Tag Archives: Oscars

48. Cube – Vincenzo Natali (1997)

First Viewing.

Super low budget, it’s Canadian and it’s about, well, a Rubik’s cube with serious issues; it likes to kill people. On the face of it it’s not exactly the type of film I’d be rushing out to watch usually, but I thought I’d give it a go due to a combination of good reviews and peer pressure. And, I’m not going to say I wish I hadn’t seen it, but it didn’t rock my world (I’ve never used that phrase before, and, reading it back, I don’t think I ever will again!) I can live with the dubious special effects, I can live with the weird set-up, I can almost live with the awful dialogue, but when certain characters started acting like they’ve been lobotomised half way through the film I lost interested. I understand that the characters, who are trapped inside this killer box, are under intense pressure to escape, but really, you don’t go from being a good guy to a total dick in the space of 30 seconds. If you’re a huge sci-fan it’s probably worth checking out, or if you find a regular Rubik’s cube just far too easy you might want to take a look too, otherwise I’d watch something else.

Marks out of ten – Five

*Bonus Oscar related content!*

Being a huge Woody Allen fan I’d like to see Midnight in Paris sweep the Oscars up, but that’s never going to happen. Midnight in Paris isn’t actually even close to some of Woody’s best work, so I shan’t be overly gutted if he goes home empty handed. It’s not like he’ll give a fuck either way. I quite liked Moneyball too, but that’s because I’m a closet baseball and stats geeks. I guess I might not feel the same if I had zero interest in the sport. I’d also like to see Gary Oldman win for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but I’m finding it hard to find any other films I truly love out of the nominated bunch, so that’s a big “meh” from me on what goes on to win tonight…

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45. Take Shelter – Jeff Nichols (2011)

First Viewing.

Micheal Shanon is one of my favourite actors and it’s great to see him getting the lead in such a fantastic and complex movie as Take Shelter. Anyone who has seen Sam Mendes Revolutionary Road will recall Shannon’s scene stealing performance as the crazed son of Kathy Bates. He is an actor who really gets inside his character’s mind. And the mind Shannon gets inside in Take Shelter, Cutis’is one that needs some serious care, attention and rather a lot of therapy. Without giving too much away Curtis starts experiencing a deluge of dreams, delusions and/or premonitions concerning a storm about to hit his town. These dreams are either a terrible warning, the first signs of hereditary mental illness or a reaction to the stress he has been under, or, perhaps, a combination of all three possibilities. With these possibilities weighing heavy on Curtis we get to see the very  best of Shannon’s acting abilities, and he gives one of the finest performances of the year. It’s a real actors workshop going on. You can’t take your eyes off of him.

The director, Jeff Nichols, handles the apocalyptic-world’s-going-to-end genre in a way I’ve not seen before, it’s incredibly engaging and deep. It doesn’t offer up answers or a tidy conclusion, if anything you’re left with more questions by the end of the film than you had two thirds of the way through it. It encompasses many interesting elements, from the existence of a god right through to what it means to be a father/husband/son and onto the difficult issue of mental illness. I’m really quite shocked that films such a The Descendants, Moneyball and Hugo can be showered with Oscar nominations, but films like Take Shelter and Martha Marcy May Marlene – which ask difficult questions of the viewer and make for great, captivating cinema – are criminally snubbed. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised to see such accomplished films ignored in favour of the established, bankable directors/actors as it happens almost every year now….

Marks out of ten – Eight

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44. Martha Marcy May Marlene – Sean Durkin (2012)

First Viewing.

Films with Olsen family members in the cast are usually to be avoided like the plague, I think I can just about name one movie staring an Olsen, (it’s Mary-Kate, if you’re interested) that’s worth seeing. So, naturally I think, there was a certain amount of trepidation preceding my viewing of Martha Marcy May Marlene featuring Elizabeth Olsen as the lead. However, I am ashamed/pleased to say that she, Miss E Olsen, is rather talented. It may not have been the toughest stretch in cinematic history for her to play a character so lacking in emotional diversity and enthusiasm for life, but she pouts, shrugs and sighs her way through a fine performance. She captures Martha’s fragility of mind perfectly, never making us love or hate the character and thus detract us from Martha’s struggles. It a very nicely balanced performance.

The director, Sean Durkin, makes his feature debut with MMMM and it’s a stunningly well controlled piece of cinema, especially from a rookie director. It would be easy for this piece to turn into a turgid, unwatchable movie, yet it’s rather accessible. That’s not to say it’s an easy watch, it does contain rape and other disturbing scenes, but you never get the sense the film is looking for attention by incorporating such difficult situations into its story. If you’re unaware of the movie it concerns a group of people, mainly girls, living together in a compound that’s basically run as a cult by the ever so creepy Patrick, (played fantastically by John Hawkes.) It’s very dark and not much fun, but it has real depth and it draws you into the film scene by scene. The story intrigues and is well told, mainly via flashback, and the direction is spot on. It really should have received Oscar nominations ahead of some obviously weaker films.

Marks out of ten – Eight

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