Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: December 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010

Courtesy of SLIFR: Professor Hubert Farnsworth's Only Slightly Futuristic Holiday Movie Quiz

by Tony Dayoub


Let's cap off 2010 with another scintillating cinephilic census from Dennis Cozzalio, now posted at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. Visit his site to post your own answers. My answers appear after the jump.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Movie Review: True Grit (2010)

by Tony Dayoub


Richard T. Jameson has an excellent piece up on his blog, Straight Shooting, entitled "also-true 'Grit'". You can (and most definitely should) read it for yourself, but in it he compares the new Coen Brothers film with Henry Hathaway's 1969 original. His conclusion:
So if I had to pick only one True Grit movie to take to the proverbial desert island, it'd be Hathaway's, Wayne's, Ballard's and, while we're at it, Elmer Bernstein's: that gentleman was Wayne's music scorer of choice in the Sixties, and the Bernstein sound laid over one of Lucien Ballard's high-country shots of quivering aspen and immeasurable, clear-air vastness imbues the moment with mystery. (The score of the 2010 version, by regular Coen collaborator Carter Burwell, runs variations on "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," a folk hymn best known from Night of the Hunter.)

The beauty of it is, though, that we don't have to pick one
True Grit. Both are worth having. We take for granted that any Coen picture is going to be a work of impeccable craftsmanship, and yes, Roger Deakins is at the camera once again. The brothers' fidelity to [Charles] Portis' novel not only honors a great literary achievement but also makes for a narrative with fascinating interruptions, digressions and enigmatic encounters - in short, storytelling of a perversity the Coens usually have to generate on their own.

Like the book but unlike the 1969 movie, their
True Grit has a narrator, Mattie, and keeps faith with her point of view. What she doesn't know, we don't know.
There are a few things I find particularly cogent about Jameson's review: his perceptive connecting of the Coens' True Grit to The Night of the Hunter; "What she doesn't know, we don't know..."; and, "The beauty of it is, though, that we don't have to pick one True Grit."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Somewhere, My First Piece for Nomad Editions Wide Screen

by Tony Dayoub

It's disappointing to conclude that writer-director Sofia Coppola’s latest, Somewhere, causes me to reassess her earlier film, Lost in Translation, in addition to her own potential as an artist. It's not that Somewhere is bad, or even dull. The strong performances by its two leads, Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning, along with Harris Savides’s handsome photography of a lustrous West Hollywood give one plenty to admire. But the superficiality of a tale rooted in the privileged director’s navel-gazing overwhelms the tender story of the relationship between a young actor and his daughter.
So begins my latest review. Posting here has been light this past month, but it doesn't mean I haven't been writing. My piece on Somewhere appears in a new digital weekly, Nomad Editions Wide Screen, edited by MSN's chief film critic, Glenn Kenny. I am pleased that Wide Screen allows me to share the company of such highly regarded writers as Simon Abrams, Kurt Loder, Farran Smith Nehme, Vadim Rizov, and others.

Here's the concept behind Nomad Editions (which also offers both a food and a surf weekly, with other titles on the way), as explained by founder Mark Edmiston:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Movie Review: The Fighter (2010)

by Tony Dayoub


It doesn't even take as long as you'd think. In fact, it begins during the opening credits for The Fighter. Christian Bale, already being lauded for his "scene-stealing" turn as the crack-addicted former boxer Dicky Eklund, starts showboating. And then, as he walks through his neighborhood with the film's ostensible star—Mark Wahlberg playing Eklund's brother Micky Ward—with a camera crew and some locals (surely non-actors given their earthy, blank-faced realism) gathered around them, someone stops to take a picture of Micky and one of the groupies, and Bale photo-bombs the shot with his hyperactive mugging. It's a moment indicative of the movie's flaws. Director David O. Russell (Three Kings), often portrayed as a control freak of the worst kind, gives up control to the manically cocky Bale, and The Fighter buckles to its knees.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Spielberg Blogathon

by Tony Dayoub


If you are looking for an alternative to the 2010 lists proliferating throughout the web, something to carry you throught the end-of-the-year film blog lull, I can think of no better endeavor than Ryan Kelly and Adam Zanzie's Spielberg Blogathon, running today through December 28th. Ryan and Adam have been ardent supporters of both my site and my own blogathons. I wish them luck on tackling this high-profile filmmaker.

More info, links, and the like can be found here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Movie Review: Rabbit Hole

by Tony Dayoub


The loss of a child is one of those traumatic catalysts which, though it makes for good dramatic fodder, is horrific enough to frighten audiences away from any movies dealing with the situation. But in the right, sensitive hands, such as Robert Redford's in Ordinary People and now, John Cameron Mitchell's in Rabbit Hole, it can also trigger insightful performances which encourage a persuasive identification. Transitioning into the mainstream after directing two somewhat outrageous indie ventures (Shortbus, Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Mitchell has found the right material to delve into.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Mohawk Memoirs: You Sound Awfully Familiar!

by "Rooster" Clayborne


So I drag my six-year old daughter to the theater to see Tangled, the new 3D animated feature from Walt Disney Animation Studios. Why? Because I’m occasionally struck with the compulsion to watch films based on beloved classic tales—unless it’s called The Nutcracker in 3D and features rat-faced Nazi storm troopers (don’t believe me? check out the trailer). As I sat and watched Tangled, engrossed by the STORY, I found myself trying to crack the voice recognition code. Perhaps you’ve done it too, “That voice—I’ve heard it before. It’s…”

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blu-ray Review: Videodrome (1983)

by Tony Dayoub


What's got two thumbs, hosted the Cronenberg Blogathon, and has never seen the director's most representative film, Videodrome? A week ago, I would have responded, "This guy." But Criterion sent me a review copy of their new Blu-ray of Videodrome last week, and I can now say I've seen all of Cronenberg's feature-length films. And boy, did I wait too long to catch this one! Criterion's wonderfully appointed package is a mixture of featurettes concentrating on the physical effects by the legendary Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London), extended sequences which appear as pirated S&M transmissions in the movie, and a fascinating panel discussion featuring Cronenberg, John Carpenter and John Landis (with then-unknown Mick Garris), all supplementing a high-def transfer supervised by cinematographer Mark Irwin. Part surrealist nightmare, part political satire and more, Videodrome is clearly the key film in the Canadian filmmaker's oeuvre.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Movie Review: Black Swan (2010)

by Tony Dayoub


I have never been one attracted to Natalie Portman much past her obvious physical beauty. With the exception of early turns in The Professional (aka Léon) and Beautiful Girls, her performance style has always struck me as perfect to the point of being brittle. So Darren Aronofsky's use of her in Black Swan stands out as an astute bit of exploitation, mining Portman's own flaws to inform her role as an overambitious ballerina. Indeed, one could apply this to the entire ensemble cast of this thriller mashing up the ballet movie with the psychological horror film.