Monthly Archives: February 2013

What’s to Come

Hello lumplings –
I know I haven’t been posting as much as I would like, but I am excited to announce that my thesis project is coming along nicely, and I will be posting it upon its completion.

Here’s a hint: It involves Kubrick.

Here’s another hint: I have a title card –

Image

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Lincoln

Be prepared for a lot of profile-based composition shots.

Be prepared for a lot of profile-based composition shots.

Finally, I have found some time for myself to go catch the front-runner in the Oscar race: Lincoln.  I’ll be frank, I’m not the most keen to endure long, dry, historical films, but since it’s been the head of so much positive hype I figured I’d hop on that wagon, expecting a load of the most Spielbergiest something yet.  And it was.  I’m not saying that I’m not a Spielberg fan, but I feel with his films you kind of know what to expect after a while.  Which totally doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good.

Lincoln takes place during a pivotal moment in Abe’s career: the signing of the Thirteenth Amendment and the end of the Civil War.  Not necessarily in that order.  The film also splits this time between the politics of the signing, and the impact on Lincoln’s family.

Hello there Mr. Pace.

Lee Pace as Democrat baddie Fernando Wood.

Personally, I found all the political jib-jab, dirty tricks and mudslinging a tad exhausting – however when it came to portraying Lincoln the father, that’s what got me hooked into the story.  Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal is not that of a man who sees himself as the ultimate power, but a man with many responsibilities, which he handles with humor and believability.   Like many other roles, Lewis has completely immersed himself.  Okay, I’d say he’ll probably win this one again.

In fact, the performances drive this film more than any other aspect (okay, maybe general mise en scene stuff – it’s all very pretty).  I think it’s fair that the supporting cast has earned their noms, and it was also impressed by the amount of people who showed up in this film – for instance, the character of W.N. Bilbo –

lincoln10

– that’s James Spader.  I totally didn’t know that.  Now I can see it, but during the film I was trying to figure out if that was John DiMaggio – but I digress.  Overall, Lincoln gives us a great story about humanity during wartime, even at a time when it was brother pitted against brother – and it shows us some of the brutality of such warfare when we’re not forced through what feels like hours of angry debate.  So yeah, it was a bit too long (or at least felt that way), but it was really the ending that threw me for a loop.

Sorry, some minor spoilers – I mean, in case you didn’t know that he dies, there’s some more stuff at the end.

Ah yes, the ending…there has been some debate as to whether or not the film should have ended sooner.  I think it should have, but not totally before his death.  In fact, I rather liked that scene where his son and compatriots are surrounding his body.  There was a great solemn quality to the moment that I felt really cemented the concept that Lincoln was simply a man with vision – especially when it was followed by little Tad Lincoln just hearing that his father was shot.  There was power in that sequence.  It was the cheesy dissolve that killed it for me.  I understand Lincoln’s passion and legacy shines as an eternal flame – you didn’t have to cross-dissolve the candle in his room with his second inaugural speech.  That’s called overkill, Steve.  Stop doing that.

/Minor spoilers

Like I said, if perhaps it was a half hour shorter and ended sooner, this film would be perfect.  Sadly, I have not seen any other Best Picture nominees apart from Django UnchainedLes Miserables, and Beasts of the Southern Wild, so I am by no means suggesting that I’ll be calling it this year. That being said, it’s really anyone’s game – but if Lincoln takes it, I really wouldn’t be surprised.

Final Grade: A-

Tear Down The Wall!

pink-floyd-the-wall-posterPink Floyd’s conceptual album The Wall may have received mixed reviews from critics – one even saying, “I’m not sure whether it’s brilliant or terrible, but I find it utterly compelling” – but it has remained a favorite for many fans, at least those who happily accepted Roger Waters over Sid Barret, but I digress – it’s a neat album.  Then when the movie was released three years later…it also received mixed reviews, only this time, many hardcore Floyd fans weren’t digging it, especially due to preconceived notions about the album – which is understandable, like when a favorite book is adapted.  The odd thing is, the album was originally written with the intent of being a film.  Personally, I find The Wall to be a fairly under appreciated work.

I realize that I’m a little biased because I really dig the album, or maybe because I adore all kinds of weird animation, so I’ll really try to ignore these things…or at least for a little while.

We don't talk about what happened between Live Aid and Live 8

We don’t talk about what happened between Live Aid and Live 8.

For now let’s focus on the story, which is about a young man named Pink and his complete psychological break.  Normally this sort of thing would be fairly uneventful, but when you throw in the fact that Pink’s a rock star who realizes the potential of his power over his followers.  And of course there’s some Oedipal things going on with the early death of his father in the war and then his overbearing mother and cheating wife – it’s all very dynamic.

I say there’s no better fodder for a rock epic.

Pink’s story is told completely through Pink Floyd melodies, accompanied by strong audible and visual metaphors.  Granted some of the imagery is fairly repetitive, practically beating you over the head with some things (yes, I get it, your daddy’s dead Roger!), but overall I think the repetition is fairly effective in driving the point home on Pink’s isolation and desire for control.

Okay, here comes the fun part – animation!  You have to admit, the most memorable parts of this film are the animated sequences.  This one, without a doubt is my favorite, in which Pink’s lavish lifestyle collides with a damaged psyche, building his isolation higher and higher:

I was kind of upset that “What Shall We Do Now?” wasn’t on the album after I saw this (I owned the album before seeing the film, by the way).  Anywhoo, the animation is incredible, combining the beautiful with the grotesque with hardly any effort.  I kind of wish the whole thing was animated to be honest – someone contact Gerald Scarfe and get him and Roger on this.

In retrospect, it seems for me The Wall is a complete guilty pleasure: good music, gorgeous animation, and strong metaphors.  Even if it is a complete guilty pleasure, I think it’s still worth a gander in one way or another if you haven’t already taken a peek.

Killer Joe, Revisited

You may not know of this fellow, but you should. He’s Brad Jones, the Cinema Snob, and I tend to value his opinion, even if I don’t always agree.  He recently released his list of his favorite films of last year, one of which was Killer Joe.

I honestly didn’t know much about this film, but once Brad brought it up I was curious (even if it was #8), especially after we received a ton of copies of this movie at work – a movie supposedly rated NC-17 – that’s a rarity for Blockbuster. I just finished this film, and I gotta say, it’s something.

Finger-lickin' good.

Finger-lickin’ good.

Matthew McConaughey plays a hired killer contacted by Chris (Emile Hirsch), who teams up with his family to kill his mother to collect her insurance money. There’s a snag and all hell breaks loose – you get the picture.  And Emile Hirsch gets his face smashed in with a can of pumpkin pie filling.

Killer Joe is probably one of the more demented American films I’ve seen in a while – something that breeds southern charm with raw grit, giving us a story of murder and family ties most unusual.  And I’ll agree with Brad here, Joe deserves the NC-17.

What makes this film so remarkable, other than its brutal content, is the performances.  I never thought I’d say this, but Matthew McConaughey gives a terrifyingly intense performance. And then there’s Thomas Hayden Church – his performance was so oddly real –  he served as a great comic relief that wasn’t too distracting. He was just a dumb kind of guy – a real good ol’ boy.

Overall, I think Killer Joe, or as I like to call it, Redneck Fargo, deserves a higher spot on the list – or is at least worth checking out.

Sorry I haven’t updated in a while, things have been crazy-busy at my end, which means very little time for Oscars, let alone hitting up the theatres for that matter. On the upside, I have been a busy little bee plowing away at my thesis, which is a video essay sure to appear later. In the meantime, I thank you for your patience, and I hope to have more stuff up soon.