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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: (500) Days of Summer

August 22, 2014 Leave a comment
(500) Days of SummerDirected by: Marc Webb
Produced by: Mason Novick, Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters, Steven J. Wolfe, Scott G. Hyman
Written by: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Edited by: Alan Edward Bell
Cinematography by: Eric Steelberg
Music by: Mychael Danna, Rob Simonsen
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloe Moretz, Matthew Gray Gubler, Clark Gregg, Patricia Belcher, Rachel Boston, Minka Kelly, Maile Flanagan, Yvette Nicole Brown, Richard McGonagle
Year: 2009

 

“The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Except you Jenny Beckman. Bitch.”

The opening lines to the movie – unspoken, but probably the loudest statement this film makes – sets the tone for the remainder of this quasi-romantic comedy. Reportedly inspired by a real relationship experienced by screenwriter Scott Neustadter, (500) Days of Summer is clear right from the start (heck, even from its title) that this is not a story about everlasting love, but rather a season in passing. In fact, as if that point weren’t clear enough, yes, the girl at the center of the film is, in fact, named Summer. She’s a pretty girl who floats into the life of Tom, our film’s leading man, who is immediately smitten by Summer when she is introduced to everyone at work as the boss’ new assistant at the greeting card company Tom works for (another canny element playing with the theme of cheap, temporary sentiments). Summer is, as I said before, very pretty, seems quite nice, and she shares the same taste in music as Tom, even going so far as to make the first move when she notices this coincidence. Naturally, the two decide to hang out together. And, also naturally, there’s a big misunderstanding about what all this means. Where have you heard that before?

(Minor spoilers ahead.) Read more…

Review: “The Cabin in the Woods”

October 1, 2012 5 comments
Directed by: Drew Goddard
Produced by: Joss Whedon,
Written by: Drew Goddard, Joss Whedon
Cinematography by: Peter Deming
Music by: David Julyan
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White, Amy Acker
Year: 2012

 

I don’t claim to be an expert on horror films. Last year, when I did my first Scary Movie Month, I ended up getting schooled by a group of Nightmare on Elm Street fans, who took me to task for not getting the point of the first film. Throughout that month, I struggled to gain a greater appreciation for the horror genre, particularly through the classic slasher films — Halloween, Friday the 13th, The Last House on the Left and its remake… Aside from just providing me with an opportunity to list all those films and link to my reviews, my point is that I’m not particularly fond of these types of films, aside from Halloween, which surprised me with its elegance, and the two Nightmare sequels I reviewed, Dream Warriors and New Nightmare, which ended up being more fun than I anticipated.

I do, however, like Scream and even its three sequels, which were fun, self-aware tributes to the slasher sub-genre while also being fairly well constructed horror thrillers in their own right, to varying degrees. But after this? It’s kind of hard to really think of that many subversive horror films that manage to capture that same sense of fun, creativity, and terror without reiterating everything that’s been said before. Lucky for me, then, that Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard knew exactly how take that formula and turn it on its head, yet again, and with The Cabin in the Woods, they not only send up the horror genre in a loving manner, but also lament the lack of creativity that has pervaded the genre in the past few years and all the factors that led to the genre’s stagnation. Read more…

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