A friendship with Wes Anderson has gotten director Noah Baumbach a long way. The director has long been experimenting with many of the forms that have defined the Andersonian tone, references to the French New Wave, homages to directors such as Scorsese, and so on, with the main difference between the two is that Baumbach’s world is more in depth with reality. Frances Ha, the newest movie by the filmmaker, exhibits many of the traits Baumbach has built over the years and almost plays as a remake of Woody Allen’s Manhattan. Its attempt for greatness isn’t completely successful, as often times the picture loses its footing, but Frances Ha is a charming comedy.
The defining trait of the American Film Institute is how predictable they are. The AFI has done plenty of great work conserving cinema but much like the Oscars the films they honor tend to be the ones generating the most buzz rather than the best in quality. The jurors themselves are either members of the AFI board or mainstream critics like Leonard Maltin (not to mention the lists for the last two years are nearly identical to those of voter Peter Travers of Rolling Stone Magazine). While it’s hard to deny the AFI honors some great cinema, they also acknowledge big and showy films that are, to put concisely, unabashedly self-important and enormously bombastic like Les Miserables and The Help.
Posted in Movies, News, TV | Tags: 12 Years A Slave, 2013, AFI, American Film Institute, American Hustle, Breaking Bad, Captain Phillips, Fruitvale Station, Game of Thrones, Gravity, Her, House of Cards, Inside Llewyn Davis, Mad Men, Masters of Sex, Nebraska, Orange is the New Black, Saving Mr. Banks, Scandal, The Americans, The Good Wife, The Wolf on Wall Street, Veep
It’s already December, meaning soon 2013 will draw to a close. I’ll have a list drawn up for the Best TV Shows of 2013, followed in a month by my favorite movies of 2013 (just so I can see many late releases). So it might be the right time to ask what are your most awaited films and TV series of 2014?
Inherent Vice is the movie I’m most looking forward to in 2014, as Paul Thomas Anderson has never made a film short of greatness. Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is also one film I’m eager to see.
As for TV shows, I can’t wait for the first half of the final season of Mad Men as well as the debut of Better Call Saul. Also, after a long hiatus, Sherlock will return in early January.
But what about yourself?
After making Badlands and Days of Heaven, two of the most critically beloved movies of the 70s, Terrence Malick virtually disappeared from Hollywood, only to return 20 years later in 1998 with The Thin Red Line. Much has happened during Malick’s hiatus, with the era of New Hollywood, a wave the director was part of, disappearing and a new age of studio dominated films beginning. But Malick’s return to the silver screen is bigger and bolder than anything he’s done before. Armed with a fifty million dollar budget and a star-studded cast, Malick made his most ambitious and best movie. The Thin Red Line is the strongest war movie since the gold standard of the genre: Apocalypse Now. Its sheerness and wildly surreal story may be disorienting for some, but I found it to be an enchanting experience.
Audiences in search of a new teen series to fill in for Harry Potter have made The Hunger Games, based on the book by Suzanne Collins, become a big hit, scoring over $600 million at the box office and printing out millions of new copies of the novel. I for one found the first movie to be somewhat unfocused; while The Hunger Games could have been a fierce satire, it felt too much like tween fodder, subduing the book’s more violent scenes in favor for a PG-13 rating. It boasted some tense moments and great action, but the flawed logic weighed the movie down. Catching Fire is an improvement over the last installment, but still has an uneven pace, with an overly melodramatic first act and a stronger, more confident second one. While tonally imbalanced, Catching Fire is entertaining, but it’s hard not to feel that it could have been better.
Sight and Sound has spoken again, this time with its annual poll of the year’s ten best movies. The prestigious magazine whose voters comprise of the most respected critics and directors in the business chose The Act of Killing as the year’s best picture, followed by Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, the only mainstream studio movie on the list. Other films include Cannes Film Festival winner Blue is the Warmest Color and Shane Carruth’s surreal thriller Upstream Color. The full list is below.
1. The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer (Denmark/U.K./Norway/Germany/Finland/Sweden/Netherlands/Poland
2. Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron, (Mexico/U.S.)
3. Blue Is the Warmest Color, Abdellatif Kechiche, (Belgium/Spain/France)
4. The Great Beauty, Paolo Sorrentino, (France/Italy)
5. Frances Ha, Noah Baumbach, (Brazil/U.S.)
6. A Touch of Sin, Jia Zhangke, (China) (tied for 6th)
7. Upstream Color, Shane Carruth, (U.S.) (tied for 6th)
8. The Selfish Giant, Clio Barnard, (U.K.)
9. Norte, the End of History, Lav Diaz, (Philippines) (tied for 9th)
10. Stranger by the Lake, Alain Guiraudie, (France) (tied for 9th)
Posted in Movies, News | Tags: A Touch of Sin, Abdellatif Kechiche, Alain Guiraudie, Alfonso Cuaron, Blue Is the Warmest Color, Clio Barnard, Frances Ha, Gravity, Jia Zhangke, Joshua Oppenheimer, Lav Diaz, Noah Baumbach, Norte, Paolo Sorrentino, Shane Carruth, Sight and Sound, Stranger by the Lake, The Act of Killing, the End of History, The Great Beauty, The Selfish Giant, Upstream Color
Since the complete set of Breaking Bad has been released on DVD, I thought it’d be appropriate to name the 10 Best Episodes, which would act as a precursor for my essay about the series as a while. Breaking Bad had no bad moments (even the weakest episodes are better than 90% of the rest of television), and these are the ones I think are the strongest the show produced, which is saying very much. Also, there are some spoilers here, so be forewarned.
Recently I read an article about product placement, particularly in film and television, and why many studios use it. So this inspired today’s question: what do you think of product placement?
I’ve always disliked product placement and while I know that many producers use it for budgeting, it makes it no less excusable. It’s particularly glaring in many big studio films, from many of the Marvel movies to the recent Man of Steel (where Superman plows through an iHop and 7-Eleven before reigning destruction on all of Metropolis) and particularly in Michael Bay and Adam Sandler movies. But I’ve loved when people parody product placement as well. Arrested Development had a great bit where Tobias goes to a Burger King to meet Carl Weathers (see above) and Stephen Colbert regularly and jokingly talks about Bud Light Lime on The Colbert Report.
But what do you think?
This is a reworking of my previous JFK review in order to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the assassination.
For the past fifty years, the assassination of John F. Kennedy has been a major touchstone not just for America but for everyone in the world, transitioning from the idealism of the fifties to the uncertain age of the 60s and 70s. Since 1963, conspiracy theorists have speculated that Lee Harvey Oswald, the so-called killer, was a patsy and that the real culprit was still out there. Jim Garrison, the district attorney of New Orleans, thought something was awry and so does director Oliver Stone. Stone’s JFK not only follows Garrison’s path through the events of the Oswald investigation, it conveys the fear of a post-JFK world.