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Freezing Questions About the Movie:

  1. Based on how the team is presented, am I supposed to be rooting for the US? Follow-up, did Disney anticipate that no-one outside of the US would bother watching this homage to the US of A and the 1980 Winter Olympic Games up in Lake Placid?
  2. Should Kurt Russell, and director Gavin O’Connor, deserve credit for making Coach Herb Brooks such a barely mitigated A-hole? This is a serious question. Had they sugar coated his awful personality and archaic dictator coach schtick and schmucky husband/father side then the pill would have gone down smoother, but perhaps been far less historically accurate. My problem is when awful personality gets treated as quirkiness; when archaic dictator coaching gets misrepresented as having a causal relationship with success; when sacrificing your personal life is shown as noble and not harmful to your loved ones.
  3. Were the Bad News Bears not available to play for the US Olympic team? I bet this joke would have killed in 1980.
  4. How large was Boris Mikhailov in real life? When he faces off against Mark Johnson he looks gigantic! The photo below does not do it justice. Answer, 5′ 10″ to Johnson’s 5′ 9″. Johnson actually weighed 1lb more than Mikhailov, so what the hell? If you cannot convince me with montages, speeches, facts and footage that the Captain of the greatest hockey team of all-time is super good without resorting to visual shenanigans, then hang it up. Also, kudos to Eric Peter-Kaiser (Johnson) for looking scrawny and scared, below, since he is actually 6′ 1″. MikhailovJohnson
  5. Why are the actors portraying the hockey players so much more handsome than the actual players were?
  6. This is a Disney movie, right? So where was the quacking? Everyone wanted them to quack, so why didn’t they quack? Put it into a dream sequence, I don’t care. And why not cast Emilio Estevez instead of Kurt Russell? Estevez is a good actor and probably would have saved Disney some money. Or maybe not, since Russell hadn’t acted for two years and his prior movie grossed $10 million worldwide.1
  7. Where were the players for most of the 9 months leading up to the games? I know they started very early, with tryouts in Colorado and then trained in Indiana, but they seem to be playing games and practicing a lot.
  8. Which sport is the most cinematic? And boxing doesn’t count. I have, over the years, provided various definitions for sports and competitions. You can throw darts in a bar. Not a sport. You can have a fist fight in a bar. You cannot play hockey in a bar. By this complicated criterion, boxing is not a sport.
  9. Did I know that this was the highest grossing hockey movie of all-time? If I had to guess 2-5, I would say, Mighty Ducks, D-2: Cruise Control, Slap Shot…and does The Cutting Edge count? I consider that a figure skating movie, not a hockey movie. Apparently the actual order is MiracleThe Tooth FairyMighty Ducks, D-2: Their First Assignment, and The Love Guru. They do count Cutting Edge, it is #7.
  10. How is the final hockey game shot so much better than the entire rest of the film?
  11. How did the film make me start to root for the US? Full disclosure, I had to wait two weeks to watch the last 45 minutes of the movie, so that might play a part in it. And I am watching this during the Rio Olympics. More importantly, though, is that this is the first part of the film that does not feel like a montage.
  12. What do I rate this movie?

*** For having two majors positives: Herb Brooks is portrayed as a human being and how well shot the hockey is, particularly in the semi-final game against the Soviet Union.

1 There is so much gold to be mined from this discovery. Please bear with me. The movie was called Dark Blue. This was directed by Ron Shelton, who also directed Bull Durham, White Men Can’t Jump, Cobb, Tin Cup, and then killed his career with Hollywood Homicide—a movie I saw in theaters. What, you don’t remember this Harrison Ford/Josh Hartnett classic? One year later and I would have recorded my rating for the movie (according to Netflix I rated it ***). Unfortunately before that bombed he fired off one final nuclear bomb of poop known as the script for Bad Boys II (according to Netflix I rated it *). Had he not destroyed his career he would have directed this movie. I assume. Since he directed mostly sports movies, some of which were good. Back to Dark Blue and Kurt Russell, but first the writers! Dark Blue is adapted from a James Ellroy story, like, the five star classic L.A. Confidential. The adapter is none other than David Ayer! The same David Ayer who wrote/directed Training Day. In that review I addressed *every movie* Ayer did except for one…Dark Blue because I had never heard of it. Ready for biggest nugget? Kurt Russell was nominated for the Best Breakaway Performance in an Unexpected Role in the AARP’s Best Movies for Grownups! He lost to Richard Gere for Chicago. Now we all have learned that AARP issued their own movie awards with hilarious named categories. 


The 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century — BBC Culture

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Once every so often facebook has a trending event that I care about. Because of the reaction the top three films garnered, hell probably just the reaction to the top film (Mulholland Drive), this a trending worthy topic. My gut reaction was to defend this choice, because it is generally an underrated film. Well if you want to know what I have decided, you will have to read (or skip) to the end.

100. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016) — Haven’t seen it and never heard of it [hereafter HSI & NHOI].
100. Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000) — Great music, but not a great film. Disagree, overrated.
100. Carlos (Olivier Assayas, 2010) — HSI. Supposedly great. IMDb considers it a mini-series.
99. The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000) — HSI & NHOI.
98. Ten (Abbas Kiarostami, 2002) — HSI & NHOI.
97. White Material (Claire Denis, 2009) — HSI & NHOI.
96. Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton, 2003) — Strongly agree. I would rank this with Old School.
95. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, 2012) — Strongly disagree, overrated. Wes Anderson’s second worst film.
94. Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008) — Disagree, underrated.  Probably the best vampire film since Dracula. Yes, that Dracula (1931). I still have not seen the American remake with Chloe Grace Moretz, yet.
93. Ratatouille (Brad Bird, 2007) — Strongly disagree, overrated. It is a cute movie and I now eat ratatouille despite disliking over half of the ingredients in isolation.
92. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007) —Disagree, underrated. An out of time elegiac western.
91. The Secret in Their Eyes (Juan José Campanella, 2009) — Strongly disagree, underrated, except when considered against other foreign language films and then having it be three better than Let the Right One In makes perfect sense. I still have not seen the American remake with Ejiofor and Roberts, yet.
90. The Pianist (Roman Polanski, 2002) — Agree. Its star has an excellent surname.
89. The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel, 2008) —HSI & NHOI.
88. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, 2015) — HSI. And yes I am embarrassed to admit that.
87. Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001) — Disagree, overrated. Yes, Audrey Tautou is a dream and I think A Very Long Engagement is a better Jean-Pierre Jeunet film. I suppose someone else might claim they prefer his Alien: Resurrection, because film appreciation is subjective.
86. Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002) — HSI & NHOI. And this stars Julianne Moore, so it is odd that I thought this was an Algerian WWII film.
85. A Prophet (Jacques Audiard, 2009) — Agree. The best film set in a French prison that I have ever seen, and I include whatever Pink Panther movie that Clouseau gets himself sent to jail in.
84. Her (Spike Jonze, 2013) — Agree. But it should not be above A Prophet.
83. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001) — Agree. Fitting that it should be adjacent to Her.
82. A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009) — Agree. My review for this is from 2010 so it is about 30 words long.
81. Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011) — HSI. Fassbender + McQueen. I do not know any male friends who have seen this movie.
80. The Return (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2003) — Disagree, underrated. In fact, if I watched this again I bet I would rate it even higher than X2: X-Men United. That said, I did rate it higher than Return of the King, so I am not totally blinded by nerdom.
79. Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000) — Disagree, overrated. I almost strongly disagree because this fine film is generally overrated, but Jason Lee is wonderful in it.
78. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013) — Disagree, overrated. The Departed is overrated too, but at least it is still pretty much great. This is possibly even more self-indulgent than Almost Famous. No, I take it back, that is nigh impossible.
77. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel, 2007) — HSI. Mathieu Amalric is the paraplegic main character, and he also played a Bond villain.
76. Dogville (Lars von Trier, 2003) — HSI. I do not watch von Trier’s movies because he sounds like an abusive jerk and I do not wish to support that kind of directing. And I just happen to have not seen any of his movies.
75. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014) — HSI. I have not seen it but I want to.
74. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine, 2012) — HSI. I wish I could unsee James Franco with grills.
73. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004) — HSI. I have not seen any part of this trilogy.
72. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2013) — HSI & NHOI. I am sensing a pattern that favors the self-indulgent filmmakers. Still, his Broken Flowers is my favorite Bill Murray film. Seriously.
71. Tabu (Miguel Gomes, 2012) — HSI & NHOI.
70. Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley, 2012) — HSI. In fact I forgot that this movie existed.
69. Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015) — HSI.
68. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001) — Agree. Not Anderson’s best work, but appropriately located between Moonrise Kingdom and his best film. To avoid spoiling the list I will put the name into Russian, Отель Гранд Будапешт.
67. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008) — Disagree, underrated. One of the seven times of the past 45 Academy Awards to have my choice for best film actually win.
66. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring (Kim Ki-duk, 2003) — Agree. An eye-opening Korean film for me. It reminds me of beauty, tranquility and sadness.
65. Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009) — HSI.
64. The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013) — HSI & NHOI.
63. The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011) — HSI.
62. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009) — Disagree, overrated. I like this movie. It has some really great tension in it. But it is far from great.
61. Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013) — HSI. I need to see this, especially since I find Scarlett Johansson such a fantastic actress.
60. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006) — HSI & NHOI.
59. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005) — Agree. One of the finest moments of film for the burgeoning 21st Century came in a scene where the protagonist’s son stands up to his bully. *Crowd goes wild* And then keeps punching. *Some people stop cheering* And punching. *Awkward silence ensues* Cronenberg gave the audience what it thought it wanted and taught an important lesson about art, pop cultures, and schadenfreude. If I had not seen this at Doc Films (UChicago) I wonder if I could have fully appreciated that scene and this film as a whole.
58. Moolaadé (Ousmane Sembène, 2004) — HSI & NHOI.
57. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow, 2012) — HSI. The whole alleged glamorizing of torture was a major turnoff for me. It is not that I get squeamish, which I do, but that I know how susceptible I am to persuasive storytelling and how much I hate when things get awkward. I will root for detainees to crack and for the investigators to do anything they can. And I do not want to do that.
56. Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr, director; Ágnes Hranitzky, co-director, 2000) — HSI & NHOI.
55. Ida (Paweł Pawlikowski, 2013) — HSI. I meant to catch this one too since it played locally.
54. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011) — HSI & NHOI.
53. Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001) — Strongly disagree, overrated. There are a couple excellent songs on the soundtrack.
52. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004) — HSI & NHOI.
51. Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010) — Strongly agree. A five star movie that was only #3 on my Best of 2010 list.
50. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2015) — HSI & NHOI.
49. Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, 2014) — HSI.
48. Brooklyn (John Crowley, 2015) — HSI. Was advised just yesterday to avoid this film.
47. Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014) — HSI. Recognize the director’s name? He did The Return.
46. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010) — HSI. Recognize the director’s name? He did #98, which I also have not seen.
45. Blue Is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013) — HSI.
44. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013) — Strongly agree. Earlier I said only 7 Oscar Best Pictures winners lined up for me since 1970. That is because I did not watch this until 2015 and it does not appear on my Best of list. But was it better than Captain Phillips? This list appears to think so as that film does not even appear on it.
43. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011) — HSI. See above. I did used to love Kirsten Dunst though.
42. Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012) — HSI.
41. Inside Out (Pete Docter, 2015) — Strongly disagree, overrated. Read my review to learn why. Or do not bother since it will probably make you mad because you love it so much. It is better than Minions though.
40. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005) — HSI.
39. The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005) — Disagree, overrated. This is a good movie and it looks beautiful. Malick’s The Thin Red Line could have had this spot, except it came out in 1998. Remember The Thin Red Line? It was the WWII film with an amazing ensemble cast that you did not go see because you had just seen Saving Private Ryan.
38. City of God (Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, 2002) — Agree. Best Brazilian film off all-time. Unless you include Rio. Then your opinion is invalid.
37. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010) — HSI & NHOI.
36. Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2014) — HSI & NHOI.
35. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000) — Disagree, underrated. I thought I would be out of underrateds by #35, but I think that is what I have to say. I have it as my 10th best film of the 00s and the best of 2000. The ending brings tears to my eyes every time I watch.
34. Son of Saul (László Nemes, 2015) — HSI & NHOI. Sounds intense. I know when I watch it I will become filled with rage.
33. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008) — Strongly agree. I am listening to the sound track right now! Has Hanz Zimmer ever done a better job than on this soundtrack? Has Christian Bale ever done a better job of acting? Yeah, I suppose he is even better in Rescue Dawn. Sure 2008 was a weak year for movies and according to this movielog Dark Knight was a better movie than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But as time has passed I not only feel that Dark Knight should not be considered the best film of the 00s (according to IMDb in 2011 and still in 2016), but that it should probably be right where this list has it.
32. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006) — Strongly agree. Continued analysis from Dark Knight and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: this was #9 on my best of the 00s, just ahead of #10 Crouching Tiger and behind #6 Dark Knight, but actually is better than Dark Knight. Maybe I should revisit my best of the 00s? Maybe add Wet Hot American Summer in there somewhere.
31. Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011) — HSI.
30. Oldboy (Park Chan-wook, 2003) — Agree. This is the lowest spot I would agree with for the most famous Korean film of all-time. It is a great litmus test for what disgusts different people. Rest assured, if you watch it, you will be disgusted by something in this pinnacle of the Korean revenge genre. The only revenge film I can think of on its level is the highly polarizing Irreversible.
29. WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008) — Disagree, overrated. A very good movie that has a great look to it and an important message.
28. Talk to Her (Pedro Almodóvar, 2002) — HSI. I had clearly heard of this film, but a movie about people talking while their loved ones are in comas sounds underwhelming. I have found some of Almodóvar’s other movies to be pretty good.
27. The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010) — Strongly disagree, overrated. This is an average film for Fincher. At least the list is correct about his upcoming entry. Also, the soundtrack for this was overrated as well.
26. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002) — HSI. I have heard nothing but amazing things about this.
25. Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000) — Disagree, overrated. This is a great movie and belongs at the start of this list. In fact, just switch it with Inception and wonder at how far Nolan has come as a director. It does showcase how amazing Guy Pearce is as an actor though.
24. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012) — HSI. I just never seem to watch PTA’s films.
23. Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005) — Strongly disagree, overrated. I put this movie on par with The Social Network. That said, this is an international collection of opinions and Caché had a very foreign style to its suspense (French family receiving invasive recordings of them).
22. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003) — Disagree, overrated. I fell in love with this movie and saw Scarlett Johansson as a woman for the first time (she was great as a teen in Ghost World). This was also an interesting version of the world weary Bill Murray. This is the highest rated movie directed by a woman on this list.
21. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014) — Strongly agree. Wes Anderson is a great director and this is his finest film. Birdman beat it for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, which is interesting since Birdman did not make this list. I think that is very telling regarding the Academy’s self-adoration of film and demonization of critics. It is worth noting that Alejandro G. Iñárritu has no films on this list, despite several Oscars and a few more nominations. And Sr. Iñárritu is not an American.
20. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008) — HSI. And I have been to Schenectady, NY dozens of times in my life.
19. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015) — HSI. I bet I will love it.
18. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009) — HSI & NHOI.
17. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006) — Agree. 2006 was an odd year for cinema. The Departed won for Best Picture, even though it was seen as Martin Scorsese’s lifetime achievement award. In fact, the Hong Kong original version Infernal Affairs, is generally considered a better movie (I like the Hollywood ending better). That said, 2006 was an amazing year, and has been appropriately represented with this film and The Lives of Others. I do not cry at the end, but I always come close. The Lives of Others actually got a couple of tears. But the shocking one missing is perhaps too American of a film to be appreciated, or simply has been avoided as “too soon” when it came out—United 93. That is 111 minutes of spellbinding suspense with about 40 minutes of tears coming out. It is not a tear jerker and it does not make me sob, but it is just such a powerful experience that my body needs a physical manifestation to the overwhelming emotion.
16. Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012) — HSI.
15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007) — HSI.
14. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2012)— HSI & NHOI.
13. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006) — Strongly disagree, overrated. Best remembered for an extremely long single shot. If such a feat impresses you, then watch Russian Ark, which is filmed in one continuous shot. It takes place at the Hermitage and includes time travel. The action is better in Children of Men, though.
12. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007) — Strongly Agree. The story fit his strengths to a tee. To a T? I have never seen the expression written down.
11. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2013)  — HSI. I do love Oscar Isaac though.
10. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007) — Disagree, overrated. I put this at 6th best of 2007, so that would not leave room for much else if I did not think this was overrated. A fine tale though with good acting.
9. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011) — Agree. A powerful, challenging and insightful look into divorce in Iran.
8. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang, 2000) — HSI.
7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011) — Strongly disagree. If New World was a stretch to make the list, then this is a leap of faith.
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004) — Disagree, overrated. This is a masterful film and while it is not perfect, it certainly belongs on this list. Just not better than #30.
5. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014) — HSI. I know, I’m a bad person.
4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001) — HSI. A really, really bad person.
3. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007) — Strongly disagree, overrated. Good performances derailed by bad music and an unintentionally humorous ending, remember the milkshake which Daniel Plainview drinks up?
2. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000) — Agree. Wong Kar-Wai is an amazing director and everything just fits together. Having Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung as his stars worked perfectly.
1. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001) — Disagree, overrated. In my opinion this is David Lynch’s finest film. I saw this in a theater with fools who did not appreciate it, and thus exposed themselves by laughing and cracking jokes simply because Lynch was too complicated for them on a Friday night.  While I do not agree that it is the best film of the past 16 years, it is great and deserves more attention than it has garnered in the past.

Final tallies:

Never heard of it (and have not seen it): 20/103
Have not seen it: 54/102
Have seen: 48 – 47%
Strongly disagreed: 12/48 – 25%
Disagreed: 15/48 (total disagrees 27/48 – 56%)
Agreed: 13/48 (total agrees 21/48 – 44%)
Strongly agreed: 8/48 – 17%
Overrated: 21/48
Underrated: 6/48

Thus the median film is one I have not seen, but if I have I disagreed with its position and thought it was overrated. Taking underrated movies into account (even excluding movies like Mulholland Drive and Eternal Sunshine that absolutely deserve to be on the list despite receiving disagree/overrated) my median film does deserve to be on the list. Having never compared numbers like this before, I do not know if I find this list to be accurate or not, but I am starting to think so. It certainly does have a lot of wonderful films, and tells me that there are more recent films that I need to watch.


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Look, you drop the strap. Station’s happy. You come around in three months and win it back again. Everyone loves an underdog.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.38.33 PM

Georgina Reilly, James Preston Rogers, Daniel Kash and Bret Hart in Bodyslam,© 2013 Lumanity Prods.

This 2013 Canadian short film came to my attention thanks to a podcast called “The Art of Wrestling, with Colt Cabana.” I had never heard of the guest, RJ City, who is listed in the credits as Rj Skinner. It has one of the last recorded performances from the great Rowdy Roddy Piper in it. Piper’s role is just a supporting one, he plays the commentator and is fine. There is lots of insider lingo, but it’s played so hard. Maybe that’s on me for feeling like a pro wrestling insider from listening to podcasts. But if this short isn’t for me, then who is it for?

The premise is that a rival promoter has paid off the WHOA Champion—pictured above—to not lose in a televised event, that if successful will take the WHOA “national”. This probably takes place in Canada based on the cast.1 Rj City/Skinner plays a wrestler named “Gas”, which ranks pretty low on the pro wrestler names, right alongside “Puke”, “Disco Inferno”, and “Charlotte”. Gas is supposed to win the title and if he does the capitalist dream comes true, or something.

I do think that the film had solid production values and felt like a real independent wrestling show. It was a good idea to put Bret Hart in a luchador mask, because any wrestling fan seeing his face would think — hey, it’s Bret Hart, not “The Hangman”. By calling him “The Living Legend” he seems to be playing a Terry Funk type, since Terry Funk—while inadvisable, still wrestles as a man in his late 60s.

There are worse ways to learn about pro wrestling if you are unfamiliar with it. For our convenience it is available on YouTube.

1 Famed Scot Piper is actually from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for example. And Bret Hart is considered the greatest Canadian wrestler of all-time. Plus, how many cities could be in more than one country—this is set in Niagara Falls. 

The Beauty of Film: Midnight in Paris

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Midnight in Paris (2011) — Darius Khondji (cinematographer) & Woody Allen (director).

Allen has often been credited with making New York one of the characters of his films. So it was particularly important that he not only set this film in Paris, but put it right in the name. Khondji received a nomination for this work from the British Society of Cinematographers and the Independent Spirit Awards. He lost to Guillaume Schiffman for The Artist, which is understandable since The Artist was an amazingly successful black & white film in 2011. He also received an Academy Award nomination 15 years earlier for Evita. Just look at the sources of light and their different colors. It is an effective way to make the background seem as important as the character moving within it.


Jurassic World

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Monster is a relative term. To a canary, a cat is a monster. We’re just used to being the cat.

So close. Just, so so close to getting it. Instead this was basically on par with The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The cast is wonderful. The special effects clearly costs hundreds of millions of dollars. In fact instead of reviewing the movie I just want to think of the other (better) movies these cast members were in.

Chris Pratt: It is hard not to primarily imagine his as Andy from “Parks and Recreation,” but his Star Lord seems to have redefined him as an action star with Guardians of the Galaxy. Here his uber mensch gets to be always right in the film at the expense of all of the other characters—particularly Bryce Dallas Howard, who is guilty of being a career oriented woman.


Owen (Chris Pratt) looming over Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) in Jurassic World, © Universal Pics. 2015.

Bryce Dallas Howard: She never gets to play the likeable, reasonable character. She is a cheater who quits on her boyfriend who has cancer in 50/50 and the worst white jerk in The Help. She does get a few moments that are meant to even out her career woman-ness, like saving Pratt with a dart gun, and not taking his hand. That said, she only grows as a character as she gives in to his character and shows interest in him.

Irrfan Khan: This is a great actor. If you like superhero movies, his Rajit Ratha is great in Amazing Spider-Man. If you prefer Academy Award nominees, you can watch him as the adult star in The Life of Pi. If you insist on Academy Award winners, then you can enjoy him as the vicious policeman in Slumdog Millionaire.

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Irrfan Khan as Masrani and BD Wong reprising his role as Dr. Henry Wu, © Jurassic World, Universal Pics. 2015.

BD Wong: He was on equal footing with Oscar winner J.K. Simmons as a psychological analyst in the Law & Order universe. Bonus points for his marriage counseling in The Ref.

Vincent D’Onofrio: He was on a different Law & Order. And is a fine actor. He was kind of wasted in this by playing a simultaneously simplistic and conniving villain. While I do not remember it, since he was generally exceedingly unpleasant, he was probably sexist too.

So yes, how about the sexism? Making Bryce Dallas Howard a soulless corporate drone without humanity is not sexist, on its own. Perhaps perhaps worse than sexist the film should be accused of having no humanity, playing flatlining hearts for laughs. The only thing worse than the humanity is the technology. Despite having the technology to bioengineer dinosaurs, they cannot use radios or cellphones.

The true selling point of this, like the prior Jurassic Parks, was the novelty of new dinosaurs. Thus the quality of the Indominus Rex—Latin for untameable king—was crucial to the success of the film. I found the choice of dragon style eyes interesting. It tries to make the audience fear it both as a dinosaur and a mythological, wise, evil creature. The Megalodon, on the other hand, did not look particularly real. I think it is just too big for have fit into a theme park. That is probably for the best, because I am afraid it probably quickly ran out of food after this movie ended.

In closing, I want to let everyone know that this mediocrity was directed by Colin Trevorrow. He is slated to direct Star Wars IX. Is there an emoji for “screams noooooooooooooooooo!!!!!! for 30 seconds straight?

The Beauty of Film: Sherlock Holmes

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Sherlock Holmes (2009) — Philippe Rousselot (cinematographer) & Guy Ritchie (director).


Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr. as Watson and Holmes, © WB 2009.

The Beauty of Film: The Shawshank Redemption

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994) — Roger Deakins (cinematographer) & Frank Darabont (director).

Victory only has meaning if it comes at a price. This is why the whole team cannot make it through a movie without it feeling unsatisfying. For instance, compare The Shawshank Redemption with its loss of Brooks, to Furious Six where not only did no-one die, but in fact on character came back to life. But seriously, consider Star Wars and Fellowship of the Ring. Without losing main team members characters in them, would they have turned out as well? And see how their third installments compare to their first ones as they move further from those losses. That is to say, that drinking beer and smoking on a hot roof sounds okay, at best, but when you are stuck in a 1940s prison then those cold beers probably felt delightful. It is the success of the acting and of the this shot that allow the audience to feel this satisfaction with them—particularly when Andy Dufresne abstains from drinking as well.


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