Posts Tagged ‘martin scorsese’

A Dangerous Method – Cronenberg At His Most “Respectable”

Posted 24 Jun 2012 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

A Dangerous Method, UK / Germany / Canada / Switzerland

Directed by David Cronenberg

A Dangerous Method could be called the final film in director David Cronenberg's Viggo Mortensen trilogy. A Dangerous Method could be called the final film in director David Cronenberg’s Viggo Mortensen trilogy. Beginning with 2005’s A History of Violence, Cronenberg has used the estimable actor in each film he’s made up until now, with the brief exception of his short film for the 2007 anthology To Each His Own Cinema (the wonderfully titled “At the Suicide of the Last Jew in the World in the Last Cinema in the World”), in which only Cronenberg himself starred. This triptych of films, which also includes 2007’s Russian mob story Eastern Promises, marks a distinct departure from the type of filmmaking that made Cronenberg’s name synonymous with gruesome, highly physical horror – see masterpieces like Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983), The Fly (1986) and Dead Ringers (1988) – and ever more into the territory of restrained human drama. While it lacks some of the visceral punches (the “Cronenberg touches,” as many reviewers called them) found in the previous two films, Method is probably the most consistent and accomplished work, and though it is certainly a bit drier, it is no less consummately entertaining.  Read More

Six Months On A Regimen Of Woman Filmmakers – Out The Gate With Diablo Cody

Posted 20 Jun 2012 — by contributor
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Member Movie Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Alice Shindelar

Diablo Cody has come a long way since Juno, her 2007 debut about a pregnant teenager who decides to give her child up for adoption. About a month ago, I made the dramatic decision to limit my film and television consumption to only women writers and directors. This isn’t out of distaste for male directors and writers. I love movies of all kinds, for countless reasons. I would never allow my opinion of a film or TV series to be influenced by the gender of the creative force behind it. That said, women writers and directors are few and far between. Their struggle for recognition in the industry and the funds to make their films is well-known (although, not well-known enough). Still, even the most ingenious amongst them tends to fade into the background before they’ve weathered a full career.

As an aspiring writer-director myself, I’ve always kept my ear closely trained on the life events that lead people in this field to success, or even just a career that pays the bills. I look for myself in their stories. I imagine how my flat feet could follow their huge strides. Or, at least, I try. It’s next to impossible to picture myself following in the footsteps of any Kubrick, or Coppola, or Scorsese. My inability to grow facial hair puts a stop to that. So I watch for the women, and this project is an attempt to do that more acutely. 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

Drive – Full Of Adrenaline

Posted 02 Nov 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Drive, USA, 2011

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Drive is one of the biggest sleepers of the year. If you watch Drive on a superficial level, you get a bad-ass action film – a slow burning, tightly paced one, at that – but if you watch it from a critical standpoint, you’ll notice more than one polite tip of the hat to Taxi Driver (1976), slight turns from Martin Scorsese’s directorial play-book by director Nicolas Winding Refn. Really, Drive could be viewed as a pastiche of action movies and westerns from the glory days of Hollywood in the 70’s and 80’s era.

Ryan Gosling has a skill for determining the darker aspects of characters that appear to be a little blank on paper. In 2001, he played a self-hating neo-Nazi Jew in Henry Bean’s The Believer; in 2010, he was a failing husband in Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine (I really hope you all saw that); and here, he’s the wheel-man with no name. He goes by “the kid,” and that’s barely a term of endearment from the man who took him in. He has a hell of a job: he’s a stunt driver for the movies by day, and a getaway driver at night. Of course, he’s freelance all the way. When a producer needs a flawless car crash, he’s the guy, and when a mob king needs a flawless getaway, there’s nobody better. He works with a man named Shannon (Bryan Cranston) who gave him a job years before the movie (and the kid’s criminal activity) started. 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 Town – Not Just Hunting For A Paycheck

Posted 26 Jun 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

The Town, USA, 2010

Directed by Ben Affleck

The Town feels like a film that could stand on its own, and Affleck makes the material his own, while paying respect to Charlestown and the novel itself. In 1997, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon gave us a soft and emotional tour of Boston in Good Will Hunting, as they knew it growing up. They explored the values of hope and family. In 2007, ten years later, Affleck went it alone and took us back to Boston with Gone Baby Gone, exploring themes of loss and grief, right and wrong. In 2010, Affleck took us to the doorstep, sat us down on the curb, and said, “Watch.” The town, Charlestown, to be specific, lives and breathes by itself as the central hub of bank robberies in New England. The film’s opening quotes tell us that the trade is almost a birthright, something you’re born into, or against. For the four lads in this film, it’s the only life they know, and they’ll go to incredible lengths to protect it.

Ben Affleck is a fantastic director. Being an actor, he understands how to work with them and get the best performances possible. There isn’t a false performance in this film, not one, and if Good Will Hunting and Gone Baby Gone weren’t already an indication, he’s an extremely gifted writer. He’s a great American filmmaker, if I may be so bold. After only two films as director, that’s pretty bold, but I’ll stand by it. Sue me. Affleck understands pacing better than most directors working today. I think it can be attributed to his involvement in the scriptwriting, and his timing as an actor. All of these elements elevate his films beyond what they might be in the hands of other directors. He isn’t a Scorsese or a Capra or a Coppola, but he’s Affleck, and, at the very least, he was the bomb in Phantoms. Read More

James Vogel’s The City

Posted 30 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Colleen Powers

The City is a strange and twisted dark comedy/thriller from director James Vogel. The City, USA, 2009

Directed by James Vogel

Shameless Plug Alert – The following is a review originally published in The Wake magazine (http://www.wakemag.org/) of a film co-written by and starring Movies I Didn’t Get’s own head editor, Ezra Stead. We are republishing it as part of our continuing quest to provide information on lesser-known films, as well as mainstream and indie movies that are on the entire nation’s radar. While Ezra edited and posted the review, he had no hand at all in its writing, outside of the quoted interview segments below:

The City, first screened at Minneapolis’s Oak Street Cinema on November 19, 2009, may sound like any other violent, low-budget action flick trying to live up to Scorsese or Tarantino, but a clever premise laced with smart subtext and wicked humor makes this a film worth seeing.

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