Saturday, December 31, 2016

Film and Book Tally 2016

Well, this year was utter shit, wasn't it? Loads of celebrities dropping like flies, politics becoming an absolute joke...if it wasn't for a few personal bright spots (took some college courses, went to a few film festivals, became a member of the Women Film Critics Circle), I would've written this whole year as nothing more than a mess.

Anyway, onto what I indulged in this year. I saw more movies this year but read less books. Still, at least I made the most of these crummy twelve months. (Apparently grieving over celebrities can be best treated by watching movies. Who knew?)

My list starts after the jump:

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Kirk Douglas 100th Birthday Blogathon


Olivia de Havilland isn't the only the only legendary actor still around to celebrate their 100th birthday this year. There's also a lad from New York named Issur Danielovitch turning triple digits today. You may know him better by his screen name: Kirk Douglas.

To celebrate, Karen over at Shadows and Satin is hosting a blogathon. Usually for posts like these, I cover (if there are any) the Oscar-nominated performances of said subject. (Douglas himself is a three-time nominee.) But considering it was nigh impossible for me to find a copy of Champion on DVD, I decided instead to focus on a single film from Douglas' extensive career. Which one, you may ask?

(1957, dir. Stanley Kubrick)

While it's the next (and last) collaboration between Douglas and Kubrick that's more well-known, that doesn't render Paths of Glory as a film no one should see. (For Christ's sake, Kubrick is in the director's chair; that alone should warrant some level of interest.)

(More after the jump!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Agnes Moorehead Blogathon


Crystal over at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood is hosting another blogathon, this time about actress Agnes Moorehead. (Coincidentally, she was born on this day back in 1900.) For my contribution for it, I decided to write about (perhaps to the surprise of no one) her Oscar-nominated performances. Moorehead was nominated four times throughout her career but she was always the bridesmaid and never the bride. Anyway, the movies she was nominated for are:

(1942, dir. Orson Welles)
Lost to Teresa Wright in Mrs. Miniver
(1944, dir. Tay Garnett)
Lost to Ethel Barrymore in None but the Lonely Heart
(1948, dir. Jean Neglusco)
Lost to Claire Trevor in Key Largo
(1964, dir. Robert Aldrich)
Lost to Lila Kedrova in Zorba the Greek

More after the jump!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

5 to 7

Life works in a peculiar way for some people. It can change for either the better or the worse with the slightest shift. And it could be because of something insignificant like crossing the street.

Such an instance happens to Brian (Anton Yelchin) when he first lays eyes on Arielle (Bérénice Marlohe) in Victor Levin's 5 to 7. What begins as a chance encounter slowly blossoms into something more complex, the very thing that both thrills and infuriates Brian. But what will become of these two?

Levin depicts a tale of love and its complicated nature. Arielle admits early on she's married and her husband is also having an affair. But she's not seeing Brian out of revenge for her husband's indiscretions; they're in an open marriage but there are rules to it. (No one said marriage was easy.)

This was one of Yelchin's final films so there's an added sadness to 5 to 7 following his death. All Brian wants in some stability within his young life, and he thinks he found it in Arielle. But her marriage makes Arielle deeply hesitant to stray. Will Brian be able to get what he deeply desires?

It may be marketed as a romantic comedy but that's only a half-truth with 5 to 7. It has a more somber tone that's similar to Like Crazy, another title from Yelchin's career. And like the earlier film, it's a sad reminder of what could have been for the young actor.

My Rating: ****

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Sunshine Blogger Award


Ruth over at FlixChatter has given me this award and unsurprisingly...
As given, every award has a set of tiny rules for accepting it, here are the ones for Sunshine:
  • Post the award on your blog
  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer the 11 questions they sent you
  • Pick another 11 bloggers (and let them know they are nominated!)
  • Send them 11 questions
Right, let's do this thing!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Clueless

Apparently the 1990s saw a number of re-tellings of classic literature. Dangerous Liaisons became Cruel Intentions, The Taming of the Shrew was turned into 10 Things I Hate About You, and Richard III was moved to 1930s Britain. But it wasn't just long-dead male authors who were subjected to this treatment.

Jane Austen's Emma got turned into Amy Heckerling's Clueless and even with nearly two hundred years between the two works, it surprisingly works well. Granted, it hasn't entirely well in the twenty-one years of its existence but the film still has its charms. (What else does one expect from a title that influenced the remainder of the 1990s?)

It's not likely that Austen would've approved of her satire being moved to Beverly Hills and having its protagonist be a touch more self-centered than what Emma Woodhouse was initially. Still, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) keeps her wits about her and like Emma, she gets a little too involved in her matchmaking. (See? This sort of thing existed before internet culture.)

Though it may have been fine back in 1995, there are some aspects of Clueless that may not work as well nowadays. At one point, Cher tries to pursue a guy who's not interested in her in that way. (One's identity is not a punchline!) And then there's Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy) talking about a near-death experience...

Clueless is cute, no denying that. And intentional or not, it shows its age a lot. (And the final third is kinda creepy.) At least it's funny enough to make it passable (even if it is grating in spots).

My Rating: ***1/2

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Equity

Wall Street. The Wolf of Wall Street. The Big Short. These three films have one similarity: they're all male-led films about the business world. Of course despite their quality, their sense of having well-written female characters is basically nonexistent. After all, there are women that work in this field.

Thankfully Meera Menon rectifies that with her film Equity. Gone are the women who play only a meager role in fiction of this nature. Menon ensures that they're as third-dimensional and diverse as what Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese and Adam McKay had with their respective films.

Leading the pack in Equity is Anna Gunn, best known recently for Breaking Bad. Like she did with her Emmy-winning performance, she provides an intensity within a dog-eat-dog world. It's survival of the fittest on Wall Street, and every day claims a new victim.

Speaking of which, Equity continues the tradition of depicting the business world as cutthroat and merciless. It's the kind of environment where ingenious thinking at a fast pace is very crucial. In a way, the film borrows several tropes from various noirs and turns them on their head.

Equity is one of several titles that shows women aren't afraid to tackle meatier subjects. (Who says they're only interested in the light and fluffy stuff?) Between this and Breaking Bad, Gunn should be a more in-demand actress. Hopefully that'll shortly change.

My Rating: ****