Some of it is too broad, and I wish it dug a little deeper at times, but this is one of those rare inspirational films…
With films like "Zodiac" (2007) David Fincher has become Hollywood's serial-killer specialist and yet his entries from that genre seem to have more in common with "The Insider" than with "Psycho" or "The Silence of the Lambs" He shows a great fascination with the details surrounding each case, than with their heroes and villains. His approach is usually just as meticulous when inspired by fictional works ("Seven", "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") as by real-life events. Perhaps it is Oliver Stone's "JFK" that this film most resembles; obsession is at both their cores.
There's a Someecards meme floating around that reads, "If I don't have sex with you, I'm a prude. If I use the pill, I'm a slut. If I get pregnant, I'm an idiot. And if I choose abortion, I'm Satan." That's the sum of our attitude towards female sexuality, but the movie "Shame" (2011) assures us that men suffering from sex addiction will earn comparable condemnations.
A young black boy deemed suspicious for wearing a hoodie. A black head of state depicted as a primate. Extremist political parties masking bigotry behind nationalism. Google the word "racism" and you'll find a vast array of news items showing that this most basic form of bigotry is alive and well.
There have been many films big and small which have addressed the subject. But only one comes to mind with racism as an actual character: the controversial drama "White Dog," directed by Samuel Fuller, based on the novel by Romain Gary.
A professor at my department who studied neuroscience, once told us something you have probably heard elsewhere: If you think you're crazy or getting crazy, that means you are not crazy because crazy people do not know that they are crazy. This sounds like the famous dilemma in Joseph Heller's "Catch-22." I thought it was useful advice for students who had to deal with lots of pressure and stress in the academic process. It could also be good advice for the hero of "Take Shelter" (2011), because he thinks at first something is wrong with his head, but cannot ignore what disturbs deeply him. He tries to quell his mental turbulence as much as he can, but is transformed into a more disturbed man obsessed with visions attacking him every night. It is possible that he himself is the threat to the family he wants to protect, not the catastrophe of epic proportion he fears.
A video essay published in tandem with Indiewire
"The human face is the great subject of the cinema. Everything is there." - Ingmar Bergman
The craggy complexion. The stately ovate chin. Those thin lips deceptively wrapped around that charming smile. That perfect nose. Those clear greenish-brown eyes. That squint.
One cannot discuss Clint Eastwood's iconic stature in film, without mentioning his face. There are others that have been as handsome (Newman), masculine (Gable), striking (Hitchcock), fearsome (Bronson), and symbolic (Wayne). But from a visual standpoint, none of them have been as instrumental as a filmmaking tool or signature. Most actors are cast to fill in a character from the inside out, building an individual based on the personal. But Eastwood himself is a form. An absent presence whose persona is filled primarily by the film's themes and ideas.
This movie is 97 minutes of trying not to blink. Image after luxurious 70MM image. A perfect soundtrack. I watched it again, wearing headphones, sitting really close to an HD screen letting the film astound me with its Blu-Ray picture. And it did astound me, beyond my expectations. The details revealed textures and images I had not previously noticed. Every time I plan to watch Ron Fricke's "Baraka" (1992), I watch far more than I plan. I intend to watch one scene, but realize quickly that I have to finish it.
Is Bryan Singer's "The Usual Suspects" (1995) one of the greatest films ever made? I admit there was a time, right after I saw it, that it seemed special. For most of my first viewing, I thought I was watching a standard crime thriller when suddenly it caught me off-guard and left me stunned. Once the DVD came out, I rushed to buy it but then, as the years went by, I noticed it had been left on its shelf abandoned as I had little interest in watching it again. I couldn't remember much about the characters or the plot, in fact, there was only one thing that stuck in my mind about it. Readers who've previously watched it will instantly know what I'm taking about.
News that the incomparable journalist Mike Wallace has died brought back a story. In a life filled with remarkable and dramatic events, it is perhaps among the most memorable but little told. It happened in Iran in 1981.
In early 1979, the Iranian Revolution burst upon the world, forcing out the widely-hated, long-serving despot, Shah Reza Pahlavi, and bringing the exiled Islamic fundamentalist Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power. Anger at America, whose policies had supported the Shah and interfered in Iran's politics for decades, was widespread, as thousands of Iranians demonstrated daily in the streets, and Khomeini denounced "the Great Satan." That November, revolutionary students stormed the American Embassy in search of C.I.A. files, taking the 52 staffers present hostage. It was a siege that would last a seemingly infinite 444 days, becoming an American sensation on the nightly news (ABC's "Nightline" was created to cover "the Iran hostage crisis"), and profoundly influencing the outcome of the 1980 Presidential election.
Looking back at when I watched "Life, Above All" (2010) last December, I discern that I'm a more jaded person than I think. At one point in the story, I wondered if its heroine really had to do what she was determined to do. I understood her motive, but I thought it might be better for her and her family to leave the problem alone because there was really nothing she could do for changing the circumstance. However, it was what should have been done, her heart knew that, and I was eventually moved by her determination while recognizing that she was right after all.
Why in the world couldn't we use this thing called television for the broadcasting of grace through the land? - Mr Rogers
There aren't many films that have made me cry. "Brokeback Mountain" prickled my eyes. "Toy Story 2" caused a lone tear to escape my eyelids and creep across my cheek. "Dear Zachary" made me discreetly weep with silent despair. And two PBS documentaries about a children's TV presenter left me red-eyed and runny-nosed, my face swollen and my chest shaking, as I sat clutching Kleenex and trying not to dehydrate.