Monday, 31 December 2012

CENTRAL OHIO FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION NOMINATIONS



Best Film
·          Argo
·          Beasts of the Southern Wild
·          The Cabin in the Woods
·          Django Unchained
·          Lincoln
·          Looper
·          Les Misérables
·          The Master
·          Moonrise Kingdom
·          Silver Linings Playbook
·          Zero Dark Thirty
Best Director
·          Ben Affleck (Argo)
·          Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master)
·          Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom)
·          Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
·          Tom Hooper (Les Misérables)
·          Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Best Actor
·          Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
·          John Hawkes (The Sessions)
·          Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables)
·          Denis Lavant (Holy Motors)
·          Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
Best Actress
·          Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
·          Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
·          Helen Mirren (Hitchcock)
·          Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
·          Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
Best Supporting Actor
·          Alan Arkin (Argo)
·          Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained)
·          Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
·          Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
·          Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Best Supporting Actress
·          Amy Adams (The Master)
·          Ann Dowd (Compliance)
·          Sally Field (Lincoln)
·          Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
·          Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Best Original Screenplay
·          Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)
·          Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)
·          Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon (The Cabin in the Woods)
·          Rian Johnson (Looper)
·          Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
Best Adapted Screenplay
·          Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)
·          Tony Kushner (Lincoln)
·          David Magee (Life of Pi)
·          David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
·          Chris Terrio (Argo)

REVIEW - SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN


Director Malik Bendjelloul takes a backseat in telling the story of a man in the front seat of his own story, even if he doesn't realise it. Jesus Rodriguez was a Detroit singer-songwriter in the '60s and '70s, briefly, immensely talented, on the brink of a career crippled by dismal sales. An enigmatic, inwards figure, who performed with his back to his audience, we hear leading industry producers wax about him in the most eulogistic of terms, and we hear what we assume to be urban legends from fans of an on-stage suicide. And what fans he did have - Rodriguez became an inadvertent success in Apartheid-era South Africa, and it is suggested that his music contributed to Apartheid's abolishing, and society's rebuilding. He was, and remains, a superstar in that sole nation, yet not even his most ardent fans knew the slightest detail about him, no name, no whereabouts, not even whether he was alive or dead, and no-one outside of South Africa, it seems, was aware of his phenomenal success there. This is a fascinating story, with details that will stoke your curiosity, and told in a sensitive, artful method that will compel your attention. Of course, it leads somewhere unexpected, and it is unexpected for several reasons - the film convinces you of one thing, then, gradually, begins to convince you of another, and continues to engage after it appears to have reached a satisfactory end, uncovering all of the right details at the right times. There is, perhaps, another story here, concerning the money generated by Rodriguez's record sales, although, despite insinuations herein which you may ascertain for yourself, this appears to be a story that requires much more detailed, and perhaps unrewarding research on Bendjelloul's behalf. And anyway, let's not judge a film for what it is not, but for what it is. Searching for Sugar Man is a stirring, surprising documentary with some good twists made great by adroit storytelling, and with a killer soundtrack!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

REVIEW - THIS IS 40


And so the well has run dry. In the seven years since The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Judd Apatow has run out of funny things to say. This Is 40, his semi-autobiographical 'comedy' revisiting the popular supporting characters from Knocked Up, Pete and Debbie, is a film comprised of people saying funny things you've heard in other Apatow films, and people saying non-funny things you've heard in other films, some of them Apatow films. And most of the funny things are now unfunny. What once was fresh and original has become commonplace. Over a near-interminable 2+ hours, Pete, Debbie and their two children are revealed as noxious, hideous characters, vapid, needy and obsessed with minor, middle-class issues that could make any average human being hurl. The attractive couple with the big house and the swimming pool are having problems quitting smoking and eating cupcakes. She longs to have a figure like Megan Fox's, when the difference is no more than a cup size and some tattoos. He's in financial bother, yet persists in lending his father thousands of dollars and mismanaging his fledgling record label. He has a record label and I'm supposed to care about his haemorrhoids?!? She limits her daughters' computer time to a supervised half an hour per day on a whim, stalks her on Facebook, bullies a child to tears and cuts gluten and sugar from the family's food. What a neurotic, controlling, unintelligent bitch! This all has comedic potential, so why does Apatow lavish the humour on the sex, on the tired, boring crudeness that's only occasionally effective? All this family's pathetic 'problems' only become aggravating, and the more they smugly broadcast them, the more aggravating they become. And watching Apatow's wife fondle Megan Fox's breasts may give him a hard-on, but it just gives me a headache; ditto their useless, untalented children. Just because you can, Judd, doesn't mean you should. Eugh. Bad films make me write bad reviews.

Friday, 28 December 2012

VANCOUVER FILM CRITICS CIRCLE NOMINATIONS


Best Film
·          Lincoln
·          The Master
·          Zero Dark Thirty
Best Director
·          Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
·          Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
·          Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Best Actor
·          Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
·          John Hawkes (The Sessions)
·          Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
Best Actress
·          Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
·          Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
·          Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Best Supporting Actor
·          Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
·          Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
·          Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Best Supporting Actress
·          Amy Adams (The Master)
·          Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
·          Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Best Screenplay
·          Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)
·          Tony Kushner (Lincoln)
·          Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
Best Documentary
·          Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry
·          How to Survive a Plague
·          Searching for Sugar Man
Best Foreign Language Film
·          Amour
·          Holy Motors
·          The Intouchables

REVIEW - THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER


Self-satisfied, faux-alternative film from what I assume is a self-satisfied, faux-alternative novel - I haven't read it, but it's the content that's irksome, not the treatment. Indeed, Stephen Chbosky makes a good case for authors adapting their work into screenplays, and then directing those screenplays - he is respectful of his material, and has an assured, conventional touch that would be insufferable were he an established filmmaker, but which functions as a refreshment, given the naive, bloated ambition of many debut directors. But he has made a wallowing, formulaic film, one that you keep hoping won't stir in BIG ISSUE after BIG ISSUE. Resist the temptation! Alas, Chbosky's bloated ambition lies in his determination to make a greatest hits of modern suburban melodrama (specifically from a teen perspective, which only augments the cumbersome, semi-profound pretentiousness), with traumas accumulating with exhausting, and exhaustive effect. Chbosky has nothing new to say - we've heard this all before - and he finds no new ways of saying any of it. He does manufacture something moving, in a primitive manner, with a late key change into more sombre mood, but then ruins it with a clumsily positive conclusion, and it's all manufactured, anyway. Logan Lerman never convinces as a mid-teen, but locates all the little details in his role, something which the supporting cast fails to do. He's unexpectedly excellent. Ezra Miller is all show - he has the demeanour of someone who knows he's great, when in fact he isn't, a display of self-security to conceal a nagging insecurity. And Emma Watson is similarly transparent - she's constantly conscious of the purpose of each line and each gesture, and of her character itself, and so theatrically aware of the camera you almost expect her to steal a glance into the lens. Miller and Watson are, perhaps, exactly what this film (and Stephen Chbosky) feels it needs; they are the embodiment of the people whom fans of Perks will want to be, whilst relating to Lerman, or at least one of his quirks.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

OSCAR PREDICTIONS 9 - 2 WEEKS TO GO



My new predictions, perhaps my silliest yet! Although, frequently, the Academy does equally silly things.

Best Picture
   ·          Argo
   ·          Beasts of the Southern Wild
   ·          Django Unchained
   ·          Life of Pi
   ·          Lincoln
   ·          The Master
   ·          Les Misérables
   ·          Silver Linings Playbook
   ·          Zero Dark Thirty
Best Directing
·          Ben Affleck (Argo)
·          Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master)
·          Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
·          Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
·          Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Best Actor in a Leading Role
·          Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
·          Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
·          John Hawkes (The Sessions)
·          Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables)
·          Denzel Washington (Flight)
Best Actress in a Leading Role
·          Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
·          Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
·          Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
·          Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
·          Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
·          Alan Arkin (Argo)
·          Dwight Henry (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
·          Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
·          Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
·          Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
·          Sally Field (Lincoln)
·          Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
·          Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
·          Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy)
·          Maggie Smith (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
·          Amour
·          Django Unchained
·          The Master
·          Moonrise Kingdom
·          Zero Dark Thirty
Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
·          Argo
·          Beasts of the Southern Wild
·          Life of Pi
·          Lincoln
·          Silver Linings Playbook

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

REVIEW - LIFE OF PI


There are easy ways for a filmmaker to scare an audience, to make an audience cry, to enrage an audience, to make one laugh, recoil, even think. Life of Pi reaches a pivotal point, perhaps two thirds or three quarters through, where its true meaning, its 'raison d'etre' becomes apparent. It uncoils from within, and shifts shape several times over the course of the remaining scenes, revealing a spiritual and thematic depth that, it turns out, has underpinned every frame of what we have already seen, and will underpin every frame further until the credits roll. The story we have been following is a solid one, anyway - it has no pressing need for this extra element. But the film does, if it is to become more than just a simple adventure film, and boy, is it more than that. This is where, gradually, Ang Lee achieves something for which I know not of an easy way: he makes us aware. We become aware of nature, of its beauty and its terror, of animals, of their instincts and their intelligence, and, if you choose to interpret it so, of God. At the least, we become aware (through cinema, no less, not some religious epiphany) of the indefinable, inexplicable spirit that exists in all things, or perhaps the spirits that exist in each thing, and how these compliment, contradict and combat one another. This is related back to religion as we understand it, although this link is not insisted upon, rather it is implanted early in the film, and will remain integral if you wish, not if you don't. And if you wish to put stock in none of the above, you may still enjoy Life of Pi tremendously, as it is a remarkably involving story, shot exquisitely (the visual effects are second-to-none), acted with grace and subtlety, and with much empathy for the characters. It is written and directed with the same empathy for mankind, both before the camera and before the cinema screen. Life of Pi is a lovely, enlightening experience, and yet another masterpiece by Ang Lee.

Monday, 24 December 2012

ONLINE FILM CRITICS SOCIETY NOMINATIONS


Best Picture
·          Argo
·          Holy Motors
·          The Master
·          Moonrise Kingdom
·          Zero Dark Thirty
Best Director
·          Ben Affleck (Argo)
·          Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master)
·          Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom)
·          Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
·          Leos Carax (Holy Motors)
Best Actor
·          Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
·          John Hawkes (The Sessions)
·          Denis Lavant (Holy Motors)
·          Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
·          Denzel Washington (Flight)
Best Actress
·          Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
·          Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
·          Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
·          Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
·          Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea)
Best Supporting Actor
·          Alan Arkin (Argo)
·          Dwight Henry (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
·          Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
·          Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
·          Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Best Supporting Actress
·          Amy Adams (The Master)
·          Ann Dowd (Compliance)
·          Sally Field (Lincoln)
·          Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
·          Helen Hunt (The Sessions)

Sunday, 23 December 2012

REVIEW - LINES OF WELLINGTON


A project originally set to be undertaken by the great director Raoul Ruiz, his death saw it fall into the hands of his widow Valeria Sarmiento, who does virtually nothing to enliven Carlos Saboga's ungainly script. A tale of the exodus of Portuguese civilians and both English and Portuguese troops to Lisbon to avoid Napoleon's encroaching army, Lines of Wellington gives good warning very early that it's going to be as tiresome an affair for the viewer as for the depicted characters, as initial scenes are flatly, clumsily directed, and dreadfully acted; this is an equally applicable assessment of roughly the whole ensuing film. The sensation throughout is one of a troupe of amateur actors of massively varying talents, shoved in front of a camera and instructed to act like they know what to do. Saboga's lines may be serviceable in Portuguese, perhaps even in French - I am a speaker of neither of those languages, but I do speak English, and his English dialogue is blunt and ugly. This ugliness is exacerbated by the surreal-sounding, questionable English accents of Portuguese actors Victoria Guerra and Marcello Urgeghe, whose heinous performances are two among many. Sarmiento could have resuscitated some of this drowned dreck produced by such shabby work, yet her grand vision for such a grand project is seemingly little more than to ensure that we can both see and hear the actors at all times. She lacks inspiration at every turn. Even the aesthetic qualities of this film, so ripe with potential, are underwhelming - DP Andre Szankowski is immensely skilled, as is evident in the occasional composition, but far too few. Cameo appearances abound, from an international cast, paying tribute to the late Ruiz, apparently, as their roles are mostly minimal, yet their contributions mostly considerable - Marisa Peredes and Elsa Zylberstein are particularly good, John Malkovich is particularly odd. Carloto Cotta, in one of many leading roles, is particularly hunky.

OKLAHOMA FILM CRITICS CIRCLE ANNOUNCES



Best Film
1.     Argo
2.        Zero Dark Thirty
3.        Moonrise Kingdom
4.        Django Unchained
5.        Silver Linings Playbook
6.        Beasts of the Southern Wild
7.        The Master
8.        Lincoln
9.        Looper
10.     Les Misérables
Best Director
Ben Affleck (Argo)
Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Best Actress
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Best Supporting Actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Best Supporting Actress
Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
Best Original Screenplay
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)
Best Adapted Screenplay
Chris Terrio (Argo)

NEVADA FILM CRITICS SOCIETY ANNOUNCES



Best Film
Argo
Best Director
Ben Affleck (Argo)
Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
Best Actor
John Hawkes (The Sessions)
Best Actress
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Best Supporting Actor
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
Best Supporting Actress
Sally Field (Lincoln)