Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Review: Foxcatcher (2014)

* * *

Director: Bennett Miller
Starring: Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo

Many "true crime" stories attempt to provide some sort of answer to the question of why the crime took place. Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher takes a different approach, merely observing that the crime took place without trying to make it part of a neat, clean narrative. Context does not make it any less senseless, which of course makes it all the more bizarre and intriguing. There are no easy answers in Foxcatcher, just a story of how a confluence of disparate issues - from how neither wealth nor success can necessarily prevent someone from becoming alienated from everyone around them, to how wealth can inspire society to indulge behavior that would otherwise be unacceptable, and how the easily commodifiable patriotism of international sport ends up leaving the actual athletes behind - created an atmosphere where tragedy seems almost inescapable.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Nevada Film Critics Society Winners

The Nevada Film Critics society announced their winners and went a different way from most critics groups, opting for Gone Girl over Boyhood or Birdman. Their winners:

Best Film: Gone Girl

Best Director: Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler

Best Actress: Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Best Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood and Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Animated Film: Big Hero 6

Best Documentary: Citizenfour

Best Ensemble: Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Youth Performance: Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood

Best Cinematography: Interstellar

Best Visual Effects: Interstellar

Review: Jodorowsky's Dune (2014)

* * *

Director: Frank Pavich

Alejandro Jodorowsky's adaptation of Dune is one of the most influential films never made. It exists in certain forms, such as in the mind of Jodorowsky and the memories of the people who were collaborating on the aborted project with him; in a massive book containing story boards, costume and set designs; and in the wealth of science fiction films that have been released in the decades since the plug got pulled on Jodorowsky's project; but his grand, slightly insane vision never made it to the big screen. Director Frank Pavich's documentary Jodorowsky's Dune does its best to rectify that, letting Jodorowsky talk about what he would have done and how he would have done it and bringing bits of it to life through animation. The result is a delightful film about the triumphs and heartbreaks of making art, the endurance of passion and ideas, and that oh so intriguing question: what if?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

21st Century Essentials: A Christmas Tale (2008)

All eras have works of art that are fundamental to our understanding of not only the craft itself, but the culture from which it was created. The 21st century is still nascent, but it isn't too early to start creating a canon that demonstrates the heights to which film as an artform has reached since the year 2000. These are the essential films:

Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Anne Consigny, Jean-Paul Roussillon
Country: France

The title of Arnaud Desplechin’s A Christmas Tale evokes a sentimental, fairytale-like feeling. It suggests a story in which all problems are brought to heel by the spirit of the holiday, sweeping away conflict and renewing old bonds. Desplechin’s film does not play out this way, but is instead a deep and complex family drama (occasionally a comedy) that offers little in the way of resolution. This is the kind of film where nothing “happens” because it is much more interested in examining its characters and the subtleties of their relationships with each other. A Christmas Tale is a story of a family haunted by loss, wounded by discord, but ultimately bound together by blood and history… whether they want to be or not.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Florida Film Critics Circle, Austin Film Critics Association & Dublin Film Critics Winners

Another day, another set of award winners. Below are the selections of the Florida Film Critics Circle, Austin Film Critics Association, and Dublin Film Critics:

Florida Film Critics Circle

Best Picture: Birdman

Best Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Best Actress: Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Best Actor: Michael Keaton, Birdman

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Adapted Screenplay: Gone Girl

Best Original Screenplay: The Grand Budapdest Hotel

Best Animated Film: The Lego Movie

Best Foreign Language Film: The Raid 2

Best Art Direction/Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Cinematography: Interstellar

Best Score: Under the Skin