Monthly Archives: May 2011

DVD Pick of the Week: Kaboom

In light of recent discussion of Cannes here at The Filmsmith, it is all too fitting that Gregg Araki’s latest film, Kaboom, should come out on DVD this week. Last year at the festival, it inaugurated a brand new award – The Queer Palm, Cannes’ first LGBT prize – showcasing the best queer film at the fest. Kaboom had a very limited theatrical run, so now that it’s available on DVD it demands to be seen. It will be enjoyable for those familiar with the director’s previous works, or just as great for those interested in seeing a stylish, exuberant, youthful coming-of-age tale. Continue reading

Cannes 2011 Rewind

As The Filmsmith predicted, Terrence Malick’s nostalgic, personal epic The Tree of Life collected the top prize on Sunday at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. But the week was filled with upsets and snubs, directors lauded and thrown out, and a mysterious silent film that surprisingly was one of the most beloved films in competition. Here’s the rundown of what may have been one of the best festivals in years. Continue reading

Videogames: Fun, but no story.

When Halo:Reach was a released back in September  2010 it made almost 200 million dollars in a day.  Over an extended weekend (Wednesday-Sunday), the biggest blockbuster can only muster $125 million.  These figures, combined with growing attempts by the video game industry to become more accessible to the general public (Wii, Xbox 360’s Kinect), make it a medium on the rise.  The only problem is we have yet to see a truly great story told by this technology. Continue reading

DVD Monday: The Unloved

Every now and then, an actor has the opportunity to work with great directors, and thereby learns a bit about the craft. These experiences can awaken a dormant passion to not just be a part of a film, but to create one. More often than not, these actors fall on their face, believing that money and influence will make a good movie without the talent possessed by their mentors and peers. But some actors-turned-directors, like Clint Eastwood, Charles Laughton and Ben Affleck, end  up making immense contributions to cinema. Out on DVD this week is the first film by Samantha Morton (Minority Report, The Messenger, Morvern Callar), and it turns out that one of the most underrated actresses of our time is well on her way to becoming one of the most underrated directors as well. Continue reading

The Burden of Dreams: Five Films that Barely (If Ever) Got Made

Several weeks ago, Flicker Alley released a documentary called Henri Georges Clouzot’s Inferno, which chronicled the attempt to make the titular film by the titular director. Clouzot was famous for his thrillers in the 50’s (Le Corbeau, The Wages of Fear, Les Diaboliques), and with his newest venture attempted to make his masterpiece. Unfortunately, until now, what he was working on never saw the light of day, because Clouzot suffered from an unlimited budget, a strict deadline, an insurmountable vision, and in the end, the loss of his lead actor and a heart attack. But Clouzot is not alone; rather, he is surrounded by cinematic greats when it comes to lost, or nearly lost, projects that almost killed them.  Hee are several of his companions in the desolate locale of brilliant failure. Continue reading

Bridesmaids not just for the ladies

The ad agency responsible for Bridesmaids‘ promotional material should be fired, because this is not The Hangover for women.  It’s a comedy with heart that will have both men and women cackling with glee. Continue reading

DVD Monday: The Other Woman

Ever since she snagged her Oscar for Black Swan, Natalie Portman  has been everywhere. From the unfortunately unfunny Your Highness to the comic book adaptation Thor, she has had 5 or 6 films in theaters lately, all making profits from her recognition by the Academy. IFC has dug up a film from two years ago they never properly released, and decided to give it a go, too.  The Other Woman, which never made it to most cities, is coming out on DVD this week, two years after it was finished. Does it hold up among her other recent performances? Continue reading

Serial killer superhero delightfully twisted in Super

In all likelihood, the 2000’s will be looked upon as the decade of the comic book movie, with plenty of vigilantes bouncing around in various forms of outlandish garb, dishing out justice from fists, claws, and expensive gadgets.  Of course, when these heroes take the screen, critics take them down, laying bare the genre’s love affair with violence as a problem-solving tool, as well as the recent trend of sexualized female killers (Sucker Punch). I don’t agree with many of these assessments (usually critics are picking on the wrong films), but Super is a superhero film critic’s rantings come to life; reveling in the usual tropes of the genre with a deliciously twisted bent, then showcasing their disturbing nature when placed within a context beyond comic panels or film frames – the real world. Continue reading

Certified Copy, Kiarostami’s latest enigma

Abbas Kiarostami, Iranian auteur par excellence, has offered up over 35 films since the 70s, but only the last dozen or so have received a wider audience than his native country. Certified Copy, his first filmed outside of Iran, is certainly his most assured film to date, if not his best. It’s the biggest head trip on the art-house circuit right now, and deserves to be seen ASAP. Continue reading

Thunder God Thor needs a better writer

Ever since Marvel took control of the films about their characters (Iron Man, then The Incredible Hulk) the superhero genre has matured beyond doe eyed children (Spider-Man) to cocksure teenagers with some justifiable swagger.  Despite not owning the rights to some of it’s most popular characters (the Spider-Man films are controlled by Sony, and the X-Men, 20th Century Fox), Marvel has its sights set high on an Avengers film in 2012, featuring Iron Man, Captain America (coming out this summer), Hulk, and Thor.  The ultimate question is if they will not just introduce interesting characters, but give us stories to care about.  Thor strives for such storytelling, but struggles to escape painful melodrama. Continue reading