Thursday, 30 January 2014

Spotlight on Japanese Cinema BLOGATHON

I have set myself the daunting, yet utterly exciting goal to watch all of these Japanese classics. From the first ever talkie to come from Japan (Fujiwara yoshie no furasato, 1930) to the critically acclaimed modern masterpiece that is Nobody Knows (2004). I've seen many of these films already, but I can't help but watch them all over again to truly experience the masterful craftsmanship from these legendary film-makers. Who knows, I may just find my new favourite film amongst these great titles. 

Fujiwara Yoshie no furusato (1930) - Kenji Mizoguchi
Wife! Be Like a Rose! "Tsuma yo bara no yo ni" (1935) - Mikio Naruse
Sanshiro Sugata, "Sugata Sanshirô" (1943) - Akira Kurosawa
Drunken Angel "Yoidore tenshi" (1948) - Akira Kurosawa
Late Spring, "Banshun" (1949) - Yasujirô Ozu
Rashomon, "Rashômon" (1950) - Akira Kurosawa
The Life of Oharu, "Saikaku ichidai onna" (1952) - Kenji Mizoguchi
Ugetsu, "Ugetsu monogatari" (1953) - Kenji Mizoguchi
Tokyo Story, "Tôkyô monogatari" (1953) - Yasujirô Ozu
Where Chimneys Are Seen, "Entotsu no mieru basho" (1953) - Heinosuke Gosho
Seven Samurai, "Shichinin no samurai" (1954) - Akira Kurosawa
Godzilla, "Gojira" (1954) - Ishirô Honda
Twenty-Four Eyes, "Nijûshi no hitomi" (1954) - Keisuke Kinoshita
I Live In Fear, "Ikimono no kiroku" (1955) - Akira Kurosawa
Throne of Blood, "Kumonosu-jô" (1957) - Akira Kurosawa
Ballad of Narayama, "Narayama bushikô" (1958) - Keisuke Kinoshita
Floating Weeds, "Ukikusa" (1959) - Yasujirô Ozu
Yojimbo, "Yôjinbô" (1961) - Akira Kurosawa
Harakiri, "Seppuku" (1965) - Masaki Kobayashi
Ran (1985) - Akira Kurosawa
Fireworks, "Hana-bi" (1997) - Takeshi Kitano
Nobody Knows, "Dare mo shiranai" (2004) - Hirokazu Koreeda

If you know of any other great Japanese films I should watch, please 
let me know in the comments.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Her (2013) - ★★★★★

Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Spike Jonze
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde

Her is such a unique, magnificent film. I can't even begin to describe how much I adored this movie. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it even made me flail my arms with sheer joy! I loved this movie so much, that it has already made it onto my Top 50 Favourite Movies of All Time list. Spike Jonze crafted 'Her' in such an exquisitely beautiful way. From the gorgeous cinematography, to the outstanding score, to the beautiful performances, to the touching relationship between man and computer. I haven't felt this elated, or enthusiastic about a newly released film since the magical Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) came out. 'Her' had everything I love in a movie, and so much more. By far the Best Picture of the year!

Now, Voyager (1942) - ★★★★★

Director: Irving Rapper
Writers: Casey Robinson (screenplay), Olive Higgins Prouty (novel)
Stars: Betty Davis, Paul Henreid, Gladys Cooper, Claude Rains, Bonita Granville, Mary Wickes

Now, Voyager is one of the most romantic, beautifully made films in the history of cinema. It's such a ground-breaking achievement for the romance genre, with classic masterpieces taking many notes from this stunning film. Casablanca is arguably the greatest movie of all time, yet it seems to me that it took many notes from Irvin Rapper's beautiful tale of emotional scars and forbidden love. The same goes for Brief Encounter (1945), a film many claim to be the greatest romance movie of all time. Now, Voyager came before these masterpieces, and delivers some of the most romantic, touching, and unforgettable moments I've ever witnessed. I adore this movie, for it gives me such a powerful feeling of elation.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Blogathon: Life, Love and Movies

The awesome Nostra from and Karamel Kinema have created a fun new blogathon that I've decided to participate in! You can find their announcement here. Here goes nothing!

1. What was the first movie you saw in the cinema and what do you remember about that visit?

The first movie I ever saw in cinema was The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. I was 6 years old at the time. There were two things I remembered about the film. The first being the Ring Wraith peering over the old log that the four hobbits were hiding under. The second being the scene where Gandalf falls... which broke my heart, even though I didn't understand anything that went on in the movie. It tore me to shreds. This film to this day remains as one of my favourites.

2. Are there any movies you have very strong memories of which are not because of the movie?

This may not be appropriate, but it's the only story that comes to mind. In 2013, I watched Clueless with the boyfriend of one of my friends. Out of nowhere, he started kissing my neck whilst I was trying to enjoy the movie. I got up, paused the movie, and told him to control himself or I'm going to bed.

3. Which movie had a big impact on you and changed a (small) part of your view on life?

Ikiru (1952) by Akira Kurosawa taught me to seize the day, and do everything you can to utilise the time you have left on this Earth.

4. Do you have any comfort movies which you return to because you are in a specific mood?

Titanic comforts me no matter what mood I'm in.

5. If a movie would be made about your life, what type of movie would it be and who would you like to portray you?

My life would be a drama, filled with many high-school horror stories, and my personal journey of learning to accept myself. It would be much like the style of Noah Baumbach's 'Frances Ha,' but with shades of Andrew Haigh's 'Weekend.'

6. Which existing movie best represents you?
To be perfectly honest, my life is too boring to be anything like a movie as of now. All I do is work three jobs to pay for university, and blog in my spare time. If you can think of a similar movie, do let me know :)

7. If you knew you would die tomorrow, what would be the last movie you would want to see?

Without a doubt, I'd pick Gone With the Wind (1939) as the last film I'd ever see. It is three and a half hours of riveting drama, romance, war, and history. If there was one last line I'd want to hear before the world would end, it would be, "After all, tomorrow is another day."

8. If you can spend your life working in the film industry, what would you be and why?

I'd be a director, of course! My dream is to direct movies. I'd also love to write screenplays, direct cinematography, and even score some of my own original music. Above all, I just want to make my own movies.

1. Did you ever have a first kiss with someone while at the cinema?
The short answer: no. Sigh, one day...

2. What is your favorite movie relationship and why? 

This was a tough decision, but in the end I'd have to go with Russell and Glen from Weekend (2011). These two men knew each other for only 2 days, yet they both had the biggest impact on each other's lives. Their relationship was the most realistic I've ever seen in any movie, all because of the beautiful chemistry between Tom Cullen and Chris New. My runners-up for Best Relationship goes to Bob Harris and Charlotte from Lost in Translation, who are unconventional yet so good together. 

3. When did your love for movies start and how has it grown?

I can't quite pinpoint the exact moment my obsession for movies started. It happened some time in 2011. I remember watching the Academy Awards that year, and rooting for Glenn Close for her performance in Albert Nobbs. I was so invested in that character that I started watching other nominated films, and thus I got hooked on the world of cinema. My love for movies probably started with Disney when I was a child though. 

4. If you have to choose one film to watch with your loved one, what would it be and why?

I'd want to watch Millennium Actress with my significant other. It's a film that touches my soul, and breaks my heart through pure romance and tragedy. I think it's a film that would undoubtedly bring us closer together. 

5. If you can choose one character from a movie to be your significant other who would it be and why?

Jack Dawson from Titanic was the very first character I ever had a crush on. Let's just say that my feelings haven't changed. He's the kind of guy that would take you horse-riding on the beach, or go ride a roller-coaster with you, or sacrifice his own life to save yours. He's fun, he's well-traveled, he's down to Earth... he's gorgeous. Jack Dawson has it all.

7. How did your passion for movies turn you into a movie blogger?
I'm going to level with you. I was in the 12th Grade when I started, and all I wanted was to become famous, gain heaps of fans, and earn bucketloads of money. Poor, naive little honkey I was. As disappointment started rolling in, I stopped writing reviews and just gave up. I took up writing again at the beginning of 2013, mainly to use as an index of my favourite movies, and to have a forum to converse with other bloggers about our likes and dislikes on cinema. I'm now addicted to blogging about movies, because let's face it, it's heaps of fun!

8. What is your favorite date from a movie?

Bob Harris and Charlotte from Lost in Translation went on the most entertaining date I've ever seen. They traversed through the clubs of Tokyo, got high in some guy's apartment, then ended it all with some karaoke with newfound friends. The whole experience made me grin like an idiot :)

To learn more about me and the movies, 

The Greatest Movies of 2013

Top 10 Leading Actor Performances of the Last Decade

Top 10 Leading Actor Performances
of the Last Decade (2000-2009)

Nika from The Running Reel gave me the idea to create my own Top Ten List. So here goes nothing!

If you liked this list, check out my list for

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Top 10 Leading Actress Performances of the Last Decade

Top 10 Leading Actress Performances
of the Last Decade (2000-2009)

Nika from The Running Reel gave me the idea to create my own Top Ten List. So here goes nothing!

If you liked this list, check out my list for
Top 10 Leading Actor Performances of the Last Decade

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) - ★★★★½

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Terence Winter (screenplay), Jordan Belfort (book)
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Rob Reiner, Kyle Chandler, Joanna Lumley, Jean Dujardin, Jon Bernthal

The Wolf of Wall Street is easily one of the best films of 2013. Scorsese's newest flick is a breath of fresh air! It's an electric, roaringly fun movie that manages to make its 3 hour running time just fly by. It's nice to see DiCaprio shake a leg and play an eccentric, despicable man. What was even better for me was seeing Jonah Hill flex his acting chops and establish himself as a big player in the world of supporting actors. I'm not gonna lie, movies like this usually aren't my sort of thing. I go for substance, character development, and true portrayals of the human condition. Here we mostly see Scorsese's signature flare for the dramatic and a penchant for over-the-top entertainment. Wolf of Wall Street one-ups American Hustle by paying equal attention to its story and characters, making it a consistently brilliant work of cinema.

The Little Mermaid (1989) - ★★★★★

Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker
Voice Actors: Jodi Benson, Pat Carroll, Samuel E. Wright, Jason Marin, Buddy Hackett, Christopher Daniel Barnes

The Little Mermaid was the beginning of the Disney Renaissance, a period between 1989 and 1999 which contains a large portion of the greatest films that Disney ever made. As the first of its era, this movie still stands as one of the most beautiful creations in the history of animated cinema. While Ariel longed to be part of our world, as a child I longed to be part of hers. This movie still captivates me to this day, with its sweeping score, groundbreaking animation, and wonderfully entertaining characters. I get emotional at many Disney movies, but The Little Mermaid manages to make me blubber in tears more than almost any other. While its message isn't a particularly admirable one for little girls, it's still a story that many young people can relate to. The longing to break free and discover new things. While many of my childhood favourites faded into mediocrity, The Little Mermaid still ranks as one of the best.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Hercules (1997) - ★★★★

Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Voice Actors: Tate Donovan, Susan Egan, Danny DeVito, James Woods, Rip Torn

It's official! Even after 10 years, Hercules is still one of my all time favourite animated movies! Visually and musically, Hercules is just so different to all the other films Disney has ever made, sporting a great use of 3D monsters, and also wonderfully catchy soul-music. I was pleasantly surprised at just how emotional the film made me. It doesn't quite reach the same league as Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King though, due to its lack of beautiful dialogue, powerful scenes, and most importantly, originality. Some of the jokes are a bit too cheesy and childlike for me, but I used to find them hilarious when I was younger, so I can forgive that. As a child, Hercules would have been one of my top 10 favourite movies to watch over and over on video-tape. To this day, the powerful wave of nostalgia makes me love it all the more.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Atonement (2007) - ★★★★★

Director: Joe Wright
Writers: Ian McEwan (novel), Christopher Hampton (screenplay)
Stars: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Juno Temple, Benedict Cumberbatch

Atonement is one of the most exquisite films I've ever seen. Its style and beauty is reminiscent of classic cinematic masterpieces, such as Gone With the Wind (1939) and Days of Heaven (1978). Yet it has a unique modern element that puts it in a league of its own. Seamus McGarvey's masterful cinematography deserves to be hailed as one of the greatest in cinematic history, whilst the haunting score by Dario Marianelli takes us to an unforgettable time in history, and heightens all the emotion that comes with the story and surroundings. Technically, Atonement is truly perfect. As for the story, performances, and overall effect the movie had on me personally, I say that it was equally as perfect.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Spectacular Now (2013) - ★★★★½

Director: James Ponsoldt
Writers: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber (screenplay) Tim Sharp (novel)
Stars: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Masam Holden, Kyle Chandler, Nicci Faires

The Spectacular Now came out of nowhere to become one of my favourite films of 2013, and one of the all-time greatest teenage coming-of-age stories. While similar films fail to show their characters are more than skin deep, The Spectacular Now is such a breath of fresh air. It gives us a look at two very interesting teenagers, and shows their insecurities, thoughts and feelings in great depth. The reason it works as a stand-out film of its genre is due to the outstanding performances of Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller, whose chemistry is something you don't find even with the most seasoned of actors. It left me with a feeling of pure elation, which is something not many films have done this year.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Dallas Buyers Club (2013) - ★★★★

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writers: Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Denis O'Hare, Steve Zahn, Michael O'Neill, Griffin Dunne

Dallas Buyers Club is an absolutely terrific film. I'm just in awe of Matthew McConaughey right now. He has surprised the hell out of me, delivering his career best performance as a man dying of AIDS. Jared Leto gave a phenomenal come-back performance as a transexual who is also dying from the disease. Jean-Marc Vallée doesn't handle the subject delicately. The transformation of the character's is truly upsetting, and the lack of help for those suffering through the disease almost defies belief. While the film delves into important issues of corruption and prejudice, what makes it so damn great is the fully realised performances by Leto and McConaughey. They both became their characters, body and soul. They are the reason this is a great film.