December 31, 2013
WARNING TO THOSE WHO HAVE NOT YET SEEN THESE FILMS- THESE DO CONTAIN SPOILERS.
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (See Below)
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (See Below)
LAST DAYS ON MARS http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_last_days_on_mars/
EVE’S BAYOU: I have to revisit this one as a third viewing is planned next week (by Dec 30, 2013)
SAVING MR. BANKS http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/saving_mr_banks_2013/
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/august_osage_county/
THE BOOK THIEF http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_book_thief/
Other posts from my Facebook:
ALL IS LOST: https://www.facebook.com/notes/joey-brite/all-is-lost-orwhere-is-the-sextant-when-you-need-one/10151900734974681
MUD comment: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/mud-2013
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (I’m the only person I know who did NOT love this film):https://www.facebook.com/notes/joey-brite/beasts-of-the-southern-wild-review/10151062109734681
MEEKS CUT-OFF: https://www.facebook.com/notes/joey-brite/meeks-cutoff-my-review-didnt-make-it-into-nyt-comment-section-a-shortened-versio/10150203666629681
December 20, 2013
Barton Fink is still my favorite Coen Bros film.They had me at Blood Simple and I have only seen a consistent effort to create great visual storytelling with each project we are lucky enough to be graced with. Why this particular film is being promoted as their ‘best’ is just hype to me. Creative use of PR to gain attention to the fact that I’ve had to wait like so many others for another brilliantly birthed piece of American cinema coming from these two minds.
These artist-siblings use a kind of torturous whimsy that demonstrates time and again that they are unafraid to dig into the not-so-likable characters that most humans can be. Most humans ARE.
I LOATHE this character of Llewyn Davis. I wanted for someone to shut a door on HIM in the rain and cold of that car and simply walk away. I was so done with his narcissistic, anti-social behavior that if it were not for the brilliant acting of Oscar Isaac that made me want to watch him sing each time he did, I would have walked away from the screen. Which causes me to say this: this is my least favorite film the Coen Bros. have made. That is separate though from the fact that I feel this is yet another really good film from the Coen’s: I just did not like the protagonist of this one. At all.
So I am back to repeating that I believe the Coen Bros are one of the best reasons to go to the movies with anything they make. When it comes to the idea of ‘best’ in a large body of work over decades now, if you ARE a Coen Bros fan, I think that ‘favorite’ is a better descriptive to use. All the elements it takes to make a great film in the end has to be because they all fit well together: the music, the direction, the sets, the wardrobe, the lighting, the casting, the sound quality, the use of the camera, etc. For me, the Coen’s have ALWAYS GOTTEN IT RIGHT. And that is an enormous positive in a culture that screams out for sequels and main characters with guns in their hands. Inside Llewyn Davis gives us a fictionalized view into a tiny-but-important piece of Americana: folk-turning-into-political-pop-music, and shows that yes, there were others BEFORE Dylan took his scratchy vocals to the microphone and dominated the medium (oye- my ears are cracking at the memory of that voice of his- argh!)
As a feminist who likes to note the attention to the writing of female characters in historical retellings like this, I found Carey Mulligan’s character quite funny and acerbicly wonderful. Just the nastiness of her dumping her anger upon this Llewyn added the layer that was necessary for the audience to laugh out loud and at the same time – if you’re paying attention – recognize that the birth control pill had not yet existed. That fact alone helps us to see Carey’s character in a sympathetic light even while we all do know that “it takes two to Tango” as Llewyn reminds her. “Who cares!” I wanted to scream at him. “You need a vasectomy AND a JOB you irresponsible idiot!”
So I do recognize that even if I did not care for this film so much because of my dislike of the main character of Llewyn – (that I adore and care for domestic felines and am an activist in that regard doesn’t help my holding empathy for him, I admit) – I highly recommend this film for movie lovers with a desire to explore some really interesting territory about a period of time in American music history and culture that affected so much that goes unnoticed of what we listen to now. Many of the tunes written during those early years are reappearing as the backdrop sound for hip-hop and rap to be layered upon, while the message in the lyrics has remained fairly consistently about loss, life and simply trying to get by.
The Coen Bros do more than to just ‘get by’ though by making their films. They have become part of Americana that will be discussed and argued about for decades to come, much like the influence of the music they have showcased in this film.
December 8, 2013
(Warning: contains spoilers)
I absolutely adored this film. It might be my top film that I’ve seen in 2013 (if there is such as a thing as ONE film of the year to fall in love with). Time was taken with the story, the dialogue was realistic, and the whole way the relationships were played out felt like I was right in the room, on a particular street or in that school yard with the characters. The excitement of first contact (for the younger character) with another high schooler girl’s kiss, then that same teen later actively seeking out a bar where lesbians frequent hoping to catch a closer look at the gal she turned her head for passing on the street, then the psychological foreplay of philosophical discussion leading to getting into the sack and having the kind of sex that most lesbians I’ve known could only dream to have…any negative comments I’ve read about the sex scenes just allude my reality.
Much like ‘Brokeback Mountain’, the director had these two actresses barely say “hello” offset before jumping into their first sex scene (the one we see first), and what you see is just a portion of 800 hours of footage shot over 5 months. I found the sex scenes very HOT. The way that the storyline played out before they made it to the sheets was a more feminine approach than we normally see in a cross-over film.
What struck me about the entirety of the project was the way the class differences were handled, the consequences of internalized homophobia, the concept of betrayal and ‘cheating’ (in who’s eyes?), and just experiencing a first devastating falling in the kind of can’t-help-it-lust-love thing that many of us have had…Blue is the Warmest Color is a lifesaving film that should be seen by every teen in America and abroad and used to stimulate discussion about several topics.
For anyone who wonders, “why all the accolades?”, it is precisely because the story is pretty universal and is so much bigger than any one thing that can be focused on. Sex as a single issue to dwell on for many reviewers just tells me more about how rigid that reviewer must be – even if she or he sees themselves as sexually open and progressive when it comes to critiquing art. As with the film Melancholia (2011) which some critics narrowed down to the subject of depression, Melancholia was so much more than that. It was a film that contained such an enormous emotional depth to every frame that was wrapped in some cinematic magic, and Blue is the Warmest Color does the same for me.
I believe this film deserves a lot of praise for taking on so many levels of humanness while the subject of passion burns at its core. It took me on an emotional journey of my own past and reminded me of several friends I’ve known – both gay and straight – who have traveled this road before. Other than the youth, body types and light skin color of the actresses involved, this is in no way a lesbian relationship given the Hollywood-style treatment type-of-film. If it were, the ending would have been very predictable, and this one is far from that.