Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Documentary Roundtable

I've only seen The Case Against 8 and Life Itself. I am dying to see the others, 
which are Virunga, Citizenfour, Last Days in Vietnam, Keep on Keepin' On and Tales of the Grim Sleep.
There's maybe a different atmosphere than say, the Directors, there's definitely a greater sense of togetherness. There are a lot of experienced working men in here, like steve James and Nick Broomfield or women like Laura Poitras and Rory Kennedy, but there's also this Australian drummer called Alan Hicks, who directed his first documentary and end up being grabbed by Havery Weinstein. 
This is always a must, for me.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Year of 2014, Part II

Was that my Top Ten of the Year? Oh wow, what an underwhelming year, for me at least. It seems that over the years I feel this lack of films in my life (every year I seem to complain about the lack of films I watch, always wanting to see more)! Let me tell you, it comes this time of the year and all I want to do is watch films. I feel underwhelmed anyway. I wanted more Mommy’s. I wanted Searching for Sugar Mans and Pride and Prejudices and Brokeback Mountains and Sennas!

Other Mentions

Tom à la Ferme – If it isn’t Xavier Dolan filling my cinematographic year! I adore Tom à la Ferme. There’s this moment in the film, with the introduction of a new character that feels like a punch or a slap in the face. I love it.
Locke – What a competent and solid and well made film. So much quality in here.
Belle – You should know by now I’m a great sucker for Period Romances (Pride and Prejudice, A Royal Affair, etc etc etc.)
Starred Up – Another solid British drama. I admire the storytelling a great deal. I enjoy these voices coming from a personal journey and then writing these specific stories you see it reflected on this original film.
Frank – This is a really good film. A film I should write about. It is actually really good. It is a great portrait of modern times, of being an artist and being an artist in recent times, it is about mental health and it is not lightly handled, it is so sober and poignant, there are a lot of good points throughout the film and then you have these great comic timings, some describe it as dark comedy. Great performances too.
Calvary – First of all, Calvary is about a place and its community. It’s fun, also so dark and quite reflective. This film is so good. This one is also a huge punch in the stomach.

Other films I really really enjoy. All is Lost. Tracks. The Wolf of Wall Street.

Documentary Mention

20,000 Days on Earth – The Docu-Drama, the “fiction”, the “reality” I love so much. It’s a great reflection from such a sophisticated artist.

Dirty Wars
Inequality for All            
The Square
Top quality documentaries from the past season, otherwise always worth being remembered for, here’s the link to what I wrote at the time.

After Tiller – Heartbreaking story.
Dinosaur 13 – Amazing story. You would not regret seeing this.
Tim’s Vermeer – Entertaining as hell. About Americans and Art.
Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present – Such an interesting and worthy documentary about Abramovic. This was necessary and she deserves it. Also, I found it a treat to see how much of a human being she can be (I just sounded stupid), in the way she cares for attention, in the way she wants to have a companion that loves her and then the ability to stare at other people’s eyes all day and many other “endeavors”!
20 Feet From Stardom – Perfectly composed film. It’s well made, in the sense that has everything on its place, the story growth, the perfect editing and on and on.
We Steal Secrets the Story of Wikileaks - I’ve seen it twice.

Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present. So juicy that I cried.

Overrated Documentary of the Year
Life Itself – And all the accolades. You learn poignant lessons with Roger Ebert. It is surely an American treasure, this document.

Indie Surprise
Still Alice – Those pleasant surprises I mentioned before, this time what I was expecting was well and positively surpassed by the quality of the film.
Obvious Child – Quite the pleasant poignant film, good script and the loveliest performance by Jenny Slate.

OverratedIda. Sorry, but the frames were annoying me so much, but I know the film is pretty decent.
Underrated (at least by me) – Begin Again.

Favorite Gay Film – Between Pride and Tom à la Ferme. And We Are the Best - It isn’t particularly gay, just gloriously queer!

Bad Films
A.C.O.D. Touchy Feely. This is Where I Leave You. August – Osage County. Anyway, moving on.

Fucked Up Scene(s)
Wet Lands – in such a good way! Which one to choose? Glorious film.

The WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED Film of the Year (The fine line between nothingness and a possible intellectual source of…something, but really not…)
Enemy - What the fuck? It's a pity because the film has a lot of style and composition. 

Fuck You, Hollywood
Maps to the Stars

Action Film of the Year
Lone Survivor – Brilliant editing and sound mixing, it is worth it just for all the going down the mountain.

Favorite Comedy
Neighbours – It can be so fucking stupid, but I laughed so...Rose Byrne is hilarious.

Visual Effects of the Year

Boyhood – The most affecting ones!

Irresistible Film of the Year
Chinese Puzzle. Also Life Partners.

Teary Film of the Year
Suzanne, hands down.

The Performances of the Year

Mommy – Explosive.
Suzanne – Subtle, heartbreaking.
Pride  - Wonderful.
Frank – Refreshing.
Gone Girl – Cohesive (Carrie Coon, fuck me).

Favorite Duos
Clouds of Sils Maria is all about the chemistry, the dynamics between Kristen and Juliette and it is awesome to watch!
The twins from Gone Girl, Ben Affleck and Carrie Moon are one of the most satisfying storylines this year. So real. So well written.

This is being a twin, right here!

Female Performances
And the Award goes to - Sara Forestier in Suzanne as Suzanne.

The Jessica Chastain Award
As I’ve only seen two of her four films this year, I have to mention The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby - Them because she’s so so so good, along with James McAvoy. I also have to mention Interstellar, as I loved her presence from the moment we are hit by her appearance on that tiny TV Screen. I can’t wait to see her in A Most Violent Year. Jessica Chastain deserves all the accolades and everything and every great role because Jessica Chastain is this special human being in a place called Hollywood, where she has this ability to be an upfront person, someone who expresses her thoughts and they’re often so poignantly in accordance with today’s society and culture. Just by reading any of her interviews, at the end, I just think, wow. Is she even real?
Exhibit A here.
Exhibit B here.
Must reads.

There’s the need for a Julianne Moore Award too– This year, she has the ability of culminating or really representing her career with these two very distinct films. Probably one of the most thrilling events of the season is to watch Julianne Moore in Still Alice and Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars. This juxtaposition is what us actressexuals live for! She also had Non-Stop, The Hunger Games and Seventh Son!This year she will win her Oscar, it's her time and it's about recognition.

Marion Cotillard in The Immigrant and Two Days One Night - This woman is first class.
Robin Wright in The Congress. It’s quite special and I need to remember the folks about this underdog of a film called The Congress.
Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl – Fun.
Scarlett Johansson in Her and Under the Skin. Wow, just wow, Scarlett. What you did in Her is some of a speechless work of art.
Patricia Arquette – Like I said before, sometimes it takes a sentence, a look, a moment, a mannerism. In Boyhood, the second part of the film, when the kids are teenagers, it’s in fact Mason’s Birthday and he and his sister are taking a trip with his family’s father to where he lives now, and so Patricia is saying goodbye, just looking at them go. To me, this look is everything, it comes down to this moment, she can’t stand to see them going away and it’s all in her eyes.
Kristen Stewart in Camp X-Ray, Still Alice and Clouds of Sils Maria - They’re all so good! She prints these characters with such a strong will and presence.
Jenny Slate in Obvious Child – Adorable.
Catherine Deneuve in On My Way – So Fun.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw In Belle (and I’m dying to see Beyond the Lights) - And like Keira Knightley and like Alicia Vikander, a star is born.
Paulina Garcia in Gloria. On Gloria, click here.
Agata Kulesza in Ida – What a treat, from this Polish actress.

Carrie Coon – Ahhhhhh! How can I forget Carry? I love the twin sister. It’s one of most amusing presences on screen to me, what a boner.

Male Performances
Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years of Slave – First class sophistication.
Bill Hader in The Skeleton Twins – This is one of the most significant turns I’ve seen. It is so marked. It is so strong. Bill Hader becomes this broken man. It is one of those cases where the devotion is so marked you’re astonished. There’s no Bill Hader, he disappeared completely. He is Milo.
Brendan Gleeson in Calvary – Subtle and just GRAND.
Tom Hardy in Locke – First class, taking a closer and thoughtful look and you think about all those tiny micro mannerisms. It’s a crucial contribution to the film. Tom Hardy is such a devoted man.
Jack O’Connell in Starred Up – Ferocious as I always liked Jack O’Connell.
Joaquin Phoenix in Her – Who are you, Joaquin, seriously? The Master one year, Her next.
Ethan Hawke in Boyhood – So mature.
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street – Crazy little fucker, he gives everything and then some.
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club – He won the Oscar.
John Cusack in Maps to the Stars – What a stand out.

Best ScreenplayGillian Flynn, Gone Girl.

Favorite Cinematography
The Immigrant. Under the Skin. Tom a la ferme. Nebraska. The Grand Budapest Hotel. 

Film Editing and Sound Editing
Locke. Starred Up. The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Enemy. Under the Skin.

Musical Moments

It is THE moment or one of the most remarkable moments on Film, this year. It is Xavier Dolan’s sequence followed by the song Wonderwall, by Oasis.

But also, the dream sequence (spoiler alert!) Just Wow.

Oh by the way, Tom a la ferme’s dance scene.

Scarlett and Joaquin in Her as they sing “The Moon Song” by Karen O. What a beautiful moment of cinema.

American Hustle – just dance to the eighties.

Hoje eu Quero Voltar Sozinho - Belle & Sebastian, “There’s too Much Love”.

Obvious Child – Paul Simon, “Obvious Child”.

Begin Again  - “Lost Stars”. Remarkable, unbelievable actually!

Now to finish!
The Québécois!
You know what, I've been mentioning films, trying to resume a bit of what was my year in films, but actually, Chloé Robichaud gave my favorite work of the year! She made me giggle so hard...


It all started a year ago, for me at least, as the series' Pilot premiered in January. Les Spread the Word has been developing this project for over two years. What a rewarding experince. So much talent!