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Posts Tagged ‘Carol’

We all have an idea of what a Christmas movie is, there are so many options – Traditional: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (1947 & 1994), White Christmas (1954) – Trendy: Die Hard (1988), Gremlins (1984), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) – Fun/Comic: Home Alone (1990), The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Love Actually (2003).  Alternative/Horror: Black Christmas (1974), Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010), Krampus (2015).  But if you step away from the usual suspects, what are the Christmas films you can act watch and enjoy:

G0 (1999): Christmas eve in LA is the setting for three interweaved stories. A drug deal goes wrong. A trip to Vegas goes wrong.  A pair of actors are forced into helping the police and it goes very wrong!  You get the idea. The connections between the three stories feel natural not contrived. The direction from Doug Liman (who went on to make some great and varied movies including The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow) walks the perfect tightrope, the film is well paced, well edited and knows when to use comedy and brevity. Full of great comedy moments from the taught, an witty script, but it is the great acting from the young (and little know at the time) cast elevate this film to near greatness.  But is it the a Christmas movie? For many people, Christmas is about family, in this year more than ever as many of us cannot be with extended families this year, the film shows us what family can be.  For these young people, their friends are there family, and this is what Christmas means to them. 

Eyes Wide Shut (1999): Set in the days leading up to Christmas; after his wife confesses that she was once tempted to cheat on him, doctor Bill Hartford is sent into a head spin and spends the night in New York meeting a strange array of characters. This culminates in him gate crashing a surreal ritualistic orgy.  Behind all the gloss and opulence and the dreamy surface this is a gritty and real story of love, sex and relationships.  Just like an  80’s yuppie in peril movie like After Hours, and Into the Night (both 1985), Eyes Wide Shut sends our “hero” into an odyssey that he didn’t plan and doesn’t really understand, and as a viewer it is always on the edge of reality and dream.  Beyond the setting, this another thing that makes it a Christmas movie, the plot, and the larger than life characters are reminiscent of Tchaikovsky Christmas ballet The Nutcracker. 

Batman Returns (1992): You would be forgiven for thinking Tim Burton’s Christmas masterpiece is Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), (directed by Henry Selick, not Burton) it is a great Christmas movie, but Burton’s best Christmas movie can a year earlier with his sequel to Batman (1989).  Christmas baby Oswald Cobblepot is born deformed and rejected by his parents and throw him into the sewer.  Thirty years later, now going by the name Penguin, he is introduced to the people of Gotham by millionaire, philanthropist, and crook Max Shreck.  The Christmas credentials of the movie aren’t that simple, we get a winter wonderland setting, but little else.  Characters are set up for redemptive story arcs  that don’t happen; there is no real story of good will or forgiveness, but what we do get is a slightly cynical dark satirical look of corporate culture and commercialisation of society.  If you don’t like any of this just sit back and watch the bets Batman: Michael Keaton, and the best supporting character in a comic book movie, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Selina Kyle/Catwoman.

This is by no means a definitive list, just a few movies I intend to watch. After that, if I am still looking for something to watch, I may consider: The Apartment (1960), Lethal Weapon (1987), Carol (2015).

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Unless they have moved the goalposts again, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences reserve the right to nominate between five and ten films for the “Best Motion Picture of the Year” Oscar.   This year they have nominated eight films: The Big Short, Brooklyn, Bridge of Spies, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight.  From memory there have been nine films nominated in each of the last few year, the have explained this, thus: “A Best Picture nomination should be an indication of extraordinary merit. If there are only eight pictures that truly earn that honour in a given year, we shouldn’t feel an obligation to round out the number.” Far be it from be to suggest any nominations are making up the numbers!  I am relatively happy with the nominations, I have seen five (possibly six by the time I publish this) and will see the other two when they get a UK release.   But there are two potential spaces for other films to be nominated, what are the omissions and why?  Here are my suggestions:

Carol: A stunning film that has Oscar nomination written all over it, how did it miss out?  I have no idea, I think or at least hope we have come far enough in 2015/16 for the lesbian subject matter to not be an issue.  There is no conceivable reason for the film not to be nominated, unless I am just blinded by how much I loved it.Carol

Ex Machina: One of my favourite films of the year, and one of the most assured directorial debuts in a long time.  The reason it missed out?  The academy don’t like sci-fi.  Movies like The Martian and Gravity are close enough to reality to slip under the radar, but real sci-fi scares them.  A few exceptions are District 9, Avatar and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial way back in 1982.Ex Machina

Inside Out: Nearly twenty years after Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story 3 received a best picture nomination, the first animated film to do so since the Best Animated Feature category was introduced in 2001.  Pixars cleverest and deepest film, but also its most accessible.  Why wasn’t it nominated?  No reason, other than as mentioned Animated films don’t often don’t get a nod.

The Salvation: The reason it wasn’t nominated: It’s probably not on enough peoples radar to get a nod, plus it has The Revenant to deal with.  If you exclude The Sundowners (a sort of western set in Australian, nominated in 1960 alongside The Alamo), I am not aware of two westerns getting best picture nominations in the same year,the salvation

Sicario: A tense crime thriller that is nothing short of perfect.  As I have mentioned before the film isn’t originality or showy enough to win best picture but it certainly good enough for the nomination.sicario

What two movies would you pick to fill the unused places?

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After a slow start I have seen ten movies this month.  They include a re-release of a modern classic and a couple of contenders for my top ten of the year.

He Named Me Malala: Documentary about an extraordinary young woman.   The narrative often loses its way but the story is compelling.  The animated sections are particularly good and the farther daughter relationship is fascinating.  Also nice to see my hometown Birmingham making a rare big screen appearance.He Named Me Malala

Brooklyn: Story of a young woman who moves from small town Ireland to Brooklyn in the early 50’s.  A surprisingly low key film but totally enthralling, largely thanks to Nick Hornby’s great script and another standout performance from  Saoirse Ronan.Brooklyn

Kill Your Friends: Story of an A&R man at a record studio at the height of 90’s britpop.  The film owes a huge debt to the superior American Psycho but.  Filled with totally loathsome characters the film is often funny but also quiet gruesome.  Disposable and forgettable but enjoyable while I watched it.Kill Your Friends

The Lady in the Van: True story of a lady who lived in a van on Alan Bennett’s drive.  Adapted from a play that was itself based on a memoir.  A funny and touching story largely thanks to fantastic performances from leads Alex Jennings and Maggie Smith.2015, THE LADY IN THE VAN

The Hallow: Effective and affecting Irish horror movie that evokes The Evil Dead, Straw Dogs and The Fly amongst many other classic films.  Not the most original entry to the genre but hugely enjoyable.The Hallow

The Hunger Games Mockingjay part 2: The conclusion of the hugely successful film series has some good moments but is ultimately the weakest of the series, this isn’t surprising as it is based on half of the weakest  novel.  The end suffers from Return of the King syndrome not knowing when to finish.The Hunger Games Mockingjay part 2

Steve Jobs: Writer Aaron Sorkin has crafted a three act play based around three product launches over fourteen years.  Director Danny Boyle makes it cinematic.Steve Jobs

Bridge of Spies: True story of a cold war soviet spy, the lawyer who defended him and the ultimate exchange in Berlin.   Director Steven Spielberg does what he does best delivering tension and suspence as well as comedy.  Mark Rylance and Tom Hanks are both on top form.  Rylance has to be a good bet for best supporting actor Oscar.Bridge Of Spies

Carol:  Shot on 16mm film to stunning effect, a beautiful film with a dreamlike quality partly thanks to the stunning photography.  Based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith and containing autobiographical elements.  Cate Blanchett is as sensational as you would expect, Rooney Mara is a revelation and possibly the best she has ever been.  Borrowing a framing device from Brief Encounter that it uses to great effect.  Carol

True Romance: I didn’t see True Romance at the cinema on its original release back in 1993 so jumped at the chance to see it on the big screen thanks the BFI release.  Directed by Tony Scott based on a Quentin Tarantino script the film offers some of the best both men have to offer and has really stood the test of time well. (please note: As a re-releases I have included this in my write-up but only new releases are in contention for movie of the month)Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette in True Romance

The movie of the month is: A hard choice.  Despite being a really strong month I keep going back to the second film I saw Brooklyn as the Movie of the Month, but then I saw the majesty of Spielberg on form with Bridge of Spies.  They last night I saw the stunning and beautiful Carol.  To be honest any one of the three could have been movie of the month, but I am going to give it tocarol

 

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