Michelangelo Antonioni gave us many films to admire and cherish, films that are considered modern cinema classics. This is all true for his stylish London set film, Blow-Up. A movie designed like a puzzle, you feel like with each viewing you learn something more. Answers to your philosophical questions. But film critic Roger Ebert summarized it best, "What remains is a hypnotic conjuring act, in which a character is awakened briefly from a deep sleep of bored alienation and then drifts away again. This is the arc of the film. Not 'Swinging London.' Not existential mystery. Not the parallels between what Hemmings does with his photos and what Antonioni does with Hemmings. But simply the observations that we are happy when we are doing what we do well, and unhappy seeking pleasure elsewhere. I imagine Antonioni was happy when he was making this film."
There are people who come to this world and leave behind them a long-lasting legacy. A legacy that will admired by many from all around the world. Connecting people through their craft and accomplishments. Nirvana's frontman, Kurt Cobain did exactly that. The documentary directed by Brett Morgen, preserves the legacy of the rock icon. But instead of glamorizing his lifestyle, it turns it upside down into an intimate look at a tormented teenager, a striving artist, passionate husband and a loving father. To the point that it feels not like a documentary but a confessional piece through Cobain's own audiotapes, personal diary notes and home videos.
Where is the line drawn between trying to impersonate the man you admire, or to become that person? Recreate the legacy of the man you love, or to carve your own legacy by killing him? Andrew Dominik expertly crafts this world, it almost feels tangible. The world is filled with these legends and myths. However, the reality always will be that, all these things look grander than what meets the eye. You are sucked into this period of time, when the daily living was a threat to your own survival. Even though, all of it is masterfully crafted in front of Roger Deaken's lenses, you do believe in this world. It is not as much about the machismo and the daily life of the outlaws but rather a melancholic reflection on destiny and regret.
With the recent passing of Sam Shepard at the age of 73, he left this earth with an amazing body of work that should be revisited by many for years to come. As much he was known for his acting, he was an acclaimed Pullitzer Prize winning playwright. In fact one such amazing piece of work of his, is the personal favourite of mine, Paris, Texas. With his impeccable writing and Wim Wender's European outlook into the deep Americana, you are trapped in this world filled with raw emotions. Right from the first frame, you are in for an unforgettable journey.
This is the first film of 2017 to be included in my recommendations of movies to watch. With half-way of the year being complete, there are many great films to recommend, from large epics to small independent pictures. However, the one that really caught my attention earlier this year was a documentary about the murder of a beauty pageant, JonBenét Patricia Ramsey. Directed by Kitty Green, it breaks the conventional documentary formula about a murder mystery. Instead it focuses on actors being auditioned for the roles of the fictional film (which is stylized like a David Fincher's picture). The actors in the process, are interviewed about their opinions about the case, how they feel about certain people and their theories as to what might have occurred. Some might find this unfulfilling as it doesn't offer much answers to the burning questions and others might find it exploitative due to its nature. However, I believe Kitty Green expertly avoids all the minefields to create something that is riveting, compelling and emotional.
A directorial debut from the visionary music-video director, Jonathan Glazer, it exhibited his talent and understanding in feature length storytelling. One of the flashiest and rich with pizzazz modern British gangster flick's. Featuring an unforgettable foul-mouthed performance from Ben Kingsley. Takes the cliche genre to its heart and turns it to something more exciting. A knock-out start for the illustrious filmmaker, whom would go on to create unique, original and amazing films
After showcasing his knack for cinematic storytelling with his debut, A Single Man (2009), Tom Ford establishes with his sophomore film. Nocturnal Animals, that he is also a filmmaker to watch. An underappreciated film of 2016, it is a lavishly designed Hitchcokian neo-noir thriller. From all across the board, the design of this film is painstakingly visual with beauty and detail. With the slick cinematography of Seamus McGarvey or the unforgettable score from Abel Korzeniowski. The costumes, the set designs and the top-tier performances from all the actors, especially Michael Shannon whom establishes his authority throughout the picture, is pure cinema at its best. It is a movie that still lingers in memory many months later, questioning each character's moral decisions. Making you think, what would do in this situation? How would you survive in the world that Tom Ford has built?
Continuing last week's middle-class dramedy theme, Falling Down is completely a different kind of film compared to A Serious Man. Certainly a controversial film, especially during its time of release. However, it still holds up perfectly today. A confident direction from Joel Schumacher. A Hypnotic and mesmerizing central performance from Michael Douglas. In fact, it is one of his best performance to date. Just the way Die Hard and Terminator 2 are considered as classics of the 80s and 90s, this is how I feel towards this movie. A timeless picture.
This is the Coen Brothers operating at their most personal. It is one of those rare movies that the more you watch the more it gives you to chew on. It may be that there are many hidden layers expertly crafted into this picture. However, I believe it is more to do with you than the work of art itself. As you grow as a person, you start to see things in a different way. Just like the artist, you evolve and change. You feel different emotions. You are impacted by different things. Despite the comedic nature of this picture, there lies a dark truth about faith, family and your belonging in this world. Us questioning everything around us. And it is not always that we get the answers we seek.
Also it has one hell of a killer soundtrack!
This is Paul Thomas Anderson's first foray into documentary film-making. It may not be as flashy or groundbreaking as his feature films but nonetheless an interesting evolution of an artist. Exploring the making of an album in India with Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood and several other musicians, it is a celebration of music and culture. It may be minimalist in style but there is this trance-like energy that is inescapable to be charmed with. What makes this picture special is that you can see the passion and love from all involved in creating music and in the end that is what matters the most.
After catching the attention of many with his second feature film, Blue Ruin, everyone eagerly anticipated what Jeremy Saulnier would do next. For my money, he certainly did not disappoint. A dark violent thriller set in the backdrop of a rock scene belonging to the Neo-Nazi skinheads. Every beat is expertly crafted to transport you to this pulse pounding atmosphere. A true horror experience that makes you believe that this world exists. Thus making Jeremy Saulnier one of the most exciting voices from the indie scene.
To be honest, it was hard deciding as to which movie to recommend in the Movie of the Week segment, Baraka or Koyaanisqatsi. They are often compared to each other, as they share the same DNA and I do love these films a lot. In addition, I do believe Koyaanisqatsi has one of the best original film compositions of all time. That being said, in this moment in my life, there is something spiritual regarding Baraka that resonated a lot with me. Sometimes, just pure images and music is an inexplicably powerful experience. No dialogue, no drama, nothing but the audiovisual experience that is transcendental. It is almost as if you are meditating while experience it. Something like that is uniquely special and not often seen/experienced. Thus must be appreciated and cherished.
Edward Yang's magnum opus, A Brighter Summer Day, just like any other great piece of art is more just about one thing. As much it is about the ever changing politics of Taiwan and the sense of the loss of culture due to the influence of the west, it is also about the lives of the teens, the parents and the uncertainty of each character's future. It depicts life in the most humane way possible. Just like the characters that inhibit the world, we are transported to their lives and along with them question everything that is thrown to us. As soon the credits roll, it is almost as if you woke up a dream where you lived a different life. For a moment, you were someone else.
War just like the subject of love, has seen countless adaptations and interpretations across all mediums throughout history. As much as it showcases humanity in its worst state, it is nonetheless a subject fascinated many. Some artists glorified, some criticized the act of war. Especially in the late 70s and early 80s we saw a massive influx of movies depicting the barbarism of the Vietnam War.
There is an anecdote, that every great filmmaker at least once in their career tackles the subject of war. So what is the best movie that tackles this hefty subject? Well, for my money it comes from an unusual place. During the period of WWII, John Huston, whom at the time was at the army, was commissioned by the U.S. Army Signal Corps to make documentaries about the war. They were supposed to be propaganda films to enlist more recruits. However, the third and final part, Let There Be Light, did something different. Unlike the previous two, which was showcasing the battlefields, the last one showed the effects of the war. The documentary follows a group of soldiers on their journey of recovery from all the psychological trauma they have received. It showed the real face of war and what it has done to those whom wanted to protect their homeland. Unsurprisingly, the Signal Corps tried to ban it as it did not fit with their agenda and the movie did not see the light of day until 1980s when the ban was lifted. It is a seminal piece of documentary filmmaking that is still relevant today
Robert Altman is a great filmmaker. There is no arguing that. He has made countless fascinatingpictures. But what makes him great is that, despite telling various stories that are in no way are similar in his filmography, you still know you are watching a Robert Altman film. He retains his artistic style that is instantly recognizable across his films. Yet they don't feel forced. His films, are as if they were only could be told that way. Again, he has made many great films. But none reach the greatness that is McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Not only one of the greatest Westerns ever made, but one of the best movies the world has ever seen.