|When an unstoppable force |
meets an immovable object
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
(dir. Federico Fellini, 1961)
Over and over again, La Dolce Vita has been vetted as a masterpiece and as Fellini's most outstanding work. Entertainment Weekly thought so much of it, that Dolce landed at #6 on their list of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time, behind the likes of Raging Bull, Chinatown, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, and The Godfather. Pretty good company, huh?
It stars Marcello Mastroianni, one of Italy's great actors and the recognizable face from Fellini's equally famous follow-up, 8 1/2, as journalist and Man About Town Marcello Rubini. The film is broken down into a series of 7 days complete with dawn, afternoon, and night; often, and most interestingly, the blurry line between the transition of these times is jumped. In true Fellini fashion, the audience is told to accept the minute magical elements, and trust that it's part of the theme. The most wonderful of these moments feature Mastroianni and Swedish-cum-Marilyn Monroe look-a-like Anita Ekberg (as film superstar, paparazzi magnet, and resident life-loving bimbo Sylvia) wading in the Trevi Fountain in the middle of the night. Sylvia seemingly christens Marcello with a trickle of water, and boom suddenly we go from night to dawn.
Word just dropped here about Pixar's much rumored follow-up to their 2001 film, Monsters Inc. Turns out, however, that the Film Formally Known As Monster Inc. 2 will henceforth be called Monster University and follow the comic exploits of Mike and Sulley as they build their friendship.
Of course, what with all origin stories about best of friends, Mike and Sulley weren't always the best of friends. Says Dave Hollis, Disney’s executive VP of worldwide distribution, "From the moment they met at university, they could not stand each other. This story takes you through the ups and downs, and how they overcame their own differences."
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
|Farley Granger (1925-2011)|
|Granger with the |
Master of Suspense
If anything, maybe Granger's passing will get people to discover his work, and especially Strangers on a Train, which is far and away one of Hitchcock's most underrated works (sure, people recognize it, but sadly not on the level of Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window, Rebecca, or North by Northwest). It's a brilliant film, his most suspenseful and complete with a circus-inspired climax only rivaled in the Hitchcock cannon to Vera Miles de-wigging a rotting corpse.
*But Were Too Afraid To Ask
(dir. Woody Allen, 1972)
It's always a treat to see the early work of a famous artist. Be it Blood Simple by the Coens, Mean Streets by Martin Scorsese, or Following by Christopher Nolan, it manages to show the greatness that lay ahead (or in many cases, the shock that the person who would later make this could have ever made that). And this is what brings me to Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Too Afraid To Ask, Woody Allen's 1972 vignette comedy about all things sexual.
Based loosely--and by loosely I mean they share a title and the theme of sex--on David Reuben's advise book, this work of Allen's foreshadows decades of self-conscious penis references, nebbish men nabbing hot girls, and askew takes on everyday predicaments. I'm actually quite fond of Allen pre-Annie Hall work (which is saying something, since said films are few and hard to come by) with Play It Again, Sam being one of my favorite movies of all time. It panders not only to Allen fans, but Casablanca fans as well.
But back to Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Too Afraid To Ask. It opens with a somewhat overall weak vignette with Allen as a court jester in Medieval England. Anthony Quale makes a hilarious cameo as a sex-crazed king, which allows Allen himself to shine as the horrible fool of court. His deadpan delivery is as priceless in 1972 as it is in 1986, for I often wonder if anyone can deliver a bad joke as well as Allen, and only because he also knows it's bad! Here, Allen makes awful jokes seem like zingers to the viewer, as we giggle at just how awful the joke is. Not to mention, he compares Lynn Redgrave's chest to a pair of "tomatoes."
Monday, March 28, 2011
Or as non-dorks call it, another Woody Allen film. But this Woody Allen film is the one slated to open Cannes in a few month's time. Sure, the last few Allen projects have been bumpier than not, what with Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona being the standouts amongst some of his career-worst efforts like Whatever Works and You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger. But here's a toast to not judging a book by its cover and hoping that Allen has found his groove in Paris that he seemingly lost in London last summer. Anyone else excited for Michael Sheen in a full-on beard? Prime Minister say what?
This film's BEAUTIFUL poster after the cut ...
Sunday, March 27, 2011
This is my attempt to sound as not pretentious as possible. Not to claim that I'm in any position to criticize the Oscars, or to criticize those who criticize the Oscar, because I'm not sure anyone is. When we judge the Oscars, praise or bash winners, I feel people sometimes forget just what the Oscars are: a bunch of people who vote with their hearts not their head. And you want to know the trick?--that's perfectly okay.
I don't think the Oscars voters think like critics, and they really shouldn't. Critically praised films have their own way of lasting in the ether, especially if they're fortunate enough to lose the Oscar for Best Picture (more on that later). The voters cast their ballots with their heart, what movie they love the most. This year it was The King's Speech, not my favorite film of the year but a fine win nevertheless. Is it up to the caliber of The Social Network? Well that's everyone's personal opinion. The general bash-loving consensus wills us to believe that The Social Network is better, but apparently it wasn't.
For a while now I've wanted to start a film blog. For an even longer while, I made excuses as to why I wasn't starting one: not enough time, too many blogs, "no one is going to read it," and now a momentary pause as I figure out just what to write for my first post on Sam Watches Movies.
And so here is the introduction! Again, if you missed the banner beneath the blog title, my name is Sam. I'm what is widely considered a film buff, I watch movies as much as possible with a focus on trying to see new movies. New to me, that is, not necessarily the newest movies of the year. Because to me, a classic movie isn't a classic if you haven't seen it before.
My taste in film is part populist (The Dark Knight, Love Story, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ghost, Back to the Future, Anchorman, Toy Story 3) and part respected drama or comedy (Casablanca, The Silence of the Lambs, Michael Clayton, Up in the Air, American Beauty). Separating the two entities is impossible. To me, your favorite movies are the best movies; the movies you love are the ones you'll remember forever, not just because they're well-written, well-acted, or considered important but because you connect to them.
Also, I'll be writing in-depth Awards Season coverage when the time comes and retrospective commentary of Oscars past, in addition to film reviews (new and old), and general articles focusing on performances, directors, actors, and craftsmen.
Buckle your seatbelts, this is gonna be a bumpy ride.