Anyone doing anything great this weekend? One of my friends is having a Pre-Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday with a bunch of people so I’m excited about that. It’s potluck so I still have to decided what I want to bring. Other than that I’ll be doing alot of writing. I have been contracted to work on some project in my freelance writing business. I’m very grateful to have work coming my way. Hope you have a good one, and here’s a short list of some film-related posts I have come across the web this week…
Cloud Atlas too intellectual for American audiences?
Bored to Death the movie?
Looking forward to Jon Hamm’s Brit accent.
I came across this idea after reading a post on Cinematic Corner so I decided to put my own spin on it and discuss some of the actual life lessons I have been taught by movies. These are things that when I turn off the TV or walked out of the theater, it made my think about how I live my life and/or affected how I think about certain situations. I want to do this as more of a series, spreading out this post over time so I hope you come back to read more. And of course, I always lean toward arthouse flicks as my movies of choice so this list will discuss all things independent. So sit back and read some of the little pearls of wisdom I have gained along the way…
1. There is a level of trust implied in telling someone your real name. [Closer]
2. You can be truly alone in a city full of people. [Shame]
3. You can’t run away from your past forever. Also, never assume how far along a pregnant woman is. [Away We Go]
4. Saturday morning detentions are a bitch. Plus, applying lipstick with your cleavage is a lost art form that I must master. [The Breakfast Club]
5. Humanity is so connected that your actions, no matter how inconsequential, can have an affect on someone of a different culture, a different language, a different societial status. [Babel]
6. Domestic partnerships are so much like traditional marriage, it’s scary. And beautiful. [The Kids Are All Right]
7. Music is the soundtrack of our lives, so play on. Also, the process of coming up with a name for a queercore dance band will always be pure comedy. Oh, and never get a car that can be mistaken for a taxi cab. [Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist]
8. There is more than one way to love a city. [Paris, Je t’aime]
9. Reality. truly. bites. Plus, lead singers of bands usually have alot of angst to get off their chests. [Reality Bites]
10. A picture can really be worth a thousand words. In some cases, it can even define a man’s whole life and leave him with too great of a burden to bare. [The Bang Bang Club]
Stay tuned for more…
Best of 2011/ My best in film list, including (from top to bottom) Shame (best of the year), Beginners (drama), Bridesmaids (comedy), 50/50 (dramedy), Drive (action), Martha Marcy May Marlene (psychological thriller), Another Earth (sci-fi), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (remake/adaptation), and Margin Call (social commentary). Read more on why I choose these here.
Today marks the end of a great and memorable year for film. I’m excited to see what 2012 will hold. Here is what I considered to be the best in film for 2011, and therefore great suggestions if you haven’t seen them, depending on your mood:
Best Film of the Year: Shame
The movie that showed the brilliance of the collaboration of Steve McQueen as a director and Michael Fassbender as a breakout star. I can’t say enough great things about this film that was both stunning in a visual sense and in the raw emotions it conveyed.
Best Drama (which made you both smile and reach for a tissue): Beginners
My favorite film of the year next to Shame, I was drawn in by Mike Mills’ story of his father’s coming out after the death of his mother that he brings to the screen so thoughtfully. Christopher Plummer is a frontrunner for supporting actor for the major awards and he definitely deserves it. For me, this film is also Ewan McGregor’s reemergence as an actor to watch for his touching portrayal of a man who carries a sadness with him only exacerbated by the death of his parents.
Best Comedy (which made the thought of getting married even more fun): Bridesmaids
No one can deny that this movie was a force all its own. Mistakenly dubbed a “click flick” initially, it was the little movie that ignited laughter through masses of women AND men. While everyone was anticipating the release of Hangover II, Bridesmaids stole our hearts instead. Big props for this strong cast of women that demonstrated just how funny and wonderful we can be.
Best Dramedy (which made you glad you have a BFF): 50/50
I think the formula appeared to be a simple one at first - combine the bro humor that Seth Rogen provides with the enduring everyman nature of Joseph Gordon-Levitt to bring to life this film that mirrors the struggles of the screenwriter’s battle with cancer and support from his best friend. What we learned however is that Seth Rogen is sweet and enduring in his own way and JGL, in one of his best performances, can bring the funny.
Best Action Film (which was so much more than choreographed fight sequences): Drive
I’m not one for action movies and violence but I tolerated it in this stylish, arthouse entry starring Ryan Gosling and a certain white leather scorpion jacket. Sure it wasn’t some Jason Stathom action flick but that’s why it was so good. I could have done without the movie soundtrack but Ryan’s performance as the mysterious Driver made it worth it.
Best Psychological Thriller (which made you look over your own shoulder): Martha Marcy May Marlene
The film that introduced us to the great potential of Elizabeth Olsen and made us invest in her performance as a young woman who flees from an abusive cult but she is working on her psychological escape. Is she paranoid or are they really after her? That is the question this film explores. Did it make us paranoid in the process? Yes.
Best Sci-fi Film (which really wasn’t sci-fi): Another Earth
Set against the backdrop of the discovery of a second Earth, or “Earth 2”, the story is really an engaging drama of a woman who struggles to live with what she has done and in some way make it up to the man who has lost everything. Though it probably wasn’t “sci-fi-y” enough for some, the second Earth that literally hovers background and the constant wonder of what we would say to our doppleganger if we were faced with them keeps you on edge.
Best Remake (which showed it can be done right): The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
A worldwide best-selling novel. A popular, original Swedish source film. David Fincher. Trent Razor. Oscar-winning editors. Rooney Mara in the role of her career. And that’s how it’s done, folks.
Best Social Commentary Film (which justified OWS): Margin Call
If you are like me, you sometimes wonder what the point of OWS protests. Then you watch a movie like this and get it. Loosely based on the Lehman Brothers debacle, the film was both fast-paced and a slow-burn on corporate ego, greed, and backstabbing, highlighting pros in film (Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Spacey) and newer kids on the block (Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley).
This weekend I headed over the the theater to see the much-anticipated Shame, the new film from Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender about a man who has trouble dealing with his sexual urges and whose sister unexpectedly drops by for a visit. As you would think, the film is blatantly sexual and erotic. But what made me uncomfortable the most was not the sexual nature of the film, but the raw emotions that were conveyed in every aspect of the main character’s life. Set in Manhattan, this is a portrait of a man who is surrounded the swells of the city but yet is very much alone. He represents a great dichotomy of extremes - a man who is on one hand sexually obsessed and on the other totally ashamed of this obsession. Much of the credit should be given to the great cast and the director who set the tone and conveyed emotions through long shots, glances, pauses, measured words and body language. This film is the stuff of 200-paged theses as it has a revolving amount of themes from the relation of men to women, the fear of intimacy, and the complexities of sexuality, as well as a slight infusion of race relations. My Grade: A
SPOILERS. Brandon is a man who is uncomfortable with getting too close emotionally. He is fearful of intimacy of any kind which manifests itself into extreme loneliness. His Manhattan apartment is sterile and lacks warmth. He doesn’t enter into any meaningful relationships or have any real friendships not meant to benefit him professionally. Because of his addiction, he also has to continue to go to extremes to satisfy himself sexually. He is a man who is a slave to his desires, and we watch his struggle with it through encounters with strangers and navigation of everyday life. It is also interesting to note that he is a golden boy, this person that no one believes could be sexually perverse, illustrated by his boss believing it was someone else who clogs his computer with porn. He hides within himself; no one knows who he really is.
The brother-sister dynamic is also very paramount to the story and it is through this relationship that we come to understand Brandon’s character in depth. Carey Mulligan (Sissy) is great here as the sister whose unexpected visit puts Brandon on edge. She is herself a very lonely character riddled with her own problems and who forces Brandon’s own issues into the light. She represents an emotional relationship that he can never really detach himself from. This is only exacerbated by her neediness, not only in her need to be taken care of but also her physical need for his affection. He is scared that he can never have normal contact with a woman because of his addiction which often affects him getting close to his sister. She also is aware, at least in part, of his sexual obsessions, which also causes him another layer of shame. Though she is in alot of ways his opposite - open, carefree, affectionate - she has a recklessness and her own inappropriate sexual inclinations that Brandon recognizes in himself. A combination of these things often causes him to lash out at her in both a verbally and physically abusive manner. Just when we are left to wonder if he cares for her at all, his heartbreaking response to her suicide attempt shows us that he is more scared, ashamed, and lonely than he is apathetic.
The film has made me a believer. I have to admit that I have never really taken the idea of sex addiction too seriously. Now I think it is very real. Just like how meeting someone that is an alcoholic is needed to truly understand it to be a real disease, watching this film has made me come to a deeper understanding about the compulsive nature of it, the emotional struggles attached to it, and how the easy access of sex can play into it.