Monday, December 17, 2012

My Personal Favorite Films of the Year, list.

*I'm sure a lot of people with disagree with this list. *

I have not seen "The Hobbit" yet 

I have not seen "Les Miserables" Les Miserables 2012 Movie Teaser Poster I have not seen "Django Unchained"  and I have not seen "Lincoln"  yet. 

But I will admit that I have seen "Zero Dark 30"  already and will say it didn't come close to cracking this list. I thought it was much over-hyped it's not a bad film, it's worthy of a lot of the nominations it's getting but definitely not any wins. It has some powerful scenes but as a whole all the pieces don't really seem to fit well. "Skyfall" is brilliant don't get me wrong…but it's not one of my favorites on just a gut level. Now if it's not nominated for cinematography…something is seriously wrong. I also definitely missed other films getting great buzz like "Rise of the Guardians" yet but that didn't appeal to me. 

1.) Cloud Atlas - Yes one of the most divided critically films of the year (minus "The Dark Knight Rises" which is probably the most critically divided and polarizing film of the year…which is also absent from this list.) 

 Godfather 2 is my 2nd favorite movie of all time and that film echos the lives of Young Vito Corleone and older Michael Corleone in a way that adds cinematic weight to each story. "Cloud Atlas" does that with 6 separate stories spanning cultures and times. Yeah some of the makeups are distracting, yeah some of the characters are rather wild, but then again I like filmmakers like Terry Gilliam. So I don't mind wacky. This film has almost every type of story, sci fi, adventure, love ect and echos like a great orchestra crescendos with rhyme, reason, and poetry. 'I can't explain it' . . . but I love this movie.               

2.) Cabin in the Woods - This movie has such a refreshing twist on horror I love.

3.) On the Road - *This movie has NO PLOT! But what it does have is philosophy and a bunch of wild fun characters on an aimless adventure. This movie moves like free form jazz. I don't love it. I dig it. <- blog.="blog." earlier="earlier" from="from" full="full" in="in" my="my" nbsp="nbsp" p="p" review="review">

4.) End of Watch - This is a strait up performance piece. By the end of this movie you feel like you know these guys.

5.) Dredd - It's raw, gritty, has good comedic timing, is a good buddy flick and has all the flare and ridiculousness of say a "Bad Boys" film but it's a great adaptation of my favorite comic book series and this time I think they got it right. I wish it made more money though I'd love to see another one.

6.)  Argo- It's just classic cinema. It to me honestly feels like a 70's drama. I love the cutaways that build tension, it's a brilliantly crafted tense drama. Way to go Ben.

7.) Wreck it Ralph - This is one of the most adorable things I've ever seen. It's so sweet, fun, and a multi-layered story that I genuinely enjoyed. (The short film "Paperman" is one best shorts I've seen in a while.)

8.) Bernie - Jack Black owns it. He is great in this performance and it has such a bizarre but wonderful sense of comedic timing to it. One of the best films of the year and I sincerely hope Jack gets an oscar nod for this one.

9.) Looper - It is easily one of the best crafted time-travel movies I've ever seen. The screenplay is very well crafted.

10.) "Life of Pi" - Simply put one of the most beautifully shot movies I've seen in a long time. Now I'm not thrilled with the narrative structure but this film had a moment at the end that made my jaw drop. Simply breathtaking, should win an oscar for cinematography.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012




         Christopher Nolan has elevated the idea of a super hero film to heights previously unimaginable. His batman films are peppered with ambiguity, real emotions, and deep riddles about the human condition. Batman is no doubt one of the darker sides of all of comics and arguably the most beloved comic book character of all time. But arguably the most iconic comic book superhero of all time is Superman.

I love Batman as a character for all of his scars and human complexity the way I love Travis Bickle  from "The Taxi Driver" as being a completely raw genuine human flawed character and as Nolan's newest epic film trilogy dubbed "The Dark Knight Trilogy"   showed us that Batman is truly a broken tragic man searching for meaning in a lonely existence, 'god's lonely man', that he always has been in the comics and has always been touched upon in the films, even in the classic Burton films. 
But Batman is embraced because he represents that old cliche that makes sense in our world 'how much can just one man accomplish'. Superman represents wholly something different.

Superman for me of course has echos with the Moses and Jesus stories. Echos of being an outcast, an orphan (just like Batman), an immigrant, and an American. But I do not love the character for misplaced patriotism, the echos of religion, greek myth, or some misplaced form of idealism. I love this character because I am human. And because I am human, I dream.

"The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease to forever be able to do it" - J.M. Barrie ~ Peter Pan

As good as most Batman stories are none of them that I've ever seen have that sense of whimsy that to me belong in fairy tales but has always belonged in "Superman" just a little grain that has kept me glued to something more, something beyond what a man represents, something beyond what a man can even be. A symbol, and echo, a poem, a thimble, a kiss and as most people remember this scene in "Superman 1978" it will always remind me of Wendy and Peter; forever fighting and forever in love.

When you dream ? Have you ever dreamed of flying ? Unguided and not gliding ?

Superman doesn't represent the human condition, he represents human dreams.   And while a lot of people think "Superman Returns" wasn't the "Superman" they were looking for. Here's hoping that somewhere between Zack Snyder's visual senseand Christopher Nolan's  sense of storytelling. There is bound to be something worth seeing in "Man of Steel"

It is standing on the shoulders of giants. And giants of expectation. But judging by the trailer it is trying to be it's own thing and not follow in the footsteps of a major giant whose very memory is imprinted on almost all film lovers. 

Man of Steel still has quite a legacy to live up to.

"I'm not living the life I thought I would lead, but it does have meaning, purpose. there is love ... there is joy ... there is laughter. - Christopher Reeve

"Kingdom Come" is dedicated to Christopher Reeve. The only man who made you believe a man could fly.

And I rarely see Batman smile.


Film; Poetry and Rhythm

I think poetry and rhythm are what separates good films from great films. Watching "Akira" now and marveling at the structure and pacing , granted it is a masterpiece, considered the very best in it's genre. But the reason I dig film as an artistic medium is it's the culmination of multiple art forms, acting, editing, directing, sometimes dance, painting, and a variety of other things that come together in one final product and if all the pieces fit, than that indeed is something to marvel at.  That's probably why a movie like "Cloud Atlas" had me so enveloped because it moves like poetry and took a great risk and great effort to pull off and for my money's worth the pieces fit. I think subconsciously this is why people get enraptured with great epic film. They aren't just great stories, they're great poetry, great opera, great parable, great escapism and when done right all the things that nourish the senses and intellect.

Monday, December 3, 2012

On the Road Review


          "On the Road" is a book about certain events in the life of it's author Jack Kerouac when he went on a series of pot and Benzedrine induced road trips and adventures during the late 1940's, filled with jazz, sex, and misadventure.

          The book was  written in 1951 apparently on a paper towel roll he'd gotten because he was out of paper and the impending prose would later be published by Viking press in 1957 and be a major catalyst in spawning what has been referred to as 'The Beat Movement'.
 (Excerpts from this text would be extremely bizarre in the "Star Wars" title scroll.)

I've only read about the first 3 chapters of this book. Yeah listed on Time Magazine's list of 100 greatest modern novels and I only got 3 chapters in and the Modern Library ranked it as 55th on its list of 100 best English-language novels as well.

So let's talk about the movie . . .

If you know anything about the book you know that each character represents a real life person...the names have been changed blah blah blah. If you know the history of the beat movement and the 3 catylists that started it are Kerouac and this book. "Howl" an epic poem by Alan Ginsberg  and "Naked Lunch" by William Burroughs.  All three of which make  an appearance in this film. Obviously Kerouac is played by actor Sam Riley  whose only other film role I can think of is as Ian Curtis in "Control" the movie about the band Joy Division.  (Which makes me hope that Sam will be the kind of actor that chooses his roles and persona very carefully, so I'm eager to see what he'll do next.)

Viggo Mortensen as "Old Bull Lee" or his real life counter part William Burroughs.
On the Road

Garrett Hedlund plays the lead character or better yet the catalyst, "Dean Moriarty" or Neal Cassady (also one of the very best performances in the film)

Tom Sturridge plays Carlo Marx also known as classic beat poet Alan Ginsberg (he was the one I didn't notice right away, mainly because I'm used to the look of the older bearded Ginsberg.) 
(Who sadly isn't in the film a whole lot, but I guess it's based on a true story.)

I like this film and I like this film a lot more now that I'm still thinking about it.

      One of the most striking things about this film is the cast, it gets to a point in the film where you say oh she's in it, he's in it, she's in this too wow. Your almost blown away by the variety of great character actors in the ensemble. But even with Francis Coppola producing, even with IFC and Sundance backing the film, even with great reviews in countries like France, even with this cast I cannot see this film appealing to a mass audience do to one glaringly obvious fact...and a fact of the novel as well. The novel was written in one night on a paper towel in a Benzedrine kick and spewed out two parts life philosophy and quick paced anecdotes about wild impromptu road trips across the has absolutely no plot.

      This is extremely compelling because of the vastness of the cast and attention to the detail of the period. This film does not look cheap in any way. It's edited and moves like free form jazz from one moment and story arch to the next and seemly stops to pause before it turns another corner. The cinematography captures the starkness and beauty of how America was in the late 1940's. And it's just a serious of sexual endeavors, talking about writing, doing drugs, going to jazz clubs and the occasional pauses and beautiful poetic moments of sobering up and looking at real life through those glass eyes. For the most part I refer to Dean Moriarty as the lead character not Sal mainly because Sam plays a great reactionist, for the most part, like the audience he is along for the ride that is his wild friend Dean. Most people are used to the main characters in a film being all about action but the main character in this film pauses and goes along for the ride and is mostly about reaction which allows the film to have beautiful, sometimes funny, quiet reflective moments about everyday wild life being caught up in the shit-storm and passion and energy that was Neal Cassidy's (Dean's) real life. The film is a masterpiece in terms of poetic pauses and moments of 'real life' clarity and all the sloppiness that ensues in an 'adventure' that most adventure films tend to forget.

"Boys and Girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk - real strait talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious." Jack Kerouac, On the Road

 The beat movement defined a generation and continues to influence writers, artists, and poets.

 This is the meaning of the film. It's a mediation on life and it's meanings. It says that everything in it doesn't have to be so rigidly structured and much like the style of the generation the film isn't structured. The film plays like a stream of consciousness memory recall from point to point, anecdote to anecdote and moment to moment.

As I have said, the film lacks a structure but everything else about it is top notch, the music, acting, character moments, cinematography and everything else about it. So if you like the stream of conciousness style and especially if you like the book this film is for you.

What "Dazed and Confused" did for teenagers in the 1970's  "On the Road" does for poets and writers in the 1940's and does it with just as much passion and zest.

If you don't mind a style that is kind of like the Jazz of the period and if you don't need a rock solid plot to 'know what the film is about' or if a film doesn't really need to be about anything solid, just about reflections of life...than this film is probably for you.


   "So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty."

     This movie is about how you affect other people's lives, and how the people you surround yourself with affect if you're the type of person who can "Howl" for Carl Solomon, than you probably wouldn't mind going on the road with Dean Moriarty.