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Paris Je T’aime: The City of Love in a Nutshell (083568)

I personally really enjoyed this anthology film that broadcasted the talents of multiple directors, actors and artists all in relation to their love for Paris. It was sweet, charming, hilarious and so much more. A truly heartwarming experience, all 18 shorts that are presented in this anthology each shine in their own right and respectfully so.

One of the shorts that I enjoyed in particular was entitled “Tuileries” written by the Coen brothers and starring Steve Buscemi who I am a fan of. The way the film played with the emotion of love and how it humored the audience with over-the-top acting as a jealous boyfriend is enraged over the simple eye-contact that the character of Buscemi makes with his girlfriend is hilarious. The color tone and contrast of yellow and orange gave off a very warm atmosphere and was all the more enlightening and welcoming to the audience.

Another of the films that stood out to me was “Faubourg Saint-Denis” starring the gorgeous Natalie Portman. The way it told the story of a blind man’s relationship with a young aspiring actress and how he accidentally misinterprets her words as cause for a break-up between them, the way in which he suddenly reflects upon their time spent together whilst never mentioning anything to do with sight really made me realize the importance of those things that one can take for granted in a relationship.

However, one short in particular that I wasn’t fond of was “Tour Eiffel” about the story of two mimes falling in love. Everything was actually fine for me whilst viewing the short, up until the mimes began to use their feet as vehicles and move quickly about the town. This sat very awkwardly with me as everything else in the film was realistic except for that aspect. It was just simply too weird and felt misplaced, it never sat right with me throughout the entire short and made me feel uneasy.

The short “Parc Monceau” that starred Nick Nolte was excellent in playing with the minds of the audience. Filmed in one continuous shot, the short leads one to believe that Nolte is an elderly man seeking the heart of a younger woman whilst encouraging her to leave her current man, Gaspard. By the films end, we learn that he is in fact the father of the young woman and Gaspard her son. The twist is so effortlessly revealed through the camera’s subtle change in angle, from a trailing shot of the two characters talking along the sidewalk to it slowly panning as they walk past the camera, marking the turning point and twist in the film’s plot. Charming and sweet, this was one of my favorites in the anthology.

Lastly, the short entitled “Quartier de la Madeleine” that revolves around a young tourist falling in love with a vampire was captivating for obvious reasons, it had a vampire in it. It’s use of color (Black, white, blue and red) was very artistic and stood out amongst the rest of the films for that reason alone. While it’s ending unforgettable as the two fall in love and resort to sucking on each other’s necks instilled both a sense of wrongness and humor, it was yet another brilliant piece of work.

Ultimately, Paris Je T’aime was a great way to end the class, after following the heavy dosage of drama and violence in The Godfather Parts I and II, this anthology film was perfect in lightening the mood and ending the class on a very happy, joyous and humorous note. Overall, I have truly come to appreciate film from a whole other level, and now understand the importance of having an open mind and thinking out-of-the-box when viewing movies and films alike.

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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The Godfather Part II: A Masterpiece Continued (083568)

The Godfather Part II, albeit a direct sequel to The Godfather, can be seen as a completely different film in its entirety. Detached from the first in the sense of style, the only thing it perhaps shares in common with its predecessor are the characters. The film is told in juxtaposition between the rise in power of Michael Corleone to that of a young Vito Corleone. It is done so in such a way that brings about a whole new edge to the franchise, it invokes understanding and reason as to why the mob life is the way it is.

What I enjoyed in particular was the style of the film, the juxtaposition between past and present (Vito and Michael Corleone) worked effortlessly for the plot and I believe the film benefitted from the two stories being compared and contrasted simultaneously. Every time the present story line of Michael cut back to that of Vito in the past, it was as if taking a fresh breath of air after spending much time submerged in the violence and cold heavy world of the gangster life that Michael lives. Looking back upon the life of a young Vito, we as the audience are exposed to his roots and I personally found it all the more captivating that the future Don was a very humble and sincere working husband that only did what he had to do for the love of his family. It shows that beneath the rough and cold-blooded exterior of the mob boss Don Vito Corleone lies the humble beginnings and compassion of a family man.

All of this juxtaposed with that of the rise of Michael as the new Godfather, it really sets apart how different the two are, although they are family. Michael is all about the business, at times he does show his respects towards the importance of family (He refused to have Fredo harmed whilst his mother was alive), while at the same time his cold-blooded gangster side is what controls him as he shows no hesitation in issuing the order to murder his brother Fredo towards the film’s end. Michael won’t stop at anything to remain in power, even his marriage falls a part as his wife no longer feels the love they once shared, in essence Michael is nothing like his father and that is made no clearer than when the two are contrasted right next to one another.

By the film’s end we are greeted with a flashback of the Corleone family during a birthday of Don Vito. During the scene we see Michael announce his enlistment into the army to fight in the war much to the disapproval of his brothers and family except Fredo, ironically he is the only one who supports his decision. The scene ends with Michael alone at the dinner table while the rest of the family leaves to greet Don Vito, the family can be heard in the back singing while Michael sits in the table, the film then cuts to Michael on a park bench alone staring out into space further emphasizing the displacement Michael feels towards his family, that he is a loner and that his actions should not come off as a surprise but more seen as a long time coming.

Ultimately, The Godfather Part II brings more depth into the characters of the Corleone family, especially in that of Michael and Vito, it is a tragic film at it’s core and it is this tragedy that drives the movie. Another classic, this film I personally enjoyed much more than the first Godfather.

 
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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The Godfather: A Film That One Can’t Refuse (083568)

It’s difficult to talk about one of the most critically acclaimed films of all time, for the reason that there is just so much to be said. The Godfather for many is an instant and timeless classic, a movie that has set the standard for other films to strive to be like. I myself enjoyed the film, it falls nothing short of the epic ambiance that it instills right from the opening credits as the audience is greeted by the infamous scoring of the Godfather soundtrack. It’s tune now infamous and directly linked to heart and soul of the Godfather series.

A gangster film at it’s core, the Godfather is an epic tale of the Corleone family through the rise and fall of Michael Corleone. Filled with violence, blood and gore, at first glance this may seem as more of an action film than anything else. However after an entire screening, it would be rather obvious that this is a film best filed under the genre of drama. Francis Ford Coppola’s work is rightfully described as a masterpiece, and after viewing the movie I can’t argue with the high praise that I’ve always heard about it.

What I exceptionally liked about the film was how it was both sincere and sadistic in it’s own right. At one moment we as the audience would be listening to Don Vito talk about the importance of family and how even the involvement of narcotics in the mafia business would bring about nothing but trouble, in a sense Don Vito was a very noble and respectable man as the Godfather. However, in the next scene we would then see men being garroted and strangled to death by orders of the same man whilst being justified as all a part of business. The Godfather doesn’t fail to erect the cold, heartless and deceptive atmosphere of the mafia world.

Towards the end of the film, in its climax, the movie juxtaposes the irony between the sanctification of the catholic beliefs of the Corleone family during the christening of Connie and Carlo’s son to that of the relentless killing as ordered by Michael. In essence, although kept cool, calm and somewhat comforting on the surface, the mafia world is exposed for all its blood, gore and backstabbing that it enthralls. The Godfather speaks volumes not just about mob life but about the importance of family. What stood out to me throughout the film was how Don Vito never failed to teach Michael the importance of family and how he should place his family above all else. Amidst the gangster life that he lived, it was the lone bright spot that shed some light into the darkness of the Godfather.

The scene which I feel captures the soul of The Godfather film is the famous part when studio head Jack Woltz in terror is greeted in the morning with the fresh head of his most prized horse in his bed, covered in blood (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzlsmSqSqXI&feature=related). As Tom Hagen comes to greet Woltz with a caring and warm personality and nature, it completely masks his true intentions, that these people are going to get what they want no matter what the cost. The Godfather leads many into a false sense of security before whiplashing it right back into their face, this scene captures the deceptive spirit of the mob world and the coldness that it ensues, whilst being simplified as “business” which adds all the more to it’s heartless nature.

Ultimately, despite what the film may stand for, it is utterly a tale of epic proportions set in a gangster world. It is a film not worth watching but worth experiencing, a film that one simply can’t refuse.

 
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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Zodiac: A Murder Mystery at its Best (083568)

Zodiac, a film by the critically acclaimed director David Fincher, lives up to his repertoire and if not, may even surpass it if possible. The second time for me to view this film, I’ve come to appreciate it so much more. What Fincher has done is truly remarkable, taking what seemingly may come off as “boring” and “dull” in essence that this is a film almost entirely about research and study, instead he has used his skills and talent to produce a motion picture that will keep the bravest of souls at the edge of their seats in suspense.

Gritty in nature, the film revolves around the mystery of the Zodiac killer, based on true events. What I exceptionally enjoyed about the film as well was the excellent use of scoring and a soundtrack that would pierce directly into the souls of the audience. Although perhaps more than 90% of the movie is dialogue, it is what that dialogue revolves around that keeps the movie so entertaining and enthralling. Witty, smart and humorous,  the conversations had in Zodiac are a prime example of how dialogue can carry a film. The exchange of words between Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.’s characters are captivating and charming in their own right. As are the moments of dramatic silence when clues are coming together and the excitement that ensues of a character realizing a sudden connection in evidence or previous information that was mentioned.

I absolutely love it when a detective is putting together the pieces of a puzzle, it’s exciting, adrenaline packed and leaves the audience with the utmost desire to hear what this all boils down to. The twists are there, just as there are red herrings as well. It is in fact these false clues that leave the audience cringing at their seats, shrugging while trying to cover their eyes and ears and yet still can’t take their eyes off the screen. For example, when Gyllenhaal’s character is at the home of a movie poster maker for who he believes shares the same writing style as that of the letters from the Zodiac killer, the audience is met with an eerie silence and absolute shock when the man mutters “I made those posters,” thus insisting that this man is the killer himself. The tension in a split second is built to a breaking point and just when it seems that the situation could not get any more intense, Gyllenhaal’s character proceeds to go to the basement with the aforementioned man only to let his suspicions and fear get the best of him as it climaxes with him hastily running out of the household. It is these moments that make the film so amazing and emotional.

My personal favorite part of the movie was towards the end, when Gyllenhaal’s character enters the store where he believes the prime suspect of the Zodiac killer now resides. Previously in the film we hear Gyllenhaal’s character mention how he is driven to find this man because he needs to “look him in the eye and know it was him.” In this scene we see his character enter the store and ask for the assistance of an employee (the suspect), what transpires is a dramatic shot of Gyllenhaal’s character starting into the eyes of the suspect whilst nothing at all is being said. With nothing but that, the film is somehow resolved as he has fulfilled what he had set out to do, leaving the audience with closure that that man was indeed the Zodiac killer.

Ultimately, this was a fantastic film and has now become one of my all-time favorites. The eerie and violent nature of the film makes one want to look away and at the same time desire for more. A thrilling ride from start to finish, Zodiac showcases how murder mysteries should be made and its effect when at its best.

 
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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Spider: A Web of Lies (083568)

A psychological thriller at its core, Spider doesn’t fall short of the unsettling and uneasy atmosphere that it generates thanks largely in particular to the unique and troubled character of the schizophrenic Spider. Ralph Fiennes is amazing in his title role, and effectively communicates the troubled nature of this character. Throughout the entire the movie the story is told as a flashback from Spider’s point of view, however what is so unique is how the present-time character of Spider is juxtaposed next to that of the young Spider in the same scenes.

What I enjoyed about the film was how it was told, it was unique and very different from most movies that revolved around a murder mystery that made heavy use of flashbacks. The contrast between that of the grown-up Spider and his young self made for a great character study and really showcased the troubled nature of this man. A film that has a schizophrenic as its protagonist may seem lost and susceptible to confusing the audience, however director David Cronenberg has done an amazing job in keeping the disturbed atmosphere throughout the motion picture whilst never leaving the audience abandoned by the mind boggling nature of Spider and his memories.

Personally however, I felt that the film was a bit too disturbing for me to enjoy, as great as the plot was and as amazing a character that Spider is, the schizophrenic and freaky nature of Spider himself left me detached from the film, I never found that angle which I cold relate with. Thus given the nature of the film, the twist at the end wasn’t all that surprising and should have come to be expected given the variables present in the movie. A film that I feel will only be understood the more times it is viewed, I don’t think it has provoked enough interest in me for a second viewing.

Despite the unsettling ambiance of the film, what I did love about it was the crime-solving like characteristic of Spider. I love mysteries and Spider didn’t fall short of that as Ralph Fiennes tries to retrace his steps in what led to the murder of his mother. However, given his state of mind, everything that was put on screen was left to be questioned regardless due to his schizophrenic nature. I felt that it left way too many loose-ends as there wasn’t a clear cut way of determining whether what we were seeing was a figment of Spider’s imagination or perhaps in fact reality. Although the “web-weaving” of Spider served as a metaphor for his mind and how he constructs it to see what he wants to see, when it boils down to it, this story could be nothing more than the imagination of a schizophrenic gone wild with no truth to it at all.

Ultimately, Spider is a character driven film and done so to near-perfection by Ralph Fiennes and his co-stars. Miranda Richardson is fantastic as well showcasing her talent as an actress is playing multiple roles so convincingly as to boggle the mind even further. By the film’s end, although left with somewhat of a conclusion, leaves much to be desired and left up to personal interpretation which I personally like. It encourages one to dig deep into the characters of the film and deduce for one’s self whether certain event did in fact transpire or if it was all simply a part of Spider’s unique and troubled mind.

 
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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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V for Vendetta: An Experience

This film has grown to become a popular favorite amongst many filmgoers, especially those of the youth and adolescent audience. With its stylish graphics, a badass protagonist (or perhaps antagonist) and loads of heart-stopping action along with the beautiful Natalie Portman, it’s clear that there is very little to dislike here.

I personally loved the film as well, for all the reasons above and so much more. On the surface, V for Vendetta is an action packed film led by the unrelenting and seemingly invincible character of V. However, digging deeper the film speaks volumes about politics, freedom and revolution. I found that the character of V served in its entirety as a symbol for the power of a single idea. He even mentions it himself during the climax of the film when he is single handedly dismantling Creedy and his bodyguards, “Beneath this mask is an idea… and ideas are bulletproof” he says just before choking Creedy to his death. Indeed, this film has stirred my belief in the power of a single idea and how it can be used to fight against something so strong as politics or the government rule, just as V had done. He led a revolution against the totalitarian government of the United Kingdom and brought it to its knees through sheer willpower. Evey’s monologue in the beginning of the film even blatantly talks about the power of the idea and how it transcends that of human life and existence. In a sense, one’s mortality can be surpassed into the realm of immortality through a single idea.

Other than the in depth personal interpretations that this film brings about in many moviegoers, I enjoyed it for the simple things that it brought on screen, hardcore action in slow motion. It’s no surprise that the most memorable scene for me in this film was the climax between V and Creedy’s bodyguards, that fight was remarkable for it’s effects and gut wrenching action plain and simple. Amazing choreography seemed as if it was an interpretive dance almost, mixed with the blood and gore it was difficult to even blink during this beautiful sequence of shots.

What I also enjoyed about the movie was how it communicated the dystopian atmosphere so fluidly and believably to the audience. It really made me feel worried for what the future has in store for society and where we are headed as a civilization. The doom and gloom like nature of the film bodes well for the plot and characters as it leaves the audience without any hope except for the single source of light in the character of V who fights against this evilness. However, what also makes this character all the more unique is how he may even be seen as an antagonist given the point of view for the individual. It leaves us to question whether he is a sane man seeking vengeance against those who have done him and the people wrong, or if he is just an insane man out of his mind and on a relentless tear of violence and destruction across the country.

Overall, V for Vendetta is an amazing and captivating film that will keep one at the edge of his or her seat. Filled with stylish action along with fantastic cinematography and an eloquent script, this is a movie not to be viewed but experienced.

 
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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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La Jetée / Primer: Lost in Translation (083568)

These two films revolved around one of my most favorite of topics or rather plot schemes, time travel. To begin with La Jetée, what surprised me right from the start was the obvious use of still photos to tell the story. Both unique and creative, it was a very intriguing way to go about directing a film as it would immediately capture the attention of its viewers. As to why the director would choose to use still frames, I personally feel it is because it adds to the dramatic effect that this film is all about. With the shocking twist by the film’s end, that the man was actually witnessing his own death as a child, the use of still photographs works well in capturing those moments. As if telling the story in the form of a documentary almost, with the dialogue serving as the voice over for each still frame, it only can add to the dramatic feel of the plot.

The still frames also capture the emotion of each of the films important moments, such as the pain and agony that these test subjects feel during the experiments, or the love that the man feels for the memory of woman he saw in his past. Quite literally a motion picture, La Jetée although may be captivating for its story and plot twists, it is unforgettable for its methodic use of still frames.

Moving onto Primer, I personally really enjoyed this film. It was fantastic, albeit way too confusing for it’s own good, it has perhaps grown notorious for that reason alone. Taking the use of scientific lingo to a whole new level, it’s become commonplace for many first time viewers to despise the film simply for that reason alone, that they just don’t understand the dialogue. However, if one were to look past that, they would find that Primer is an amazing well thought out journey through time and back.

What I really loved about this film was its ability to make the audience think for themselves. It brought about many questions, and although it may not answer them all, it left room for personal interpretation. It didn’t spoon feed the audience which is something I’ve come to appreciate from films that do so, it lets them find out for themselves that this movie is about time travel. I personally found it exciting when the two characters of Aaron and Abe are realizing just what exactly they have stumbled upon in their garage, very subtly it shows the development and growth of these two characters when faced with such power.

My favorite scene in the film was when Abe brings Aaron to a field and tells him to be calm and watch what is about to happen, what transpires is Aaron witnessing Abe’s “double” walking into a building. It’s moments like this why I love the film so much, so subtle and effortless, the film becomes very eerie and almost horror or thriller-like. “What was that? Was that Abe?!” were what I was thinking when Aaron saw Abe’s double, and it was then when it clarified for me that this film was indeed about time travel.

The only downfall to this film, as mentioned before, would be the in depth use of scientific words and phrases that the average movie-goer would cringe at, however what makes it all the more amazing is that every bit of their dialogue is indeed scientifically accurate, no to the point that time travel is made plausible but more to the extent that everything is connected on a scientific level and isn’t complete fiction. Because of that, it leaves one to wonder and really question the possibility of time travel.

 
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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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