This is one of the year’s best films.
Michael Mirasol is a Filipino independent film critic who has been
writing about films for the past eleven years. He briefly served as film
critic for the Manila Times and now writes occasionally for Uno
Magazine and his blog The Flipcritic.
These days when you mention Iran, we think of a nation on the brink of war. Extremist images come to mind, full of concealed women and bearded militants. Such stereotypes are useful in the drum up to war. But rarely do we step back to remember when Iran was as European as Europe, or that an autocracy does not necessarily reflect its people. We've forgotten how hundreds of thousands of Iranians risked their lives for the Green Revolution, long before the Arab Spring. There's more to Iran than Ayatollahs and Nuclear Weapons.
Iranian Cinema has always been one of the world's best, reflecting the country's incredible artistic heritage. This year saw Asghar Farhadi's A Separation take the much deserved Best Foreign Picture Oscar. Farhadi himself reminded us not to forget his people's shared humanity.
What's the last great love story you've seen on film? I don't mean your typical "rom-coms" with contrived meet-cutes that rely heavily on celebrity star power. I'm talking about a genuine romance between two richly defined characters. If your mind draws a blank, you're not alone. Hollywood, along with much of the filmmaking world, seems to have either forgotten how to portray love affairs in ways that once made us swoon. Whatever the reason, be it due to our changing times or priorities, we might not see any significant ones for some time.
A few days ago, I was one of many critics who panned the film SUCKER PUNCH. Though I hadn't written my own, I advocated several reviews that I felt reflected my sentiments.
Though I agreed in their disapproval, two words kept on reappearing with each negative review I read: "video game." To say that the film draws greatly upon video game aspects is accurate. But with each citation, my fellow critics continue to beat the dead horse of an argument that video games are a meaningless form of mindless entertainment.
I grew up on movies and on video games, and love and respect what they bring to the table. Though I enjoy them on different levels, they both have given me moments of wonder and serious reflection. As an avid gamer and film lover, I find it a shame to see how one medium has gained artistic acceptance while the other continues to be derided by the mainstream. There are many reasons why they are looked down upon, but if you give them a shot, you just might conclude that video games should be considered art.
There is a point in Homer's "The Odyssey" where Odysseus is washed ashore from a shipwreck.A young woman comes to his aid, rescuing him from his end. She was Nausicaa, lover of nature, and eventually serving as a mother of his rebirth. In Hayao Miyazaki's first masterpiece "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" he heralds a protagonist of similar inspiration, whose own odyssey and heroism would take on Homeric proportions.
The 60s were a rough transition for America. Major shifts seemed to be occurring in every fabric of society from civil rights to sexual mores. The worsening course of the Vietnam war fueled distrust in political institutions. Women's rights highlighted a breaking from oppressive traditions. The old seemed to be fading away more radically than ever before.
Like the era it was made in, "Hud" was a key shift. As film critic Emmanuel Levy correctly puts it, it is "a transitional film between the naive films of the early 60s and the more cynical ones later in the decade." Though it plays as a compelling drama of small town life and family tribulation, through its lens of father-son conflict, it also captures the angst in the loss of authority, the gap between of two different generations, and an elegy for the good ole' days.
Regardless of how one feels about the Vatican and its handling of its recent crises, one cannot help but doubt how much we feel let down. Religion of any sort has long been regarded as our moral authority. Some today will think it is outdated, others still necessary.
Everyone should be able to believe want they want to, but there is no doubt that when it comes to belief, there is nothing quite as dangerous as blind faith.
Marital infidelity is a favorite subject in films. It's one of many taboos which audiences can explore without having to live through its challenges nor worry about its consequences. The emotional and social tumult that comes with it always provides filmmakers and actors with complex and often fiery material to work with. But because it is a social ill, it tends to be viewed through an illicit lens.
The very way these kinds of love affairs are defined speak for themselves. Adultery. Infidelity. Cheating. Marriage is a sacrament, hence anything that goes against it is cast as
Post World War II British Cinema was one of the richest periods in film history. Finally free from budget and stylistic constraints saddled during wartime, some of the greatest filmmaking talent the filmdom had arisen. John and Roy Boulting, David Lean, Laurence Olivier, and Carol Reed were just a few of the notables whose directorial prowess had struck the scene. But a pair which was the period's most prolific was Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger; The Archers.
The Oscar nominees have been announced, now cinephiles everywhere have begun nitpicking amongst the nominations. Some will note those that should have and shouldn't have been nominated, but one almost criminal omission from the Best Animated Film category was the absence of PONYO, Hayao Miyazaki's latest work for Studio Ghibli.
In terms of filmmaking mastery, one can mention the name Miyazaki in the same breath as Spielberg or Scorsese. His works are beloved by animators, audiences, and critics around the world.
2009 was a great year for Kathryn Bigelow. After a 7-year hiatus from filming K-19: The Widowmaker, she returned to direct The Hurt Locker, a suspense and war film set in Iraq that has deservedly been recognized by critics and award bodies alike, and is expected to be one of the primary contenders for the Academy Awards. Bigelow is known for her superb work in the action genre, which is rarity among female directors. Her skill in filming tension and violence is as good as any of today's directors.