Archives for July 2014

Looking Ahead …

I am going to keep this one short and sweet. I am certain to see a lot more than this quick list I compiled, but just based on word of mouth and general interest, these are the films that I am most looking forward to as we hurdle towards the latter stages of the 2014 cinematic calendar.

2014 Movies Late Summer Fall

Interstellar – well just cuz Christopher Nolan and outer space.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them I really have no word for why I want to see this; I just do.
Frank – Looks a bit off beat and yes, … Fassbender sings!
The Two Faces of January – based on a Patricia Highsmith novel and starring Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst; the scenery looks absolutely lush.
Beyond the Lights – Is this a breakout year for Gugu Mbatha Raw? Anyone’s guess. But I am glad to see Gina Prince-Bythewood back on the big screen.
The Imitation Game – World War II espionage by way of Cumberbatch and Knightley. Matthew Goode and Charles Dance round out the cast.

So there you have it. Always good to have something to look forward to. Thoughts? Share below.

A (VERY) Late Mid Year Review of 2014 in Film

Honestly, when I started to think about this post, my initial thought was – Geez, this year has been rather “meh” film wise. The focus on the “event” film, or the 3D or just the blockbuster in general, left me feeling fatigued, so much so that I even missed the chance to see several of my favorite actors in the early summer release X-Men: Days of Future Past (MORE on that in general during my Guardians of the Galaxy review this Sunday/Monday — stay tuned).

2014 Mid Term

Try as I might I could not muster the will to drag myself to the local cinema and catch this one.

Or maybe it was the fading afterglow of having attended my first ever Sundance Film Festival. Yeah, I’ll buy that. 🙂

But actually after much thought I realized that actually, the period from January-June did offer up some cinematic delights, at least enough to allow give me a Top 5 list for 2014 … so far. And without further ado, here they are (in no particular order):

  • The One I Love – review pending (spoilers and stuff).
  • Boyhood – the one that almost got away, and so glad it didn’t.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier – one of the better formed comic book adapts for a minute.
  • Belle – being hailed as a Jane Austen/Regency/Georgian piece with depth, I think it is more (and different) than that label.
  • When the Garden was Eden – “My” New York Knicks in their glory days.
  • Honorable Mention to The Only Lovers Left Alive – a film whose experience was punctuated by my attending a midnight screening during Sundance. Also a film where I have warmed to it a lot more post-screening.

So what do I think the future holds? Stayed tuned later today for what I am looking forward to in this latter half of the cinematic calendar.

P.S. Thoughts? Hit the Comments section below.

Was “Boyhood” Worth the Wait?

I have been trying to see Boyhood for nearly half a year now, since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival. As it made its rounds on the festival circuit, opportunity after opportunity was missed, as I tried (in vain) to catch it somewhere … anywhere. After some time, I had therefore concluded that the cinematic gods were bound to keep me and Boyhood forever apart.

Ultimately perseverance and patience prevailed and it finally happened.

So after this great wait and anticipation the question must be asked and answered: Was it worth the wait?
My response? That would be an unequivocal YES.

Boyhood Ellar Coltrane

I know a lot has been made of the style and approach the film took – indeed major dap to director Richard Linklater and the cast for remaining committed to a cinematic project 12 years in the making. The history of feature filmmaking is littered with similarly ambitious auteurs who have tried and ultimately abandoned such an undertaking. That said, I really do not think that the film would work simply by relying on an interesting or inventive technique to keep the audience engaged. It is obvious that this is a unique selling point – in the length of a narrative to watch people age on screen and in ‘reel’ time is definitely a wonder. But there also has to be a story (narrative thread) present for us to sit down invest our time in with a deal of satisfaction. Now, it doesn’t have to be a grand or epic arc, but just a story, well told. That is what we have here — 12 years in the film of a film with a boy, Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as our through point.

As you are sat watching the film, it becomes crystal clear that this film in not exclusively about him but rather it is all about the people, places and things which shape him and his family’s life over the course of 10+ years.

One of my favorite details of the film was Linklater’s bookmarking the passage of time, through cuts, knowing transitions and the sub-marking the years with cultural artifacts – the video game systems moments were very well placed.

By creating a ‘small’ story, you can appreciate that it is in the quiet that some of the more transformational events in our lives take place and that often, they carry a heavier importance than what we consider major life events.

Congrats to the central cast (Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater, Ethan Hawke) and the many supporting players for conveying these authentic life experiences to their audience. Especially looking at several of the peripheral characters, you get to observe the very real happenstance of people seamlessly and sometimes abruptly moving in and out of our lives.

But be warned – the running time is approaching three hours (164 minutes to be exact), but it certainly does not feel like it. And it ends on a perfect note – as the boy is on the precipice of “manhood.”

In Honor of La Fête Nationale (Bastile Day)

In honor of La fête nationale, I wanted to share my appreciation French films by sharing a few clips from from French-language film:

Le Ballon rouge (My first French film)

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (A rather recent addition thanks to my TCMParty pals)

La règle du jeu

Entre Les Murs

Madame de …
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In my researching (yes even for a post so economical, some research goes into it) I realized that I have seen a LOT of French films over the years – so many that I could not include all of them in this post. Otherwise, I could be here until midnight extolling their respective virtues. I will spare you that pleasure and offer this simple bit of advice: go to Netflix (or any other streaming service) and randomly pick a few French-language films. Trust me, I continue to follow my advice and remain constantly amazed.

Here are some recent recommendations; hopefully in the coming weeks/months I will post my reviews and recaps:
  • Sous les toits de Paris (Rene Clair, 1930) – not the most narratively-sound film, but there are some lovely shots in this one
  • Prête-moi ta main (Eric Lartigau 2006)
  • La Belle et la Bête (Jean Cocteau, 1946)
under the roofs of parisSous les toits de Paris
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In closing, here are a few posts from the ILC archives in which I discuss some of the French films I have seen over the years:

On Location at the Palace of Versailles

8 Femmes

La Delicatasse

The Scarlet Pimpernel – yes while not actually French, it does deal with the French Revolution whose source is one of my favorite books growing up)

Les adieux à la reine

 Ne les dis à personne

La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2

Les yeux sans visage

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Now Playing: The Best Man Holiday (2013)

My enjoyment of seeing The Best Man in 1999 predated the founding of this site; as a consequence, I never got around to writing about the film here. Equally unfortunate was the fact that last year’s sequel, The Best Man Holiday escaped my notice, and by the time I was ready to check it out at the multiplex, it had come and gone.

Film Title: The Best Man Holiday

So when I saw it was premiering on cable (HBO) this past weekend, without hesitation I settled in and watched it.

As per usual, I am not the best of synposizing plot, etc., so for those interested, here is the official film description from the studio, Universal Pictures:

After nearly 15 years apart, Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Harold Perrineau, Monica Calhoun and Melissa De Sousa reprise their career-launching roles in The Best Man Holiday, the long-awaited next chapter to the film that ushered in a new era of comedy. When the college friends finally reunite over the Christmas holidays, they will discover just how easy it is for long-forgotten rivalries and romances to be ignited (Source: Universal Pictures).

I hope that is enough of a teaser/lead in for you 🙂 Pretty vague, I know, but in this case I think it is best to know as little as possible about the plot ahead of time  (lest you become spoiled with one or two developments).

The best Man Holiday

These aforementioned “spoiler” do indeed lead to a pronounced level of mawkishness as the final acts of the film play out, but I was moved by it/them, in spite of myself. It will not surprise me, however, if many viewers are a little put off by the direction the story takes. Considered yourself duly warned – there is a level of sentimental melodrama to be had. In fact, as elements of the story were being revealed to me in the viewing, thoughts DID go through my head about how the filmmakers would manage to “go there” while leaving the remaining balance of the narrative rather lighthearted.

Sequels are funny, fickle things – stray too far from the formula of what made the original successful, and you lose your audience; stay too close to the original and there is that “been there, done that” felling which leads to equal disappointment. Luckily, The Best Man Holiday escapes this fate. In the 15 plus years since we last saw them, the characters did a lot of growing up, and are knee deep into early middle age and all the joy and pain that comes with that. But in the end it was still an entertaining evening at the movies.

 

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures