Review: Dark Knight Rises

Director: Christopher Nolan
Screenplay: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph-Gordon Levitt
Runtime: 164 min.
MPAA: PG-13

“Theatricality and deception can be powerful agents.”

With those words of wisdom began not only the journey of the Batman, but Christopher Nolan’s remarkably meticulous and grandiose tale of the denizens of Gotham City. For all of the ferocity and determination of Bruce Wayne, and the pomp and circumstance of the Joker, and the dedication of James Gordon, and the loyalty of Alfred Pennyworth, it is the humanism of Gotham that drives the entirety of the series.

And it is Dark Knight Rises that offers a catharsis for those people, and for those that would test their mettle.

Would you like to know more…?

Shinsedai Cinema Festival: Ringing In Their Ears


Title: Ringing In Their Ears
Director: Yu Irie
Starring: Fumi Nikaido, Kurumi Morishita, Uji Kiyotaka, Yui Miura, Tatsuya Sakamoto, Mikihito Tsurugi, Toru Nomaguchi, Keisuke Horibe
Running time: 89 min.

 

There are countless clichés and adages that revolve around music – ‘the power of rock ‘n’ roll,’ ‘music saves lives,’ ‘I listened to them before it was cool,’ and so on and so forth. While these statements are likely to cause you to roll your eyes, it must be said that there is at least a smidgen of truth in there. It seems that there is nary a person that does not have some connection with music, be it as a distraction, a muse, requisite background noise, or a form of hope, and all of this distilled through ear buds.

Ringing In Their Ears is a film that offers a glimpse into the relationship between music and not only those who listen to it, but those who create it, as well.

Would you like to know more…?

Review: Magic Mike

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Screenplay: Reid Carolin
Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn
Runtime: 110 min.

One of the more ubiquitous critiques utilized in analyzing a performance is that the actor was merely ‘playing himself.’ This criticism – or insult, really – has been levied at actors of all shapes and sizes, ranging from Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg to Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt. Whether this is a matter of a typecasting, talent, or some other intangible is oftentimes irrelevant, as what impacts box office numbers (that is, wanting to see a character that one has seen and loved before) does not often jibe with what the critic hopes to see (an actor evolving before our very eyes). How this is differentiated from the praise associated with an actor for performing ably in ‘the role he was born to play’ is something of a non sequitur.

At the heart of these semantics and ramblings is Magic Mike. Or, rather, Channing Tatum playing himself in the most literal sense of the term, to astonishing results.

Would you like to know more…?

Review: Prometheus

Director: Ridley Scott
Screenplay: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba
Runtime: 124 min.
MPAA: R

There exists a perception that religion and science are in a perpetual state of war. One cannot maintain faith in the scriptures of their respective dogma while acknowledging the strengths found in the Big Bang theory … at least, insofar as those that seek some sort of ubiquitous truth are concerned. To those that seek the answers to those questions that have been pondered for as long as history itself – where did we come from? why are we here? – it is essentially inconceivable (if not offensive) that there may not be a single truth, or that the truth may be in stark contrast to the beliefs that one holds dear. Questions, to some, are not meant to be open-ended. To others, considering such issues is a paramount aspect of life, as a mind is a precious thing to waste.

The ability to appeal to the viewer’s philosophical foundations, in the most intrinsically beautiful sense of the bounds of the human mind, and subsequently challenge them is the defining characteristic of Prometheus.

Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: Lawless

John Hillcoat directed two of the most tragically beautiful films of the past decade, yet seems to be an almost anonymous name in even the most vibrant of film discussions. The Proposition may well have been the best film of the 2000s, speaking in generalities, and The Road, while flawed, was among the better films of 2009 – a fairly strong year for cinema. I believe Hillcoat’s eye for landscapes, understanding of human nature and interactions, and general editing skill plant him firmly in Terrence Malick territory … a blasphemous statement, to some, but a matter of fact for me.

Lawless may well represent Hillcoat’s pseudo-breakout film, combining the name value of Shia LaBeouf and Gary Oldman (perhaps the best living actor) with the considerable talents of Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, and Jessica Chastain. While a late-August release is often a kiss of death, it may be the perfect time for a film of its anticipated caliber to hit the big screen, free from the pull of the summer blockbusters. Or, maybe I’m deluding myself into hoping that there will be bigger and brighter things for a director that ‘gets me’ (a delusion unto itself).

Without further ado, check-out the trailer, hot off the presses.

Review: Norwegian Wood

Director: Anh Hung Tran
Screenplay: Anh Hung Tran
Producer: Shinji Ogawa
Starring: Ken’ichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi, Kiko Mizuhara
Runtime: 133 min.

I find myself in an almost existential funk as a result of watching Norwegian Wood. It is almost as if the cast and crew sought to craft a film that would satisfy all of my aesthetic whims (through both my eyes and ears), while simultaneously grating against the very fabric of my analytical mind. In most reviews, I would save the following zinger for the end, hoping to glean a (hopefully genuine) smirk from each and every reader – that does not seem appropriate here, as the following ramblings will likely steer you away long before you reach my conclusions. That being said, there’s one rather simple term with which I may describe this film with startling accuracy:

Beautiful disaster.

Would you like to know more…?

Canada’s Top 10: A Dangerous Method Review

A Dangerous Method

[With Canada’s Top 10 screening in a few major cities in Canada in the coming weeks, the time is ripe to re-visit some of the titles we’ve seen throughout the last year.]

Cronenberg and psychoanalysis seem like a match made in heaven – few directors have probed the depths of the bizarre and cerebral as frequently or successfully as Cronenberg. While films like Videodrome and A History of Violence are generally known for their visceral brutality, such a view should not hold up beyond a perfunctory glance. Cronenberg’s films are quite dependent upon the neuroses and motivations of their characters, as well as the mindset of the viewer. Sure, there is quite a bit of shock value to be had … but the human mind and its hopes, wants, needs, and desires are consistently at the forefront of Cronenberg’s works.

At face value, A Dangerous Method is the perfect storm of subject matter and director; and this, without even considering the wonderful casting.

Would you like to know more…?

Rank ‘Em: John Carpenter’s Films

With Halloween nearly upon us, it seems appropriate to delve into the filmography of one of the most well-known and acclaimed directors of the genre. Carpenter is, without question, a master of suspense. His utilization of music in crafting an ominous atmosphere is essentially unparalleled, and his ability to engross and unnerve the viewer with subtlety and craft is nothing short of transcendent. Hyperbole aside, I am not quite sure that there is another American director that has enthralled me as well or as much as Carpenter.

In the interest of generating a great deal of discussion, I will provide a simple tiered list, from worst to best, to get the ball rolling. Without further ado…

Would you like to know more…?

Review: The Turin Horse

Director: Béla Tarr
Screenplay: Béla Tarr, László Krasznahorkai
Producer: Gábor Téni
Starring: János Derzsi, Erika Bók, Mihály Kormos
Runtime: 146 min.

A disclaimer of sorts is necessary for this review.

The Turin Horse is not a film for the casual moviegoer; cinemaphiles should not view the film with the company of a casual moviegoer, as said moviegoer is likely to obnoxiously grumble about “pretentiousness” and utilize “art house” as if it were a heinous insult; it should not be viewed by those with a proclivity for anxiety or depressive existentialism (unless they enjoy that sort of thing). The author and Row Three are not liable for any negative experiences that may befall those who choose to ignore the aforementioned criteria.

Would you like to know more…?

Review: Take Shelter

Director: Jeff Nichols
Screenplay: Jeff Nichols
Producer: Sophia Lin, Tyler Davidson
Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham
Runtime: 120 min.
MPAA: R

Where is the line between fear and paranoia? Is the former objective, and the latter subjective? Is it a matter of perspective? Certainty or uncertainty? Or is the quest for the justification of either inane?

Would you like to know more…?

Review: A Dangerous Method

Director: David Cronenberg
Screenplay: Christopher Hampton
Producer: Jeremy Thomas
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel
Runtime: 99 min.
MPAA: R

Cronenberg and psychoanalysis seem like a match made in heaven – few directors have probed the depths of the bizarre and cerebral as frequently or successfully as Cronenberg. While films like Videodrome and A History of Violence are generally known for their visceral brutality, such a view should not hold up beyond a perfunctory glance. Cronenberg’s films are quite dependent upon the neuroses and motivations of their characters, as well as the mindset of the viewer. Sure, there is quite a bit of shock value to be had … but the human mind and its hopes, wants, needs, and desires are consistently at the forefront of Cronenberg’s works.

At face value, A Dangerous Method is the perfect storm of subject matter and director; and this, without even considering the wonderful casting.

Would you like to know more…?