bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

Favourite films from 2010:

First: my absolute favourite of the year was Never Let Me Go, which was tremendously powerful. It has that wonderfully still quality that I associate most with Stephen Daldry's films. The actual director, Mark Romanek, wasn't really on my radar, but the two other films that Wikipedia lists as directed by him are films that I've enjoyed: Static (incredible example of a sharp change in tone in the film) and One Hour Photo (which totally surprised me by not being the type of movie I pegged it as). I'll probably make a point of seeing any other film with his name on it. Although it looks like he's gonna direct a Ben Stiller movie, so I might hafta rethink that.

Second: As if I Am Not There -- one of the films that I saw at the film festival. Incredibly powerful story about the use of rape as a tool of war in the Bosnian conflict. Juanita Wilson seems like another director to watch (she was previously nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2010).

Third: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- okay, everyone's reading the books these days, but I think that the film is very well done. The book is also quite good, but I'm comfortable with the idea that films are not books, and I don't expect them to be exactly the same. I think that the film is pretty close to the book, even though the film omits some stuff that I quite like in the book.

Fourth: The Trotsky -- surprisingly, a comedy. I loved this film. It made me laugh harder than any comedy I've seen in a long time.

Fifth: Inception -- after seeing it opening weekend, I wasn't sure that it was as good as some of the other Christopher Nolan films that I've seen. After watching it a number of times (I like that his films are layered) my appreciation for it has increased.

Other films I liked (Some of these came out in 2009, but I didn't see them until 2010): I Am Slave -- another film from the film festival. Hard to watch. An Education -- the film I would have chosen as Best Picture for the 2010 Academy Awards. Up in the Air -- I really like the fact that because Vera Farmiga is the love interest, Anna Kendrick gets to Do Something Else! It's kinda shocking how rare that is.

The American: again, a quiet and slow film. I enjoyed Scott Pilgrim versus the World a lot more than I thought I would (Michael Cera. Ugh.) And The Town was enjoyable. I was strongly reminded of Heat -- in fact, I think there's a brief clip of a scene from Heat playing on a TV at one point in the film.

I thought that The King's Speech was just fine, but I don't think it's quite as amazing as people seem to make it out to be.

bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

A work colleague loaned me a Luc Besson collection -- six films including Subway, The Big Blue, La Femme Nikita, Léon (a.k.a. The Professional), The Messenger and The Fifth Element. I had mentioned to him that I really wanted to see Subway again, because it's been over twenty years since I've seen it, and possibly closer to 25. So he loaned me the whole batch.

Some -- like The Big Blue -- I've never seen. The Fifth Element is probably my least favourite of the bunch. But the real treat was seeing the longer, Director's Cut version of Léon. Has Natalie Portman had a better performance, ever?

bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

I don't see that many movies in the theatres anymore, so I've only just recently managed to see the last of the ten films nominated for an academy award (the last one was a film I wasn't terribly interested in seeing: The Blind Side).

For me, the top three are probably Up in the Air, Up, and An Education. And I think that An Education is probably the best of the bunch. While I'm glad, in some ways, that Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director, I can't say that I was terribly thrilled with Hurt Locker. (And let's just not talk about Avatar.)

Really?

Mar. 21st, 2010 10:05 pm
bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

Uh. I finally saw Precious. Um. That's what the hullabaloo was all about?

bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

Nothing But The Truth was quite a bit better than I was expecting it to be. I was expecting some Judith Miller hagiography, which it isn't (although the Judith Miller stand-in is pretty saintly). My big complaint is that I think it fails to be sufficiently critical of the way the media picks and chooses which stories it runs with (and how). Alan Alda makes an appeal for the importance of the free press to keep government power in check and, well, I don't think that's the role the press wants to play at the moment.

Also, it passes the Bechdel test.

Pretty

May. 30th, 2009 05:10 pm
bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

Has anyone else seen Eden Log?

bcholmes: (Default)

It looks like Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts was released on DVD this past week. I caught this film at festival in 2007, and I think it was my favourite film that I saw that year.

bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

Shakesville is talkin' about best movies of 2008. Coincidentally, one of my cow-orkers asked me the same thing yesterday, albeit more specifically: did I think The Dark Knight was my favourite movie of 2008?

If I measure 2008 by when I saw the film, Milk just squeaks in, but (strangely) I think I enjoyed Dark Knight's themes more. The only other possible contender for me was Hunger which still haunts my memories. The Visitor would also be in my top 5.

bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

I broke down and bought a Blu-Ray player this week. 'cause, hey, watching movies is my big vice.

The first Blu-Ray disc I bought was Batman Begins because I think it's sufficiently visually interesting and I've seen the standard DVD version enough times that I can compare the two fairly effectively. My conclusion: Blu-Ray is pretty.

I had to fuss with a few configuration settings to get (what I consider) the right settings. My TV is surprisingly dumb about incoming formats. It has a few options to support 4:3 versus 16:9 output. But it seems happiest making images to use the entire TV screen space. Invariably, this involves scaling the image, which I kinda hate. I don't notice horizontal scaling (such as scaling old 4:3 films, like Casablanca, to 16:9), but vertical scaling (such as a 2.40:1 blockbuster film) looks really wrong to my eyes. Even some very recent TV shows, like The Wire are only in 4:3.

Eventually I found a setting by which the Blu-Ray player could emit the image with appropriate letterboxing so that the original aspect ratio is preserved, and the TV doesn't try to do its weirdness. But I do find myself confused about why people might prefer stretching (to the extent that that's the default set-up). Hm.

The first film I thought about buying on Blu-Ray is Solaris: it's such a visually gorgeous film. Sadly, it's not out on Blu-Ray yet. I won't replace the whole DVD collection -- that'd cost a pretty penny. But a few choice films -- I could see that. I'll probably rent more on Blu-Ray when it's an option.

bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

Several Warner Brothers DVDs, lately, have had an anti-piracy commercial as the first thing played when you put the disc in the machine. The commercial uses clips from Casablanca, and concocts a story about how Rick Blaine is mad at Ilsa Lund for illegally copying movies.

As owners of the movie, Casablanca, Warner Bros. certainly are legally entitled to use it in this way. But I'm fascinated by how much of a violation their commercial feels to me. So much so, that I become more sympathetic to movie piracy, not less.

bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

I rented a bunch'a movies for the long weekend (I went through serious movie withdrawal in Haiti). The best of the bunch has been an independent film called The Visitor.

I can't think of very many depictions of the deportation process for illegal immigrants in film.

bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

So I just started watching Six Feet Under recently. I hadn't seen it before. It's kinda funny recognizing all these actors from other works. Look! Dexter, and the wife from Ira and Abbey and the cop from The Lost Room and the college student from Starting Out in the Evening!

I'd heard that it was well-written, and I've been quite impressed with the writing so far. I'm part-way in to the second season. In an episode I watched tonight, Second Season Spoiler? )

100 Films

Jun. 22nd, 2008 09:13 pm
bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)
100 best movies of the last 25 years. Meme ganked from [livejournal.com profile] wordweaverlynn:

The final cut )
bcholmes: I was just a brain in a jar (brain thoughts)

Alvy Singer: Here, you look like a very happy couple, um, are you?
Female street stranger: Yeah.
Alvy Singer: Yeah? So, so, how do you account for it?
Female street stranger: Uh, I'm very shallow and empty and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say.
Male street stranger: And I'm exactly the same way.

Annie Hall





bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

So, this afternoon I learned about a film, Lost and Delirious, and, fortunately, my DVD place had a copy. It's a Canadian film about three teenage girls in a boarding school, two of whom are in a relationship that ends because one of the girls can't bring herself to come out. It stars Piper Perabo as the broken-hearted Paulie, and it has a few common Canadian actors, including Graham Greene and Jackie Burroughs.

I'm not sure what I think of this movie. On the one hand, it's one of these movies that ends in death, 'cause queerfolk can't have happy endings. On the other hand, it has Ani Difranco in the soundtrack, in a really moving sequence. I'm not sure if it comes off seeming like a caution about The Threat Of Lesbianism, or what.

bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

So I went to rent a DVD from my DVD place: a British show called State of Play. Except, instead, they gave me a film called The State Within, another British show about political intrigue between a British Ambassador to the US and the US Secretary of Defense.

So I watched it. And I kept thinking: this is filmed in Toronto. Not all of it, sure, but there was something about the city that kept making me think of Toronto. So I started hyperactively looking for clues: in one scene there was a TTC-style bus shelter with an ad for ZipCars. Another scene looked like it might have been filmed in the main lobby of the Royal York (I haven't been there in years, but the Royal York has a distinctive ceiling that I'm pretty sure I recognized). Also, Canadian actor Nigel Bennett played a key role.

I scanned the credits looking for indications of filming locations; they mentioned Canadian casting, but nothing about locations that I could see. Finally, I checked IMDb: sure enough, filmed in Toronto, Hamilton, Washington DC, Tampa, Oshawa and London, England. I don't know what it was that led me to recognized Toronto, but my instinct was spot-on.

bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

Yet one more way I know I'm not part of the main movie-going population: I just watched a DVD called Shattered, a thriller with Maria Bello, Pierce Brosnan and Gerard Butler. It's a joint UK/Canada film. And apparently, in the UK (and, I presume, Canada also), it's known as Butterfly on a Wheel (except that the version I got at the DVD place is clearly titled Shattered). To me, Butterfly on a Wheel is an infinitely better title, and I can't, for the life of me, imagine why anyone would give it a bland name like Shattered.

bcholmes: (yes)

Last Tuesday, Sans Soleil, one of my three favourite movies of all time, was finally released on Region 1 DVD. Sans Soleil isn't for everyone (if you want plot, this isn't the movie for you), but I love love love it.

It's paired with La Jetée, the film which inspired Twelve Monkeys.

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BC Holmes

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