Monday, October 21, 2013

Cinematic Paradox Turns Four!

As I said yesterday, this may be the fourth anniversary of the day I sat down at my Dad's PC and wrote my first one paragraph review of Let the Right One In, but technically I can only claim this as my blog's 3.25th birthday, since I deserted y'all for eight months.

The thing that I find strange, though, is that when I sat down to write that first review, I was a little grasshopper just about finishing my first year of high school. These days, I'm an overly emotionally attached year thirteen ten days out from finishing proper school, one and a half months away from handing in my badge as head girl, and three months away from leaving the North Island to become a South Islander.

Needless to say, times have changed a lot since those naive days where we all took school way too seriously for no apparent reason.

And yes, my reviews got longer, and more in depth than "you all suck for loving Twilight lulz".

Alas, through all of the changes, achievements, turns and toils of growing up to be classy enough to watch Blue Jasmine with a glass of wine in the glass holder, movies and this blog have been a constant (with the exception of this year, but they've always been there in my heart...or something like that). So over the four years, I've seen some good films, some bad films, some wow-that's-arty films, and some films that came to define my years of not only blogging, but my years at high school. In celebration of the fourth anniversary of my fingers hitting the keyboard of the blogosphere, I decided to make a list of the definitive films, film-makers, actors and actresses who have boosted my love for film. I guess I can say that these were the things I "grew up with".


The definitive films of 2009

Let the Right One In / The Hangover / 500 Days of Summer

Of course, we should start with the film that started it all. Let the Right One In, I believe, was the first foreign film I ever saw, and while all I could say about it back then was "I hate Twilight", I have definitely come to appreciate that beautiful film a lot more. (500) Days of Summer was one I saw just a couple of weeks before seeing this film, and one that has been a go-to film ever since. And I couldn't miss out The Hangover, as I have probably seen that movie the most out of any movie, and if you ever asked me to I could recite the whole movie. Such a shame they decided to give it two copy-and-paste sequels.

The definitive films of 2010

Up in the Air / An Education / A Single Man / The Social Network / Inception / Animal Kingdom / Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

2010 was probably the best year of film I have seen (though I have a feeling 2013 is coming on strong). I'll get to Inception and The Social Network later, since they were a fairly big part of my entire life, as you all know. But I had Up in the Air presenting an unsettling representation of the world we live in, An Education for being literally the only film that makes me want to study every second of the day, A Single Man making me realise that my film tastes were too good for the people of Dannevirke, Animal Kingdom for giving me faith in Australian film and also completely flawing me with that final scene and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World for being the best box office flop I didn't see in theatres (still feeling really bad about that).

The definitive films of 2011

Schindler's List / The Tree of Life / Midnight in Paris / War Horse

This looks like a pretty empty list, but you'll find a whole lot of 2011 films in my filmmakers section, as this was a year that defined my film loving. The Tree of Life, the first film I saw at my local arthouse cinema and also the first Jessica Chastain film I saw, and definitely one of the more confusingly beautiful experiences I have had. Midnight in Paris just simply made me fall in love. Even though I saw War Horse in early 2012, I still had a strong personal connection to the film, one which I'd never had with a film before. However, the film that perhaps defined my love of film and defined my life was Schindler's List, which we watched in class, and I had never seen a film with not only such an important story, but made the way Steven Spielberg made it. That film inspired me to be a better person, and to want to be a filmmaker even more.

The definitive films of 2012

Drive / We Need to Talk About Kevin / Goodfellas

Yes, this is a tiny group, but as I say, it'll all make sense when I get to the filmmakers. I don't know why I haven't revisited Drive for over a year now, but bless that film for its style and soundtrack. We Need to Talk About Kevin was a film I became strangely infatuated with, despite the really scary topic and how there was an earthquake on the first two occasions I saw it. It was just such an infinitely well made film. And Goodfellas is a film I don't really talk about enough, but I truly love that film. Even with the breaking the fourth wall, which I still count as one of the biggest crimes against cinema.

The definitive films of 2013 so far

The Perks of Being a Wallflower / The Great Gatsby / Gravity

No, I haven't seen a lot of films this year, hence a sparse list. The Perks of Being a Wallflower succeeds in being a movie that is probably the closest to my heart. In fact, a couple of months back I watched it and cried throughout the entire thing, because it just rips me apart. The Great Gatsby may not be the best film I've ever seen, but hey, I can't stop watching it, and I'm in love with Baz Luhrmann. And then there's Gravity, which, as I say, is our generation defining film. Woohoo.

And a special mention to...Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight.

I am absolutely in love with these three films. I want to write films as good as these. I want to be as consistently good as Richard Linklater. I want to marry Celine and Jesse.


Quentin Tarantino / David Fincher / Christopher Nolan / Sofia Coppola / Kathryn Bigelow / Krzysztof Kieslowski / Steve McQueen / Paul Thomas Anderson / Derek Cianfrance

Quentin Tarantino was indeed the first filmmaker I ever loved, from seeing Pulp Fiction at the age of 12, but he has released Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained in the time I've been blogging, and they're both strangely unique spins on history, only as he could do them. I think he has one of the most impressive resumes in the filmmaking industry, but that also goes for David Fincher and Paul Thomas Anderson. I first discovered Fincher at the beginning of 2009 with the beautiful The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (which I will go on defending for the rest of my life), but I particularly came to love him when The Social Network came out, and I do think that's the closest we'll ever get to a perfect film in this decade. Just everything about it...ugh, it is so perfect. Paul Thomas Anderson came into my life in 2011, when I saw all of his films through the year, and I've never seen such consistency. Boogie Nights is probably my favourite, but I'll never get over Daniel Day-Lewis' performance in There Will Be Blood. Also in 2011, I was introduced to Krzysztof Kieslowski by fellow Kiwi Tyler, and I watched the Three Colours trilogy and The Double Life of Veronique within close range of each other. Those are all beautiful examples of filmmaking at its very finest.

Then we have Steve McQueen and Derek Cianfrance, two directors who I've only seen two features from, but I can tell that these guys are going to be two of our best filmmakers in years to come. Cianfrance's Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines are two subtly hard-hitting masterpieces, with some rather challenging narratives (Pines especially). Steve McQueen is a filmmaker who I can't ever see doing anything wrong. Hunger and Shame are two five-star films for me, and by the looks of things, 12 Years a Slave will be much the same. Shame is just perfection in cinema, which is always tough to explain to people.

But then we have my biggest inspirations. First off, we have my two lady idols who take charge: Sofia Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow. I love all of Sofia Coppola's films, especially since they're from like another, pretty planet. But Kathryn Bigelow is literally the reason I am where I am today, leadership wise. When she won that Oscar was literally the moment where I decided to not be a follower and to instead be a leader. And funnily enough, Zero Dark Thirty is one of the most definitive films I've seen, because me and Maya are so similar it's scary.

But of course, as you all know, the most definitive filmmaker I've had in the past four years has been none other than Mr. Christopher Nolan. I think at one point, I had Memento, The Dark Knight and Inception all in my top five of all time. I've done plenty of explaining about my love for this man (and his suits), so I won't say much more. Thank you for the cinema, Chris, and I already have my tickets pre-booked for Interstellar. No word on whether my body will be able to take a film by you starring Jessica Chastain, Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Matt Damon, though. I'm already having heart palpitations just thinking about it.


Jessica Chastain / Leonardo DiCaprio / Joseph Gordon-Levitt / Cate Blanchett / Amy Adams / Rebecca Hall / Michael Fassbender / Ralph Fiennes / Cillian Murphy / Mark Strong / Ezra Miller

I don't think there's anything that has been as 'definitive' on this blog as my obsessions with actors. Who remembers my Cillian Murphy phase in 2010? I'm still surprised about how many of his films I could knock out in such a short time. I think 2011 brought me the Ralph Fiennes phase, after I decided that his performance in Schindler's List was my favourite performance of all time. And then, last year, I had my big Ezra Miller phase, which has died down a bit now since he seems to have disappeared off the face of the Earth. All through the four years, though, I've seen everything that Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cate Blanchett, Amy Adams, Rebecca Hall, Michael Fassbender and Mark Strong have done, and probably won't be stopping on that any time soon. But of course, there is Jessica Chastain, who is not only one of the best actresses around, but also probably the best person around. Yeah, she's half the reason I am where I am. And luckily, she releases about 10000 films a year so I always have something of hers to watch.

So those are the films and people I grew up with...I suppose you could say I grew up in good company. Cheers for the past four years, and taking me back after the eight month hiatus. It's been a wild ride...let's hope it continues!


  1. Yaay Happy Blog Birthday!

    Lovely post as always.

    The Before movies are so great, right? I love them too (well, at least the first two. My issues with the last are well-documented).

    1. You have issues with the last? But I love that one! Though I'm going to wait until I watch the last one again before I make my rankings, but I think the first one is my fave.

  2. Happy blog birthday! Might I suggest as celebration venturing into the works of a few other directors? I have a feeling that you'll like John Cassavetes' work.

    1. I watched A Woman Under the Influence earlier this year and loved it...will definitely be seeking out some more in the future!

  3. Congrats and glad to have you back!

  4. Happy 4th B-day Cinematic Paradox. Here's to four more years.

  5. Happy 4th birthday to your wonderful blog, Stevee. As you know, you were the inspiration for kicking my blogging into gear on my own page, so I'll forever be grateful to you for that!

    1. That's more than okay - I'm extremely happy about that fact!

  6. Many Happy Returns young Stevee - it seems like so much has happened in four years, but also that they have passed in a blink...doesn't it? I'll count myself very luck if we can get four more years of Paradox!

    1. A lot has happened in those years, yes, but it's weird to think this has been going for four whole years! Crazy. Hopefully the next four years will be just as amazing!

  7. Happy Happy Blog Birthday Stevee!!! Yes you are in great company and I'm glad we share our admiration for Jessica Chastain, glad she she is as prolific as she is talented, just like you :D

    1. Thanks! Nah, I'm not near as prolific and talented as Jess, but I wish I was! Haha

  8. Happy (belated) blog birthday! 2010 really was a great year for film. Arguably one of the best in my opinion. Great lists!

    1. Definitely one of the best. That and 2007. I have a feeling this year will end up being pretty great, too. Means we have a good year every three years. Good things come in threes :)

  9. Happy belated blog birthday! :)

    Thrilled to see you back on here. It's interesting to see which films, directors and actors have shaped your love of cinema. Love the special mention of the Before trilogy, and I'm glad Kieslowski made your list of directors. He's my second favorite director behind Bergman.

    1. Kieslowski is great! I really need to watch more Bergman. I think I've only seen Persona, which was ages ago and I don't think I understood it very much. Aw well, the love of cinema can always grow!

  10. Happy birthdaaaaay! :)

    I've nominated you for a blogger award. The link won't be live until 5pm Tuesday though.

    I miss my old film blogging days (I had Final Cut) and would love it if you would check out the film section of my blog or the guest posts I write for aliljoy.


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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