Posts Tagged ‘romance’

Drive – Nasty, Pulpy, Wonderful

Posted 26 Sep 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Drive, USA, 2011

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Drive is a wonderfully pulpy film noir from acclaimed director Nicolas Winding Refn. Why can’t Hollywood put out more movies like this? Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive is a superbly well-crafted modern film noir that expertly builds and breaks tension, alternating between heart-pounding suspense, lyrical moments of quiet human connection and graphically violent action setpieces that should manage to shock even the most jaded viewers. It also contains some of the most exciting car chase scenes since Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse feature Death Proof (2007), beginning with the opening sequence.

And what a sequence it is. The beginning of this film is a master class in how to build cinematic tension. After a brief, beautifully shot introduction in which Driver (Ryan Gosling) outlines the rules of his business as a getaway driver, we see him on a heist with two unknown criminals. As promised, he gives them five minutes to carry off a robbery, then drives them to safety before disappearing into the night, as anonymous to the two criminals as he is to the cops he helps them evade. Using a police radio in order to track their progress in attempting to catch him, Driver uses his wits and consummate skill in the profession that bears his name (a small joke on my part; his actual name is never said in the film) to outsmart numerous patrol cars and even a police helicopter without ever breaking a sweat. It is a bravura opening perfectly set to a brilliant score by Cliff Martinez, perhaps best known as Steven Soderbergh’s favorite composer, that subtly evokes a ticking stopwatch in this scene in order to underscore the tension. Read More

The Sleeping Beauty – Better Not Bring Your Kids

Posted 22 Jul 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

The Sleeping Beauty, France, 2010

Written and Directed by Catherine Breillat

Based on the Story “Sleeping Beauty” by Charles Perrault

The Sleeping Beauty is a frustrating, disappointing new film from Catherine Breillat. If ever there was a movie I didn’t get, it is Catherine Breillat’s latest, a bizarre, meandering adaptation of the classic Charles Perrault fairy tale, “Sleeping Beauty.” Perhaps it is because I have only seen one of Breillat’s previous films, the almost universally reviled but, in my opinion, underrated and fascinating Anatomy of Hell (2004), and I am therefore not entirely familiar with her sensibility, but I just couldn’t get into this one. Though it is pretty and has a distinct air of artistry about it, I found Breillat’s The Sleeping Beauty to be tedious, and somehow both opaque and obvious at the same time. Of course, it didn’t help that I was constantly reminded of similar but better films by the likes of Terry Gilliam and David Lynch, not to mention Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) and especially Sally Potter’s Orlando (1992). Though they share themes such as the transcendence of time and gender, one distinct advantage Potter’s film has over Breillat’s is the stellar, engaging central performance by the great Tilda Swinton, of which none of the actors in Beauty seem capable of approaching. Read More

Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Three’s Company

Posted 21 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Spain / USA, 2008

Written and Directed by Woody Allen

The interweaving relationships of this film are classic Woody Allen, and it's fair to say this is his strongest notation on human neurosis of the 2000's.My favorite thing about Woody Allen movies is hearing the actors speak the words; it’s always with a sense of adoration, and there are usually shades of performers who have spoken these words in the past. Allen’s scripts are performed, no matter the quality, with gratitude. Such is most definitely the case with this film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. If you’re intrigued by the title, it’s simple enough, about as simple as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in that there’s a massacre committed with a chain saw in Texas; in this, Vicky and Cristina go to Barcelona. However, there is a bit of a deeper meaning. Read More

Water for Elephants – The Greatest Show On Earth

Posted 19 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Water for Elephants, USA, 2011

Directed by Francis Lawrence Water for Elephants is a great movie. And, probably, the best circus movie I've seen.

I remember being a child and watching Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) for the first time. Even then, I was drawn to the idea that a film about a circus can represent so many things – a sense of belonging, people constantly being on the move and on the run, faith, and illusion – but, at the same time, it was a disappointing introduction to circus films. It’s certainly not the one I would make my kids watch first. I’d probably start them off on Steve Miner’s Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken (1991), though that’s more about a fair than a circus; but I digress. After Greatest Show ended, I didn’t feel much; I appreciated the spectacle, but not the people within it. It’s regarded as a great film by most people, but I don’t think so; not even a good film.

Good movies leave you with the sense that they were there, and they give you a pleasant feeling, no matter the content. Great movies, you can touch; that sense of remembrance is tangible, and when the movie is over, you want more. Water for Elephants is a great movie, and probably the best circus movie I’ve seen. Read More

Blue Valentine – Is This You?

Posted 23 Jan 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Blue Valentine, USA, 2010

Directed by Derek Cianfrance

Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling star in Blue Valentine.2010 was an unusual year for me in that I saw only about a third (or less) of the number of new films I’ve seen in pretty much every year of the decade leading up to it. That said, of the few dozen I did manage to see (and we all know the film year isn’t over until around the time of the Academy Awards – the Super Bowl of movies – so there are more to be seen), Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine is my favorite. I might even venture an objective opinion (is that an oxymoron?) and say that it is absolutely the best film of the year.

I have called this Derek Cianfrance’s film and, while it is true that its greatness is in large part due to his work as director and co-writer (along with Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis), Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams have created performances of such credibility and raw emotional intensity that it is easy to forget the director’s invisible hand. Gosling plays Dean, a high school dropout who now works as a house painter and drinks too much; Williams is Cindy, an on-call nurse who struggles to balance her heavy workload with time spent caring for their daughter, Frankie (Faith Wladyka). One weekend, they leave Frankie with Cindy’s dad and go to a “cheesy sex motel” to get drunk and try to forget the pressures of their lives for a while. What they find when they are alone together, though, is just how far they have gone from the happy, early days of their relationship. Read More

Love And Other Drugs

Posted 15 Jan 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

Love and Other Drugs,USA, 2010

Directed by Edward Zwick

jake gyllenhaal anne hathaway in a new movie on movies i didnt getThe most comforting thing about director Edward Zwick’s new foray into the rom-com world is that we can be pretty sure he won’t be doing it again. Love and Other Drugs was far from a success, and it’s understandable why. Think back to Sweet November (2001), Autumn in New York (2000), Stepmom (1998), or even Love Story (1970). You remember how banal those films were? This really isn’t any better. That isn’t to say that the film is without merit, or not at all enjoyable. It has merit, and it’s a ridiculously easy watch. It’s medicine that goes down smooth, but never gets to the symptoms.

Of course, it’s based on a memoir, Jamie Reidy’s Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman, so when I go back and think about the film, I have to constantly remind, or maybe convince, myself that these are real people. This happened, for what it’s worth, probably not in the way the film presents it, but so rarely is that ever the case. In any event, these things are true – there was a Viagra salesman who met a woman with Parkinson’s Disease and they fell in love. Also, and the film never lets us forget it, Jerry Maguire (1996) was released around this time; Jake Gyllenhaal’s constant costume of blazers, plain tee, and Raybans suggest that’s all Jamie had in his closet. Read More