Film Studies Job Interview: Select One Film From Each Decade

interview

Let’s play make-believe.

One day, you arrive home from your deadbeat career to discover a mysterious letter postmarked from a prestigious local high school. In the envelope stands a job opportunity:

“Dearest you, after searching the world high and low for a Film Studies teacher, we have been flat-out astonished by your breadth of knowledge concerning the history of cinema as demonstrated in your comments on various movie blogs around the interwebs. We welcome you to apply for this instructional position for the upcoming school year. All my love, Principal Smith.”

Folded neatly with the letter is the application. It isn’t concerned with your education, your past employment, or your involvement in criminal enterprises. Instead, it asks only that you select one film from each decade that you will view in class for the students to dissect, study, and discuss.

The application stresses is does not have to be the so-called best film of that decade, but you’ll be expected to defend your choices come interview time.

So, ladies and gentlemen, if you dare… fill out your application in the comments.

1910s:
1920s:
1930s:
1940s:
1950s:
1960s:
1970s:
1980s:
1990s:
2000s:
2010s:

Trailer: Clouds of Sils Maria

Currently competing for the Palm D’or at this years Cannes, Olivier Assayas’s aging actress drama The Clouds of Sils Maria features the varied all-female cast of Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloë Grace-Moretz. Over his career, Assayas has experimented in a variety of genres and tones, and I have yet to see a bad film by him. I don’t expect this one to break that trend.

Maria Enders (Binoche) has a successful acting career and a loyal assistant Valentine (Stewart) but when a young actress (Moretz) interprets a role in a new movie – the same role which made Enders famous – her world starts to crumble. Haunted by her past life, she withdraws herself along with her assistant to the Swiss town of Sils Maria.

Trailer: The Drop

It’s tough to watch the trailer for The Drop and not feel pangs of sadness knowing that it’ll be the last time we see James Gandolfini in a new film. Beyond the sadness, their is definitely excitement though, because the movie looks great.

Written by Dennis Lehane as an original screenplay (rather than an adaptation of his novels like Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River, and Shutter Island), the film follows the story of a loner bartender name Bob (played by Tom Hardy) and his cousin Marv (Gandolfini) as they get mixed up in a gangster’s money laundering and “the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood’s past.”

The Drop opens up in North America on September 19, 2014.

Blind Spots: The Goonies

bs-The-Goonies

When I posted on Facebook and Twitter that I was currently watching The Goonies for the first time, the incredulity was palpable. I’m not particularly well-versed in the ’80s films that my generation considers essential, but for some reason, this one has been coming up more and more often lately, so I bit the bullet even though I didn’t expect to get a lot out of it. For some reason ’80s movies often rub me the wrong way, or at least I have trouble buying into their particular brand of goofiness. The fact that several friends who didn’t watch the film until they were adults reported not really caring for it didn’t help.

Well, I don’t know if it was those low expectations, or my overall positive frame of mind this year, or if I just have a huge soft spot for adventure films, but I pretty much loved this. The set-up of the kids’ families about to be kicked out of their homes had me a little confused at first (who’s moving? why? how will money help?), but once I realized that it’s basically a McGuffin, I was fine. The rest of the plot, following a group of kids following an old treasure map to try to find pirate treasure is right up my alley, and the backstory was just enough to give the story stakes – if they don’t find the treasure, they lose their homes; it’s more than just fun and games, though of course it is that as well. It’s like Indiana Jones meets Home Alone, what with the bumbling criminals always one step behind the kids.

Would you like to know more…?

DVD Review: “Querelle”


Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Writers: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Burkhard Driest
Producers: Michael McLernon, Dieter Schidor, Sam Waynberg
Starring: Brad Davis, Franco Nero, Jeanne Moreau, Laurent Malet, Hanno Poschi
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 108 min.

 

 

Those who are new to the prolific works of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, may fare better than to start with the German’s final film: Querelle based on the novel Querelle de Brest by Jean Genet. First released just after the AIDS virus was clinically observed in the eighties, Querelle, is a film about homosexuality that may have come across as bold at the time of its creation. However looking back at the film with fresher modern eyes has Querelle, looking a little jaded.

Davis plays Querelle, a sailor and thief whose swagger is only matched by his lack of morals. Arriving at a stop off in Brest, Querelle’s mere appearance causes issues with the locals of a Traven he frequents. Soon murder, robbery and sexual politics begin to invade the lives of those who surround themselves with the enigmatic young man.

Respect must be due to Fassbinder’s forthright approach to the film. Shot in 20 days, Querelle is an audacious piece which is drenched in expressionistic color, golden hues and grand set design. We know what we’re in for from the very beginning with Franco Nero, playing a lovelorn Captain, gazing down at glistening, sculpted bodies of his work force. The cast carry off their bravado, throwing caution to the wind if any of the heterosexual actors felt nervous about the material (Nero apparently had reservations), it doesn’t show.

While being radical in theme for the time, Querelle,has been somewhat ravaged by age. Since the film’s conception, the world has changed somewhat. While we still see aggressive rallying against homosexuality (e.g Russia), the transgressions as a whole feel quite tame. Save for one particular sequence, Querelle does little to shock and its allegorical pursuits no longer hold weight. Meanwhile the films liberal uses of sexual terms do little to distract from the philosophical ennui. All posturing aside, we never really get under the skin of Querelle , although some may gesture that’s the point.

Despite unfortunately reminding me of a mixture of The Blue Oyster Bar and the Saturday Night Fever, flashback in Airplane!, Querelle is still a particular sight to behold. The use of deep teal blues and searing oranges are a leap apart from the typical combinations (of the same colours) we see now and the melodramatic displays still have a certain amount of conviction. However while the film may stand out as Fassbinders final entry to the world of cinema, newer audiences may have to set their sights elsewhere to excite their sense of provocation.

Extras:     
An introduction to Querelle, and a brief retrospective of the film’s creation give insight to Fassbinder’s frantic production and help highlight and illustrate the themes.

Can the allegations against Woody Allen continue to be dismissed?

[W]hen I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. … For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like. I didn’t like how often he would take me away from my mom, siblings and friends to be alone with him. I didn’t like it when he would stick his thumb in my mouth. I didn’t like it when I had to get in bed with him under the sheets when he was in his underwear. I didn’t like it when he would place his head in my naked lap and breathe in and breathe out. I would hide under beds or lock myself in the bathroom to avoid these encounters, but he always found me. These things happened so often, so routinely, so skillfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal.

Dylan Farrow, in a recent open letter in the New York Times

This past August, Andrew asked to question: Is Woody Allen irrelevant? Perhaps with the recent op-ed from Dylan Farrow, the question has changed.

Unfortunately, it’s not a new question. It’s just in the spotlight once again.

If you say these allegations don’t matter, if you dismiss Miss Farrow’s claims, if you say “oh, but that was so long ago,” or “his personal actions don’t affect my opinion of his film,” then I think you’re missing the point.

I don’t think that Allen should be tried in the court of public opinion. The public is notoriously uninterested in facts or, frankly, actual justice. Still, even if it makes you feel icky, even if it’s easier to just not talk about it, the discussion isn’t over. Far from it.

With this recent open letter, can we still accept the “ambiguity?”

Trailer: A Long Way Down

alongwaydown

Author Nick Hornby is no stranger to Hollywood. High Fidelity, About a Boy, and Fever Pitch have all been adapted to the big screen over the years – the first of which is a classic, as far as I’m concerned. Hornby has even had an original screenplay produced, which turned out to be 2009’s critical darling An Education.

His latest novel to be adapted is titled A Long Way Down. The film follows the interweaving stories of four strangers who coincidentally meet atop a London building on New Year’s Eve all with the same plan: to jump.

While I found the book only mildly interesting, I’m particularly interested in this project as I’ve been eager to track Aaron Paul’s career now that his days of assisting Walter White are behind him. The trailer is so-so, but the movie does have a solid cast to support Paul, including Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike, Imogen Poots, and Sam Neill.

A Long Way Down is directed by French filmmaker Pascal Chaumeil. It will be screen at the Berlin International Film Festival in Februrary and roll out into theaters shortly after.

Are you a fan of Hornby’s work? Does this latest adaptation excite you? Chime in!

Canadian film is dying. Is there hope for the future?

thebrood

The rumblings have been growing for a decade but over the last few years they have become deafening screams: the movie industry is in flux. Some say it’s in trouble but when studios are raking in billions of dollars annually, it’s hard to say that the business is in any sort of “trouble” but what’s true in the US isn’t necessarily true in Canada. Canada’s film industry really is in trouble and it needs help.

The common complaint was always that Canadians simply didn’t care to see Canadian movies because the movies weren’t good. Problem is, this hasn’t been the case in decades. Canadian movies aren’t simply, to quote the title of Katherine Monk’s book “Weird Sex & Snowshoes.” The influx of international production has created a workforce of leading industry talent and the rise in technology has had a similar effect in Canada as it has in other parts of the world: more movies are being made, more risks are being taken by filmmakers and as a direct result, we’re catching wind of better Canadian cinema. The problem is that our cinematic landscape is still terrible. What else can you call it when only 2% of the entire Canadian box office is attributed to Canadian film?

Would you like to know more…?

SAG Awards for 2013

Screen Actors Guild handed out some awards to a few of its own over the weekend. Pretty standard stuff actually. Watch for the Oscars to go pretty much the same way in the acting department. Winners are in bold red. Also, Television nominees and winners are under the seats if you’d like a look at the boob tube crew.

Cast in a Motion Picture
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
August: Osage County
Dallas Buyers Club
Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Actor
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels’ The Butler)

Actress
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)

Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Daniel Bruhl (Rush)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
James Gandolfini (Enough Said)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Supporting Actress
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)
Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels’ The Butler)

Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble
All is Lost
Fast & Furious 6
Lone Survivor
Rush
The Wolverine

Would you like to know more…?