A Touch of Sin (2013) - dir. Jia Zhangke

I’ll blame my own contentedness for not knowing much of day-to-day culture outside of… well… New England. I barely know what it’s like for folks living in the suburbs of El Paso, so I definitely don’t know what’s happening across China, I’ll just admit it. And, seeing Zhangke’s positively gorgeous (with some brutal splatter) made me wish I knew more about the four true events that inspired this sprawling crime epic.

But I don’t. And I feel slighted. By the midpoint of the film I was already exhausted. It’s a beautiful film, tragic in places, and you never once will question Zhangke’s ability to tell a story with visuals. Overall, the film is a little too dense.

6.8

I saw this for the first time at a sleepover when I was in the fourth grade. It was, without-a-doubt, the scariest point in my young life. I distinctly remember sneaking into the living room at two in the morning to watch the sequel.

There is a fondness in my heart for Chucky, odd as it sounds.

filmrevues:

Rachel Getting Married (2008) - dir. Jonathan Demme

Tour. De. Force. That’s the only way to describe Anne Hathaway’s performance as Kym, a recovering addict. The cinematography (mostly hand-held) is jarring, and nothing if not bothersome… but Demme is such a terrific director that even though Rachel Getting Married is semi-painful to sit through… there’s a huge reward in store for the audience members that stay.

I heard about this film only because Tunde Adebimpe (lead singer of TV on the Radio) was one of the top-billed actors. I did some preliminary research and discovered that he was playing Sid, the man to whom Rachel was getting married. I figured he’d have a big part, it’d be interesting to check out. I left the theater touting Hathaway as the most underrated actress of our time.

8.1

re-revue: Rachel Getting Married (2008) - dir. Jonathan Demme

Now that I’ve seen a greater amount of Demme’s work, I have to say I think the film is incredibly flawed… but better than I initially thought. Jenny Lumet’s (Sidney’s daughter) script meanders with the best of them… but the dialogue is terrific. More important than the dialogue is the filmmaking: Demme is an under-touted director.

All of the music is grand. The film itself is a bumpy ride… but it’s also a wedding and that sort of adds to it. Anne Hathaway is still the show-stealer, but I’m coming to appreciate more and more aspects. I even use this film in my screenwriting classes, flawed script and all.

8.3

Nymph()maniac: Vol. II (2013) - dir. Lars von Trier

As a stand-alone film, it is detestable. It goes nowhere, teasing you along with a promise of some deeper meaning… which may well be the point. The matching at the very end and Jerome’s (Shia LaBeouf/Michael Pas) story was good. But despite the great performances, the fantastic visuals, and the sheer ambition… it was just a flat disappointment.

Overall, it’s the least-impressive work I’ve seen from von Trier. And you’ll remember it because of the sex… but the sex is hardly interesting. The humor is gone in Vol. II and it was sorely missed. What happened to the fly-fishing metaphor? It’s like the first half dragged on, then the second half was thrown in fast-forward. Ultimately, part two was much sloppier than the first part - which was already plenty sloppy enough.

4.9

Anonymous: hey this blog is pretty great. i agree with most of your opinions and lists, but i was wondering why theres such a lack of wes anderson? especially in the cinematography list

He’s one of my favorite filmmakers and I’ve reviewed all of his films.

I only put one film by Anderson in my cinematography list in order to make room for others. But really it’s not Yeoman’s cinematography that sells his quirky little worlds - it’s the symmetry in the production design.

I would actually say that Anderson’s technique may be strange, but he plays it very safe with his shot structure. It’s very calculated which increases the deadpan humor and gets in a lot of slapstick, but the camera never seems concerned with telling the story. A film having great cinematography doesn’t just mean it is pretty (otherwise the Fall would have been number one) the camerawork should be admirable as well. For this I’ll go to someone like Spielberg over Wes Anderson (though I’ll probably take Wes for anything else) since Spielberg is willing to take a chance with a zoom or an angle.

What’s really missing from the list is absolutely every Kubrick film. He had all the symmetry of Wes Anderson plus the gutsy long shots of P.T. Anderson.

Missing (1982) - dir. Costa-Gavras
When Charles Horman (John Shea, a fellow New Hampshire native) goes missing about twenty minutes into the film,.. you won’t care. You won’t miss him. Yes, he’s a zealous young writer driven by his ideals, but he’s not at all likable. He’s downright chauvinistic towards Beth (Sissy Spacek). When his businessman father, Ed (Jack Lemmon), shows up it’ll peak your interest, but only for a moment as the film soon devolves into its director’s view on politics.
Sure, the political agenda is valid, but it’s so disjointed from the film’s narrative, that you’ll never buy in properly. It’s a terrific idea for a film, that, by all standards, holds true to the original story… but there’s very little drama infused.
5.3

Missing (1982) - dir. Costa-Gavras

When Charles Horman (John Shea, a fellow New Hampshire native) goes missing about twenty minutes into the film,.. you won’t care. You won’t miss him. Yes, he’s a zealous young writer driven by his ideals, but he’s not at all likable. He’s downright chauvinistic towards Beth (Sissy Spacek). When his businessman father, Ed (Jack Lemmon), shows up it’ll peak your interest, but only for a moment as the film soon devolves into its director’s view on politics.

Sure, the political agenda is valid, but it’s so disjointed from the film’s narrative, that you’ll never buy in properly. It’s a terrific idea for a film, that, by all standards, holds true to the original story… but there’s very little drama infused.

5.3

Mean Creek (2004) - dir. Jacob Aaron Estes

A brief chronological list of my responses during the film:

Act One: Apologetic.
Act Two, part I: Well, this is predictable. 
Act Two, part II: Oh, actually that got really interesting in a hurry… but I’m not sure if I like where this headed.
Act Three: Oh god, what a trainwreck.

At some point, Estes’ own ideals got in the way of the filmmaking. Also, why make a movie about teens rated R if its targeted towards teens? The ideologic debates felt rehearsed, the dramatic scenery shots leading into the final act looked… well… I don’t want to get mean. But I started off making excuses for the film (Josh Peck is pretty great here), but by the end I was mad at the direction.

3.9

post-revue: Scott Mechlowicz looks exactly like Andrew Garfield in this film.

Sabrina (1995) - dir. Sydney Pollack
Pollack must have been the one to convince van Sant to drink the kool-aid. As odd a remake as Psycho, Pollack really let me down. The original is a timeless classic, one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, full of dry humor, class commentary, and Audrey Hepburn.
Admittedly, it was damn-near impossible for me to view this film objectively. But from the first lines it just felt forced. It’s actually a decent enough homage to the way films were made, a nice bit of romance in an otherwise loveless era (okay, that’s too dramatic), but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t pretty terrible. Why redo a classic at all?
1.7

Sabrina (1995) - dir. Sydney Pollack

Pollack must have been the one to convince van Sant to drink the kool-aid. As odd a remake as Psycho, Pollack really let me down. The original is a timeless classic, one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, full of dry humor, class commentary, and Audrey Hepburn.

Admittedly, it was damn-near impossible for me to view this film objectively. But from the first lines it just felt forced. It’s actually a decent enough homage to the way films were made, a nice bit of romance in an otherwise loveless era (okay, that’s too dramatic), but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t pretty terrible. Why redo a classic at all?

1.7