RSS Feed

Staff Picks: Movies

Master of Alienation

Has there ever been a more handsome cipher than Monica Vitti in L’Eclisse, the third film in a thematic trilogy (L’ Avventura, La Notte) of sorts from Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni. Antonioni’s contribution to film history primarily centers around these three films and their radical break with traditional traits associated with classical movie-making and for their resistance to narrative meaning. Confounding audiences because of their slowly paced plots, minimalist dialogue and murky tones, the films are visual portraits of emotional stasis, spiritual decay and psychic ennui of Italy’s post-war bourgeoisie. 

Inspired by painting and framing scenes from unique perspectives and angles, scenes of L’Eclisse are lined with modern painting’s focus on abstraction and disorientation so as to express the kinds of intense unease of characters and their sense of dread and anxiety. Vitti was the director’s muse both in life and on film during this time period and she more than adequately symbolizes Antonioni’s exploration of modern alienation and its various forms. She knows nothing, feels nothing and floats about the Roman suburbs in a kind of haze of indifference. Recommended for those interested in the art house cinema of the early 1960’s.


A Birdman in the Hand Is Worth 4 Oscars in the Bush

I’m not gonna lie: As much as I personally loved Academy Award Best Picture winner Birdman more than expected winner Boyhood, I’m still shocked that the artsy and eccentric tale of a washed-up superhero actor trying to do “legitimate theater” (and please in your head imagine that pronounced as “theee-ATER”) beat out the wholesome, relatable, coming-of-age tale that was filmed over the course of twelve years.  I’m certainly happy for Birdman—just not so happy about what it did to my Oscar pool.  In addition to Best Picture, Birdman picked up wins for Best Director (Alejandro G. Iñárritu), Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki) and Best Original Screenplay (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo).

In case you’d like to catch any of the other available Oscar winners that you may have missed, I’ve listed them below. Click on the links and place a hold on a copy today.

  • My favorite film of the year, Whiplash, picked up three wins for Best Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons), Best Film Editing (Tom Cross), and Best Sound Mixing.
  • Many people won for working on Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel—except poor Wes Anderson himself; the film won for Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), Best Costume Design (Milena Canonero), Best Production Design (Adam Stockhausen), and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
  • Be sure to check out Eddie Redmayne’s Best Actor performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything; it was a well-deserved win.
  • Boyhood's lone win was for Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette).
  • Disney’s Big Hero 6 won for Best Animated Feature; the Best Animated Short winner, Feast, can be found on the Big Hero DVD or Blu-ray.
  • Best Foreign Film winner Ida is amazing and you should watch it--regardless of your unfortunate and snooty hatred of subtitles.

The following winners will be released soon and are available for holds now:

Keep checking back for Still Alice, for which Julianne Moore won Best Actress, Selma, which featured Best Original Song winner “Glory” by John Legend and Common, and must-see Best Documentary Feature winner CitizenFour.  We don’t have releases for these titles yet, but we will assuredly carry them.

 


Unhappy People

Having not read the novel, I’ll steer away from assessing how well the HBO miniseries captures the essence of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize Winner, however, from the point of view of someone without previous knowledge of the full story, Olive Kitteridge is a grim but moving portrait of a Maine woman’s monstrous treatment of her long-suffering husband and collaterally damaged son. To be blunt, Olive is an appalling narcissist thoroughly detached from the exercise of empathy or self- reflection. Viewers will be hard pressed to locate a reason to sympathize or relate to her atrocious belittling of almost everyone she comes in contact with. We learn early on that she’s struggling with depression and that it runs in her family (a theme that runs throughout the series). Her even-tempered husband Henry cautiously attempts to express his feelings toward Olive but one biting reproach after another finds him resolved to a victim’s logic that an unhappy marriage is somehow more dignified than leaving. Olive loves to call Henry a “sap” when he attempts to show his wife, son or a bereaved young woman who works at the pharmacy any sort of love, kindness or compassion. The actors (Richard Jenkins, Bill Murray and John Gallagher) are top notch here with Frances McDormand brilliantly humanizing Olive’s inflexible and twisted moral code, bringing dimension to a character whose masked inner demons leave a wake of ruined relationships and ill will behind her.


Begin Again

The Academy Awards are just around the corner (this Sunday the 22nd) so let's talk about the sugary Begin Again, a predictable drama soaked in pop music and stale messages about...well...beginning again when life becomes complicated. There are some great actors in this film and while they aren't capable of saving it from its conventional trappings, the sweet and uplifting tone will get you through a night when all you crave is a bit of a diversion from the act of shoveling and cold weather. The lead actress Keira Knightley has earned a nomination for her rendition of the song Lost Stars.


Wages of Fear

Arguably one of the first great films to seamlessly embody multiple categories of genres including action, drama, social criticism, and suspense, Wages of Fear was a smash hit in France in 1953 for director Henri-Georges Clouzot (the film was infamously censored by the American film industry in 1955 for its suggestive sympathies with leftist politics). Set in an impoverished oil company town in Brazil, an assortment of underemployed European and American expats lament their financial woes and lack of job opportunities at the town’s second most profitable business, the bar. When the oil company seeks out four men willing to drive two trucks filled with containers of nitroglycerin to a part of the country where an oil rig is on fire, four men with very little in common other than their poverty must put aside personal animosity, fear and pride in order to safely arrive in one piece. This is a tense work that will make your palms sweat as you root for the men to survive each obstacle they encounter, knowing that danger lurks around every pothole and pebble in the road.


Romance Is In the Air

If you're looking to supplement your Valentine's Day activities with some movie-watching, here are some standard and not-so standard (the quirky, the weird and the sad) romantic films from the KPL collection.

An Affair to Remember

About Time

The Time Traveler's Wife

Her

The Fault in Our Stars

Love Story

Never Let Me Go

When Harry Met Sally

Notting Hill

Casablanca

Brokeback Mountain

Amelie

Annie Hall

Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Voyage In Italy

Happy Together

In the Mood for Love

2046

Matter of Life and Death

The Age of Innocence

Out of Africa

The Apartment

The Way We Were

Harold and Maude

 

 

 


What If

What If is pretty predicable but still a nice romantic comedy. Daniel Radcliffe has been dumped and is taking it pretty hard, finally 367 days later he finally erases the last voice mail he has from her. Then at a party he meets and girl and it feels like love at first sight. He has a good time and walks her home. He wants to see her again, she says yes but as a friend because she has a boyfriend. Then we spend 2 hours seeing why he and she are great together and how her current boyfriend has grown away from her. He likes his new job and it is in Europe. She visits and sees him chummy with another female. This is not a movie with a surprise ending. It is a feel good about love movie and it does bring home the point that to maintain love you have to be present and willing to share each other’s experiences. Check it out at KPL.


Memphis

"You find glory alone by yourself with nobody around"

The very indie movie Memphis uses the stylistic touches of documentary to explore the fictional inner world of a talented but emotionally troubled bluesman attempting to handle expectations while recording an album. Serious in tone yet lyrical in its poetic rendering of both our subject’s inner angst and the city’s discursive flow, Memphis movingly captures fragments and moments of everyday life with a sympathetic gaze upon people and places so often marginalized in contemporary cinema. Recommended for fans of image and subjectivity-driven movies like George Washington, Museum Hours and Tree of Life.


The Drop Drops the Ball

With the newest film The Drop, audiences will get some decent acting out of Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini but ultimately, the story that we’re left with is held up by conventionally stale characters and a hopelessly tired plot. Tough guys, gangsters and double-crossing have never looked so unremarkable. Don’t blame the cute puppy for this throwaway.

 


Ram-Leela: A Bollywood Romeo and Juliet

 When my girls were younger we loved the Bollywood films because they were full of singing, dancing, beautiful costumes, handsome men and gorgeous women. Ram-Leela , a 2013 film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali , is like that. It has beautiful, beautiful saris, tons of jewelry, a very handsome lead star and the most beautiful heiress. There’s lots of singing and dancing. The film is more modern than I’m used to. The dance moves have lots of hip action and everyone is running around with cell phones and guns.

Ram-Leela is about a couple that falls in love. Their clans have been at war for 5 centuries. Ram is from a crime family and Leela is an heiress, whose mother is ruthless and determined to marry Leela, her jewel, off to a good family. Oh, there are so many surprises with this modern day Romeo and Juliet plot you would think I wouldn’t  be surprised, but I was crushed. Oh and yeah, there are subtitles, but reading the subtitles just kept me glued to the screen. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLIQzxgFeNE