Posts Tagged ‘brad pitt’

Ezra’s Top 10 Favorite Films Of 2011

Posted 01 Jul 2012 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Artist is a relentlessly entertaining love letter to silent film and cinema in general. Well, it’s that time once again, and as always, I didn’t get around to a lot of the films I would have liked to see – as I write this, a DVD of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris sits on my desk, glaring at me – but there comes a time when every movie lover has to call it a year. I have somewhat arbitrarily picked today as that time, so here now are my top 10 favorite films of 2011:

 

# 10) MELANCHOLIAanyone with whom I talk movies already knows how much I love Lars von Trier, and though this is definitely not my favorite of his films (2003’s Dogville still takes that honor), it is nonetheless a striking and powerful depiction of the nature of depression, as well as a highly unusual and compelling look at what the impending apocalypse might feel like. The stunning opening and closing sequences alone make this film impossible to ignore, or to forget.  Read More

Spoiler Alert! Some Thoughts On Twist Endings

By Ezra Stead

The Sixth Sense ruined twist endings for quite sometime after its 1999 release. Since M. Night Shyamalan’s much-ballyhooed 1999 feature The Sixth Sense, twist endings have gotten something of a bad rap, and usually with good reason. After all, in many cases they are a cheap way to add excitement to the climax of an otherwise dull story; sometimes they are a cop-out, negating all emotional involvement that may have been invested in a film up until that point; others seem to be the sole reason for a story’s existence, without which the whole thing crumbles. On the other hand, when they work, twist endings can make a good film great, and they occasionally even reward repeat viewings by revealing previously unseen layers that can only be recognized once the conclusion of the story is known.

As rightly reviled as are many recent examples of the technique, especially many of Shyamalan’s subsequent efforts, there are also many laudable examples to be found among some of history’s greatest cinematic achievements, old and new. Widely respected filmmakers from Alfred Hitchcock to David Fincher and Christopher Nolan have successfully employed the well-placed twist to wonderful effect, and even Orson Welles’s immortal classic Citizen Kane, considered by many to be the greatest American film ever made, concludes with what can only be deemed an elegant, emotionally rich twist ending. Read More

The Tree Of Life

Posted 10 Jun 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Tree of Life, USA, 2011

Written and Directed by Terrence Malick

The Tree of Life is a beautiful and extraordinary film that will undoubtedly remain one of the best of this year or any other.

Terrence Malick is a truly extraordinary and enigmatic filmmaker; over the course of the last 38 years, he has directed only five films, each one of which is widely regarded as a consummate masterpiece. The beauty and complexity of his images are almost in a league of their own. Between the sheer cinematic perfection of his work and its anti-prolific output, he is reminiscent of perhaps the cinema’s greatest auteur, the late Stanley Kubrick. His latest film is likely his best work to date (I still haven’t seen 1978’s Days of Heaven, widely regarded as his greatest achievement up until now), and it certainly feels like his most personal, while simultaneously tackling the huge metaphysical ideas of Kubrick’s own greatest work, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

The Tree of Life is a staggeringly ambitious film that evokes not only the monumental beginnings of all existence in the universe, but also the tiny, specific details of ordinary lives; the result is a flawed but profound epic on the scale of 2001 with the emotional resonance that Kubrick’s more detached approach is often accused of lacking. It is also a film that deserves comparison to Darren Aronofsky’s extremely underrated masterpiece The Fountain (2006) in its themes of the interconnectedness of all time and space and the way in which we are all affected by forces beyond our control and understanding. It is the rare film whose flaws only make it more intriguing, since life itself is flawed and disconnected in much the same way. Above all, while comparisons can be made to other masterpieces in Malick’s own career as well as those mentioned above, this is a wonderfully unique and original film, with a style and voice unlike any I can recall. Read More

Source Code

Posted 15 Apr 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

Source Code, Canada / France / USA, 2011

Directed by Duncan Jones

Source Code is very reminiscent of Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys. This film has Terry Gilliam’s fingerprints all over it, especially those of the Gilliam who made Twelve Monkeys (1995). But, here, the closest we get to Brad Pitt’s rambling genius is Michelle Monaghan in an adorable outfit. Better, though, is the lead performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, who has grown to have an incredibly commanding screen presence. From back in the days of Donnie Darko (2001) up until now, he’s steadily been growing on me as an actor. Then, when Brokeback Mountain (2005) came around, it all just clicked and I became one of those “insta-fans,” never looking back. Donnie Darko still sucks, but at least the guy is watchable now.

Source Code is an interesting film, directed by Duncan Jones (recall Moon from 2009). A man wakes up on a train, not knowing who he is or why he’s there. Everyone aboard seems to know him, and he seems to have a thing going with the gorgeous girl sitting across from him. Eight minutes after all of this is established, they all die. The train explodes, and our man wakes up again in a capsule of sorts (or maybe a grave, existentially) with a voice coming to him from a television set telling him this – he’s a soldier, Captain Colter Stevens, and part of an intense new system referred to as “source coding,” in which he is to travel back into a tragic accident in order to discover both what went wrong and who to blame. Read More

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

Posted 25 Mar 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, USA / Canada, 2007

Written and Directed by Andrew Dominik

Based on the Novel by Ron Hansen

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford was the best film of 2007. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is probably the single most beautifully shot film of 2007. Every single frame is composed with a painter’s attention to detail, and the result is one of the most classically gorgeous works of cinematic art in recent years.

However, the incredible cinematography by legendary director of photography Roger Deakins (who also shot Barton Fink, The Shawshank Redemption and No Country For Old Men, to name just a few) is just the proverbial icing; the cake is Casey Affleck, in one of the finest screen performances I’ve ever seen. His Robert Ford is nothing short of masterful, a grinning ghoul that would give anyone “the willies,” as Frank James (Sam Shepard) puts it in one early scene, but at the same time a sad and very empathetic character, because he represents the almost shameful desire for fame and glory inside all of us. Affleck’s awkward mannerisms throughout the film are a joy to behold; it is a meticulously crafted performance that continues to haunt me long after viewing the film. Ford’s every motivation in the film is to serve his naive ambition, and there is a feeling throughout of something deeply wrong with the young man; he never shows a genuine connection with anyone outside of his hero-worship of Jesse James (Brad Pitt, in one of his best performances as well). Read More

Top 10 At The Box Office (Nov. 4-7)

Posted 08 Nov 2010 — by contributor
Category Box Office News, Film Industry News

By James Dohan

Paramount’s Megamind conquers the weekend (Nov. 4 – 7).

1 (1) Megamind Paramount Pictures $14,480,000 $47,650,000 3
2 (2) Due Date Warner Bros. $8,225,000 $33,500,000 3
3 (3) For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf Lionsgate $4,750,000 $20,100,000 3
4 (5) Saw VII 3D Lionsgate $2,200,000 $38,800,000 10
5 (4) Red Summit Entertainment $2,189,000 $71,870,876 24
6 (6) Paranormal Activity 2 Paramount Pictures $1,933,000 $77,224,000 17
7 (7) Jackass 3D Paramount Pictures $1,236,000 $110,814,000 24
8 (9) Secretariat Walt Disney Pictures $1,093,000 $50,965,000 31
9 (8) Hereafter Warner Bros. $1,032,000 $28,730,000 24
10 (10) The Social Network Sony Pictures $849,000 $85,047,000 38

Source: The Numbers.com

Contact the Author: JamesDohan@MoviesIDidntGet.com

The Best, Boldest, And Most Misunderstood – There Will Be Blood And Inglourious Basterds

Posted 25 Oct 2009 — by contributor
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Michael Forstein

There Will Be Blood, USA, 2007

Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Based on the Novel Oil! by Upton Sinclair

Inglourious Basterds, USA / Germany, 2009

Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino

daniel day lewis as dainel plainviewOkay, okay, I’ve resisted the temptation to use this (or any) forum to write about movies. It’s too easy, and I could spend far too much time doing it. There was a moment in high school when I thought film critic would be a novel career, but I quickly decided against it, citing, in equal parts, a world already saturated with critical opinion, and a desire to make movies of my own. But while watching Inglourious Basterds (2009), I realized I was witnessing one of the great feats of modern storytelling, and that poor Mr. Tarantino – simply because, along with being a gifted filmmaker, he happens to be a sicko who fills his movies with grotesque and offensive oddities, while often treating serious moments with levity and irreverence, and because, though he draws on cinematic tradition, he doesn’t care about fulfilling anyone’s expectations of what a movie should be but his own – would not get half the credit he deserved for what clearly is his masterpiece (what a beautiful cherry on top, that closing line), and thus, I realized I had something to say. Incidentally, I promise there will be no more awful run-on sentences like the previous one. Let my lack of brevity be a testament to my passion for the subject. I love movies – always have – and it bothers me that the two best movies in recent years were, and will continue to be, so shallowly dealt with and oftentimes misunderstood by critics and audiences.

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