Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: June 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lost without Lost

by Lissette Decos

It has become painfully clear that my ever growing list of ailments must be in response to something, but what?

For weeks now I've had headaches, backaches, bouts of acne, a heat sensation on my right toe, no sensation at all on my left toe, loss of appetite, irritability, inability to connect with others, and an uncontrollable desire to slap people who say they hated the final episode of the thought provoking and life fulfilling hours that made up the series Lost.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Birthday Grab Bag

by Tony Dayoub

It's my birthday, which I share not because I want you to leave me some mushy comment (that's what Facebook is for), but because it's my way of saying this post is going to be written in the spirit of this special day. That is, I could write about the Seventies gem Five Easy Pieces (1970), which I saw last night at Atlanta's historic movie palace, the Plaza Theatre, in a restored print celebrating the film's 40th anniversary; or some marvelous presents I received today, Criterion's Blu-rays of 8 1/2 (1963) and Red Desert (1964), as well as the Blu-ray of Hitchcock's classic, North by Northwest (1959); all beautiful films which deserve deeper thoughts than I'm willing to bring forth today. Instead, I'll save those for the near future because today, I'm just kicking back, dashing off some quick notes on some of the other gifts I got today which, though excellent in every way, don't really deserve something epic in the way of critical consideration.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Movie Review: Toy Story 3

by Tony Dayoub

This post contains spoilers.

With the release of the near-universally praised Toy Story 3, the latest offering from Pixar, has come the inevitable backlash from dissenters. Ignoring two of the most high profile reviewers, who just seem to be aiming their contrarian rhetoric at those of us misguided enough to provide their sites with more traffic, let me instead zero in on writer (and friend and reader of Cinema Viewfinder) Ryan Kelly's well argued piece at his blog Medfly Quarantine, which honestly seems motivated from a desire to be objective about this box office phenom. You should read it for yourself, of course, but the general gist can be found in the post's second paragraph, which reads:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Blu-ray Review: A Star is Born (1954)

by Tony Dayoub

Warner Home Video again does a fabulous job in bringing a "classic" film to Blu-ray with the second version of A Star is Born. If you're wondering why I placed the word classic in quotation marks, it is because this popular movie (especially in this restored version) has some deep flaws worth discussing.

Friday, June 18, 2010

UPDATED: A Star is Born Deluxe Edition DVD Giveaway

by Tony Dayoub

A Star is Born is available for the first time ever on Blu-ray Tuesday, 6/22, and I should have a review up by Monday. Also available Tuesday on DVD, On Demand, and for Download, I have one copy of the Deluxe Edition 2-Disc DVD available to give away (courtesy of Warner Home Video) to the first person who can answer the following two-part question correctly. But first, the rules:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blu-ray Roundup: Unreliable Protagonists

by Tony Dayoub

Three very recent releases on Blu-ray span the range of genres—from post-apocalyptic action to creepy psychothriller to historical "how"-dunnit. However, they do have one thing in common. Though they might have their flaws, each is still able to draw its viewers in by delivering a skillful shell game at the hands of a distrustful and unreliable protagonist.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Movie Review: Mother and Child

by Tony Dayoub

In contemporary cinema, Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel) has created a whole cottage industry around melodramas starring ensemble casts in which seemingly disconnected plotlines ultimately converge to impart some moral lesson. So it is no surprise to see his name attached (as executive producer) to Mother and Child, a drama about motherhood, child abandonment, and adoption written and directed by Rodrigo García. While I'm no fan of Iñárritu's heavyhanded approach to what is already supposed to be a rather high-strung genre, what attracted me to see this film is director García, who I discovered for his sensitive attention to actors when he was writing, directing, and showrunning HBO's wonderful psychodrama In Treatment, a show so unlike any other, I once listed its serialized first season as one of the best films of 2008. Just as in that series, Mother and Child's strongest component is the acting by its uniformly spectacular cast.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Movie Review: Splice

by Tony Dayoub

Colin (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) are new parents. Both workaholics run into the typical problems most couples do when first embarking on a trip into the world of child rearing: fatigue; frustration; ambivalence about whether they're equipped to handle the responsibility; emotional disruption of their own relationship. The unexpected conception of their baby only exarcebates these feelings, leading to tension since Colin has always been the one pushing Elsa to have a child. He later discovers Elsa's reluctance is reasonable, stemming from a fear she might follow in the footsteps of her own mentally unstable mother. Which explains why Elsa is prone not only to take refuge in their work together as superstars in the world of genetic engineering, but lapse into her 'all business' scientist persona at times of stress.

Oh, did I mention their "child," Dren (Delphine Chanéac), is a hybridized clone derived from animal and human genetic splicing?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Blu-ray Roundup: The Touchstones of Character

by Tony Dayoub

A couple of last week's Blu-ray releases explore their central characters in relation to the dream world they reside in. The more obvious one of course is Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010). But another one—a trilogy of westerns by Sergio Leone—surveys its respective protagonists against a subtler dreamscape. More on that one in a moment.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dennis Hopper

by Tony Dayoub

Just a few months after I started this site, I got the opportunity to meet Dennis Hopper in New York. I had just flown in to cover the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, and attended a rare screening of a restored version of Curtis Harrington's Night Tide (1961) that evening. Hopper surprised all of us by making an appearance to give an impromptu discussion on the film, his first as a lead. As I recount elsewhere, the screening of this surreal love story between a sailor and a mermaid took a turn for the stranger due to some inadvertent rearranging of the film's second and third reel. Hopper seemed fairly irritated, but as I braced myself for the actor-director to explode in a rant derived from some bizarre melding of his photojournalist character in Apocalypse Now with Blue Velvet's deranged Frank Booth, I was instead pleasantly surprised to see the actor-director take a breath and begin to get us up to speed on the plot points we'd missed from the misplaced second reel.