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Average User Score: 5.4Dec 26, 2018If you couldn’t think of a better example where Hollywood puts its hands on something and made it boom, pop and explode like never before,If you couldn’t think of a better example where Hollywood puts its hands on something and made it boom, pop and explode like never before, Welcome To Marwen is the film to prove all of your theories correct.
Based on the 2010 documentary Marwencol, the film is a fictional and glamoured retelling of a documentary feature film that showcases the triumphs of a man who was severely and brutally attacked that left him with irreversible brain-damage. Mark Hogancamp is undoubtedly a survivor. After the attack, the once established and successful artist began creating a 1:6 scale world where he finds therapy, healing and redemption from the horrors of his past.
In the 2018 fictionalization feature film, Steve Carrell plays Hogancamp, a man whose hyper-fantizies sex, violence and victory in Marwen. While the city of Marwen is inhabited by Captian Hogie, a miniature version of himself, as a ruthless and brave military captain, the only other residents are the women of Marwen, each represented by strong and kind women in Mark’s life. While many of the women’s stories become as interesting as Mark’s, we come to fall in love with the women of Marwen, no matter how treacherous they are to the “Nazis” that constantly threaten their home.
Although Welcome To Marwen is the story of Hogancamp, the direction quickly shifts to his feminine rebellion; GI Julie (Janelle Monáe), Carlala (Eiza González), Anna (Gwendoline Christie), Suzette (Leslie Zemeckis), a group of influential women that help Mark recovery from epic tragedy. Even though each of the women are a representation of the women in Mark’s reality, he quickly makes them sexy and tough-as-nails heroes of Marwen, constantly standing by and protecting Hogie, no matter how hocus the narrative really is.
The shift in Mark’s life comes with the introduction of a new neighbour across the street, Nicol (Leslie Mann), who has her own story of tragedy and strife. Together, Mark and Nicol, as well as all the other women in Mark’s life face the many challenges of their lives head on, and without apologies.
Welcome To Marwen is a story about pain; embracing the pain, loving the pain and dealing with the pain and using it as fuel for recovery and successful. Yet, while the themes of Marwen are very strong and incredibly inspiring, one cant help but notice just how painful the film really is. Mixing stop-motion capture technology for the fictitious world of Marwen, and integrating the fantasy with reality, really symbolizing real life issues with action figures, the themes in Zemeckis’ newest feature get lost in over-ambition. One of the biggest disappointments of Marwen is the poor use of such a talented and great cast, and under utilizing the fantastic actors for pure spectacle.
While, at first, the animation becomes quite charming and humorous, it quickly overstays its welcome. Zemeckis, a master of story-telling and innovating the medium of cinema and motion-capture technology (as seen in The Polar Express), it’s over stylization here gives Marwen a bloated and bizarre entrance; and instead of getting lost in a world, the audience feels more like they are stuck in Marwen with no exit for the film’s two-hour runtime.
While hate and discrimination spark the world of Marwen, love and determination save it. Yet, authenticity is lacking within every frame of Welcome To Marwen, especially when a filmmaker like Zemeckis is at the helm; it truly becomes an example of the expectations of film-lovers and how they react to film that’s poorly made or executed with such dissatisfaction.
Based on the true triumph of a man who used his tragic story into a story of success and glory, Hogencamp’s pictures of his figurines of Marwencol were featured in a New York gallery in 2006, and eventually made into a documentary in which this film is based on. While Hogencamp still suffers very severe forms of post-traumatic stress following the incident and violent hate-crime that nearly left him dead, his story is one that inspires so much hope and strength to others who have had near-death experiences, or even just need a little hope in the everyday and mundane difficulties of life. Unfortunately, Welcome To Marwen isn’t the film to illicit many of those feelings.
Isolated from the outside world, threatened by everyday acts and routines and surrounded by endless love and kindness, Mark Hogencamp is the real deal when it comes to overcoming your demons and facing your fears. Sadly, Welcome To Marwen comes short on proving to being a story to ignite emotions of inspiration, hope and new beginnings.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.5Dec 26, 2018The latest contrivance from Peter Jackson, Mortal Engines is a post-apocalyptic action thriller on wheels. The film was penned and produced byThe latest contrivance from Peter Jackson, Mortal Engines is a post-apocalyptic action thriller on wheels. The film was penned and produced by Jackson with newcomer Christian Rivers making his feature film directorial debut under Jackson’s wing. The concept of Mortal Engines is set thousands of years ahead of our time. After what was known of the “Sixty Minute War”, the Earth’s crust has shattered resulting in a large loss of the earth’s surface area and natural resources. The loss of resources is the main motivating factor behind entire cities transforming their societies into moving war machines. Their only goal; strategizing towards conquering one another for resources. These concepts do not stray far from our own political climate in its current state. The amped up and glamorized special effects make these concepts of moving beasts of cities a fantastic steam-punk fuelled spectacle that gets your gears going. The story of Mortal Engines centres around a young apprenticing historian Tom Natsworthy played by Robert Sheehan. The young aspiring aviator unwillingly becomes involved in the attempted murder of the main monopolizing figure of London and Head of Guild of Historians, Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving). The would-be assassin, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), is a masked and mysterious femme fatale figure with some of the new world’s darkest and deepest secrets. After being mostly unsuccessful with her assassination attempt, no thanks to Tom, Hester and Tom find themselves exiled off of London and into the Great Hunting Ground. Left to face the bleak landscape of the new destructed world alone, a world that director Rivers and the set designer Rosie Guthrie decorate with numerous memorable cinematic set pieces, including a southern bayou style encampment vehicle that rolls and crawls through the landscape with clay formations on its back resembling armour similar to something you would see on an ancient dinosaur or armadillo.
After being captured and sold as slaves, Hester and Tom are lucky enough to be saved by top world assassin Anna Fang. Korean pop star and actress Jihae plays Fang, pilot and leader of the anti-establishment force known as the “anti-tractionists” who oppose the mobilization of cities and subsequent warfare that comes with the capitalist nature of it all. Opposing the idea of what the predator cities adopt as “Municipal Darwinism”, Fang steals Hester and Tom as well as the slave market scene from the movie commanding attention. Donning a red leather trench coat tat resembles something out of a colourful parallel world Matrix, Fang saves our main protagonists without a hair falling out-of-place from her Presley style pompadour. this among many others scenes in the film are hard to ignore for its blatent yet often times crazy imitation type scenes. Typically, while films with this type of budget and nature, tend to pay great tribute and homage to some of the films it get inspiration film, Mortal Engine tends to spill a little too much grease on its mirroring scenes.
In addition to this array of fresh new faces of actors, the supporting cast also includes Leila George D’Onofrio, playing Katherine Valentine, Thaddeus Valentine’s daughter and at least in portions of the film seeming love interest to Tom. Stephen Lang plays the role of Shrike, a Metal Gear Solid styled undead soldier from a battalion called The Stalkers. While Shrike is made mostly of metal and being undead, Shrike and Hester provide the film with the most emotional parts of the film and perhaps the film’s best subplot, Lang and Hilmar give the majority of the film its beating heart, no matter ow cold the subject material really is.
While Mortal Engines will be a hard sell in a jam-packed holiday schedule of films, this dystopian future feature film does some provide audiences with amusing portrayals of the future. Both Rivers and Jackson create a world that is both terrifying to imagine, yet fascinating and hard to look away from. Although the film tries a little too hard on being a Mad Max imitation the film is peppered with popular culture references touching on everything from minions, to Apple products (specifically iPhones) and toasters; displayed and spoken about as if they were ancient relics that providing us humans with some essential and crucial nourishment. One of my favourite and probably the most humorous scenes in the film was when we see Esther pull out a Twinkie to eat. Tom makes a remark at how old the Twinkie is and in a cheeky jab towards the food industry, she diffuses his worries by claiming food from the past even if it is a thousand years old in their case of story and time, “never goes bad”.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.9Dec 26, 2018Shoplifters by Hirokazu Koreeda is one of the most beautiful portraits of the family household and its elements ever graced on-screen, andShoplifters by Hirokazu Koreeda is one of the most beautiful portraits of the family household and its elements ever graced on-screen, and yes, that is how I am starting this review. While the last little while has been an array of firsts, experiencing a Koreeda film, I found myself recalling immortal auteurs like Yasujiro Ozu with his “seasons” series of melodramas, chiefly revolving around domestic trials and tribulations of man and humanity itself. At times I found it played like a Vittorio De Sica film, sprawling with driven poverty and poetic synthesis, proving on being a companion piece to his infamous Bicycle Thieves. While this film is already in the company of great films, winning the Palme D’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Shoplifters is absolutely spellbinding! It’s a film that is reviving the idea that modern cinema can move and transcend audiences in the most simplistic and organic of settings and motions. In my humblest and sincerest personal opinion, classic French, Italian and Japanese cinema produces truly spiritual, dreamlike cinematic material. Works from these countries articulate family, love, and spirituality through a lens that is equally transformative yet daringly raw and different from Western cinema. Ringing true to the genuine human condition than anything I have seen from Hollywood, Shoplifters is a film that has shifted my opinion on modern directors and modern cinema as a whole. With Shoplifter’s we are truly drawn to a familiar world where the lens provides a gaze though the eyes of a real auteur. While I always disregarded the notion that anything shot with a modern camera in modern settings could materialize into the type of work that Kurosawa or Ozu have created, I have always believed filmmakers like these have unmatched qualities, until now. Koreeda’s extreme sense of self-awareness and implementing a strong social dynamic, the characters and narrative of Shoplifters blossoms into a truly hearty cinematic experience.
Although the story and narrative of Shoplifters really has no real importance, this is a film that truly draws from its actors and their interactions, to create a family that really delves into the depths of complex moral issues, bonds of love and the ideas of nature versus nurture, that hasn’t been seen in film for many years. Yet, the casting in the film is perhaps, and although this may be a wholly bold statement, the best casting I have seen in at least a decade. Ranging from young child actors to older and respected Japanese acting icons, each familial role is worked and managed into broken down fibres of relatable family members we have in our own lives.
The film tells the story of the Shibata’s. Osamu Shibata, played by Lily Franky, the real patriarch of the family, provides the film with the majority of its humour, especially when he is teaching his ‘children’ the fine ‘art’ of theft. Early on, we see that he passes on his skills to his ‘son’ Shota played exceptionally well by Jyo Kairi. Relentless and effortless, the two are shown to be very close and possessing so many of the dynamics seen between a father and son relationship we have come to expect in film. Shota’s mother, Nobuyo (Sakura Hando) works at a dry cleaners providing her share for the family, also engaging in forms of theft. Nobuyo’s sister Aki (May Matsuoka) works at a soft-core gentlemen’s cyber club performing for her dividend. All of the finances rendezvous at the flat the family stays in tucked away in an extremely quiet neighborhood. A large chunk of the rent that comes along with space is paid for by the true matriarch of the household, Grandmother Hatsue, played tirelessly by Kirin Kiki, who recently passed at the tender age of seventy-five.
While each character’s role is paramount in expressing the moral teachings in Koreeda’s perfectly woven story, there is a firm affinity for Koreeda’s sense of family and togetherness that does not go unnoticed. Each family member play each of their respectable roles honestly, spreading words and dialogue that ceases to shy from the harsh realities of such a lifestyle, yet brilliantly completely shatter society’s belittling and scoffing nature towards them by being individual embodiments of humanity at all stages and ages of life.
The family begins to change its dynamic when Osamu and Shota walk home one evening from a routine shoplift, and find Yuri (Miyu Sasaki), a small child left in the barren waste of her broken family’s home. Together, the two males bring Yuri back home, and the family agrees to keep her safe and make her one of them, a Shibata, due to their parents physical, emotional and mental abuse that can be heard from the open windows of their home.… Expand
Average User Score: 5.4Dec 26, 2018As the clouds roll onto the waving and knotting hills of Scotland, a haze of insecurities, betrayal and bloodshed awaits two powerful Queens;As the clouds roll onto the waving and knotting hills of Scotland, a haze of insecurities, betrayal and bloodshed awaits two powerful Queens; two women whose blood lines and loyalties are blurred by the manipulative and convoluted men in their lives. Yet although history always tells us that men have been at the forefront of politics and royalty, Mary Queen of Scots is a highly dramatized account of the 16th Century events surrounding Queen Mary (Saoirse Ronan) and Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie), two of the most powerful and influential women, not only of their time, but of all time. As cousins, the two share a very respectful and adorning attitude and relationship, although never meeting according to the pages of history books, Mary Queen of Scots amps us drama for a fateful face-to-face between the two. Young Mary, widowed and eighteen by the time she claims her position as Queen in Scotland, is free-spirited, understanding and audacious. Embracing the many facets of a colourful and diverse world, including homosexuality, Mary’s beliefs and perspectives may be a little too liberal in a 16th Century world, yet we are manipulated into believing anything, especially when Ronan is playing the title role. On the other end, Queen Elizabeth I is a reserved, alienated and scorn barren woman whose fate was almost succumbed to smallpox. Embarrassed and hidden underneath the many layers of white make up to hide her smallpox scars, Elizabeth is riddled with sadness and tragedy, who confidence is hidden underneath elaborate and grandiose dresses that retracts men, even the tenderness and love of a man in desperate search of her love, Robert Dudley (Joe Alwyn). While both actresses are faces of beauty in Hollywood, Ronan’s Mary is the only Queen noticed for her divine and unpaired magnificence. Mary Queen of Scots is just another role to add to Robbie’s recent fascination of diving into roles of women lacking much physical, emotional or mental beauty, despite the actress’ undoubted charm and elegance. Robbie’s interpretation of Elizabeth I is just one more notch under Robbie’s belt solidifying her devotion and passion to her craft.
While it isn’t much of a spoiler to know that Mary’s fate is found on the chopping block in 1587, the film begins with her demise, focusing on just how she got their. The film, directed by Josie Rourke and written by Beau Willimon based on a book by John Guy, historians may very well disregard Mary Queen of Scots because it becomes clear that the film is less fascinated with shedding historical and real light on the life of these two reigning women, and play more like a dramatic narrative, very similar to the style and narrative flow of The Other Boleyn Girl a decade prior. While that film features two of Hollywood’s most promising young actresses then, Mary Queen of Scots showcases two of the strongest young female actors of today.
Both Robbie and Ronan are magnificent in their respective royal roles. Overshadowing all of their male counterparts, even with the likes of David Tennant, Jack Lowden and Guy Pearce gracing the screen, Ronan and Robbie are acting forces, elevating the material of the screen, regardless of how potent it every really becomes. Mary Queen of Scots is a masterclass of acting for two very deserving actresses today.
Both actresses, nominated for Academy Awards the year prior, Ronan for Lady Bird and Robbie for I, Tonya, are in a class of their own, Ronan may reign supreme however between the two budding actresses, after all, the film is called Queen of Scots. Ronan carries the brunt of the film’s heavy story material, constantly dealing with betrayals, death and obscenities beyond her control, despite her position of Queen. Ronan’s delicate portrait of a scourged historical figure is riveting.
Sadly, as the film’s story unfolds and the ruse of each woman’s power is displayed in glorious fashion, the film is still bounded by the approval of men, fertility and virginity. Lines like “How did it come to this? Wise men servicing the whims of women”, or “Worse than a plague is a woman with a crown”, the content of the film is wholly vexed by the presence of men. While the royal women have a clear path to attain their goals, the men provide the women and the film with the majority of the narrative’s twists, turns and rivalries to unfold. Emotions, notions of privilege and family drama are the driving forcing for Mary Queen of Scots, proving the line in the film “the matters of the heart dictate the outcomes of countries” unequivocally.
United and strong, Mary Queen of Scots gives audiences a ponder-some conclusion and climax, basically setting up a narrative film for a fictitious meeting between the two Queens. Decorated and flooded with white sheets to separate the two and set in place to avoid any direct face-to-face contact, the film seems to be one big lead up to this grand moment.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.5Dec 26, 2018“Favour is a breeze that shifts direction all the time.”
Lathimos’ third English language film following The Lobster and The Killing of a“Favour is a breeze that shifts direction all the time.”
Lathimos’ third English language film following The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Dear is an exploration of the absurdities of the rich, powerful and bored.
Yet no matter how many clever indications one my make about the film’s title or the various tongue-in-cheek references that could be used to describe the film, or even Lathimos’ canon as a whole, it comes as a surprise to many that the director’s most tamed and least ghastly and disturbing film to date, is by far his most ravishing yet.
While the specific genre of the film has yet to be determined, Lathimos’ The Favourite is a hodgepodge of cinematic tropes; part black comedy, part period piece, part love story, part cat-and-mouse thriller, part buddy comedy, part completely insane, the film deconstructs everything that you expect from all of these categories of film and throws them completely on their head with immense style, fashion and perfection. To say The Favourite will be like anything you’ve ever seen, is a direct and misleading understatement, much like the characters it presents.
Written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, The Favourite marks the first film Lathimos has not written a script he has directed since making his big splash at Cannes in 2009 with his highly unconventional and controversial film Dogtooth. Yet, as much as we appreciate the auteur’s uncanny ability of making people feel uncomfortable using the eeriness and awkwardness of other people by simply interacting with one another, this is one script that feels more Lathimos than any of the ones he has written in the past.
While the film is made during a prominent and very loud #MeToo movement in Hollywood, The Favourite is set in 18th Century England, a land where Queens rule and Kings drool, especially when the Queen is Mrs. Morley Anne (Olivia Colman) ruler of Scotland, Ireland and England and currently waging war against France. While the Queen is surrounded by men, including her military commanders and parliamentary leaders, Queen Anne proves that at the end of the day, the women make the rules and own the house. Yet, as important and iconic Queen Anne is, it becomes clear quickly that Anne is no more of a mere mortal with a crown next to her life-long friend and council advisor, The Duchess of Marlborough, Sarah Churchill (Rachael Weisz). While Sarah is able to wholly intimidate, scoff and insult the Queen right to her face, it seem that Sarah is only looking out for one person and one person only, despite her illusions and deceit. Occasionally giving accord to Queen Anne or her husband for that matter, military commander of the Queen’s army, Lord Marlborough (Mark Gatniss), Sarah is one a one-way ticket to riches, power and most importantly her, affection.
As Sarah seems to seemingly pave a path of success for years to come, things come to a steady halt with the arrival of her cousin, Abigail (Emma Stone). Although Abagail arrives in a heap of mud, discontent and stalked by tragedy, she quickly hardens up and wilts to the whim of her commanding cousin, only to quickly gain her affection and take her opportunity for the Queen’s admiration, following a natural herbal remedy for the Queen’s disgusting gout infested legs. Once Abigail becomes the Queen’s own personal leg-rubber, she begins plotting her dominance over the Queen and her affections, overshadowing her own cousin, proving that Sarah’s protegé as quickly become her biggest and most intimidating rival.
Where Sarah adorns the Queen with her brazen honesty and harsh truths, including advising when the queen looks like a badger, Abigail’s approach to the affections of the Queen include lies, deceit and endless compliments, making the Queen feel unlike anything Sarah never has. Often times eroticizing the Queen and her mundane and bizarre daily routines with her bunnies and while eating, Abigail and Sarah begin to duel for Anne’s love, doing whatever it takes to be her favourite.
As it turns out, each woman is capable of much unpleasantness, not only to one another, themselves but also to the poor saps surrounding them. Manipulating every man, woman and child around them for their own personal gains; both in search of security, status and nobility, Abigail and Sarah turn the conventions of a chessboard on its head, and make the queens, rooks, bishops and knights all of their pawns in their sick and twisted little kinky game of pleasure.
Attacking one another like vipers and wolves, jealousy becomes the weapon of choice for both women, who’s use of men only intensifies their sadistic little game of mitral destruction and decay. Taking no prisoners, Abigail and Sarah create alliances, forms admirable teams with many of the men occupying the palace on a daily basis.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.4Dec 22, 2018My relationship with Lars von Trier can be described best in one word; boundless. Luckily for myself, although my relationship only began aMy relationship with Lars von Trier can be described best in one word; boundless. Luckily for myself, although my relationship only began a few days ago with this passionate and highly cynical director, I’m sure glad that a relationship flourished at all. While his name had been mentioned to me in passing countless times, I never really sat down and truly experienced a von Trier film, that is, until I watched The House That Jack Built. Yet, not like most, I experienced von Trier on a different level most people would, attending a very exclusive and rare unrated director’s cut of Jack. To say the least, it is with all honesty and truth, I can say that it wasn’t until I watched this film that I truly understood how far the boundaries of cinema can be pushed.
Typical discussions regarding von Trier’s work usually touch mostly upon the controversies surrounding his films, as well as his unprecedented style, and his penchant for making viewers feel so uncomfortable that their only natural reaction is to walk out of their theatre seat, or turn off the film altogether. While von Trier’s career is ladened with controversy, including a “persona non grata” at Cannes, that was lifted this year for The House That Jack Built, as well as controversy for basically each one of his film’s release since the beginning of his Depression Trilogy, starting with AntiChrist, von Trier seems to be the poster child for auteurs with a warning sticker attached to them.
While very few directors can truly call themselves truly provocative filmmakers, and while it seems that von Trier spends more time debunking this notion that trying to prove himself otherwise, it isn’t hard to reign him as the clear champion of this title. Yet, aside from the controversy, von Tirer has a plethora of qualities that he brings to filmmaking and cinema all together. Always pushing the boundaries, von Trier likes to smear the lines drawn by rating boards and society alike, and Jack is a testament to the very boundaries set by such films and people. While his content is often disturbing and brutal, von Trier also has a sadistic way of implementing a stark sense of humour within the frames of his work. Yet knowing all of these from a true vanguard of cinema, nothing could prepare me for a work made a man hated but loved by many so many people inside and outside of the film industry, and whose work is often misunderstood yet a direct companion piece of the man that is Lars Trier (he added the von himself).
The House That Jack Built is quite elementary narratively speaking; the story follows Jack, an architect who has a severe case of OCD. Jack is played passionately by Matt Dillon, a role since The Outsider that many believed he was born to play, especially given his heavy encrusted facial expressions and naturally demonic and piercingly intimidating look. Yet, the more we get to know Jack, we realize he is a serial killer. Okay, maybe that’s a lie; we know right away and before anything that Jack is a serial killer before he is anything else. So in proper von Trier fashion, the film is presented using chapters, over the course of twelve years, and within those twelve years, we are introduced to Jack and five murders that have shaped the man he is and becomes by the end of the film.
Yet, as rudimentary the narrative of von Trier’s film is, it becomes clear quickly that nothing is square about this auteur and his films. Jack’s devilish narrative is a twisted odyssey into the depths of hell and a psychosis where guilt, empathy and compassion is voided. Yet, after these five incidents are displayed in bloody von Trier fashion, the journey of Jack’s path leads to Verge (Bruno Ganz), a ‘spiritual’ figure who appears and disappears throughout Jack’s life, proving truly von Trier’esque exposition; but keep in mind, von Trier exposition is quite different from Hollywood exposition. Presented in poetic and encrypted fashion, von Trier’s dialogue is nothing short of enigmatic. And while Ganz is a formidable and heavyweight actor, Ganz’s performance, no matter how insightful or mysterious it is, merely serves as a counterweight to the heavy hitting and aggressively spot-on performance given by Dillon. Jack is without question, Dillon best and quintessential role ever, and he will never be better in a film in his life.
While Ganz and Dillon provide the film with some its most analytical, contemplative and philosophical dialogue, speeding through words in a rhythmic yet glaringly sophisticated way, as if written in iambic tetrameter, von Trier’s dialogue still has an incomparable way of showing facets of the director and the many dark and disturbing pieces of himself, in a way that makes the film so personal and reflective.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.1Dec 22, 2018In today’s film landscape, we are exposed to countless awe-inspiring special effects showing sculpted celebrities in too-good-to-be-trueIn today’s film landscape, we are exposed to countless awe-inspiring special effects showing sculpted celebrities in too-good-to-be-true settings discussing life flawlessly and inadvertently though the trials and tribulations of their individual character’s lives. Such films focus on why and how things happen; never placing the blame on certain people or scenarios, but for the most part, many of these stories become disposal, at best. Luckily, every now and again, there are artists who push beyond popular molds and constructs; they are the artists who breathe new life into films, true auteurs. At Eternity’s Gate, starring Willem Dafoe and directed by Julian Schnabel, is one of those special artists and films. Schnabel parts his focus from the nature of why and how things happen, towards the feeling one gets when things do. He seems to find delight in things that cannot be explained.
Gate is a film about Vincent Van Gogh, played brilliantly by Willem Dafoe, as he lives out his final tumultuous days in France struggling to find peace and solace in a hostile and rapidly developing world. The film opens in Paris as Vincent fights to paint his way out of a world awash with people who dress and think in the same aristocratic manner. Yet, as much as this is a biopic of the late great painter, it is by no means formulaic, or paint-by-numbers.
As Vincent exhausts his visions in Paris, seeming to be too mechanically grey, Vincent meets the infamous Paul Gauguin, who encourages Vincent to “head south” because “the light is better there”. As Vincent makes his way south, the entire pallet of the film begins to change. Mr. Schnabel has an impressive way of stimulating the audience’s senses as he thrusts his viewers into an artist’s perception, whether it be into the mind of a madman or not, is to be determined.
With masterful use of camera techniques, color, and sound, we are able to embody Vincent and see the world the way he envisions it. Dafoe communicates the clear message of art being Vincent’s utopia; his Eden from the blunt, and greyscale world. We feel his artistry grow as he walks through rough and open landscapes filled with beautiful instances of nature, but also harrowing depiction of baroness. Mr. Schnabel and his cinematographer, Benoît Delhomme, fill the frame with lush greenery and the most vibrant and golden yellows, but also show us a terrain of earthy tones and neutral views. As the colours and seasons change, the story of Vincent is propelled through the use of Tatiana Lisovskaya vibrant, lush and organic score. Her long ballads of drawn and aired out piano keys are fitting for Dafoe’s chiseled and cracked face, creating a seamless fluid strokes of cinematic brilliance. There is an extensive use shaky cam shooting style which adds to the raw and natural feel that the film embodies. Mr.Schnabel also constructs shots that are drastic and dramatic, adding to the feeling of anguish that Vincent emits throughout the film.
While we generally weren’t aware of Vincent’s mental ailments, Vincent decent into madness was a reflection of his dissatisfaction with the world. as well as his experiences within it, therefore painting onto canvas, and finding the beauty in life. Some could even argue that painting was his sole motivation to live, as he could only live. The erratic camera behavior is crucial in capturing Vincent’s manic genius and the film’s organic aesthetic. Mr. Schnabel and Mr. Delhomme utilize extreme Sergio Leone-style close-ups transforming the stellar cast’s faces into canvases as you catch yourself studying each of them as if carrying an easel. The close-ups are contrasted with ultra-wide angle shots with magnificent one takes and wide screen tracking shots. Vincent was a master at capturing the natural world and these shots provide the time and scope to appreciate just that. The director’s brilliant use of color is one of the highlights of the film. Being used as a type of mood ring that helps us understand Vincent’s mental state, Mr. Schnabel utilized numerous techniques with his lens to give the audience emotion. Schnabel use of lens blurring, depicting the imperfection of vision, as sunlight and small angel furs floating through the country breeze, gives the audience a sense of truism to Vincent.
While we can all appreciate that Vincent was well ahead of his time, it resonated deeply with me how this message during times of misunderstanding and constant tests of self-worth, At Eternity’s Gate is a testament to the passion and power of art. Vincent’s fellow painters and people in the society of Arles, France, where the film concludes, ignore his brilliance. Vincent’s methods and habits perplex the public as they discarded the artist due to their inability to follow the popular formula for paintings during this era.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.5Nov 18, 2018There are names that you hear growing up while studying journalism, reagrdless of the specific area or field of journalism you decide toThere are names that you hear growing up while studying journalism, reagrdless of the specific area or field of journalism you decide to station yourself in. In entertainment journalism, although hardly ever really dangerous (with the exception of some volatile celebrities), the truth matters almost as much as our opinion, after all, film is art; and art is as objective as, well, perhaps the most objective thing in the world. Yet, studying journalism in any field, its hard not to come across the name of Marie Colvin, one of, if not the most celebrated war correspondent in the world. A Private War is less an autobiography about an exceptional human being and a real fearless woman, and more of an account of a decade of absolute fear, anger, war, terror and true, nonfictional horror. The film follows Colvin from 2001 to 2012, following her journey from Sri Lanka, Iraq, Iran, Chechnya, Kosovo, Libya, East Timor and fatefully, Syria. While the story is basically set in warn torn countries, showcasing Colvin being shot at, exploded next to, or her constantly dodging or covering herself with her hands, the setting of war somehow doesn’t become desensitized to the audience. Instead, the setting of war becomes this harrowingly afflicted journey of truth and understanding as to why this motherless, companionless woman still willingly decided to venture into the most dangerous parts of the world, for a story.
Yet, it becomes clear that the story is far from Colvin’s objective as a journalist. Instead, Colvin was interested in one thing and one thing only, and no, its not the truth as the trailer so confidently suggests. Colvin’s obsession was always about the individual stories of people who were given first row tickets to seeing the terrorizing events taking place in and around their homes and right in their backyards, literally; their experiences. Whether it be wailing mothers mourning the deaths of their husbands, children, sisters or brothers, or men sharing their lose to Colvin, or children bleeding next to her on dried blood-soaked hospital beds, Colvin learns the truth of so many of the vicious dictators and government officials through the truths of civilians, contrasting them next to the lies of these ‘civilized’ officials of government and members of parliament.
A Private War has many contributing factors that make it a success, beginning with the strong and commanding performance by Rosamund Pike. Although I’ve never seen interviews of Colvin before watching this film and only have read about her and her stories in the past, watching YouTube videos of her and comparing her mannerism and voice to that of Pike’s is almost uncannily scary. Pike takes her raspy, smoked voice, and fills each line, scene and war with the same level of intoxicating force similar to Colvin’s approach to alcohol. While the film makes its own assumptions of Colvin’s private and personal life, including her escapades as a sexual savant, one fo the aspects of the film that I truly wished had more time was the focus and concern for Colvin’s quite apparent post traumatic stress disorder. Again, director Matthew Heinman as well as screenwriter Arash Amel collectively decided to not make the film about Colvin’s life, trials and tribulations, but more man account of the inhumanity she catapulted herself in willingly. Yet little remarks here and there about Colvin’s overall sanity and health, especially by her longtime collaborator and friend Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan) claiming that ‘she has seen more war than some soldiers’, is a small yet unsatisfactory decent into the questioning concerns of Colvin’s well being.
Aside from Pike, Dornan gives a capturing performance as Conroy, elevating his acting chops and expectations, despite his renown turn as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades series. In addition to Dornan, Tom Hollander gives a magnificent moral or immoral turn as Colvin’s editor Sean Ryan, a man who, as Colvin’s longtime friend and professional advisor, pushes her to pursue these stories, despite the inherit danger he willingly knows he puts her in, year after year. Their final confrontation is awards caliber stuff, reminiscent of colleges bickering in Boyle’s Steve Jobs film between Michael Fassbender and Jeff Daniels, a performance that gained Daniels and Fassbender acting nominations in their respective categories.
While A Private War will be hard-pressed to gain any Academy Award nominations this season, not because of the film itself or the content, but more-so due to its very heavy handed realities as well as factual depiction of war, governments and the negligence of international aid, the film may be a little too gritty and bleak for any nominations at all.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.4Nov 12, 2018There are some Christmas traditions that are non-negotiable for a vast majority of people; gifts, excessive spending, eggnog, mistletoe and ofThere are some Christmas traditions that are non-negotiable for a vast majority of people; gifts, excessive spending, eggnog, mistletoe and of course, watching some of your all-time favourite Christmas movies. While everyone has their own personal favourites, I can easily bet that one of those holiday tradition films, thats easily labeled as a ‘required viewing’ for the festive season is the 1966 Boris Karloff TV special How The Grinch Stole Christmas! Growing up and even today, its hard to flip through the channels without catching the original special. Yet, no matter how many times we’ve seen it before, or what part the special is on once you flip onto it, you can sure bet that the special will more than likely be watched until its heart-warming ending. Too bad, I’m sure the same can’t be said with the 2000 live action remake starring Jim Carrey. Luckily, 2018 has brought us a new, brighter and greener Mr.Grinch. From Illumination, the studio that brought us those adorable little minions we can’t get enough of, The Grinch is a vast, richly coloured, fun and most importantly, loyal addition to the Dr. Seuss canon; proving that sometimes, changing too much of a good thing, isn’t always better. Instead, Benedict Cumberbatch’s newest interpretation of the Grinch is loyal to the Boris Karloff original, channeling his wicked sense of humour, dark and twisted hate of a joyful holiday and its gleeful spirit and most of all, some exceptionally great voice work.
While almost everyone knows the basic narrative of the original story, this version pits us in a similar Whoville that we are all used to, but this time, the Mayor of Whoville, Mayor McGerkle (Angela Lansbury, yes the mayor is now a woman) declares Christmas be three times bigger; kind of ironic for a guy who’s heart is three times smaller than the average heart.
At an hour longer than the original film, you would think that screenwriters Michael LeSieur and Tommy Swerdlow would dabble deeper into the past of a cute and small little fella, yet, despite brief flashbacks of a baby grinch in an empty orphanage, these questions aren’t really relevant in a child-friendly animation film in 2018 thats main intent is to cash in on cute and memorable commercial products for the 2018 holiday market. Even with very short and quick flashbacks of The Grinch’s Christmasless past, our miserable antagonist cannot seem too shake off these awful memories, no matter how much people around him, including the most cheerful who-of-them-all, The Grinch’s neighbour Mr.Bricklebaum (Kenan Thompson) tries to cheer our foul smelling greenie; nothing seems to glow his cold, cold heart.
Although its been over fifty years since the original aired, and almost two decades since the live action remake, there is something special about experiencing such an iconic cinematic character being cherished by children for the first time. Luckily for myself, despite all the genuine laughs, gags and jokes that I found myself chuckling to, one fo the best parts of experiencing The Grinch was hearing the cheers, laugher and questions of the kids around me in the theatre. Asking their parents why he is so mean, why is our titular character is so green when everyone is ‘normal’, and if the movie is done with every fade out. Despite the endless kicks to the back of my seat from the youngster behind me, nothing melted my heart more than hearing their little chuckles with every thrown snowball and sight-gag involving The Grinch.
Illumination, who luckily decided to really modernize the original story, and add its signature flare of whacky colours, vibrant animation and silly humour, does a fantastic job of staying true to the original, without ever compromising the fresh and radiant look of this 2018 version. Keeping many of the original characters was also a great choice, including the girl who challenges the grumpiness of favourite animated Scrooge, Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely), as well as, one of my loyal favourites, Max, the Grinch’s trusty yet sweet and loyal sole companion. Max warms your heart with each smile, wag, bark, drool and use of his powerful puppy-eyes.
Yet, while the 2018 Grinch is a faithful interpretation, there are a few additions that we cannot help but fall in love with, including a yack-like looking reindeer Fred. Fred may be a tad overweight, have a slight obsession with whipped cream and pretty well eat anything in his sight (including Grinchie’s hair), Fred is a fantastic addition to the world of Dr.Suess, especially this adaptation of The Grinch. Along with Max, the two front-runners to guide the Grinch’s sleight that night, give the audiences the majority of the laughs to a newly vamped up Christmas classic.
While The Grinch’s message of warmth and wonder is simple and never really changes between fifty years and three adaptations, it seems like each and every year, all of us need a real reminder of what the holidays are all about.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.3Nov 12, 2018Luca Guadagnino is a director on the brink of creative and artistic freedom following the highly applauded Oscar Nominated film Call Me ByLuca Guadagnino is a director on the brink of creative and artistic freedom following the highly applauded Oscar Nominated film Call Me By Your Name in 2017. So, with the cinematic world at your hands, why would the unique director follow up with a remake of the 1977 classic-camp horror film Suspiria? Clocking in at almost over an hour more of footage, creating whole new characters for the film and a cameo from the original film, Guadagnino creates a blood soaked, poetic and subtextual allegory of evil, darkness and madness for a 2018 audience that may not quite be ready for such a consuming cinematic experience. Although remakes usually tend to roll eyes, this is not the director’s first remake. Loosely based on Jaques Deray La Piscine, Guadagnino’s 2015’s A Bigger Splash is a bright and hormonally driven comedic romp that blends dialogue with physical action to the point of hysteria. For his 2018 remake Suspiria, Guadagnino and his Splash screenwriter David Kajganich instill constant fear to a 1977 based German, filled with left wing extremists vying for a better Germany, bombs, not-so-subtle references to the Berlin Wall, and of course, the potential of witchcraft and demonic presences inside the prestigious Markos Dance Academy in West Berlin.
Despite all of this, a young and talented dancer Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) auditions and quickly gets accepted into the Academy following the departure of a young protege leaving the school; the talented Patricia (Chloë Grace Moretz). Upon fleeing the academy, Patricia begins donning disruptive and obsessive behaviour, convinced that the mothers and matrons of the school an in fact, witches who, as she claims, “hollow her out and eat her **** on a plate”. Patricia finds the comfort of German doctor Dr. Josef Klemperer, a psychoanalyst who is fighting his own demons having lived the second World War, and losing his wife to the Nazis. The role of Dr. Klemperer had its own share of headlines and controversy once production began; solely because the initial casting of the role was given to an unknown German actor named Lutz Ebersdorf. Guadagnino, who can certainly cast whomever he wants in his films now, was asked viciously why he casted an unknown for the role, and questioned heavily. It wasn’t until shortly after, that the role was in fact revealed to belong to Swinton, in heavy prosthetic make-up. Yet, while Swinton is masterful in Suspiria as Dr.Klemperer, who role as the audacious Madame Blanc is stiffly terrifying. Swinton, who has appeared in many of Guadagnino’s films, shares a perplexing horror to Blanc’s character, that is both disallowing, yet very humanistic and alluring. Swinton is among one of the biggest reasons to watch the film, as always.
Guadagnino has reached a point of prestige and elitism amongst Hollywood, especially within the independent film community. While Suspiria is by no means a film that would be recommended to anyone, possibly not many, gliding acceptingly within the fine lines of art-house type cinema and independent fanfare, Suspiria is so long, so wrought and entirely unapologetic that Gaudagnino and company seemed to have created a film entirely for themselves; a self-pleasure piece of cinema that is both artistically adventurous and simplistically fine existing for itself, and itself only. While the narrative could have easily been cut down an hour (as seen with the original), that extra bit of runtime allows for Guadagnino’s character study piece (more than a horror piece) to develop in quite a patient fashion. While its always hard to outdo Swinton when it comes to acting next to her, Dakota Johnson does everything and more to prove that she belong amongst the ranks of rising upcoming actors in cinema. Johnson, who’s claim to fame is the leather-bound role of Anastasia Steele in the Fifty Shades trilogy, gives Natalie Portman a run for her money in her Award winning role as a tormented ballet performer in Black Swan. Johnson intensely physical performance, pair with her dynamic nuances show the actresses acting strengths and gives hope for more captivating roles for many years to come.
While Suspiria can take the shape of many genres throughout its entire runtime, the horror/thriller niche seems to be the most fitting thanks to some memorable scenes that may not entirely scare you, but you can damn well bet they will gross you out. One of the most memorable and equally disturbing scenes in the film shows one of the dancers upset with Patricia’s disappearance, storming out of the Academy, and Susie taking her place. While Olga (Elena Fokina) leaves, in the midst of Susie’s interpretive performance of the now absent Olga’s role, Olga becomes possessed and entrapped in a mirrored studio. Juxtaposing Susie’s movements with Olga’s unwilling bodily movements, her body contorts In inhumane ways.… Expand