Thursday, February 25, 2010

Who's Wilder than Kubrick? So glad you asked.

Alright, so it appears that "A History of Nothing" has challenged "The Good Stuff" to a blog war. Right off the bat I think I should win based solely on the names of our blogs. Friend- it's on.

My dear friend Darcy Cameron and I rarely disagree on good films and nearly never miss a beat on what we feel are "the cinematic greats". The one topic on which we really can't find a common ground is Stanley Kubrick. Darcy hails Kubrick as the greatest filmmaker of all time. Don't be fooled- I know that Kubrick can back it up, and I know he's more than made his contribution. Truth is, I've just always been fairly indifferent to him. I don't particularly like, nor dislike him, I just havn't had much interest in watching his films.
Darcy has thrown "Dr.Strangelove" at me. "...only Kubrick could have done and gotten away with - a COMEDY about a general who orders a nuclear attack on Russia...keep in mind, this was made at a time when people were actually afraid of this sort of thing". That's a very valid point Darcy. Too bad Billy Wilder already set that precedent by releasing "Stalag 17" in 1953. This brilliant little war film is also a COMEDY depicting American POWs in Nazi prisoner camps. This was made at a time when even DRAMAS weren't being made about WWII as the subject was considered too "serious". Wilder took a serious and taboo issue, created out of a history of violence and rocked the proverbial casbah. Oh and it stars William Holden. Perhaps you've heard of him, he's only one of the most notable and brilliant actors in history.

Kubrick's got charisma. But Wilder had it first.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Because donuts don't wear alligator shoes.

So. Let's talk about Black Dynamite and how much fun it is. First of all every single scene is hilarious. That alone should be a good enough review for anyone, you dig? It exudes one part parody and one part homage which I really think is the best way to try and ace its overall objective. Nothing really makes sense, continuity is completely out of whack, there's actually a moment where Black Dynamite throws three men out a glass window and then proceeds to fight a room full of people- including the three men he just tossed who are magically back in the same room! The whole film is chock full of deliberate jump cuts, replaced actors, and ode-tos. You've got to be a pretty kick ass filmmaker to make something so awful so wonderful. And don't be fooled- it is wonderful.

"Ha! I threw that shit before I walked in the room". Need I say more? Oh and not to ruin the fun, but two seconds later that guy is on fire. Hilarious.

I did not expect to like it, let alone love it and now I find myself wondering how I ever lived without it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Shutter yo mouth, I'm talking about Scorsese

Shutter Island. Scorsese's newest release. Saw it. Dug it. Wanna talk about it.
Basically it's Cape Fear meets The Last Temptation of Christ. It's like action-action-action-trippy dreams, and creepy vibes. It was cool. I went into it expecting to love it, and I did. It had a very cool film noir, surrealist aesthetic which I think we can all agree is awesome. It felt claustrophobic at times, nice use of that "we're trapped on an island" device. Of all the cinematographers I love I'm pretty sure I could pick out Rob Richardson in a test. He's not my favorite but I like him a lot and for me, he's the most distinct in terms of recycling style. And not in a bad way. My friend Darcy is probably going to cry because I saw it without him which is why I've planned to go again on Friday. Second viewing would be wise.
One thing I will say (and I'll avoid any spoilers) is that right until the very last moment of the film I wasn't sure which way it was going to go. It wasn't as if I showed up to a movie expecting one thing, and in a revealing and cinematic twist didn't get it. Up until the very last moment everything could have realistically gone to one extreme or the other.

Bottom line: If Scorsese wants to dish out the mindf*cks, I'll throw him back a post-coital high five.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

There Will Be Love.

Let's just take a moment to discuss one of the greatest love stories of all time. It's called The Collaboration of Paul Thomas Anderson and Robert Elswit, ASC. See back in 1995 these two teamed up for the first time to shoot Anderson's feature "Sydney". The film itself could be reduced to foreplay, the real sparks not igniting until two years later when they collaborated again and Boogie Nights was born. This was followed by Magnolia. Their most recent collaboration was There Will Be Blood. Also, clearly epic. What's so great about them? So glad you asked.
1.) The writing, the lighting, the shots, the acting, the content, the audio, the music, the composition, the execution. In every way that a film can succeed, they all do. Glad that's out of the way.
2.) I love watching films and being able to see through the director's influences. I don't think its cheap, I don't think it's necessarily unoriginal. Boogie Nights pays homage to one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, and upon seeing the film, even he didn't catch onto it. That man is Martin Scorsese. Both the opening and closing scenes of the film are inspired from memorable Scorsese features. The single long shot through the discotheque, landing on the exchanges of various characters we would meet again calls up a certain moment in Goodfellas. Dirk Diggler psyching himself up in front of the brightly lit vanity is reminiscent of a certain Raging Bull opener. (If we're on the subjec, I'll throw this out there: Punch drunk Love would be his Spike Jonze picture, Magnolia would be his Robert Altman piece, and There Will Be Blood would be his Kubrick).
3.) There Will Be Blood would be my top film of the decade, hands down. It's a masterpiece. It's visually stunning, it's artistic, it's over the top, even obnoxious at times, and yet in all the right places. I watched this film with the sound off once and it was incredible.
4.) Magnolia has one of my favorite shots. It's so simple but every time I see it I just really love it. It takes place in a bar, William H. Macy is in love with Brad the bartender and sits lonely in a corner booth feeling sorry for himself. The shot starts at the bar and tracks though the restaurant, lands on Macy, and falls perfectly into a dutch tilt imitating his mood perfectly. It's a great capture. We could even revisit the whole Director's influence topic and bring up Robert Altman's "Short Cuts". Clearly one lay the ground work for the next, PTA just happens to know how to kick ass and pay homage all at the same time. And the long single shot through the network building. Crafty.
I've never seen PTA work without Elswit. I have however seen Elswit work with others and it's just not as good. Almost vacant. These two just just keep doing what they do.

It's simple math. Awesome + Awesome= Awesome.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

All Business, All the Time

Top 10 Films of the Decade. Not in order.

1. Adaptation (2002, Spike Jonze)
2. There Will Be Blood (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson)
3. The Lives of Others (2006, Henckel von Donnersmarck)
4. Inglourious Basterds (2009, Quentin Tarantino)
5. The Departed (2006, Martin Scorsese)
6. The Girlfriend Experience (2009, Steven Soderbergh)
7. Into The Wild (2007, Sean Penn)
8. Life Aquatic (2004, Wes Anderson)
9. Joyeux Noel (2005, Christian Carion)
10. The Hurt Locker (2009, Kathryn Bigelow)

Monday, February 1, 2010

500 Days of Awesome

I just watched "500 Days of Summer" and it was amazing. Hands down a favorite for 2009 releases. Why? So glad you asked.

1. It's beautiful to watch. The color palette, the lighting, the shots. DP Eric Steelberg did a brilliant job. One of my favorite moments was a tracking shot of Tom walking beside his window as is rained. In slow motion. Say it with me now: Stunning!

2. It's funny in all the right places.

3. It's incredibly creative and stylish. The split screen of Tom's momentary "Expectations" vs. "Reality" was so interesting and emotional.

4. It incorporates the following elements which I have written into most (if not all) of my own work: time shifting, mixed formats, neutral color tones, and voice over. Naturally, I dig.

5. I'll be the first to admit that I would be the worst candidate to try and compile a kick-ass soundtrack. Any movie that can do this whilst having used Patrick Swayze's rendition of "She's Like The Wind" is a genius.

Please see this film.