Posts Tagged ‘martin scorsese’

Carrie – A Bloody Unnecessary Remake

Posted 04 Nov 2013 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

Carrie, USA, 2013

Directed by Kimberly Peirce

Carrie is a reasonably entertaining but ultimately forgettable teen horror movie.To justify its own existence, a remake of a classic film doesn’t necessarily have to be better than the original, but it is crucial that it be different in some substantial way. For example, though I prefer the original French film Love Crime in many ways, Brian De Palma’s Passion more than justifies its existence by adding a third-act fever dream to the original source material, as well as being strikingly unique in several other ways. Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear is another good example of a filmmaker taking a markedly different approach to an already great film, in this case by adding psychological and moral complexity to what was originally a very cut-and-dried good versus evil story. In the horror genre, John Carpenter’s The Thing and David Cronenberg’s The Fly update classic B-movies to horrifying effect, to my mind managing to surpass the original films in quality and memorability.

CarrieThough I would like to evaluate Kimberly Peirce’s new film version of Carrie on its own merits, without comparing it to De Palm’s 1976 adaptation, it is just too similar, and everything good the new Carrie does with the material, De Palma’s film already did better. This is evident from the very beginning, in the famous shower scene in which Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) gets her first menstrual period and, not knowing what is happening and believing that she is bleeding to death, is mercilessly taunted and humiliated by her classmates. In De Palma’s film, the horror of this moment is forefronted, with the performances and shooting style heightened to a surreal, nightmarish pitch. The vulnerability of Sissy Spacek’s performance in particular sells the moment, and it is a truly disturbing scene to watch. Peirce, conversely, shoots the sequence in a relatively flat, ordinary way, and though the content is still rather shocking, it lacks the emotional power of the original.  Read More

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

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