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Extra Cup: Night Catches Us

March 18, 2011 in extra cup, reviews, rik, uncategorized | by filmgrounds | Leave a comment (Edit)

Night Catches Us did not catch me completely.  I was intrigued by this film because it takes place after the civil rights movement of the 1960′s and tensions although a memory at this point are still high.  This is the first film for me to cover this period and ask the question, ” We have just gone through all of this, demonstrations and violence so we can have the basic freedoms and rights like everyone else, so now what?”  I suppose the answer is, time.  Time happens.  History moves on.  For many that is enough and for others it only deepens their anger and resentment.   Night Catches Us is refreshing in that it avoids the street war cliche but did not delve into what the status of African-Americans is at this point.  The visuals support nothing has changed.  So the efforts of the Black Panther Party were fruitless?  This is the missing piece and I think this quote sums it up…”A refreshingly brainy, honorable attempt to address a complex chapter of African-American pride.”

-Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

Hello, I’m Patience, love interest of Evan Senn. I nosed my way into Filmgrounds in hopes of joining all the fun and games. I’m adding an “Extra Cup” post to start it out. As the only female contributing to this blog I promise you my movie interests extend past Mean Girls and The Notebook. Here is my first addition, enjoy!

Upon my first viewing of “There Will Be Blood” I made the amateur mistake of watching it with a group of people. Once it became apparent that it wasn’t your typical Hollywood flick delivering blood, guts and boobs at rate of every 6 seconds, my fellow viewers slowly lost interest one by one and the room progressively filled with chatter. No offense to a majority of movie-viewers out there, (most likely none of them not reading this post) it seems as if our attention spans suffer a great deal when we’re forced to sit through a real-time film, portraying real events in a real setting, in a realistic manner. Oh, but good things come to those who wait.
This movie did a fantastic job of transforming a novel titled “Oil!” into a film that’s worthy of the title “There Will Be Blood”. Many doubted the ability to transform an educational novel about the history of oil into a film worthy of viewing, and after two years worth of effort in getting it financed it finally came to be. Good thing too, otherwise I would have one less movie to add to my Top Ten.
Not only is it beautiful to watch; the lighting, the machinery, the gritty glimpse into hard, dirty work, it’s wonderful to listen to. The soundtrack and audio is what had me gripping my chair. I was keyed up, unnerved, just as a worker on an oil rig would be. I felt as if at any second I would be hurt, and there was more than one instance I found myself literally holding my breath.
The touch of lifestyle differences in characters – self sacrifice to God – self sacrifice to oil – was a strong portrayal of the human relationships and business deals that occurred in this film. The way it portrayed humiliation and silent revenge was beautiful. Daniel Day-Lewis gets 5 stars from me; the voice, the stern face, the mustache. It’s a rare instance that I am unable to come up with a list (sometimes brief…sometimes not) of things I would change about a movie, but this completely threw my mental list-making habits out the window. There was nothing else I was focused on other than the great film in front of me.
TWBB taught me to be patient, to wait, and to watch. The music and audio encouraged me to anticipate. Nothing left me disappointed. Committing to the film and making an experience of it would be my advice to a first-time viewer.
It takes its time and makes you wait…but don’t give up! There certainly will be blood. In the words of Senator Albert Fall, “I drink your milkshake!”.

Extra Cup: In Bruges

July 27, 2009 in uncategorized | by filmgrounds | Leave a comment (Edit)

Bruges, the armpit or better yet the asshole of Europe as it is considered by Ray played by Colin Farrell.  Bruges might be his hell but this movie was my heaven.  I absolutely enjoyed this movie.  This is not you typical hit man movie.  No one curved bullets while doing a cartwheel. And if that is what you are looking for then find another movie and perhaps another blog.  Yes there is a action but it is not the focal point.  Two hit man, Farrell and Gleeson, are sent to Bruges to hide out after a hit and instructed to lay low and do a little sightseeing.  During their stay details of the hit are uncovered as they discuss life, death, and do some blow with a dwarf.  Be prepared for some deliberately offensive dialogue and 126 uses of the word fuck.  For me it was great and worked within the framework of the characters.

I know Colin Farrel is a good actor but recent roles have not supported that thought but ‘In Bruges’ gives you a reason to like him again with this colorful role.  See this movie.

If I had not just viewed “Tell No One” I would say that “Brick” is the best movie I have seen recently.  But I think I will call a tie for that honor.  Both movies are very similar in terms of a protagonist searching for a lost love in a ruthless world where nothing and no one is as it seems.  Once again you are placed in the main character’s shoes and go on a journey for truth.  Brick is extra special in that director Rian Johnson transposes the 1930’s gumshoe and the film noir genre onto a modern day high school.  These characters embody the attitudes and dialogue of that time period and genre of film and never wink at the camera.  The beauty is that it always feels natural, and is never over the top.

The story of Brendan tracing Emily’s, his missing girlfriend, movements through a high school drug ring is never clear as it unravels but does provide plush dialogue, actions and incidents.  This movie sucked me in.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt is perfect in this role and I look forward to seeing him in “500 Days of Summer.”  Some might find the lingo to be a burden to a an already elaborate story but for me it was in line with the presentation and it served a purpose.  There was terminology that Brendan was not familiar with that he had to learn in order to put the pieces together.  If I think about it this is probably how parents hear the way their kids talk.  A bunch of fast paced slang that seems ridiculous on the surface but can be deep.

Rian Johnson made this movie with no budget and edited it on his desktop.  Which is really not that unusual anymore.  He demonstrates that smart direction and determination can go a long way.  “Brick” works and I recommend seeing it immediately.

I am posting the trailer but I recommend watching it after the movie.  It is a good trailer and it helped me fill in some blanks.

For this extra cup I am accompanied by Slash, click here watch?v=SCplsXu1HRk and then continue reading.

Can you believe it! I had never seen these movies all the way through.  My years of listening to my father quote lines never pushed me to watch these films in their entirety.  Now, I have spent a week with the family and they pulled me in! What an epic tragedy… on two levels.  First, the story of the family and second, the making of the third movie.  The third part was not as bad as I was lead to believe, just unnecessary and a bit redundant after the second movie shows so well in Michael’s face where this family is headed that we don’t need to see it.

I am really in awe, that such a large complex story with such complicated characters could be told in 3 hours per film.  These were a fast 3 hours for me I was so in tune with what was going, ask my wife, co-workers, and unemployment officer.  So many names thrown around, quickly coming and going, and dying and yet I never felt like anyone was underdeveloped.  I credit the actors for this.  So much is told through facial expressions that dialogue is not needed to explain what characters are thinking and feeling.  And more importantly Coppola nd Puzo don’t insult your intelligence by filling in the blanks.  Like everyone else, more Sonny would have been nice.

1031423940lAnd why can’t Pacino act like this anymore.  Man he was good before he started OOOOAAAing all over the place.  Michael Corleone is smart with style, class and sophistication.  Unfortunately for him the family business was never those things and he could never will it to be.  He was doomed from the start and would never fulfill his own individual dreams.

Slash is probably finishing about now so move on to this piece, assisting me is Andre Rieu watch?v=9hQAO8QTnG8

And the music sums up everything else I have to say.  Enjoy.

Extra Cup: Changeling

June 11, 2009 in extra cup, reviews, rik | Tags: , , , , | by filmgrounds | No comments (Edit)

A tie in to our current movie marathon holding us captive and that is about it.  Is the story engaging? Sure.  Is it produced well?  Sure.  But beyond that nothing new is brought to this genre.  I guess the trailer did its job.  I wanted to know what happens to her son and who the boy is that replaces her son.  We have all the answers by the middle of movie and the second half is her vindication.  Corrupt cops, a stint in a psych hospital, a paladin in the form of a poorly used Malkovich, blah, blah, blah.  I should have included this movie in my ‘What’s the Point’ unfiltered comments.

lifeLifeboat

June 3, 2009 in extra cup, rik | Tags: , , , , , | by filmgrounds | No comments (Edit)

It is refreshing to know that it is possible to make compelling movies that don’t rely on fast cuts and special effects.  Thank you Mr. Hitchcock.   And I love movies that essentially take place in a single scene.  12 Angry Men and Glengarry Glen Ross are examples.  I like these movies because it feels like the  filmmaking takes a backseat and the actors and story are center stage.  Again thank you Mr. Hitchcock for your talent and skill as a director.

The first thought I had, probably because it is in the first five minutes, is the meeting of classic Hollywood, or my stereotype of classic Hollywood, and new hollywood or what will become new Hollywood.  First we meet Constance Porter, played by famed Broadway actess Tallulah Bankhead,  who after the destruction of the ship is dry and put together nicely in the lifeboat.  Then comes Kovac, this dirty gritty character, that reminded me of Brando.  For some reason when I think of classic movies I think of actors all clean and well put together delivering lines and  never as dirty as Kovac.  And for the rest of them movie we see her character turned upside down and broken.  But this is not the point of the movie.  The point is the extreme scenario these characters are thrust into, the decisions they must make, and the good and evil that is revealed during their attempt at survival.  With World War II as the backdrop you learn a lot about human and civil rights.  When they encounter the German, Willy, the thought of many is to throw him overboard but one gentleman pleads they cannot because although he is the enemy we must uphold the law we are governed by.  Willy then proceeds to manipulate and direct the boat towards a German supply ship.  A mirror is also held up as they criticize the German and the Nazi party for their heinousness but no American notices their behavior towards George Spencer, the sole African-American on the boat.  I thought this was a bold move for the time of the film.  And we go on to watch all of the characters exposed and say things that come from deep within until they are eventually saved.  It is a truly great character study and it had me on board from the beginning.

diggersExtra Cup: “Diggers”

April 29, 2009 in reviews, rik | by filmgrounds | No comments (Edit)

Diggers did not dig deep enough.  I was truly excited to see this film because I have been on a Paul Rudd kick as of late.  He has a great filmography minus ‘The Object of My Affection.’  Lately, he has been seen in comedies such as, ‘Role Models’, ‘I Love You Man’, and here, in this 2006 film that I didn’t know about, is a chance to see him in a different genre and see how good he can be.  Rudd, as Hunt, is not bad in this movie and I get the Paul Rudd performance that I was looking for, but the script limits his ability to demonstrate who his character is.  Yeah he is dealing with the death of father, what he values, and how to break away from this small town but as I have written it here is all you get.  The relationship he develops with Zoey is trite and  I really wanted him to discover his talent as a photographer on his own and then realize photgraphy as his avenue for escape.  But instead she discovers it for him in their dead end relationship that was not interesting to watch.  I think there were too many characters and stories in this film about four working-class friends growing up in Long Island, New York, as clam diggers.

I really wanted to follow Ken Marino’s character, Lozo, and his family.  Number one, he stole the show with his comedic interludes that all can laugh at but especially fathers.  And yes I have sat on the pot while my son sat next to me and then asked my wife to look.  Those moments alone make the film worth watching but they also make the film disjointed because they cut into the somber mood of the film and made me ask what kind of movie is this?  Number two, I thought Lozo’s storyline was more interesting than Rudd’s whose story I have seen before.  Lozo is a young at heart husband and father of too many kids, working a job that is disappearing to a corporate clamming company trying to balance family, survival and independence while being swallowed up by it all.  We only get glimpses of his torment and are bogged down by Maura Tierney and Ron Eldard’s disinteresting relationship and random scenes of potsmoking by Josh Hamilton’s, Cons.  Again I only say this because they are underdeveloped.  Watch this movie for Ken Marino and when you are desperate for Paul Rudd.  I am drinking a quarter cup of coffee.

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Extra Cup: “Good Night and Good Luck”

April 28, 2009 in evan, extra cup, reviews | by filmgrounds | No comments (Edit)

The film begins in a slow and graceful mood, a relaxing feeling is placed upon the viewer as they become a guest of an upscale dinner party. We are gleeful, stress free, and blissfully ignorant… that is until Edward R. Murrow enters the room. The camera slyly shows Murrow behind the curtain, smoking a cigarette before his speech. He takes one last inhale as a regular man and exhales as the eloquent TV legend. Murrow’s speech sets the mood for the rest of the film, he is here to do his best to examine and deliver the truth, no matter whom it hurts and whom it benefits.

The film is delivered in a shaky and disorganized manner, which gives us a realistic, chaotic and unrehearsed look into this time in history… much like the spontaneity we encounter in our daily lives. That is, until “See it Now” begins. Here we get a glimpse at the man the nation knew… smooth, cool, and confident.

When the show begins, the cameras, as well as the characters, become smooth, subtle, and flawless. These men are at their best when the cameras are rolling, and this movie reiterates this. Moments before the episode that begins it all, Murrow turns to Fred Friendly and says, “It occurs to me, we might not get away with this one.” Murrow shows his doubt and uncertainty only seconds before he goes on air, but as soon as the cameras roll, he is completely collected and confident… as he would always have the nation believe.

Silence also plays a powerful role in this film…whether it be in an office, in the newsroom, or on an elevator. Silence becomes a powerful entity, and almost its own character. These men are strong and commanding when they are speaking, but when silence takes over, they posses doubt and skepticism just like the rest of us.

Another prevailing theme in this movie is the use of archival footage used throughout to provide us with a basis in reality and the ability to see the lives most directly impacted by McCarthy’s harmful attacks.

The film leaves us with a much different tone than it greeted us. It leavs us with a powerful and eloquent speech trailed by silence… a silence that calls us to reflect and examine the final thoughts expressed by Murrow. He reminds us that we should not become despondent and apathetic, but we should fight for what we believe and remain true to ourselves and others

In a time of fear, uncertainty, and opposition, Murrow and his team at CBS had the courage to stand up for what they felt was right, even if it meant jobs and revenue lost. With global connection readily at our fingertips, we have the opportunity to speak against injustices and oppressions now more than ever. In a time when our televisions beam images of scripted murders and “reality” drama, perhaps now is as good a time as any to follow the words and the hopes of Mr. Edward R. Murrow, “if this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. Good night, and good luck.”

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