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David O’ Russell Hustles Up An Acting Master Class But Forgets The Sizzle

By on Mar 26, 2014 in Reviews | 0 comments

Who would have guessed that the director of Spanking the Monkey would turn into one of Hollywood’s darlings? I certainly didn’t. David O’ Russell has been on a winning streak since The Fighter. His latest film American Hustle racked up 10 Academy Award nominations but walked away empty handed on award’s night. Unlike most decisions by the Academy, there was good reason why.

Russell’s directing is near perfect and the entire cast brings their A-game, but the film invites comparisons to much more compelling movies. With such expectations the risks it takes are not high enough and the con game at its center is not slick enough.… Read the rest

Grandmaster: Wong Kar-wai’s Subversive Martial Arts Film

By on Mar 25, 2014 in Reviews | 0 comments

Wong Kar-wai films are sumptuous. Like looking at the masterwork of a painter. I can revisit them often and find something new that captures my eye. Do his films have a plot or a storyline? Maybe. But those elements take a backseat to Kar-wai’s tone and visual palate.

In The Mood For Love is his masterpiece. It reminds me of the painting Nighthawks by Edward Hooper or Hemingway’s “A Clean and Well Lit Place”. It forgoes pace for longing. It is filled with night shots, smoking, perfectly framed shots, and infused with Nat King Cole. It is a tone poem masquerading as a film.

Grandmaster shares the visual flare of Wong Kar-wai’s previous films.… Read the rest

Favorite Scenes: Whose Car from The Town

By on Mar 24, 2014 in Favorite, Scenes | 0 comments

There are scenes in films created simply to demonstrate to the audience how tough a character is. Often they are action scenes. But sometimes a crafty director can show a character’s toughness simply by how they answer a question.

My favorite scene in Ben Affleck’s The Town is like that. A heist film with several shootouts worthy of Heat, the film is anchored between the friendship of Affleck and Jeremy Renner’s characters. In this scene Affleck asks Renner a question. I love the way Renner answers. It’s the way true friends should answer. The action scene that follows is just icing on their character sketch:… Read the rest

Herzog by his example gave me a model for the film artist: fearless, driven by his subjects, indifferent to commercial considerations, trusting his audience….he has never created a single film that is compromised, shameful, or uninteresting. Even his failures are spectacular.
– Roger Ebert

Send In The Boxtrolls

By on Mar 10, 2014 in Previews | 0 comments

I get irrationally excited over a new Laika film. It’s the same excitement I used to have when Pixar teased a movie (prior to them being acquired by Disney) or still feel when Studio Ghibli releases a film. All three animation studios have displayed the ability to produce wonder.

When Coraline first came out I was cautiously optimistic. A fan of the art produced when Neil Gaiman and Dave Mckean combined their creative talents, I wasn’t sure any studio could produce a film that captured both Gaiman’s tone and Mckean’s aesthetic. Laika was well up to the task. Bringing in Henry Selick to direct was a master stroke.… Read the rest