Monday, 28 October 2013

Babel (2006) - ★★★★★

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writers: Guillermo Arriaga, Alejandro González Iñárritu
Stars: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Rinko Kikuchi, Adriana Barraza, Boubker Ait El Caid, Said Tarchani, Mustapha Rachidi, Gael Garcia Bernal, Koji Yakusho, Sanae Miura, Yuko Marata, Satoshi Nikaido

Babel is one of the most emotional, powerful films I've ever seen. I'll never forget it... even if I never see this film again, the images are seared into my brain forever, as is the beautiful score. It's a masterpiece, thanks to the outstanding performances by its extremely talented, multicultural cast. Each story touched a piece of my soul, and left a lasting mark. This is the first film I've ever seen by Iñárritu, who is famous for his films displaying the human condition using an array of characters. All I can really say about Babel is this: it got to me. The young Moroccan brothers... the lonely Japanese teenage-girl... the kind Mexican child-carer... and the wounded American couple... These characters will stay with me forever.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) - ★★★★½

Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Writers: Yasutaka Tsutsui (novel), Satoko Okudera (screenplay)

Yet again, the great country of Japan has produced a near-perfect animated film. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a visually stunning, surprisingly emotional masterpiece. Its unique visual style separates it from other great animated films, plus the story and characters are beautifully developed. It piqued my imagination and made me wonder if there is more to this world than meets the eye. Without a doubt, the story is what makes this such a masterful film. Its other attributes are the cherry on the cake. The style lies somewhere between sci-fi and drama, with a twist of romance towards the end. At times the film had me feeling terribly emotional because there's so much happiness and innocence in the story, but also searing moments of tragedy and heartbreak. This is easily one of the greatest animated films ever made.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Y Tu Mamá También (2001) - ★★★★★

Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Writer: Alfonso Cuaron, Carlos Cuaron
Stars: Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal, Maribel Verdu

Y Tu Mama Tambien is the best road trip movie I have ever seen. It's a masterful telling of a wild and crazy period in the lives of two young men and a middle-aged woman. Every now and then I come across a film that makes me feel elated for days after watching it. This is one of those movies. My favourite stories are ones that really capture the human condition, ones that tell real stories about real people. Sure, this is fiction, but that doesn't make the journey of these three lost characters any less meaningful (or beautiful for that matter). I love this film so much that I feel anything I write would be inadequate in doing it justice. It's a raw and confronting film, but one that grows on you as its tale unfolds. This is not a film to everyone's taste, but it happened to be just perfect for me.

Monday, 21 October 2013

"I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore!"

Pet Peeves to do with the wonderful (and often woeful) world of cinema.

Hi everyone. I haven't been posting recently because I've been feeling completely exhausted after work, and I had no time this weekend to write anything. I have seen a few movies though, so I will be writing reviews soon!

Right now I just feel like letting off some steam and talking about things that annoy me most about some movie reviewers.

Number one: Gravity by Alfonso Cuaron.

We all know that Gravity is being hailed as a masterpiece by many, and is the most beloved film of 2013 so far. I personally loved it, plot flaws, cheesiness and all. I'm getting really annoyed at seeing some conceited reviewers belittle other peoples love for the film. It doesn't take a genius to point out a flaw or two in the film, but that doesn't mean it's not a perfect film for others. Calling people 'idiots' or 'novice film-goers' for loving Gravity is one of the most unprofessional things I can imagine a reviewer doing, and I've seen many people do just that. They have every right to hate a film, but they have no right to say that we should hate it too.

Number two: Hate for Forrest Gump (FG) and Slumdog Millionaire (SM). 

If a person doesn't like Forrest Gump or Slumdog Millionaire because they find the acting, music, cinematography etc. disagreeable, then they have every right to express their distaste. However, it does bother me when people pan these two films for having a story that is 'too coincidental' and 'unbelievable.' If a person flat out dislikes a film and finds it deplorable (like myself and The Great Gatsby), then there should be no quarrel about their giving it a bad review. I do shake my head though when I see people flat out pan FG and SM due to their outrageously grand storyline's. I can't stress this enough. If the story annoyed you, OK. But that doesn't make it a bad story... remember, this is fiction. FICTION. It may not be as believable as The Shawshank Redemption, or as historical as Schindler's List, but that's because they weren't written to be like that.

Thanks for taking the time to read my frustrations. Feels good to get that off my chest!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Loveless (2005) - ★★★½

Director: Yuu Kou
Writer: Yuji Kawahara
Voice Actors: Katsuyuki Konishi, Junko Minagawa, Kana Ueda

Loveless is a show that grew on me. The themes and characters annoyed the hell out of me at the start, but as the story developed I became more invested with each episode. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, but its disturbing premise really prevented me from ever loving it. It's a shounen-ai anime, which translates to 'boys love.' The romance aspect was more disturbing than entertaining, but I'll elaborate on that later. What makes this a great show is the magical, action-packed storyline and the questions each episode raises. When I finished the show, I was pretty devastated. I really wanted to know what happened next in the story, but unfortunately it wasn't renewed for a second season. From what I've seen, Loveless is one of the best anime's of its genre.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Top Ten Best Movies by Year (2000-2013)

More lists for each year will be uploaded soon.

1. Her | Spike Jonze
2. Frances Ha | Noah Baumbach
3. Blackfish | Gabriela Cowperthwaite
4. 12 Years a Slave | Steve McQueen
5. The Spectacular Now | James Ponsoldt
6. August: Osage County | John Wells
7. Gravity | Alfonso Cuaron
8. Upstream Color | Shane Carruth
9. The Hunt | Thomas Vinterberg
10. Mud | Jeff Nichols

1. Beasts of the Southern Wild | Benh Zeitlin
2. Lore | Cate Shortland
3. Life of Pi | Ang Lee
4. Les Miserables | Tom Hooper
5. Cloud Atlas | Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
6. The Master | Paul Thomas Anderson
7. The Impossible | J.A. Bayona
8. Wreck-It Ralph | Rich Moore
9. Django Unchained | Quentin Tarantino
10. Zero Dark Thirty | Kathryn Bigelow

1. The Artist | Michel Hazanavicius
2. A Separation | Asghar Farhadi
3. Weekend | Andrew Haigh
4. Poetry | Chang-don Lee
5. Moneyball | Bennett Miller
6. A Letter to Momo | Hiroyuki Okiura
7. The Kid with a Bike | Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
8. We Need to Talk About Kevin | Lynne Ramsay
9. Drive | Nicolas Winding Refn
10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo | David Fincher

1. The King's Speech | Tom Hooper
2. Inception | Christopher Nolan
3. Animal Kingdom | David Michod
4. Fish Tank | Andrea Arnold
5. Under the Hawthorn Tree | Yimou Zhang
6. Toy Story 3 | Lee Unkrich
7. Black Swan | Darren Aronofsky
8. Winter's Bone | Debra Granik
9. Rabbit Hole | John Cameron Mitchell
10. Heartbeats | Xavier Dolan

1. A Single Man | Tom Ford
2. The Hurt Locker | Kathryn Bigelow
3. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo | Niels Arden Oplev
4. Coraline | Christian Alvart
5. The Cove | Louis Psihoyos
6. The White Ribbon | Michael Haneke
7. An Education | Lone Scherfig
8. 500 Days of Summer | Marc Webb
9. Whip It | Drew Barrymore
10. Inglourious Basterds | Quentin Tarantino

1. WALL-E | Andrew Stanton
2. Slumdog Millionaire | Danny Boyle
3. Red Cliff | John Woo
4. Doubt | John Patrick Shanley
5. Gran Torino | Clint Eastwood
6. In Bruges | Martin McDonagh
7. Milk | Gus Van Sant
8. Let the Right One In | Tomas Alfredson
9. The Reader | Stephen Daldry
10. Ponyo | Hayao Miyazaki

1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly | Julian Schnabel
2. Atonement | Joe Wright
3. Lust, Caution | Ang Lee
4. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street | Tim Burton
5. There Will Be Blood | Paul Thomas Anderson
6. No Country For Old Men | Ethan and Joel Cohen
7. La Vie en Rose | Olivier Dahan
8. Ratatouille | Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava
9. 3:10 to Yuma | James Mangold
10. Sicko | Michael Moore

1. Babel | Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
2. Pan's Labyrinth | Guillermo del Toro
3. The Lives of Others | Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
4. The Departed | Martin Scorsese
5. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time | Mamoru Hosoda
6. Little Miss Sunshine | Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
7. An Inconvenient Truth | Davis Guggenheim
8. Curse of the Golden Flower | Yimou Zhang
9. Borat | Larry Charles
10. No Regret | Hee-il Leesong

1. Brokeback Mountain | Ang Lee
2. Memoirs of a Geisha | Rob Marshall
3. Pride and Prejudice | Joe Wright
4. Howl's Moving Castle | Hayao Miyazaki
5. The Constant Gardener | Fernando Meirelles
6. The Proposition | John Hillcoat
7. Crash | Paul Haggis
8. Transamerica | Duncan Tucker
9. V for Vendetta | James McTeigue
10. North Country | Niki Caro

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | Michel Gondry
2. Downfall | Oliver Hirschbiegel
3. A Very Long Engagement | Jean-Pierre Jeunet
4. 2046 | Kar Wai Wong
5. Hotel Rwanda | Terry George
6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Alfonso Cuaron
7. Kill Bill Volume 2 | Quentin Tarantino
8. Mean Girls | Mark Waters
9. The Incredibles | Brad Bird
10. Sideways | Alexander Payne

1. Lost in Translation | Sofia Coppola
2. Master and Commander: Far Side of the World | Peter Weir
3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King | Peter Jackson
4. Oldboy | Park Chan-Wook
5. The Triplet's of Belleville | Sylvain Chomet
6. The Station Agent | Thomas McCarthy
7. Kill Bill Volume 1 | Quentin Tarantino
8. Finding Nemo | Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
9. Big Fish | Tim Burton
10. Monster | Patty Jenkins

1. Chicago | Rob Marshall
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers | Peter Jackson
3. Road to Perdition | Sam Mendes
4. Hero | Yimou Zhang
5. City of God | Fernando Meirelles
6. Dark Water | Hideo Nakata
7. Far From Heaven | Todd Haynes
8. The Pianist | Roman Polanski
9. The Hours | Stephen Daldry
10. 28 Days Later | Danny Boyle

1. Millennium Actress | Satoshi Kon
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring | Peter Jackson
3. Spirited Away | Hayao Miyazaki
4. In the Mood for Love | Kar Wong Wai
5. Y Tu Mama Tambien | Alfonso Cuaron
6. Mulholland Drive | David Lynch
7. Amelie | Jean-Pierre Jeunet
8. Bridget Jones's Diary | Sharon Maguire
9. Donnie Darko | Richard Kelly
10. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone | Chris Colombus

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon | Ang Lee
2. Gladiator | Ridley Scott
3. Billy Elliot | Stephen Daldry
4. Requiem for a Dream | Darren Aronofsky
5. Memento | Christopher Nolan
6. Traffic | Steven Soderbergh
7. Almost Famous | Cameron Crowe
8. Chicken Run | Peter Lord, Nick Park
9. Cast Away | Robert Zemeckis
10. Erin Brockovich | Steven Soderbergh

The weird thing about making these lists is that some years are far better than others. The years 2001, 2002 and 2003 produced a number of 5 Star masterpieces, whereas the years 2006, 2009 and 2010 were not as impressive for me. I have plenty more films to watch, so these lists are far from 'definitive.' I'd appreciate any recommendations in the comments. All I really want is to discover great cinema.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 14 October 2013

The Family Nest (1979) - ★★★★

Director: Béla Tarr
Writer: Béla Tarr
Stars: Laszlone Horvath, Laszlo Horvath, Gabor Kun

The Family Nest is the debut feature film by Hungarian director, Béla Tarr. It has such a unique style of storytelling, and a story that becomes riveting as it progresses. I didn't enjoy the film much at the start, but I ended up loving it towards the end. It had a really edgy feel to it. The black and white cinematography, absence of music, and lack of narrative made The Family Nest look more like a documentary than anything. I think that was the point of the film anyway. To show the world some of the very real problems that people had to face back in communist Hungary, 1979. It reminds me of films by Ingmar Bergman, with its in-depth look at the characters and their discussions. This film did test my patience at the start, but it was very rewarding in the end.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Bungee Jumping of Their Own (2001) - ★★★½

Director: Dae-Seung Kim
Writers: Eun-nim Ko
Stars: Byung-hun Lee, Eun-ju Lee, Hyeon-soo Yeo, Soo-hyun Hong, Mi-seon Jeon

What if our souls lived on after we die, and the people who touched our souls will reunite with us in another life? That's the key theme to this unique and beautiful film. It's hard for me to find words to describe how I feel about Bungee Jumping of Their Own. It's certainly different, yet I can already tell that I'll never forget it. It's not a film about a gay or straight relationship, it's about the eternal love that two people share. It's a bold film that has many masterful elements and many flaws. I didn't realise how much this film moved me until I found out the leading actress, Eun-ju Lee, committed suicide in 2005. The news broke my heart... I really liked this film. If I look at it from an unbiased point of view, it was a good film that could have been better.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Wake in Fright (1971) - ★★★★★

Director: Ted Kotcheff
Writers: Kenneth Cook (novel), Evan Jones
Stars: Gary Bond, Donald Pleasence, Chips Rafferty, Sylvia Kay, Jack Thompson, John Meillon

Wake in Fright is one of the most shocking, well-made, unforgettable movies I've ever seen. The cinematography, performances, realistic portrayal of outback Australia, and brutal suspense captivated me in a way that no other film ever has. The only real drawback for me was the disturbing kangaroo hunting scenes, but that happened and still happens in Australia today, so I respect Ted Kotcheff for having the guts to reveal the disgusting practice to the world. It's a film that's easy to hate, but even harder to love. To me, it is a perfect film. It has arguably the greatest story and character development in cinematic history. Alcohol and peer-pressure can change even the most intelligent of men, and that's what we see in this searing and honest story.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

High Tension (2003) - ★★★½

Director: Alexandre Aja
Writer: Alexandre Aja, Gregory Levasseur
Stars: Cecile De France, Maiwenn, Philippe Nahon, Franck Khalfoun

High Tension is a really good horror/thriller, sharing traits with classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween. Its strength lies with the searing performances and brilliant suspense building techniques, but its weakness is that it's too over the top. At times it goes so overboard that I felt some scenes should belong in a spoof of a horror movie, rather than an actual horror movie. It was the masterful ending that pushed the film into the depths of my memory, making it unforgettable. While I didn't love the film, I loved many things about it. It certainly shocked and surprised me.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Antique Bakery (2008) - ★★★½

Director: Kyu-Dong Min
Stars: Ji-hun Ju, Jae-wook Kim, Ah In Yoo, Ji-ho Choi, Andy Gillet

"I'm a gay of demonic charm." Right off the bat, this is one of the most memorable lines I've ever heard. Antique Bakery is a romantic-comedy that works from the age-old 'odd couple' routine. We have a very manly man trying to make a business work with a very feminine man, which leads to funny mishaps and crazy outcomes. What makes this different, and really interesting, is that the feminine man is a homosexual playboy that had a crush on the manly man in high school. It's such a nice, light-hearted, funny film! I couldn't stop smiling throughout the movie. Their smiles, their chemistry, their dialogue, their story... this film has such an infectious charm. I've seen many Korean romance movies, and Antique Bakery is definitely one of my personal favourites.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

No Regret (2006) - ★★★★

Director: Hee-il Leesong
Writer: Hee-il Leesong
Stars: Nam-gil Kim, Young-hoon Lee, Seung-kil Jeong

Hailed by many as the 'first LGBT film of South Korea,' No Regret is an amateur, or 'raw' story of a young homosexual man that wants nothing more than to find a way out of his lower class life. It's very well made, although it was clearly shot on a small budget. The acting is fantastic, the cinematography is outstanding, and the music is soothing and beautiful. Some of the sequences are truly masterful, and its long running time just flies by quickly. Its shortcomings mainly deal with the coldness of the main character, who is pretty hard to connect with. I could understand his actions, motives, and feel sorry for his situations, but I could never truly like him. That doesn't make this a bad movie, because it's FAR from a bad film. It's a great film with such an important subject, making it a worthwhile watch for anyone interested in LGBT or Korean cinema.

Blades of Blood (2010) - ★★★½

Director: Joon-Ik Lee
Writers: Seok-Hwan Choi, Cheol-Hyeon Jo, Oh Seung-Hyeon
Stars: Jeong-min Hwang, Seung-won Cha, Ji-hye Han, Seong-hyeon Baek, Chang-wan Kim

Blades of Blood is simply a really good action movie. It doesn't delve right into Korean history, or give us anything substantial to learn from. It gives us entertaining characters, a riveting story, some great sword-fighting scenes, and beautiful cinematography. It's not a film to go out of your way to see, but it's definitely a movie worth seeing. It's the very first South Korean action movie I've ever seen (I don't count Oldboy), and it was a perfect introduction to their action-film industry for me. Its greatest moments are from Jeong-min Hwang, who played a blind man/masterful swordsman with a wicked sense of humour.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Gravity (2013) - ★★★★½

Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Writers: Alfonso Cuaron, Jonas Cuaron
Stars: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Paul Sharma

Gravity is the first film from 2013 that has captured my total love and adoration. Deep down, I'd be so happy for this film to win Best Picture at the upcoming Academy Awards. It's one of the most visually stunning films I've ever seen (it makes my Top 10 easily). It was so thrilling, the tissue I held in my hand throughout the movie ended up melting because of the sweat! My fists were clenched, my heart was beating fast, and man did my emotions go on a wild ride during the sensational outer-space experience. The drought of masterpieces is over in 2013! It makes me so glad to say that! As much as I loved this film, it does have its cheesy flaws. But like I always say, it's the emotional journey the movie takes you on that really counts, and man, this movie really took me on a memorable journey.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

No.6 (2011) - ★★★★★

No. 6 is the most mature, beautiful shounen-ai anime I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of them. Its animation and storyline is unmatched by any other anime of its kind (or Yaoi anime for that matter). On top of that, the characters are beautifully developed and easy to fall in love with. I was absolutely hooked after the first episode, and ended up watching every other episode in a row (that's about 4 and a half hours worth of episodes). I guess I just loved everything about No. 6. The theme songs that played in the opening and ending credits, the hilarity, the romance, the music... it just thrilled me. You'd be hard-pressed to find another yaoi/shounen-ai anime that's of a better quality than this. I think it's the best anime of its kind, the cream of the crop. Put it this way. As I was nearing the end of the series, I started to feel anxiety because I'd never see a new episode again. Now that's what I call a powerful show!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

2013 Proves to be a Disappointing Year so far...

I know there are some good 'Summer Blockbusters,' but they're not my cup of tea. They're for the masses, but they don't really capture my adoration. I'm always out and about, looking for a great drama to watch, or a beautiful romance, or a disturbing crime/murder film, or a tear-jerking true story. We've had our fair share of special effects filled, mind-numbing action movies this year. I'm just sitting here, waiting for something interesting to go and see. Sure, there have been some great movies this year. Upstream Color, Mud, Stoker, and Fruitvale Station have proved to be outstanding and memorable additions to the world of cinema. BUT... they're just not masterpieces to me. None of them made me god "WOW!" Or feel truly passionate about cinema again. Last year there were a number of films that ignited my passion for cinema... but this year has so far been a bust.

What I'm trying to say is, this year just hasn't been as good as last year. Things will most likely improve as awards season comes around, but the industry has left me feeling gutted at the lack of great cinema it's been producing so far.

Lady in a Cage (1964) - ★★★★

Director: Walter Grauman
Writer: Luther Davis
Stars: Olivia de Havilland, James Caan, Ann Sothern, Jeff Corey, Jennifer Billingsley, Rafael Campos, William Swan

Lady in a Cage is such an exhilarating movie! Olivia de Havilland is one of my all time favourite actresses, and her performance in this film is up there with her very best work (Oscar worthy stuff). It has a wildly interesting concept, fantastic supporting performances, masterful cinematography, and heaps of suspense. What more could you ask for really? It's like watching a Hitchcock film, but it's refreshingly different. There's a more modern, defiant edge to Lady in a Cage. It drops in some social commentary through hinting of the degradation of society's youth, the absurdity of people paying taxes to feed criminals, and there's even a homosexual character (well, I assume he was a homo). That's pretty big for the 1960s. It does this without sounding too preachy, because we're mainly focused on its tale of survival. The whole way through my heart was beating fast, hoping that our protagonist would make it out alive. That's why this is such a great film.