Archives for April 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Caotain America The Winter Soldier

Well I am going to make this one short and sweet since this film has been out for a minute. Not that it will matter in the grand scheme of things, because I am assuming by now anyone who wants to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier will already have done so. But heck,

i-seent-it

… so I will talk about it, especially for that one person out there who cares what my thoughts concerning are.

For me, this second entry into the Captain America oeuvre was probably the most cinematic of any comic book adaptation. I know that is a large statement but let me list why I feel this way:

  • Great character development: I really felt connected to the stories that people that told them. I especially liked the touch of Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) being “reunited” with the love he lost to time. Even though there was one scene, this plot point reverberated throughout most of the film.
  • Properly executed dramatic tension: Of course I felt like I knew where the story was going and that certain “developments” were not as they appeared, but still, as everything unfolded I felt vested in the outcome.
  • Cast: Everyone did an admirable job in the performance area, with a special shout out to Robert Redford, was effective as someone playing against type. The one disappointment: not enough Anthony Mackie.
  • Speaking of Redford…: I do not think it is an accident that Redford chose this project to affiliate himself with, given the major theme involved (questions of surveillance and national security). Captain America: The Winter Soldier is in some way a throwback to that Watergate-era level of heightened paranoia.
  • The sense of time/place/nostalgia: It was really cool to see Rogers readjust to life in a modern America. His notepad charting all the seminal political, social, and cultural events that took place during the mid-late 20th century was a nice contemporary history lesson.
  • The now over-discussed movie references: I caught some of them while screening and had to look up a couple of others post.
  • Jenny Agutter kicking butt and taking names: Sure there is a twist to this scene, but it was cool to see a recipient of an OBE (look it up) in fine, fighting form.
  • Nice setup …: … for what I am assuming is the concluding chapter of Captain America (as embodied in the form of Steve Rogers, perhaps?), the setup is quite nice. The ending (not the post credits one) clearly shows that this is but an intermission to a play that has not yet concluded. It will be interesting to see how this story is possibly woven into the next installment of Avengers.

Well that is me done. How about you? Did you like Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Share your comments below.

 

 

 

 

Let the Festivities Begin! (Tribeca Film Festival 2014 Preview)

Today is the start of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival is underway! With 89 features and 58 shorts on offer, it is a veritable cinematic paradise set against the backdrop of The City That Never Sleeps. Indeed, if you want to get a maximum number of movies in, you will soon be glad that the town does not in fact sleep.

As for me, my key has always always been to play it slow and steady when it comes to festival-going. I burn out rather easily, so often my best laid plan does go awry and I end up missing one (or a few) films that I planned on seeing. This year will likely not be any different. I say this is not as a defeatist, but as a realist.

All that said, listed below are some of my picks, films of interest and other curiosities of what will be on display in Lower Manhattan.

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OPENING NIGHT FILM

Time is Illmatic – Musician Nas gets a moment in the spotlight.

Photos courtesy of the film.

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CLOSING NIGHT FILM

Begin Again: John Carney, director of Once, directs Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, and Adam Levine in this comedy.

CAN A SONG SAVE YOUR LIFE

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SPECIAL SCREENINGS AT TRIBECA

  • 6
  • A Brony Tale
  • Björk: Biophilia Live
  • Compared to What: The Impossible Journey of Barney
  • Frank
  • Food Chains
  • Iverson
  • Journey to the West
  • NOW: In The Wings On A World Stage
  • Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon
  • The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin
  • This Time Next Year
  • True Son
  • Untitled James Brown Documentary

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MY PICKS

  • ARTANDCRAFT_[SAM_CULLMAN]_2.jpg_cmykThe One I Love – saw this out there comedy at Sundance (and really liked it), but I think it is worth another mention for those who have not.
  • Art & Craft 
  • 1971
  • Battered Bastards of Baseball
  • Love + Engineering

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OF INTEREST (Meaning I am hoping to check them out either during the festival or further down the line)

  • Keep on K12562Keepin’ On
  • X/Y
  • Beneath the Harvest Sky
  • Alice of Venice
  • When the Garden Was Eden

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DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE PANELS

The industry talks are just as insightful and interesting as many a film you will see projected. In some cases a discussion will follow a film, while in others the hour (or so) is spent listening to entertainment luminaries talk about the industry. This year, I will be attending Shooting and Scoring, a one-on-one conversation about the art in creating authentic sports stories, featuring director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) and moderated by Connor Schell, Vice President and Executive Producer, ESPN Films and Original Content.

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AND LASTLY, IF YOU LOVE DANCING

Check out Ballet 422.

ballet

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This post is just the tip of the iceberg. As time permits, I will be tweeting and posting some of the sights and sounds from all the action taking place. At the conclusion of the festival, I will give more in-depth analysis of all that I have seen.

For more information on the festival I defer you to the following resources:

See you at the movies!

 

 

 

It’s the Weekend ….

tcmff_2014, turner classic film festivalAnd with that, another weekend is upon us. Unfortunately, I had to shift my schedule due to the start of a project, thereby missing out on the TCM Classic Film Festival. It may be too late this year, but if you can, I highly recommend you check it out. The films and to a greater extent, the fans are lovely and a good time is most definitely on the cards. So while you might have to wait until 2015 to head out to Los Angeles, you can still check out the goings on via Twitter by checking out the TCM Social Media Crew.

captain america: the winter soldierBut don’t cry for me too long, I am still fully booked for a weekend of moving going fun!

Saturday my anticipation leading up to the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival continues with a few more pre-festival screenings during the day Saturday. Sunday is Family Day at the cinema, where I will escort my brother and my nephew and nieces to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And maybe I will indulge one of my readers in a review of this film, eh?

How about you? What are your plans?

Readers’ Choice: Candice Frederick Asks Me …

[To name some] underrated movies

Thanks Candice! You asked a couple of questions that I plan to tackle in separate posts. (So as you can see) I am starting with some films that I feel are grossly underrated. Be warned, there are many repeats from earlier posts on this site.

Shooting Dogs/Beyond the Gates (2005): Overshadowed by the equally emotionally evocative film Hotel Rwanda, Shooting Dogs was another motion picture depicting the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Whereas Hotel Rwanda was based on an actual person, the protagonists in Shooting Dogs were composites of people who lived, fought and died during one of the pointed human atrocities of recent years. US Release 2007

beyond the gates shooting dogs

Children of Men (2006): Almost a perfect film for me. Yes it is dystopian at its most dystopian, but it is equally atmospheric, raw and unflinching in its portrayal of a world that is left without hope. Indeed children are the future.

Detour (1945): Thanks to my dad for introducing this Detour to me. In a world where noir is often identified by John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon (nothing to sniff at, mind you), Detour is a quintessential noir.

Detour-1945-Tom-Neal1

In Bruges (2008): The juxtaposing the magical medieval city with the brutal violence of its occupants makes for the perfect setting of a dark comedy.

Jacob’s Ladder (1990): I don’t know what to say about this film except that I have only seen it once and once was more than enough. Sure some of the visuals disturbed me, but it left an indelible mark on my cinematic memory. Even though I could not repeat watch, I think it deserves to have several eyes on it.

Love Jones (1997): A film that most assuredly suffered at the box office due to being labeled as a film for an “urban” audience. But, as with many films that carry this ridiculous burden, Love Jones has the broad appeal of telling a compelling love story that everyone can relate to.

lovejones_photos_843

Love and Basketball (2000): Speaking of love stories that were little seen, Love and Basketball is one of my favorite films of the past 15 years. A Sundance hit when released, you really have to check this one out.

The Naked City (1948): A sure hit with cinephiles, not enough people know about this gem that captures the pulse and spirit of a most beloved city so well.

25th Hour (2002): While I am largely not resolute in my opinion of Spike Lee, this is one of my favorite “Joints.”

Strange Days (1995): In 1995, a vision of the near future, as seen by Kathryn Bigelow. Oh yeah, and a kick ass performance by Ms. Angela Bassett.

The Hitchhiker (1953): Cinematic trailblazer Ida Lupino took over directing duties of this true-crime film noir when another director backed out.

The Hitchhiker Ida Lupino

So Candice, there you go! I am going to just leave it there. I really could go on for a spell.

Answers to your other questions coming soon! Well maybe not the overrated actors one … (I’ll see what mood I am in).

 

Readers’ Choice: Todd Mason Asks …

OK, what are your worst [film] overall? And do you have an affectionate worst and simply angering worst?

Whoa! This is a thought-provoking question. I guess it would be easy to say I dismiss all the bad, but I don’t. In my lifetime I have seen a whole lotta bad, the term “bad/worst” of course being relative. And even with that I have never thought of categorizing the worst I have seen by those I have great affection to and those that draw my ire. But it makes sense. Many films considered are guilty pleasures while others make you want to throw something or walk out of the theater.

So that is where I will start. Walking out of the movie theater. While I have made myself suffer and endure many a turkey, the only film I have ever wanted to walk out of was the 1998 extravaganza Armageddon. There was just something about that experience that made me slink in my chair and wish it were all over. Perhaps the drifting of the Bruce Willis’ accent or the bombast that is often associated with Bey-ian films is what did me in. Even hearing the Armageddon love song I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing (as sung by Aerosmith), while a lovely ballad, stirs up some rather unpleasant memories for this moviegoer.

Why didn’t I just leave then you may ask? Well, I was a newly-minted college graduate who did my post graduate duty by becoming an RA at a summer camp on campus, I could not leave. I think that made the experience even more agonizing for me. So yeah I will stick with this one.

Armageddon

An honorable mention to Wilson (1944). I just do not understand how this film was a multiple Academy Award nominated film. It was the cinematic equivalent of watching paint dry and I really did not like myself for sitting through it. I must be a glutton for punishment.

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As for the worst film I have seen and have the greatest amount of affection for … hmm, I have to think about this one for a minute. My lovely dad had a penchant for presenting my siblings and I with the dross of the cinema world for fun. The law of unintended consequences as they are means that eventually we grew to love these duds, in spite of themselves. So it really is a great honor to be among the tops of this list. But after long and hard consideration I would have to say …

PLOT TWIST!

It just is not fair or right that I would have to choose just one film, for there are several that hold a warm place in my heart. So in no particular order, here we go:

They Live (1988): This film is obviously an exploitation film meant to look cheap and schlocky; kind of like in a Plan 9 From Outer Space Away (1959) (another one for the list).

Masters of the Universe (1987): It is a childhood thing, yeah it does not stand the test of time and if I were to see it again after all of these years, I might hurl, but that’s okay.

Reefer Madness (1936): The ‘victims’ descent into madness is a riot to watch.

Mama Mia (2008): I like ABBA; so sue me …

Refer Madness

Reefer Madness

Just one note: In my research (yeah I sometimes do that) I saw the 2000 film Center Stage on someone’s list. Well that is just wrong – that film is brilliant!

So Todd, I basically answered 50% of your question as you so nicely asked it. Hope you enjoyed the rather verbose response.

 

Readers’ Choice: le0pard13 Asks …

What classic or well-regarded film have you finally caught up to in the last two years, and been disappointed with, Iba?

Very good question.

Up until recently, I had not appreciated silent films. No explanation really, the films just seemed so foreign to me (in fact more foreign than many international films. I think prior to my immersion, my introduction had been to a handful of films, notably Wingsand snippets of Nosferatu and Phantom of the Opera mixed in for good measure.

But gradually, being the cinematically open-minded person I am, I decided to further plunge into this genre and really find out what it was all about. Of course I LOVED it – why wouldn’t I? As a result of this immersion, I was formally introduced to City Lights, which has become one of my absolute favorite FILMS (not just silents).

On the flip side, and to get around to your question, my silent movie journey also led me to the Fritz Lang masterpiece, Metropolis.

WARNING: Unpopular Opinion Time …

I did not like it. Granted, I did not hate it either. Overall, I was very ambivalent about the experience, as I expressed in my May 2012 piece on the very subject of silent films. Since then, the needle on that position has not really moved.

Hear me out. From the perspective of achievement in the art of filmmaking and of cinematic scale, I get it. Nothing up until that time had been filmed on film, especially a believable future-state. When you get to it, I really think it is me – my expectations were at 11 when it came to story. And in that respect, I felt a bit let down about some of the plot mechanics. Perhaps on revisiting the film later (seeing it on the big screen), I will be a little more forgiving.

This issue is separate and apart for me from reading about the several contemporary efforts to restore the film into a fully realized film.

fritz lang metropolis 1927 silent

Metropolis by Fritz Lang (Germany, 1927) Silent