Monday, November 4, 2013

From Wordy to Wordless, J.C. Chandor's Minimalist "All Is Lost"

All Is Lost * * *

     All Is Lost is a singular story, simple, told well, and in the present. It compounds a series of losses, all disastrous in their immediacy but salvage-able in their wake. As the poet Bishop wrote, "The art of losing isn't hard to master." Spare words and a plot transpiring entirely in the now characterize the film's every moment beyond the "8 days earlier" title screen that follows it's inconsistent antithetical out-of-sequence opening where Robert Redford's voice is heard reading a letter to his loved ones. Then the inciting incident where a cargo crate's rough corner slices open a hole in Redford's sailing vessel plays out in real time. He calmly anchors the crate to pry it out of the boat, deftly maneuvers the boat to lift its gouge above water, and expertly begins repairs with a glue compound and a paintbrush.

Friday, June 14, 2013

SFF Selections 2013: "Red Velvet" Review & My Interview With Director Aude Cuenod

Red Velvet * * * *

     With the popularity of film's like Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive or Christopher Nolan's... well anything, the "film-noir" is cinematically in vogue. A staple of all great noir conspicuously absent from many "neo-noirs" of late is the femme fatal: the beautiful, mysterious, powerful woman who lets noir's men think they hold a good set of cards when she in fact holds the whole deck. With DePalma-esque eroticism, Aude Cuenod's masterful genre short Red Velvet not only finds noir's seemingly lost femme fatale, but its small cast of essentially three is almost entirely made up of women (subverting the genre's archaic gender dynamics in much the same way the Wachowski's Bound did).

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

SFF Selections 2013: My Interview With Chloe Domont, The "Joyful Girl"

     Sunday sadly concluded the 15th annual Sarasota Film Festival; I watched 31 films, attended 32 screenings, and basked in the numerically immeasurable joy of cinema over the course of its 9 days. Perhaps it was just due to my personal schedule of films, but this year's festival screenings seemed to bring with them more film-makers than ever before. I had the privilege to hear from and even meet multiple directors, producers, writers, actors, and even composers after many film's screenings. Shamelessly promoting this blog, I handed each and every film-maker whose work I admired Rodney&Roger's business card in hopes of procuring interviews. Tonight, before posting my Day 3 Pt. 3 review of Still Mine, I'd like to share the first of said procured interviews (there are plenty more to come!) that I had the privilege to conduct through email with the short film Joyful Girl's writer/director, Chloe Domont:

Joyful Girl * * * ½

Thursday, April 11, 2013

SFF 2013 Day 3 Pt. 2: "Nothing Without You"

Nothing Without You * * *

     Director Xackery Irving's suspenseful Nothing Without You transfuses an amalgamation of genre archetypes together to make something new and fresh. Charged with the erotic tension of Fatal Attraction and Wicker Park, seen through the inconsistent perspective of an unstable narrator such as those in neo-noirs like Memento or Shutter Island, and with a pace like Following's that never quits, Nothing Without You is an independently made thriller that bests many of its Hollywood contemporaries.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

SFF 2013 Day 3 Pt. 1: Period Pieces and the Problems of Pacing and Passion -"In The Fog" & "Therese Desqueyroux"

     On Sunday, Day 3 of the festival, I saw four different films. My busiest day to date, I was especially looking forward to its last two movies. Period pieces with good production values, they each seemed ripe contenders to be some of the best films of the festival. But my first two ended up surprising me -both turning out to be rather good (and after introducing myself, I slipped Nothing Without You's award-winning director my card... so hopefully my posting of an email interview will be forthcoming). Unfortunately my final two disappointed though. They communally suffered from problems of pacing and a lack of passion (I thankfully got my "period film" fix though with last night's superb Renoir) . The first of the final two (In The Fog) was so slow in fact that after it ended I turned to my friend Jillian and joked, "I can't keep up with these fast paced action thrillers!" to which she retorted, "It was like Mission Impossible in [Russia]!". This morning I'll post my reviews on Sunday's back two, but keep an eye out for the soon-to-come reviews of my earlier Day 3 films: Nothing Without You and Still Mine.

In The Fog * *

Monday, April 8, 2013

SFF 2013 Day 2 Pt.2: "Reality"

Reality * * * ½

     When Sidney Lumet's Network 
was released in 1976, it was an indictment on how television had abandoned any notion of integrity in favor of panning to the masses. Thirty-seven years later, Matteo Garrone's Reality depicts a man panning to television. In Garrone's film, man's wants don't determine what's on TV, TV determines what man wants. The opening aerial shot slowly descends to the tune of Reality's whimsical score, transforming into a surreal tracking shot of a horse-drawn carriage in modern-day Italy as it enters through palatial gates to arrive at an obscene wedding, where, in the same continuous and unbroken take, the audience is given a tour through a bizarrely beautiful cotton-candy-colored dream of sights, sounds, and characters. This long-shot where the camera seemingly wanders through the party to establish the film's characters is reminiscent of scenes from I Am Love, The Leopard, and even Coppola's The Godfather. In the camera's initial descent, it sees cars on the road before it sees the carriage -establishing a modern setting that is confused by the inclusion of horses and Victorian attire, causing the audience to wonder on the film's title: What defines "reality"? Time? Attire? Signs of the familiar?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

SFF 2013 Day 2 Pt. 1: How Not To Make A Documentary -"Which Way Is The Front Line From Here" & "More Than Honey"

     And so the waiting in line has begun! Today marked the first full day of programming at this year's Sarasota Film Festival and along with the movies, it brought with it one of my favorite aspects of the festival: the great conversations that spring up while waiting in line. This year I got proactive in the proselytization of this blog and actually had business cards printed (they seemed a better option than last year's habit of constantly scribbling down the URL on scrap paper for anyone I talked to). In fact if you are reading this now, then there is a great chance I handed you one of these in line.

Rodney&Roger's Official Business Card

Saturday, April 6, 2013

SFF 2013 Day 1: Opening Night, "Blackfish", In The Shadow of Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert 1942-2013
     Yesterday the sun rose over a day that would open the 2013 Sarasota Film Festival and the first in 70 years that wouldn't greet Roger Ebert. As many of you know, Roger passed Thursday afternoon. He announced two days prior (on the 46th anniversary of his hire date as the film-critic for the Chicago Sun-Times) that the fracture which had caused him problems since before Christmas was revealed to be a cancer. He left this world with the love of his life, Chaz, right by his side. Her beautiful words can be read HERE. Blog-readers, I was truly heartbroken by the news.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Rodney's 2012 Oscar Wishlist (Part IV) -Music & All The Rest...

     Attentive blog-readers may have noticed a difference in blog-output between this February and last. Where last year's Oscar Wishlist was paced out through the whole month and culminated in my final post for Best Picture on the day of the Oscars, this year's list has been back-loaded and slower to role out for one primary reason: The Oscar Nominated Shorts. After seeing them, I knew I wanted to review them and include them in the Wishlist. And although I'm proud of my comprehensive reviews for each short... they took too much time away from the rest of the Wishlist. So what now?

     Not to worry blog-readers! Though I don't and won't have time for my usual commentary and spattering of photos for each of my Wishlist nominees, today I'll post my Oscar Wishlists for all of the remaining categories. Just as I posted last year, remember "The appropriate amount of nominees will not necessarily 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.". Also, there are a multitude of awards-worthy potential nominees that didn't make Oscar's list and I won't include on mine as "must-haves", but that doesn't negate their quality. So just because something doesn't make the list does not necessarily mean that I didn't see it as "awards-worthy" or "quality". And with all that said, here is the remainder of Rodney's 2012 Oscar Wishlist and happy Oscar-watching everyone (ABC at 7:00 PM EST)!


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

       Freedom -Django Unchained
       Who Did That To You -Django Unchained
       Suddenly -Les Miserables
       Pi's Lullaby -Life of Pi
       Skyfall -Skyfall

WINNER: Skyfall -Skyfall

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rodney's 2012 Oscar Wishlist (Part III) -The Tech. & Other Miscellaneous Categories

     It was recently mentioned to me by a blog-reader that last year's Oscar Wishlist, although it included all of the major categories, was not comprehensive in that it left out my picks for the technical awards and a few of the miscellaneous categories. So this year I will make my list exhaustive and give my choices for the winners (commentary-free and sans a full nominee list) in ALL categories. And so I give you all my picks (not influenced by and untethered from the constraints of any of the actual nominees) before I post my full nominee wishlists in the writing, music, acting, directing, and finally the Best Picture categories!:

Rodney's 2012 Oscar Wishlist (Part II) -The Oscar Nominated Shorts (Live Action)


     Children made to work, fight, or commit atrocities have been the topic of multiple films of late(Blood Diamond for example). Somalian pirates have been the stuff of recent headlines and news stories around the world. Asad capitalizes on these news and film trends with its story of Asad, a young Somalian boy who lacks no interest in the sea, but rather skill for fishing its depths.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Rodney's 2012 Oscar Wishlist (Part I) -The Oscar Nominated Shorts (Animation)

     Good day faithful blog-readers, you are reading Post #1 of my Second Annual Oscar Wishlist. As those of you who read last year’s list know: most individuals have some sort of Christmas Wishlist (of what they would get in an ideal world where they could have anything they wanted) or even a Fantasy Football Wishlist (made up of all their favorite players regardless of team affiliation), but not I; I have an Oscar Wishlist –a list of who and what should be nominated based solely on the truth  and caliber of the work, a list uninterested in Hollywood’s awards' season politics, a list of the lineup of nominees that Seth McFarlane and Emma Stone should have announced that early Thursday morning, and a list of the names and films that should be called the night of the 24th (Oscar night) in the Kodak theater. This year has marked a return to epic, brave, and daring (albeit not always 100% successful) studio film-making, and thus this year’s list includes a greater number of studio-generated films than last year’s indie-heavy selection. Also this year’s Wishlist includes a higher percentage of actual nominees than it did last year (the Academy got a lot more right in 2013 than in 2012).

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Golden Globes 2012: Opinions & Predictions -PART II

     For anyone who kept up with the Rodney&Roger live Facebook feed Thursday morning, you know that the Oscar nominations were full of pleasant surprises. Most notably, Amour was honored with a staggering 5 nominations! And for those of you who revisited the Facebook Page during that night's Critic's Choice Awards, you know how they shocked with Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Best Supporting Actor win (a sign of things to come?). Tonight brings with it the Golden Globes, and then a few weeks later the SAGs will air. Hopefully once those pit-stops are made we will have a clearer vision of who is on the road to Oscar. But despite all of that awards fanfare (and the 9 and 10 hour shifts I worked on Friday and Saturday respectively), I am determined to finish my Globes posts before they are broadcast tonight. So on to the Best Supporting Actress category and all of my comments on it along with my predictions and desires in the Best Actor/Actress and Best Picture fields (sans my usual commentary)...

Best Supporting Actress:

     Amy Adams -The Master

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Golden Globes 2012: Opinions & Predictions -Best Supporting Actor

     For 2 years running, I have ambitiously set out to post my commentary on all of the Globes' categories. I always publish posts on the less significant categories first (i.e. Best Song and Best Score) with the intention of blogging my way up to Best Picture. Due to lack of planning and bad use of time, I have never made it past the screenplay award. But no longer! The Globes air in 4 days and before they do so, I will be publishing multiple concise Globes Posts for the year. I'll be making Acting Posts, one for each of the Actors' fields (Lead in a Musical-Comedy/ Drama and Supporting) and the same for the Actresses. Then I'll publish my Best Picture (Musical-Comedy/ Drama) thoughts last. Today I'll kick things off with the Supporting Actors:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cineworld Day 6: AMOUR/ The Best Film of 2012

     Thursday morning at 8:30 am EST, the Oscar nominations will be announced. As is tradition, my Oscar Wishlist will be soon to follow (I essentially only need to see Promised Land, Rust and Bone, and Zero Dark Thirty and I'm caught up for 2012). That night the Critic's Choice Awards will air at 8:00 pm EST on the CW and all of my up-to-the-minute thoughts will be posted on Rodney&Roger's Facebook Wall. Then on Sunday, the Golden Globes will air on NBC (I'll be publishing my Globes predictions/favorites posts for all the major categories over the next few days and will also be sharing my thoughts live on the the Facebook page throughout the ceremony), Before this blog is consumed by awards mania through the end of February though, I wanted to share my review for the best film of 2012:

Amour * * * *