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THEATRICAL REVIEW: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

April 24, 2015 1 comment
Kumiko, the Treasure HunterDirected by: David Zellner
Produced by: Jim Burke, Andrew Banks, Cameron Lamb, Chris Ohlson, Nathan Zellner; Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (exec.)
Written by: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner
Edited by: Melba Jodorowsky
Cinematography by: Sean Porter,
Music by: The Octopus Project
Starring: Rinko Kikuchi, Nobuyuki Katsube, Shirley Venard, David Zellner, Bunzo
Year: 2015 (wide)

 

Opening with a distorted epigraph declaring the following tale to be “based on a true story,” Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is actually based more in legend than true events. The true story became muddled thanks to a misunderstanding between Bismark, ND police officers and a Japanese woman named Takako Konishi, who had come to America from Tokyo and who the police had trouble communicating with thanks to a language barrier. Konishi was seeking some kind of refuge from her overwhelming depression somewhere near Minneapolis. She had lost her job back in Tokyo and had spent some time there with her married American businessman lover, whom she possibly came to see before tragically committing suicide near Detroit Lakes, MN. The language barrier between the police and Konishi, however led to the creation of an urban legend that Konishi had instead come to seek out the money-filled briefcase Steve Buscemi’s character had buried in the Coen Brothers film Fargo, believing the briefcase was real thanks in large part to that film’s epigraph declaring the story to be based on truth (it wasn’t) – this epigraph is, in fact, the very same one that Kumiko borrows for its own story. While David and Nathan Zellner here choose to focus on the myth for their story, however, in so doing, they actually manage to do justice to Konishi’s tragic story by portraying the heartbreaking truth of her emotions that were lost in translation through the story that far more people were compelled to listen to. Read more…

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2013 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 16, 2014 1 comment

Rush - Chris Hemsworth

FINALLY! The moment I’ve been building up to for far too long! It’s been a busy month… and a half… for me, but I’m finally done, and this is my last of my 2013 in Review articles! (Consequently, while none of these are exactly final reviews, many of them may as well be and portions of what is stated here may show up in a future review. For the sake of my sanity and my time, however, I’ve decided to present what I felt the need to write without very many edits!)

The format I’ve chosen for my annual Year in Review articles is a bit insane, I know, but while it’s time consuming, its also quite fun, and it’s just as much about sharing all the films released in the last year (or at least most, as I probably missed some in the sections where I went over films I didn’t get around to seeing) as it is about me locating films that you and I have both overlooked, which is also why a lot of the films I didn’t see this year made repeat appearances, as I couldn’t resist the urge to watch them, and it’s not like I’d be able to do another year in review for them, too, you know? This year, one of those movies I didn’t see at first but did during my writing these articles even made it onto this list, My Top Films of the Year!

The Wolf of Wall Street - Jonah Hill, Marching Band

So why don’t I call it “The Best Films of the Year”? It’s simple, really – it’s subjective, yes, but it’s also because even I switch around the order at times. I guarantee you that at some point in the past and future, I might have ordered these films differently. It took some time and thought, and this is ultimately what I felt comfortable enough with to publish, but I’ll tell you that this was a hard process, particularly in the top 10.

All of this year’s Best Picture Academy Award nominees are on this list. Seriously – I’ve even decided to mark the Oscar nominations this year. They were all very good and justifiably nominated, and while I might have my preferences as to who should win, they’re all remarkable, worthwhile films if you should ever consider watching them. Some of the other movies on this list, however, are also quite awesome, some of which I like better than the films that were nominated, and one of which I’m still very annoyed didn’t at least get the tenth vacant slot in their nominees list, just out of principle for how awesome it was. (I’m just going to tell you now, that movie is Inside Llewyn Davis.) How annoying!

The World's End - Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan - beer

So what of the rankings? Lists like these tend to demand them, so I include them, and I do think they are helpful in making priorities in our very busy lives as to what to see first and give preference to. Since the rankings are so subjective and sometimes even arbitrary, my main rule is to go with my gut on these things. Seriously. That’s what it boils down to. It’s a mixture of favoritism, enjoyment, entertainment, and, yes, the actual skill behind the scenes and within them. As such, films that were without a doubt brilliant masterpieces that will go on to receive tons of accolades and be remembered forever may be outranked by flash-in-the-pan popcorn films that have very little to say except, “Hey, look at this awesome thing we did!” but were also very skilled at doing so and are films that I will revisit time and time again whenever I want to be entertained. It’s hard to rank films of these sorts against one another, and if I felt that I could be that much more objective about these things and take out the entertainment factor, I would probably top load this list with all the heavyweight dramas and such. But I don’t think I can, so I don’t put up any airs of being able to do so.

But, you know, I think that’s alright. Variety is the spice of life, you know, and to say that dramas should be exalted at all times above the comedies and action films is, I think, false doctrine when it comes to film criticism and lessens the true value of joy and wonderment that isn’t always found in those serious dramas – so long as that joy and wonderment is done very well, of course.

So, with that all in mind, I feel I’ve prepared you for this eclectic list of my picks for not just the best films of the year, but also the ones that are my favorites, the ones I find most enjoyable, and the ones that blew me away with their spectacle. Read more…

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Review: “Jurassic Park III”

April 17, 2013 2 comments
Jurassic Park IIIDirected by: Joe Johnston
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Larry J. Franco
Written by: Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Edited by: Robert Dalva
Cinematography by: Shelly Johnson
Music by: Don Davis, John Williams (themes)
Starring: Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter
Based on the Jurassic Park book series by Michael Crichton
Year: 2001

 

I remember when I first found out this movie was actually a thing that was happening. It was amazingly sudden, if I recall correctly. I was still fairly new to the internet back in 2001, and the only magazines I read at the time were gaming magazines like Electronic Gaming Monthly, so it’s not like I was exactly up on the latest movie news. So imagine my surprise when I saw several ads and merchandise hanging around Wal-Mart (as it was written at the time) for a third Jurassic Park film that I had never even heard about. Read more…

The 84th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony: My Rough Summation

February 28, 2012 1 comment

I always call the Oscars “My Super Bowl,” if only because it often comes around the same time every year and roughly has the same amount of buzz surrounding it, though I’m not so sure it has the same number of viewers. (That’s a lie. I know it doesn’t. Didn’t stop me from pigging out on a nice enchilada-style chimichanga like it was the Super Bowl!)

This year saw a decidedly milder ceremony, which some see as a nice turn after the somewhat disastrous choice to have Anne Hathaway and a mannequin host last year. They also brought back Billy Crystal for the hosting gig after Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy left the production thanks to a disagreement about whether it was okay to call gay names. (It’s not.)

Gone were the musical performances of the nominated songs probably because there were only two, and they were silly songs that would have likely taken away from the retrospective feel of this year’s ceremonies. With 2011 being a relative disappointment for movie fans, there was much uncertainty as to who would be nominated and who would win for many of the categories, though there were a few more obvious than others. (Again with the songs.)

There were some major snubs (all things Drive and Shame) and some very unexpected choices (Extremely Loud & Very Close for Best Picture and Jonah Hill vs. Christopher Plummer). Overall, though, this was a relatively tame and bland ceremony that had me wishing they had at least tried something experimental again. I rather liked Hugh Jackman’s turn at the helm and its “creating a film” theme. This year’s “film nostalgia” experience felt like it was just Hollywood patting itself on the back while foreshadowing of the eventual winners.

Still, it was the Academy Awards, and I watched it all with relative interest. Below, for you, I have given my rough summation of each winner in my own eyes, whether I was familiar with the work (or even the category) or not. Why? Because I can. And frankly, this blog is as much about my growing film knowledge as it is yours, whoever you may be! Read more…

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