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Archive for August, 2009

Despite my best efforts to report on all of the remaining films of 2009, I still haven’t made word on some of this year’s potential elite. The awards circuit will begin in a few months, and the inevitable question of “What is the best movie this year?” will soon come into conversations among critics, nerds, and casual moviegoers.

This point of the year is certainly the most exciting; with Summer behind us, we have a new roll of movies coming our way, and all we have is anticipation. Glimpses of trailers, promising remarks, critical speculation from the blogosphere. A film’s preceding reputation can either make or break it. Seeing which way each film turns is fun, and in the process we, as fans of cinema, get to witness art. Sometimes, a masterpiece is even unearthed.

So now, I will chronicle the movies that I have failed to recognize over the course of this blog’s existence. We all know that juggernauts such as Where the Wild Things Are, Nine, Avatar, The Lovely Bones warrant excitement. Yet, there exists a handful of gems that deserves as much enthusiasm as the films I’ve discussed in the past.

Capitalism: A Love Story

Michael Moore’s new documentary takes on the subject of the current financial crisis. Although this is still in production, it is scheduled to compete for the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival.

An Education

This coming of age drama achieved critical acclaim at the Sundance Festival earlier this year. It now has plans for a wide distribution in October 9. The film stars Peter Saarsgard, Carey Mulligan, Rosamund Pike, Emma Thompson, and Alfred Molina.

Broken Embraces

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Broken Embraces, a spanish film, was put into consideration for the highest honor at this year’s Cannes Festival, the Palme d’Or.

Precious

This adaptation of the 1996 novel, Push, won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Fortune was handed to this film with the promotional support of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions. Now, Lionsgate and Weinstein Company are filing for lawsuit over the ownership of this supposedly lacerating drama.

The White Ribbon

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According to director Michael Haneke, The White Ribbon is about “the origin of every type of terrorism, be it of political or religious nature.” It was the winner of this year’s Palme d’Or at Cannes, and it has been selected as Germany’s official sumbission for the Academy Awards in the Foreign Language category.

Bright Star

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This romance/drama movie, directed by the Academy Award winning Jane Campion, is based on the last three years of poet, John Keats.

Up in the Air

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Jason Retiman’s new comedic film stars George Clooney, a jaded and essentially empty corporate downsizer who gets it in the ass, himself. It is scheduled to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.

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I apologize for the brevity of this post (there is still a lot out there I haven’t mentioned). My return back to school has deterred me from honing my energy to writing about the world of cinema. I hope this will suffice for now, and I do have plans on reviewing the movies In the Loop and Anvil! The Story of Anvil.

Again, thank you for reading this.


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Many fans have been clamoring for another sequel to add to the Batman franchise since the amazing release of The Dark Knight in 2008. While the whereabouts of a third movie aren’t yet officially confirmed, Christopher Nolan’s new Inception has taken off with this teaser.

Cerebral and epic, Inception brings a great cast together to explore the architecture of the mind in contemporary sci-fi fashion. The teaser is essentially just a teaser; not much can be determined. However, Nolan’s track record, along with the support of a talented cast, implies that the assembly of a complicated, puzzling looking film is possible.

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district-9-trailer

After much deliberation, I’ve found a whole new appreciation for District 9. While I’m not yet convinced this is the sci-fi masterpiece of the new millenium, I believe it contains haunting truths about the human condition. Beyond the blatant and direct allegory of the film’s first 30 minutes lies a subtle portrayal of the human psyche. The film acts and thinks like a human.

As District 9 unfolds, we begin siding with the aliens. Whether this is done with cheap sentimental tactics or pure emotion is a subject for another debate, but we end up on the side of the Prawns. The amount of cruelty the humans exhibit is purposefully disgusting and one dimensional. Nearly all of the human characters lack redemptive qualities-the very belligerent and cliche general whose only motive is to destroy, the manipulative corporation that exploits the malnourished Prawns for experimentation, etc.

By the end of the film, the audience is easily left with disdain towards the human species. I was originally disheartened with this because I thought the movie shouldn’t have made such a broad statement about humans when its very purpose was to denounce racism and xenophobia, two things that lead to making broad statements. Yet, this paradox is what makes District 9 as human as we are.

I think it’s safe to say that most people don’t outwardly condone racism. Yet, we all have subconscious racial tendencies. Whether we mean to or not, we do have prejudices that cause us to make narrowminded views on people of other cultures. No one’s perfect, and neither is this movie. This film’s condemnation of on xenophobia and racism is very clear. Yet, it happens to make very generalized statements about humans, subconsciously putting them in one dimension. This is something humans do all the time. We tell others to not be racist, yet we still put others in one dimension.

The contradictory nature that director Neill Blomkamp employs leaves me distraught. Will we ever be able to live harmoniously with those who are different? Will war be the only answer to conflict? Is the world forever plagued with misguided judgment? I am nowhere near perfect on this topic, and the answers certainly look grim.

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Reportedly the movie of the year, James Cameron’s Avatar has the intentions of taking us to another world in a completely immersible experience. Utilizing revolutionary technology, this film has supposedly been designed to simulate an original theater-going adventure that will change the game of cinema.

Avatar has a lot riding on its shoulders. Will reputation harm its chances of achieving greatness? At this point, no one knows, but I’m very excited for what it’s trying to do.

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The Internet Movie Database, a constantly used site with a dubious reputation, has recently chronicled the top user-rated films since the year 2000. This list will undoubtedly cause debate among cinephiles, leading them to either discredit or affirm the validity of IMDb even more.

What several militant opponents to IMDb fail to realize is that the site’s top 250 and this top 15 are not canon. Formulated by geeks of all kind, these lists reflect the favorites among a group of people, not the very best of cinema.

What furthers people away from this site is the inflation, deflation, fandom, and trolling that unfortunately plague the message boards and top 250. These problems are inherent to the site, and nothing can be done about them. Every ratings system has its own flaws. Rotten Tomatoes, AFI, etc.

I will admit my discord with the IMDb’s top 250, but never will I become hostile about it. My opinion just does not coincide with the site’s registered votes, and that’s completely fine. We’re free to disagree with lists, but we shouldn’t look down at people for (dis)liking things we don’t. What we should do with our opinions is share them, explain them, debate them. But we should ultimatley be open to differing views that come our way.

So I’ve decided to compile my own top 15. Just like IMDb, my list is not objective. It’s been devised from personal opinion as to what I love the most at this specific moment in time. Tomorrow, it could change. But for now, this will have to do.

IMDb’s Top 15
15. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
14. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
13. Spirited Away (2001)
12. The Pianist (2002)
11. The Lives of Others (2006)
10. The Departed (2006)
9. Amélie (2001)
8. Wall-E (2008)
7. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
6. Memento (2000)
5. Up (2009)
4. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring(2001)
3. City of God (2002)
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
1. The Dark Knight (2008)

I’ve seen all of the movies on this the IMDb list except for Amelie, so I can’t say anything on its placement. The movies I fervently disagree with are Up, The Lives of Others, and The Departed.


My Top 15
15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (2007)
14. The Dark Knight (2008)
13. City of God (2002)
12. Mulholland Drive (2001)
11. Before Sunset (2004)
10. American Splendor (2003)
9. The Divingbell and The Butterfly (2007)
8. Spirited Away (2001)
7. Lost in Translation (2003)
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
5. Children of Men (2006)
4. Wall-E (2008)
3. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
2. No Country for Old Men (2007)
1. There Will Be Blood (2007)

Honorable Mentions: Memento, Adaptation, Almost Famous, Pan’s Labyrinth,Finding Nemo, Lord of the Rings

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Weekly Poll #9

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ponyo-on-a-jellyfish

The act of simply just watching a Hayao Miyazaki film is an impossibility. It’s always more than that. Complete absorption into his art and total disregard for our real world agendas are what actually occur. His organic animation and rich storytelling take us away to other worlds, empowering our minds with higher truths and memorable imagery; his most recent fairy tale, Ponyo, is unsurprisingly successful in achieving most of these ideals.

Ponyo is about a fish girl who gets rescued by a human boy, Sosuke, after getting trapped in a glass bottle. They both fall in love, causing Ponyo to a fully human body. Yet, her overbearing father from the sea, Fujimoto, thinks this will bring the land and water into imbalance.

Miyazaki’s world in Ponyo is shaped with surreal imagery and adorable colors. The playfulness at hand shows Miyazaki’s penchant for childlike fantasy, but the deeper messages that he conveys are no short of adult oriented. He speaks to us with stunning art and well established relationships.

This film is pure joy and escapism for both children and adults. Its themes aren’t as powerful as Miyazaki’s other films (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, etc.), but they still hold true. Love has no boundaries. Not even a parent’s grasp can hold down what a child truly loves. Environmental stances are also present in Ponyo like they are in Miyazaki’s other films. His presentation of these ideas is done in a joyful and lighthearted manner that make for a beautiful experience.

Ponyo’s plot structure is unfortunately a bit disjointed in the latter part of the movie. Events and the reasons behind them are sometimes ambiguous, and the division between fantasy and reality are partly cloudy at times. However, this adorable film is still a spectacle of wonder and creatvity.

8.5 out of 10

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