Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Unique Film About Filmmaking (rated 4 stars)

I have to admit that I found out about the film due to the bit of trivia that the Coen Brothers named their film “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” after a fictional film in “Sullivan’s Travels”. I was surprised at the fast-paced comedy and wit of the film and also how the film radically shifted tone and became quite dark and serious at times. The boldness is due in a large part to Preston Sturges, who was one of the first screenwriters to make the leap into directing.
While it combines funny and serious elements, it really is about the role of the filmmaker in the world. What do people want to see in films and what responsibility does the filmmaker have to really know about what they portray. While the ideas are deep, the film manages to effortlessly mix comedy and tragedy together to make a point without being very didactic. It was a lot of fun and it made me think.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Distinctive French Solo Artist (rated 5 stars)

by Anaïs

Anaïs is a solo French singer-songwriter who has a beautiful voice, amazing musical skills and a great sense of humour. She combines it all together in the live recording of The Cheap Show which features just her, but in listening to it the first time I didn’t realize that she was alone. Using the JamMan sampler, she manages to harmonize and create surprisingly full arrangements while on stage alone. While you could place her generically for the most part in the folk area, she has an amazing range and I love the live recording that is filled with energy and fun. “Mon Coeur Mon Amour” is one of my new favourite songs.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Finely Crafted Action Film (rated 4 stars)

by Paul Greengrass

I love it when an action film takes chances with the style of shooting and editing and doesn’t condescend to the audience. With The Bourne Ultimatum Paul Greengrass creates a film that is stylish and fun with a breathtaking pace. While Greengrass received a lot of attention for United 93, the constraints of the events and the memories of September 11 made the film a strange mixture with many different forces acting both within and outside of he film. Freed of those constraints with The Bourne Supremacy and now The Bourne Ultimatum he creates intelligent action films that push the limits of the audience with hand-held camera, rapid cutting, and information delivered quickly and subtly. The brutal pacing and editing of some of the sequences in Supremacy gave people a headache and I loved them because they pushed things so far. In Ultimatum Greengrass gets the balance just right and gives the audience a bit more time to breathe, while still creating amazing sequences that built suspense with careful blocking, shooting and editing without resorting to bigger and bigger explosions.
While it’s technically a superb film, it also has some great performances with Matt Damon as the memory-deprived hero, Joan Allen as a CIA boss and an amazing performance from David Strathairn that was almost of exciting as the action sequences. This is what an action film should be – fun, intelligent and exciting.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Enigmatic Sci-Fi Thriller (rated 4 stars)

by Danny Boyle

I’d been anticipating Sunshine for a while and wasn’t completely sure what to expect and at times the film had me off-balance (which I liked). I’ve enjoyed everything that Danny Boyle has done and this time he reworks the sf genre in a story that is mainly more philosophical science fiction with some thriller elements thrown in. The pacing and rhythms are different with the film and the constant presence of the sun is beautiful. It wasn’t until after the film that I really started to think about the effects as I just was thinking about the sun, which is a testament to seamlessness of the effects.
Cillian Murphy is great to watch as usual and there is a understated quality to much of the interaction and storytelling that I appreciated. While I wouldn’t say that it’s my favourite Danny Boyle film, it had some great touches and I kept thinking about it for days afterwards. It’s thoughtful sci-fi that doesn’t condescend, but does entertain and provide some things to think about.