Saturday, February 25, 2012

ArcLight Cinemas' Interview With David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg talks about "A Dangerous Method." (one of the finest films of 2011)

Visit ArcLight's youtube page for more interviews.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Top 10 Performances That Should Have Been Honored With Oscar Nods In 2011

I realize some of these performances had no chance because they were in relatively obscure films.

Nevertheless, each of these actors deserve recognition.

(And of course, this list is in descending order, as lists should be.)

10) Ezra Miller (Kevin) – “We Need to Talk About Kevin”
It’s rare to see an actor play a sociopath with such commitment and believability. This kid scared the hell out of me.

09) James Cromwell (Clifton) – “The Artist”
Clifton doesn’t carry this film, but he certainly carries our hero. He’s the humanization of the yappy dog always at our protagonist’s side. His performance is subtle, but vital to the success of the film.
(For that matter, Berenice Bejo was the leading lady of the film and though it was nice to see her recognized, she really should have gotten a nod for Best Actress, not just Supporting Actress.)

08) Emily Browning (Lucy) “Sleeping Beauty”
Lucy isn’t just flawed – she’s sadistic. She’s not just self-loathing – she hates everyone around her. Browning makes us see her with equal part of revulsion and pity.

07) Michael Fassbender (Carl Jung) – “A Dangerous Method”
Fassbender gave three Oscar-worthy performances this year. “Jane Eyre” and “Shame” were better films because of his presence. But his turn as Carl Jung who turns to an elicit relationship with a patient almost as an extension of his research just captivated me.

06) Eva Green – (Rebecca) “Womb”
She’s sympathetic and creepy. She’s willing to break the ultimate taboo to get her dead lover back. We feel like we should judge Rebecca for what she’s doing, we feel a very marked pity for her and Green deserves as much credit for that as the film’s writer.

05) Shailene Woodley (Alexandra King) – “The Descendents”
Woodley matches Clooney stride for stride as she plays off him in this film. This is one of the rare cases where the leading man wouldn’t be quite so good if he didn’t have such a capable actress to spar with. Woodley’s Alexandra is her father’s most ardent supporter, but she never lets him off easy. Not many actresses could walk that line.

04) Elizabeth Olsen (Martha) – “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
Martha is a complicated character whose personality evokes revulsion and pity in equal measures. Olsen, a new face to the world of independent film, makes every moment believable.

03) Ryan Gosling (Driver) – “Drive” – Gosling’s Driver is simply the coolest action hero since Clive Owen in “Shoot ‘em Up.” Gosling’s performance is kind of like a Pixies’ song. His character is brooding and quiet, but he’ll explode when he’s cornered or threatened.

02) Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Adam) “50/50”
In most actors’ hands, this role would just be your typical ‘sad-sack’ kind of character. What makes Gordon-Levitt’s performance so great is the fear and self-pity takes a backseat to the confusion that would overcome someone in his shoes.
01) Tilda Swinton (Eva) – “We Need to Talk About Kevin”
Swinton has such a wide range of emotions to play here. From grief to loneliness to guilt to desperation and even glimpses of wickedness, she plays it all with grace. Short moments of relief are the closest Eva can get to happiness and Swinton plays these snapshots with such restraint. That’s what makes her performance, without question, the best of the year.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Top 10 Films Of 2011

In descending order, because that's how lists should be:

10) A Dangerous Method – David Cronenberg
This is more than a bio-pic. The film would have worked just as well with fictitious characters. 2011 saw its share of films dealing with the human mind when it comes to sexuality and this film states its purpose eloquently. There is very real danger behind temptation. And yes, the cause of suffering is indeed desire.

9) Attack the Block – Joe CornishThis was the best action film of 2011. Terrifying aliens pitted against a group of hooligans. The film plays out with a thrilling wit that’s unforgettable.

8) The Artist – Michel HazanaviciusI was fully expecting “The Artist” to be pretentious, but it was simple, elegant and just charming as hell.

7) Womb – Benedek Fliegauf
“Womb” is by turns heart-breaking and sickening. We feel revulsion and sympathy for our anti-heroine in equal measures. It’s not for everyone, but if you call yourself a cinephile, this film is not to be missed.

6) Sleeping Beauty – Julia LeighThe idea that prostitution is a kind of rape isn’t new. But I haven’t seen this concept so articulately stated as it is in this film. Fair warning: this movie is unsettling and very hard to watch. But it’s one of the best films I’ve ever seen to deal with just how sexuality and desperation can wreak havoc on someone’s life.

5) Melancholia – Lars von Trier
Von Trier has yet to make a bad film. His study of depression is spot on and his allegory is perfect. When you suffer from this illness, it is in fact like the end of the world. And the supporting cast was perfect. From Charlotte Gainsbourg to Keifer Sutherland, this is how people respond to a person suffering with depression. They try to sympathize, but they are filled with frustration and just don’t understand why you won’t just snap out of it.

4) 50-50 – Jonathan Levine
I don’t really expect a lot when I watch a mainstream film, but “50-50” took me completely off guard. The film deals with two themes: terror and friendship. And it avoids simple, trite answers to all the questions it raises. The love between these two friends touched me in a way no film has in years.

3) Hannah – Joe Wright – This is the best film of its kind since Frankenheimer’s “The Manchurian Candidate.” Everything, from the lighting to the score is perfect and helps the film hit its tone just right.

2) We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lynne Ramsay
This film hypnotized me from the first frame. It asks why tragedies like this happen, but it isn’t proud enough to pretend it has any of the answers. It poses several theories, like upbringing and environment. It also raises the possibility that some people, even children, are just evil. In the end “We Need to Talk About Kevin” is humble enough to admit it doesn’t know why people do these things.

1) Martha Marcy May Marlene – Sean Durkin
Every frame of this film is genuine, urgent and terrifying. It’s easily the best film of 2011.

Honorable Mentions:
These films didn’t make my top ten, but they’re just too good to ignore altogether.
"My Week With Marilyn"
“The Skin I Live In”
“The Descendents”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”
“One Day”