Saturday, December 31, 2011

John's Top 10 of 2011

Well 2011 has come to a close, Before I reveal my top 10 I want to reveal some honorable mentions
War Horse
Tinker Tailor Solder Spy
The Muppets
The Descendants
Super 8
In Time
Crazy Stupid Love

Now for the big reveal

10. Midnight In Paris

9. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

8. Drive

7. Hugo

6. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

5. 50/50

4. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2

3. The Tree Of Life

2. The Artist

And the best film of 2011 is...........


There you have it folks 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

John's DVD pick of the week (12/20/11)

Once again I'm sorry for being MIA. This week I chose a film fighting for a spot in my top 10 it's

Midnight In Paris
That's right the Woody Allen directed film is my pick this week. Other choices are the sports drama Warrior, the action film Colombiana, Glee: The Concert Movie, the family film Dolphin Tale, and the thriller Straw Dogs.

My Vintiage pick is, in honor of this weeks releases of Both The Adventures Of Tintin and War Horse, I'm recommeding my top 5 Speilberg films of all time they are ET, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, and Schindler's List.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Review: Shame (****)

Steve McQueen made a real impact in the film world with his powerful debut Hunger. But like with musicians, there is always the risk that a director's second film will not live up to the high expectations the first effort sets. Yet McQueen has a good go with his dark exploration of human character in Shame.

Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a successful and well off man living in New York City. He is also a sex addict who constantly picks up women, hires prostitutes, views internet porn daily and masturbates at any given opportunity. It affects his day to day life and he lives a lonely existence. His life is made more complex when his singer sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan), a woman with obvious problems, crashes at his place. She interferes with his life, including sleeping with his boss, David (James Badge Dale) and sets Brandon off to tackle his addiction.

Brandon is depicted as a really despicable character, but he is a man struggling with an addiction. There is a number of sexual scenes throughout Shame, but there is no eroticism as Brandon explores more depraved and disgusting acts and his life spirals out of control. Shame plays as a drug addition movie, similar to Requiem for a Dream as someone struggles to give up something hazardous.

Fassbender offers a powerful performance as a dark, sinister man with strong interplay with Mulligan as he becomes threatening towards her. Compare him to Mulligan, a much more brittle character, on the edge for different reason. She gives a heartbreaking performance as a woman who does not know how to do deal with problems and has a sadness in her eyes. Their scenes were enhanced by McQueen's direction, using hand held cameras to follows Fassbender and the conversations stick to one point, making you feel like you are really watching them in a voyeuristic matter. This makes the movie more tense as the tone changes in an instant.

McQueen employs a grainy filter, giving Shame a dark, grim look which is perfectly fitting considering the atmosphere of the movie. The visuals have a similar feel and tone as other gritty and grim New York set films such as Taxi Driver, Midnight Cowboy and American Psycho, all of which follow the horrible underbelly of the city. He has shown that he is a great actors' director, but McQueen also had some great visuals, such as a long tracking shot of Brandon jogging and Brandon watching two people having sex in their apartment.

There are many moments in the movie that have little dialogue, relying on Fassbender superb abilities as an actor, particularly key in the beginning and during a long montage of Brandon wandering alone in New York, playing like a scene in the great novel Last Exit to Brooklyn. This is a movie about Brandon's continuing descent and self-sabotage and Fassbender should hopefully gain an Oscar nomination to back up his award buzz in Europe.

Shame continues McQueen's reputation as being one of the best emerging directors around, sticking to his no holds barred, brutal style which keeps a stage play quality to the presentation. Shame is tough, but worthy just for Fassbender's performance and keeps to a tradition of grim New York based film. 

It's the best film this year.

Review: Hugo (***1/2)

If I can describe this film in one word, it would be beautiful. This film has inspired me in ways that I can't even begin to explain. It's been a while since I've seen a film that spoke to me as personally as this film did. I'm a fan of Martin Scorsese and he's crafted a beautiful ode to not only cinema but also imagination and in a way, it celebrates all the things that help us escape. The world is a scary place and everyone goes through pain and suffering but if you just try and learn to dream, find your voice and not be afraid then you would be surprised what could happen.

I love how this film tells the amazing story of pioneer filmmaker Georges Melies who many of today's directors such as Steven Spielberg and James Cameron owe everything to. I love his films and I own a box set of his work, it's wonderful to see more people be introduced to him and the magic he created that continues to capture the imagination of many.

So if you love the cinema and magic then I highly recommend this masterpiece. Hugo is really something special I think.

Review: My Week With Marilyn (**1/2)

Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier's (Kenneth Branagh), documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) during production of The Prince and the Showgirl.

Michelle Williams makes a great attempt at capturing the essence of the magnetic Marilyn. There are moments when you could imagine it was the real thing - unfortunately, they are fleeting moments. Monroe was a complex figure and the portrayal here attempts to address it - not necessarily successfully. Kenneth Branagh too gives a top class performance - believable, but not quite as waspish as I imagine Olivier was in real life. It was Monroe's ability to play to an audience - specifically to play to the lens of a camera that is absent in this movie biopic. This production could have been about any actress - not one who truly was exceptional. Nevertheless, a fair attempt at depicting a real story.