Posts Tagged ‘Marilyn Monroe’

Ezra’s Top Ten Favorite Movies Of 2013

Posted 01 Mar 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Behind the Candelabra is a delightfully decadent look at the life of Liberace, brilliantly played by Michael Douglas in one of his very best performances. Every year, I struggle with the relatively arbitrary process of ranking movies, so this year I’ve decided to do something a little different. Instead of a traditional Top Ten list, I’m grouping two thematically connected films together for each place on the list, resulting in a hopefully more interesting Top 20 list. I’ve also included a more traditional Top Ten below that, for all you “too long, didn’t read” folks. One final note before we get to the list: it should tell you a lot about my credibility as a film critic that I liked Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa more than most of the Academy Award Best Picture nominees for 2013.

10. THE WICKER MAN: FINAL CUT / JURASSIC PARK 3-D – BEST RE-RELEASES. Obviously, this category doesn’t really count, as both of these films were originally released decades ago, but I can’t deny that each of them provided one of the most enjoyable experiences I had in a movie theater in 2013. This new cut of the original 1973 classic The Wicker Man adds some nuance and more musical numbers to an already great film. Most crucially, it opens with a scene of Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) praying in church, emphasizing his piousness from the very start, which enriches the events to follow. Jurassic Park, on the other hand, is quite simply my favorite movie (it has the most dinosaurs in it – I rest my case), and seeing it on a big screen again, in 3-D no less, made me fall in love with it all over again.  Read More

My Week With Marilyn

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

By Ezra Stead

My Week with Marilyn, UK / USA, 2011

Directed by Simon Curtis

My Week with Marilyn is a solid biopic buoyed by an excellent performance from Michelle Williams. Marilyn Monroe was my first real crush, even before I really knew what a crush was. I grew up on old movies, which is probably the reason I still find the image of a woman smoking with a cocktail in the other hand extremely sexy, and no woman on the silver screen from that golden era long before I was born held the mysterious, seductive allure of Marilyn. Three of her films in particular were my childhood obsessions: Otto Preminger’s River of No Return (1954), Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1959) and John Huston’s The Misfits (1961), which turned out to be her final feature. Of course, there were other favorites, especially Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business (1952) and Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch (1955), but those three really captured her sweet vulnerability, her almost oblivious sensuality, and the soft sadness behind her alluring smile, an indication of the hard life she had lived and, as my young mind and these films dared to hope, had now left behind. In reality, of course, poor Marilyn’s life only got harder, until it was snuffed out all too soon. 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