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REVIEW – A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

October 31, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Ana Lily Amirpour
Produced by: Justin Begnaud, Sina Sayyah, Elijah Wood
Written by: Ana Lily Amirpour
Edited by: Alex O’Flinn
Cinematography by: Lyle Vincent
Music by: Johnny Jewel
Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marnò, Dominic Rains, Rome Shadanloo, Milad Eghbali
Based on the short film by Ana Lily Amirpour
Year: 2014

 

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, as a film, is as vague and provocative as its title suggests. Its hero, the titular Girl, is herself a mystery, spending her nights walking down the streets of the ravaged Bad City, Iran, cloaked in the darkness with the help of her pitch black chador. The conservative covering suggests a subservient nature to everyone who encounters her, but it’s more than that – it’s a disguise this unassuming and lonely Girl puts on to conceal her true identity. She’s an empowered, strong woman who will not be taken advantage of, least of all by men who see her and other women as objects to own and use. She is no object. In fact, she isn’t even really human… Read more…

REVIEW – Eraserhead

October 11, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: David Lynch
Produced by: David Lynch
Written by: David Lynch
Edited by: David Lynch
Cinematography by: Frederick Elmes, Herbert Cardwell
Music by: David Lynch, Fats Waller, Peter Ivers
Starring: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Judith Anna Roberts, Laurel Near, Jeanne Bates, Allen Joseph, Jack Fisk
Year: 1977

 

Neither having seen The Elephant Man and Dune years prior nor having mere knowledge of just how bizarre David Lynch could get with his body of work could not have prepared me for my first time, firsthand viewing of his debut film Eraserhead this past week. Growing up a budding film fan, this cult classic was always on my radar in some form, whether due to its intriguing title that suggested to my younger self that the film was a dark, artsy slasher film in the tradition of Friday the 13th (I was not aware of the release timeline then) or because of my frequent encounter with that instantly recognizable shot of star Jack Nance staring back at me within a cloud of illuminated dust as I scavenged through movie posters I knew I would never actually end up buying. The movie’s reputation also preceded itself in discussions of film, primarily online, and yet, somehow, I still managed to avoid any spoilers and even major plot details of the film until actually seeing it myself. And, somehow, even afterward, while I know that what I saw was called Eraserhead, I’m still not entirely certain what the hell I saw. Read more…

REVIEW – Beauty and the Beast (1991)

September 24, 2016 3 comments
beauty-and-the-beast-1991Directed by: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Produced by: Don Hahn
Screenplay by: Linda Woolverton
Story by: Roger Allers, Brenda Chapman, Chris Sanders, Burny Mattinson, Kevin Harkey, Brian Pimental, Bruce Woodside, Joe Ranft, Tom Ellery, Kelly Asbury, Robert Lence
Edited by: John Carnochan
Music by: Alan Menken, Howard Ashman
Starring: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, Bradley Michael Pierce, Rex Everhart, Jesse Corti, Hal Smith, Jo Anne Worley, Mary Kay Bergman, Kath Soucie, Tony Jay, Frank Welker
Based on the fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Year: 1991

 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs may have been Disney’s (and the world’s, for that matter) first animated feature film, but, for many people (including myself), its recognition as still being their best has long since been overthrown by Beauty and the Beast, a film that was so well regarded that it also became the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and the first film, period, to have three songs simultaneously nominated for Best Original Song. When you know the production history, it’s also apparent how much of a miracle it was that the film turned out so well, too. Originally planned as a non-musical, the original concept was thrown out after the success of The Little Mermaid (the film that reignited Disney’s animated feature division and pretty much audience’s interest in animated films and musicals worldwide). This change saw both the original director depart the project and the hiring of first time directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise to take his place, and then the writing and recording of songs to fit the new format – songs written by Howard Ashman, who had also just found out that he was dying from complications caused by AIDS. Sadly, Ashman died eight months before the film’s release, but, at the very least, it was knowing the film he had worked so hard on was being well-received at early screenings, even in its incomplete state. The film would go on to become a massive success and would even become the first animated feature Disney would adapt into a Broadway production – one that was itself nominated for multiple Tonys (albeit, in spite of critical reviews at the time being somewhat apprehensive towards the unprecedented production) – and an upcoming live-action remake, which, if it’s closer to Cinderella than it is Maleficent, should be quite a decent film in its own right. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Swiss Army Man

July 8, 2016 1 comment
Swiss Army ManDirected by: Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan – as “Daniels”
Produced by: Eval Rimmon, Lauren Mann, Lawrence Inglee, Jonathan Wang, Miranda Bailey, Amanda Marshall
Written by: Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan
Edited by: Matthew Hannam
Cinematography by: Larkin Seiple
Music by: Andy Hull, Robert McDowell
Starring: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Year: 2016

 

I’ve never been so moved by a movie with this many farts since… well, probably ever…. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Cinderella (2015)

March 25, 2015 2 comments
Cinderella (2015)Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Produced by: Simon Kinberg, David Barron, Allison Shearmur
Screenplay by: Chris Weitz
Edited by: Martin Walsh
Cinematography by: Haris Zambarloukos
Music by: Patrick Doyle
Starring: Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Stellan Skarsgård, Nonso Anozie, Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, Helena Bonham Carter, Hayley Atwell, Eloise Webb
Based on Cendrillon by Charles Perrault and the 1950 Walt Disney Pictures film
Year: 2015

 

I am admirer of the work put out by Disney, despite not always admiring the company itself. Their penchant for retelling the same stories time and time again admittedly gets old, and their recent attempts to remake and retell their animated films in live action, complete without songs, did not sit well with me. This isn’t the first time they’ve done this – they did the same thing back in the ‘90s when they did live action versions of The Jungle Book and the briefly franchised 101 Dalmatians and its sequel, the obviously named 102 Dalmatians, which… at least they got Glenn Close to come back? Anyway, I was not particularly looking forward to Cinderella – a retelling of a tired story which, to be quite honest, provided us with one of Disney’s lesser animated films back in the day – especially after the massive disappointment that was the atrocious Maleficent last year seemingly proved this whole thing was just one big cash grab, motivated by the money Tim Burton’s also-atrocious Alice in Wonderland made. When the trailers came out, the ones with actual actors and not just a spinning glass slipper, I didn’t even like the look of the film. So, no, I was not looking forward to the new and needless Cinderella, 2015 edition. Read more…

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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THEATRICAL REVIEW: Gravity

November 20, 2013 2 comments
GravityDirected by: Alfonso Cuarón
Produced by: Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman
Written by: Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón
Edited by: Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger
Cinematography by: Emmanuel Lubezki
Music by: Steven Price
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen, Paul Sharma, Amy Warren, Basher Savage
Year: 2013

 

I actually got around to seeing this on its opening weekend, but due to the film releasing in October, I never got around to reviewing it because I was so focused on doing Halloween-themed movies. Just this past weekend, however, I decided to go see it again while I still had the chance to see it on the big screen, thanks to some free passes I had received from my birthday – this time in 3D. It also presented the perfect opportunity to reflect on the film again and write a review with a more “fresh from the theatres” perspective, especially now that I had also now seen it in two different formats (once on a massive screen with Dolby Atmos sound system, and then on a smaller screen in 3D). Read more…

Review: “The Sixth Sense”

October 25, 2012 4 comments
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Barry Mendel
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan
Cinematography by: Tak Fujimoto
Music by: James Newton Howard
Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Trevor Morgan, Mischa Barton, Trevor Morgan
Year: 1999

 

Though I couldn’t outright say that The Sixth Sense is a horror film, at least in the traditional sense, it was somewhat of a rite of passage for me. Funny story — My mom had seen it before me and thought that I would possibly love it, if I could handle it. I was about 13 at the time, and so, like the self-confident early teenager that I was, I decided to go with her… but I was terrified to see this, to be quite honest, if only because her description of it was so scary. I wasn’t a horror fan at the time and hadn’t really sought out any scary movies in my life, so this was a new experience for me. And… Well, I’m not going to lie — I ended up seeing Runaway Bride one auditorium down because I chickened out mid-previews. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Brave”

June 26, 2012 8 comments
Directed by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Produced by: Katherine Sarafian; Pete Docter, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton (executive); Mary Alice Drumm (associate)
Written by: Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, Irene Mecchi (screenplay); Brenda Chapman (story)
Art Department: Emma Coats, Nick Sung (storyboard artists); Mark Cordell Holmes (graphic artist); Jason Merck (artist)
Music by: Patrick Doyle
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Julie Walters, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, John Ratzenberger
Year: 2012

 

Many have worried, and even after seeing the film continue to assert, that Brave is a step backward for Pixar in terms of quality and storytelling. The film’s current score of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, while nowhere near as low as last year’s 38%-scoring Cars 2, still puts the film just barely above the first Cars (74%), and just below the recent Madagascar 3 (76%), and though I haven’t seen the latter, I doubt these films would ever be considered in the same league as Pixar’s masterpieces like Up, The Incredibles, the Toy Story films, and Finding Nemo. Audiences and critics alike are seemingly seeing signs that this studio, once heralded as being home to the kings (and queens) of their craft, is taking its first steps towards the abyss of mediocrity — an assertion only further enforced by the fact that Brave had Pixar’s lowest grossing opening weekend of any of their films, despite taking the number one spot. But is Brave really the harbinger of a string of “just average” films to come? Has Pixar lost its edge, its brilliance, its originality? To be quite honest, I don’t see Brave in that light at all. Read more…

More or Less: 5 More of My Favorites

May 30, 2012 2 comments

Since this blog’s inception, I’ve posted 85 times, and while that is not necessarily one of those significantly recognized numbers like, say 25, 50, or 75, I must say, I didn’t know whether or not that I would stick with this blog for as long as I have, and while I’ve at times wondered if I could continue writing for this, 85 seems like a good enough number to definitively say to myself, “Yes, this is what I’m meant to be doing, even if it’s not for a living.”

You see, even though I might not be getting paid for what I’m doing here, there’s still a significant part of me that absolutely loves the cinema, even the crap movies sometimes, and I love discussing them with people when I can. Writing this may be a somewhat of a one-way street, as I’m still not entirely certain how significant my readership is here, but the more I write about it, the more I know that my audience will grow, and  even if I’m not getting quite the comments level that I probably naively expected/hoped, hopefullyThe Viewer’s Commentary has at least helped in elevating this art medium that I love so much, if even by a small amount.

Going forward, I hope to have more reviews and commentary up more often. Going through a few sites around the blogosphere, I’m inspired to stop caring so much about the scope of my posts as much as I am posting from both my gut and heart and only worry about the high concept stuff when the mood strikes me just right. This will enable me to not burn out after work in trying to do a ton of research only to decide to abandon all plans to write that night. Less pressure, more pleasure, I guess you could say.

And, so, with this, the 86th published post, I’m going to make good on that promise to myself and my readership with a follow up to my very first article on the site — Here are, in no particular order, five more films that I would consider to be, more or less, my favorites!

The smug face of evil

Inglourious Basterds I initially fell asleep during this movie. There. I said it. I blame my friend, who was also present with me during our recent viewing of John Carter — another film I fell asleep during. (Though, with that film, it was likely the fact that it was a midnight showing after a tame hockey-game bachelor’s party — that and it was also kind of a boring flick in general.) That bad luck for me apparently rubbed off once he got married, as he was also present when we went to go see The Avengers, and I was glued for that. (Honestly, Inglourious Basterds was also a late night showing during a very hectic and busy school schedule for me, so it wasn’t great timing.) But I’m digressing. Read more…

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