Finally in. The much awaited Oscar Nominations! Take a look at the list below and let me know what you think. Do you agree with the Academy? Did they leave out anything you absolutely wanted to see on this list? Is it better or worse than other years or about on par? Just let me know what your thoughts are, I am very curious. The official Oscar Ceremony will take place March 2nd, 2014 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood. Ellen DeGeneres will be hosting the show, so it should be good. Continue reading
The Grandmaster is still one of my favorite films of the year. This second American trailer shows more action and martial arts sequences. The Weinstein Company is clearly trying to market it as the next, I don’t know what’s the last really successful foreign martial arts film (does The Raid count)? Anyway, if you’ve seen the film or know anything about Wong Kar-wai, you know that his films have little to do with the words “action packed”.
Like I’ve already said in my review however, the film looks incredible (stunning cinematography by Philippe Le Sourd), the fight sequences are mind blowing (Yuen Woo-Ping of Kill Bill fame does a spectacular job) and the acting is top notch (especially Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi, who carry the film and look great). The story about Bruce Lee’s grand master Ip Man opens in US theaters August 23rd, 2013 and was already released in China.
Il Decameron (1971) – 7 (IMDb 7) – Drama, Criterion (Italy)
Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Decameron is a remarkable film, that captures the spirit of Giovanni Boccaccio’s literary classic. As it is impossible to incorporate one-hundred stories into one single movie, Pasolini decides to handpick the most representative and interesting ones to still give you a feel of its book, which is undoubtedly considered one of the greatest in Italian history. Having read a couple of the stories filmed here I can attest that Pasolini stays very close to the source material and succeeds in translating Boccaccio’s concise prose on screen while pouring some of his own style into it.
The Grandmaster (2013) – 7.5 (IMDb 6.7) – Action, Drama (Hong Kong)
Fast & Furious 6 (2013) – 7 (IMDb 7.7) – Action, Crime (USA)
Ohayo (1959) – 6.5 (IMDb 7.7) – Comedy, Drama, Criterion (Japan)
Jasujirô Ozu is considered one of the masters of Japanese cinema, and rightfully so. In Ohayo he discusses the influence of television on society and everyday life, while touching upon familiar themes explored in other classics of his. Ohayo is about the middle class, living an ordinary life and their ordinary life’s concern. I enjoy realistic cinema, but I guess I was more in an escapist mood and the bathroom humor really put me off. Ohayo probably hit too close to home for some of its themes for me, but it definitely made me think.
Vivre Sa Vie (1962) – 3 (IMDb 7.9) – Drama, Criterion (France)
French New Wave isn’t really my thing, I quite simply don’t get it. Jean-Luc Godard is one director I’d happily avoid, but he has directed some movies you just can’t get around to, as a self-respecting cinephile, so I felt “forced” to watch Vivre Sa Vie. I did not like it much, except for when Anna becomes a prostitute, that was interesting for a while. This film felt preachy, pretentious and unnecessarily preposterous. The only thing I could appreciate, on a surface level, was the beautiful cinematography and the fact that it’s fairly short.
Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) – 6 (IMDb 7.2) – Drama, Criterion (USA)
I heard nothing but good things about Two-Lane Blacktop, being referenced by Tarantino and what not, but I couldn’t get into it. The characters are not very likable: They’re cold and distant. The whole movie seems “detached” for lack of a better word and there’s hardly any action. And I like slow-paced films. As a fan of car driven films, like the Fast & Furious franchise and Death Proof, I felt this one didn’t have much to do with cars. In fact I can’t really tell what it was about in the end, surely well-crafted though, from a filmmaking prospective, no doubt about that.
Ladri di Biciclette (1948) – 7.5 (IMDb 8.4) – Crime, Drama, Criterion (Italy)
Vittorio De Sica’s neo-realist classic Bicycle Thieves is considered one of the best Italian films of all time. With its simple narrative and story, but great emotional impact it’s easy to see why. This film feels 100% honest, and that’s what I appreciate most about it. Following the struggles of a young father, trying to maintain his family after WW2, Ladri di Biciclette is a quite weighty film, that still manages to get a few laughs, but never lets you go. I had the pleasure to re-watch this with my dad and my kid brother, who were watching it for the first time. It was a very enjoyable experience. The very ending though still feels a bit rushed and awkward: I would have either ended it a couple seconds sooner or a couple seconds after to at least let the audience breathe.
Charade (1963) – 6.5 (IMDb 8) – Comedy, Romance, Thriller, Criterion (USA)
This little spy thriller/comedy/romance flick, or however you’d like to categorize it, is a nice little film starring the lovely, and always pretty, Audrey Hepburn and the charming, slightly older, still mumbling, Cary Grant. I am no expert of spy stories, and I always seem to get lost in their intricate and overly complex plots, but this one I felt I could follow. It was fun, and occasionally funny, mostly silly and relied on its one too many twists. It ultimately is still likable, because of Grant’s scenery-chewing performance and Hepburn’s usual shtick.
Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters (1982) – 7 (IMDb 7.7) – Biography, Drama, Criterion (USA)
This week was I was quite on the Criterion kick. ‘Mishima‘ produced by Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope and George Lucas is a splendid looking film about one of Japan’s greatest writers and his life. Eiko Ishioka’s (RIP) production design is simply amazing and a pleasure to marvel at, especially for design fetishists. Philip Glass’ score is a triumph and one of the best things about the movie. The story itself drags a bit in certain parts and is a bit unsatisfying in its climax, but other than that the film does a good job of holding your attention for two hours.
The Grandmaster chronicles the life of Ip Man Wing Chun (played by Tony Leung), in Foshan in the 1930s and his flight to Hong Kong after the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Ip Man’s peaceful life is threatened by Gong Yutian (Wang Qingxiang), a retiring martial arts master from the north, is doing anything but encouraging the friendship with the south. Meanwhile his newly appointed heir Ma San (Zhang Jin) turns out to be up to no good and kills this master. His daughter, the beautiful Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi), is determined to avenge his father’s death, but of course to do so she’ll have to renounce a happy life with Ip Man. Continue reading