May 23, 2011

Monday's Words of Wisdom

"He's wonderful to work with. He's really amazing because he's simple. He's as simple as his films. He was exactly like his movies ... He loves movies more than anybody I've ever met in my life. You can take all this new Hollywood bullshit, get all of us guys sitting in a room together and he puts us away. He knows more about the movies than any of us ever will."
- Steven Spielberg, on working with one of my favourite directors of all time Francois Truffaut (1978)

May 19, 2011

I'm Helen Sinclair!

Recently I had a conversation with a friend who had just caught up with David O. Russell's The Fighter. We mostly talked about Melissa Leo and Christian Bale and their Oscar-winning performances. He didn't like either performance that much, particularly Leo's, whom he thought was too showy and overacted. To an extent, I find myself agreeing with him since I thought Amy Adams gave the best performance in that film, but as I've mentioned before on the blog, I don't think either of those performances are overacted unnecessarily. Dickey and Alice are larger than life characters and the energy in the performances is essential to the development of those characters.

The point is, I don't think a loud performance is a bad one if the role requires the performer to be loud. And when it comes down to proving how a showy performance can be a good one, my go-to example has always been the same. A loudmouth, larger than life, scenery chewing character that is nevertheless one of the most complicated and entertaining ever put on screen: Dianne Wiest's Helen Sinclair in Bullets Over Broadway.

Wiest well understood the boundaries of this role and knew how significant her delivery was to the character and the film's success. It's a self-consciousnly campy and overplayed performance but her comic timing and consistency in carrying the running jokes along make Helen Sinclair one of the most memorable characters Woody Allen's ever written.
"- Look I haven't had a drink since new year's.
- You're talking about Chinese new years!
- Naturally! Still, that's two days!"
Not coincidentally, I think, Bullets Over Broadway is the last film by Allen to live up to the promise of his golden days. The star of every Woody Allen film is usually his own script, but I find that one problem with his more recent flicks - aside from the fact that he keeps repeating himself - is that his performers usually can't compare with the ones he used in the 70s and the 80s. Not everybody can fit into the mold of his brand of comedy, not even Larry David. His only recent film to come slightly close to the success he had in the past was Vicky Cristina Barcelona and that one had a star turn by Penelope Cruz.

Allen's new film, Midnight in Paris, opened in Cannes earlier this week and was met with acclaim. I'd be surprised if it's anywhere as good as Bullets, but I'd be pleased with a Vicky Cristina Barcelona level mini-triumph.

May 16, 2011

Monday's Words of Wisdom

"My car's my best friend. My office. My home. My location. I have a very intimate sense when I am in a car with someone next to me. We're in the most comfortable seats because we're not facing each other, but sitting side by side. We don't look at each other, but instead do so only when we want to. We're allowed to look around without appearing rude. We have a big screen in front of us and side views. Silence doesn't seem heavy or difficult. Nobody serves anybody. And many other aspects. One most important thing is that it transports us from one place to another."
- Abbas Kiarostami, on his relationship with cars and why they feature so prominently in most of his films

May 13, 2011


Drive-through beer!

May 2, 2011

Monday's Words of Wisdom

“For those who think I’m a snob, the list probably won’t disappoint. If you haven’t come across some of the titles before, hopefully you’ll look into giving them a chance. They may not move you the way they moved me, but that’s the real joy of moving outside of the Hollywood system. Once films are not being made to please as many people as possible, they stand a much better chance of pleasing YOU in a transcendent way that only movies can.”
- Chad Hartigan, on his list of favourite films from 2010 which included lesser known titles like Nenette, Videocracy and Daddy Longlegs