Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Movie Haiku

By Ezra Stead

Akira is the greatest animated film of all time. Let’s stray from the beaten path for awhile, shall we? Instead of a review in the usual format, today I’d like to offer up thoughts on over 25 films, mostly some of my favorites, but with a few that I love to hate thrown in for good measure. Only a few of these actually work as reviews; most are free-form poetic interpretations of the feelings they brought up in me. Some are just plain silly. At any rate, all are written in the form of the ancient Japanese art of haiku. For those who don’t know, that means five syllables in the first line, seven in the next, and another five in the last, preferably with some sort of twist in the last line or, failing that, at least a sense of poetry throughout. Almost all of these were written sometime in 2005, which explains why there are three inspired by Frank Miller’s Sin City, my favorite film that year. Let’s begin with a couple of actual Japanese films:

 

The net is vast and / infinite. Now that we two / have merged, where to go?
Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Tetsuo – not the / Iron Man, but a bike punk / transcends earthly life.
Akira (1988)  Read More

Intense Style – Afterschool & Love Is The Devil

Posted 09 Sep 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Afterschool, USA, 2008

Written and Directed by Antonio Campos

Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon, UK / France / Japan, 1998

Written and Directed by John Maybury

Afterschool is a chilling look at the effect of media saturation in the modern world. Today’s entry in the old Movies I Didn’t Get pantheon looks at two films made a decade apart that share one major unifying similarity, which is an abundance of visual style. Antonio Campos’s Afterschool and John Maybury’s Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon have very little else in common other than a similarly dark vision and the fact that each is the work of a single, distinct writer-director, but seeing them within about a week of one another, I was struck by how each of them create fascinating worlds through the use of highly unconventional cinematic techniques. In both films, the viewer is consistently thrown off-kilter by camera angles and distortions that create an intentional emotional distance, and at times even make it difficult (and therefore all the more intriguing) to see what exactly is going on in the edges of the frame that is our only window in. 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