I finally made it: I got to see Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine! One of my most anticipated films of the year. It was my first time watching a Woody Allen film in a theater. I’ve only discovered this fantastic filmmaker in 2011 when I watched Midnight in Paris an experience I’ll never forget. So anyway, that was the highlight of my week, in terms of movies, but there were also two others I’d like to discuss.
Lust, Caution (2007) – 7 (IMDb 7.5) – War, Drama, Romance (Taiwan)
Ang Lee is one of those directors I should get more into. It seems that everyone loves his films and while I can certainly see why, for some reason I never really love them as much as everyone else. I can’t connect somehow. Lust, Caution is probably my favorite of his so far. I mainly checked it out because it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. To me there are three “authorities” when it comes to cinema: The Criterion Collection, Sight & Sound and the Venice Film Festival. I will literally believe and watch anything they praise. 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.
Last year, October 9, 2012 we lost one of America’s best cinematographers: Harris Savides. He lived in Manhattan and was only 55 years old when he died from brain cancer, leaving his daughter Sophie and his wife Medine behind.
This weekend the last film he shot, The Bling Ring, got a limited release in the United States. I would like to take this opportunity to remember a man who shot some of the most aesthetically interesting films of the last decades.
Starting his career with a Cindy Crawford workout video, Harris moved up in the business working on television and then for Madonna video clips. He then teamed up with video clip director Phil Joanou for his first feature film Heaven’s Prisoner in 1996. Since then he worked with some of the most renowned directors like David Fincher (The Game, where he also has a cameo and Zodiac), Wong Kar-wai (for his BMW short The Follow), Noah Baumbach (Margot at the Wedding and Greenberg), Martin Scorsese (for his short film The Key to Reserva), Ridley Scott (American Gangster), Woody Allen (Whatever Works), Sofia Coppola of course (Somewhere), but most notably Gus Van Sant (from Finding Forrester up to Restless, minus Paranoid Park which was shot by Christopher Doyle).
For me Harris’ style was a mixture of practical look, capturing reality through the honesty of his lens, yet at the same time crafting a captivating and beautiful picture in its simplicity. His sensibilities were most fit for movies that stripped themselves of anything superfluous, trying to frame the essential and at the same time, the essence of objects and people. All the auteurs mentioned clearly recognized his talents and used them to tell stories that needed a realistic, cinéma vérité almost documentarist approach, like Somewhere and Milk. Or when they needed to recount a tale of loneliness and depression like Last Days and Greenberg.
Methodical and precise directors like Fincher; practical, but sentimental ones like Allen and minimalist, but detail oriented ones like Coppola: Harris knew exactly how to fit each and everyone’s needs and make their films look the best they could. He could also be glossy, dazzling and stylish, when he needed to, like in The Follow or even looking at The Bling Ring.
Needless to say, the news of his passing was a sad and devastating one for film fans and especially those among us that appreciate visually refined works. His nuanced vision, his great intuitions and his sense of humor will definitely be missed.
Rest in Peace, Harris Savides.
Wong Kar-wai’s film The Grandmaster gets first U.S. one-sheet, after being picked up for distribution by The Weinstein Company.
Not sure I like the use of red, but other than that it seems to capture the film’s essence and I love that Wong Kar-wai’s name is highlighted (as it should be).
Read my review
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