Friday, December 14, 2012

2 Years: A Love Letter To My Cinematic and Spiritual Brother

Dear Blake,
     Today marks two years since you died surrounded by your friends and family. I knelt at your right hand; and just as you were my "right hand man" in life, I was yours as I held you in your death. The moment you left, I dropped to the floor and in my own way told God that I knew He could take better care of you than I ever did or could. I have missed you every day for the past two years. I have (generally unhealthily) suppressed the loss of you inside me these 731 days, not knowing how to deal with such a loss. Today I let some of my grief quietly surface in this blog-post, this letter to you, for I think you are more worthy to be honored on this day than I am worthy to finish it painlessly.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cineworld Day 2: Neighboring Sounds

     As I left today's screening of Neighboring Sounds, I felt so impacted by it that I wanted to get all of my thoughts written while they were still fresh. Immediately after, I drove to Panera Bread and began typing this post. Hence today's post is my review for Neighboring Sounds and yesterday's films will be revisited in my posts to come.

Neighboring Sounds * * * ½

     Never has a film's title been so perfectly exemplified and explained in its opening moments. The film opens on a black screen and neighborhood sounds can be heard in the background. Ominous music builds to a swell accompanying these sounds as the screen is brightened by black and white images of Brazil. A tracking shot following neighborhood children at play breaks this stillness and introduces action to the screen, announcing and defining what will become the film's signature camera style of fluidity and movement. The sounds of the children's play build to a roar as an abrasive screech grows louder and louder in the background. This symphony of music, voices, and organic noise builds to a crescendo as the camera reveals a man with a power tool working with iron on the other side of the playground's gate.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Cineworld Film Festival: Schedule

     An unfortunate stretch of time has gone by since my last blog post. In the next week I'll be moving back in with my former room-mate and fellow blogger Robert. This new living arrangement will bring an end to my lack of internet access and hence I can begin to blog once again. So with a few months and an unfortunate end to a relationship behind me, I arrive here at my first post since July.
     Today marks the start of The Sarasota Film Society's Cineworld Film Festival. This is a small but significant festival in that just as the Sarasota Film Festival showcases the best of festival fare from Cannes and Toronto, Cineworld showcases the first in the onslaught of Oscar contenders soon to be released. Year after year the films and performances that I see there go on to be Oscar nominees and even winners such as 2011's Best Picture winner The Artist and 2010's Best Actress winner Natalie Portman (Black Swan).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

SFF: "Think of Me" (Retitled "About Sunny") Review/ Bryan Wizemann Interview

     I'd like to start this, my first post since the Colorado theater shootings, by taking a moment to pause and remember. Remember those who lost their lives and those lives that were saved. Remember that there is a God and that He has a plan. It is when tragedy strikes and that plan is less evident that we must remember it all the more. Christopher Nolan said best what is in my and I'm sure all of our hearts, "I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting, but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me." Take not for granted that it was not your "home" that was invaded that early Friday morning.

Think of Me * * * *

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Following" My Extended Absence

     I have been away for far too long. Rather than give an extended explanation and apology, I'll simply say that I'm sorry and offer as compensation the fulfillment of one of my long overdue blog promises: typing up, tweaking, and posting my old hand-written review for Following.

Following * * * ½

     Film and story aren't synonymous. One encapsulates, manipulates, and then presents the other. As Roger has essentially said before, "Film is not only concerned with the telling of a story, but also in the way in which it is told." Even going back to their roots, the Nolan broth-ers exemplified a keen understanding of these facts. Though it was with their sophomore effort Memento that they earned notoriety and prestige; it was while they still stood on the precipice of that fame that they first demonstrated their mastery of storytelling with their freshman foray into cinema: Following.

     Following's starkly minimalistic black and white frames lend a documentary-like gritty realism to its stylized and streamlined plot. The film's allure doesn't just stem from its plot though. As with Memento, it is the way in which the film's plot unfolds that develops its intrigue.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rodney&Roger's Happy Cinematic New Year!

Faithful blog-readers,

     Those of you who followed my coverage of the Sarasota Film Festival know that new posts were being published at least once and sometimes twice daily. Though I was somewhat intimidated by the prospect of daily posts, the pressure turned out to be good for me and I was able to produce consistent work. Alas, since the festival has ended though, I have (obviously) dropped off on my writing. Anyone who has followed me from Rodney&Roger's inception knows that failure to meet my goals for the blog has unfortunately been a recurring theme. From my extended absence after the first three posts, to my inability to finish any of my Globes Predictions, to my still un-finished Director's Series, and lastly (and most recently) to my incomplete Festival Reviews -I'm not always the best at finishing what I start.

     But this blog and I are each a work in progress. With every failure, I learn. I've come to value the proverb, "Don't bite off more than you can chew." And I'm actually discovering what it takes to be able to "bite off" more, and still manage to "chew it". From the beginning there has been much progress: I do write with much more consistency and regularity (rarely does a month go by without at least one post), I have made time to re-format and update the website itself (hooray for pictures!), and as of today the blog is up to almost 1200 views (at the start, I never dreamed of passing 1000).

Monday, April 23, 2012

SFF Jury Prizes

     Last night the 14th Annual Sarasota Film Festival came to an end. I'm sure I'll be suffering from symptoms of film-deprivation and withdrawal soon enough, but I think all the blogging I have yet to do will keep it alive for awhile. At the Filmmaker Tribute and Awards that preceded the Closing Night Film, this year's jury winners were announced. I want to share who won... and who should have:

Narrative Feature Competition Winner:

     Having seen every film in contention save for 11 Flowers, I can definitively say that this was hands-down the best film in competition. It was one of the few four-star films I saw, a truly Hitchcock-ian masterpiece of paced tension and subdued brilliance (my review is soon to come). It's nice to see the best film win.

Friday, April 20, 2012

SFF: Day 4 -Alps

Day 4 (part 2):

Alps * * * ½

     Judging from his last two features, director Yorgos Lanthimos specializes in films centered around social experiments. In his last film Dogtooth, he used the story of homeschoolers brainwashed and shut in by their parents to examine the effects of a leading power (ranging from governmental to parental) using misinformation and lies to instill obedience in others and maintain authority. It was a depraved, even disgusting film (an alleged dark comedy whose humor escaped me), but shouldn't any authority's abuse of power be met with disgust?

SFF: Day 4 -Restoration

Day 4:

     I saw three movies on my fourth day at the festival, but in honor of two of the friends I've made (I'll call them Easy Rider and Less Is More) waiting in one of the many lines I've spent time in this week, I'm going to blog on the third before I write on the second. So today I'll be reviewing Restoration, then my next post will be on Alps, thus saving The Intouchables for sometime after that.

Restoration * * ½

     A film is the summation of its parts, but sometimes they just don't add up. Restoration's parts are great in and of themselves, each of them well-crafted like the furniture Fidelmen (its protagonist) restores. The film's sum can't equal its individual qualities though: strong reality-rooted-performances that stray from sensationalism, its fittingly mournful violin-heavy musical score, and a well-written script. Its central problem can be summed up with one word... "emptiness".

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

SFF: Day 3 -Monsieur Lehzar

Day 3 (part 2):

Monsieur Lehzar * * * *

     There are two way to unnaturally die: by causes outside of one's control, or through events brought on by one's own actions. The Oscar nominated Monsieur Lehzar shows how one man copes with the effects of one, while absorbing the backlash and debris from the firestorm of the other.  Though slight in its scope, it tackles this most universal of experiences: death -bringing to mind other small-scale but profound masterworks like Starting Out in the Evening or The Visitor.

     The contradiction of children is that they can be simultaneously simple and complex creatures. Though nuance may escape them, pretense cannot fool them. But the discovery of the reality of death is a molding and unsettling time for any child.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SFF: Day 3 -Polisse & The Big Picture

Day 3:

Polisse * * * ½

     The toll child-abuse takes on its victims has been much publicized through social services and child-protective agencies, but what of the toll taken on those working through child services to end the abuse? Counseling and rehabilitative therapy are available to the children who undergo these horrors. Rehabilitation can only begin when the horror ends though, so there can be none for those protective workers whose horrors never cease -wading through the muck for children each day. Polisse (the winner of 2011's Jury Prize at Cannes) examines the effects of being the rescuers on the "muck-waders".

     It begins as a startlingly desensitized film, glazing over masses of victim-stories depicted in blunt, sexually explicit, and borderline vulgar sequences. These initial scenes are overly long and seem uninvolved and emotionally disconnected from the plethora of abuses depicted and described -observing them only at a distance (from a bird's-eye-view).

Monday, April 16, 2012

SFF: Day 2 -Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding

Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding * *

     This film had the potential to be a slight, but pleasant little comic gem. It has Jane Fonda hysterically parodying a stereotype of herself: she claims to prophetically dream, her basement's filled with pot, and she dances howling under every full moon. And it showcases promising young Nat Wolff's potentially star-making comedic turn as Fonda's awkward grandson. The plot revolves around the reunion of conservative and uptight Diane (free-spirited Catherine Keener in a horrible case of mis-casting) and her hippie mother Grace (Fonda) after twenty years of estrangement. After her divorce, Diane packs up the kids and heads to Grandma's place in Woodstock to escape the reality of her pain.

     The film's problems, there are many, center around the film's indecision on its view of Grace. It starts off by satirizing, parodying, and generally making fun of her free-love hippie lifestyle, but then it comes to embrace it -making her philosophies on life the film's guiding principles and standards for morality.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sarasota Film Festival: Day 2

     Today (4/14) was the first full day of programming at the Sarasota Film Festival. Excitement levels were high and everyone was abuzz over last night's screening of Robot and Frank. To start the day, I saw Frank Langella in the first of the festival's "in conversation" series. Unlike other "in conversations", Langella's didn't follow the chronology of his career, but rather focused on his recently published book. Despite my disappointment with the inappropriate focus, Langella's charm shined through. Then I was off to Hollywood 20 to see my first film of the day...

Oslo, August 31st * * * ½

     Regret. Not deserving a second chance but wanting one. Hopelessness. These are the things that Oslo, August 31st is about. Anders (as sensitively played by Anders Danielsen Lie) is a drug addict who has been ten months sober due to his stay in a rehabilitative home. Soon to re-assimilate into the outside world, he is given an evening to leave the home. The film begins the morning after his evening out and follows him through his day -where he is to leave again for a job interview in Oslo. In addition to attending his interview, Anders uses his day out to see those he loves and hasn't seen since he entered the home. But these visits cause wonder as to whether there is hope for him in recovery on the outside.

    Unlike Sideways or The Squid and the Whale -two very pretentious films populated with very self-important individuals, director Joachim Trier's first film Reprise managed to populate itself with educated, literate characters who seemed absent of pretense or snobbery.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sarasota Film Festival: Opening Night

     It's finally here, the 14th annual Sarasota Film Festival! Last night kicked everything off with the Opening Night Film: Robot and Frank. It was screened at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and among the huge turnout (what appeared to be in the high hundreds) were Robot and Frank's star and director Frank Lagella and Jake Shreier, respectively. Langella was charismatic and held a nice rapport with his director as they interacted during the post-film Q & A. I'm looking forward to the conversation David Edelstein will be hosting with Langella this afternoon. But onto my thoughts of the film itself...

Robot and Frank * * *

     Frank Langella plays an aging and retired cat-burglar who is slowly starting to feel the effects of senility. Even playing the epitome of a"grumpy old man", Langella brings his inherent air of distinguishment to the colorful character. Set in the "near future", Frank's adult son (with whom he has a strained relationship) gets him a home-healthcare robot to take care of him since he can't always be there. After Frank gets over his initial disdain for the robot, moments of surprising humor and depth begin to occur between them -ranging from the robot's unexpected announcement that it's time for Franks enema, to their conversation about how the robot is just a shell filled with programming whereas Frank is filled with actual thoughts and intellect. But its when Frank discovers that the robot could help him start stealing things again that the plot really gets moving.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Sarasota Film Festival: Schedule

     The Sarasota Film Festival is one of the highlights of my year. This will be my third year attending and I'll be seeing more films than I have have ever had opportunity to before: 27. In addition, I'll be seeing the Oscar-nominated Frank Langella in a live on-stage conversation regarding his expansive body of work and to promote his new film Robot and Frank.

     Every year, I always look forward to Roger's blog-posts from the festivals he attends. I check in late each night to see what he's seen and experienced at Cannes or Toronto that day. I vicariously experience those festivals through him. I appreciate his daily insights and then mentally file away the names of films that he recommends (even if those weren't the ones getting all the press attention that day) to see upon their theatrical releases. Because of Roger's festival blogs, I discovered two very little known films what are now some of my favorites: Rodrigo Garcia's Mother & Child and Atom Egoyan's Chloe. Those films also alerted me to the talent of their respective directors (both of whose work I researched and now follow).

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rodney's 2011 Oscar Best Picture Wishlist

     Today is the day! The 2011 Oscars are here and tonight should prove to be one filled with exitement. But in a dream world (run by me), these FIVE films would be in contention for Best Picture:


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rodney's 2011 Oscar Wishlist *A Correction & An Addition*

     As those of you who keep up with the blog know, I had planned on an afternoon date with my partner Steven to go see War Horse last Monday, but due to unforseen circumstances, we couldn't make it. I ended up seeing it alone Wednesday night, and on my drive there, I did some thinking. I was thinking of late night trips to the movies (many of which with my dear friend Blake
-i.e. when we saw Up in the Air), Oscar seasons passed, and those films and performances that go without nomination or even inclusion in the Oscar conversation.

     With Up in the Air on my mind, my thoughts obviously turned to Vera Farmiga and how that film made me fall in love with her. As I've been writing these Oscar blogs, I've been so wrapped up in this year's Oscar conversation and all the movies confined within the ever-narrowing Oscar landscape that I completely forgot to include one of my favorite films of the year (one that, unfortunately, is totally absent from 2011's Oscar consciousness): Higher Ground. Not only does Vera give an award-worthy performance it it, but it is also her directorial debut.

     One of the hardest things that an actress can evoke is true personal transformation -those moments in life when one decides to completely change (not on a whim, but due to a personal realization that one's life is no longer what one wants it to be). Working from a screenplay based off of Carolyn S. Briggs' memoir This Dark World, Vera's film tells the story of Corrine, a woman who makes two such transformations in her life:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Rodney's 2011 Oscar Wishlist (Part IV -ACTING III)

     My last post (that, hopefully, all of you have already read) was only written a bit ago this morning. I cut it short thinking my time was about to be filled with other things, but when I found my schedule freed up, I decided to finish writing my wishlists for the supporting acting categories:


     Jessica Chastain - Take Shelter

(I honestly don't know how the movie industry even functioned before Jessica Chastain. A year ago I didn't even know who she was but in 2011 she burst onto the scene with no less than 6 movies

Rodney's 2011 Oscar Wishlist (Part III -ACTING II)

     Good morning blog-readers. I have to say that the best cure for a case of the Mondays is having it off; and with plans for an afternoon date to see War Horse with my partner, this Monday seems to be shaping up nicely. But as I did yesterday, I wanted to set aside a little time to continue my Oscar Wishlist. Today I'll be continuing with the acting categories:


     Albert Brooks - Drive

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rodney's 2011 Oscar Wishlist (Part II -ACTING I)

     Having just enjoyed a wonderful lunch with friends and being challenged in church that my faith should impact the most private parts of my life and not just the public, I wanted to set aside a little time on this quiet afternoon to continue my 2011 Oscar Wishlist. Today I'll be writing the first of my acting wishlists:


     George Clooney - The Descendants

(In a career-best performance *though his career-best film remains Up In The Air*.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rodney's 2011 Oscar Wishlist (Part I -MUSIC)

     Most people (whether they write it out or just quietly internalize it) have some sort of wish-list for what they hope to receive at Christmas-time. I am and never have been one for Christmas lists; which in my opinion, makes me very easy to shop for -I'm happy with anything. But those close to me insist that by not limiting the possibilities, I make shopping for me impossible... but I digress. I have always had a wishlist come Oscar-time and thus far it has always been a quietly internalized one, until now! I give you Rodney's 2011 Oscar Wishlist (Part I -MUSIC):

*It must be noted that I have yet to see A Separation (Roger's #1 film of the year) or War Horse (a Best Picture contender) along with a few other Oscar hopefuls.

**The appropriate amount of nominees will not neccessarily be listed for each category. This post isn't my way of filling out my own awards ballot, but rather my way of listing what each category is incomplete without.


*Each song's title is linked to its YouTube video.

     Lay Your Head Down - Albert Nobbs

     Life's A Happy Song - The Muppets

     The Living Proof - The Help

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Golden Globe Nominees: Post # 2

     Today's the day blog-readers! Having seen The Iron Lady last night and Carnage today, I'm ready and exited to complete my Golden Globes blog series and watch the ceremony tonight! In the interest of time, I'll be altering my format (I was inspired by Yahoo Movies' blog last night). Rather than writing a paragraph or more of commentary for each nominee, I'll write a paragraph on my pick for the winner and then commentate on all the other nominees at once. Lets pick up right where we left off...

Best Screenplay:

     Apparently the Globes feel that due to their bisecting many of their categories into Drama and Comedy/ Musical, they really needed to consolidate when it came to their screenplay awards. So rather than having awards for both Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay, they have one hybrid category. This decision makes NO sense, but I digress...

Who Should Win:

     Nat Faxon, Alexander Payne, Jim Rash - The Descendants

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Golden Globe Nominees: Post #1

     Well it's that time of the year again blog-readers... awards season! And as promised, I'll be blogging my first of mutiple entries today about my picks for Sunday's broadcast of the Golden Globes. But first a few comments, disclaimers, and ground-rules: The Globes have traditionally been second only in prestige to the Oscars, but of late, due to a combination of inability to accurately predict Academy voters' picks and a well-publicized scandal, they have become slightly less consequential to the climate of the awards season.

     Now as previously stated, Globes voters have been rather off the past few years (not just as a forecast for the Oscars, but also in that they err on the side of favoring the financially successful as opposed to the artistically sound in the way of nominees). So I want to put out the disclaimer that I will not be commenting as to what should have been nominated; I will only be addressing the nominee groups as they are. Also, as some of you may know, the Globes not only present awards for acheivement in films but also for excellence in televion broadcasting. Since this is a blog concerned only with film, I won't be making predictions in any of the television categories. And with that, we shall begin (starting today's blog with Best Song and in the days to come working up to the Best Picture categories):

Friday, January 6, 2012

Movie-Goers Experience A New Movie-Going Experience

     Good morning blog-readers. This will be my second post in under a month and for once I don't have to start with an apology. It's so good to be writing again! This morning I wanted to take a break from my director's series and use a post to recognize a film for accomplishing something very special.
     In my last post I lauded the freshness that Beginners brought to a cliched and hackneyed genre and the 3-dimensional qualities it bestowed on its easily archetypal characters. That film utilized elements that movie-goers had experienced before to create for them an entirely new movie-going experience. The film Another Earth accomplishes the same startlingly impressive feat.

     Gazing back into the epochs and annals of cinematic history, one would notice many "movie-shortcuts" (used to get across the main point without actually having to include a dramatic scene in which character development or plot propulsion occurs) that have become tent-poles in the industry -the "music montage" possibly being the most easily recognized of all. Two such tent-poles are the "voice-over monolgue" (where an actor gets to tell the audience what his/her character is feeling rather than having to perform an actual scene where we see what their charcter is going through) and the "news-flash" (which ranges from mutiple flashes of different newspaper headlines to a full-on news-cast where an anchor informs the audience of what happened in a scene we weren't privied to in the film). Another Earth paradoxically manages to include and combine both of these tent-poles while never embracing the "short-cut"-fueled reasons for which either is typically used (thusly bypassing the pitfalls of both).