Thursday, April 3, 2014

Top Five Films of March 2014

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Mr. Nobody (2009 Jaco Van Dormael)   

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Time After Time (1979, Nicholas Meyer)

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An Unmarried Woman (1978, Paul Mazursky)

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The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, Wes Anderson)

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Only Lovers Left Alive (2013, Jim Jarmusch)     

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Debunking the Myth That Foreign Films Are Boring and Going with the Flow

Note: I am writing articles on foreign film for Examiner.com now. I will post my articles here as well. Click on the link at the bottom of this article to view the Examiner's website.

Getting into foreign films can be a challenge, especially when they live up to their stereotype of being weird and/or boring. Foreign films aren't as palatable as American films sometimes, but the good thing is they often aren't as condescending or formulaic.

When you take the differences of the language and culture into consideration, two things might occur: you might be enlightened by a new perspective or you might be alienated by it.

Here are two examples of foreign films that made me scratch my head at first: That Obscure Object of Desire and Last Year at Marienbad.

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[That Obscure Object of Desire]

That Obscure Object of Desire is Luis Buñuel's final film and it came out in 1977. It was a work full of mastery and even perhaps his best. However, upon a first viewing, I didn't know what to make of the Conchita character. After all, she was played by two actresses: Ángela Molina and Carole Bouquet. The more I researd why Buñuel used two actresses, the more I was confused.

Finally, I learned that Ángela Molina had bailed on Luis Buñuel during the making of the film. According to his book, My Last Sigh, Buñuel recounts how there was not enough funding to start the film over. So over a dry double martini, he arrived at the conclusion that he should just hire another actress to finish the film. Here I was trying to figure out what he meant stylistically, when there was no mystery whatsoever.

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[Last Year at Marienbad]

When I watched Last Year at Marienbad for the first time, I have to admit that I just couldn't get it despite the fact that It is perhaps Alain Resnais' most acclaimed film to date and it was certainly ahead of its time. Nothing made sense and it seemed to be so far out there that I didn't understand it at all. Finally, someone explained that Last Year at Marienbad wasn't meant to be understood and that I should watch it again, go with the flow, and not try to make anything out of it. So I did. And it worked.

Foreign films may be harder to decipher sometimes. However, it would be a shame to throw out the baby with the bathwater and avoid them all. It's helpful to start with a list like IMDB's Top 250 of the films in the Criterion Collection. I recommend looking into additional lists at ICheckMovies.com. The key is to discover what kind of films you like and watch more titles by the same filmmaker or from the same country.

Originally published on Blogger 6/12/11
As published on Examiner.com



Sunday, March 2, 2014

Top Five Films of February 2014

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Milius (2013, Joey Figueroa, Zak Knutson)
They Died with Their Boots On    (1941, Raoul Walsh)
Pour elle (2008, Fred Cavayé)
Perfect (1985, James Bridges)
Le fils de l'autre (2012, Lorraine Levy)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shia LaBeouf Says #iamsorry



A friend in Pennsylvania alerted me to Shia LaBeouf's performance art piece with this article. Sunday at the Berlin Film Festival, LaBeouf walked out of the Nymphomanic premiere; "I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE" was written on the paper bag that he wore over his head. Yesterday, Tuesday, February 11, 2014, Shia started his apologetic campaign at a space located at 7354 Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. What was he sorry for? For plagiarizing the work of Daniel Clowes. Everyone was led to believe this was not a publicity stunt. Yet, it certainly garnered attention.

Reports showed that hardly anyone showed up on Tuesday and that the line ranged from three to six people at any given time. However, on Wednesday, some who showed up when the gallery opened at 11 a.m. did not make it in by the 6 p.m. closing time. Kayce Miller was a sweet girl in a wheelchair who showed up at noon. However, she ultimately was not let in.



The last person to enter was a woman with bleached blonde hair. She refused to answer me when I asked what time she arrived that day. Later, there were rumors that she had offered to pay twenty dollars to someone in line. When that failed to work, it was alleged that she had cut in line. This was no surprise as many new faces turned up in the beginning of the line at various points throughout the day. While guards did not catch many of the cheaters, one man in a white baseball cap was banned from entering when he tried to sell his space in line.


When it was their turn, each person in line had the opportunity to see Shia LaBeouf alone. There was no time limit. Some people would be able to spend over twenty minutes with him, while others ran out of there within 30 seconds. Some spoke of the awkwardness, because Shia would not speak. He would only sit there and cry with a paper bag over his head. One man played him a song on the ukelele and reported that Shia smiled. How was it known whether or not he smiled when there was a paper bag over his face? That is to remain a mystery.

For most people who ventured out to see Mr. LaBeouf on Wednesday, standing in line became an existential issue. Why were some of us there in the first place? Why were we willing to stand there for several hours to spend only minutes with a celebrity none of us knew firsthand? Several new bonds were forged and information, hugs, and photos were exchanged. Even actress Nia Vardalos was caught passing by the crowd in the mid-afternoon.


By 3:30 p.m., it was pretty clear that not everyone was going to see Shia LaBeouf. A security guard issued a cut off and additional people stayed in hopes that the rate of attrition would give them a chance. However, only about three people were able to move through every ten minutes and it turned out that way before the cut off was actually well beyond the point of no return.

The guards recommended coming early at 10 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. the next day. However, with all the publicity and skyrocketing numbers, you probably wouldn't stand much of a chance unless you showed up at 9 a.m. With the upcoming weekend, it's clear that even more people will arrive. What time will people start lining up? 8 a.m.? 7 a.m.? Unless Shia's team starts imposing a limit of two or three minutes per person, there is no way that all those who have come to see him actually will.

The last day to see him at his space will be Sunday, February 16th.