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Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

This weekend The Guardian organised the first Film Appreciation Masterclass, part of a series of workshops, talks and short courses on different topics. The two days were put together by famous film critic and BBC 2011 presenter, Danny Leigh and were meant to take us (60 students coming from a variety of fields and backgrounds) through the history of films, genre by genre, director by director and masterpiece by masterpiece.

A few facts about comedy – The Guardian and Xan Brooks

Saturday morning started with comedy and a short talk by Xan Brooks who introduced us to silent comic geniuses of the first screenings ever: Linder, Lloyd, Buster Keaton and obviously the amazing Chaplin. They all had vaudeville  backgrounds as most of the stars back then when stage still had a major influence on the big screen productions. As comedy is a universal language, their works were incredibly well received all over the world and thus gained them fame and recognition. However, with the introduction of sound in cinema, the silent comics gradually disappeared making way for incredibly talented groups such as the Marx Brothers or the hilarious Laurel and Hardy.  By the 1940s the history of comedy has been written and all films that followed in the genre were and still are bastard offsprings of the original acts as they have all been influenced throughly by the original acts. We couldn’t have gone through comedy without mentioning Woody Allen with Annie Hall or the more recent Farrelly Brothers There’s Something About Mary.

Obviously, once you start analysing comedy it slowly dies and looses its charm because in the end it is the stereotypes, little disasters, violation of social rules and hilarious chaos in the lives of others that make us smile. Seldom do we see 5* ratings on comedies or award praise due to the fact that they generally go a bit too far in touching taboos, but they are there to amuse us and we should just relax and enjoy them. Also, one key aspect when watching productions from this genre (and actually any other film) is the communal experience, as fun is always fun-er  when the laughter is shared.

Oh and if you wonder where all the recent American comedies get their inspiration from, well try Freaks and Geeks.

Love stories in films – with Danny Leigh

I absolutely loved when Danny said that “the history of film is in fact a great gallery of faces” as that is in the end what cinema is all about: the face. And where else are faces so expressive and incredibly touching than in love stories?

Many times, it is not the 3hours productions about love itself that touch our hearts but the emotional scenes scattered throughout all genres (let’s say in The Bride of Frankenstein for example). However, the romantic titles we’ve been through at the course are brilliant in terms of exploring human relations and feelings. We started with Munrau’s Sunrise as the silent love story which didn’t hit the BO or became a hit back in the 1920s as it was launched one week before the first film with sound and therefore lost all public attention. The 30s and 40s were famous for their romanticism (Hell’s Angels, Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, La Belle et la Bete the original). We couldn’t leave Marilyn out of the talk and explored a bit the stereotype of the man and the woman who can’t stand each other but develop a burning desire for one another in Some Like it Hot. We also had a bit of destructive and mad love in Laura where a detective falls in love with the woman whose murder is investigating.

A few more titles that are on my must see list include: the neurotic Les Amantes Du Pont Neuf!!!!!!, Bonnie and Clyde and Before the Sunrise and Before the Sunset.

As there is quite a lot to include, I’ll leave reality films, horror, sci-fi and thrillers for parts 2 and 3 of Film Appreciation at The Guardian with Danny Leigh.

However, until then, please feel free to tell me your favourite titles on the comedy and love story list!

 

5 reasons to Love it:

Coen Brothers (doh!) You never know what to expect form them… It can be amazing, it can be weird, it can be funny or it can be heartbreaking. And this expectation is what makes them brilliant!

Jeff Bridges (double doh!) Since Crazy Heart I started to absolutely love this man and his acting! The hard part in this film is to actually understand what he is saying… and that makes him perfect for the role!

Hailee Steinfeld (who?) Amazing actress! She’s really beyond words! I couldn’t believe she is only 14!!!! Her character is crucial to this production and she is actually a lot better than her “Oscar awarded” partners!

True Grit the original – The 1969 version which brought and Oscar for John Wayne.

The West – Since Doctor Quinn Medicine Women, I have a guilty pleasure for anything Western… I love the little wooden houses, the dust, the horses, the wilderness.

And one to hate it:

The ending – too sudden, too thin, too bad! The encounter between Mattie and Chaney just didn’t give the story enough strength! But maybe it’s another Coen thing which I missed…

P.S. Loved the OST and fell in love with Johnny Cash’s God’s Gonna Cut You Down!!!

 

 

 

I’ve been waiting for The King’s Speech for months now and just didn’t have a chance to watch it anywhere before its UK release. In this time I read both amazing and terrible reviews, I heard people praising it and other destroying it claiming that it had no right to be on the list for the awards as it was soooo made for the money and fame. So I honestly didn’t know what to expect even if I am a declared fan of Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter.

Funny but dramatic in its comedy, sensible and strong in the same scenes, with a beautiful cinematography that portrayed the years perfectly and a very intelligent script, this film dragged me into the story from minute one. It is obviously hard not to love the sympathetic King as he desperately tries to overcome a deeply engraved problem which shows once more that royal blood doesn’t come with less issues but actually with more and even more powerful than a regular subject could realise.

The perfect performance given by the entire cast (even little Elisabeth was brilliant!) definitely deserves recognition, but what I loved more than anything was the powerful silence in the film. My favorite moment was the scene after the King’s Speech where so much could be deciphered from the tension and the facial expressions. Also, the lovely lessons about life, awards and credentials that we are given throughout the story are nicely and funnily inserted.

As a non-British I probably saw this film in a very different way to the other English people in the cinema. Never before have I felt such intensity on the chairs as there was absolutely no sound from the audience. No fizzy drinks popping, no popcorn bags, no chatting… just the shy laughs when the moment was right. And believe me the screen was full! Orange Wednesdays and 400 souls under one roof. Therefore I wonder if there is something more to this film that I couldn’t understand due to my different cultural background and history, coming from a country where the royal family has been absent for the past hundred years and only causes trouble when coming to visit their lands.

How do the British relate to their royal leaders and how has that changed with the media which turned them more into public goods with each development?

One really interesting aspect portrayed in the production was how the new media technologies changed the lives and activities of the famous. Considering the huge impact of radio, just think what TV and even more the internet did to the ones in the spotlight as private and public boundaries have completely disappeared. To what extent is this fair? Do we, the public, actually own their lives? As more and more dream of that kind of attention and do anything to get it, how about the ones that are born with it and simply can’t get rid of the paparazzi eye?

Quite controversial questions and with a million of answers…

Anyway, I love this scene (hope it’s legal to post it here :)):

P.S. Click for great article in the Guardian covering something similar!

Youth in Revolt – Parody of teenage drama – wanna be comedy/ I didn’t laugh (maybe I’m getting to old for this) – 2/5 – is Michael Cera desperate to act like Jesse Einsberg?

Marry and Max – adorable, animated, deep sadness – such a perfect portrait of today’s society – 5/5!!! – real story

Never Let Me Go – this one deserves a full review but deadlines are killing me so I’ll resume to “heartbreaking, mind-blowing and completely frustrating for the normal and simple human being who simply can’t understand what life is for… ” – 4/5 – a bit disappointed about Keira’s performance  - little girl who plays Carey’s young character looks amazingly like her!!!!

Catfish – as with Mary and Max, the beginning of the film might put you off, but believe me, you WANT to watch this, especially if you are a social-media freak as I am – frighting, intriguing, extremely sad and such a wise story which can give anyone some really valuable lessons – I think the thing that keeps you stuck to the screen is the curiosity if this is actually TRUE! Can’t answer that question, but this is definitely how the makers packaged and sold the film – 4/5 – real people playing themselves, it is a documentary after all…

Whip it! - I was actually looking forward to this film – not happy – not impressed – quite disappointed of Drew Barrymore as actress and director, thank God for Ellen Page’s brilliance – 2/5

The last weeks of 2010 are almost here so everybody interested in film is wondering what were their favorite productions of the year… There are top 100s, top 50s, top 10s and my… top 5. I know that resuming an entire year to just 5 films is not quite fair, but as there are still many that I didn’t get a chance to watch yet and which I think deserve a place on the list (Never Let Me Go, Somewhere, The Kids are Allright etc), I thought I’d just stick to a few which really left a mark on my filmlover soul:

 

Le Concert (I know it was out in 2009, but hit cinemas in 2010)

I honestly think this is one of the most brilliant films ever made. The script is amazing and if you are an Eastern European like me you definitely understand why. Also, the music is majestic (the OST is one of the best CDs I’ve ever listened to), the colour and cinematography are just beautiful and the acting is perfect!

I am Love


The story in this film really shocked me at first but each detail of this film is just perfectly inserted. Also, Tilda’s performance is bloody brilliant.

Kick-Ass

Loved the idea, loved the directing and loved Hit Girl :)

The Killer Inside

I chose this for the incredibly delicate and artistic way in which extreme violence was portrayed.

Inception

I think the title says it all :) And it’s not for Christopher Nolan, but for everybody involved!

P.S. For a list of all films of 2010 (well almost all) check http://www.movieweb.com/releases/year/movies

2 beautiful people in one of the most beautiful cities of the planet…. what could go wrong? Not much actually, but that doesn’t mean it can go brilliant either!

The Tourist is like a perfect photograph of a designer’s workshop… but that’s all. And the final touch actually disappointed me. I saw it coming from half an hour through the film, but thought it couldn’t be! It was…

I was actually looking forward to this. Hoped it would be smart and catchy… Don’t want to ruin it though as it was nice entertainment for a Friday night!

The first film we watched @ShowFilmFirstt last Saturday was The Next Three Days. I really can’t say I was delighted to find out it would be our surprise film as the trailer left me completely blank and with a “this will be such a predictable and boring plot” feeling.

Well, it was… for the first hour or so.

The story is really simple and annoyingly unbelievable. Russell Crowe plays the perfect teacher-husband-father with the perfect wife-mother, Elizabeth Banks. However, one morning their peaceful and nearly-perfect life changes dramatically as she is arrested for murder… 3 years later the verdict is heartbrokenly severe with 20 years in jail and a ripped apart family. However, he decides he won’t leave it that way and plans the big escape.

This is where you start rolling in your chair thinking this can’t possibly work and it is actually this lack of credibility the film builds on step by step, with every new piece of the freedom plan.

The last hour is what made my pulse go up to the red zone. I really have to say that it was the first thriller in many, many years that actually managed to shake me like that (maybe the 4 hours of sleep on the previous night also made me a bit emotionally unstable…). Every second I was expecting it to fail, but somehow, that tiny piece of a belief in a happy-ending made me grab the chair and open my eyes wide.

The plan seems floppy, the husband makes many mistakes, the wife seems mental and the police incompetent. However, behind all this there is a lot more that Oscar-winning writer-director Paul Haggis is not telling us and it’s up to us to decide whether Crowe’s character is a genius, a master-planner, a very motivated guy or just all of the above with “a shit loads of luck” (see Liam Nelson’s speech on how to break out of jail…).

What I didn’t really get is the title.. I mean ok the last 3 days blabla, but I feel that the idea of “time passing” should have been a bit more emphasised under this title.

My “words” for The Next Three Days: chimerical but spine-tingling :)

P.S. I should definitely mention the fact that this 4/5 US production is a remake of a gorgeous 2009 French film, Pour Elle. But then I’d start again to moan and angrily destroy the Hollywood version which I have to admit, I did enjoy. The fact that I really don’t understand why this copy-ing is necessary with all the brilliant script-writers out there who can definitely produce something outstanding and creative doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that they are both good pieces of cinematography.

Voila le French trailer:

I came up with a new idea for my film reviews – the one word review… however, with all this tension with the Tron reviews only being allowed after 10pm today, I feel I should give it a bit more than that!

We’ve been preparing for the amazing sequel for years now and over the past year I literally felt overwhelmed with the marketing it got. In the end, this is Disney’s 3D masterpiece of 2010 and it should be treated that way. I must admit that I am neither a fan nor a hater of the genre and that the trailers and anticipation really didn’t make me scream when I heard Tron was the second film of the day at @showfilmfirst yesterday. (I honestly hoped it wasn’t although all signs pointed to it!)

So…. I say Tron: Legacy is a…… geekmajestic juicy bed time story :)

To define and explain my phrase, #tronrocks in 3D technology, special effects and sound (yes, the super sci-fi Tron world was majestically created) + in the IT, digital stuff (my boyfriend tried to explain how all the digital theory was put together and how it actually made sense to an engineer…) + Daft Punk OST (!!!!) and #tronsucks in the simplicity of the story, the stereotypes (don’t want to use spoiler alert here so I’m not going to explain which ones) and the so-predictable ending!!!!

For more on Tron try this review which I really thinks it makes the film justice, from a connoisseur’s point of view .

I’ll post the trailer in case there is actually anyone out there who doesn’t know what  I’m talking about:

And even if I’m not for marks and percentages, let’s say 3/5 for the winter blockbuster…

LE: didn’t want to say this earlier as I thought it was just me, but as I see I’m not the only one booooing itt: the acting was pretty bad as well… :(

@ShowFilmFirst invited me a few weeks ago to what was suppose to be an amazing event in London. It was to be centred on online film coverage and online opinion formers (which apparently I could be one of, with my tiny blog and plain, simple reviews…). Also, it was meant to feature some unseen trailers of 2011 releases and 2 WOW films, again of 2011. I must admit that after getting home at 1am last night (after PRide), waking at 6 to make it to London before 8.30 seemed unreal.

But I did it… and it was worth EVERY SECOND! I got there at 8.25 and was surprised to see such a cue! Surely didn’t expect so many to attend especially with the “bad” weather (haven’t seen a snowflake all day). And also I wasn’t prepared for such a professional approach and gorgeous, state of the art venue (I think the sound and image in Empire were outstanding!).

This was our program (although latecomers due to weather problems changed it a bit and we were quite rushed out of the theatre at 5…):

  • 8.45 – Intro
  • 9:00 – Part 1: showreel of the next quarter’s trailers
  • 9.30 – Film 1
  • 11.30 – Panel discussion ‘Buildng an online film audience’ led by Charles Gant (Heat, Guardian and Variety)
  • 12.10 – Q&A opportunity
  • 12.30 – Short break (lunch is not provided but apart from cinema concessions there are several food outlets in close proximity.)
  • 1.00 – Part 2: showreel of the next quarter’s trailers
  • 1.30 – An important Film issue Q&A
  • 2.00 – Film 2
  • 4.00 – End

In terms of the morning trailers, obviously most of them are already available online, but still they worked as a nice reminder. I laughed crazily (again!) at:

and I also think this might be a winner:

From the trailers one thing is for sure: we’ll start the year with a lot of Emily Blunt and Jake Gyllenhaal…

The panels were quite interesting, especially the morning session on film blogging. The panel was made of: @catherinebray @charlesgant @joeutichi and @ultraculture! Very different approaches to reviewing and engaging with online audiences (freelance, extremely professional and a more niche -style). The conclusions were quite straightforward: be original! work on the SEO! and get yourself out there!

As I can’t actually talk about the films we watched until tomorrow night (embargo!), I’ll just tell you that soon you’ll be hearing my views on The Next Three Days and…. Tron: Legacy!!!!!!!!

The key moment of the day was definitely the surprise visit by Tron director Joseph Kosinski! Although he only said a few words (due to time restrictions, damn them!!!!) I am sure many were left speechless when seeing him in front of the huge screen.

Didn’t want to put it in the same post as LB.

Coen Brothers, oh Coen Brothers… just watched the trailer and I am really looking forward to the release:


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