by Jackson Posted: May 23rd, 2011 at 12:00 pm
Some films completely embody a time and place, a particular style or genre uniquely popular in that exact when and where. Others land on those transition points between eras, exhibiting qualities of both the past and the future, belonging somewhat to both but not fully to either. The film adaptation of the stage musical Fiddler on the Roof, released in 1971, falls into that latter category. More after the jump.
by Jackson Posted: May 10th, 2011 at 1:12 pm
When looking at the careers of legendary directors, writers and actors in retrospect, it can be interesting to analyze just what path they took before reaching greatness. Today, Ingmar Bergman is internationally known as one of the great auteurs of all time. But while he was already an established director for nine years in his native Sweden, it was not until his fifteenth film as director that Bergman achieved international acclaim in 1955. That film was Smiles of a Summer Night. Hit the jump for my review.
by Jackson Posted: April 19th, 2011 at 12:00 pm
Every now and then one watches a film that takes a couple days to absorb. I am not just talking about dissecting and understanding—often the better the movie, the more that is revealed by further thought—but literally the most basic of conclusions, sometimes even so simple as whether one likes it or not. Federico Fellini’s The Clowns was just such a movie for me. The Clowns is Fellini’s filmic exploration of his own—and humanity’s—fascination with clowns and the circus (for those not familiar with Fellini’s work, clowns and the circus play prominently across his oeuvre). For my DVD review of the film, join me after the break.
by Jackson Posted: November 2nd, 2010 at 12:56 pm
Few film genres cover such a wide range of perspectives and styles as do those about war. War movies range from those that glorify combat to those that reveal its deepest, darkest horrors; from those that take place direct on the battlefield to those that revolve around ancillary elements; and from those that are intensely patriotic to those that are pointedly critical of one’s own nation’s actions. Nagisa Ôshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence is a “war” film that explores the intense conflict between different cultural mores when those very mores themselves are being challenged by the brutal realities of a world at war. My review after the jump:
by Jackson Posted: September 2nd, 2010 at 6:49 am
The transition from silent films to the “talkies” was difficult for many in the motion picture industry. For many (particularly those in front of the camera), it would result in the death of their careers. Others (particularly directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford and Cecil B. DeMille) would go on to bigger and better things in the sound era (Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford, among them). Another such director was Josef von Sternberg, whose career began at the very end of the silent era, but whose brilliance was already apparent in the years leading up to the release of The Blue Angel. Now, thanks to The Criterion Collection’s 3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg box set, some of his early silent films are available in restored glory. My review after the jump:
by Jackson Posted: July 6th, 2010 at 7:07 am
life – noun, definition 1 c: an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction (from the Merriam Webster Dictionary, online edition)
Life – noun, proper: a nature documentary television series produced by BBC Television and distributed in the United States by the BBC and the Discovery Channel that perfectly encapsulates the above definition of “life”. More after the jump.
by Jackson Posted: March 25th, 2010 at 6:56 am
Take a classic work of children’s fiction, as famous for its art as it is it’s story. Add an idiosyncratic director with a distinct visual style. Recipe for success, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, Spike Jonze’s highly-anticipated adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Caldecott Medal award-winning Where the Wild Things Are falls strangely flat. Why after the jump…
by Jackson Posted: March 25th, 2010 at 6:51 am
Mis-advertising of movies is a disservice to film patrons and to the very movies the trailers and television spots seek to promote. False expectations simply can never be met, and setting them in the first place exhibits an extreme lack of faith in the film in question. Grant Heslov’s The Men Who Stare at Goats, starring Ewan McGregor as a journalist investigating the US Army’s one-time secret psychic soldier program and George Clooney as a former member of said program, suffers from such a misguided marketing plan. More after the jump:
by Jackson Posted: February 11th, 2010 at 6:17 am
It’s rare that two films with the same name come out within months of each other. After all, the MPAA Title Registration Database exists to protect against just such confusion; however, when both are adapted from pre-established source material, what can the MPAA do? To be fair, so the two films in question, Nine and 9, are not quite identically titled. The former is an adaptation of the stage musical of the same name that itself is taken from Fellini’s 8 ½. This is not a review of that film. The latter is an expansion of director Shane Ackers’s digitally animated short about a burlap doll that awakens in a post-apocalyptic world devoid of humans and must subsequently struggle to survive. DVD review of that 9 after the jump.
by Jackson Posted: September 14th, 2009 at 5:17 am
The new series on the 2008-2009 broadcast network primetime television season left a lot to be desired. And when I say a lot to be desired, I mean the majority of them were only a couple steps above unmitigated disasters. There may actually have been more watchable mid-season replacements than new series that started the year (maybe-when talking about numbers this low, it’s tough to tell). The combination of the Writers Guild strike (which devastated the traditional television development season) with the global economic collapse and the threat of a Screen Actors Guild labor stoppage was too much for the nets to handle, at least in terms of quality.
The one show coming into Fall 2008 that really had my hopes up was Fringe. Luckily, it did not disappoint. Considering his fandom among many, I should point out that I am not a J.J. Abrams groupie and that, prior to Fringe, I never watched any of his shows beyond one or two episodes. More after the jump:
by Jackson Posted: September 10th, 2009 at 5:44 am
Adventureland is definitely a case of a film not being what I expected. Not surprisingly, those expectations evolved out of how the movie was marketed-the advertisements were very, very misleading as to the nature of the picture. Watching the trailer one would have thought the film to be a very broad coming-of-age comedy. Considering that the writer-director was Greg Mottola, whose previous release was the extremely broad coming-of-age movie Superbad, it would seem to be a reasonable expectation. Wrong, as it turned out, but reasonable. That doesn’t mean the movie isn’t good. More after the jump:
by Jackson Posted: August 9th, 2009 at 9:40 am
Film as character study is always an interesting proposition. Cinema, as a whole, is such a plot-centric art form that to succeed when otherwise requires especially fine crafting. Not that brainless big-budget studio fare consisting solely of story and nothing else is ever very good-those other elements are definitely necessary to create a great film-but even most quality character-driven movies still have some degree of story, even if it plays second fiddle to the character relationships. But a true, well-executed character study in which story means next to nothing is rare. Bad Lieutenant is just such a film. Read my review after the jump:
by Jackson Posted: May 11th, 2009 at 2:35 pm
Frost/Nixon has to have one of the more interesting pedigrees of any film in recent years: televised interviews about historical events, dramatized into an award-winning play, which was then adapted into an Academy-Award-nominated movie. And yet the resultant motion picture remains as gripping as the original interviews must have been when first broadcast (alas, I was too young at the time to remember them).
Frost/Nixon is as much about the lead up to and circumstances surrounding the famous David Frost interviews of Richard Nixon as the interviews themselves. The film injects verbal sparring with a tension more reminiscent of a political thriller-which, of course, isn’t that far from the case, considering the interviews’ subject matter. Considering how many dialogue-driven character dramas these days fall completely flat, it’s a joy to see one that is truly enthralling.