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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Posted by: ckckred | June 22, 2014

What Is Your Favorite Sports Movie?

The Fifa World Cup started a few weeks ago and while I have as much interest in soccer as any other American, I’ve been following the scores and watching a few of the games.  This provided the inspiration for today’s question: what’s your favorite sports movie?

Raging-Bull

The answer for me is obvious: Raging Bull.  I don’t have anything original to say about Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece and it’s a flawless piece of cinema.  Hoop Dreams would be a close second for me: an equally stunning picture that’s really emotionally powerful.

But what would you choose?

Posted by: ckckred | June 16, 2014

Chef

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I re-watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi a few days before I saw Chef, Jon Favreau’s ode to food and its makers. While these films are certainly different in dish style and form (Jiro’s a documentary), they both focus on the chefs’ love of food. Jiro is about an eponymous sushi chef known for his perfectionism while Chef is about Carl Casper (Favreau), a man so devoted to his food his risks his career and integrity. From the outside, Chef looks like a tasty meal and its first bite is sweet and delectable. But after digging your teeth deeper, Chef loses its flavor and becomes stiff, stale, and generic, the same stuff we’ve tried before.

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There’s no denying Orson Welles’ status as a Hollywood icon.  He was an adept director, a powerful actor, and his voice alone was so commanding it made people believe that his reading of War of the Worlds was real.  After watching Welles’ The Stranger, I feel like seeing some of his other pictures.  Recently I purchased copies of Touch of Evil and The Magnificent Ambersons and F for Fake (which I haven’t), all of which I hope to write pieces of online.  But before I do, I thought’d I’d ask what’s your favorite Orson Welles’ movie (other than Citizen Kane)?

Touch of Evil would have to be my choice.  I purchased the Universal blu-ray that contains the theatrical, preview, and reconstructed releases (I don’t know which version I saw beforehand).  It’s a superb thriller that has arguably the best tracking shot there is.  I’ve seen parts of The Magnificent Ambersons before in film classes that really exhilarated me.  If I were to count his non-directorial pictures, I’d say though The Third Man.

But what about you?

Posted by: ckckred | June 13, 2014

The Stranger

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Orson Welles is perhaps the most influential figure in cinema’s history, but despite this accomplishment the director was an outcast from Hollywood. Welles spent his entire career fighting against studio executives but unfortunately he was never was a credible name for box office success: Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, and Touch of Evil, all heavily praised by contemporary critics, were flops. The Stranger is an exception; it’s the only movie Welles made that was profitable, yet film scholars today rarely talk about The Stranger. Welles himself dismissed the project, saying “The Stranger is the worst of my films . . . There is nothing of me in the picture.”

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Time sure flies by; it’s already June and 2014 has been bombarded with major releases. While there’s still much to look forward to for the rest of the year (Inherent Vice), the first couple of months have been very strong with television, plus I’ve seen a few very strong new movies.

In a post-Breaking Bad TV landscape, I predicted that the golden age of television drama that’s been around since The Sopranos started has come to an end.  Fortunately I was wrong.  Louie, hands down the best sitcom on television, is also the best drama of the year so far, showing its strength with the magnificent “Elevator” series of episodes. Fargo also is the year’s brightest new show, with the black humor and philosophy of the Coens’ classic movie without being derivative.  I can also applaud The AmericansMad Men, and Game of Thrones for their excellent seasons as well as ArcherVeepSilicon Valley, and Community for making me laugh.  I also have to give much praise (which I will talk more about within the next few days) about Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which has quickly found its voice and has cemented a firm status next to the top-notch satire of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

As for film, I haven’t seen many current pictures.  The Grand Budapest Hotel though was an absolute treat and like all We Anderson movies will certainly improve during a second viewing.  I also very much enjoyed the documentary Tim’s Vermeer as well as the monster-romp Godzilla, whose characters never really come alive on screen but has some exciting action to make up for its faults.

But what has been a highlight of 2014 for you so far?

Posted by: ckckred | June 6, 2014

Some Kind of Monster

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Music documentaries often deal with the larger-than-life personas of their subject matter and embellish their stardom and fame. Some Kind of Monster, which chronicles the process of making Metallica’s “St. Anger,” does the opposite. Directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, Some Kind of Monster dissects the egos and personalities of Metallica in a time of crisis. Stripped of any glamor and glory, Metallica doesn’t appear as a group of rock gods but real, flawed people. Often times wickedly funny, other moments gravely serious, Some Kind of Monster shows a band not only trying to make an album but survive.

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In my review of The Birds, I criticized the paltry condition of Universal’s blu-ray release, which had an erratic playback and sound features.  It’s a movie that deserves a better treatment for viewers.  So today I’m asking what film do you think deserves to be restored?

Besides The Birds2010: The Year We Make Contact really needs to have its current blu-ray release fixed.  While I’m not a fan of the movie, the quality of the DVD distribution is awful and I would like to see a better edition come out.  But what about you?

Posted by: ckckred | May 29, 2014

The Birds

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Alfred Hitchcock’s follow-up to Psycho, The Birds, is one of his most iconic and memorable pictures. Much like its predecessor, The Birds turns from small town normalcy to massive insanity, the kind of inspired lunacy Hitchcock had mastered by this point in his career. While not at the same level of perfection as Hitchcock’s upper-class pictures such as Vertigo or Rear Window, The Birds is a highlight of the director’s filmography.

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