Review: Whiplash


Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Producers: Jason Blum, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak
Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 107 min.

 

 

My original posting of this review can be found HERE

 


Being that film is an industry populated by artists in all areas of the field, it’s no surprise that a prevalent theme throughout its history has been the drive to achieve greatness. We’ve seen it unfold on screen in many varieties, whether it’s characters in the field of sport, music, film or many others, but they all share that single, universal center of someone who is desperate to reach a level of skill so prominent that their name is remembered as one of the best there ever was. This is what motivates Andrew Neyman (played by Miles Teller), the talented young drummer at the head of Damien Chazelle’s sophomore feature, Whiplash. Enrolled at the Shaffer Conservatory, the best music school in the country, Neyman is recruited by the infamous conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) to join his band there and so begins Chazelle’s tale of two men who want nothing more than to achieve that higher place of artistry that few are able of accomplishing, something which sends both on a violent, aggressive and unrelenting journey in the hopes of reaching it.

What begins as a moment of naive optimism for Neyman, the approval of someone he greatly admires, quickly morphs into something terrifying as on his first day Fletcher gives him a promising little pep talk only to then berate him in class and hurl a chair at his head when he can’t meet the tempo the conductor requires. Neyman realizes that tutelage from this legend isn’t about to come easy, but easy is never something that Whiplash wants to allow in its approach. In only his second feature, Chazelle exhibits a control over the material that is comparable to directors twice his age, as he turns what could have been a relatively typical story of mentor and student into one of the most exhilarating, intense and captivating experiences I’ve had the pleasure of viewing in years. It took the 29-year-old filmmaker some time to get this project to the screen, having to first develop it as a short film in order to secure funding for the desired feature-length project, but we’re all lucky he pursued it to fruition as Whiplash is a marvelously involving exploration of the perils of obsession and the virtues of perseverance, played out through one of the finest-acted two-handers in years.
Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: Pan

panjackman

There are quite a few fans of Joe Wright here in the third row. Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Hanna – for all his flaws as a storyteller, he sure can shoot a hell of a pretty film. His latest, a origin story for Peter Pan titled simply Pan, looks to be no exception.

Unlike some other recent blockbuster movies capitalizing on already established classic and beloved lore (the dreadful Oz prequel comes to mind or last year’s painful Jack the Giant Slayer from Bryan Singer), Wright’s film looks to have plenty of soul. With a cast that includes Hugh Jackman as an eccentric Blackbeard, Garrett Hedlund as a younger James Hook, and Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily, I’m fairly confident that this one will be smash at the box office. Hell, this could be a hell of an unofficial beginning to a trilogy viewing including2003’s decent Peter Pan and Spielberg’s ridiculous, yet still awesome Hook.

Pan drops into theaters on June 26, 2015.

What are your thoughts on the trailer? Simply more mediocrity from the Hollywood machine or does it seem promising?

2015 Independent Spirit Awards

It’s awards season yet again. And again we’re all sitting in the third row with baited breath to see what films, stars and storytellers will be given the opportunity to bring home a congratulatory gold-plated statue (or embarrassing figurine if you happen to take home a Razzie). While The Academy Awards (Oscars) tend to get all the glory and pizzazz, the award show that is held in fairly high esteem around here is The Spirit Awards ceremony:

Along with being a fantastic party, the Spirit Awards ceremony also brings together top talent from Hollywood and throughout independent film. Awards are presented for the year’s best achievements in independent film, with statues given for Best Feature, Best First Feature, Best Feature Made for Under $500,000 (the John Cassavetes Award) and many more.

In keeping with its Los Angeles roots, the Spirit Awards takes place each year in and around a beachfront tent in beautiful Santa Monica. Currently in its 30th year, the show remains as original as the films and filmmakers it honors.

Winners are chosen by those in the know: Film Independent Members and Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) members. Voting members receive select DVD screeners and are invited to attend free screenings of all nominated films before choosing the Spirit Award winners.

Film Independent is a non-profit arts organization. Its voting members include filmmakers, film industry leaders and film lovers. Anyone passionate about the art of film can join as a Member and vote for the winners of the Spirit Awards.

Since starting in 1984, The Spirits have had a lot of fun times at their ceremony. As part of this “rich” history, the main site has put together a list of highlights from each year over the past 29 years (including Sarah Silverman’s vagina).

This year’s show will play on February 21st, 2015 (the night before the Oscars). So blah-di-blah-di-blah, here are the nominees for this years ceremony (which in my opinion is mostly correct ;).

BEST FEATURE
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Boyhood
Love is Strange
Selma
Whiplash

BEST DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Ava DuVernay, Selma
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
David Zellner Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

BEST SCREENPLAY
Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, Big Eyes
J.C. Chandor, A Most Violent Year
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Jim Jarmusch, Only Lovers Left Alive
Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias, Love is Strange

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Marion Cotillard – The Immigrant
Rinko Kikuchi – Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Jenny Slate – Obvious Child
Tilda Swinton – Only Lovers Left Alive

BEST MALE LEAD
André Benjamin – Jimi: All Is By My Side
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
John Lithgow – Love is Strange
David Oyelowo – Selma

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year
Carmen Ejogo – Selma
Andrea Suarez Paz – Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Emma Stone – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Riz Ahmed – Nightcrawler
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Alfred Molina – Love is Strange
Edward Norton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
Would you like to know more…?

Blu-Ray Review: Spione

Director: Fritz Lang
Screenplay: Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou
Based on a Novel by: Thea von Harbou
Starring: Willy Fritsch, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Gerda Maurus, Fritz Rasp, Louis Ralph, Lupu Pick
Producer: Erich Pommer
Country: Germany
Running Time: 150 min
Year: 1928
BBFC Certificate: PG


I‘ve had an excellent track record with Fritz Lang films (you can read my glowing review of Des Testament des Dr. Mabuse here). Admittedly, I’ve only seen a few, but each one has impressed me greatly. Metropolis introduced me to the wonders of silent cinema back when I was a teenager, M showed me that serial killer films were already in fine form back in the 30’s and, more recently, Des Testament des Dr. Mabuse proved that blockbuster sequels could be masterpieces. Eureka released Lang’s follow up to Metropolis, Spione (a.k.a. Spies), on DVD as part of their Masters of Cinema series back in 2005. I’d been very close to buying it in the past as it sounded like something I’d very much enjoy, but I’m glad I never took the plunge as now Eureka have upgraded the release as a dual format Blu-Ray and DVD set. I requested a review copy to see if it could match up to the other Lang films I’d seen and I’m pleased to report that it certainly did.

Spione is a spy thriller (if the English title didn’t make that obvious) with a labyrinthine plot. I won’t go into too much detail so as not to spoil things, but basically a spy ring headed by the evil Haghi (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) is causing chaos at the government’s secret service. Important documents have been stolen, dignitaries have been assassinated and double agents are springing up all over the place. Next on Haghi’s list of crimes is to get his hands on a peace treaty to be signed between Japan and the UK, in the hope that he can use it to trigger another world war. The only man that can stop him is agent 326 (Willy Fritsch). Haghi is always one step ahead though and sends the cunning Russian spy Sonya (Gerda Maurus) to seduce him and lead him down a dark path. A spanner is put in the works however when Sonya and 326 fall in love.

Would you like to know more…?

The Perfect Christmas Gift for Me Your Movie Fan Loved Ones

Remember the Absolut book for coffee tables? It was a great gift for the alcoholic in your life. But let’s be real, if you’re perusing this site, you probably know about 10% more people who are movie lovers than alcoholics. So Criterion has done gone and finished your holiday gift shopping for you with a gorgeous new coffee table book: The Criterion Designs.

The most exciting names in design and illustration today apply their talents to some of the most important and influential films of all time. This volume gathers highlights from designs commissioned by the Criterion Collection, featuring covers, supplemental art, and never-before-seen sketches and concept art plus a gallery of every Criterion cover since the collection’s first laserdisc in 1984. From avant-garde experiments to big-budget blockbusters, cult favorites to the towering classics of world cinema, the depth and breadth of what film can be is on display in these striking images. Whether painstakingly faithful re-creations or bold re-imaginings, the stunningly diverse designs collected here offer new ways for cinephiles and design aficionados alike to engage with the world’s greatest filmmakers.

Check out a small sample of what’s in store for you in this 306 page extravagawesome…

The price is a bit steep at nearly eighty bucks; but like I said, small price to pay for having all of your shopping done. Now.

Complete list of featured artists:
show content

Trailer: Jurassic Park 4

JurassicWorld

Lots of StarLord but no mix tape (and very little sense of humour), Jurassic World looks about as lazy as they come in terms of sequels. Colin Trevorrow’s (Safety Not Guaranteed) direction here, looks to be exactly what a studio wants: Extruded plastic product. Judging by this digitally-bright and quite colourful trailer, Jurassic World is Jurassic Park minus any sense of wonder. Only the franchise remains, trapped in amber and poked for cloning every few years.

Mondays Suck Less in the Third Row

Check out these links:
15 Clever Movie Details
1950s Hong Kong Captured In Street Photography By Fan Ho
Cool 2015 wall calendar
Experimental Videogame Consoles That Let You Make One Move a Day
9 Easter Eggs From the Bookshelf in Interstellar
Cumming or Drumming (!NSFW!)
12 weirdest accomplishments at Guinness World Records Day 2014
What NYC skyline will look like in three years
A Clockwork Orange (bts photos)
Amazing shadow art



Would you like to know more…?

DVD Review: Ida

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Writers: Pawel Pawlikowski, Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Starring: Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik
Producers: Eric Abraham, Piotr Dzieciol, Ewa Puszczynska
Country: Poland/Denmark/France/UK
Running Time: 81 min
Year: 2013
BBFC Certificate: 12


Although born in Poland, Pawel Pawlikowski began his career making documentaries for British television, then made a name for himself directing a couple of highly regarded British films, Last Resort in 2000 and My Summer of Love in 2004. For his fifth feature, Ida, he chose to head back home to co-write and direct a film in Poland which delves into the country’s dark and turbulent past.

Ida is a drama set in the 1960’s which follows 18-year old Anna on a journey of self-discovery. An orphan who has lived in a convent for as long as she can remember, she is preparing to take her vows to become a nun and is advised to speak to her one known relative, her aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza), before making this huge decision. Wanda opens Anna’s eyes to the truth of her past, revealing that she is in fact called Ida and her Jewish parents were killed during the Nazi occupation. Following this discovery, Anna/Ida travels with Wanda to try to find her parents’ bodies and finally lay them to rest. Along the way, Wanda, a bitter yet modern woman, tries to break out Anna’s repressed desires. Wanda herself is filled with pain though and the journey they take may cleanse her soul too.

Would you like to know more…?