Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: January 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

TV Review: Luck: Season 1, Episode 1, "Pilot"

by Tony Dayoub

Ace: Generally, how'd he look?
Gus: What do I know, Ace? All four of his legs reach the ground.
That exchange, between two of the leads on the new HBO series Luck, concerns Pint of Plain, the race horse that Chester "Ace" Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) owns by way of his driver and bodyguard Gus Demetriou (Dennis Farina). Gus is fronting for Ace, who's recently been released from prison and can't legally own a horse until he's off parole. But he knows as much about horse racing as most viewers probably do—which is to say, not much. Those expecting to get a primer on the sport will be disappointed by Luck's first episode, written by creator David Milch (Deadwood) and directed by his co-executive producer, Michael Mann. But that's not a criticism; what Milch and Mann have always been most effective at is getting to the substance of a specific subculture through stylistic means.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Movie Review: The Grey

by Tony Dayoub

In the American movie landscape, the early part of the year usually means a few things. It's when the rest of the country gets to start catching up on Oscar hopefuls that opened at the end of the previous year in New York and L.A. It's also the season when unworthy films get dumped on an unsuspecting public (Man on a Ledge, anyone?). And finally, it's the designated release window for the semi-annual middle-age-action film by the lumbering Liam Neeson (Taken, Unknown). But this upcoming weekend's entry, Joe Carnahan's survival nightmare The Grey (based on a short story by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers), resembles Neeson's previous simplistic thrillers only from a marketing standpoint. Though the story of a man fighting against nature in a snowy wilderness is unabashedly straightforward, Neeson and Carnahan (who previously collaborated on the dumb A-Team remake) plumb the depths of The Grey's central character, Ottway, and come up with some fascinating stuff.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Best of 2011: The 15 Best Films of the Year

by Tony Dayoub

2011 was a fantastic year for cinema. But try as one might, it's very difficult to see every film out there. Still, I did better than in most other years (notable movies I didn't get to see: 50/50, Bellflower, A Better Life, Buck, The Guard, I Saw the Devil, In the Land of Blood and Honey, Le Havre, Margaret, Pariah, Passione, Point Blank, Rampart, Road to Nowhere, Weekend and most regrettably, A Separation). So as usual, my one disclaimer: if I don't address a film you expected to see listed, it likely means I just didn't see it. But I just wanted to put this list out ahead of Tuesday's Oscar nominations announcement. Feel free to leave a comment if you disagree with any of my selections or to propose some of your own.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blu-ray Review: The Moment of Truth (Il momento della verità) (1965) and Traffic (2000)

by Tony Dayoub

This month, whether by coincidence or by design, the Criterion Collection releases three Blu-rays which should hold some appeal for Latinos. One I didn't get a chance to review is Belle de Jour by Spanish surrealist Luis Buñuel. But here's a look at the two others.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Awards Contenders 2011

by Tony Dayoub

Awards season is upon us, and that means you get gossip and rather inane controversies (like an overblown "rape" accusation by a respected Hollywood star and Academy voter) taking up a sizable amount of the cinematic bandwidth. But I'll try my best to ignore the silliness and focus on what those movies in the hunt for Oscar really have to offer.

Monday, January 9, 2012

At the Art House 2011

by Tony Dayoub

Here are some art films (at least aspirationally in the case of Anonymous) and indies I saw in 2011. These end of year lists are growing stale pretty quickly, so let's get down to it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Any Ranch That You Can See on Foot Just Isn’t Worth Looking At

by Tony Dayoub

When discussing movies that must be seen on a big screen, old standbys that usually come to mind are Jacques Tati’s Playtime, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and even Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, just released on Blu-ray. One that you rarely hear about is William Wyler’s 1958 epic, The Big Country. Shot in Technirama, Technicolor’s higher-resolution alternative to the CinemaScope process, The Big Country really pushes the limits of pioneer cinematographer Franz F. Planer’s expansive photography. Characters are often dwarfed by the California locations, which are as vast as the film’s title and storyline.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 Online Film Critics Society Awards Announced

by Tony Dayoub

From the Online Film Critics Society (of which I am a proud member):
The Tree of Life, which led the Online Film Critics Society nominations with seven, was the big winner at the 15th Annual Online Film Critics Society Awards. The film took home the prize for Best Picture as well as trophies for Best Director (Terrence Malick), Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain), Best Editing and Best Cinematography. No other film won more than one award.

The other three acting winners were Michael Fassbender winning Best Actor for his performance in Shame; Tilda Swinton's work in We Need to Talk About Kevin won the award for Best Actress; and Christopher Plummer received the Best Supporting Actor prize for his work in Beginners.

The full list of winners of the 15th Annual Online Film Critics Society Awards: