2018 in film

Once again it’s that time of the year The Oscar and Golden Raspberry Award nominations are out. Highlighting the Best and worst of film in 2018.

We begin with the Razzies as they were announced on Monday and will be given out before the Oscars. The Worst films of the year are among the following Gotti, The Happytime Murders, Holmes & Watson, Robin Hood and Winchester. Now among these are some of the films that lost the most money of the year. A noteworthy nomination is Donald Trump who picks up two as well as  Kellyanne Conway and Melania Trump. Trump could be the second sitting President to take home the award for a Michael Moore film.

Enough of that for the 91th Academy Awards a show which won’t have a host for the first time in 30 years.  The Best films of the year are among the following Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star is Born and Vice. This year I’ve seen 3 of the 8 films nominated so that’s a lot for me. It’s the first time that a “superhero” movie picked up a nomination with Black Panther, Spike Lee has finally picked up a Best Director nomination. With Animated Feature it’s between Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Mirai, Ralph Breaks the Internet and Spide-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, This could be the first time in a long while since Disney/Pixar might not win with Spider-Man picking up some big awards so far this season.  In Best Foreign Language Film it’s between Capernum (Lebanon), Cold War (Poland), Never Look Away (Germany), Roma (Mexico) and Shoplisters (Japan). If you noticed Roma is nominated for both Best film and Foreign Language Film and it has a good chance to win them both and this would be the first time that it would ever happen.

We will have to wait about a month for both of these events to happen so stay tuned.

 

 

Ordet (1955)

Ordet is another one of those films that is on all those list of great film lists it is by Carl Theodor Dreyer who also directed The Passion of Joan of Arc. The film is based on the play of the same name by Lutheran minister, Kaj Munk , it won Bodil Award the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was honored at the Golden Globes as Best Foreign Language Film in 1955 and it is one of the film on the Vatican list of films. Spoilers to follow.

The film doesn’t really have a plot it is a look at the life of the Borgen’s family farm. Morten, a prominent member of the community has three sons. Mikkel, who has no faith; Johannes, who went insane studying Soren Kierkegaard and believes himself Jesus Christ;  and Anders, who is smitten with the daughter of the tailor who is the leader of another sect. Mikkel is married to Inger who is pious and they have two daughters Inger is also pregnant with another child. Johannes isn’t the best as he wanders off condemning the lack of faith in the town and the world in general. Anders goes off to Peter, the tailor’s house, to ask for his daughter, Anne’s hand in marriage but this request is refused as Anders isn’t the same faith as the Tailor and his family. While this is happening Inger is trying to convince Morten of this engagement, it doesn’t go over well.

Anders returns home with the sad news and Morten changes his mind and he and Anders go to visit Peter and find out why he refused. Peter tries to get Morten and Anders to join his sect. While this is taking place Inger goes into a difficult labor, Mikkel calls informing Anders and Morten about what’s happening and they come rushing home, but not before Peter wishes that Inger die so that Morten will see the error of his ways and join his sect. When Morten and Anders return home they do not get great news the child is dead and Inger isn’t in great shape. Now things turn south here as death returns  and takes Inger, this is the turning point of the film as everyone is affected. Johannes wanders off and on the day of the funeral Peter apologizes to Morten and agrees to the proposal. Johannes returns and says that if the family only had faith and asked God to raise Inger from the dead it would happen. One of Inger and Mikkel’s daughters has the faith to ask for this to happen and Johannes agrees to do so. Inger begins to stir and everyone rejoices at the resurrection and Mikkel claims that he has found his faith.

This film seems like it would be something great to watch during Lent as it deals with faith and features a death and resurrection. It isn’t the most quick paced film but it is a nice change of pace from any modern film. Ordet is the one film from Dreyer that was both a critical and financial success. I would agree with all those talking heads that place it as one of the greatest films ever and if you ever get the chance to watch this to take the two hours and sit with the film and digest it.

Au Hasard Balthazar (1966), À bout de souffle (1960) and La Jette (1962)

It’s  been awhile since I’ve posted much of anything. Summer was a bit crazy. Over the summer I was a bit of a French Film kick these first two are often put on list of top film you should see so I got around to watching them and have some opinions. All of these films still hold up today and it is sort of a shame that most of what we get isn’t anything close to the creativity in these films. Spoilers to follow so watch out

Au Hasard Balthazar is a film by Robert Bresson, who many consider the Patron Saint of cinema. This film inspired from a passage from Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot. It follows a donkey and it’s one kind owner Marie (Anne Wiazemsky), a shy farm girl around. Both go from place to place continually taking abuse from all they encounter. Bresson has said that each encounter is like one of the seven deadly sins and that Balthazar is a symbol of Christian faith. Now, when the film came out in America the review were unfavorable however over in Europe they were glowing, Jean-Luc Godard said that “Everyone who sees this film will be absolutely astonished […] because this film is really the world in an hour and a half. These mixed reviews seem all to common with this film. It’s an important film that everyone should see at least one.

 

À bout de souffle or Breathless is a film from Jean-Luc Godard and is considered to be one of the groundbreaking films from the French New Wave. A small time crook, Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo ) he is fascinated with Bogie and steals a car and murders a cop.  He then shacks up in Paris with a former love interest Patricia (Jean Seberg), who work for the New York Herald Tribune Newspaper, she sells papers with aspirations to be a journalist. Patricia doesn’t know Michel killed a cop and willingly hides him and listens to his plan to escape from France. Patricia tells Michel she’s pregnant implying it’s his. After learning that Michel killed a police officer Patricia sort of changes her mind and eventually calls with were Michel can be found. When the police come Michel runs and is shot. It seems like a film that if made today would be a huge hit. This is another important film that should be seen especially if you like crime drama.

Finally is La Jetée or “The Jetty” this is a short film from the French Left Bank a part of the French New Wave, it tells the story of a post-nuclear war experiment in time travel. The film 12 Monkeys was inspired by and borrows several concepts from this film the time travel and the protagonist seeing himself dying at an airport as a child. It is an interesting film if you are a huge fan of 12 Monkeys or just like Science fiction films in general. This is only about a half an hour so it won’t take up too much time.

 

Oscars News

If you want some dumb ideas to make the Oscars more enjoyable take a look at this message from the Academy about these updates. The Hollywood Reporter and many other have posted stories about this and the comments have not been great anywhere.  There will be three important changes

First off the Oscars will only be 3 hours long, no longer will all the awards be televised but it seems like that they will be going the way of the Tony Awards where the minor awards (mostly technical) are boiled down to who won and a boiled down speech from them.

Second the introduction of a new award for Most Popular Film/Best Popular film. Since they expanded the Best Picture nominations back to 10 hoping to get “popular films” to be in the Best Picture race none of the popular films have managed to win. So the big Blockbuster films will finally be getting an award that deems one of those the best. Now what will classify as a ‘popular film’ hasn’t been decided. This would be a sort of renewal of the ‘Most unique and Artistic Picture Award’ and ‘Outstanding Picture ‘ from the very first Academy Awards, with the popular on winning Outstanding. This new award will be added in the 91th Annual Academy Awards.

Third, the 92nd Oscars will be earlier in February the move is intended to make it more exciting as currently the awards are the last given out so there are few surprises to have. This will be the Oscars in 2020.

Reactions:

The first one makes sense it seems that the Oscars just drag on and on, but perhaps if we didn’t have the forced banter and got rid of some of the monologue and other bits that the host whomever they are does year after year that could speed it up as well. Sure, Hollywood want to make it seem relatable to the general public but will this it could turn into the Tony Awards where it is a huge showcase for the musicals and less so the plays. The Oscars has run over three hours for the past 45 years so what’s the problem now we’ve got 3 more awards and we barely show the honorary Oscars besides acknowledging them in their seats. Most people watch it for the awards, In Memoriam, and don’t care about the “silly stuff” inbetween. The other idea I have would be to brand everything on the Red Carpet Show turning that into like one giant commercial and then having fewer commercial breaks during the broadcast of the actual Oscars.

Two the Best Popular film sure if we want to be awarding the mediocrity of the film industry go ahead and get a whole lot more comic book movies and big blockbusters. I would think that it would be great if they went back to 5 nominations for both of these Best Picture awards. Some have pointed out that this will become another Oscar that Disney will pick up every year along with the Animated Feature. Sure, it is great that they are awarding films that people may have seen but they used to do this without needing a special award.

Three: This is the best news that has come out putting the Oscars in the middle of the Award season will make it so that there might actually be some surprises that happen during the Oscars.

Trois couleurs: Rouge (1994)

The final film in the Three Colors trilogy is Red, this is also the final film that Krzysztof Kieślowski ever made. The first one Blue is about Liberty (liberté), the second one White is about Equality (egalité), and Red is about Fraternity (fraternité). Rouge is the anti-romance of the three film. As Roger Ebert put it in his review of Red “This is the kind of film that makes you feel intensely alive while you’re watching it, and sends you out into the streets afterwards eager to talk deeply and urgently, to the person you are with. Whoever that happens to be.” Spoilers to follow.

The film is a bit complicated to explain, the basic premise is communication. The main character is a student in Geneva, Valentine Dussault (Irène Jacob) who is a part time model as well, she has a giant ad for chewing gum (which gets referenced later). She runs over a dog and meets a retired judge, Joseph Kern (Jean-Louis Trintignant), he owns the dog and doesn’t care what happens with it so Valentine takes the dog to a vet and takes it. Several days later money is delivered to Valentine’s place and she takes the dog for a walk, it runs off back to Kern’s house. Valentine learn that he sent the money and Kern is secretly listening to his neighbor’s phone calls. One of the phone calls that we hear is from one of Valentine’s other neighbors Auguste (Jean-Pierre Lorit) who is studying to become a judge, talking with his girlfriend. Valentine confronts Kern about eavesdropping on his neighbors. Valentine and Kern develop a nice friendship. More things happen and all the main characters from the trilogy end up on a ferry that capsizes in the English channel and they, Julie and Olivier from Blue, Karol and Dominique from White and Auguste and Valentine from Red, are among the seven survivors. The film is about relationship and how we are all connected and who know when our paths will collide as Valentine and Auguste live across the street from one another but it isn’t until the end when they finally meet. It’s a nice film and provides a happy ending to all three films.  Now to watch one of these film is to put the others on your to watch list.

Bugsy Malone (1976)

Now Bugsy Malone is a movie that is very unique, to start off it is a musical loosely based on events in New York and Chicago from the early 1920s to 1931 during Prohibition, specifically Al Capone and Bugs Moran. The content is lightened up for the children who are the only actors in the film, most of which were under the age of 16. The film has a wide variety of people in it from the likes of Jodie Foster, who won two BAFTAs for her role (with Taxi Driver), and Scott Baio to the Florrie Dugger and Jeffery Stevens.  The film itself was very popular in the UK and Japan but didn’t receive the same notice in America. It is 353rd on the Empire list of 500 best films from 2008 and 19th of the 100 greatest musicals chosen by Channel 4 viewers in 2003 as well as being one of the most screened films in secondary schools in the UK. The film eventually was adapted for stage.  I first learned about this in “Crocodile” the third episode of fourth series of Black Mirror which featured a song at the end of the episode. Spoilers to follow.

The film begins with a member of Fat Sam’s gang getting “splurged” by members of Dandy Dan’s gang, using rapid-fire cream-shooting “splurge guns” (this was to make the film children friendly). Fat Sam (John Cassisi) introduces us to Bugsy Malone (Scott Baio) as well as Blousey Brown (Florrie Dugger), an aspiring singer who wants to audition for Fat Sam’s speakeasy. Bugsy runs into Blousey and is smitten at once. Fat Sam sends his gang to try and find some of these “splurge guns” but this ends up not so well as they are splurged. We find out Sam’s girlfriend Tallulah (Jodie Foster) is the lead singer at Sam’s Club, she flirts with Bugsy and plants a kiss on him when Blousey shows up for an audition.  She gets hired, but refuses to speak with Bugsy. Sam gets Bugsy to drive him to meet with Dandy Dan, but it turns out to be a trap. After safety getting Fat Sam out of there he gives Bugsy $200. Bugsy and Blousey reconcile and Bugsy promises to take her to Hollywood. Bugsy get beat up and his money stolen he is saved by Leroy Smith, a black tramp with a talent for boxing. Bugsy brings Leroy to Cagey Joe to help train him. Sam calls up Bugsy for another small job offering him $400 to steal some “splurge guns”. Bugsy gets the guns with the help of a soup kitchen filled with down and out workers. They bring them back to the speakeasy just before Dandy Dan’s gang show up there is a huge “splurge gun” fight with everyone getting covered with cream, both gangs realize that they can all be friends, and Bugsy and Blousey leave for Hollywood.

That is the plot more or less. On top of this remember it’s a musical as well so we’ve got some crazy music from Paul Williams with adults singing the songs with them coming from the kids voices. Looking back on the film both Paul Williams and director Alan Parker aren’t sure if this was the best idea. If you are in for a weird film this is one to look up. It’s got some real cool things in it as well like those cars are pretty awesome, they are peddle cars that look like old cars. As well as the idea of having kids play all the roles I doubt that anyone would have approved of this if it were made today. It is by far the best G-rated gangster film I have ever seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They realize they can all be friends, and Bugsy and Blousey leave for Hollywood.

Trois couleurs : Blanc (1994)

Blanc is the second of the well regarded Three Colors Trilogy by Krzysztof Kieślowski. The first one is Blue based on Liberty (liberté), this one is White and based on Equality (egalité), and the next one Red is based on Fraternity (fraternité). Roger Ebert calls it an “anti-comedy between the anti-tragedy (Blue) and the anti-romance (Red)”, which seems to be the best description of the film that I can find. Spoilers to follow.

This time around the main character is a shy man Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), an immigrant from Poland. We meet him before going into a divorce hearing and despite his limited knowledge of French he learns that, his wife, Dominique (Julie Delpy), doesn’t love him and that the reason for the divorce is that the marriage hasn’t been consummated. Humiliated by his wife Karol has lost everything but a 2 franc coin. He is left to busk in the Métro de Paris where another Pole, Mikołaj (Janusz Gajos). recognizes a song Karol is playing on his comb harmonica and they become friends. Mikolaj offers Karol a job to kill someone. They make their way back to Poland with Karol smuggled in a suitcase. Now back in Poland Karol become a wealthy man and decides to humiliate his ex-wife to get back at her for all that she did to drive him from Paris.

Trois couleurs : Bleu (1993)

The Three Colors Trilogy is one of the greatest trilogies of all time. It is based on the French tricolor with each film being one (blue, white, red) and the story of each film is loosely based on one of the three political ideals in the motto of the French Republic  liberté (bleu), egalité (blanc), and fraternité (rouge). Spoilers to follow.

The first of the films is Bleu which is about a wife, Julie de Courcy (Juliette Binoche), whose husband and daughter died in a car accident and wants to cut herself off from everything but finds that she can’t escape human connection.  The film is deeply moving and has several wonderful moments. One of my favorite shots in the whole film is when Krzysztof Kieslowski uses Juliette Binoche’s eye as a mirror. The music also plays a stunning role in the film as Julie’s husband is the famed composer, Patrice de Courcy, and he died before the piece he was working on for the Unity of Europe concert and it is hinted throughout the film that Julie was a contributor of some sort in the composition of the music, either as the real composer or a co-composer. As segments haunt her throughout the movie. After Julie gets out of the hospital after the accident she hooks up with Olivier Benoit, a long time collaborator who has long loved Julie. It’s a bit complicated as Julie gives up basically everything of her former life but as she tries to stop the Unity of Europe score from being finished and figures out about her husbands mistress. This bring her back into the life she is trying to escape.

Oscars and Razzies Recap

Well, it was a fairly uneventful Oscar night as about all the projected winners those that had already won all the other awards took home an Oscar as well. La La Land was the big winner of the night taking home 6 of the 14 awards. The biggest surprise of the night was Moonlight taking home Best Picture and it was for a surprise for everyone as La La Land was announced and then it turned out that Moonlight was the real winner. Viola Davis with her win became the most recent to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting (Emmy, Oscar, and Tony), is only the 23rd person to do so and the first African American to do it. Lin-Manuel Miranda will have to wait another year or two to get his EGOT, but now we’ve got to add Pasek and Paul to this list as it seems like Dear Evan Hansen has a chance to win them a couple Tony awards come June. The OJ Simpson documentary won an Oscar and seems like the odd on favorite to bring home an Emmy as well. Disney got another Animated Feature Oscar for Zootopia.

On Saturday at the Razzies there was also a bit of a shocker as Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party took home the big award (Worst Picture, Director, Actor, Actress) and the suspected Batman v Superman movie won almost everything else.

Oscar Nominations

It’s that time of year already. This year we have some diversity in the nominations. Meryl picked up nomination number 20, La La Land got 14 nominations and Viola Davis become the first African American woman with three nominations. That’s some pretty cool stuff going on here.

Best Picture: or Film I didn’t see this year.

Arrival: Science fiction film about linguistics.
Fences: Denzel Washington’s first step into August Wilson’s Century Cycle this is set in the 50s.
Hacksaw Ridge: Biopic about that conscientious objector, Desmond Doss who refused a weapon during WWII
Hell or High Water: a Crime\heist Western
Hidden Figures: Biopic about the female African American NASA engineers who help get us into space.
La La Land: a musical about the wonders of Hollywood and falling in love.
Lion:  sort of a biopic about that Indian child who got lost and adopted by Australian and then went to find his family.
Manchester by the Sea: Amazon’s first Oscar Nomination, Casey Affleck’s attempt to make us forget about his brother.
Moonlight: It’s sort of like Boyhood, as it is a story about a boy growing up to become a man, but it explore life and masculinity of African American men.Best Animated Film: Here we have a surprise as Pixar is not nominated at all. Disney’s Zootopia and Moana go for it against Kubo and two films I’ve never heard of The Red Turtle and My life as a Courgette.Lin-Manuel Miranda is on his way to an EGOT with a nomination in Best Song, he is up against two songs from La La Land, City of Stars which won the Golden Globe and Audition (The Fools who Dream), a song from Jim: The James Foley Story by Sting and that song by Justin Timberlake from Trolls. Although it seems like Miranda is facing an uphill climb here but perhaps Hollywood would be nice for once and let a kid from Washington Heights win an Oscar but it not I’m sure there are going to be more chances for him to take home an Oscar in the future.
The biggest surprise of the whole list has to be ESPN’s OJ Simpson miniseries making it as a Documentary feature and there is still a chance for it to pick up an Emmy nomination when those come out.  It was released in select theaters in LA and New York so it qualifies for an Oscar.