Sunday, March 26, 2006

Chilled Out Soulful Grooves

by Nightmares on Wax

I’d heard a few songs by Nightmares on Wax before and enjoyed them. When I saw the new album on Bleep, I listened a little bit and took a leap and bought it. I’m so very glad that I did.
In a Space, Outta Sound is playing very often on my iPod. It’s perfect to focus and relax me. It’s familiar and new at the same time with samples that suggest so much more. Lovingly produced with so many intricate details that begin to emerge the more that you listen to it. The digital tracks for this recording from Bleep are very high-quality with larger files that translate into an amazing-sounding album.

tags: , , , ,

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Interesting Look at a Film That Never Was

by Mika Kaurismäki

Tigrero was a film that Sam Fuller was going to make in the 1950s on location in South America. Mika Kaurismaki made a documentary that followed Jim Jarmusch and Fuller as they went back to the village that was going to be used as one of the locations. Fuller shot 16mm footage as he was preparing for the film and he hadn’t returned for 40 years. While on the surface it is about the village and the film that was never made, it’s really about Fuller and Jarmusch and there are some neat moments as they talk about filmmaking. A neat look at a couple of cinematic outsiders – one quiet and one crusty.

tags: , ,

Friday, March 24, 2006

A Startling Early Film

by Carl Theodor Dreyer

The first thing that I noticed about The Passion of Joan of Arc is how different it is from other silent films. The film is shot with bold angles, fast cuts, an extraordinary number of closeups and realistic performances. It took me a few minutes to get into it as it was so unlike what I was expecting.
It is a simple story that is based on the transcript of the trial of Joan of Arc with raw and realistic acting. The drama is played out almost completely on the faces of the characters. No makeup was worn by the actors and the simplicity of the performances is perfectly balanced by unusual angles and cuts. I hadn’t realized that such sharp and rich images were possible with the technology of the time and it almost seems as if the film could have been made in the late 50s or early 60s instead of in 1927. If you’re interested in silent film or the history of cinema, you have to see this film.

tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Early Musical Truffaut

Shoot the Piano Player is a fun, French New Wave film by Francois Truffaut that tells the story of a piano player with a gangster brother. He is drawn into the world of his brother and manages to find romance as well. What is great about the early New Wave films is that they are filled with energy as they run around and shoot on location or drive in cars. The plot isn’t that important as it’s more about making a film and slyly commenting on the techniques and traditions of filmmaking. It’s fun and worth seeing to develop more of a perspective and understanding on the New Wave and Truffaut’s later work.

tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Fast-paced, Stylish Fun

by Jonathan Glazer

Unlike most people, I saw Jonathan Glazer’s Birth before I saw his Sexy Beast and I was pleasantly surprised and loved the film (as well as Birth). But Sexy Beast is quite a different beast indeed. It’s an odd mix of romance and ganster film with a remarkable supporting performance from the always watchable Ben Kingsley that almost overwhelms the entire film. I’m glad that I didn’t know a lot about the film and won’t spoil the fun for you if you haven’t seen it. It’s cinematic storytelling at a high level in a well-shot, well-acted, well-edited, and great sounding film. Emotionally it runs the gamut from humour to horror, but generally with a slightly light and romantic tone.

tags: , , , ,

Monday, March 20, 2006

Helping Friends, Changing the World

Last week was March Break and because I’m a teacher I didn’t have to work (at the College). But it gave me the opportunity to help a friend who has been working on a film for a few years. It was a lot of work with one day of 24 hours of continuous work.
Was it worth it? Would I do it again?
In a heartbeat.
It is a documentary film telling the remarkable story of a man named Kingsley Tweed. He helped to end segregation in Bermuda and has struggled and raged against injustice around the world. I was able to help in a small way to get it done and I’m proud of that.
I love working on important documentary films and I love helping friends. What more could I ask for?

tags: ,

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Early Kubrick

by Stanley Kubrick

Killers Kiss is Stanley Kubrick’s second feature-length drama and that’s one of the main reasons that it’s an interesting film. It starts off as a fairly conventional film noir with a voice-over filling in details. It’s beautifully shot by Kubrick himself and has some great shots and editing (by Kubrick as well). It’s a bit of a mixture of styles with some documentary-style shooting of a boxing match with a fantastic sound edit and a very cool long shot at the beginning of a rooftop chase sequence. A great use of light and shadow in sequences makes it a treat to watch, but overall it’s more interesting historically as Kubrick honed his skills to razor sharpness in later films.

tags: , , , ,

Monday, March 06, 2006

Biopic With a Solid Performance

by Bennett Miller

Philip Seymour Hoffman deservedly got an Oscar last night for his performance in Capote. The film tells the fascinating story of how Truman Capote researched and wrote his “non-fiction novel” In Cold Blood with the assistance of author Harper Lee (played very well by Catherine Keener). Capote is portrayed as a solitary genius, who was always the centre of attention, but was also very lonely. Nobody seems to understand him or see through the public persona and the selective truths he told except for Harper Lee, who can instantly figure out what is really going on with him. It’s an interesting film in how it combines several stories and characters together in a way that isn’t very radical. But it’s definitely worth seeing as it is a great story.

tags: , , ,

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Amazing Melodrama

by Arnaud Desplechin

I didn’t exactly know what to expect with Kings & Queen, but all the reviews I read were positive. By the time I saw it, I had forgotten the details of the reviews and went into the film fairly cold. I’m glad that I did, but even after seeing it once, there is so much going on that it will be a film that I watch a few more times. Arnaud Desplechin makes 2 1/2 hours fly by as we follow a woman and her former lover through a series of events with flashbacks thrown in to provide context. The film is almost evenly divided between the two chacters with one more melodramatic and the other more comedic. There is a wonderful tension in the film between what we think about the characters and the events, and what we see. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a film that is at the same time so experimental and conventional at the same time. It creeps up on you and then forces you to rethink what you’ve seen. The style isn’t showy, but it changes to fit the material and the mood of the scenes and the events. The ideas and characters from this film will be rolling around in my head for days.

tags: , , , ,

Musical and Visual Coming of Age Story

by Jean-Marc Vallée

C.R.A.Z.Y. is a wonderful film from Québec that tells the story of Zac, born on Christmas day 1960, and follows his journey as he grows up and deals with his family, including 4 brothers and his mother and father. Filled with great music and a luscious visual style along with elements of magical realism, it’s fun and moving at the same time. The script cleverly weaves together the story of the family (with the brothers initials forming C.R.A.Z.Y.) along with Zac figuring out who he is and how to relate to his family.

Friday, March 03, 2006

A review of "Danger: Diabolik"

by Mario Bava

I’d heard of Danger: Diabolik for a while and I’m glad that I finally saw it. It’s an over-the-top adaptation of an Italian comic book that is filled with a playful visual style that looks fantastic. The colours and framing are amazing and it’s the epitome of 60s style. Directed by Mario Bava (with some shooting by him as well) in an energetic, breathless style with every frame lovingly composed. It’s as if the film constantly says, “watch this” and something outrageous or spectacular happens. I wanted to see the film after I saw CQ and found out that one of Roman Coppola’s inspirations was Diabolik. What I wasn’t counting on was the sense of fun and sheer cinematic joy that a late 60s Italian-French coproduction would have. I loved it and laughed at the sheer audacity of the film.

tags: , , ,

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Film Noir Exorcist

by Francis Lawrence (II)

It’s a great idea that just about works: take the world of Film Noir, but change Los Angeles so it becomes the setting for a battle between Heaven and Hell. It’s not incredibly deep or profound, but it’s a lot of fun and there is some great casting and noirish dialogue with somewhat restrained violence. I liked it, but I don’t think that it’s for everyone. But if you like Mr. Reeves or Film Noir, it will probably be a lot of fun.

tags: , , ,

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Look at the Atomic Past

by Kevin Rafferty (II)

Things change a lot in 40 years. Looking at The Atomic Cafe more than 20 years after it was first released is interesting in the way that the context of the 1980s relates to the current context. Consisting of archival footage related to nuclear testing, World War II, and the Cold War, it is still relevant. The world is different again, but the apathy, ignorance and propaganda are still around. The other change is that much of the footage in the film seems more familiar as some of the materials are more available through the Internet Archive. But at the same time, I wonder that if archival documentaries like The Atomic Cafe are as possible now in the age of unreasonable copyright abuse.

tags: , , , ,