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Posts Tagged ‘Sam Mendes’

Honorable Mentions: Chronicle, Killing Them Softly, Jeff Who Lives at Home

10. Argo — Ben Afleck’s thriller illustrates how stoicism and determination can heal a world frenzied by terrorism and celebrity. With a careful grasp on tempo and atmosphere, this swift film carries us through danger with unforgettable finesse.

9. Seven Psychopaths — Martin McDonagh’s sophomore feature film mutates our expectations when it comes to the gangster genre. He surprises us with conflicted yet sympathetic characters and stories-within-stories such that we care for these seemingly immoral people.

8. Skyfall — Although the latest Bond movie has several plot flaws, its personal turmoils make for a compellingly intimate espionage tale. Roger Deakins provides some of this year’s most memorable cinematography, and Sam Mendes proves that he is as talented at shooting action as he is at unfolding drama.

7. Looper — Rian Johnson blends together the sleekness of Science Fiction and French New Wave with the ruggedness of Westerns to create an appropriate experience that fits perfectly with his story’s sense of duality. His theme of how violence cycles from one generation to the next works as a wonderful symbol for the literal loop Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character deals with.

6. Holy Motors — This movie is a whimsical oddity that explores art within the nooks and crannies of this Earth. By inventing truly bizarre and random vignettes around Paris, director Leos Carax shows us how cinema can occur with makeup, imagination, and the willingness to unhinge oneself from reality.

5. The Cabin in the Woods — Not only do Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard deconstruct the realm of horror, they completely obliterate the ecosystem with their genre-bending film. Their shrewd commentary on how we as moviegoers revel in seeing people get killed serves as a way for some insane reflection on the current state of cinema.

4. ParaNorman — The meticulous passion that went into making this 3D stop-motion film shows that a juxtaposition of future technology and past techniques can create a charming experience. Similarly, it contrasts a child’s mentality with an adult’s, poetically highlighting issues we face no matter how old we are.

3. Indie Game: The Movie — It’s difficult for me to ignore this documentary when it captures material that I deal with every day of my life. Seeing independent video game developers risk their financial lives to produce something they wholeheartedly believe in is an inspiration not just for software engineers, but for anyone who’s dedicated to creating something from scratch.

2. The Imposter — Documentaries and unreliable narrators don’t usually cross paths. However, an allegiance between these typically estranged concepts created one of this year’s most probing, enigmatic theatrical experiences. Director Bart Layton toys with our perception as he documents the true story of Frederic Bourdin, an infamous criminal who impersonates a 16-year-old Texan teen.

1. Beasts of the Southern Wild — We are often frustrated with things that ultimately define us as individuals. Our families always find ways to annoy us; our hometowns typically dissolve into memories we wish to banish; our former loved ones haunt us with pain we shared in the past. The characters in this film adhere to these ideas, but they find a way to embrace their roots – blemishes and all. This film has an unconditional love that cannot be torn by death or disaster, and oddly enough, that is why it’s my favorite film of the year.

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Sam Mendes follows his devastating Revolutionary Road with a touching, light hearted, Juno inspired film, Away We Go. While it was a good idea to go with something easy and fun, he unfortunately falls a bit flat with his delivery. This is because we never really see any risks taken by the man. His preceding movies are all taken to some kind of uncomfortable edge, but Away We Go just feels safe.

The ones that steal the show are John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, two TV actors who give strong performances as a couple looking for a place to start their family. Krasinski, typically known for his role as Jim from The Office, does well in a more dramatic role. Maya Rudolph’s character doesn’t ask her to do too much (besides be pregnant), but she responds well in a subtle way. Their relationship is adorable, providing for great laughs and tender moments.

The characters we meet along the way are pretty cartoonish, either being extremely funny or emotionally broken. While it’s entertaining watching them on screen, it’s bothersome to the story as a whole. The movie makes comedy out of situations and then negates them moments later to further the plot.

For instance, there’s a scene when Maya Rudolph isn’t allowed on a plane because she looks over 8 months pregnant, when she is really just 6 months. The scene makes for some humor, but later in the movie, they’re seen on a plane. I understand how they would be able to get on another plane, but it still seems lazy to me. Another example is when we meet this loudmouthed mom who says her kids can’t hear anything whenever she talks about them. She says it’s white noise to them. So when she bashes them, they don’t make any reaction. This is pretty funny until she says something to which the kids actually make a reaction. This is also done for comical effect, but it is entirely inconsistent with what was previously established.

The cinematography is pretty standard for a quirky indie film. The main characters standing still, staring blankly into the distance, while their surroundings move. Also, the ending of the film begins to drag, and it becomes muddled thematically, making the ending seem compulsory and, therefore, unsatisfactory.

What makes this movie good, though, is the fact that we see two characters on the same team, working together to figure themselves out in life. The relationship between the two main characters is well grounded, but it still manages to have an arc. Some scenes are pretty powerful, and it’s done so well because of the acting. The movie has its fair share of laughs, and it’s complimented by a great soundtrack. Yet, the ridiculousness gets a bit out of hand, and the ending seems forced.

6.5 out of 10

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It’s been a while since I’ve seen this, but my thoughts are still the same. It’s wonderful, insightful, and pretty hysterical at times. Most of my praise goes to Sam Mendes, who creates this delicate suburbia for us to laugh at. The satirical insight into the life of Lester Burnham is both dramatic and comical;  both surreal and real; both artificial and true. The camerawork subtly hints towards all these parallels with its slow pans and zooms, and the careful craft of lighting both reveals and hides things from the audience.

It’s a technically intricate piece that never really draws attention to itself, thus complimenting the film’s theme even more.

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Well, this looks pretty great. It’s kind of funny that this quirky looking film is springing out of the mind of Sam Mendes, the man who brought us the extremely depressing Revolutionary Road last year. But wow, this looks like promising, wholehearted, hilarious fun. I can’t wait to see what Mendes does with this, and I have to say, the cast is pretty slick. Maya Rudolph (SNL) and John Krasinski (The Office) look pretty amazing. These roles could possibly be nice breakthroughs for the both of them. And oh my, does that beard look pretty sweet…

And as a trailer, I thought it was pretty well done. Although I can’t help but remember this certain pregnant girl from a few years back…her name was…Juno or something like that.

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