Posted by: ckckred | July 25, 2014

The Trial

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…Say what you like, but The Trial is the best film I have ever made.

-Orson Welles

It’s well known that Orson Welles was exiled from Hollywood for a majority of his career, with much of his post-Citizen Kane work tampered and cut by studio heads. The Trial was an exception to this reckless studio intervention: backed by a group of European investors and filmed there in cities like Rome and Paris, The Trial has Welles purest vision since Kane. Based on Franz Kaftka’s novel, The Trial is less direct and domineering than Welles’ other pictures, instead taking a surreal and bleak journey, a theme among Kaftka’s work, questioning the meanings of justice.

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Posted by: ckckred | July 20, 2014

What Do You Think of Voiceovers?

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Voiceovers tend to be the trickiest technique for filmmakers to pull off.  I’ve always felt that voiceovers typically are an easy way out for directors to do tell story, preventing the audience from figuring it out.  There are exceptions (the narrations in Apocalypse Now and GoodFellas help add to the themes of insanity and power in each respective film). The best use of a narration though in my opinion would be Barry Lyndon, where the voiceover acts as a domineering force that control’s Redmond Barry’s life.  The cold indifference of Michael Hordern’s voice is like an oracle that foretell’s Barry’s fate.

But what do you think?

Posted by: ckckred | July 16, 2014

Boyhood

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Richard Linklater’s Boyhood isn’t like any film I have seen before in quite some time.  Filmed over twelve years and featuring a cast that literally grows up on screen, Boyhood is Linklater’s biggest and boldest experiment yet.  The closest companion to Boyhood is Linklater’s own “Jesse and Celine” trilogy, but even the Before films are more condensed, each taking place every nine years.  But Boyhood is singular and definitive in its storytelling, chronicling as a young child progresses from boyhood to manhood.  With its graceful humor and genuine tone, Boyhood could be the best picture Linklater has done to date.

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Posted by: ckckred | July 13, 2014

What is Your Favorite Richard Linklater Movie?

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On Friday I watched Boyhood, the newest picture by Richard Linklater.  While I’m still writing my review (expect it sometime later next week), it was an incredible experience that I shall not soon forget.  Since the early 90s, Linklater has been the master of independent cinema and has crafted some of the finest films of the past twenty or so years.  So for today, I thought I’d ask what your favorite movie of Linklater’s filmography?

For me, the answer is Dazed and Confused (though I do love the “Jesse and Celine” trilogy and Boyhood could improve even more after another viewing).  Dazed and Confused is one of my favorite comedies and has an endless stream of quotable lines (many coming from Matthew McConaughey).  It also has an amazing soundtrack featuring songs like Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and KISS’ “Rock and Roll All Nite.”

But what about you?

Posted by: ckckred | July 8, 2014

Life Itself

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Anyone interested in studying film within the past few decades has been affected by Roger Ebert in one way or another.  My first introduction came from back when I was probably about 10 or 11.  As I can recall, I was flipping through the newspaper my parents left out on the kitchen counter when I came across a movie ad with a recommendation by Roger at the top.  At the time I didn’t know who he was other than a name on a poster; it was only a couple of years later when I started getting serious about film when I discovered the rich history and writing of this critic.  I followed Roger’s thoughts, read his books, and took his recommendations to the extent that I can almost fully contribute my love for cinema because of him.  When Roger passed away last year, I grieved for a man I knew only in writing, but his prose made him seem that I’ve known him all my life.

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Posted by: ckckred | July 6, 2014

What Is Your Favorite Seinfeld Episode?

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Whenever I’m asked what’s my favorite TV show, I often supply different answers depending on how I’m feeling.  Some days it’s The Simpsons or The Sopranos, others it’s Fawlty Towers or Breaking Bad.  Seinfeld is a series I probably most often tell people is my favorite.  There is no sitcom more influential over the past few years over Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld’s dryly hilarious series.  Seinfeld‘s widespread appeal on how a show about nothing was really the show about everything.  David and co. gave wry and clever commentary on how the small irritations in our lives that constantly hinder our day-to-day routine that for Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer should not be tolerated.

Yesterday, Seinfeld celebrated its 25th Anniversary, so for today’s question, I thought I’d ask what’s your favorite Seinfeld episode?  For me, it’d be the 1991 episode “The Parking Garage,” though there are plenty of other episodes I could also choose (“The Contest” and “The Puffy Jacket” are two of my other favorites).  But what about you?

Posted by: ckckred | July 1, 2014

Community Will Receive a 6th Season

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Community‘s goal of “six seasons and a movie” got one step closer as Yahoo! Screen picked up the canceled NBC sitcom for the show’s sixth and likely final season, saving the series just hours before the actors’ contracts expired yesterday.  It’s a move that I don’t think anyone expected; especially after Hulu rejected the idea and Netflix made no or little move about the possibility of taking Community.

The show, according to Vulture, will have thirteen episodes streamed online, retain creator Dan Harmon as the show runner, and, in Vulture’s own words, receive a production value that “will not be dramatically different than the most recent NBC season of the show.”  These conditions free Community from much of the pressure it received on air, where it continuously struggled in its time-slot against The Big Bang Theory, as well as giving Harmon the creative freedom to do what he wants.  It’s just about every Community fans’ personal dream.

I’ve loved Community since I first saw “Modern Warfare” in 2010, but I’m a bit worried about the series’ fate online.  While Yahoo’s guidelines are certainly encouraging, it’s hard to predict what they have planned in store for formatting the series for streaming, whether having it as a lengthened webisode or in series’ typical full-length episode structure (like in Arrested Development‘s fourth season).  Other than that, Community has gone on for nearly 100 episodes now, making me wonder if Harmon and co. can keep the same quality as the past five seasons (minus the fourth).

Still, I expect that Community will do well on Yahoo and look forward to watching the series when it returns.

Posted by: ckckred | June 29, 2014

What Qualifies As Movie Criticism?

In a recent Q&A with the AV Club, TV critic Todd VanDerWerff talked about the proper qualifications for film criticism, drawing the line between reviews and picking out the flaws of a movie.  He declared that:

The spread of the “Cinema Sins” style of YouTube criticism might seem innocuous to many, but underneath it all there’s this pernicious belief that criticism is applied not to the whole of a work but to its bits and pieces. These videos often seem to confuse “pointing out continuity errors and logical inconsistencies” with offering insightful thoughts on a work. Don’t get me wrong: A great, scathing review is one of the best pleasures in life. But these are not assembled via the anal-retentive means these videos apply.

The rise of the Internet over the last twenty or so years has certainly encouraged the growth of online criticism, but I agree with VanDerWerff that simply riffing a picture doesn’t make it proper film criticism.  Real criticism focuses on the development of the picture, examining the story, judging the actor, and the visual and allegorical techniques the director is using among many more things.  While like VanDerWerff I love Mystery Science Theater 3000 as well as its follow-up RiffTrax, they’re different than say a review by J. Hoberman or Jonathan Rosenbaum.

But what do you think?

Posted by: ckckred | June 27, 2014

Examining the Ending of Caché

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Spoilers follow:

Watching a Michael Haneke movie is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle: it’s a process that can be frustrating to some but the accomplishment easily compensates the effort. Caché, Haneke’s masterpiece, epitsomizes that metaphor; it’s a tense thriller whose mystery remains unexplained by the film’s conclusion. The Laurent family (composed of George, Anne, and their son Pierrot) finds tapes of their Paris home along with crude drawings of violence. Future tapes eventually lead George to suspect Majid, the son of an Algerian couple who worked for George’s family over forty years ago. When Majid’s parents are killed in the Paris Massacre of 1961, George’s family wished to adopt Majid, but George, angered at his parents’ decisions, tricks Majid into killing a rooster, causing him to be sent into a foster home. But by Caché’s conclusion, Majid, upon discovering the tapes, commits suicide, and the Laurent family’s mystery is still up in the air.

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Posted by: ckckred | June 24, 2014

Out of Sight

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In the opening scene of Out of Sight, George Clooney, playing Jack Foley, walks into a bank. After some quiet banter with a teller, he says to her that the man sitting from a desk across from her has a gun and unless she gives Foley everything in her drawer. Only until Jack talks to the man about the teller do we realize that the hold-up was a ruse.

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