Thursday, April 24, 2014

1989 - The Departed

I'm on this kick of re-watching epic/long films right now that I'm working from home. I love this film - it has such an amazing energy to it - I think it's my favorite Scorsese film, and that might just be because this is one of the rare times that he actually tells a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.  If you don't know anything about this film - it's got a pretty fantastic plot - DiCaprio plays an undercover cop whose infiltrated the mob, and Damon is part of a crime family and has infiltrated the high-level of the police.  It's such a juicy story, and it's done SO well here.  The performances are top notch and a lot of fun.  Filmmakers studying awesome set-ups should check out the opening of this film - it's text book perfection.  Who knows if I'll ever make a crime film, but if I do this one will be a huge reference for me.  If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and make up for that.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

1988 - Hedwig & the Angry Inch

I'm putting together some stuff for a musical-esque project so this was a great back-ground watch.  I love the shit out of this film.  I was lucky enough to discover it first as a play, so I've been with this for a long time.  It's the story of a botched sex change and the rock music that came out of it - sounds bizarre, right?  It's so fucking awesome.  It's about soul mates and identity, it's about the muse, and the art.  It's visually arresting, and the music is so goddamn dynamic, and John Cameron Mitchell just knocks it all out of the park and creates one of the most amazing auteur films of all time.  It's a shame that he hasn't followed it up a whole lot - although his other film Rabbit Hole hit me really hard and is worth checking out as well!
If you like indie rock, and rock operas and you haven't seen this - do yourself a damn favor - it's excellent.

1987 - The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson is without a doubt one of our more specific visual filmmakers.  I still haven't seen his previous film, Moonrise Kingdom, but other than that I believe I've seen everything - and while a lot I find to be a hit or miss, he's always distinct and clear about his visuals.  To the point where I think you could fairly easily copy cat his style and one might be hard pressed to say if it was an homage or satire to the work.
I enjoyed this for the most part, although it did feel to be dragging on a bit by the end.  I must admit that I feel like there was a bit of bait and switch - I thought I'd signed up for a fun little character comedy where it was really more of a caper film - not that I mind much, but I was expecting something a bit different, I suppose.
That said, it was still enjoyable, and though I don't see why I'd ever need to revisit it, I would definitely place it into the side of Anderson's films that I actually liked.  Still in theatres!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

1986 - Inception

It would appear that I'm on a Christopher Nolan kick at the current moment.  This is another film that plays with a lot of slight of hand - which is something that Nolan does in a lot of his films.  The imagination inside of this film is super exciting - dreamscapes are a fun playground to be within, and this one is done on a epic proportion.  It's got a super strong cast that are having fun playing within this playground.  Few films have set pieces on this scale, but the best part is that they aren't just mindless action, but they all contribute to a really complex and unique narrative.  This is easily one of the more heady thrillers ever made and just another in a line of proof that Christopher Nolan is one of our most exciting filmmakers - whether he's dealing with an original concept of his own or adapting someone elses - he knows how to keep an audience excited.  If you haven't seen this, dig in!

1985 - The Prestige

My son has become quite interested in magic, and we were watching some David Blaine stuff on the weekend and it made me desperate to re-watch this.  I love the idea of magicians - part con-arts, part showman - it's a very exciting and thrilling thing.  This film features a fantastic cast set amongst this tragic story of greed and pride.  I love the way that Nolan weaves the story in and around - he's playing a beautiful magic trick on you of his own.
If you like films that make you think and keep you guessing, this is easily one of the best.  Top notch entertainment with a lot more going on beneath the surface.  A must see :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

1984 - Django Unchained

Despite it’s terrible subject matter this film is still just a shitload of fun.  I’m not a big fan of violence, but when it’s done in the cartoon style that Tarantino does it, I dig it enough.  This is my first re-watch of it and I have to say that I still might stand by my previous statement that this might be my favourite Tarantino film, or at least the one I find most complete and captivating.  At least the most since Pulp Fiction.  I find he has fewer indulgences here that he can’t rely on pop culture and it works for the best.  It’s a beautiful looking, acted, and written film.  Performances out the whazoo and a lot of stuff that’s just a shit load of fun.

1983 - Olympus Has Fallen

Wanted to watch something mindless in the back ground as I got some work done, and this fit the bill quite nicely.  It wasn’t exactly commanding my full attention - but there seemed to be a whole lot of flash and not a whole lot of substance in terms of the who, what, why, etc… Although is that really what this kind of film is about?  The action sequences move along nicely - but it’s all just set pieces for the sake of it - lots of big explosions with little meaning - so all well and good if you’re into that sort of thing.  Bring me a character story amidst an action film.  This was good old fashioned cowboys and indians.  Didn’t love, nor hate it.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1982 - Peter's Friends

This is one of those gems that I never got around to seeing, and finally dusted off the DVD I'd purchased of it years ago to plop in.  I'm gearing up for a bit of a similar type ensemble, so I'm surrounding myself with these types of films right now to see what parts inspire.
Hugh Laurie looks so amazingly different here.  Emma Thompson reminds me of Kate Hewlett a bit here in a really delightful way.  I was worried a bit that Kenneth Branagh was going to be the same character type all the way through but was happy to see him mature with age.
This is a really charming film with a wonderful cast and an impressive musical soundtrack.  I'm sure it was a low budget flick since it largely took place all in one location, but it never felt that way.
If you haven't seen it, this is a beautiful film about friendship and one that shouldn't be over looked.  I'm glad I have a copy and I'm sure I'll revisit it sooner rather than later.

Monday, April 14, 2014

1981 - The Change-Up

Having had developed a body-swap film for some time it’s a genre I always enjoy - and when you throw a cast like this at it eventually I’ll get around to it!  This time we’ve got Ryan Reynolds a slacker swapping with family man Jason Bateman.  I’ll be honest - I had a hard time buying into Reynolds’ character actually coveting his buddies life - although he does say he was just trying to be nice.  That said, I’ll give a little leeway for the set-up, especially since the rest of the film is so enjoyable.  It’s your pretty typical broad comedy fair, but done pretty well - funny bits, and some nice little performances, especially by Leslie Mann who, despite her CGI nudity, turns in a really sweet performance here.  

You know what kind of film you’re walking into with this one and it absolutely delivers.

1980 - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Fuck I love this film.  I always say that Annie Hall is my favourite film but this one might just be a close second.  It’s such a beautiful way to do a love story.  It’s sad, smart, heart-breaking.  I love the scenes that drift between memory and commentary on memory - it’s such a meta device and used so effortlessly and brilliantly.  It’s, in my mind, one of the best screenplays of the last decade or so - but the directed of Gondrey is so perfect and matches so well.  Jim Carrey is phenomenal here and Kate Winslet is magical - the two of them together is such a beautiful thing - the casting of them is inspired, as is everyone else.  If you’ve never seen this film stop everything.  Get on it.  In my opinion it’s required viewing - especially for anyone who loves films about relationships. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

1979 - The Way Way Back

I’d heard lovely things about this film so I was really happy to see it come to netflix.  It’s got an insanely awesome cast and tells the somewhat typical coming of age story of a boy forced to go away for the summer and how he came back a bit more of a man.  Carell plays his mom’s asshole boyfriend.  Toni Collette is the mom in question, and you only need to watch the last scene and shot of the film to know what a force of nature she is as an actor.  She does so much with so little, it’s beautiful.  Sam Rockwell is and will always been a favourite of mine, he’s not doing anything he hasn’t done a million times before here, but he does it well and with charm.  It’s nice to see Amanda Peet, Alison Janney, and Maya Rudolph rounding out the cast, but they’re a tad bit under used here.  If you dig coming of age stories this is a sweet one, and easy to find on Netflix.

1978 - Call the Midwife: season one

My wife is a sucker for babies, and we’re a fan of midwives, so it was a no brainer that we’d check this out.  It’s a bit too cute for my general liking, I don’t dislike it.  It’s sweet and tells some interesting stories.  I don’t think I’d continue to watch if it weren’t for the enjoyment of my wife, but I definitely think there’s an audience for this series - it’s the kind of thing that I think is best viewed on a rainy afternoon - it’s got that comfort food feel to it.