Black Swan

Before Black Swan was released, but when the hype machine was already in overdrive, I stated on one film message board: “Aronofsky has earned my willingness to see any film he makes. Even his failures are interesting.” Indeed, Aronofsky may be the most interesting young American director working today, if only because with every film he genuinely seems to be shooting for the moon in an age where most directors are much more modest in their ambitions. But he also makes the kinds of films that are as fraught with faults as they are strengths. In many respects, I’ll take interesting failures over uninteresting successes any day, because it’s often just a matter of time before those faults are transformed into strengths upon reconsideration. Read more of this post

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The Social Network

There’s a moment in King Lear in Act I Scene V when, amidst all the raging storm of emotions, the most devastating line in the entire play is uttered quietly in a rare moment of reflection for its self-absorbed title character: “I did her wrong”. At its tragic conclusion, we’re left to wonder how radically different things could’ve been if those four profound words of self-fault recognition had manifested in Lear’s actions. There’s a similar moment in this film during the climactic confrontation between Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his best friend, or now ex-best friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). After the Mephistophelean character of Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), the creator of Napster, has ruthlessly excommunicated Eduardo from any further participation in the business that Facebook has become, Mark turns away from Sean, drooping his head and lost dejectedly in thought, and says “you didn’t have to be so rough on him.” Shortly after, it’s back to the immense business of creative dedication that running a soon-to-be multibillion-dollar business like Facebook is. But it’s moments like those, amidst the whirlwind of ceaseless involvement of being swept up in an up in an obsession that, almost imperceptibly, has become bigger than you and taken over your life as quickly and deadly as poison running through your veins from a viper strike, that give the film its lingering quality that transcends the drama of moment. Read more of this post

The American

 

 

It’s often fascinating to disentangle the web of cinematic influences in any given film; in the 1950s, a 40-year-old Akira Kurosawa was inspired by the Westerns and cinematic stylings of John Ford. In the 1960s, Sergio Leone was inspired by both the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa, enough so that he remade Yojimbo, resetting it in the Old West. In the same decade, Jean-Pierre Melville was also inspired by samurai films, but cast his “samurai” as a super-cool detective. There is a little bit of all of these influences in Anton Corbijn’s second feature-length film, The American. While Corbijn even directly references Sergio Leone, probably because the film itself is set in Italy, the tone and style is much closer to Melville’s take on the modern, Man with No Name/samurai. Read more of this post

Klute

 

For those who think noirs are difficult to define themselves, defining and classifying neo-noirs are even more difficult. For instance, one of the defining features of noirs was the pervasive use of high contrast cinematography and shadows, with plenty of night scenes, but this was never a given in neo-noirs as perhaps the most famous neo-noir of all in Chinatown was shot primarily in the daytime. It could be said that the neo-noirs’ connection with classic noirs was closer to their literary origins then their cinematic ones; namely, the potboilers that featured detectives, a femme fatale, and a mystery, along with a suspenseful atmosphere. The neo-noirs also brought with them a social conscience that the noir progenitors lacked; although both seem to arise out of periods of socio-cultural turmoil, only the neo-noirs tried to depict that turmoil. Pinpointing when neo-noir started is perhaps even more difficult, but they seemed to become most prominent in the 70s. Read more of this post

Inception

This will probably be one of the most negative reviews I’ll ever write for a film I actually enjoyed. Maybe that sounds like an absurd statement, but when you’re dealing with a film that’s been hyped as much as Inception has, anything less than a film genuinely deserving of masterpiece status (as its current 9.0/10 rating on IMDb would suggest) is bound to be disappointing. I can’t say I was exactly surprised that Inception didn’t blow me away given my reactions to Christopher Nolan’s other films (of which I feel Memento is still the best if only because it’s a perfect distillation of what he does best). In that sense, Inception hit better than par for the course. But, masterpiece? Greatest film ever (or should that be: “EVAH!!!!!111”)? I don’t think so. No, what Inception is, is an ingeniously original, thrillingly plotted, occasionally provocative action film with too many glaring flaws to be deserving of its reputation.
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The Chaser

Directed by Na Hong-jin

South Korea; 2008

125 min.

Starring Kin Yun-seok, Ha Jung-woo, and Seo Yeong-hye

In Short: Na Hong-jin’s debut film is yet another film continuing South Korea’s recent dominance of the crime thriller genre. With a ticking-clock narrative and very clearly defined characters, it is almost impossible to not be emotionally affected by this film in some way, shape or form. Not surprisingly, an American remake starring Leonardo DiCaprio is in the works.

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