Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Midnight in Paris ****

Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Adrien Brody
Alison PillCarla Bruni-Sarkozy, Corey Stoll, Kathy Bates
Kurt Fuller, Léa Seydoux, Marion Cotillard
Mimi Kennedy, Tom Hiddleston

From its opening scene, Midnight in Paris establishes itself as a love song: we see how a series of shots of the city comprise a verse that thrills us because of its familiarity (ooh it's Notre Dame! ooh it's Place Vendome!) and despite its otherworldly beauty.
Paris is one of those cities that becomes universal because of the feelings they inspire even if you have never visited them. Tons of films have been set in Paris, tons of romances have been set there as well and to those less inclined by emotions, the French capital has also been the stage for some of the most revolutionary cultural movements in the world.
It makes absolute sense then, that Woody Allen would fall head over heels for it. Not since Manhattan had he shown such passion for a place as he does in this film. Structured like his iconic ode to New York City, Midnight in Paris is formed by a bookend in which we first develop the crush, a large plot development in which we suffer through the ups and downs of love and a final thought that reminds us, not only of our insignificance but about the immortality of beauty.
Throughout the film, Allen, aided by cinematographer Darius Khondji's breathtaking framing, reminds us that Paris will remain even after we're gone.
Take for example the scene in which we meet Gil Pender (Wilson), our protagonist. We hear him talking to his fiancee Inez (McAdams) about the beauty and romanticism of Paris but we can not see either of them. What we see instead is a huge pond filled with fragile water lilies. For a moment, we're not even sure if we're watching a painting or an actual real life image, Then Gil mentions something about Monet and our mind clicks, but so does the camera and we move to find ourselves in front of the people we're about to meet.
In several other scenes throughout the movie, first we see places and things and only then do the characters enter the scene. The camera is sometimes placed before them, as if suggesting the characters need to catch up with time - and wondering if they ever will be able to do it - and sometimes it seems to wander about trying to take in the riches of a city that's too overwhelming for a films's running time.
The subject of catching up with time might be the plot's biggest preoccupation, as Gil finds himself yearning to live in a different place as his writer's block increases. After working as a Hollywood hired hand- and being quite successful at it- he's trying out a novel for the first time. His trip to Paris is meant to inspire him but all he gets are insults from Inez and her parents (the pitch perfect Kennedy and Fuller).
Things get worse when they run into Paul (Sheen) and Carol (Arianda), two friends of Inez who tag along everywhere they go. He's a pseudo-intellectual who knows it all on the surface, she's the loving companion who nods at his every word.
Allen never has any problem revealing to us that the world that surrounds Gil (who in this film is the "Woody Allen character") is truly atrocious. As he usually does, he has no problem affirming that this is a misunderstood man, perhaps a bit too sensitive to be surrounded by the shrewd beings he knows. Allen has never been good at hiding his disdain for bourgeois apathy and while his characters are never exactly saints of any kind, he has always excelled at making us like them.
Gil for example seems to breathe by inertia, we're meant to dislike Inez (the things she says often make you gasp) but we're not supposed to be rooting for Gil just yet. He needs to earn our liking, he needs to achieve a breakthrough.
Woody provides him this opportunity by relying on a fantastical twist that resembles what he did in his brilliant The Purple Rose of Cairo, as in that occasion, everything happens so fast that we're unable to try and reason. Anyone who cared to deconstruct either movie by ways of physics and probability could probably accuse of them of being truly preposterous. During one scene Inez's mother describes a movie she saw as "infantile" and lacking in any believable qualities, but she doesn't deny it had charm (is she talking about the movie she's in?).
However Allen becomes the ultimate alchemist, turning the dullness of the quotidian into magic that defies the most complicated visual effects. Midnight in Paris gives him an opportunity to bask in his love for the Lost Generation and all things 20s, giving us glimpses of a city where you could run into characters the likes of Hemingway (a phenomenal, scene stealing Stoll), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Hiddleston) and Gertrude Stein (Bates) among others.
Leading us in this tour of a golden era is Marion Cotillard, playing the woman who captures Gil's heart. To reveal the many twists and turns in the movie would be to rob the audience of what can only be called utter pleasure. In the past Allen has expressed his love for classic things, however this might be the first time when he seems to find his voice through others.
While sometimes it might seem like a film meant for culture snobs (and what Allen movie isn't?) Midnight in Paris is also remarkable for its unaware passion for the arts. When Gil says to a character "you take art groupie to a whole new level" he might as well be talking about Allen and the movie.
It's no coincidence that the film seems to be based on the theory that places of great antiquity and history are forever plagued with the ghosts of those who once lived there. At many times during the film there are mentions of the main character in Gil's novel; a young man who owns a nostalgia shop, the places where you can buy old records and Shirley Temple memorabilia.
For some this is an enchanting concept (Cotillard's character is "hooked" by it) while others find it creepy and childish. "Nostalgia is denial" says Paul condescendingly, while Gil looks away finding himself in a place far away from judgment.
The movie toys with the possibility of transporting yourself to a time where everything can be perfect and Allen approaches his everlasting obsession with mortality in a way that makes the heart ache and puts a smile on your face.
We realize eventually that Allen is the shop vendor mentioned so much, he's the one always selling us nostalgia, whether it be his use of music, artistic references or the affected way in which his characters talk (the use of words like "pseudo-intellectual", "lovely" and "erotic" usually give his screenplays away).
Midnight in Paris can be read through countless layers, the magic of its ensemble alone is enough to warrant an essay but like the greatest art what's easiest to discuss, perhaps because it inspires excited, clumsy eloquence, is the feeling that it leaves you with: something that resembles the warmth of a good meal and the exhilarating joy of being in love.
After his last movie which failed to invite us into its dark world, in this one a character reminds Gil that a writer can not succumb to despair, his duty is to find an antidote to the emptiness of existence. Woody Allen seems to have taken this advice and Midnight in Paris is the kind of movie that reminds us that heaven might be a plane ride away.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

The 100 Blows.

Head over to PopMatters where we're still counting down on the 100 greatest directors of all time.

This time around I discussed Francois Truffaut one of my three all time favorite directors. It's so tough not to be extremely reverential when you love someone like I love him. Sigh.

With that said, have you been reading the series?
What's your favorite Truffaut movie?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Style Sunday.

Va-va-holyfuck-voom! Helen Mirren keeps defying reason and gravity and gets hotter by the second. She's a seductive vision in this blood tinted Michael Kors dress. Gotta love she accessorized with a simple brooch which makes the dress look absolutely regal.

Apparently Annie wants to play Kate Middleton in a movie and of course it makes total sense, I've been saying it ever since the future Queen was thrown on our faces for the first time, heck she even played her in SNL but anyway, Annie has a huge advantage going into Kate and that is her love of Alexander McQueen. This stunning sheath proves that few people can carry the house's eccentric elegance with the grace Anne does.

Think Annie will be good as Kate?

Crazy, Stupid, Love. **

Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Cast: Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone
Analeigh Tipton, John Carroll Lynch, Jonah Bobo
Josh Groban, Kevin Bacon, Marisa Tomei

Despite how generic its title made it sound (just a bunch of adjectives and a noun thrown in together), Crazy, Stupid, Love. seemed promising because of the people who star in it and the men behind the camera. The film contains none of the loony excitement of Ficarra and Requa's I Love You Phillip Morris. which isn't a perfect movie by any means but still thrives with something that makes it feel truly alive. Of course, it's not like they have to repeat a style on every movie, that would certainly limit their artistic blooming, but their work in this film seems stilted to say the least.
The screenplay, written by Dan Fogelman, works as Magnolia lite; we meet several characters living in Los Angeles whose lives get intertwined and united by the universal subject of love.
Carell plays Cal Weaver, a sad-eyed man whose life turns upside down after his wife Emily (Moore) confesses she cheated with one of her co-workers (Bacon) and asks for a divorce.
Cal becomes an even more tragic figure and spends the nights away crying at a hip bar where he catches the eye of the womanizing Jacob Palmer (Gosling) who has just been rejected for the first time in his life by a young, lively lawyer called Hannah (Stone). Perhaps seeking to atone for the sin committed against his masculinity, Jacob decides to "Miyagi" Cal and turn him into a womanizer.
While it can be said that Cal and Jacob share the main plot, the peripheral stories around them are what truly make the film work better than it should.
Cal's son Robbie (Bobo) for example, plays perhaps the film's most romantic role as he engages in a battle to win the heart of his babysitter Jessica (the wide eyed Tipton whose smile evokes a young Shelley Duvall) who is 4 years older than him.
Perhaps the movie works best when it occurs as individual vignettes, say Cal's crazy one night stand with insane teacher Kate (Tomei playing a dignified version of batshit crazy) is joyous to say the least and the always fantastic Moore turns Emily's scenes of quiet sorrow into complete acting courses.
Yet as it travels from Jacob's James Bond-ish house to Hannah's own disastrous affair with a sadsack colleague (played with enough douche baggery by Groban to make us root for Jacob) we realize that Requa and Ficarra can not, for the life of them, juggle smartly with so many characters.
The film feels as if they forget about some of their characters and then upon remembering their existence try to make them do something funny, cute or silly, as if to say "hey I'm still here". The plot has some serious time conundrums and you might find yourself surprised to realize that one year has supposedly gone by in the movie when it ends. Even if the performances are charming (Emma Stone's giant laughter is deemed to overthrow the reign of Julia Roberts') the film never feels particularly crazy, stupid or even romantic.
During the most inspired sequence in the running time, all the characters come together through a divine intervention that would've made Moliere giggle, during a single moment the entire film comes together perfectly and its theme of universality clicks as we realize that yeah, we're all on the same boat when it comes to lámour.
However the film keeps on going after this and the spark of magic it obtained is reduced to a series of preachy "we all can change and be forgiven" moments where once again the pain of individuality becomes too tedious to watch.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sheet-y Saturday.

Where we take a look at posters for upcoming features.

Did you see how simple the posters for Martha Marcy May Marlene have been so far? Even the ones that relied on the internet code to send out a message (risky move too!) were so haunting and beautiful in a way. The efficiency of the concept is that it gets across several points: Elizabeth Olsen, all the Ms and Elizabeth Olsen again.

My Week with Marilyn debuted its first official poster and the result is so lifeless. Michelle Williams might deliver a stunning performance but in all the publicity shots and now this one sheet, she looks like a morbid morgue project. We get she's playing Marilyn but she has been looking like some sort of postmortem strange postmodernist experiment (let's see if you can play Marilyn as a mannequin!). It's strange that the marketing people at the Weinstein Co. even went with this image at all when just a few weeks ago we got one where at least Williams seemed to be alive.

How do you feel about all the Ms this week?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's No Secret...

...that Jeon Do-yeon might be one of the most interesting working actresses! Check out my review for her breakthrough, Secret Sunshine, over at PopMatters.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Style Sunday.

Julianne Moore is a vision in this lovely little Jason Wu cocktail dress. Gotta love how she turns what could've been a housekeeper look into a sexy librarian outfit. The pattern shoes complete the ensemble beautifully.

Oh Diane Kruger, you insatiable fashionista...the beautiful actress rocks the hell out of this stunning Prabal Gurung sheath. Gotta love how the appliques and tiny details make it seem as if the dress was sewn on top of her, the level of organic convergence this woman achieves with clothes is otherworldly.

Love Diane or would you rather be spanked by Juli?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"What I wouldn't give to have tired of you?"

Super 8 ***

Director: J.J Abrams
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Ron Eldard
Bruce Greenwood, David Gallagher, Riley Griffiths, Gabriel Basso
Ryan Lee, Noah Emmerich

From its opening shot, Super 8 reaffirms something we've always sorta known: J.J. Abrams is a natural born storyteller. In an exceptional display of economy he lets us know the location of the story (the fictional town of Lillian, Ohio), the time frame (1979) and using a tiny bit of backstory, lets us foresee the future of its leading character, 14-year-old, Joe Lamb (Courtney) who after losing his mom is left under the care of his stoic father, Deputy Jackson Lamb (Chandler) who, to say the least, has no idea how to deal with the child.
Fast forward a few months and Joe is now helping his best friend Charles (Griffiths) produce an epic zombie film using a simple Super 8 camera. Their world is shaken when school beauty Alice Dainard (Fanning) agrees to be in the movie. Joe, Charles, Alice and their other friends, Preston (Zach Mills), Cary (the scene stealing, precociously Truffaut-esque Lee) and leading man Martin (Basso) leave their homes in the middle of the night to shoot the film's centerpiece at an old train station.
While the boys gasp in the presence of Alice - the way in which Abrams captures prepubescent awkwardness is delightful - they hear the loud noise of an upcoming train. The Herzogian Charles decides that this event will only help make their movie better and orders for the cameras to roll as the train suffers a derailment and consequent explosion. The children leave unharmed but realize the train had an enigmatic cargo that now has been set free upon their little town.
To say more about the film's plot would be to take away one of the film's many pleasures which is the rich feeling of everlasting discovery with which children face their summer vacations and miniature adventures. Of course, this being a movie and all, their adventure demands to be seen on the big screen, yet under the expert hands of Abrams, the film never loses that sheer cinematic delight which invites audience members to think things like these might happen to them as well.
Shot as a loving tribute to Steven Spielberg's E.T.: the Extra-terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the film reminds us of a time when going to the movies assured us that we were in for a treat. Abrams not only pays homage to Spielberg by recreating his cinematic style (along with the superb DP Larry Fong who despite his overuse of flare achieves some stunning work by reminding us that images can be epic and economic) the director also manages to emulate the emotional content of these iconic films in ways that not even Spielberg himself can achieve now.
Abrams' directing of children is astonishing because he lets them be without having them forget that they are after all playing parts in a movie, this is especially poignant in scenes where the kids shoot their own film and it can arguably be said that Abrams has them playing characters on three different levels.
Despite all the makings of a geek landmark, the film is especially admirable because it's able to work as entertainment and aesthetic treatise, notice the way in which Abrams toys with genre and reminds us that cinema has always tried to position itself in two different aspects of existence. Perhaps the film might have some autobiographical touches - the aforementioned character of Charles for example - but it also succeeds by becoming a mirror onto which the audience can project their own life experiences. It might be corny to say so but more often than not Super 8 is a reminder of why we even go to the movies in the first place.

Sheet-y Saturday.

Where we take a look at posters for upcoming features.

Ralph Fiennes' adaptation of Coriolanus seems destined to be one of the highlights of this cinematic year and our first looks at its marketing campaign shines with promise. Gotta love the almost tribal feel the painted faces and colors give the image. Look closer and you shall see those are not tribal markings but guns! Or wait, are we already receiving a message from the film?

Is it just me or does Ralph Fiennes have one of the most beautiful noses in the industry? Excited about Coriolanus?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Last Night ***

Director: Massy Tadjedin
Cast: Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes, Guillaume Canet
Stephanie Romanov, Daniel Eric Gold

When did Keira Knightley become such a fascinating actress? Her performance in Last Night sneaks up on you in completely unexpected ways, proving that she's become one to watch. In the film she plays Joanna Reed, a modestly successful, but insecure writer married to real estate agent Michael (Worthington). Minutes into the running time the young couple arrive at a party where Joanna meets Michael's new coworker, the voluptuous Laura (Mendes), she watches her husband and this woman together and becomes convinced that they are having an affair.
Back home they engage in a discussion where she tries to squeeze the truth out of her husband, however she wants to hear the truth she thinks is real.
Massy Tadjedin's Last Night then slowly begins to show its true colors, it's not a standard drama in how it follows a chronological order, instead it's more of an exploration of what shapes our lives as adults and an oneiric study of what exactly constitutes love after marriage.
Some scenes are insterspersed with other scenes to highlight specific passages or to make us doubt what we are watching. This happens mostly in latter scenes where Joanna goes out with former lover Alex (Canet) while her husband is away on a business trip with Laura.
Director Tadjedin may not always be subtle, in fact some of these bits are enough to make your eyes roll as we can tell that she does indeed like some characters more than others and there are some stories she wished she'd pursued more.
Why then does she seem to punish some of the characters by condemning them to lives they obviously do not want? The truth is that the director faces these truths as absolute and wonders why have we created the need to adjust ourselves to the unwanted?
Last Night goes beyond being a Closer redux about how adults in romantic relationships hurt the hell out of each other and turns into a clever questioning of the power of love. Notice how she quietly reveals her interest in discovering whether two loves can live within the same heart. It's fortunate for the audience that she gives Knightley a real chance to show her chops and it's her character that haunts us the most after the movie ends (the last two minutes are a thing of real beauty).
To be fair though, everyone in the cast is superb, Worthington tries to imprint his character with a bit of mystery and turns out delivering a performance of troubled feelings, Canet has to do little more than smile to make us woo and wish we could leave our entire lives for him and surprisingly Mendes turns in some stunning, affecting work as the femme fatale who might not be one at all.
Last Night is a delightful reminder that movies about adults don't need to have screenplay gimmicks in order to catch our attention, this film, like having too much wine leaves you lingering on a cloud of fuzzy guilt and craving for more the following night.

Long Live the Queen.

Madonna turns 53 today. May her second foray into film directing turn out as magnificent as we all expect it to be!

What are your bday wishes for Madge?

Monday, August 15, 2011

I'm in the Jungle But...

the internet still keeps me - and my love for the city- alive. What better way to keep my spirit present than by reading my fashion talk with Nat and Kurt over at The Film Experience?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger ***

Director: Joe Johnston
Cast: Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones
Hayley Atwell, Neal McDonough, Dominic Cooper
Hugo Weaving, Derek Luke, Stanley Tucci

Out of the large universe of Marvel superheroes, Captain America has always been one of the strangest because unlike say, Spider-Man or Hulk, despite their US headquarters, he doesn't really represent a global cause. The stars and spangles on his uniform appeal specifically to Americans and no, the rest of the world does not consider the US of A to be its savior. In fact it's essentially intriguing to ask oneself why would a studio bother in making and distributing a film about such a specifically American icon when the country has unarguably been losing more and more prestige as a mediator of nations. Oh wait, there we have the answer...
In reality this film isn't so much a prequel to The Avengers or yet another money making blockbuster, it's basically a propagandistic piece that tries to recover the very American idea which says that the prouder you are of the USA, the more you will make foreigners admire you.
This sounds like a tough sell after the disastrous international consequences brought about by the Bush administration and the mixture of antipathy and pity brought on by the inefficient Obama government.
Each of these factors make Captain America: The First Avenger a complex beast because it's meant precisely to work as the sort of nationalistic fluff made during the war, designed to attract young men to enlist and young women to drool over their efforts. So, what's the best way to convey this without getting flack from liberals and extremist praise from conservatives? You make the movie an homage to the lost art of propaganda, you set it during the era when it thrived, you bash in the method's techniques and surreal patriotism and you get to have your cake and eat it too.
This is precisely what director Johnston does for this film, he borrows the retro aesthetics of his superb The Rocketeer, throws in some modern quips to satisfy comic book fans and even casts non-distinctive actors (can anyone tell the difference between Atwell, Sienna Miller and Claire Danes?) to fulfill the promise that anyone can become Captain America.
Chris Evans pulls off the all-American handsome blue eyed, blonde hair look as super soldier Steve Rogers, who starts out as a Benjamin Button-ized skinny young man with good intentions who catches the eye of a Nazi-escapee scientist (the always wonderful Tucci) who realizes he's the best subject for his new program. Rogers then is injected with a serum that - in the best fairy tale way - creates a physical manifestation of his inner values. Therefore the meek Rogers who hates bullies and never says no to a good cause turns into the obscenely muscular version of Evans we already know. Problem is that before he escaped Germany, the good scientist also conducted the experiment on the insane Dr. Schmidt (Weaving) who turned into a supervillain trying to destroy the world by means of Nordic god weaponry.
The film then becomes a brisk adventure that recalls 30s and 40s serials, the film exudes a lovely Indiana Jones spirit and the art design and costumes are spot on. The film is often at its best when it inadvertently gives us glimpses of the futuristic views of the past. Cooper is a scene-stealer as crazily seductive engineer Howard Stark (Iron Man's dad) and he shows absolute joy in a manic Howard Hughes inspired way. Gotta love that he gets to pull off the mustache now favored by hipsters the world over, while staying true to the aesthetics and customs of the era he's in.
For all its talk of American pride and honor, the film can get quite sneaky at times and you might find yourself rooting for the Captain's illegal operations. Perhaps all changes in times of war but to justify invasion in this day and era feels like an ethical conundrum, even in the name of blockbuster joys. Best of all is that Johnston never denies his intentions, at one point Dr. Schmidt reminds the Cap that he's not an emblem of nations, that his cause is in the name of one particular country. Of course he ignores him and despite our best efforts to keep neautral, we keep on cheering for him until the very end.

Style Sunday.

See, I always wonder how the hell does Kate Middleton find normal looking Alexander McQueen
dresses, she always looks stunning but goes for the blandest designs by the iconic house. Now here we have Annie doing the best of both worlds: the black part of the dress is cocktail style at its classiest but the top (which Anna Paquin has tried before) is ALL McQueen.

Oh Emma. This Dior is perfection. Sigh.

What do you think of these two? Cuckoo over Emma's flapper redux?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sheet-y Saturday.

Where we take a look at posters for upcoming features.

I don't know how I feel about the idea of the movie itself but I am digging their use of the iconic logo, also using the song as tagline is genius, which only makes me wonder...if they're relying on the original one's elements so much, why the hell was an update even necessary?

I would give my arm to see this movie ASAP! I've heard only wonderful things about it and this Chungking Express inspired poster just makes me want to hug the idea of watching it!

Can this movie please open today? Got to love how well they're using the floating heads to show us the range of emotions the actors will provide (this is an entire FYC campaign in the making!).
The use of colors is remarkable and it reveals a bit how the film isn't a full on drama. Extra points for Jodie's faces. That smile is still as captivating as it was in 1976.

So, dying to cut loose some carnage this weekend? (Hardy har har) No really, which of these posters make you go gaga?

Friday, August 12, 2011

I Did It All for the Nucky.

Last year like everyone else I was thrilled when it was announced that Marty was directing the pilot for a new HBO show. When said show arrived I gave it a try once and never bothered to return. As it's tradition, the Golden Globes showered the new kid in town with awards and so did the SAG eventually. Then a few weeks ago when Emmy nods were announced, Boardwalk Empire led the way. I couldn't help but wonder what was I missing on that everyone else loved so much.
Unlike a show like Game of Thrones for example that got me so hooked I devoured the whole first season in a day, this one did nothing for me. At the insistence of my buddy Andrew (who recently got me hooked to Parks and Recreation like a crack whore, on well, crack) I got my little hands on the entire first season and recently made my way through every single ep.
If there's something I pride myself in is my ethics when it comes to discussing popular media. I refuse to discuss something I haven't seen in its totality, so I held my peace and now can talk freely about the show.

I guess one of the main reasons why the show never truly clicked with me is because I've never been much into the crime and gangster genre, I respect but don't love The Godfather for example, but hold your breath, so I had a slight bias when watching this show. I was pleasantly surprised by the way in which the writers create some fascinating characters like the one played by Jack Huston (pictured above). I of course loved, loved, loved when they link his character to The Wizard of Oz (the book, not the movie obviously) and for all his precision as a cold blooded murderer, there's a sense of possibility in his story.

Of course I loved Kelly Macdonald's Margaret, as the soul of the show she has the difficult task of being both a symbol and a human but there's nothing this woman can't do. This could've been another take of her troubled wife from No Country for Old Men but she turns her into something more, something that tempts me to come back next season.
Also, I'm a sucker for a Scottish accent.

Now most of what bugs me about the show is how uneven it is and how it relies so much on mediocre actors to carry, take Paz de la Huerta for example, sure she has amazing boobs and is quite hot but I felt her Lucy lacked the slutty selfawareness of someone who uses her looks to get ahead. Same goes for Michael Pitt, who as Andrew himself said is just a poor man's version of Leonardo di Caprio. Those two are the weakest links in a truly outstanding ensemble that somehow never really shines as a coherent whole. The best scenes are always the one in which Macdonald interacts with others.
Oh and Michael Shannon is all sorts of terrific as a slightly psychotic bureau agent trying to get his hands on the mob. I love his character and therefore I was surprised when this happened:

One of my favorite characters doing my least favorite character and then leading to something that promises to tie the characters closer together next season...I have a full month to decide if I wanna invest more time with these characters (new season begins September 25th)
Oh and as far as my blasphemy goes, I much prefer Tim Van Patten's directorial work in Game of Thrones than Marty's in this.

Where do you stand on Boardwalk Empire? Care to convince me to like it or do you support my cause?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Conspirator **½

Director: Robert Redford
Cast: James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Justin Long
Evan Rachel Wood, Johnny Simmons, Toby Kebbell
Tom Wilkinson, Norman Reedus, Alexis Bledel
Kevin Kline, Danny Huston

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln was undoubtedly one of the seminal events of the nineteenth century and history has made sure that we learn as much about Honest Abe as we can. His life has been the center of books, films and urban legends all of which culminate in the night where he was murdered by actor John Wilkes Booth.
Very few times have we been informed of what came to be afterwards and how one story in particular would shape the way of legal battles up to this very day. That story would be Mary Surratt's, played with fierce serenity by Robin Wright, a woman who was tried for conspiring in the assassination of President Lincoln.
While the story is supposed to concentrate on Surratt, director Robert Redford takes a more didactic approach and centers on her defending lawyer Fredrick Aiken (McAvoy), a Civil War veteran who's appointed by the army to defend someone everyone thinks is guilty.
The film deftly deals with the way in which public opinion can shape the outcome of a trial but more than that it leads us to wonder when and where is it right to bend the law, or if we even should consider doing it at all.
Redford, always the political instructor, makes the film about the way in which the army shattered the law in order to put on a charade to find themselves a scapegoat, Mary's guilt or innocence are never really on trial in the film (anyone watching the movie will think something entirely different) what the movie examines is the inconsistency with which governments provide so-called justice.
Unlike most of the films directed by Redford this one conceals its liberal agenda under a more restrained, almost theatrical style that might appeal those from dissenting political parties, as such it's a movie much more entertaining than say the disastrous Lions for Lambs however in delivering his essay Redofrd has once again forgotten to make his characters human.
He uses them to portray archetypes, we have the heroic Aiken, the villainous prosecutor (Huston) and he even gives Aiken a virginal love interest (Bledel of course) who juxtaposed with Surratt's more vamp-like daughter (none other than Wood) act like the angel and devil figures on the good lawyer's shoulders.
Props should be given to the always fascinating Wright who infuses Mary with a serene knowledge the rest of the film lacks. Redford doesn't give her character much to do but Wright taps into something primal and by the end of the film has evoked maternal love, demonic possession and manipulation with elegance and grace. Watch the way in which she can break your heart by remaining silent or the hatred she can invoke to her eyes. She makes us wish the rest of the movie lived up to her brilliant portrayal.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Natural Born Genius.

Head over to PopMatters where we're discussing 100 Essential Film directors.
In this installment I talk Fellini! So go read and come here to comment!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Style Sunday.

Mila Kunis rocks this Cacharel mini in completely unexpected ways. Gotta love how the print goes straight to the sleeves creating a sense of continuity that reminds us why fashion can be pure art sometimes. Paired with simple white pumps and loose hair she's a poster girl for effortless sexiness.

Gotta love how the delicate lace details in this Emilio Pucci dress make the wholesome Jessica Chastain have more of an edge.

Enjoying Mila's amazing fashion streak as of late?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sheet-y Saturday.

Where we take a look at posters for upcoming features.

Unlike the rest of the planet I don't want to have Ryan Gosling's babies but I'm loving the old-school masculinity he brings to this new poster for Drive.
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn who won the mise-en-scene prize at Cannes the film is a throwback to B movies and macho films so the poster embodies this effectively. Gotta love the unashamedly tacky pink font and Gosling's dirty look. I wasn't a fan of Refn's last film but this one seems quite promising.

Is this really the best they could come up with? They should've at least tried to do something like the cup and two faces psych trick. This is just so blah.
Kudos to whoever decided Keira Knightley's delicate frame looked so big it seems she can kick Viggo and Fassy's asses.

What's your take on these? Crazy to see Keira kick some Freudian ass?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Instant Semi.

Y'all know I'm neither a Nolan or Batman fan but this is just ZOMG!

Monday, August 1, 2011


You all know how much I disliked The King's Speech but even there I was mystified by the story of Wallis Simpson (played in the movie by the superb Eve Best) which I think offers much more complex material than a stutterer's struggles.
I was thrilled today to finally see official pictures of Madonna's W.E. which will tackle her story in a much more direct way. I always knew Madge had it in her, how can she not when she's worked with some of the greatest directors of all time? (David Fincher anyone...)

How excited are you about this project?

I Know It's Monday But...

Head over to PopMatters and read my review for the dazzling People on Sunday. As most of you know, I'm a great admirer of the Weimar period when it comes to the arts, so watching this film was a true pleasure.