Archive for November, 2012

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Killing Them Softly (Andrew Dominik, 2012)

November 30, 2012

Set against the backdrop of the 2008 US election, chunks of both major parties’ campaign rhetoric, as well as that of former President Bush, permeate select scenes of Killing Them Softly via background radios and televisions, entering like tumbleweeds rolling across a set. The film’s jarringly edited opening credits even cut between the title cards and Scoot McNairy’s slow passing through windswept garbage in a decayed, unnamed suburbia, looking cold and in pain as a cigarette hangs from his mouth, as his walk is scored by the mangled audio mix of an Obama speech about the “American promise of life”: “to make of our own lives what we will.” Later music use also veers far from subtlety, with songs like “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries” chosen for blatant irony, and a scene of substance abuse accompanied by the sounds of The Velvet Underground’s “Heroin”. In the hands of a lesser filmmaker, Killing Them Softly’s furious avoidance of coyness might prove disastrous, though the bluntness, despite its aesthetically enthralling execution, is still likely to frustrate many. Look beyond the louder elements of the economic and political threading, though, and one has a crackling dialogue-heavy thriller that revels in palpable atmospherics and great performances…

Full review at Sound on Sight

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French Film Festival UK: Ernest & Celestine (Stéphane Aubier/Vincent Patar/Benjamin Renner, 2012)

November 30, 2012

Based on Belgian author Gabrielle Vincent’s children’s books, Ernest & Celestine is an infectiously joyous piece of entertainment from the duo behind the manic A Town Called Panic, who direct here alongside Benjamin Renner. That earlier film’s stop-motion approach is abandoned for a more traditional hand-drawn animation style, presented in a beautiful, gentle watercolour palette. Ernest & Celestine is also not quite so anarchic in its humour, though one struggles to think of what film could match A Town Called Panic for that, but shares its predecessor’s wittiness regarding heated exchanges and heightened characters prone to snap decision-making…

Full review at Sound on Sight

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French Film Festival UK: Paris-Manhattan (Sophie Lellouche, 2012)

November 24, 2012

Concerning a Woody Allen obsessive, Paris-Manhattan borrows a central conceit from one of the man’s most beloved writing and acting efforts, albeit not one he directed himself. Instead of the apparition of Humphrey Bogart appearing to deliver advice like in Play It Again, Sam, Allen himself, in the form of a life-size poster and extracts from his films, is the maxim-dispenser of Sophie Lellouche’s debut feature…

Full review at Sound on Sight

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Rust and Bone (Jacques Audiard, 2012)

November 23, 2012

After a strong first act with engaging moral suspense and an arresting murder sequence, Jacques Audiard’s previous film A Prophet devolved into flat, familiar territory for a prison-survival tale. Not helped by star Tahir Rahim’s blank qualities, each development in the film’s narrative suggested increasing aimlessness, shirking much of the moral compass exploration and losing an apparent sense of purpose. His latest film Rust and Bone has a similar problem, though to greater detriment; by its conclusion, it is difficult to comprehend what unifying idea actually drives its outright silly narrative…

Full review at Sound on Sight

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Ginger & Rosa (Sally Potter, 2012)

November 18, 2012

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The latest film from writer-director Sally Potter opens with the famous images of the spreading mushroom cloud detonation in Hiroshima. After letting that footage unravel in all its slow-motion horror, the film cuts to the start of its narrative, but not before one addition by the filmmakers: a caption, right before the cut, explaining that the footage has been of the 1945 Hiroshima bombing. Seeming a tad unnecessary, the reminder does admittedly serve one purpose: to establish the time when the following scene takes place, in which two hospital-bound women form a bond and give birth to the eponymous characters. That being said, the device of having the teenage protagonists, whose friendship will face an emotional fallout against the backdrop of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, be born on the very day of the Hiroshima bombing is an early sign of how awkwardly blunt the film’s use of nuclear warfare as a narrative and thematic tool will prove to be…

Full review at Sound on Sight
Repost of review for the film’s North American release

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This Must Be the Place (Paolo Sorrentino, 2011)

November 2, 2012

“Something’s wrong here. I don’t know exactly what it is, but something’s wrong here.” Repeated by its protagonist throughout This Must Be the Place, the line captures the baffling quality of Paolo Sorrentino’s English language debut. An erratic merging of different forms and tones, it is a difficult film to describe and one even harder to discuss in regards to why much of it succeeds. It is certainly schizophrenic conceptually and stylistically, but it also never feels disjointed or packed with too many strands…

Full review at Sound on Sight

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My Month in Films: October 2012

November 1, 2012

41 films, 30 first time viewings

Best first time viewings
1. The Silence of Lorna (Jean-Pierre Dardenne/Luc Dardenne, 2008, Belgium/France/Italy/Germany)
2. The House of the Devil (Ti West, 2009, USA)
3. The Masque of the Red Death (Roger Corman, 1964, USA/UK)
4. Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012, France/Germany)
5. The Innkeepers (Ti West, 2011, USA)
6. ParaNorman (Chris Butler/Sam Fell, 2012, USA)
7. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (Carl Reiner, 1982, USA)
8. Daughters of Darkness (Harry Kümel, 1971, Belgium/France/West Germany)
9. Ruby Sparks (Jonathan Dayton/Valerie Faris, 2012, USA)
10. Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932, Germany)

Best rewatches
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958, USA)
Killing Them Softly (Andrew Dominik, 2012, USA)
Looper (Rian Johnson, 2012, USA/China)
Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004, UK/France)
Coraline (Henry Selick, 2009, USA)
Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1935, USA)
The Curse of Frankenstein (Terence Fisher, 1957, UK)

Worst
Resident Evil: Extinction (Russell Mulcahy, 2007, France/Australia/Germany/UK/USA)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (Tobe Hooper, 1986, USA)
The Soul of Flies (Jonathan Cenzual Burley, 2010, Spain)
Ginger & Rosa (Sally Potter, 2012, UK/Denmark/Canada/Croatia)

Best-Worst
Road House (Rowdy Herrington, 1989, USA)