Over the years Memento is a film I have seen many times; however it seems that every time I watch it, I find something new and interesting. From the very opening scene of the main protagonist murdering an unknown character, the way the action plays out in reverse, and the tone of the music and the way it washes over; it’s all done brilliantly. (more…)
Archive for 2011
Filmmakers who choose to explore controversial subject matter are often constrained by the shocking techniques they use in order to push the envelope. In many cases, filmmakers choose unsettling subject matter because they want viewers to incorporate their own emotional sensibilities into the movie-watching experience. (more…)
Monte Hellman is a man of the society called “let’s stop and smell the Roses,” and a man that enjoys taking his time with films. This doesn’t necessarily mean he takes several years to make his films. Instead it is more about how these movies play out to viewers. The main reason why he takes his time is because he feels that films are need to be given time to ripen and reveal what is hidden beneath. However, sadly, the place where this amazing gift comes from is the reclusive and rarely interviewed Hellman.
After doing some research I found out that Linklater is a self-taught writer and director (not one of those film school products). The comedy-drama Slacker takes place in Austin, Texas. Without any discernible plot, the film unfolds by following a twenty-something chatterbox (played by Linklater) off a city bus and into the backseat of a taxi-cab. Linklater’s style is definitely unique because no character is on screen for more than a few minutes. Throughout it’s entirety, the audience is introduced to misfits, crazies, stereotypes, robbers, liars, murderers, and conspiracy-preaching old men. All of which suddenly appear one after the other on screen and then disappear after pressing their philosophy, theory, or conspiracy on anyone willing to listen.
The movie has some really wise things to say about life and it’s strange situations, hardships, and occasional mishaps. One of my favorites is said right at the end by an old man. We watch him walk away from the camera, down an empty sidewalk and speak into a microphone and say “ When young, we mourn for one woman… as we grow old, for women in general.”
This movie is not recommended for those who are expecting any sort of plot, climax, or intensive character development. Instead, if you happen to enjoy strange opinions, abrasive personalities, and cheeky quotes than this is your kind of film.
The Coen Brothers: what comes to mind when either Ethan or Joel’s name is mentioned? Let me think, their smart dialogue, complex plots, and interesting situations that deal from the slapstick silliness, to blood, violence, backstabbing plots, and general soul searching. Sometimes they make the most violent films like the first film they made together “Blood Simple“. Or, other films like their most recent feature were they made a remake of the John Wayne Classic “True Grit” by putting their own spin on it.
What probably interested me in this film duo is that they are both collaborative from the start. It is usually said that Ethan and Joel Coen one writes while the other produces, but those are just arbitrary says Jessica Winter in The Rough Guide to American Independent Film. Where both write, direct, and produce. One is usually better at one part than the other, as to why it is collaborative. So, why do these brothers intrigue audiences in the film world?
Hal Hartley is an American film director, screenwriter, and composer who is now an important figure in American independent film. He was born November 3rd, 1959 in Lindenhurst Long Island, New York. He studied art originally at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. He developed an interest in film and was accepted to the filmmaking program at the State University of New York at Purchase.
His first feature film was the Unbelievable Truth, in 1988. He shot it in his hometown in Long Island. It was a romantic story about a teenage girl falling in love with a mechanic with a criminal history. His style became known as deadpan humor and offbeat dialog. Characters would question the meaning of life with certain style of acting and cinematography. His film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the 1990 Sundance Film Festival.
His other feature films after were Amateur which came out in 1994. This film was much different from his others. It had much more serious and empathetic theme. The story was about a former nun trying whom attempts to write pornographic fiction. She meets man with amnesia and his wife. Later in the film she finds out that he is a former violent criminal and pornographer.
His greatest success was his feature, Henry Fool (1997). This film was a dark comedy about a garbageman and his sluttty sister who meet a man named Henry Fool. Henry Fool is an aspiring novelist. Eventually he inspires the garbage man to become a successful write whom eventually wins the Nobel Prize. Henry’s career slowly fades and is forced into marring the sister because he gets her pregnant. The film was featured in the 1998 Cannes Film Festival which won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Prize.
He has gone on to make other films such as No Such Thing (2001). It tells the story of a tabloid journalist named Beatrice whose fiance is killed by a monster in Iceland. Beatrice travels to Iceland to find and interview the monster that killed her fiance. The monster turns out to be this sensitive philosopher. They return to New York as celebrities. The films explores the satire of news media and the manipulation of news headlines. The film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001.
Hartley continued with this media manipulation theme in 2005 with the film The Girl from Monday. The film takes place in the future where people record their sexual experiences as economic transaction. It premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. It did not receive many positive reviews by critics.
Sam Raimi has definitely proved his versatility in the film world, working as a writer, director, producer, and actor during the span of his career which began with the low-budget, parodical horror movie The Evil Dead (1981). Raimi was born on October 23rd, 1959 in Royal Oaks, Michigan and showed an intense interest in film even before the age of ten. He started dabbling in filmmaking at the young age of thirteen using the used 8mm camera he bought with his birthday money. Upon graduating from high school, he began attending Michigan State University but eventually dropped out in order to pursue filmmaking and start working on The Evil Dead. He had experimented first with several short films titled It’s Murder! (1977), Clockwork (1978), and Within the Woods (1978) the latter of which served as the original fundraiser for The Evil Dead. (more…)
When looking at Spike Jonze’s film “Being John Malkovich” it is easy to see the ideas of self, control, and larger issues are presented. The screenplay was written by Charlie Kaufman ( who also wrote the screenplay for “Adaptation“).The movie stars John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, and of course John Malkovich as himself.
This film appealed for a lot of different reasons. One, for as off beat as Charlie Kaufman’s scripts are they are hilarious and deep at the same time. How would you feel if someone found a portal into your mind? Would you even want that to happen? Or would you as a person even enter that portal? This was the dilemma for an out-of-luck puppeteer named Craig Schwartz (Cusack), who from his wife’s suggestions gets a job at an unusual office as a file clerk. However, he encounters Maxine, a coworker, and falls in love with her. In spite of his uncontrollable obsession for her, Maxine rejects him. (more…)
Alex Gibney serves a fitting tribute and in depth look into the life of Hunter Thompson. It truly is a hard feat to accurately capture the wildness of Thompson’s strange attitude and outtake on life and politics. This film focuses on the life of Hunter Thompson and centers around a few of his major works including Hells Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and also Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 72’. With an impressive list of subjects for interviews Gibney captures the feelings and atmosphere of the time in which Hunter S. Thompson was at his true height.
Early in the movie the scene of the Chicago riots and beatings is very moving and truly helps display some of the reasons Thompson felt the way he did. One of the best aspects of this scene is the music, it adds another layer of feeling to the scene and helps take the viewer back to this era of time. Throughout the film Gibney chooses to use older songs from that time which not only illustrate the time period but also helps convey the feelings and emotions that was felt by the people of the 60s and 70s.
One of the most important aspects of this film is that the Narrator of the film, Johnny Depp. While preparing to film for Fear and Loathing for Las Vegas Depp lived with Hunter Thompson for an extended period of time and became very close with Thompson. Depp’s narration helps keep the atmosphere of Hunter Thompson that Gibney was trying to capture. Also having Thompson’s first wife and son as subjects for interview gives a closer more intimate look into Thompson’s life. Many of the subjects for interview are important and influential people during Thompson’s time such as Jimmy Carter, and Tom Wolfe. This helped show the impact that Thompson had on the people around him and people who impacted the world during this era. The last scene is of Thompson’s funeral and shows all the people who were interviewed for the film paying their final respects to Thompson. It is a very fitting and moving end for the film.
Gibney expertly showcases the life of Hunter Thompson and captures the atmosphere of the time in which Thompson was at his finest. He does by this by having a long list of influential subjects for interview, a well chosen soundtrack, and also showcases the life of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. “It never got weird enough for me…”- H.S.T.
Since his early beginnings as an American Filmmaker, Terrence Malick has been hailed as one of the greatest filmmakers ever made and many of his films have been labeled as masterpieces. Born November 30th in Ottawa, Illinois in the year 1943. As he grew up, Malick worked on oil fields, his father was an oil company executive; he eventually went on to study Philosophy at Harvard University and then onto Oxford. Eventually Malick left Oxford after a disagreement with his mentor, he went on to teach Philosophy at MIT. Terrence Malick didn’t get his start in film, until he directed “Lanton Mills” earning him an MFA from the AFI Conservatory. Malick got his foot in the door writing and revising screenplays. He was credited for writing early drafts of “Great Balls of Fire” and “Dirty Harry”.