Monday, June 30, 2008

8. I'm Not There

I am quite literally speechless when it comes to this movie. Having six very distinct characters portraying different aspects of one mans life may sound confusing, impossible, or maybe to us who have seen the film, spectacular. Why do I love this movie so much? There are quite a few reasons, for one, CATE BLANCHETT. I have never seen such a performance by an actress, her character, Jude, represents Bob Dylan after he becomes famous. Her drugged-up, calm, cool, jittery... and perfect portrayal of Dylan is why I still watch movies and why I believe that Hollywood is still spitting out promise. She's not the only one in the film who made an impression on me, this is one of Heath Ledger's final movies before he died, and what a movie to be in. I have never seen such passion from such a stone-faced character. Other performances pulled the movie to the height at which I love, newbie Marcus Carl Franklin plays the young boy of Bob Dylan, who proves that he's going to be the next Dakota Fanning or Abigail Breslin of Hollywood (watch out for Saoirse Ronan though, review to follow). Another actor to be talked about is the ever wonderful Richard Gere, who hits another home-run (after winning my heart in Chicago). Others in this ensemble cast must be talked about, but I only have so many words. So onto the second reason why I love this movie (not to be repetitious after my Sweeney Todd review, but...) its ARTISTIC QUALITY. Like another favorite of mine, Across the Universe, this movie is technically spectacular! A real knockout when it comes to beauty. It is hard to describe how much I loved the direction in this movie and how much I learned from it, but again, I only have so much space. So finally, the third reason--because all good things come in threes (like LOTR), the MUSIC. Bob Dylan classics blend with new spectacular voices (such as Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová from Once) and a wonderful score that moves the movie through each stage. The only bad thing I can say about this film is that there wasn't enough time to see everything I wanted to see which may have made some of the stories a little unnecessary in the way that they just brought confusion to the film. I would call this hyperlink cinema, though I am no expert, but all the different people come together in one way or another, but what do I know?

* * * ^

::Golden Globe Awards - Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett)
::Nilsson Awards - Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett--tied with Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton)

::Academy Awards - Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett)
::BAFTA Awards - Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett)
::SAG Awards - Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett)
::Nilsson Awards - Best Cinematography, Best Compiled Soundtrack

RATED R for language, some sexuality, and nudity

9. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Compelling, sure. Provocative, definitely. Amazing? Not as much. Johnny Depp stars as the barber-gone-murderer after his wife is taken away from him and his daughter is locked away. Maybe I had too high of expectations for this film, but this ex-broadway musical isn't all the original was. Maybe the revival version had a different feel than the original show, but coming from a theater background I was utterly disappointed in Depp. All I heard when he was cast was "Johnny Depp singing? Where?!" And sure, he sang and murdered people, but his seriousness in the character got the best of him. The character of Sweeney Todd is darkly amusing, a mix of horror and comedy, making him all the more pleasurable. Sweeney is like Hannibal Lector meets the Joker (can't wait to see Heath Ledger in that). So without to much focus on Johnny Depp's dead pan acting, we'll move on to Helena Bonham Carter, who is one of my favorite actresses alive today (catch her creepiness in the Harry Potter series, many actors from that also star in Sweeney). Carter had the character right, a truly loving murderess, creepy and humorous, a deadly duo. She may have saved the entire movie, if it were not for her singing. In one song I didn't even realize she was singing until it became a shouting chorus. Paired with Johnny Depp's untrained vocals, the movie was lacking in the right musicality and strength. Perhaps only two things saved this movie. One being funny man Sacha Baron Cohen's STELLAR performance (if only it had lasted longer). I did not even recognize Cohen at first who took the stage and stole the scene from Depp, what a feat for the slapstick comedian responsible for such garbage as Borat. Some of the cast in the ensemble fare well with me, like H.P.'s own Timothy Spall as Beadle and Alan Rickman as the Judge. Aside from the cast, there was one other major boost for the film, and that was its artistic qualities. For a movie to be amazing you need it to be set up like a painting, take a tip from movies such as this, Julie Taymor's Across the Universe, and I'm Not There (review to follow). It's hard to comprehend how someone could make murder and SO much blood artwork, but Sweeney Todd will be always remembered by me for its fabulous scenery and grim color schemes. Overall, I think the Golden Globes got it wrong this year.

* * _ _

::Academy Awards - Best Art Direction
::Golden Globe Awards - Best Actor-Musical or Comedy (Johnny Depp), BEST PICTURE-MUSICAL OR COMEDY
::Nilsson Awards - Best Art Direction

::Academy Awards - Best Costume Design, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Johnny Depp)
::Golden Globe Awards - Best Director, Best Actress in a Leading Role-Musical or Comedy
::BAFTA Awards - Best Costume Design, Best Hair and Make-Up
::Nilsson Awards - Best Director, Best Costume Design, Best Set Decoration, Best Make-Up and Hair, Best Original Soundtrack

RATED R for graphic bloody violence.

10. La Vie En Rose (La Môme)

I want you to try, just try, to not love this film. A few months ago, it was just another film on my list of 2007 Academy Award nominated films, but now it is not only my personal top 10 list, but also America's top 10 list. This says a lot for a film entirely in French. The most shocking aspect of the film, however, is Marion Cotillard (her awards are listed at the bottom) who portrays Édith Piaf, the fabulous French singer who stormed through America. It is such a complex character, and Cotillard handles the role like any professional. The rest of the cast adds a certain feel to the entire film, including Emmanuelle Seigner, who plays Titne, young Édith's surrogate mother. Aside from the spectacular acting, something must be said for the director, Olivier Dahan, who brings fresh ideas into the overcrowded minds of America. And not to be cliché with an entire review of segues, but this film became the third top grossing French film in America (following Amelie and Brotherhood of the Wolf). This film makes me entirely speechless and is a very large step for musical filmmaking both foreign and English. This movie deserves all the praise it gets and gets my own, two thumbs way up for Marion Cotillard!

* * * ^ (three and a half/four)

::Academy Awards - Best Actress in a Leading Role (Marion Cotillard), Best Make-Up
::Golden Globe Awards - Best Actress in a Leading Role-Musical or Comedy (Marion Cotillard)
::BAFTA Awards - Best Actress in a Leading Role (Marion Cotillard), Best Music, Best Make-Up and Costume Design
::Nilsson Awards - Best Actress in a Leading Role (Marion Cotillard)

::Academy Awards - Best Costume Design
::BAFTA Awards - Best Film Not in the English Language
::SAG Awards - Best Actress in a Leading Role (Marion Cotillard)
::Nilsson Awards - Best Supporting Actress (Emmanuelle Seigner), Best Foreign Language Film, Best Costume Design, Best Make-Up and Hair, Best Original Soundtrack

RATED PG-13 for substance abuse, sexual content, brief nudity, language and thematic elements.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Top 10 Films of 2007

This is not a double post, but instead, it's a compilation. C.D. NIlsson has worked very hard on creating these lists based on five components. He decided all the categories (other than best film) based on nominations and wins for not a specific person or category, but instead on the film, say acting by actresses, as a whole. These nominations and wins are conceived from the four major film awards (Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Nilsson Awards). He then used these as point systems and generated points here, and then added in the factor of the most nominations (and wins) for films as best pictures. So without further ado, here is the lists of 2007, in order of importance (somewhat):

1. Atonement
2. Across the Universe
3. Juno
4. I'm Not There
5. Sweeney Todd

1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
2. No Country for Old Men
3. Atonement
4. There Will Be Blood

1. Juno
2. Michael Clayton
3. I'm Not There
4. The Savages
5. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

1. La Vie En Rose
2. Juno
3. Atonement
4. Away From Her
5. I'm Not There

1. There Will Be Blood
2. Michael Clayton
3. No Country for Old Men
4. The Savages
5. Sweeney Todd

1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
2. There Will Be Blood
3. No Country for Old Men
4. Juno
5. Sweeney Todd

BEST FILM (according to nominations):
1. Atonement
2. No Country for Old Men
3. There Will Be Blood
4. Juno
5. Michael Clayton
6. American Gangster
7. Sweeney Todd
8. The Savages
9. Across the Universe
10. Charlie Wilson's War
----honorable mentions (in order)
Eastern Promises
The Great Debaters

BEST FILM (according to other list numbers)
1. Juno (14)
2. There Will Be Blood (13)
3. Atonement (11)
4. No Country for Old Men (10)
5. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (10)
6. Michael Clayton (8)
7. I'm Not There (6)
8. La Vie En Rose (5)
9. The Savages (4)
10. Across the Universe (4)
----honorable mentions (in order)
Away From Her (3)
Sweeney Todd (3)
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (1)

and finally..... the top 10 films of 2007:

Across the Universe (5)
Away From Her (3)
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (1)
Charlie Wilson's War (1)


10. La Vie En Rose (5)
9. Sweeney Todd (6)
8. I'm Not There (6)
7. The Savages (6)
6. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (10)
5. Michael Clayton (14)
4. No Country for Old Men (19)
3. Atonement (21)
2. Juno (21)
1. There Will Be Blood (21)