Spotlight on Japan: Linda Linda Linda



Once in a while everyone, even the most cynical film critics, come across a film so charming everything else fades away and you can’t help being sucked into the story. The subject might be related to your interests or it might even awaken hidden feelings – or the direction is simply so wonderful. The movie might not be your favorite of all time, but it still sticks with you far longer than most other films. For me, that endlessly charming masterpiece is Nobuhiro Yamashita’s Linda Linda Linda. Read more of this post

Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer

To say that Sturges was a cinematic genius almost seems to undermine or too fully abstract just what a brilliant creative artist he was. Like most great artists, his life was as fascinating as his work, and like too many great artists it was cut short by bad choices, but, occasionally, sheer bad luck. This documentary film, which is available on the Sullivan’s Travels Criterion disc, is surely the definitive film on Sturges’ life and work. Nearly feature length itself, it deftly covers his life from his upbringing, in which he was raised in culture and high society by his mother but in a more unpretentious and down-to-earth surroundings by his fathers. It’s that ability to tread between the heights of cultural sophistication and the honest soul and crust of the everyman that gives his film such tremendous, humanistic potency. Read more of this post

A Woman of Paris

For of all Chaplin’s accolades and his (now) nigh impenetrable cinematic legacy, the one debate that still frequently occurs is over his technical skills as a director. Unlike Keaton, Chaplin never really experimented with cinematic form, pushing the visual aspects into new, uncharted territory and rethinking cinematic narration. Rather, the camera in Chaplin is mostly a functional device through which he staged his slapstick genius and melodrama in front of it. Considering the profound effect that Chaplin has had on cinema, comedy, and the 20th century in general, it almost seems trivial to discuss a thing as pedantic as directorial virtuosity. Read more of this post

“Holiday” Specials: A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlrie Brown Christmas

You remember this show, don't you?

4.5/5 Stars

4.5/5 Stars

So, it’s the Christmas Season. Or  just the “Holiday Season” if you want to be politically correct. I understand there are many Holidays in celebration this time of year, but gosh darn it, no matter how often the commercials say “Holiday Season”, the TV specials always center around the concept of Christmas; even if that concept barely has anything to do with the man CHRISTmas was named after.

So up until December 25th, I’ll be reviewing Christmas Specials. I’ll start calling them “Holiday Specials” once the climax of these specials don’t revolve around Santa Clause, Christmas Trees, or December 25th.

I though I’d kick off the season with one of my absolute favorite Christmas Specials of all time: A Charlie Brown Christmas.

This particular seasonal short film has always been non-sequitur with the rest of the batch of Christmas films. The main character’s always depressed during December, the kids are seen as the greedy little snobs that they really are, and most of the what the kids believe about the happiness about the holiday is torn down within the first 5 minutes of the movie.
Merry Christmas, people!

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Avatar

(artist's rendering)

You probably saw this in theatres last year, but I didn’t.  Whenever something gets that much hype, the thing in question usually turns out pretty crappy.  And even though this wasn’t quite the case with Avatar, I can say now that I don’t think it would have been worth the ever-growing expense of the ticket price just to get nauseated when the goddamn 3D glasses didn’t work. 

But that’s OK.  I saw it when it hit HBO, since I don’t even have Netflix and haven’t been to a blockbuster in some ten years.  Needless to say, this probably won’t be useful to anyone since I’m the last guy on the bus that watched this shit.  But I just don’t care anymore.  I’m so lazy and ambivalent that I’m not even including pictures in this review. Read more of this post

Happiness

In Volume 2 of War and Peace, after Pierre has gained his inheritance, become a wealthy aristocrat, and joined the freemasons, in an attempt to be morally benevolent he frees his serfs. But his kindness backfires when he realizes that his serfs don’t leave, and even continue to work after being informed they don’t have to. Puzzled, Pierre has a long talk with Prince Andrei who informs Pierre that some are born into a certain life and simply don’t know how to live another way, so it is actually immoral to attempt to force people into another state of being in which the only result could be confusion and uncomfortableness. While the political landscape of Russia has radically changed between the Tsarist one portrayed in War and Peace and the Soviet communism circa 1935, the idea of happiness being related to freedom, wealth, and ownership hadn’t changed. Read more of this post

Death in a French Garden

In a review for Carol Reed’s The Third Man, I stated that perfect films aren’t all that rare; to be perfect merely required following the known recipes to make something great. I ultimately concluded The Third Man was better than a perfect film because it creatively knew when to follow the recipe, but when to change it to improve on it, and make it taste completely new. Death in a French Garden is like the opposite; it’s proof positive that a film can follow the recipe perfectly, on the surface, but then end up with a dish that tastes nothing like the intended meal is supposed to taste like. In such cases, it’s often frustrating to analyze and determine exactly what went wrong, since it can’t be the recipe: was it the ingredients? The mixing? The cooking? In this case, it may be all of the above. Read more of this post