Posts Tagged ‘Lars von Trier’

Ezra’s Favorite Movies Of 2014

Posted 17 Feb 2015 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

The Lego MovieThis was the year I realized that my annual goal of seeing pretty much every movie released in a given year was more impossible than ever. The reason for this is the exponential growth in the number of films now being released in the digital age. When I started doing these lists back in 2001, there were about 300 official releases per year; now it’s closer to 700. With that in mind, I’d like to start with a partial list of movies I meant to see in 2014, but just didn’t get to in time. Then, to acknowledge the relatively arbitrary nature of these lists in general, I’m listing my Top 10 in categories by which each film corresponds to another one from my Top 20 (only the Top 10 is ranked in order of preference). It’ll make more sense as you read it, I promise.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN (40 movies I didn’t see in time for this list, in alphabetical order): Bird People; The Boxtrolls; Calvary; Chef; Citizenfour; Coherence; The Congress; Enemy; Fading Gigolo; Filth; Force Majeure; Foxcatcher; Frank; Fury; Gloria; Happy Christmas; Ida; Joe; A Letter to Momo; Leviathan; Life After Beth; Like Father, Like Son; Lucy; Men, Women & Children; A Million Ways to Die in the West; Mr. Turner; Moebius; A Most Violent Year; Night Moves; Palo Alto; The Rocket; The Sacrament; St. Vincent; Song of the Sea; Starred Up; Stonehearst Asylum; Top Five; 22 Jump Street; Virunga; Wrinkles.

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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

Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia

Posted 22 Apr 2012 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Melancholia, Denmark / Sweden / France / Germany, 2011

Written and Directed by Lars von Trier

Melancholia is a very difficult and challenging film, and I can't honestly say I enjoyed every moment of it, but enjoyment is hardly the point when dealing with such a deep and intelligent examination of despair. Lars von Trier’s latest is by no means my favorite of his films, but I do feel much more charitable about than he apparently does. Here is what the great Danish artist / provocateur has to say, excerpted from his statement on the film’s official website: “This is cream on cream. A woman’s film! I feel ready to reject the film like a transplanted organ … I am confused now and feel guilty. What have I done? Is it ‘exit Trier?’ I cling to the hope that there may be a bone splinter amid all the cream that may, after all, crack a fragile tooth … I close my eyes and hope!”

As gifted a filmmaker as von Trier certainly is, he doesn’t seem to quite have the knack for self-promotion. Then again, this could be yet another example of the perverse, impish delight he seems to take in his own self-destruction, as most recently evidenced in his controversial “I am a Nazi” joke at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. This is oddly appropriate to Melancholia, which, as the title suggests, is largely about the mysterious, fascinating pull of deep, all-encompassing depression, as well as the beauty and peace to be found in the complete destruction of absolutely everything. In fact, the latter – the incredibly gorgeous apocalyptic images that bookend the film – mainly functions as a metaphor for the former. The planet Melancholia, which has supposedly been “hiding behind the sun,” threatens to destroy all life on Earth as it draws near, yet it is also described as the most beautiful sight we will ever see. Depression may be always lurking just behind the nurturing light of life, but when it finally shows itself, we find that it is more absorbing and actually enjoyable, in a perverse way, than happiness. Read More

The Legacy of Silent Film

Posted 04 Apr 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

A Trip To The Moon is one of the best of the very early silent films.

Perhaps one of the main reasons that so many of us, myself included, fail to “get” certain films, or certain aspects of film as a whole, is that we have not spent sufficient time studying the beginnings of the art form. We have not looked to the past. This, then, is a look at the first few decades of the cinematic arts, and the influence of these early films on what we see onscreen today.

When Louis and Auguste Lumiere first showed their short film The Arrival of a Train in 1895, they certainly had no inkling that, almost 100 years later, it would be the film-within-a-film in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Nor could Carl Theodor Dreyer have suspected that his 1928 feature The Passion of Joan of Arc would one day be the major inspiration for Mel Gibson’s hugely successful The Passion of the Christ (2004). But no matter where these and other early filmmakers envisioned the medium in 100 years, or whether they even believed it would last that long, the films we see today are undeniably the legacy of these pioneers of a nascent art form. Read More

Enter The Void

Posted 25 Jan 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

Enter the Void, France / Germany / Italy, 2009

Directed by Gaspar Noe

Enter The Void is a strange and unique film experience. French filmmaker Gaspar Noe has always been known for the intensity of his vision. His 1998 debut, I Stand Alone, features one of the most unlikable protagonists in cinema history (Philippe Nahon’s brilliantly realized “The Butcher”), as well as moments of shockingly realistic violence and subject matter that includes incest and the brutal beating of a pregnant woman (who, it must be noted, is at least as unlikable as The Butcher himself). His highly polarizing 2002 follow-up, Irreversible, managed to drastically raise the already high ante with its horrifyingly unflinching and lengthy depictions of murder and rape; it may have had more theatrical walkouts than any single film in history, and has only arguably been topped by Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (2009) as the most disturbing film ever shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

Now, with his latest feature Enter the Void, Noe seems to be pushing audience tolerance levels even further, albeit in a very different way. While I Stand Alone was essentially a one man show for The Butcher’s virulent hatred of pretty much everything and everyone (kind of like a French Taxi Driver, for people who thought the original was too cute and cuddly), and Irreversible showed extraordinary technical prowess with its impossible camera angles and chronologically backwards narrative (inspired by Christopher Nolan’s Memento), both films show a great artistic restraint and clarity of vision by comparison to the sprawling head-trip that is Enter the Void. For one thing, Void is nearly an hour longer than Noe’s previous features, taking the viewer on a wild and occasionally tedious ride full of even more dizzying and impossible cinematography than Irreversible. The film is nothing if not original, and Noe’s determination to push the boundaries of what cinema can do must be admired. Read More

Hunger

Posted 13 Dec 2010 — by contributor
Category Member Movie Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

hunger  Stuart Graham as Raymond Lohan  movies i didnt getHunger, UK / Ireland, 2008

Directed by Steve McQueen

I saw this in April of 2009 and the rest of the year failed to produce a more perfect film. Director Steve McQueen (not the one you’re thinking of) crafts a completely compelling take on the famed hunger strike endured by Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) and other political prisoners associated with the Irish Republican Army. However, Sands is not even seen until the second act of the film, after a brilliant first act that is nearly dialogue-free, detailing the conflict that leads to the hunger strike. Read More