To describe Synecdoche, New York is to describe life itself. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman has explored the miseries and woes of people looking for warmth and shelter in Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But Synecdoche, New York is bigger and even more ambitious than those three pictures, an enormous portrait of an artist lost in his work and romance. Kaufman’s directorial debut has been criticized for its excessiveness and length for muddling the subject matter and emotional drift, but for me the material felt compelling and completely original to the extent that this may just be Kaufman’s finest work.
In the last few weeks, FX has aired a series of promos for Fargo, a miniseries based on Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1996 classic. While I was initially concerned, I’ve become more hopeful on the prospects of Fargo since the series has a strong cast (which includes Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, Billy Bob Thornton, and Glenn Howerton), the Coens are executive producing and will provide much influence over the show’s direction, and FX is the perfect home for the series (if it’s anything like the movie, it will fit right in next to a show like Justified).
Fargo comes out on April 15th, and my anticipation has got me thinking about possible movies that could be made into a TV show or miniseries. I’d really like to see Mulholland Drive as a show to see what David Lynch’s original idea was like. And it’d be interesting if recent ensemble pictures (like A Separation or Computer Chess) were made into series. But what about you?
Spoilers for the season finale of True Detective
The core of True Detective was not the mystery itself but the relationship between the two protagonists: Detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart. Both characters are rooted in the classic buddy-cop duo, spouting different ideologies and beliefs. Marty is the brash and popular one, acting in the manner and tone of a high school jock. Rust, though, is nihilistic and pessimistic, an atheist who views the world as deprived and dying. The two’s constant quarrelling and bickering often took center stage of the series, culminating in a fight after Marty discovers his wife had sex with Rust. But it’s clear that both detectives had a mutual bond together. Marty and Rust have set aside their prejudices and differences to finally forgive each other, flaws and all, to solve the case of the “Yellow King.”
True Detective‘s season finale is tonight and I’m pretty excited. Creator Nic Pizzolatto has assured that the season will end on a concluding note and not be open-ended like The Killing‘s widely reviled first season finale (which Pizzolatto also wrote). And True Detective‘s greatest strength is Matthew McConaughey’s role as Detective Rust Cohle. It’s just one of the string of great performances by McConaughey. So it’s an appropriate time to ask what’s your favorite role by the actor?
My favorite would be his breakout role as David Wooderson in Dazed and Confused. McConaughey’s only in the movie for a short time but he has many of the movie’s best scenes and lines (“That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age”). But what about you?
The Academy Awards has never been a strong indicator of the best of film, often opting to films that are big, broad, and accessible crowd-pleasers that emphasize their importance rather than the best and boldest of cinema. Recent winners like Argo and The King’s Speech are very award-baity movies with important subject matters and relative broad and simple stories and messages.
While the Oscars this year were predictable to the extent that most of the winners could have been preordained back in October, many of the winners were worthy of recognition. While my first choice for Best Picture would be her, 12 Years A Slave was a strong and smart move for the Academy and the strongest winner since The Hurt Locker in 2009. Spike Jonze deservedly took home Best Original Screenplay for her and I was glad to see Lupita Nyong’o win for her daring performance in 12 Years A Slave. And the McConaughsaince continues with Matthew McConaughey winning for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club (which I haven’t seen yet but was pleased to see the actor win as between his recent series of films and True Detective he has been on a roll).
It’s easy to be upset at the lack of recognition the Academy gave Inside Llewyn Davis and Before Midnight this year as well as completely ignoring The Past for any nomination, not to mention that 20 Feet from Stardom beat out the highly praised The Act of Killing for Best Documentary. And while Gravity is a visual wonder, it doesn’t have much staying power or the force of 12 Years A Slave as I would have preferred if Steve McQueen won over Alfonso Cuaron. But overall it was a night that didn’t do much wrong (at least for the awards, I didn’t see any of the award ceremony except for the opening monologue).
Posted in Analysis, Awards, Movies, Oscars, Review | Tags: 12 Years A Slave, 20 Feet from Stardom, Academy Awards, Alfonso Cuaron, Argo, Before Midnight, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, Matthew McConaughey, Oscars, Spike Jonze, Steve McQueen, The Act of Killing, The Hurt Locker, The King's Speech, The Past, True Detective
Since winning the Cannes Film Festival last May, Blue is the Warmest Color has gained a streak of notoriety due to its content and graphic sex scenes. Yet for what its worth, Blue is the Warmest Color is not about sex, but first love. It’s a tragic romance that’s about first love. While initially I wasn’t enamored as most people about the picture, I initially found myself warming up to the film to the point of great admiration, though still weary about the complete subtext.
Tragic news hit the movie world today as Harold Ramis, who has written and directed some of the best and most memorable comedies of the last thirty years, including Groundhog Day, Animal House, Ghostbusters, and Caddyshack, has died at age 69. Ramis’ influence in the comedy world cannot be stressed enough: his movies combined a sharp wit and slapstick together for a winning combination. Not only that but Ramis had the unique ability to put pathos in his comedies, making his characters not seem like cartoons but real-life people (Bill Murray’s weatherman from Groundhog Day is the strongest and most emotional performance the actor has done). Ramis will surely be missed.
As you may have noticed, in the past few days I have been absent from the blogosphere and unfortunately that absence will continue for a while. In order to give myself some time to breathe and do things besides watch movies and TV, Cinematic will be on a hold for the next two weeks. While there still will be some new content, including a rundown on the Oscar nominees, posting will be pretty limited. But don’t worry, I will return, hopefully soon.
Last Friday I saw The Elephant Man, which means that I have now seen all of David Lynch’s films. David Lynch is a decisive figure, with people calling him a genius and master of modern day surrealism with others criticizing his work for being overly opaque. You can consider me part of the former group; I think Lynch is one of the best filmmakers there is whose enchanting style only a few select directors can match.