20 years after Mrs. Brown, Dame Judi’s back in Victorian era wardrobe as… Queen Victoria. Audiences have been positively clamoring for Judi to reprise her role as the 19th century’s most famous baby factory so fair warning: FAKE SPOILERS BELOW!
A few weeks ago, as I was mindlessly journeying across channels on cable, I run into a film that made quite an impression on me when I first watched it a few years ago. The film in question was The Barbarian Invasions by French Canadian director, Denys Arcand. It earned him an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2004, among many other numerous awards.
The film revolves around Rémy, a former college professor who is confined to a hospital due to liver cancer. Whatever the grim circumstances, he devotes all his energies to maintain his bon vivant approach to life. As nurses, friends and former lovers parade into his hospital room, he maintains the facade almost intact. However, what really brings flavor to the story, as well as conflict and humor to the foreground in equal measures, is Rémy’s son, Sébastien. It’s the initial clash between these two that really puts the whole story into motion. Father and son have been estranged for years as a result of their contrasting philosophies. While Rémy is an old school leftist who flirted with every revolutionary movement since the 1960’s, Sébastien is a successful businessman who has deftly navigated the world of finance. The father thinks of himself as a staunch idealist thus he perceives his sons almost as a traitor, a representative of a coldblooded capitalist world. The son has always resented this prejudice but despite his initial misgivings about reuniting with his father, he soon rushes to his side. It doesn’t take long for us to see that the public hospital where Rémy is staying becomes a symbol of everything that went wrong about the old generation; Sébastien must battle with unions and bureaucrats in a place that overflows with red tape and decay in order to ensure some decent care for his father.
Thanks to all who participated in Smash Cut Culture’s first ever Oscar Pool.
Congrats to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for taking home three Oscars for Birdman. Along with the award for Best Cinematography, that brought Birdman‘s win total to four, the most for the night.
As for the race to win the Smash Cut Culture Oscar Pool, it was a nail biter. Two people ended up with 17 correct picks and it came down to the tie breaker.
After all the accolades it’s been receiving and the good word-of-mouth from family and friends, my wife and I were pretty hopeful about a great night-in watching the multi-Oscar nominated film Boyhood streaming for rent on our Roku. Aside from the fact that the editing of footage shot over a 12 year year period was extraordinarily seamless, I was utterly disappointed in the outcome of this kid’s story. Make no mistake, the film is well crafted, the acting engrosses you and the movie moves pretty well for 2 hours and 45 minutes. That said, it’s unclear to me if director Richard Linklater intended all along to present a purely fictional story about a broken family who struggles to keep it together with little to no help from asking extended family, friends or a power greater than themselves or if it just evolved that way over the course of its 12 year production because it mirrored a life close to him. Because if the 18 year old man we windup being left with at the end of this film is any indication of what our society is inheriting now, than we are truly screwed. With this film, Linklater may have just wound up delivering the penultimate anecdote of what is to be the story of the downfall of American civilization.
Welcome to the 1st Annual Smash Cut Culture Academy Awards Pool. It’s your turn to guess who will take home the little gold statue on February 22. Fill out your ballot on the next page to join the fun.
Sure it’s catchy, smart, and witty original song, “Everything is Awesome” was nominated for an award, but the excellent screenplay and overall achievement in, not just animation, but all of filmmaking that The Lego Movie brought this year was grossly overlooked this morning as the nominations for the 87th Academy Awards were announced. If you’ve heard great things about this movie but still haven’t taken the time to watch. Please do, you will be pleasantly surprised. I admit it’s about 15 min too long (lots of toy explosions account for that) but it’s as original as any of the other out-of-the-box films that were nominated for big awards this morning – The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman, and Boyhood being prime examples.
(Author’s note: I am a film buff. I am a history buff. With The Rear View I invite you along with me to revisit important films in movie history. – Matt Edwards)
“It’s a helluva thing killing a man. You take away all he’s got… all he’s ever gonna have.” – William Munny
Out of the countless films I’ve watched more than once, this western tale of revenge, redemption and rampage ranks among the greatest stories ever filmed. I know I’m not making some avant-garde claim that this mainstream Hollywood film is a masterpiece. Unforgiven won almost every best picture award of the season from film academies, film critic circles, guilds and magazine polls.
Clint Eastwood cleaned up in the director accolades. David Webb Peoples was singled out multiple times for his brilliant screenplay. Gene Hackman seemed to win every supporting actor award. (In my view he was simply the spokesman for accepting the awards for his the entire supporting acting team of Richard Harris, Morgan Freeman and Frances Fisher.)
Clint’s longtime cinematographer, Jack N. Green, photographed the most beautiful of America’s big sky west. (Personally, the fact that Jack Green also DP’d Serenity completes me.) Oscar-winning editor Joel Cox has been with Eastwood every step of the way in Eastwood’s filmmaking career and the mood he and his sound designers create is unparalleled. Eastwood even wrote the theme for the score of the film which quite hauntingly reverbs from every distant mountain, rain cloud and field of grass which grace the screen. In short, Eastwood’s team in front of and behind the camera deserve every bit of praise.
I want to single out the editing and sound design for a moment. Two things that rarely get their due recognition outside of those awkward moments when Scarlett Johansson hands some guy who’s been locked up in a sound booth for 16 hours a day an Oscar. When a sound mix is done right, you don’t notice it one bit. It’s not until repeated viewings that you start to look around with your ears. The use of the thunderstorm in films can, has been, and will always be, overused in movies. However, if you ever want to know how to use it correctly, I can’t stress enough how perfectly it’s used this film. It’s a theme that makes absolute sense. The thunderstorm is the Greek chorus of the story and is accompanied by chilled winds, creaking floorboards, and… perfectly timed silence.
With all that Hollywood offers us today, this film from 22 years ago manages to do something that very few films do. In the context of the Hollywood western film genre, Unforgiven is the grand finale of the first century of Hollywood filmmaking, if you will. From Charlie Chaplin to Hitchcock, John Ford to Spielberg, Howard Hawks to John Hughes, American Film of the twentieth century was the age of discovery in the art of storytelling with moving pictures. In a vacuum, Unforgiven is able to stand as a great film. But this film does not live in vacuum and neither do we. Unforgiven was made at the perfect time — a time after so much film history had been laid out.
Let’s look at some of the events that had to occur in that history leading up to filming Unforgiven in order for this film to have as large an impact on audiences as it did and will continue to do so, if we preserve and revisit film history: (more…)