In Uncategorized on September 30, 2010 at 2:38 AM
Movie #16 Jar City
(2006, Iceland, d. Baltasar Kormakur)
Jar City is a murder mystery that never grasps you in its originality or entrances you in its storytelling. It’s simply decent, and in a list of movies that I have begun so far, “decent” doesn’t even measure up. There are moments of tension and inspired filmmaking here and there (a blood stain on a shattered window that leads to a third act paradigm shift, for one) but overall nothing stands out except for the scenery: The Icelandic environment is captured so beautifully and so subtly I couldn’t help but wish there were some more establishing shots.
In Uncategorized on September 27, 2010 at 8:41 PM
Movie #15 The Big Heat
(1953, USA, d. Fritz Lang)
Today I had my first foray into a Fritz Lang feature. I had been waiting to get into his films for awhile now and I’m glad I did. This is definitely one of my favorite films. Made in 1953, the dialogue (and subtext as well) was so incredibly rich. It enraptured my attention like only a few Black and White films can really do to a modern day moviegoer. And finally, the direction was nearly flawless. Holding to a mostly film noir standard of filmmaking, Lang breaks a few of those rules just to keep the audience on their feet, including completely eliminating the role of the femme fatale on men’s fates. The most impressive thing for me, though, was the humor. The quips and jests and innuendoes were scattered but strong and it added to a great viewing. Finally, how Lang managed to come from a different country and direct an American film about culture correctly astounds me. If only there were more filmmakers like him in this world…
In Uncategorized on September 26, 2010 at 10:24 PM
Movie #14 Secret Sunshine
(2007, S. Korea, d. Lee Chang-dong)
This film competed in the Cannes feature competition in 2007 and walked away with a Best Actress award for its lead actress played by Joon Do-Yeon. Kind of like yesterday’s movie, the film completely anchors itself on the actress’s performance. Thankfully, it is one of the best performances I’ve seen all year. One of my favorite actors – Sang Kong-ho – was completely overshadowed (deservedly so) by Do-Yeon in this tearjerker of a story about loss, religion, and human nature. Its delicate pacing and harsh realities grip the viewer and I hardly noticed its nearly 2 and a half hour running time.
In Uncategorized on September 26, 2010 at 6:14 AM
Movie #13 Buried
(USA, 2010, d. Rodrigo Cortes)
This movie takes place in a coffin. I don’t mean a most of it, or part of it – I mean all of it. It starts in the coffin, never leaves the coffin, and ends in the coffin. Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up in a coffin with a cellphone and a knife. He’s buried six feet under in Iraqi soil and needs to come up with 5 million dollars otherwise he stays. I think a Rotten Tomato reviewer said it best:
Wringing a seemingly impossible amount of gripping drama out of its claustrophobic premise, Buried is a nerve-wracking showcase for Ryan Reynolds’ talent.
I haven’t felt this hooked in a theater since Inception. The movie carried an intensity so unexpected, it blew me off my feet. Plus it’s a great wagon for Reynolds to showcase his truly legit dramatic chops. It’s on limited release here in Los Angeles but be sure to catch it when goes into wide release October 8, 2010. A great theater movie.
In Uncategorized on September 25, 2010 at 2:52 PM
Movie #12 I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK
(2006, S. Korea, d. Park Chan-wook)
Well this moment had to come. The first movie that I wasn’t all too crazy about. Having made his “Vengeance Trilogy” and “JSA”, Park Chan-Wook, one of my top 5 favorite directors, made a “romantic comedy” (that’s how it was marketed) about a girl who thinks she’s a cyborg. Imagine Amelie in a mental institution and you’ll get a taste of the movie. Since stylistically the two movies are so similar, it’s hard not to compare. But Amelie is the far superior film of the two. Don’t get me wrong: This movie has its moments of pure genius, the direction is superb, the vision is beyond anything you’ve seen before, and the characters are inspired. The story, however, just didn’t seem to move the audience along. I kept glancing at the clock. Although I do feel this deserves a second viewing of mine (one in which I’m more attentive), the moments of pure character inspired and brilliant situations the movie finds itself in occasionally are just not enough to save the lackluster pacing and plot of – unfortunately – Chan-Wook’s worst film.
(frames via moviesinframes)
In Uncategorized on September 24, 2010 at 5:10 PM
Movie #11 Au Revoir Les Enfants
(1987, France, d. Louis Malle)
I didn’t have the time to finish this film yesterday but I did today. Anyways, this film starts out very slow and almost gets you wondering when the plot is going to kick in. It’s set in France in WWII at a private school where a Catholic boy and Jewish boy slowly become friends. Given the time period, for the first half-hour I was just waiting for the plot to thicken. But it’s only when you accept that the plot itself is the friendship does the movie really open up. It’s a real heartbreaking story about the beautiful naivete of children.
In Uncategorized on September 22, 2010 at 8:14 PM
Movie #10 Memories of Murder
(2003, S. Korea, d. Bong Joon-Ho)
Song Kang-Ho is starting to become my favorite actor. He’s been in almost all of the Korean films I’ve seen and seriously the epitome of versatility. This movie is set in 1986 and is about the first serial killer in South Korea. The closest American movie I can compare it to is Zodiac by David Fincher, but this movie gets the exact same sentiments out in a much more enjoyable and tense manner. Apart from the high tension in this film, it was also extremely comedic. Again, Kang-Ho delivers high laughs in this film as a rural and just naive cop but in such a way that the situations are still real and plausible. A great film.
(frames via moviesinframes)
In Uncategorized on September 22, 2010 at 1:02 AM
Movie #9 Sneakers
(1992, USA, d. Phil Alden Robinson)
This may be my favorite heist film. The movie is hilarious – but not in a slapstick way. It has smart humor consists of incredible writing and boasts a perfect cast including the late River Phoenix and Sidney Poitier. It’s about hacking and puts the new Ocean’s 11 to complete shame. Robinson also wrote and directed Field of Dreams. Two of the other writers wrote WarGames and went on to produce American Beauty. Watch this now. It’s an older movie but, apart from the soundtrack, you couldn’t tell.
In Uncategorized on September 21, 2010 at 1:37 AM
Movie #8 The Asphalt Jungle
(1950, USA, d. John Huston)
“Crime is just the left hand of human endeavor”
This is one of the first film noirs ever made in America. Specifically, it’s a gangster film noir. But even more special: it’s the first heist film. While heists were covered in gangster films past, this is the first film to have sequences developed to planning the heist and a (very tense) 11 minute heist scene.
It’s also a very good character study and very smoothly inserts the moralistic “Crime Does Not Pay” message at the end.
In Uncategorized on September 20, 2010 at 4:12 AM
Movie #7 Joint Security Area
(2000, S. Korea, d. Park Chan-wook)
The first week of my movie a day yearlong challenge has concluded and what a way to end it. One of my favorite filmmakers’ first works is an absolutely tension-filled and heartbreaking story about relationships both personally and politically on the DMZ. It starts off like A Few Good Men and then turns into something significantly more powerful. Kang-Ho Song delivers an incredible tour de force performance as he does in almost every single picture he’s in. Seriously, check this out. It’s so good.
(frames via moviesinframes)