Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

The Blues Brothers – Placement And Significance Of The Songs In A Landmark Comedy

Posted 08 May 2015 — by contributor
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Mike Shaeffer 

The Blues Brothers, USA, 1980

Directed by John Landis

The Blues Brothers doesn’t have the romantic tension and chemistry that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers delivered in classic Hollywood musicals like Top Hat; instead, you have the foul-mouthed banter of brothers Jake and Elwood shuffling and somersaulting their way into our hearts for the unapologetic antiheroes they are. “The crest and crowning of all good, life’s final star, is Brotherhood.” –Edwin Markham

First, let’s agree that most movie lovers would consider The Blues Brothers, foremost, a comedy. However, with the distinct and deliberate musical arrangement, the wide range of singing styles, and the infectious dancing performed throughout the ludicrous plot, we must also qualify this laugh-out-loud comedy as a musical.

The Blues Brothers doesn’t have the romantic tension and chemistry that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers delivered in classic Hollywood musicals like Top Hat; instead, you have the foul-mouthed banter of brothers Jake and Elwood shuffling and somersaulting their way into our hearts for the unapologetic antiheroes they are. This film doesn’t have all the long, unedited takes and top-notch choreography seen in musical masterpieces like Singin’ in the Rain, but I’ll be content to settle for Debbie Reynolds’ machine-gun toting daughter, Carrie Fisher, every bit as lovely and eternally scorned for being left at the altar by Jake.  Read More

Absolute Corruption – Three Films About Power

Posted 29 Jul 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews

By Ezra Stead

Citizen Kane has been widely cited as the greatest American film ever made. Citizen Kane, USA, 1941

Directed by Orson Welles

Scarface, USA, 1932

Directed by Howard Hawks

Beauty and the Beast, France, 1946

Written and Directed by Jean Cocteau

Never before or since has any director made such an impressive feature film debut as Orson Welles did, at the astonishing age of 25, with Citizen Kane (1941). Despite having no prior experience in filmmaking, Welles was given carte blanche on the film, and he delivered the most original, innovative and provocative film of its time. Even today it is considered one of the greatest films ever made, and it is a standard by which all other films are judged. According to the great critic Andrew Sarris, as quoted in his 1967 book Interviews with Film Directors, “Citizen Kane is still the work which influenced the cinema more profoundly than any American film since Birth of a Nation.” Read More

SlamNation – A Division Between Old And New

Posted 27 Apr 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

SlamNation, USA, 1998

Directed by Paul Devlin

Poet Taylor Mali is arguably the star of Paul Devlin's SlamNation.

“Across North America, spoken word artists are competing in performance poetry contests called SLAMS … ”

For those uninitiated, this is the first explanation of just what Paul Devlin’s 1998 film SlamNation is about. This information comes in the form of an intertitle only after we have caught a few brief glimpses of three of the documentary’s “stars”: iconoclastic firebrand Beau Sia, Slam founder Marc Smith, and supreme strategist and competitor Taylor Mali. The film was shot at the 1996 National Poetry Slam, and premiered two years later at the Sundance Film Festival. With this year’s documentary Louder Than A Bomb (opening in New York May 18) set to introduce a new generation to the art form via its depiction of the Chicago Youth Slam scene, I felt it was a good time to revisit the start of it all, a film that stands as the definitive documentary account of this rapidly growing and changing mode of expression. 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