#12 Wings of Desire
Sad to say, I found Wim Wender’s classic film to be slightly underwhelming. That’s not to say its not good because the film was coming in with the baggage of being one of the greatest films ever made. I love how Wenders tells his story through the voices and desires of humans. That is what makes us special. But the pacing feels a bit off in the way many people use to complain about art films, It has its great moments such as any scene with Peter Falk and the wonderful cinematography but the pacing was a real issue for me.
11:16 pm • 14 January 2014
#11 Spirited Away
Miyazaki has always been a blind spot for me. As of right now, I have only seen “Ponyo” and “My Friendly Neighbor Totoro” which both did not leave a big impression on me. Then I saw “Spirited Away” and it is a wonderful masterpiece. Without a doubt, this is Miyazaki’s magnum opus in which he creates a world for him to fill with wonderful creatures and characters that is amazing to watch. This film is just as subversive and mischievous as Lewis Carroll was when he wrote Alice in Wonderland. I am so glad I saw this so late in my age to truly appreciate its wonder while sad that I cannot see it without my cynical nature as adult.
11:12 pm • 14 January 2014
#10 Ministry of Fear
My first American Firtz Lang film and Lang does a good job in translating the noirish tones to America. But, this film is too steeped into anti-Nazi propaganda to be anything significant other than being a stylish film noir. The film starts off great with a Hitchcockian trope in which an everyman, played by Ray Milland, gets out of an asylum and finds himself steeped into a Nazi plot. It is wonderful when you have no idea whats going on like the main character but once the twists and coincidences started occurring, the film became stale.
11:08 pm • 14 January 2014
#9 Los Angeles Plays Itself
I got the pleasure of going to NYC IFC Center to catch this wonderful collage film by Thom Anderson about the relationship of the city that makes movies and the movies itself. Thom Anderson uses various clips from many different movies to explore how film depict the city of angels. Its amazing being, as Anderson would call it, a low tourist, Los Angeles in a way that has never been presented to me before. More importantly it opened my eye for feature screenings to take note of the way a film uses its environment. And this is also an amazing piece of editing. I think the film will play for at least one more week at the IFC Center so for you NYC people go catch this 3 hour film.
7:58 pm • 9 January 2014
#8 Inequality for All
David Ehrlich on Film.com shared the sentiment with another movie saying that message movies does not count as cinema. Watching this, I agree with that sentiment. “Inequality for All” is not cinema but a glorified Ted Talk. There is no problem with that because Robert Reich is incredibly entertaining and he shares my political views and now I have new firing power for politic debates. He is a teacher and you can see how he explain these complex economic concepts in a way that someone like me can understand. I think this will be n important film to show in economic class and is better than other ones of similar subjects but it is certainly not cinema.
7:54 pm • 9 January 2014
#7 Repo Man
If any movie embodies punk rock that would probably be “Repo Man”. Unfortunately I was not a big fan of this movie. I can see why it is a cult movie because it is incredibly a product of its time. But, a lot of the sensibilities and Reagan era rage does not connect with me. That is probably no fault to the movie but with me.
7:49 pm • 9 January 2014
#6 Romeo and Juliet (1968)
Apparently the definitive version of the Shakespeare’s classic but, this also serves as my first time ever seeing any version of this play. And, this film is quite dated by my estimation. Franco Zeffirelli does not bring anything to it and the cast seemed to be still acting in the theater with big performances which does not translate well to film. While for 1968 standards, I can understand the sexual charge and energy from this version that has never quite been done before, for a modern audience it does not quite have the same panache. The two leads did the role just fine but seemed more like Donnie and Marie rather than actors of worth. I fell bad that this version of the classic romantic tale did not connect with me the way it connects with many other people.
10:11 pm • 8 January 2014
#5 47 Ronin
Eh. It surpassed my very low expectations but that’s not saying much. The thing that I do not get is that the original story is inherently epic in scale. By adding this faux Japanese mysticism just ballooned the budget while lessening what the film should be about. But, it is westerners looking at Japan’s most famous tale. Other than that, its biggest disgrace is just being boring. I respect they kept a mostly Japanese cast but the fact that they had to speak English served as a problem. Writing anymore about this film would be a waste of time.
10:01 pm • 8 January 2014 • 2 notes
#4 Grudge Match
The most disappointing part of this movie is that Robert de Niro actually tries in this film. Of all the movies that he is in, why does he try engage in this film. In fact, everyone tries. Unfortunately the screenplay was a dud from the start. It is no question that this was made by Peter Segal, a staple of the Happy Madison family,as the movie tries to incorporate dramatic musings with the comedy that does not work quite well. And I must say that they found the worst kid actor I have ever seen onscreen. Nothing out of that child’s mouth seemed convincing at all.
9:55 pm • 8 January 2014
My Top 10 films of 2013
10. Blue is the Warmest Color
Take the controversial sex scenes out of the movie and we get a stunning portrait of falling in love and falling out of love. Each moment of emotional sincerity on the parts of Lea Seydoux and especially Adele Exarchopolous, was a pleasure to watch. I don’t if it is because of my male gaze, but the raw passion of the sex scenes did contribute to the film. It is jarring to see it unfold but even more jarring to see it missing between the two after they lose that emotional passion. Without that, the intensity of Adele’s final plea of love to Emma would not be as powerful.
9. The Place Beyond the Pines
The structure of this film is highly debated but I personally love it. Derek Cianfrance has stated that he wanted to make his own American epic. And what he does to Synecdoche, New York, in all its flaws and splendor, felt like what George Stevens did with “Giant”. Done in three parts, Cianfrance directs with style and confidence in his story by put his stars to the back seat by the third act. A story of redemption and legacy, this is a graceful American epic.
8. The Hunt
I have not been as angry about stupidity as I have been watching this film since “Atonement”. But, the difference with that film and this one is that what I was seeing was scary. It was scary because I believe I would’ve acted the same way as the characters of this film if I hadn’t known any better. I implore anyone who has not watched this Thomas Vinterberg film to not watch anything about it and just see the film blind. It will have it best impact that way. It is a no hold barred type film that emotionally drains a person after viewing.
7. Before Midnight
This film going to the midway point of the year was my favorite film of the year. It has fell several spots but that does not mean it loses its power. With two films of character development, Celine and Jesse has almost become family. We saw them fall in love and we saw them rekindle that passion. So, it was hard to see it seemingly fall apart at the seams. Richard Linkalter has probably become America’s most underrated director. This collaboration between Linklater, Delpy and Hawke has become the most consistent trilogy and that’s because the film draws upon real ups and downs of the collaborators. By doing so, these films find the human struggle of not falling out of love but simply staying in it.
6. The Wolf of Wall Street
Like “Inside Llewyn Davis”, this film cannot stay out of my mind. I do not quite know how to describe “The Wolf of Wall Street”. I can say that I do not quite agree with the controversy that this film has brought on. The Jordan Belfort that we see onscreen is at no point portrayed as a life we want to have. In fact, the final moments are the ultimate example of the twisted American dream we have propagated. Hundreds of people have come to this assembly room to get a self empowering seminar from a man who has cheated others out of money and been to jail. No matter how much we condemn this man, ultimately it is our own desire to have that life that leads to the greed on Wall Street. And that is encapsulated when the final frame we see is a bunch of unknown people scribbling notes.
5. Museum Hours
Jem Cohen’s “Museum Hours” is one of the most intricate films made this year. He gazes upon his subjects like a person would gaze upon a painting in a museum. He uses the medium of film in the way Sergei Eisenstein would. Every shot has a purpose. Dialogue does not always correspond with the images presented, but by doing this, he is working the same magic the Soviets discovered when they cut from the image of a man to an image of soup. Cohen is doing something graceful in his film, that is little on plot but big on surprises. “Museum Hours” is a quiet and gentle film but made a loud impact for me.
4. All is Lost
It is interesting a year with “Gravity” that the one survival movie that captured me most has even less dialogue or back story than that film. “All is Lost” is simply watching Robert Redford be a movie star. He has a mostly silent presence in this film in which his character’s name is never revealed nor any rhyme or reason why he is on the yacht. As an audience member we draw our own conclusion which serves the film best because there are a lot of still moments. But, then the action starts happening and you care because it is Robert Redford. More than “Gravity”, this film had me asking how J.C. Chandor accomplished all the technical marvel he achieved and by the end this was the most exciting movie I watched this year.
3. The Spectacular Now
This film has been dismissed by most people to be simply a coming-of-age story but I think it does things that I never seen in a film before for this type of story. High school is not black and white and none of these kids look like actors but real children. Popularity is not a problem. The problem is living up to your potential and becoming an adult. That is a high school scenario that is so often overlooked in Hollywood movies. But, most importantly, the plight of the main character (not the alcoholism but the father issues) really resonated with me. And his relationship with Shailene Woodley, some of their interactions, seemed to be taken out of my own life. The precision in which James Ponsoldt captures that period in a person’s life is was really amazing to watch.
2. Like Someone in Love
Abbas Kiarostami has always been interested in films about identity. “Certified Copy” and “Close Up”, unfortunately the only two other films I have seen by him, is certainly about that. This film looks at the roles we take on to serve a purpose. This film has the most gripping moment for me on film this year. This one scene in which the main character is simply listening to voicemails is so well done that the minute detail that is in this scene can cause a person to tear up. This will be the litmus test on whether a person will enjoy this film because if you squint at certain precise moments to see what you want to see, then Kiarostami has one his job.
Spike Jonze has made the movie that most represents the modern era. In making a film about romance with artificial intelligence, he has made a film that looks upon relationships that is so truthful and soulful. He uses the sci-fi genre the way it is supposed to be used; to use the future to look upon the present. He garners amazing performances from Joaquin Phoenix and even more amazingly, the voice of Scarlett Johansson. Once again, a movie is supposed to leave something upon its viewers. And the central character really resonated with me as it revealed things I never notice upon the way I look at my own personal relationships. “Her” shows the power a film can have, doing the simplest of things. This film is the most touching, personal, soulful, amazing film and it is my favorite film of 2013.
Link to my Top 20 - 10
Link to my Top 25 - 20 and top 5 Documentaries
8:29 pm • 6 January 2014 • 24 notes