By now, cinephiles should expect their standard Clint Eastwood film a year. Consistently proving himself as the most efficient director in Hollywood, Eastwood has averaged a movie a year since 1997, shooting with small budget and using a minimal number of takes. Rest assured, however, the quality of his films haven’t suffered, constantly garnering Oscar nominations and critical acclaim. Although there are occasional disappointments like “Invictus”, his foray into directing is easily superior to his acting ability (but don’t get me wrong, he’s one of my favorite actors and personalities ever).
This year, we are graced with “J. Edgar”, a biopic centered on the infamous J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI director who was at the forefront of events during the first half of the 20th century. His controversial, albeit productive methods had an unmatched impact into the practices and discipline of American law enforcement. His use of the media was savvy, putting himself as the premier face of the Justice Department, and his mind justice in general. Creating a database of fingerprints and pushing for the establishment of national laws regarding crime, the full legacy of Hoover as a crime fighting innovator can never be estimated.
Steve McQueen’s (no, not the actor) new film is about a man (Michael Fassbender) furiously addicted to sex whose sister (Carey Mulligan) comes to visit him in New York City and slowly spins his life out of control. It’s safe to say, the film probably has some sex in it. Turns out it has a lot of sex in it, and not just your good ole fashioned Hollywood sex, but full frontal nudity, straight, gay, three-way, masturbation, and even urination. It is safe to say that this film would cause some controversy and be branded with the ever destructive NC-17 rating. Fox Searchlight, the distributor, would then order McQueen to cut the film, possibly add some shadows, shorten some sex-seconds, and maybe remove some altogether, right? Well, in a move rarely seen by anyone, Fox Searchlight plans to embrace the rating, saying “I think NC-17 is a badge of honor, not a scarlet letter. We believe it is time for the rating to become usable in a serious manner. The sheer talent of the actors and the vision of the filmmaker are extraordinary. It’s not a film that everyone will take easily, but it certainly breaks through the clutter and is distinctive and original. It’s a game changer.” Saying this was this was a colleague to the Fox Searchlight President.
To me, modern horror films have always been one of my least favorite genres. It’s not because I’m easily scared, but rather that many of them, in my opinion, are filled to the brim with endless clichés that seriously take me out of any chance at being entertained. Sure, I know I should be suspending my disbelief when I watch a movie but this genre is just too much for me most of the times. My favorite classical horror movies include The Shining, Halloween, and Scream. Arguably, these three helped formed some of these clichés I mentioned but it’s slightly more tolerable because they were among the first to set the standard.
Throughout all of the controversy with Writer/Director/Editor Kevin Smith’s new feature Red State, I was only commenting about how much I wanted to see it. Was it kind of dishonest that he assured he would sell the film, “auction style”, at Sundance after the screening and then bought the rights to his own film? Probably, yes. Was it daring and kind of idiotic to self-distribute a movie that, unlike the Passion of the Christ (also self-distributed), has no large audience pull? Again, it probably was. I’m neither a Hollywood insider nor annoyed critic, however, so I simply just wanted to see the film. I have been a Smith fan ever since I saw Dogma, and I must say I like his other films also. They are fun; often teetering on being raunchy comedy garbage that tries to be more, but always delivers. It is no secret, and even Kevin admits, that his strong suit, or baggy hockey jersey, has always been in writing. And a very good writer he is. At times his screenplays have too many references, obvious expositionary philosophy, and dick jokes, but somehow, someway, it just works. Those are all dealing with comedies, however, the only genre Smith has really made films in. Red State is a horror film, though if only in name.
As usual, Coldplay, one of the most beloved and hated bands in the world, attempts to go against the grain with their latest album, Mylo Zyloto, looking to silence critics and bring more closeted fans out. Personally, I’m a huge Coldplay fan who enjoys everything they’ve done. With that said, their newest outing is, in my opinion, a very satisfying one that simply leaves me waiting for more.
Many times when discussing all matters of film, I hear at points, “oh, if you haven’t seen this movie then you’re not a real film fan.” Even worse, sometimes I have people say, “oh if you don’t like this movie then you’re not a good film fan. “ Let’s just get this out of the way first: there is no set canon to which a film fan is judged to be a film fan or not. Whenever I hear this phrase, it frustrates me, near the point of being past an annoyance. There are films that anyone who is a film fan probably should watch if only to be able to learn and be a part of conversations that many enthusiasts have.
On June 17th, 1971, President Nixon declared what is now known as the war on drugs, saying that drug abuse is “public enemy number one.” Forty years later, this “war” is no closer to being won that when it began. If anything, drug use is on the rise, and as a result of forty years of policies emphasizing prevention over treatment, America incarcerates more people, as percentage of its population, than any other Western nation.
After forty years of trying to solve a problem one way, only for that problem to get worse, wouldn’t you say it’s time to reevaluate the situation?
The creators of The Wire certainly thought as much. And so they wrote about it.
The best kind of film is the one that surprises the viewer. At times, I’ve went into a film with low expectations and have come out with a low opinion, and sometimes I’ve gone in with high expectations that are met. Other times, however, I’ve gone in with low expectations and have come out with a high one, or vice versa. Whenever I went to see Moneyball, the new baseball drama in theaters, I was expecting to see a good movie. It’s written by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and Steve Zaillian (Schindler’s List), so the film promised to have great, overly intelligent monologues and heartfelt emotions. I expected to see Brad Pitt perform the standard Brad Pitt, though I must admit I that it would be a bit lackluster. Needless to say, however, I was entirely wrong.
Carnal Knowledge (1971)
** out of *****
For it’s time thought to be controversial, this film explores relationships, specifically sexually. It attempts to expose the different ways people use portions of their relationships and the ways people can belong to one another, without truly belonging. It exemplifies human nature in respect to finding “the one” and being tied down.
“The Social Assassin” is at it again, offering new, awkward situations that offer hearty laughs, as well as ironic sociological truths. Following up a season which reunited the cast of “Seinfeld” in what amounted to quite possibly one of the cleverest devices in television history, David enlisted some extra writers to provide the show with fresh, original plots while still retaining core LD tropes. I’m going to provide you an episode-by-episode review of “Curb”, as well as evaluate the season as a whole in comparison to the overall season.