Tag Archives: a serious man

DVDs This Week – 15/03/10

Zombieland
Good fun and definitely rewatchable zombie comedy. I am still unsure whether I find this or Shaun of the dead a better zom-com (although I still would take Dr S Battles The Sex Crazed Reefer Zombies over both of them).

An absolutely blinding title sequence and a fair hit count of good laughs helped me to enjoy this film a lot at the cinema and at times, it does look gorgeous, but I found it hard to escape the feeling that Jesse Eisenberg was essentially playing Michael Cera. While he did a decent job of this it felt a bit strange given that I was already getting a feeling of overkill with Michael Cera playing Michael Cera in his films.

By now everyone should know about the cameo, but I have to admit – I found it a massive disappointment. It is so forced and the only laugh it gave me (which was probably the biggest laugh to be fair) was in the character’s eventual death. The film is the perfect length so that it doesn’t feel too long and it’s great to see that a director can show restraint and knows when to finish a film before it gets too stale.

Overall, this film is definitely in my top 3 comedy films of 2009 and I highly recommend it, although at times the gags can be hit and miss possibly due to the high gag count. It looks really good for a comedy film and shows some moments of ingenuity, but may be guilty of trying to many tricks to gain it’s own style.

White Ribbon
Michael Haneke’s Palme D’Or 2009 winner also came very high in a large number of film critics films of the decade. The plot of the film involves a school teacher recalling memories of the year that he met his fiancee, where a number of strange occurrences take place in a German village during the twelve months between July 1913 and 1914..

As seems to be the case with Haneke’s films, White Ribbon can be described as both ‘violent’, but also ‘subtle’. I recently decided to rewatch Cache, another Haneke film starring my favourite foreign actor and actress, Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche. On first watch I didn’t enjoy the film but I decided to rewatch because I realised I had missed a hell of a lot of the plot because a lot of things happen in the background, and unlike a Hollywood film, isn’t telegraphed. I expect White Ribbon to be similar to Cache in that respect and Haneke is definitely a director that commands attention.

Cold Souls
I managed to catch this at the fantastic Hyde Park Picture House (my favourite UK cinema ever) late last year and while the movie is watchable, it is far from a great film. Paul Giamatti plays Paul Giamatti preparing for the Chekhov play “Uncle Vanya”. To deal with his growing anxiety regarding the role, he decides to follow up an advert in a newspaper to store his soul in a storage facility until the play is over. The plot is amazingly high concept, but it just doesn’t seem to work. It tries to be subtle, but then hammers home some comedy elements (as though the writer was questioning the audiences’ intelligence). Also, rare for a Paul Giamatti film, he is guilty of some horrific overacting.

In summary, despite a great concept, the film never lives up to its premise. Cold Souls tries to be intelligent, but doesn’t have the brains that it thinks it has.

Also out this week: A Serious Man – Survival of the Dead – Paranormal Entity

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Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

The Nominees
Avatar
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

The expansion of the category has had some impact on the talk around the Oscars, mostly negative. It would appear that you could easily eliminate five films from the top category as being also-rans, if still good films. Where last year it would have served mostly just to allow The Dark Knight its nomination and sate the anger of so many over-hyped fanboys/girls, this year it felt as though the Academy was just reaching further to grab films from all corners, as if to indicate that they are not scared of honouring ‘popular’ films. The fact that they have never really done this and the actual small films almost always get screwed, that was left to the side of the discussion.

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Oscar Predictions: Best Original Screenplay

The Nominees
Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds
Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman for The Messenger
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen for A Serious Man
Pete Docter and Bob Peterson for Up

Having taken home the BAFTA, it would seem that The Hurt Locker has positioned itself for a potential clean sweep at the Oscars this year. The film has garnered almost uniformly excellent reviews and its meagre box-office take appears to have had little impact on its chances come Awards season. To get it out of the way at the start, this is going to be the Iraq film to compete for the awards, to The Messenger will have to put up with being the year’s second-best semi-apolitical Iraq movie.

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Our BAFTA Predictions

You can listen to the podcast on which we ‘discussed’ these here but, for the purposes of finality, here are the predictions we made for this year’s BAFTAs. Also, make sure to follow us Live Tweeting the show this evening.

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Other Oscar Nomination Predictions

I did predict a few little while ago, but much has changed in the interim and I feel it necessary to update my prediction season for the nominees, something I will do again in early February just before the nominations are announced.

The primary change is the fall of Nine, previously considered a shoe-in for most categories, which looks likely to win absolutely nothing outside of a possible couple of technicals. Add to that the rising popularity of Inglourious Basterds and the seemingly-unstoppable attention being given to The Hurt Locker, plus the apparently disastrous The Lovely Bones, and some things have to change.

Below then are my predictions for the top few categories, with some explanation as to why and, bold as it may be, my predictions for the likely winners in each category.

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Sam’s Top Ten of the Year

You can listen to us discussing these films at length on the podcast on the show, but please do check out the list below for perpetuity. Sam’s list is annotated and included below, Tom’s is not annotated and its right here. This just means you will have to check out the podcast to hear Tom’s viewpoints. So check out Sam’s choices after the jump, along with a few choice thoughts and honourable mentions. Enjoy!

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Oscar Nominations Predictions: Part Deux

Time to have a little guess again at which films could be nominated for Oscars in a couple of months time, just entirely based on hype and vague attempts to understand the predictable nature of the Academy. So, for debate and conjecture’s stake, enjoy these predictions for the Oscar nominations in 2010, post jump. Continue reading →

A Serious Man: Not an Odd Film Out

Werner Herzog and Christian Bale on the set of Rescue Dawn

In a column for the Guardian over the weekend, Joe Queenan used A Serious Man to stand in example of movies by directors which stand apart from the rest of their filmography. In the case of A Serious Man, Queenan writes:

A Serious Man falls into that category of films that, for whatever reason, do not have the same texture or mood as a director’s other films. It may be a decision the film-maker has made deliberately, or it may be entirely inadvertent, but these films stand apart from the other movies in a director’s body of work. It is as if the film-maker abruptly decided to take a holiday from his own personality and make a film in somebody else’s style.

He goes on to cite other examples of this theory for great directors. He notes Werner Herzog for Rescue Dawn (“…a well-crafted action picture. And nothing more.“), Spike Lee’s Inside Man (“…certainly doesn’t have the feel of any other Spike Lee film. It is work for hire.“) and Ang Lee with The Hulk (“…one of those catastrophes so bad that its sequel seems like the industry’s personal apology to the movie-going public for what has gone before.“)

He also cites a few examples of better one-offs, such as Scorsese’s Age of Innocence, Eastwood’s The Bridges of Madison County and, inexplicably, Peter Weir’s Green Card.

I’ll leave what he considers good or bad to the side (seriously though, Green Card?) and just comment on the mistake of characterising so many of these films as being far apart from the other work by directors.

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Let the Oscar Buzz Begineth!!

Oscars-Predictions-1

As we are prone to do, it feels like to kick-off the Oscar buzz season as awards from major film festivals begin to roll in and the ceremony approaches. I realise that this may feel like the kind of wishing-life-away feeling that it given as you walk into shops in mid-September and see Christmas stock out all over the place, but these will get more frequent as we get closer and can begin to actually predict what could win. This is more to provide an interesting gauge of how buzz works, how it changes and how wrong we could well end up being by the time the awards come around.

So, just for the big few categories, here’s what seems like it’s going to cause a stir this year: Continue reading →

Coens to Remake True Grit

true_grit

The Coen brothers have announced plans to remake the John Wayne classic True Grit, the one where the man plays Rooster Cogburn and the one he won his Oscar for.

The Coens are not however looking to remake the film so much as go back to an adaptation of the original novel by Charles Portis which backgrounds the Cogburn character in favour of Mattie, played by Kim Darby in the original film, which will mean they will likely focus on the darker, less heroic elements of the story.

The brothers already have a lot of projects lined up with A Serious Man, a black comedy about a man whose wife is leaving him due to his mooching brother, the next. They’ve also got their hands on an adaptation of Michael Chabon’s sparky Yiddish Policeman’s Union plus theatre comedy Hail Caesar and the mysterious Suburbicon.

Busy time post Oscar for the Coens and, it seems to me, they have a clean canvas on which to chart the rest of their artistic career.