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,
Hello loyal readers and casual stoppers-by,
How’s cinema treating you this week? Were you brutally disappointed by any films this week? Well, that would be the bad section, here we’re talking films that didn’t live up to their expectations or full potential or whatever, but were still kind of “okay”. Only one film this week for me, if you’ve been reading you know which one it is, if you’re just tuning in now: I’m talking about the ‘Shining documentary’ Room 237.
Room 237 (2012) – 6.5 (IMDb 6.5) – Documentary (USA)
That’s it for ‘meh’ films, if you have some you want to discuss: Speak now or forever hold your peace! I’m kidding obviously, you can always comment and spam and write-in.
I fucking love it.
A couple nights ago I re-watched Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), one of my all time favorite horror films. My brother and his friend and I set up a beamer in our living-room and watched Room 237 (the documentary about The Shining) first and then watched Kubrick’s film. It was epic and I appreciated it even more than the first time, having a better knowledge of Stanley Kubrick’s filmography and loving all of the films he has done. I also have a better knowledge of the horror genre, but still, what can I say about the film that hasn’t been said before?
So I came up with a couple ideas while and after watching the film. I noticed that all those ideas are about how The Shining had a huge impact on filmmakers and pop-culture in general. Without prolonging my monologue: Here are five ways in which The Shining was inspirational to other filmmakers and artists all around the globe. Much like Room 237 these are subjective theories, some probably more valid than others.
Sofia Coppola is known to be a fan of Stanley Kubrick fan. She cited Lolita as one of her favorite films, and I certainly agree. The Bar Scene in The Shining reminded me a lot of the one in Lost In Translation and both films mostly take place in a hotel. Maybe it’s the light or the atmosphere or something subconscious, but I think Sofia was inspired by it. You can’t really see it in that picture, but to give you an idea of which scenes I’m referring to.
Wes Anderson is another director that is widely influenced by Kubrick’s aesthetic. The most apparent thing is how he frames his shots. Anderson clearly likes to use wide shots and move his camera like Kubrick used to. His similarities with the master however are mostly on a visual level, thematically and tonally the two couldn’t be more different. The shot on the left is from The Royal Tenenbaums.
Obviously not a visual comparison here, but an audible one. Not that the two scores are terribly similar, but I feel that Johnny Greenwood uses some of the same “wood instruments” (sorry, I’m no musical expert obviously). We all know P. T. Anderson loves Stanley Kubrick, so it’s no stretch that he would assign his composer to do something “similar” or (more likely) Greenwood loves Kubrick as well.
Stanley Kubrick is certainly an auteur, and as such his body of work can and should be viewed as one giant piece. He has evolved stylistically and thematically throughout his career. The Shining maze scene, reminded me of the scene in the trenches in Paths of Glory. In this sense Full Metal Jacket seems like a natural evolution for Kubrick, especially in developing his visual style, just like there would be no ‘Shining’ without Barry Lyndon.
Clearly this idea is kind of silly, but you can’t deny the fact that they’re both on a go-kart, wearing not only the same type of clothing, but the exact same colors. Now, of course Mario has a red hat and all kinds of tricks and he’s actually racing against people, but I can’t help but think that somewhere in Japan someone loved The Shining and wanted to pay homage to it. Even the way it’s shot, from behind is the same!
So, these were my thoughts on The Shining‘s influence and inspiration to other people. The way this film inspired me is that it made me want to watch “older” films. When I first saw it I mostly watched recent mainstream films and now I’m quite the opposite, preferring foreign art house cinema. It’s one of the great horror films and I recommend it to anyone who loves Kubrick, the horror genre or just a good mystery. If you don’t like the horror genre: This is proof that excellent genre pictures exist. If you have seen The Shining, I’d love to hear about how you interpret it and how it inspired you!
Room 237 is a documentary that offers various theories and interpretations of the horror movie The Shining (1980). Directed by Stanley Kubrick (based on the novel by Stephen King), The Shining is considered one of the best horror films in cinema history. It’s a complex, open-ended and ambiguous film, and thus perfectly lends itself to be dissected and discussed. Rodney Ascher, director of the documentary, decided not to show the “experts” interviewed in the film, but just let them talk over the images of The Shining and other Stanley Kubrick films. Continue reading