The nominees for the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards have been announced and while we all know how the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) doesn’t really deserve to be taken seriously, I still think these awards are fun to watch. They’re entertaining, get you pumped for the Oscars and it’s always somewhat of a good time. Among the top nominees this year there are Spike Jonze’s Her, 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips and Gravity. The official ceremony will take place on January 12th, 2014 at The Beverly Hilton and is hosted by Tina Fey & Amy Poehler. Take a look at the nominees in the film categories. Continue reading
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971) – 6.5 (IMDb 6.9) – Giallo, Mystery, Horror (Italy)
Una Lucertola Con La Pelle Di Donna is considered a classic of Italian giallo cinema of the 1970s. I wasn’t overly impressed with this film who just tried to pull to many stunts and constantly seemed to want to put one over the viewer. I guess if you like lots of plot twists and reveals every ten minutes you’ll love this one. However I found the characters poorly developed (aside from their physical traits), the actors seemed mostly stale (maybe it was the dubbing) and the whole film was essentially just plot-driven (which I tend to not be a huge fan of). Lucio Fulci certainly is a capable director and I appreciate his crazy camera movements, but aside from looking stylish, a couple titillating scenes and having a dope score by Ennio Morricone the film didn’t have much else to offer to me. I felt a bit let down and there are definitely much better giallos you could and should watch before this one.
Going the Distance (2004) – 6 (IMDb 5.3) – Comedy (Canada)
I tend to be a sucker for a good teen sex comedy. Going the Distance is a standard, cliché film that will satisfy your urge for a raunchy and unrealistically romantic romp. We’ve seen this story a thousand times before: Guy and girl have to do the whole distance thing, girl cheats on guy, guy finds out he deserves better. Nothing new, but also a fairly entertaining film, aside from some annoying misogynist and the usual unnecessarily and excessively vulgar humor. Films like this one however almost need to be excessive and completely unrealistic, because that’s what you watch them for. Well, that and the eye candy. I’m not going to lie and say I hated this film, because it was fun to some degree and I am an unabashed fan of the sub-genre, but of course I can’t put it in the good category either. I must say the film made me feel a bit old with its 2000s pop-punk soundtrack and Avril Lavigne. One last thing I’ll mention is Mayko Nguyen, it’s no secret I have a thing for Asian chicks and she’s a fox, I wish she was in more movies!
Last week I was a little bit under the weather. Unlike most people I watch less movies when I’m not feeling so well. I also started watching Shoah, the nine-hour documentary on the holocaust, that’s why I’ll only discuss four movies this week.
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) – 7.5 (IMDb 8.7) – Adventure, Western (Italy)
After catching up with Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, I wanted to watch ‘West’ and I noticed that I had already seen bits and pieces on TV. I really enjoyed this film, probably more than ‘America’, because it’s shorter and it has Claudia Cardinale, who is one of the most beautiful woman you’ll ever see on screen. The film is about a man who gets killed, but we don’t know why at first. Her wife, Claudia Cardinale’s character, was just returning home only to find everyone dead. She decides to return to New Orleans, but the local mobsters have some unfinished business. Also, there’s a wise-guy with an harmonica and some serious gunplay skills. Besides the eye candy, I loved Ennio Morricone’s score (once more) and the recreation of the old wild west. The actors do a fine job, but I wish the ending wasn’t so bittersweet for some reason, though I’m sure I would hate a “happy ending”.
L’Age D’Or (1930) – 6 (IMDb 7.5) – Comedy, Drama, Criterion (France)
When I watched Luis Buñuel’s L’age d’or my head was kind of exploding. Not because of the surreal imagery or the rats, but because I was medicated and down with the flu, so I don’t know if my judgment of this film is entirely fair. I liked it, but I felt that we’ve seen a lot better from this particular director especially further in his career. The film is a series of vignettes, following a bourgeois romance and exploring themes that Buñuel would return to in every picture ever since: Family, church and society. This film clearly influenced great directors such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Woody Allen and Lars von Trier and many more I’m sure. To me Salvador Dalí’s vaguely linked storytelling felt more absurdist than surreal, even in terms of humor. It’s not a bad film, I can certainly recognize it’s technical merits, but it’s not one of those I’ll feel like revisiting anytime soon.
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Mein Liebster Feind – Klaus Kinski (1999) – 8 (IMDb 7.8) – Documentary (Germany)
Easily the best film I’ve seen all week. This is a documentary directed by Werner Herzog and starring the great german auteur as he discusses his professional and private relationship with Klaus Kinski. Herzog shot five feature films with Kinski and even lived with him before he was famous. In the film Herzog recounts his tumultuous love-hate-relationship with the actor that seemed to be a crazy egomaniac with some serious rage issues. In some scenes he just seemed possessed. I’m not exaggerating. Herzog also interviews a couple people that worked with Kinski, such as Claudia Cardinale who co-starred in Fitzcarraldo. To his leading ladies he seems to have been a real gentlemen, but to everyone else he was just impossible. He always needed to be the center of attention and as soon as he wasn’t he lost it. He certainly was a great actor, that’s why Herzog put up with all his shit, but sometimes they just wanted to kill him. Literally, or so they say.
This is the End (2013) – 5 (IMDb 7.4) – Comedy, Fantasy (USA)
This is the worst I’ve seen last week. The film about the apocalypse and how a bunch of actors would react to it. The interesting gimmick is that everyone plays a version of themselves, of course most of it is characters archetypes and has little to do with the actual persons or so I should hope. The film mostly plays on the persona of actors such as James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel Michael Cera and Emma Watson which are some of my favorite or likable current Hollywood actors. I loved watching them in the film, they were funny (especially Cera and Franco who’s just so damn likable), but the script was just to convoluted and sometimes overly cliché to be even appreciated on a so-bad-it’s-good level. It felt like Your Highness all over again. The “religious” or fantasy aspect was bad, even if to some degree it made me think, their idea of God is not something I’d agree with. Beyond that some jokes fall flat or are badly timed, the film’s pace is off multiple times and the CGI is some of the worst I’ve ever seen in a major studio release. All in all a forgettable film, with a few good and genuinely funny self-referential moments.
That was my week in movies. If you want to share what you watched last week feel free to do so. If you have seen the films I mentioned: What did you think of them? Would you agree or disagree with me? Either way: See you next week!
A lot of good movies this week, so good, there’s not one but two picks of the week!
Nashville (1975) – 7 (IMDb 7.6) – Drama, Music (USA)
Robert Altman’s own Roma. Nashville is about the city of music. It’s a fascinating odyssey, where you meet a variety of characters, different stories and they’re all connected and intertwined, but not in a cheesy/forced way. It’s very organic and you get a good sense of who everyone is by the end of the film, although the film seems almost “detached”, for lack of a better word. There is also some political message, which is a bit annoying, but since it serves the story at least it’s not thrown in there just ’cause. All in all a good film, great performances, good music (and I’m not even into country music) and a lot of dialogue. By the way this has to be one of the most “American” films I’ve ever seen.
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex *But Were Afraid To Ask (1972) – 7 (IMDb 6.8) – Comedy (USA)
Hilarious sex-comedy by writer and director Woody Allen. This film is divided in a handful of sketches all trying to answer (one way or another) sex-related questions. Of course none of them are to be taken seriously, but Woody Allen just has fun with it. He stars in every other segment and it’s consistently funny (except for maybe one segment) and at times genius (the black & white TV bit). Certainly something lighthearted and slap-sticky, but it works for me. There’s even a creature-feature segment with a giant tit terrorizing a small town. I love how this film manages to be charming and fun without being vulgar. There’s no nudity and yet the film can remain poignant and topical, because Woody’s humor is not gross. Take notes contemporary comedians: This is how you do it!
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Before Midnight (2013) – 8 (IMDb 8.5) – Drama, Romance (USA)
The Shining (1980) – 8.5 (IMDb 8.5) – Horror (USA)
Raise Your Voice (2004) – 7 (IMDb 5.5) – Music, Romance (USA)
This was a favorite of mine when I was younger. I still like it today, but for totally different reasons. I think the drama in this film is exaggerated, but Sean McNamara’s crazy video-clip style is so committed that his vision is contagious. Sure, it’s over-the-top cheesy and campy, the romance clearly only exists in the context of this film, but there is a sense of honest joy and passion for filmmaking and loving hollywood films. I can’t deny that this would be a guilty pleasure of mine, but I don’t believe in the term. When I like something I don’t feel guilty, I feel good. This film is about a young girl (Hilary Duff) believing in her dreams. Of course we know it’s not as easy as in movies, but films are also here to make us dream a little. By the way, the Italian title for this film is (literally translated) Born to Win (Nata per vincere). Those who have seen the film will know it’s not that fitting.
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Il Giardino Dei Finzi-Contini (1970) – 8 (IMDb 7.4) – Drama, Romance (Italy)
Yesterday they screened this film for free in Locarno (Switzerland) as part of the pre-festival. Arthur Cohn (producer) and Lino Capolicchio (actor) were present and shared a interesting stories on the film and working with Vittorio De Sica (before being brutally interrupted by rude hosts). The film is great. It’s about a Jewish family in Italy during WW2, so it’s very sad, but also very romantic, because it’s about these two young adults who are in love with each other ever since they were kids. However it doesn’t ever really seem to be working out for them. Great use of color cinematography (and I’m not a fan of the 70s aesthetic), fantastic performances, inspired great directors such as Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List) and Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums). It won awards (Oscar & Golden Bear), it’s historically relevant (as an Italian I feel like we tend to forget we helped the nazis) and it’s beautifully sad. It doesn’t use voice-over and knows when no words need to be spoken. The music is maybe a bit too sentimental, but other than that it’s just a great film, but clearly a depressing one, because what it’s showing is based on an autobiography by Giorgio Bassani.
Other than these films, I also managed to watch a great brand new short by Tim Buel called Summer Home. Without giving anything away: He shot and edited this film during his vacations, with his iPhone. It looks great, he keeps getting better and better visually. The title sequence reminds me of the new Evil Dead. The score, as he says, was inspired by Ennio Morricone’s work on The Thing (1982) and I actually thought it had giallo-esque tones, even before he confirmed my intuition on The Golden Briefcase podcast (excellent show). It’s a home invasion film (he loves the sub-genre and films like You’re Next). the only scene I want to mention is the beginning, because it feels very real, natural and true, and to me that is one of the highest thing you can achieve in cinema. Like Vittorio De Sica always said: You don’t famous or even professional actors to make a good film.
Without over-hyping it for you, check it out and also look for his 15 seconds Instagram shorts under #15secondsofhorror (genius idea) and join in on the fun making your own horror shorts!
That’s it for this week’s round-up on everything I’ve seen. Let me know if you enjoy these films. What you think of Tim’s short(s) or just what good movies you watched last week!
See you next time,