by Daniel Suddes
8 ½ (1963) Directed by: Frederico Fellini Written by: Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli, Federico Fellini, and Brunello Rondi Based on a Story by Fellini and Flaiano Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee, and Barbara Steele Oscar Count: 2 (Best Costume Design, Best Foreign Language Film)
Not even Rob Marshall’s terrible musical adaptation can diminish the power and creativity of Federico Fellini’s original masterpiece 8 ½. This film has become the definitive “film about making film,” and one that shows the fragile psyche of an artist. The main character Guido is a character of almost lucid temperament and exists in a permanent state of eternal boredom. He is not grandiose, nor is he egotistical. He is exactly like the audience who was watching him, thus making his plight universal. Fellini had been looking for a new way to connect to his audience. He managed to do so and created his greatest film.
The film marked an enormous transition for Fellini. Before 8 ½, Fellini had not really developed the Felliniesque sense of art. Of course, now the style has its own word and several emulators (most notably American gothic film director Tim Burton). 8 ½ is a film that combines the French New Wave jump cutting and dream like surrealism. But unlike most films that try to be weird for the sake of being weird, rather than to examine the psyche of a man. 8 ½ does the latter, showing a tortured artist who is no longer to create art. Continue reading
by Laurent Kelly
Love and Death (1975) – Directed and written by: Woody Allen Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Georges Adet, OSCAR COUNT (0)
Although I admire Woody Allen’s imaginative vision as both a writer and filmmaker I tend to find that the majority of his films are tinkered with great moments as opposed to being outright great films. In Annie Hall for example the ingenious use of voiceover and manipulation of time is simply sublime as is the opening to Manhattan which might be my favourite ever start to a film. Both these films however I find to be plagued by an annoyingly indulgent tone from a writer who seems convinced that we care as much about his carefully developed character neurosis he does. Obviously the success of the aforementioned films among others proves that he hit a winning formula but I for one just can’t buy or root for Allen as a hero. Continue reading
by Laurent Kelly
Trainspotting (1996) – Director: Danny Boyle Adapted Screenplay: John Hodge Starring: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewan Bremner, Johnny Lee Miller, Kelly Macdonald. OSCAR COUNT (0) – Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay
In Danny Boyle’s debut film Shallow Grave he showed great promise as a director who had the rare knack of combining a gritty, naturalistic tone with visually engaging cinematic techniques that stylistically add to the film’s substance. His next picture Trainspotting would show this effect in full flourish as the highs, lows and otherworldly impact of drugs was memorably brought to the big screen.
From a filmmaking perspective it is easy to see that Trainspotting is very similar to Goodfellas and I’m sure Danny Boyle must have had Marty’s film in mind as he was imagining the visual feel of his film. In both instances we are introduced to a fresh faced, energetic and very human protagonist who tries to win us over through the use of voiceover. Whereas Henry Hill advocates the mafia lifestyle however and says that that to “have lived any other way would have been nuts” Trainspotting’s lead character Renton is actually dead against the idea of living, implying instead that it is better to exist in a drug-induced stupor. Thus in the opening narration he sarcastically runs through life’s great offerings such as a ” fucking big television” before asking himself and the audience why he would bother to work towards something so mundane and trivial. Continue reading
by Brek the David
Game of Thrones is HBO’s newest series premiering this Sunday, April 17th. Based on a series of novels by George RR Martin, it takes place in a fictional medieval world where the good guys don’t always win and winter is coming. Set quite a few years after a civil war to depose a mad king, Game of Thrones revolves around the greater noble houses that have survived the war. There are elements of the supernatural here and there, but these are few and far between. There are no elves or orcs or trolls, nor is magic commonplace, but it does exist. The now dead mad king belonged to a family that once rode dragons into battle, yet these ferocious, elemental, mythical beasts are now extinct, just a fading second hand memory. Brutal death by the blade, however, is still as real as the sun rising every morning.
The continent that most of the action takes on is called Westeros or more commonly referred to as the Seven Kingdoms. Majestic castles rise at places like Dragonstone, Winterfell, Casterly Rock, and the capital, King’s Landing. The knights that serve these houses aren’t chivalrous and some are even brutal murderers and rapists. The picture painted isn’t some pristine portrait where the light of justice shines as a beacon of hope. The motto of House Stark for instance is Winter is Coming. The Starks are northerners and used to cold weather so the motto does have literal meaning. Also the seasons last decades and winters are long and extremely harsh. This motto, Winter is Coming, is more metaphorical. It teaches the lesson that the world is a dangerous place and it’s wise and even mandatory to prepare for any threat that looms. Winter is inevitable, and so are the dangers that any man or woman faces. Be prepared for it at all times. Continue reading
by Laurent Kelly
NB: This would usually be my weekly article for Obsessed with Film but I’m a bit late with it this week and so I am posting it here instead.
Easter-bait animation Hop held onto top spot over the weekend with its fortunate release date paying dividends in the build towards the upcoming school Holidays. The film dropped 43 percent in gross to take $21.3 million for a $67.8 million total with a weekend figure that could not be matched by either of the four new nationwide releases. Hop has fallen just short of Rango’s ten day tally but its far more modest 62 million budget makes it a greater success story. Hop is failing to capture viewers imaginations overseas however where it has limped towards a $14.5 million sum.
Indeed the overseas charts were where the real attention lay this weekend as Rio stormed the international market and gave signs that it might become the first and much needed box office smash of 2011. Its $54.3 million three day overseas opening almost doubled that of the previous highest international weekend take of 2011 which was set on the weekend of March 18th when Battle La took 28.7 million overseas. Continue reading
by Brek the David
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) – Director: George Roy Hill Written by: Paul Goldman Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross OSCAR COUNT (4) – Best original Screenplay, Best Music – Original Score and Original Song, Best Cinematography
One of the best Westerns of all time, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid takes a look at the Old West outlaw in a positive humanistic light. These men are definitely criminals but they are not villains. There actually isn’t a whole lot known about these two outlaws even though they were the most successful bank and train robbers of all time. They don’t have the same fame or infamy as Jesse James. Perhaps this is because they fled to Bolivia to continue their thieving ways. At any rate, this film portrays them as great friends who are very good at what they do. They are so competent that even the best lawmen in the US can’t stop them. However, they do face enough heat for them to realize that they’ve robbed all they can in the States, so they go down to South America.
Armed with great performances, superb writing, and constant clever wit, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid kill us with kindness and humor. These men aren’t bloodthirsty killers. They’re veterans of the Civil War, with no place in society. This is never actually spelled out in the film, but it is quite clear that Butch and Sundance just can’t cope with any other life. So they use what they learned from the war to their advantage, robbing banks and the mighty Union Pacific. What endears us to these characters is undoubtedly the chemistry and brilliant acting by Paul Newman and then newcomer Robert Redford. These two are so good, their joint effort is the best tandem of all time. No two actors have ever been so believable or enjoyable working together. Continue reading
by Daniel Suddes
Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) Directed by: Stanley Kubrick Written by: Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, and Terry Southern – Based on the novel Red Alert by Peter George Starring: Peter Sellers, George C Scott, Sterling Hayden, and Slim Pickens. Oscar Count – 0 (Nominated for Four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor in a Leading Role)
Dr. Strangelove has become one of those films that everyone believes they can imitate (how many times have you heard film directors or critics calling a property “the next Strangelove?) but no one really knows how to do so. Yes, Dr. Strangelove is perhaps the most subversive film of all time. But it was not trying to be as subversive as it ended up being. In fact, the film was planned as a straightforward thriller when it was being scripted, but Kubrick found the whole situation so bizarrely funny that he had it changed. He was not trying to be subversive. He just felt there was no other way to handle this material. As time went on, Kubrick was proven correct. Continue reading