brando. Full of spleen for the whole of humanity, Day-Lewis/Plainview (for the method actor and the demonic character become one entity throughout), with each demonstratively bold step, keeps his evil mostly in check, with only brief shocks of madness, until his full out direptitious mega explosion come the undeniably full-throttled bestial finale that will take everyone completely and utterly off guard with its absurd madness. In short, Day-Lewis/Plainview will drink your milkshake. He'll drink it up! (trust me, once you have seen this film, that reference will make sense to you, albeit in the most senseless way).
Meanwhile, playing the antithesis to Daniel's fire demon is Paul Dano as the meek-willed young evangelist Eli, who wants his upstart church to be able to cash in on Daniel's oil boom. Stomped at as if a tiny bug by the giant shoes of Daniel, never able to defend himself against this goliath, Eli seems to be the very embodiment of sanctimony itself, but do not let that fool you, as with a glint in his eye, Eli is also the embodiment of the church, a church that wants its lion's share of the gold (or oil in this case) making it (the Church, organized religion, supposed Christian values) play out as just as evil as Daniel and his insatiable thirst for power and money. Using each other for their own cause, trying to prove which is master, God or Greed, Daniel and Eli are the crux of a battle between good and evil, right and wrong, God and Man. A war which has been raging since before time began and will be burning throughout eternity - long after Daniel's oil wells dry up and long after Eli's congregation dies off. The only question remaining is, which side is good and which side is evil - or is there even a difference?
In sum, while many of Anderson's critics have called him and his film pretentious (probably the most oft-mentioned criticism about Anderson throughout his still young career) one must take that as cop out criticism by those who know not how to take this brave film. Beneath the mantle of a different kind of filmmaker - a lesser filmmaker if you will - pretension can easily take down even the best of intentions, but in the hands of certain auteurs - Welles and Kubrick come to mind immediately - pretension, or more aptly that which one perceives as pretension, can be the very backbone of a great film. In the hands of Paul Thomas Anderson (the heir apparent to Welles and Kubrick perhaps?) it is spun as if gold from the guts and groin of Rumpelstiltskin. To paraphrase Truffaut when writing about Johnny Guitar back in his Cahiers days, if one does not like Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood then they should never go to the movies again, for they know nothing of cinema.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Full of Hitchcockian layers, whence the characters may not even know what is going on - even, sometimes, inside their own heads. Mortensen goes miles past his saturated LOTR days and opts for a much more adult-oriented role (as opposed to the rather mentally stunted fanboy-esque following that his King of the Rings garnered him). He is surprisingly nuanced as the everyman turned wrong man (just one of many Hitchcock allusions), possibly turned cold-blooded killer, or maybe even something all together different - a plot point question that can only be answered by seeing this film (there be no spoilers here!). Maria Bello, as Mortensen's wife, is at both her sexiest and emotionally-charged best, playing the damaged wife with such ferocity and teeth - not to mention about as much primal sex appeal as one woman can physically contain.
Perhaps not quite as dream-induced as some of his more esoteric works (eXistenZ, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch or, to a lesser extent, The Fly), it is the blurring of what is real, what is not real and what may or may not be real, that has shown up in both Spider and in this film. It is the maturation of Cronenberg as a Filmmaker that pulls it all together, and it is this notion of unreality - or perhaps even surreality - that holds sway over these characters heads like some sort of Damoclean sword - here strung up by the likes of David Cronenberg, in his finest hour.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
As regular readers of this blog know, I recently joined the ranks of the LAMB (aka, Large Association of Movie Blogs). Proud member #678 for those of you keeping score at home. Well, each month the LAMB posts a leaderboard, representing the Top 20 LAMB sites of the month (the ones with the most traffic between themselves and the LAMB site). Well, lo and behold, yrs truly (aka, The Most Beautiful Fraud in the World) made the cut for August - with a bullet. Making, what I believe to be a relatively strong debut, in the number five spot, I was majorly surprised when I saw the newly posted leaderboard. I am sure some of this has to do with me being a new kid on the block, and therefore peek-worthy (just to see what I'm all about) but hopefully many of those peekers will come back. Perhaps number one is in my future. Perhaps obscurity after a surprisingly rousing start. Who knows.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Saturday, September 4, 2010
2) Greatest Criterion DVD/Blu-ray release ever
3) The Big Sleep or The Maltese Falcon?
4) Jason Bateman or Paul Rudd?
5) Best mother/child (male or female) movie star combo
7) Favorite Preston Sturges movie
8) Odette Yustman or Mary Elizabeth Winstead?
9) Is there a movie that if you found out a partner or love interest loved (or didn't love) would qualify as a Relationship Deal Breaker?
10) Favorite DVD commentary
11) Movies most recently seen on DVD, Blu-ray and theatrically
12) Dirk Bogarde or Alan Bates?
13) Favorite DVD extra
14) Brian De Palma’s Scarface— yes or no?
15) Best comic moment from a horror film that is not a horror comedy (Young Frankenstein, Love At First Bite, et al.)
16) Jane Birkin or Edwige Fenech?
17) Favorite Wong Kar-wai movie
18) Best horrific moment from a comedy that is not a horror comedy
19) From 2010, a specific example of what movies are doing right…
20) Ryan Reynolds or Chris Evans?
21) Speculate about the future of online film writing. What’s next?
22) Roger Livesey or David Farrar?
23) Best father/child (male or female) movie star combo
24) Favorite Freddie Francis movie (as Director)
25) Bringing Up Baby or The Awful Truth?
26) Tina Fey or Kristen Wiig?
27) Name a stylistically important director and the best film that would have never been made without his/her influence.
28) Movie you’d most enjoy seeing remade and transplanted to a different culture (i.e. Yimou Zhang’s A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.)
29) Link to a picture/frame grab of a movie image that for you best illustrates bliss. Elaborate.
30) With a tip of that hat to Glenn Kenny, think of a just-slightly-inadequate alternate title for a famous movie. (Examples from GK: Fan Fiction; Boudu Relieved From Cramping; The Mild Imprecation of the Cat People)