Films viewed in 2011

Posts Tagged ‘black and white’

494. 8 1/2

In Foreign Language on August 20, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Dir. Frederico Fellini

A harried movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies.

MY TAKE

Tricky business this film reviewing 50 years after the fact. Frederico Fellini’s 8 ½ (1963) is still widely regarded as a cinematic masterpiece after creating a small firestorm on its release, winning two Oscars along the way. The visuals remain striking and bizarre, and the overall atmosphere manages to capture the chaos of an artistic mind desperately grasping for both creative and sexual releases. But I couldn’t help feeling like more context was required for piecing together this poetic puzzle. The title may refer to the number of times you need to see it before the whole thing really clicks.

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492. Shadow of a Doubt

In Thriller on May 28, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Dir. Alfred Hitchcock

A young woman discovers her visiting “Uncle Charlie” may not be the man he seems to be.

MY TAKE

Often cited as the favourite of his own films, Aflred Hitchock’s Shadow of a Doubt is a deliciously suspenseful slice of domestic thrills.  Joseph Cotton plays the shady uncle who brings just right balance of intrigue and terror with his menacing portrayal of a killer that’s a little too close to home. Without the same visual flourish as some of his more famous work, the story manages to grab the viewer all the same and pull you in before nearly pushing you off the train. Hitchcock may have stronger films, but aside from some quaint plot points, this one holds up nicely.

 

450. Les ordres

In Canadian on January 25, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Dir. Michel Brault

A fact-based account of ordinary citizens who found themselves arrested and imprisoned without charge during the October Crisis in 1970 Quebec.

MY TAKE

When I asked my Quebec Cinema professor in university his favourite films from la belle province, he said “Number one, Les ordres. Number two, Les ordres.” I finally know why. Although extremely hard to find, I got a DVD copy of Les ordres through a set called Michel Brault: Ouevres 1958-1974, packaged along side the pioneering director’s (and cinematographer’s) short films, documentaries and other rare features. The unique style of each actor introducing themselves to the camera is just one way this important account of the October Crisis brings fresh perspective and poignancy to the complicated national event. Rich black and white cinematography, smooth and steady camera work, and a sympathetic eye recreate a film that should use the tagline “just watch me.”

437. The Battle of Algiers

In Foreign Language on January 9, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Dir. Gillo Pontecorvo

An account of the bloodiest revolution in modern history.

MY TAKE

The Battle of Algiers is so powerful, so incredible, and so realistic that the filmmakers actually felt compelled to put a disclaimer stating that “not one foot of newsreel or documentary film has been used.”  The thousands of rioting people in the streets, the bombings in public places and the entire visual approach still have a devastating effect on the unsuspecting viewer. Particularly effective is the time stamps and episodic storytelling that weave together the conflict and portray both sides as being vicious and indiscriminant in their brutality. Without question, Gillo Pontecorvo crafted one of the most exciting and important works in modern cinema.


421. The Artist

In romance on December 21, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Dir. Michel Hazanavicius

A silent movie star wonders if talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion and sparks a romance with a young dancer set for her big break.

MY TAKE

The Artist honestly made me fall in love with movies all over again. French writer and director Michel Hazanavicius has crafted not only the best film of 2011, but a bold, entertaining, emotional and beautiful silent picture than made me want to stand up and cheer. The two stars, Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, are divinely cast and light up the screen with some of the best chemistry I’ve ever seen.  What I expected was the pastiche and novelty of Guy Maddin (who I love). What I found instead was the welcomed charm and unbridled energy of Roberto Benigni. Thaw your heart and open your eyes, and I promise this film will take you by surprise.


219. The Hustler

In Drama on September 2, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Dir. Robert Rossen

An up-and-coming pool player plays a long-time champion in a single high-stakes match.

MY TAKE

The Hustler earns it’s name from the opening scene, which perfectly sets up everything we need to know about Fast Eddie and the pool scene. As the games go on and the stakes are raised, watching Paul Newman unravel is a hugely rewarding experience. The marathon match against Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) surely could have been trimmed, but this Oscar-winning classic about pool sharks holds up swimmingly.

171. Man Bites Dog

In Foreign Language on August 24, 2011 at 3:34 PM

Dir. Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, Benoît Poelvoorde

A camera crew slowly becomes complicit in the crimes of a serial killer as they follow him around exercising his craft.

MY TAKE

Look closely at the poster. I was as blown away by this film as that poor baby. The casual and darkly humourous way Ben introduces us to his serial killings was more effective than any amount of blood could have been. The mockumentary style is also so well used that I’m embarrassed (in retrospect) at all the subsequent imitators. Thank you Criterion Collection for keeping this somewhat-maligned film alive.

158. Paths of Glory

In War on August 20, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Dir. Stanley Kubrick

When soldiers in WW1 refuse to continue with an impossible attack, their superiors decide to make an example of them.

MY TAKE

Paths of Glory might be the first Stanley Kubrick film that I’ve loved after seeing the first time. Of course it’s not as challenging as something like A Clockwork Orange, but all the elements at work here from the technical achievements to the atypical storyline had me relishing every frame. There are still a few early Kubrick films I haven’t seen, but now look forward to watching them more than ever.

156. Clerks

In Comedy on August 20, 2011 at 3:32 PM

Dir. Kevin Smith

A day in the lives of two convenience clerks named Dante and Randal as they annoy customers, discuss movies, and play hockey.

MY TAKE

Nothing about Clerks screams “instant classic” anymore, but it does stand-out as one of the better Gen X culture flicks. The acting is passable, but is helped immensely by smart, sarcastic and refreshing dialogue. Judged against countless of other independent films trying to ape the formula, I can appreciate why this one still resonates.

146. Truffe

In Canadian on August 18, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Dir. Kim Nguyen

Chaos ensues after global warming transforms a working-class Montreal neighborhood into a world Mecca for truffles.

MY TAKE

Audacity alone makes this film quite the accomplishment, despite some obvious faults. The use of black and white, for example, seems like an ill-suited attempt at watering down the strange comedy/horror/fantasy mash-up. Certain scenes do look great though, but the cheeseball animatronics are hard to swallow.