Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Did Darren Aronofsky Keep Our Trust with Noah? (+ podcasting on The Matineecast)


The Christopher Nolan that made Following and Memento is not really the same Christopher Nolan that made the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception. He's got more money, more trust, more opportunities. Yet, there's a clear connection running through his body of work, the identifiable Nolan-ism that makes us realise that Following and The Dark Knight Rises are made by the same person, instead of feeling like a rote blockbuster made by the same guy that's made 20 blockbusters before that.

And this is the case with Darren Aronofsky and his biblical epic/passion project, Noah. I must admit, had this been made by another person, I wouldn't have been at all interested in it. But because this is a film made by the guy who has given us films like Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler, I was excited to see how he'd fare when he was given a few more dollars in his back pocket and the opportunity to tell a tale that would get the tongues wagging - perhaps more so than ever before.

Noah is indelibly a Darren Aronofsky film. It doesn't feel like it's cut from the same cloth as Aronofsky's other films, but it makes a nice addition to a nice enough patchwork quilt. Aronofsky is the kind of director that we could trust with anything - even The Wolverine, had he chosen to make this film - but Noah seems like the biggest thing we've trusted him with yet. Or is it the biggest film that we've trusted anyone with yet?

Hmmm, one has to ponder.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dream to Dare: Five Dares for Making a Film by Alexia Anastasio (Guest Post)

Hey guys - just a bit of an editorial note from me here. Lately I've been a little busy settling into my new job/failing at university so I've been lacking on the time front. I will post soon! But in light of my last, and extremely popular (yay yay yay) post on feminism being hard in the film industry, I'm happy to introduce a girl who is doing exactly what I want to see: marching to the beat of her own drum and being the change we want to see! I'm really excited to introduce you to Alexia Anastasio and her upcoming film, Little Fishes.


What if we were so courageous in our art and in our lives that we are the envy of all the content creators around us? Suppose all of us are looking for connection to a courageous muse? It’s true.

This desire is the Goliath in all artists. It’s an unstoppable giant that demands more and more of us until we either put more of ourselves in the game or we give up trying to battle Goliath. This challenge is the essential driving force as artists. As filmmakers, we are artists. In the end, we will disappear, but the art will be left. The challenge is what makes us daring and grow. Making films is about risk, not knowing where the reward is going to come from.

Though I am in love with my new movie, LITTLE FISHES, being in love is scary. I want to share this story with my audience, but I know that I must take risks to do it. Truth or dare? Both!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Being a Feminist is Hard, and Other Thoughts from a Filmic Female Dreamer

Prepare for a post full of paradoxes. About time I gave meaning to the shitty, nonsensical title I gave this blog when I was 14 and impaired by my Inception obsession.


I swore I would never write a big post on the state of feminism/females in the film industry. But after Ryan, who will forever be the rabbit I chase (not insinuating you are a rabbit, Ryan, but you get the metaphor I'm heading for here), posted a piece on Lena Dunham not pushing her case for females being given opportunities in the whole entertainment industry hard enough, I chimed in on the comments section. And hey, in the two hours of lectures that came after that comment, I decided I want to make a post on this ongoing saga.

I've never seen anything Lena Dunham has done apart from This is 40. Girls has been on my watchlist but considering I still haven't seen Game of Thrones season three, I don't think I'll be getting around to it any time soon. So really, I can't judge her standings on anything, but she did raise some valid points at SXSW where she noted that Adam Driver is getting some great role offers, yet the central female cast are not. Ryan said that Lena should aspire to write about more females rather than the ones she knows of. Fair points all round.



This is where I stand on feminism. You probably know by now that I want to be a filmmaker. It's leaning more towards writing screenplays because I want to write about females. The reason that I want to be a filmmaker stems back to the literal moment that Kathryn Bigelow won an Oscar for Best Director in 2010 (though she did win for a largely "male" film, which critics are quick to point out, but AT LEAST IT HAPPENED). Late last year, likely due to procrastination, I found myself reading Indiewire religiously, especially the Women in Hollywood/other pieces on women. Anything else I could find on the internet about this topic, I would read. I still do it. However, as this is inspiring and fuels my aspirations more, it's also poisonous.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday: An Education


I really shouldn't start a feature, because as seen in the past, I've been terrible at keeping them up, but I've had this one milling over in my head quite a bit over the past few months. Anyway, the simple premise of "Throwback Thursday" is not to share cute photos of myself frolicking in fields with horses when I was five and putting them on Instagram with the dubious #tbt. Instead, it is to kinda...look back on films that aren't all that talked about any more. But mostly, films that I once loved upon release (or if I delve into classic films, probably the films that had a huge influence on me a child) and how I feel about them now that I've had some distance and am re-evaluating them. Or it could just be random movies I just watched that aren't in IMDb's top 250 or every best of list of all time.

Whatever, it's mostly just films that were not made in the past couple of years. Even though half of you are probably saying that now the Oscars are over, films like Philomena are irrelevant. Because that's generally how awards season works. But that's another post.

Anyway, the subject of this week's throwback is Lone Scherfig's An Education, which, after three years (and I used to watch this all the time), I finally gave another watch. Mainly because every time I used to watch this film, I wanted to bury my head in books and study, and last night, I needed some motivation to jam my dome full of knowledge about Indian independence.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Annual Awards Nerdism: Ranking the Best Picture Nominees


I think I've done pretty well this Oscar season, seeing all but one Best Picture nominee - Nebraska - before Oscar time. And I must say, the quality has been high. Not 2010-2011 Oscar season level high, but pretty close to it. So here's my ranking of all of the films I've seen that are nominated:


8. American Hustle, Dir. David O. Russell
To be honest, American Hustle is probably the only Oscar nominee from this year that I didn't really like - it's skating someone in between a 2.5/5 and a 3/5. I just couldn't stand the sprawling nature of it and how the improvisation was so indulgent and distracting. Otherwise, it was fun enough and offered a few interesting insights, and had some stellar performances from Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper. There were parts of it that were great, and some not so great parts...it was a mixed bag that I struggle to understand how so many people loved it, but hey, everyone seems to love David O. Russell so that's cool. I do think that it'll end up going home without an Oscar to it's name, though.


7. Dallas Buyers Club, Dir. Jean-Marc Vallee
Now here's a film that would be nothing without the dedicated performances from Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. It tells a fairly basic story in a fairly basic way (and yes, it could fall into that dreaded 'Oscar bait' territory) but it manages to be touching, relevant and actually worthy of the gold bestowed upon it because of the two central performances. I wouldn't say that it is particularly memorable and will have a loud, proud place on the hall of fame, but since it's here right now, it is worth celebrating a little bit.


6. Philomena, Dir. Stephen Frears
This seems to be the dark horse to the awards, since it just showed up and it's just there. In fact, I wasn't even sure that I wanted to make the trip to the cinema to see it, but I'm glad I did. I'm also glad that Stephen Frears is back in the fray, because his last few films - Cheri, Tamara Drewe and Lay the Favourite - slipped under the radar even before they came out. Philomena is a devastating little film, which shows film-making and it's most plain but most able to tell a good story. Which I think is an achievement in itself, because good, simple storytelling is often overlooked for so many other aspects. Oh and yeah, I cried throughout the entire thing.


5. Captain Phillips, Dir. Paul Greengrass
I'm still not at all over this film. I found the clip of Tom Hanks' final scene in this film and it is still as emotionally scarring as it was the first time I watched it. To say that the entire film hinges on that one scene wouldn't be a compliment to the rest of the film, but that final scene is probably the best acting I've ever seen on film. However, the rest of the film is so intense and expertly made, that it brings true meaning to cinema being an experience. Plus, there's the incredible debut from Barkhad Abdi, who has justly been earning his share of accolades. And it's also great how unpatriotic this film is. Had it been in the hands of anyone else other than Paul Greengrass, this film could have been a two hour lovefest towards America, the land of the brave.


4. Her, Dir. Spike Jonze
I only saw this yesterday but it already has a special place in my heart. Probably because it made me happy and depressed in equal measure. Is it a sweet film? Yes. But is it a sign of worrying times? Yes. It manages to be so many things at once, much like Samantha herself. It's really difficult to sum up this film, other than to say that it tells a strange story and makes it strangely relatable. Such an endearing little film with perfect production design. So much to love.


3. 12 Years a Slave, Dir. Steve McQueen
If 12 Years a Slave wins tomorrow, I'll be emphatically happy. Mostly because Steve McQueen is a perfect director, and while this film is my least favourite of his, it still warrants a 5/5 rating from me. I can't help but feel like this is our Schindler's List and much will be said about this film in the future. And honestly, Steve McQueen did an almost perfect job of making this film (I really wasn't a fan of the early editing and Hans Zimmer's score, but the rest of it was amazing), making an utterly brutal, unflinching portrayal of something most filmmakers would shy away from. It's so, so, so great. I can't wait to see Steve McQueen up there accepting the award.


2. Gravity, Dir. Alfonso Cuaron
Gravity is the other favourite to take the award and I wouldn't mind seeing this one win either. Mainly because it is another film that is pretty much our generation's phenomenon: we'll be talking about it for years to come. It is masterful filmmaking of the highest order, it has changed things in cinema, it has reminded us that cinema is alive and kicking...and when you think about it, it is part of a very select group. So if it wins, I'll be very, very happy. There's nothing between both 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, which makes things ever so exciting.



1. The Wolf of Wall Street, Dir. Martin Scorsese
This doesn't have a shit show of winning (unless all the voters are on ludes, but we know they're all prudes, dude). But upon another watch this film became my favourite film of the year, and definitely a strong representative of our times. And, well, even though it is three hours long, every second is perfect. From the batshit crazy performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie (along with the amazing ensemble), to the wonderful screenplay, to the electric direction from Martin Scorsese, just...everything. This movie is probably scarier than all of the horror films from 2013 put together.

So, the big prediction:

Yessir, all bets are placed on 12 Years a Slave to take the big prize, with a little bit of competition coming from Gravity and (ugh) American Hustle. However, I doubt anything will be able to take down Steve McQueen's masterpiece.

What say you? Are you on the 12 Years a Slave camp? Guess we'll find out tomorrow!

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