THE HOWIES or THE BEST IN FILM 2014


legoWell, it’s that time of the year again, when lists must be made to give meaning to all the time spent going to movies the year before rather than doing things like joining Doctors Without Borders or trying to find a cure for cancer or sharing memes of kittens on facebook.
No matter what anyone tells you, this is the endgame of film watching, to create order out of chaos, to reach conclusions from randomness, to give deeper meaning to something that in many ways has little meaning except the attending in the first place.
But we’re human and it’s what we do.
However, before getting to the nitty-gritty, I would like to first make a few observations about the state of cinema these days based on the films I saw last year. Continue reading

JACK OF ALL TRADES: Jack O’Connell, ’71 and Unbroken


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

Warning: SPOILERS
starred upI think I’m glad I wasn’t at Jack O’Connell’s home for the holidays this season.
What an amazing year he’s had. He first became well known in the U.S. for his stirring and starring role as the juvenile who is sent to an adult correctional facility in the prison drama Starred Up.
He followed this with the thriller ’71, about a British soldier who gets left behind by his troupe after a riot in Belfast during the Troubles and has to make his way back to safety.
And now he stars in Unbroken, the based on the true story of Louis Zamperini biopic, an Olympic medalist who was imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp during WWII and was treated particularly cruelly by the commanding officer.
It’s an astonishing series of performances to have so close together. Continue reading

THE VIOLENT BEAR IT AWAY or THE QUIET MAN and THE WILD ONE: The Drop and Starred Up


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

Warning: SPOILERS
the-drop-movie-review-0962014-164016The film noir genre is a particularly American institution, one that took hold of the local populace during World War II and stayed strong until the 1960’s.
It had a great influence on movie making all over the world. Perhaps there was just something so satisfying to other countries about the U.S.’s finally washing its dirty laundry in public and exploring the amoral, immoral and sociopathic underpinnings of its society, bringing itself down off the pedestal it had so self-righteously put itself up on.
(An interesting irony here is that the movie world of the 1930’s, during the height of the depression, was one of optimism and a focus on people having frothy fun, while after taking down Hitler, and America entering one of its most prosperous periods in history, the movies are far more cynical and willing to explore the more unsavory underbelly of our world.) Continue reading