Monday, December 16, 2013

Give it a Shot! - Year End Writeup

As part of my continued work for Moar Powah, I got to write an article in Moar Powah's ongoing series entitled Give it a Shot! in which the writer details something that might not have gotten a lot of coverage. In this case, I decided to write about 3 movies from 2013 that didn't get a lot of love, but that I thought were worth seeing.

Give it a Shot! - Year End Writeup

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Review: Nebraska

My review of Nebraska has...actually been up on Moar Powah for a while now, I just forgot it. Anyway, here it is:

Alexander Payne is a bit of an odd director. I’ve likened him in the past to the Coen Brothers, although he’s not quite as good as them since no one is as good as them. Like them, his movies are quintessentially American even in an age of increased globalization; he has a talent for writing characters who are awful people but still sympathetic and he manages to handle swerves between pathos and dark comedy that would wreck most movies. One of the main differences however (aside from the Coens occasional dips into weirdness for weirdness’ sake) is that Payne’s movies tend to be smaller and less intense, which can turn off people used to more gripping movies. Still he’s an incredibly talented writer and director and while Nebraska isn’t quite his best work, it’s still one of the most oddly engaging movies of the year.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: Frozen

Oops, forgot to post this. Here's my review of Frozen that I posted on Moar Powah.

"I’ve always been sort of contrary and nowhere is this more apparent than in my relationship with the Disney Corporation; as my generation grows ever more attached to Disney and its every output, I’ve only grown more distant from it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to enjoy more offbeat children’s animation (The Secret of Kells, ParaNorman, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Triplets of Belville etc.) which has often made some of Disney’s lesser or middling output begin to pale in comparison. On the plus side, since I’m not nostalgia blinded, you can believe me when I tell you that Frozen is really good."

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Review: Blue is the Warmest Colour

Sometimes a movie gets to be known for a single scene above all others. This can be an incredible action scene, an intense dramatic scene or even just a scene that makes it stand way the hell out from all the other movies. These movies can be good (There Will Be Blood will always be known for Daniel Day-Lewis screaming about milkshakes) bad (Zabrinske Point is a painfully dull movie, but goddamn that final explosion is awesome) or mediocre (would anyone even remember Return of the Dragon if Bruce Lee didn’t kill Chuck Norris in it?) And sometimes, it’s helpful to back off and acknowledge this fact, no matter how crass it is. So, with that in mind, Blue is the Warmest Colour has become well known for the fact that it contains, amongst other things, a 7 minute long, ridiculously explicit, lesbian sex scene.

So, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it. The plot, loosely adapted from a French graphic novel entitled Blue Angel, is devoted to a girl named Adele (I’m not making jokes about it, but you can if you want). One day she randomly meets a woman named Emma with the eponymous blue hair and begins a rather passionate relationship with her. The rest of the film is devoted to the ups and downs of their relationship, spanning from Adele’s teenage years well into adulthood.

I do want to get this out of the way right up front; The biggest and most glaring problem with this movie is it’s pacing. Yes it might not surprise you that a 3 hour movie entirely about one couple with little in the way of side characters and nothing in the way of subplots is paced like a river of cement, but it sure as hell surprised me. It’s not just the length though, it’s paced rather oddly. Scenes will seem to keep going on forever, and then abruptly end. A lengthy section at the end gets weirdly repetitive, and while it may seem odd for a mostly straight male to say this, I’d have cut a bit of the sex as it too gets a bit repetitive and doesn’t seem to add a ton. So if you’ve got low stamina for lengthy movies, this one is probably not for you.

But if the length and sometimes slow pace aren’t a problem for you, there’s a lot to recommend about Blue is the Warmest Colour. It’s extremely well written for one, although my ability to judge the character’s “voices” are limited, as I don’t speak French. The length may get tedious at times, but it does give us a rather intimate look into Adele’s life and helps her come alive as a person. The cinematography and use of light in particular is gorgeous and the direction is, for the most part, pretty solid.

It’s also become a custom for presumed Best Foreign Language Film winners (which Blue mostly certainly is) to have a nomination in another category, and if that’s the case this year at the Oscars, then we can probably expect to see Adele Exarchopoulos up for Best Actress. She is phenomenal, not only at making her impossibly explicit sex scenes seem realistic (to the point where they begin to threaten to stop being erotic occasionally) but also in quietly inhabiting her character, in even the smallest scenes. It’s all the more impressive, given that her performance is basically devoid of any big scenery chewing shouting moments, but that she still manages to give such an intense performance. Her costar Lea Seydoux (so many names I have to double check the spelling on) is also spot on, and is tasked with a couple of the bigger moments so she might stand out a little more than Adele. Unfortunately I can’t say too much more about the acting, because as I said earlier, there’s not really anything in the way of side characters.

There are some other minor complaints I could harp on (the movie overuses the color blue a tiny bit, even with the title being what it is, there are some scenes that feel out of place and it isn’t in much of a hurry to clue us in on time skips) but ultimately Blue is the Warmest Colour is an extremely good movie, that occasionally flirts with being great. It’s extreme length, explicit sex scenes and occasional slow pace might mean it’s not for everyone (also it’s subtitled, but I refuse to acknowledge the idea that there are people who won’t see a movie cause it’s subtitled) but if you think you can get into it, odds are you’ll get way into it. So I guess Blue is walking away with a recommendation. So what it’s not perfect, you get imperfection from trying new things.

Elessar is a 23 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he had to work very hard not to make a joke about Thanksgiving and eating [PUNCHLINE CENSORED].