Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Simple Somewhere

Last week’s film was Sophia Coppola’s Somewhere starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning. Somewhere follows hot actor Johnny Marco (Dorff) through his existential journey while he lives at the The Chateau Marmont, a well-known retreat for Hollywood celebrities.
The film takes on a similar theme of success and isolation found in Sophia’s films. Her three most popular films, The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette, portray a boredom of the characters in their quest for self-definition. Similarly, we see the maturation of Johnny when his 11-year-old daughter comes to stay with him for a while. Johnny realizes after his daughter leaves that she was the only tether he had to anything real.
Sophia depicts Johnny as a working actor, but not on set. She is familiar with the everyday tasks of the rich and aimless, having grown up around it (her father is famed director, Francis Ford Coppola). The film is said to be inspired by Federico Fellini’s Toby Dammit as well as real life events. The simplicity of the film allows the audience to relax and observe with no expectations. It follows Sophia’s trend of “Don’t tell, show”, a skill lacking in some of our generation’s directors. Her patience of visual style and affinity for minimalist filmmaking provide a fresh change from other films about Hollywood (and the drama we see unfold in the media).  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Inventive Incendies

This film follows the children of Nawal Marwan on their quest to discover the truth about their mother. At the request of their deceased mother, adult twins, Jeanne and Simon, travel the Middle East to find the father they thought was dead and a brother they didn’t know existed. Canadian Director, Denis Villeneuve, who brought us the film Polytechnique, tells another violent story of trauma and reconciliation. The title “inendies” is loosely translated to “scorched”. Villeneuve refers to this as the inferno that leaves “something totally destroyed, totally transformed…destruction that you cannot change afterwards.” Jeanne’s journey reveals her mother’s dark history pushing the narrative to an end that echoes the devastation of religious conflict. This film challenges discourses of organized religion with its grotesque depiction of unwarranted deaths. The innocent lives transformed over a belief system encourage the audience to reflect on structured religion. This type of film is another provocative investigation of history and culture that is exclusive to audiences of film series like BUFS. I encourage film patrons to seek out such confrontational films.

Check out the trailer at: Incendies

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's Kind of a revealing story...

It was another mediocre turnout at BUFS last week. The inclement weather deterred many patrons, but there was a larger number of students as expected.
The film, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, chronicles one depressed teenager’s (Craig) week in an adult psychiatric ward. The film is based on the novel by Ned Vizzini. It is a touching and humourous story of struggles and life discovery. With a surprising and sentimental performance by funny-man Zack Galifianakis (Bobby), this film demonstrates the power of friendship and communication. As Mick Lasalle of The San Francisco Chronicle eloquently states, “The movie taps into a curious truth about life and particular variety of relationship that exists in the world but that’s rarely if ever depicted in movies: There’s a special mentoring bond that can sometimes develop between a thoroughly screwed-up adult and a slightly less screwed-up teenager.” The bond between Craig and Bobby is unconventional but helps Craig look at himself and his future clearly and with less anxiety.
The film seems random at first but eventually becomes familiar and comfortable for the audience. It’s not your typical Hollywood film. It draws you in with its humanness. I wonder if the same can be said for the recent release of The Roommate, which will likely draw a large youth audience.

Mediocre Marwencol and Steady The King's Speech

Last week’s BUFS screening was Jeff Malmberg’s documentary entitled Marwencol (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNKPEp6aEqQ). The film tells the tragic, yet inspiring, story of Mark Hogancamp. After being brutally attacked and beaten by 5 men in 2000, Mark suffered severe head injuries causing him to lose all of his memories. Mark turned to an unconventional type of therapy. He built a small model town, Marwencol, for his dolls to tell his story. Mark’s story is retold through his alter ego soldier that crash lands and hides in the small Belgian town from 5 SS soldiers. He illustrates his story through his photography.
This film’s realism is chilling. Through Mark’s lens, his dolls were as real to us as they were to him. Mark’s fantasy photography was not only therapy for him but became an attraction when displayed at a New York art Gallery. This uniquely compassionate film depicts Mark and all of his idiosyncrasies as an example of how our communities and creative spirit can save our lives.
Unfortunately, there was only a mediocre turn out for this film. On the other hand, The King’s Speech is continuously doing well at Empire theatres. I believe this is due to Oscar buzz and word of mouth. The King’s Speech is a remarkable film depicting powerful story of human emotion and courage. I recommend catching it before it leaves the theatre and keep your eye out for the release of Marwencol.
            Tomorrow’s film is It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Check it out!

Greetings fellow movie lovers!

I’ve started this blog because of my love for movies. With passion and a background in Popular Culture from Brock University, I hope to introduce you to some not-so-famous films as well as some popular blockbuster or award winning films. From a young age I developed an affection for films that can enlighten, inspire, frighten or change us, as well as make us think, laugh and cry. Films have a way of allowing us to escape our lives or help us to understand them. They can tell realistic or fantastical stories of strength, redemption, pain, and compassion. I wanted to write this blog so people would know there is more out there than just what is released in major theatres. I want people to experience more than just Blockbusters and Oscar films.
I am not a film critic or a film theorist; I am simply a lover of film and what it can do for an audience. My job at Empire Theatres and volunteer work with Brock University Film Series (BUFS) simply allow me to observe and report on a variety of films.