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REVIEW – Brokeback Mountain

July 29, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Ang Lee
Produced by: Diana Ossana, James Schamus
Screenplay by: Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana
Edited by: Geraldine Peroni, Dylan Tichenor
Cinematography by: Rodrigo Prieto
Music by: Gustavo Santaolalla
Starring: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, Linda Cardellini, Randy Quaid, Kate Mara
Based on the 1997 short story by Annie Proulx
Year: 2005

 

It’s been 12 years since the release of the film dubbed “The Gay Cowboy Movie” was released, and yet Brokeback Mountain still arguably remains the most recognized film about a same-sex romance in the public mind. Though several films have come out since representing LGBTQ people (the incredible Moonlight is probably the most recent to gain the national spotlight, even though it was largely thanks to its near exclusion from said spotlight at the Oscars), but none have yet to have the same kind of cultural impact as this 2005 release. I think it’s safe to say that the film was a milestone, regardless of whether you actually saw it or not. The film’s release created a minefield of various controversies on all sides of “the gay issue,” and the concept alone of usually rugged character types falling in love with one another led to the film becoming a cultural phenomenon. Predictably, detractors accused the film of “pushing the gay agenda down our throats,” and it was also outright banned from showing in certain countries. The term “brokeback” entered the public lexicon as a word synonymous with “on the down-low,” usually used humorously in moments of gay panic. Supporters of the film couldn’t escape the outrage machine, either, accusing the Academy Awards of homophobia when the film famously lost its Best Picture nomination to the allegedly inferior and heavy-handed morality play Crash. They even accused the marketing of similar shenanigans when any scenes of romance between the two cowboys was deemphasized or just outright excluded from ads – again, despite it widely being known as “The Gay Cowboy Movie.” The cultural impact of the film cannot be denied, but I think even supporters lose sight of what is arguably more important: that Brokeback Mountain is arguably one the best romantic films ever made. Read more…

REVIEW – The Iron Giant

November 16, 2016 Leave a comment
The Iron Giant.jpgDirected by: Brad Bird
Produced by: Allison Abbate, Des McAnuff
Screenplay by: Tim McCanlies
Story by: Brad Bird
Edited by: Darren T. Holmes
Cinematography by: Steven Wilzbach
Music by: Michael Kamen
Starring: Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Aniston, Christopher McDonald, John Mahoney, Vin Diesel, James Gammon, M. Emmet Walsh, Cloris Leachman
Based on the novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
Year: 1999

 

Disney may have reigned at the box office in the 1990s, but by the end of the decade, the quality of their non-Pixar-produced films was undoubtedly beginning to slip, and so it’s no real wonder that other studios – particularly DreamWorks – were taking notice and trying to take a bite out of their share of the box office. Despite having the backing of a major studio behind it, however, Warner Bros. Animation struggled to find its footing with theatrical releases during this era. Space Jam, the studio’s first in-house feature film production, was a considerable success, but it relied upon familiar Looney Tunes characters and Michael Jordan (and an already existing and popular advertising campaign for shoes that already merged the two brands) to basically have the film market itself. Later films wouldn’t be able to use that crutch, however, and anemic advertising strategies for films like Quest for Camelot, Osmosis Jones, and even Looney Tunes: Back in Action – which no longer had the brand popularity and the basketball star to rely upon – did little to drum up ticket sales, and none of the films achieved the critical acclaim to even make them legit cult classics. There was, of course, one film released in between all this, however, that, despite the botched advertising (some of which, for some reason, used Scorpion’s “Rock You Like a Hurricane”) and underperformance, did manage to eventually make a name for itself not just as a cult classic, but as truly one of the most underappreciated animated film classics. Read more…

REVIEW: Poltergeist (1982)

October 31, 2014 3 comments
PoltergeistDirected by: Tobe Hooper
Produced by: Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall
Written by: Steven Spielberg (screenplay & story), Michael Grais, Mark Victor (screenplay)
Edited by: Steven Spielberg, Michael Kahn
Cinematography by: Matthew F. Leonetti
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith
Starring: Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight, Heather O’Rourke, Oliver Robins, Dominique Dunne, Richard Lawson, Zelda Rubinstein, Martin Casella, James Karen
Year: 1982

 

Poltergeist and the films that followed it have become some of the most fabled films in Hollywood history. Seemingly everyone knows about “Poltergeist curse” that was often been attributed to the ironic fact that the first film used real human skeletons as props in one pivotal scene and was rumored to have afflicted many people who worked on the films throughout the trilogy, ranging from small incidents on the set to the deaths of many of the films’ stars during that time. Producer Steven Spielberg was also the subject of much Hollywood scrutiny over his role in the first film’s creation, as he had a contract with Universal to not direct another film while he worked on E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial for them, but many who worked on the film claim that Spielberg had, in fact, taken over a lot of the directing duties on the set from its credited director, Tobe Hooper, likely in order to avoid any legal ramifications. Content wise, the film was also one of the most controversial films of its time, initially being issued an R-rating from the MPAA before Spielberg and Hooper talked them down to a PG, thus making it perfectly acceptable for younger audiences to see this scary movie without adult supervision if they so wished. Though it wouldn’t be the final straw that broke the camel’s back, it would be just one of the many that would convince the MPAA that a rating between the two was needed and eventually lead to the creation of the now ubiquitous PG-13 rating. Read more…

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…

Special Review: “Psycho” (1960) – Analysis Through Freewrite

October 4, 2012 3 comments
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Produced by: Alfred Hitchcock
Written by: Joseph Stefano (screenplay)
Cinematography by: John L. Russell
Music by: Bernard Herrmann
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, Janet Leigh
Based on the novel Psycho by Robert Bloch
Year: 1960

 

Here’s something I’m going to have to admit, up front: Psycho is going to be hard for me to review. That I’m even writing this review is kind of intimidating to me, as I’ve always recognized it as a good film, but never really could pin down what it was that made me think this. I don’t find it all that terrifying, and the symbolism that others find laced throughout the film is not all that obvious to me. I’m not even all that impressed with the once-visceral nature of the violence. It’s hard to really analyze a film that I don’t fully comprehend my feelings for, and yet I feel oddly drawn to it, nonetheless. It’s not like the film digs into the inner depths of who I am and touches some emotional nerve with me, and yet I know that I’m relating to something in the film that still seems compelling, all the same. Because of this, please consider this “review” an exercise in exploring my own feelings towards this classic in what is basically a formalized freewrite. (I will avoid retreading over all the same important plot points that so many more qualified people have, as a result.) Read more…

Theatrical Review: “The Dark Knight Rises”

July 25, 2012 8 comments
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Produced by: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Emma Thomas
Written by: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan (screenplay), David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan (story)
Cinematography by: Wally Pfister
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman
Year: 2012

 

Foreword

In the wake of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, I felt a bit odd about writing my previous review and preparing for my next, as I was writing it in the late night hours as the events were unfolding, unknown to me until the next morning. Much of what I wrote about The Dark Knight reflected a lot of what was happening there, none of it necessarily original or new information, but it was stirring, all the same.

I had no common connection to any of the victims there beyond our similar interest in seeing this new Batman film, all of us anxious in seeing how this trilogy would end, and, unfortunately, many of them never got to see this film, and many more will forever see this film and be reminded of the horrible things they saw that night. What was supposed to be night of fun and entertainment turned into a nightmare, and it affected me, and still does a great deal the more I hear about the events, much more than I thought it would — not because I thought of myself as some tough, emotionless, apathetic person but because it made me realize how even the most mundane things we take for granted can connect strangers based on a mundane commonality.

This just happened to revolve around a movie theatre, a highly anticipated film, and audiences across the world who waited, maybe not in the same proximity, but with the same spirit that united us all in excitement and, unfortunately, also in an unexpected tragedy. In that spirit, if there is anyone out there who is reading this and was affected in some way to those events, I hope you know that, even if I don’t know you, I send my prayers and condolences to you and your families.

Review

Let me just say this now: Christopher Nolan is destined to go down in history as, if not one of the most influential or important filmmakers in blockbuster history, at the very least one of the most revered and respected. The man hasn’t made a bad movie in… well pretty much ever! Some have varied in quality and appeal, of course, but none have been able to cross the general consensus threshold of being considered anything less than a quality film: FollowingMementoBatman BeginsThe PrestigeThe Dark KnightInception. All masterful works of not only high art, but high entertainment. No other filmmaker since maybe Spielberg has managed to pull this synthesis of style, spectacle, and skill as well as Nolan has. And now, with The Dark Knight Rises, we have been given this amazing film that not only provides plenty of thrilling action, but is also an intelligent and thought-provoking conclusion to what will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest film series of all time, The Dark Knight Trilogy. Read more…

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