The American

February 3, 2011

Giles Keyte/Focus Features

There are few films I consider “perfect,” but some come close: The Fountain, Chunking Express, Oldboy, There Will be Blood, etc.

Is The American perfect? Objectively, not a chance. But for the audience of one, me, it remains difficult to pin down anything I didn’t like about the film.

It is brilliantly paced. I wholeheartedly enjoyed not being distracted by extraneous dialogue, which gave me the opportunity to study each scene meticulously.  Every single shot, word, musical note, etc. is never unnecessary. The film rewards attention. It not only rewards attention but demands it. Let it take you in.

The cast: amazing. Clooney, phenomenal. Violante Placido, perfect. The rest, outstanding.

Various platitudes aside, this film is not for everyone. It requires the correct frame of mind. If I impart one thing to you it is to prepare your mind beforehand. Do not expect an action film or a thriller. It is a character study of a mysterious man on a “last job.” Soak in the process he takes. Admire the beautiful Italian landscape.

I recommend pairing it with cup of Italian roast coffee—perhaps a French press full. Any “cool” drink is also acceptable, e.g., dry Martini. But do not overindulge, for The American requires your full attention.

Advertisements

Review Time — Predators

January 7, 2011

Sometimes films don’t even deserve to be written about let alone be made.

Sometimes good intentions aren’t enough.

Sometimes Robert Rodriguez isn’t enough.

Predators is one of these films.

I would not recommend this film to even the most die-hard fan of the franchise. I’m a huge fan of both the Alien and Predator franchises. Heck, I even found some worth in AvP—until they made the 2nd one. And even this latest film had some potential despite too much exposition in the beginning.

But about halfway through the film, the story does something that completely ruins the experience. They’re all in Morpheus’s pad, and one of the characters picks up a samurai sword and a comment is made implying the Predators have been bringing warriors to the planet for hundreds of years, and at one point they brought one of the greatest warriors to walk this earth. From that point on you want to see that film. You want to see Deadliest Warrior on Predator world (if you haven’t watched Spike’s Deadliest Warrior, you really should check out an episode or two: it’s fun).

How cool would it have been to see a bunch of Samurai fight Predators. Or even better yet, the greatest warriors this world has seen: Samurai, Spartans, English Knights, Viking Berserkers, etc. That movie would be balls-out insane. And everybody would want to see it. But sadly we don’t get that movie. We get The Pianist and Forman from that 70s show battling Predators.

Hollywood, never let the audience know that there’s potentially a better movie out there that you didn’t make.

 


Introducing: Short Film of the Week series

January 22, 2010

This marks the beginning of a new series here at Something Offensive.  Pretty self-explanatory if not exceptionally original (that’s fast becoming my M.O., I know).

I think this will provide a nice outlet for myself and others to expose ourselves to and discuss more experimental works and help us better appreciate the cinematic form.

I plan to watch a fair amount of shorts every week, by filmmakers known and unknown, with content and ideas ranging all over the map.  And come each weekend, I’ll post my favorite find.

If there are any short films you would like to see featured in the weeks ahead, let us know in the comments below, and I’ll be sure to check them out.

This week’s selection: “There’s Only One Sun”  (2007)

director: Wong Kar-wai

I wanted to kick things off by getting an obvious choice of filmmaker out of the way.  I’ve often touted WKW’s more well-known feature work, and in case you haven’t seen Fallen Angels or In the Mood for Love, this might serve as a good primer.

Philips commissioned the director to showcase their new HD TV’s capabilities, and couldn’t have possibly made a better selection.  Here we’re treated to Wong’s brand of narration, his striking use of light and color,  tragic romantic characters, very particular soundtrack, bold titles, notes of interpersonal isolation, etc.   I find both the French language and the futuristic neo-noir set-up are natural fits for the director; the central concept really allows him to demonstrate his craft.  My only major critique is that I  wish the narrative had maintained a greater sense of mystery.  The first minute or two had me fully intrigued, so I couldn’t help but feel somewhat letdown once it sort of revealed its hand.

All in all, between this and Wong’s somewhat aesthetically-similar 2046, I’d be greatly interested to see him tackle a feature-length of this or something close in line provided he had a more refined story.  It’s just a painfully beautiful vision to behold.

What are your thoughts?


Top 50 Movies of the Decade – part 10

January 4, 2010

(trailer)

David: Had we made this list a month ago, LotR would’ve maybe slid in at #50 on my ballot.  I’ve always kept a degree of distance–too many flaws.  But watching the (extended edition) trilogy once more during Thanksgiving break, I was completely engrossed through the three day stretch.  Something salient called out to me.  Tolkien’s bold Christian storytelling resonated with me moreso than ever.  Not even a drunk driver obliterating my car just prior to day three’s final act could interrupt the experience. But also, it was the joy of seeing my sister, who had never before watched any of the three films, swept up in such wonder and occasionally brought to tears.  Though the effects have already begun to fade even in these few short years since its release, this series… Well.  Let us just say its story doesn’t have an end.

Taos: It’s near impossible to choose just one of the grand trilogy. Sure, artistic liberty was taken with the book, but the renewed interest in the written trilogy was well worth it. I hope we get a remake in 20 years more faithful to the source. Until then, enjoy our generation’s Star Wars.

(trailer)

Taos: “I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!” It’s all about Daniel Day-Lewis here. Maybe the most impressive thing is that the first 25 minutes are dialogue free. It is likely most would not realize it until told.

David: The sights and sounds mark a sort of realistic unconscious imagery we all share of the subject and settings at hand; the film is a technical marvel; an experience.  Daniel Day-Lewis is too phenomenal.

(trailer)

Taos: Gripping modernist western wrapped around a morality tale to end all morality tales. The Coen’s were born to make this film.

David: Forgive the phrasing as I myself hate it but can’t think of another way to put it:  start to finish, No Country had me by the balls.  People call Chigurh (the film’s antagonist) a force of nature.  This movie is a force of nature.

(trailer)

Taos: Do you know what really happens? Repeated viewings make me constantly question my understanding of the truth. I hope I never know the magic to the trick.

David: It’s no coincidence Christopher Nolan appears three times on this list.  What sets The Prestige apart from his other already outstanding work seen here, or maybe more accurately what better endears it to me:  its unadulterated showmanship.  It embodies the essence of cinema.

(trailer)

David: What was I saying?  Oh, yeah.  It’s no coincidence Park Chan-wook appears three times on this list.  I count him my favorite filmmaker, and Oldboy his best film.  I could detail many reasons why it deserves its place as our top choice.  But perhaps the most telling explanation:  I’m moving 7,000 miles away to the Land of the Morning Calm next month, and Oldboy is a large part of the reason why.

Taos: I don’t know how this happened. Certainly worthy of the top ten, but not number one in my opinion. The Shakespearean-esque, highly stylized flick certainly contains the requisite parts for greatness, but seems to lack the cohesion. It opened up a world of cinema to me, so maybe it is worthy on that note.


Top 50 Movies of the Decade – part 9

January 3, 2010

(trailer)

David: My favorite comedy of all time, though it’s so much more. I think it’s the film that I best relate to (short of making my own movie, of course). My history with this film could fill a novella.

Taos: Fun and quirky with a dash of Bill Murray is the way to go. Most people won’t like it, and that is ok.

(trailer)

Taos: The most genuine romantic movie ever. This music is perfect and the relationship feels real, which technically it was I think.

David: A lovely film that deserves to be seen by everyone. Would’ve slipped me by for ages if not for Taos’ review prodding me to seek it out. (You win this one you right bastard!)

(trailer)

Taos: Rather than dispense with another superlative, I shall simply say that It was one of the few mystery/suspense movies that I actually felt I was along for the ride on. Like the protagonist, I may never know exactly what happened.

David: Takes an enthralling tale built from elements of classic film noir and frames it in a way that constantly challenges our perceptions (and on a number of levels). It’s still just as exciting today as it was 10 years ago. Nolan and Pearce desperately need to reunite, whether in the next Batman or something else entirely. And I desperately need to remember what I did with my DVD…

(trailer)

David: My favorite movie of all time.

Taos: Everything the character experiences, I empathize with. You feel the same hurt he feels on his tragic attempt in the name of love. Beautiful. Clint Mansell adds to the dream-like film I never wanted to wake from.

(trailer)

Taos: Lighthearted and full of whimsy. Put this on during a bad day and It will make everything better. I promise. One of the few optimistic films of the decade.

David: The first time seeing this, I’m guessing someone could’ve taken a snapshot of me at almost any given moment during the movie and I’d have had a big stupid grin on my face. It loses something considerable the second round, or maybe it was me who had lost something in the meantime. Regardless, I’ll always treasure that first encounter, that magic we’re all searching for when we go to the movies. ❤ Audrey Tautou.

The Life Aquatic
My favorite comedy of all time, though it’s so much more.  I

think it’s the film that I best relate to (short of making my own

movie, of course).  My history with this film could fill a

novella.

Once
A lovely film that deserves to be seen by everyone. Would’ve

slipped me by for ages if not for Taos’ review prodding me to

seek it out.  (You win this one you right bastard!)

Memento
Takes an enthralling tale built from elements of classic film noir and frames it in a way that constantly challenges our perceptions (and on a number of levels).  It’s still just as exciting today as it was 10 years ago.  Nolan and Pearce desperately need to reunite, whether in the next Batman or something else entirely.  And I desperately need to remember what I did with my DVD…

The Fountain
My favorite movie of all time.

Amelie
The first time seeing this, I’m guessing someone could’ve taken

a snapshot of me at almost any given moment during the

movie and I’d have had a big stupid grin on my face.  It loses

something considerable the second round, or maybe it was me

who had lost something in the meantime.  Regardless, I’ll

always treasure that first encounter, that magic we’re all

searching for when we go to the movies.  ❤ Audrey Tautou.The Life Aquatic My favorite comedy of all time, though it’s so much more. I think it’s the film that I best relate to (short of making my own movie, of course). My history with this film could fill a novella. Once A lovely film that deserves to be seen by everyone. Would’ve slipped me by for ages if not for Taos’ review prodding me to seek it out. (You win this one you right bastard!) Memento Takes an enthralling tale built from elements of classic film noir and frames it in a way that constantly challenges our perceptions (and on a number of levels). It’s still just as exciting today as it was 10 years ago. Nolan and Pearce desperately need to reunite, whether in the next Batman or something else entirely. And I desperately need to remember what I did with my DVD… The Fountain My favorite movie of all time. Amelie The first time seeing this, I’m guessing someone could’ve taken a snapshot of me at almost any given moment during the movie and I’d have had a big stupid grin on my face. It loses something considerable the second round, or maybe it was me who had lost something in the meantime. Regardless, I’ll always treasure that first encounter, that magic we’re all searching for when we go to the movies. ❤ Audrey Tautou.


Top 50 Movies of the Decade – part 8

January 2, 2010

(trailer)

David: Little films come along every so often and win us over. What makes In Bruges so unique within this lineage is its continual gift to surprise, every scene or moment another cheeky conquest. I could choose any to highlight. The quixotic (entirely perfect) shot that acquaints us to Chloe is when I knew the whole picture had complete sway over me.

Taos: “I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me but I didn’t, so it doesn’t.” Does that quote not say it all?

(trailer)

David: Captivating. It’s that sense of discovery, that indescribable sense of wonder no other movie has come within an ocean’s breadth of conveying.

Taos: Whoa, Colin Ferrell double-take. Like a fine brandy, this is meant to be taken in slowly and savored.

(trailer)

Taos: This is one of those films that, even though the ending is bad, you forgive it because in your mind is another ending. That’s how it works for me.

David: People are quick to point out the commonness of its story format, labeling it redundant. What film isn’t when compared to others? The fact that this particular one’s story is told so masterfully from fade in to fade to black is what separates it. A kind of throwback to big picture moviemaking, I see many virtues in both its morals but also its simple, unobstructed aims. This will always be one of my favorite movies.

(trailer)

Taos: Christian Bale at his peak in one of the best satires ever. Hip to Be Square will never be the fun single it was.

David: I hated this movie when it first came out. Thought it disgusting. Then I got oldered. Now I’m addicted.

(trailer)

Taos: I won’t lie, I actually cried a little at the end. The best war movie ever, even with some WTF moments.

David: I think the first movie that made me stand back and really take notice of foreign film in my so far brief love affair with cinema. I think this was because it was the first foreign picture I watched that functioned like an American blockbuster, competing on Hollywood’s terms while more than succeeding.


Top 50 Movies of the Decade – part 7

January 2, 2010

(trailer)

David: The most impressed I’ve ever been by a cinematic vision of what lays ahead. I think breathtaking is the most accurate descriptor, scene after every single last brilliant scene.

Taos: The ultra long shots play well for the pulsing plot driving the toward a tense resolution.

(trailer)

David: I’m still counting the layers. Genius Nic Cage bow. It destroys you, then recreates you.

Taos: Reality is convoluted in a film about the screenwriter adapting a book into a film which is the movie we are watching. It is like an infinite mirror, looking into itself and reflecting what it sees.

(trailer)

Taos: Who would have thought James Bond could be rebooted into the greatest entry in the long series? That opening black and white cinematic really sets the tone.

David: Violates a cardinal rule by playing drawn out in the middle. That aspect does improve substantially on a second run. Also, the final stretch occurs suspect in spots, but I’m forgiving. The leads anchor this beautifully. And dammit, I’m in love with Eva Green (however unoriginal that may be, at least from my stir of film-geek flock).

(trailer)

David: Cinema full of life. Of this past decade, perhaps one of the movies most misunderstood by its detractors.  (Oh, and hey!  Don’t look now, but maybe Kristen Stewart is half-way capable!)

Taos: Sure he was an idiot, but it was his optimism that was endearing.

(trailer)

David: Just as many onlookers called the genre’s time of death, the Western has slowly since began to mount a resurgence here in recent years. Many have underwhelmed or missed the mark altogether. But ones like The Proposition offer welcome new voices while sorting out still relevant themes in a now fashionably archaic world.

Taos: Gritty and ultraviolent. Follows the line of westerns established by Unforgiven. Again, Nick Cave on music and this time screenwriting.