Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nocturnal Animals: A Review

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"Do you ever feel like your life has turned into something you never intended?"

HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT. FUCK

So, my most anticipated film of the year so far has expectedly turned out to be one of my most favorite so far. And I urge you all to see it.

After the failure of 'The Girl on the Train' earlier this year, which many had branded as this year's 'Gone Girl', Tom Ford's sophomore film 'Nocturnal Animals' was given said titles even before it had been released. Does it live up to those expectations? In short, no. But, it doesn't really try to, or at least, not on purpose...

The story revolves around Susan (played with great conviction by Amy Adams), an art gallery owner living an idyllic, but ultimately empty life of high society with her husband Hutton, an almost non-existent Armie Hammer. One day Susan receives a manuscript from her first husband Edward, an magnetic Jake Gyllenhaal. The story in question is dedicated to her, and tells a tale of loss and revenge in Texas, Susan believes this story is meant to be a threat to herself and her family from Edward, whom she separated from under quite painful terms. As Susan contuse to read deeper into Edward's book, her mental state descends into a paranoia fueled down-spiral, forcing her to rethink certain life choices.

To quote critic Mark Kermode, this film truly is designed within an inch of its life. The costumes, makeup, art direction, cinematography, and editing are all purposeful and important, and bring to mind other filmmakers whos works function like well oiled machines, like Stanley Kubrick or David Fincher. This also factors into the films style, or in this case styles. It is a film of two halves, the reality of Susan, with its cold and clinical urban mansions, galleries, and offices, resembling works like 'The Shining' or 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo', and the dramatization of Edward's novel, set in the sun burnt valleys and decrepit hovels of West Texas backwaters, like 'No Country For Old Men' or 'There Will Be Blood'. I also need to mention Abel Korzeniowski's delicate yet emotionally arresting score, which at times resembles Bernard Hermann's works under Alfred Hitchcock.

The cast in this work is also superb. Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal give possibly their best performances to date, especially Gyllenhaal as both Edward, and the protagonist of Edward's novel, Tony. Michael Shannon is intimidating, darkly funny, and oddly sympathetic is a rouge sheriff who helps Tony in his vengeance, while Aaron Taylor-Johnson is absolutely haunting as the redneck gang leader who causes Tony so much grief. Special mention also needs to go to Isla Fisher and Laura Linneys cameo appearances, both of whom are fantastic.

So without question, writer-director Tom Ford's newest one is quite a beast to be reckoned with. It's as beautiful as it is brutal, and as well crafted as it is intentionally flawed, and should be seen by anyone who enjoys a spell-binding work to contemplate, which I'm sure people will be doing for years to come.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

1994 Silver Reel Awards

Best Picture:


Forrest Gump
Natural Born Killers
Pulp Fiction
Shallow Grave*
The Shawshank Redemption

Best Director:


Quentin Tarentino, Pulp Fiction*
Danny Boyle, Shallow Grave
Wong Kar-Wai, Chungking Express
Krzysztof Kieslowski, Three Colors: Red
Frank Darabont, The Shawshank Redemption

Best Actor:


Zbigniew Zamachowski, Three Colors: White
Christopher Eccelston, Shallow Grave*
Ewan McGregor, Shallow Grave
Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption
Brad Renfro, The Client

Best Actress:


Irene Jacob, Three Colors: Red
Melanie Lynsky, Heavenly Creatures
Isabelle Adjani, Queen Margot
Juliette Lewis, Natural Born Killers
Susan Sarandon, The Client*

Best Supporting Actor:


Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction
Jean-Louis Trintinnant, Three Colors: Red
John Travolta, Pulp Fiction
Nathan Lane, The Lion King
Aidan Quinn, Legends Of The Fall*

Best Supporting Actress:


Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction
Julie Delpy, Three Colors: White*
Hellen Mirren, The Madness of King George
Kristen Scott Thomas, Four Weddings and A Funeral
Robin Wright, Forrest Gump

Best Original Screenplay:

Heavenly Creatures
Three Colors: Red
Pulp Fiction*
Bullets Over Broadway
Shallow Grave

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Ed Wood
Quiz Show
The Shawshank Redemption*
Mary Shelly's Frankenstein
Forrest Gump

Best Cinematography:


Shallow Grave
The Shawshank Redemption
Three Colors: Red
Chungking Express
Natural Born Killers*

Best Film Editing:

Pulp Fiction*
Natural Born Killers
Forrest Gump
ChungKing Express
Hoop Dreams

Best Original Score:

Three Colors: Red*
The Shawshank Redemption
Ashes Of Time
The Lion King
Forrest Gump

Best Original Song:

Be Prepared, The Lion King
Can You Feel The Love Tonight, The Lion King
Hakuna Matata, The Lion King*
Whatever You Imagine, The Pagemaster
When You Come Back To Me, Reality Bites

Best Art Direction:


The Flinstones
Ed Wood
Mary Shelly's Frankenstein
Queen margot
Legends Of The Fall*

Best Costume Design:


The Madness Of King George
Legends Of The Fall
Interview With A Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles
Queen Margot*
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert

Best Makeup:


Mary Shelly's Frankenstein
Ed Wood*
Interview With A Vampire: Vampire Chronicles

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

Speed
Natural Bork Killers*
Pulp Fiction
Clear and Present Danger
Forrest Gump

Best Visual Effects:


Heavenly Creatures
Mary Shelly's Frankenstien
The Mask*







Tuesday, October 11, 2016

1992 Silver Reel Awards (re-do)

So i decided to redo my 1992 awards because why the hell not? The originals are more then slightly emberassing for me anyways... So here we go!

Best Picture:
Bram Stoker's Dracula*
The Crying Game
Like Water For Chocolate
Aladdin
Death Becomes Her

Best Director:
Francis Ford Coppa, Bram Stoker's Dracula*
Richard Attenburgh, Chaplin
Spike Lee, Malcolm X
Rob Reiner, A Few Good Men
Quintin Tarentino, Reservoir Dogs

Best Actor:
Tony Leung, The Lover
John Lithgow, Raising Cain
Denzel Washington, Malcolm X
Robert Downey Jr, Chaplin
Gary Oldman, Bram Stoker's Dracula*

Best Actress:
Lumi Cavazos, Like Water For Chocolate
Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct*
Emma Thompson, Howad's End
Bridgett Fonda, Single White Female
Annabella Sciorra, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

Best Supporting Actor:
Brad Pitt, A River Runs Through It
Anthony Hopkins, Bram Stoker's Dracula
Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men
Forrest Whitaker, The Crying Game*
Kevin Spacey, Conscenting Adults

Best Supporting Actress:
Lolita Davidovitch, Raising Cain
Michelle Pfieffef, Batman Returns
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Single White Female*
Wynona Ryder, Bram Stoker's Dracula
Sadie Frost, Bram Stoker's Dracula

Best Original Screenplay:
The Crying Game*
Reservoir Dogs
Night On Earth
Husbands and Wives
Unforgiven

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Like Water For Chocolate
Malcolm X
Howard's End
Bram Stoker's Dracula*
A River Runs Through It

Best Art Direction:
Batman Returns
Far and Away
Howard's End
Bram Stoker's Dracula*
Alien 3

Best Cinematography:
Malcolm x
Basic Instinct
Like Water For Chocolate
Bram Stoker's Dracula*
Raising Cain

Best Costume Design:
Chaplin
Indochine
Basic Instinct
Malcolm X
Bram Stoker's Dracula*

Best Film Editing:
The Crying Game
Reservoir Dogs
Romper Stomper
Alien 3
Basic Instinct*

Best Original Score:
Alien 3
Howard's End
The Lover
Bram Stoker's Dracula*
Raising Cain

Best Original Song:
Face To Face, Batman Returns
I have Nithing, The Bodygaurd
It Feels Like Christmas, The Muppet's Christmas Carol
The Pride of Our Land, Patriot Games*
A Whole New World, Aladdin

Best Makeup:
Death Becomes her
Bram Stoker's Dracula*
Batman Returns

Best Sound Mixing/Editing:
The Last of The Mohicans
Bram Stoker's Dracula*
Alien 3
Batman Returns
A River Runs Through it

Besf Visual Effects:
Alien 3
Bram Stoker's Dracula*
Death Becomes Her

The Witch (2015) review

Heavily advertised as one of the scariest films in years, Robert Eggers' The Witch is certainly something. Since this is a horror film, we must ask the most important question: is it scary? Yes... Only not in the traditional sense. While the film has very obvious supernatural overtones, they aren't the focus of the fear, that instead comes from what the supernatural does to the characters and what they in turn do to each other.

 The story revolves around a large English family living in New England I'm the 1630s. They get banished from their town and are forced to work the land on a small farm on the edge of a mysterious forest. Things begin to go down hill when their new-born goes missing seeming out of nowhere. What follows is a story of religion, family, and insanity in a time period when these things were almost mutual, which is also a part of the story.

 One of the films best features is it's cinematography. The frame is presented in 1.66:1, which both extenuates the horizontal nature of the landscape and forest, but also gives the feeling of claustrophobia, as if there's something always closing in on the characters, be it their faith or the tension which surrounds them. The frame itself is spectacular, with composition which bring to mind classical paintings of the ear, like Stanley Kubrick's work on Barry Lyndon. My only problem is the color palette, which while thematically and visually appropriate, featuring desaturated and pastel earth tones, it doesn't feel unique due to the abundance of films in the past decade that have adopted this style, even if it is needed or not. The art direction and costume design are all stellar, with excellent period details that make them feel as though they jumped right out of the era. Another thing worth mentioning is the score, which much like Johnny Greenwood's work on There Will Be Blood, is seeping with sinister atmosphere due to its unusual instrumentation and melodies, sometimes not even sounding like actual music as much as it sounds like the emotion of a moment was given sound. 

As for acting, there is much to discuss. Anya Taylor-Joy as eldest daughter Thomasin is a revelation, her innocent face and large eyes bringing to mind Emily Watson in Breaking The Waves. She manages to both innocent and authoritative, while cruel and subtly seductive, yet manages to exude the charm of a young girl who fears God's wrath. Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie are both excellent as parents who slowly descend into madness, and special mention goes to Harvey Scrimshaw as the second eldest Caleb, who gives the film one of its most chilling moments... 

My only true complaint is the general premise reminded me heavily of Lars Von Trier's 2009 film Antichrist, which is a film a very much enjoyed. 

So finally, if you enjoy seeing a leveling crafted portrait of time and place, with fantastic visuals, acting, production values, and music, see this film! Just don't plan on sleeping that night, I don't think I will either.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Predicting the 2016 Silver Reels...

Yes I'm aware how superficial and self-centered predicting MY OWN awards seems, shush. But I wanna get a feel for awards season this year so I'm slapping together a quick list of films I've seen and liked from this year, and films that are not yet out but I think I'll like, so with that, let us begin!

BEST PICTURE:

The Birth of a Nation
La La Land
Nocturnal Animals*
10 Colverfield Lane
Live By Night

BEST DIRECTOR:

Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation*
Martin Scorsese, Silence
Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Ang Lee, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

BEST ACTOR:

Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Brad Pitt, Allied
Tom Hardy, Legend*
Danzel Washington, Fences
Oliver Masucci, Er Ist Weider Da

BEST ACTRESS:

Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals*
Rosamund Pike, A United Kingdom
Viola Davis, Fences
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Marrion Cotillard, Allied

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Jack O'Connell, Money Monster
Aaron Taylor-Johnston, Nocturnal Animals
Daniel Radcliff, Swiss Army Man
Stephen Lang, Don't Breath*
John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Zeo Saldana, Live By Night
Lea Seydoux, It's Only the End of the World*
Marion Cotillard, Assassin's Creed
Emily Browning, Legend
Madison Wolfe, The Conjuring 2

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

Hail, Caesar*
Swiss Army Mann
The Witch
10 Cloverfield Lane
La La Land

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Er Ist Weider Da
Live By Night*
The Girl On the Train
High-Rise

BEST ART DIRECTION

Café Society
The Birth of a Nation
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
Assassin's Creed*
High-Rise

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

The Neon Demon*
Allied
Nocturnal Animals
Fitoor
La La Land

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Assassin's Creed*
Café Society
Allied
Nocturnal Animals
The Birth of a Nation

BEST FILM EDITING

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Deadpool
Passengers*
Arrival
Sully

BEST SOUND EDITING/MIXING

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story*
Arrival
Sully
Deep Water Horizon
Passengers

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

Silence
Legend
10 Cloverfield Lane*
La La Land
The BFG

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

N/A

BEST MAKEUP

The Neon Demon
Suicide Squad*
Silence

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Allied
Deep Water Horizon
Passengers
The Jungle Book
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story*





Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Xavier Dolan's Mommy: A Review

(apologies in advance for how messy this review is, but it's very late and I'm very tired but I just had to get my thoughts out there.)

I have something of an unfortunate habit of having rather unrealistic expectations of films that receive praise from everywhere. As my consumption of cinema ever increases as though it's some form of mental meal, as do my opinions of expectations of their respective creators. So, near the end of 2014 and into 2015, I became aware of a new filmmaker as I myself was new to the film blogging community, that filmmakers name is Xavier Dolan. He had been active for the past 5 years or so already with acclaimed films with subjects ranging from bigoted families, impossible love triangles, a trans-gender epic, and a Hitchcock inspired thriller about abusive relationships. So when his 5th feature "Mommy" began making the rounds, needless to say, I was intrigued.

I took over a year to see it since a proper home video of the film doesn't seem to be the easiest thing to find. As mentioned above, my expectations were extremely high since I spent most of that year letting the rave reviews it had gotten soak in. Upon seeing it, was it the best film I had ever seen? No. (Ingmar Bergman's "Cries and Whispers" still holds that title) but that's fine. It doesn't have to be, and after seeing it twice more, it still isn't, but it doesn't have to be, I'm only one person in an enormous sea of people, what do I matter?

The film does, however, have some of the best uses of cinema as a dramatic art form I can say I've ever seen.

The story revolves about Diana "Die" DuPres, a middle aged widow living in near poverty. She is forced to take care of her teenage son Steve, who has recently been expelled from a care facility for special needs youths after causing it massive damage and injuring a student. Diana cares deeply for Steve, who goes into almost psychotic fits of rage when put under great emotional distress. Diane has trouble coping, until her neighbor Kyla becomes involved in both her and Steve's lives. Kyla is a former teacher now on medical leave for unexplained reasons, and also suffers from an apparently nervous stutter. She becomes an outlet for both Diane and Steve, for Diane as a friend and confidant, and for Steve as a teacher. The three form an off sort of family unit, Kyla seeming neglecting the daughter and husband she already has.

Eventually, Die receives papers stating she's being sued by the parents of the injured student. After seeking out a lawyer, who is driven away by Steve who beeves he's interested in his mother for sex,Diane attempts to have Steve commuted again, taking him to the hospital under the guise of taking him and Kyla on a road-trip. Diane immediately regrets the decision, but by then, the damage is done. Things fall even farther when Kyla reveals she and her family are moving to Toronto, leaving Die completely alone. The story ends with Steve attempting to make an escape from the hospital he was incarcerated at, the screen cutting to black before we see what happens as Lana Del Ray plays over.

The layers of complexity involved in the characters conveyed from their looks and actions rather then through straight dialogue is astounding. Firstly there's Diane's behavior which is at times almost as immature as Steve's. Her style of wardrobe and makeup are both far to young for a woman of her age. Mix that with her odd quarks like dotting I's with hearts and the pride she displays when hearing Steve curse out the guards on the radio at the beginning, and you have quite the leading lady. Kyla is also a bit of a mystery, we;re never told why she stutters or is on leave, but I have to wonder. She doesn't community with her own family well at all, to the point they're almost a complete non-entity in her life, and the scene in which she ferociously threatens Steve made me think, did she attack a student and that's why she's on leave? Either way, she becomes a sort of secondary mother figure Steve as well as a mentor.

Another thing this film both exemplifies and rewrites is the craft of film-making itself. Not is the editing, particularly the use of slow motion and depth of field superb, but so is (for me) the real star of this show, the cinematography. The film is shot in the virtually unheard of aspect ratio of 1:1, which gives off a feeling of intense claustrophobia as well as telling of the character's emotional states. There is also some extremely clever trickery involved in the use of this style of shooting that must be seen to be believed, and for that, I give you easily the film's best scene:


And so there you have it ladies and gentlemen. One of 2014's finest films and pieces of art in general is a masterwork from one of the medium's newest and so far finest artists. It truly is an experience that must be seen to be believed, and I hope that you'll all be able to see it very soon!