'Blacula' is so much more fun than it gets credit for. The cult following it has might come for its prominence and attainability in the mainstream conception of Blacksploitation, but it is certainly worthy of being seen, even in the modern age of ironic film viewership. Why? Not because it's a hyper-intellectual masterpiece, or a self-reflexive comment on race-relations in the early 70s. But for a purely visceral reason: if I have a couple of beers and watch this I absolutely piss myself laughing every time.
Use that to make derogatory comments about my racial sensitivity or taste in humour if you will, but give 'Blacula' a shot first.
I have been a passionate advocate of Sofia Coppola. Not just for her masterpieces 'The Virgin Suicides' and 'Lost in Translation', but also for her more maligned works (I'm talking about you 'Marie Antoinette'), and so it is with a figurative tear in my eye that I say that this didn't live up to her usual standard.
With all the detachment of Lost in Translation, and none of the charm, it seemed to err on the side of the off Hollywood art film, but without the risks. There is still something unique, fresh, and profoundly appealing about Sofia's own, unique filmic voice, and her detachment from the conventional domination of dialogue, but unlike her previous works this becomes alienating to the viewer in 'Somewhere', and it becomes laborious.
If the only goal was to make the audience share the protagonist's ennui then the film was largely successful, but that's not an objective that sells a film to me, or to many I wouldn't imagine. It's the kind of film a few will find cause to love, but most won't manage to finish.
On a side note, I would be remiss not to highlight the poised and incredibly deep performance by Elle Fanning. Man is that family talented!
Perhaps I went into this film expecting too much. Perhaps I waited too long, and was inundated with too many positive reviews, but I was very aware of Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi' as a film.
And that is the only fault I can find with this beautifully rendered piece of cinema. Casting, artistry, well polished effects that will surely stand the test of time, an loyal adherence to the source material without fear of adaptation all make this a magnificent cinematic experience, and a fascinating, and conversation-spawning piece of cinema.
While it is impossible to miss Lee's own reading of the novel, with his lush, clean visuals eschewing gritty realism for painterly fantasy, he is light-handed in enforcing his own opinions into his film - a feat for a a literary adaptation, which so often loses the depth of literary uncertainty in one individuals specific vision.
An exquisite technical achievement, coupled with a compelling and human story, involving performances, careful, masterful direction that can only be achieved by a seasoned master, and an adaptation that more than does its literary parent justice make a rare successful marriage between commercial movies and meaningful cinema. And while 'Life of Pi' did not quite match my expectations of a perfect, form-changing film experience, it came as close as I had any right to expect.
I was never a fan of Woody Alan's early work, but over the past decade or so he's really begun to strike a chord with me as a director, and this film continued in kind. What might be a quirky oddity in anyone else's hands, becomes a trademark exploration of self, torn between romanticism and clinical self-judgement. Owen Wilson is at his best as a lead lost in escapism, and he is surrounded by a cast of characters so light-handedly unlikable as to make his personal indecision charming. It might be the bohemian in me, but I really felt his plight, and the free and creative use of fantastical plot devices keeps the story refreshing, and helps highlight its subject matter. Add to this complex character story, the spectacularly filmic backdrop of Paris, and you've got yourself a winner. The film has charm, it has a unique and audible cinematic voice, and it has a naturality to it that defies its premise. Bonus point for use of 'The Starry Night' on the poster.
The fact the they had to put Napoleon Dynamite so prominently into the film's promotion says a lot, because unlike that sometimes deeply uncomfortable, but endlessly charming indie hit, this meandering oddity only confirms for me that Jared and Jerusha Hess aren't quite the indie visionaries they were hailed as back in 2004.
While it captures that sort of American folk cinema atmosphere, Wes Anderson this film ain't, and it manages to convey a sense that it's really not sure where it's going. When this aligns with some characters and fantasy sequences that are trying way too hard to be quirky, you get a film that doesn't know where it's going, or why it exists.
What could have been an iconic oddity, with its bionic flying death stags and obsession with breast lasers, ends up being throwaway and overdone. Which is a shame.