‘The Judge’ Trailer

‘Sleepy Hollow’ Review

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Sleepy Hollow (1999)

‘A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere.

(Washington Irving, ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’) 

‘Sleepy Hollow’ is Tim Burton’s seventh major film as a director and is based on a short story by Washington Irving ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’. The film tells the story of Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp), a young police inspector who, equipped with his progressive scientific expertise and common sense, arrives in a village, Sleepy Hollow. The village is gripped by superstition, paranoia and the fear of the unknown. There, Ichabod encounters an old wealthy family, Van Tassels, who, like the rest of the village, is in fear of the Headless Horseman, who terrifies the people and commits horrible murders. Ichabod promises the people of the village to restore peace and to discover the identity of the real murderer. However, Ichabod is up for surprises as he has to confront not only his disbelief of the superstition, but also his distrust of all matters of the heart as he falls under the charm of Van Tassel’s only daughter, beautiful Katrina (Christina Ricci).

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‘The Double’ vs. ‘Enemy’

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The question of personal identity and its duplication (an ‘evil twin’, alter ego?) has been fascinating people for centuries. From Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘William Wilson’ to Tchaikovsky’s ballet ‘Swan Lake’, the theme has been pervasive in almost every form of art. When it comes to movies, such films as ‘Sommersby’ (1993), ‘Face/Off’ (1997), ‘The Prestige’ (2006) or ‘Black Swan’ (2010) may immediately come to mind. However, just recently, scriptwriters/directors have decided to approach the topic more directly, and we now see two films – Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Enemy’ (2014) and Richard Ayoade’s ‘The Double’ (2013) gracing the cinema screens in the hope to awe. Since these two films share the same theme, it may be interesting to make a brief comparison between the two. Besides the ‘doppelganger’ theme, however, what these two films also have in common is the relative novelty of these directors’ productions. ‘The Double’ is Ayoade’s directional debut and, for Villeneuve, ‘Enemy’ is only his second truly ‘mainstream’ and popular movie after ‘Prisoners’ (2013). Villeneuve seems to have taken Jake Gyllenhaal (‘Donnie Darko’ (2001), ‘Zodiac’ (2007)) on board as his ‘muse’.

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‘La Belle et La Bête’ Trailer

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Ok, this may be far from Jean Cocteau classic, but something must explain its current opening success in Italy. There are things here that I like: Vincent Cassel cast as Beast/Prince, a very powerful soundtrack and seemingly great visuals. I hear the story does not live up to all the visuals, but it’s a rule, rather than an exception today. Apparently, there is another ‘Beauty and the Beast’ movie to be announced with Emma Watson in it, but we will see a number of Disney-themed films in the next couple of years. Joe Wright is directing ‘Pan’ (2015), ‘the origin’ story of the character Peter Pan staring Hugh Jackman. ‘Maleficent’ (2014) with Angelina Jolie is coming soon, and sure, we anticipate (for years now) “a darker version” of the fairytale ‘Pinocchio’ (an animated film with Guillermo del Toro as a director).

Best Films Never Made #12: Shane Carruth’s A Topiary

Originally posted on One Room With A View:

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In 2004, Shane Carruth stunned the film industry with his visionary debut, Primer. Taking a meticulous and realist approach to the ever-popular sci-fi theme of time travel, his singular vision earned him the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, instant cult status and legions of fans eagerly awaiting his next film.

But then? Nothing.

For nine years, little was known of Carruth’s film-making plans except for a mysterious two-word title, A Topiary, and whispers of something “epic” on its way. In 2013, fans were sated with the release of a new Carruth project, Upstream Colour, but what exactly happened to the film he spent almost a decade trying to make? And what even is A Topiary? A Topiary 1

To put it as bluntly as possible, A Topiary is the most mind-blowingly ambitious screenplay I have ever read. Working my way through its 245 pages I found myself shaking my head…

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‘Upstream Color’ Mini-Review

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Upstream Color (2013)

Most critics couldn’t stop talking about it.’ (Keith Kimbell, Metacritic)

The now Sundance Festival’s favourite, Shane Carruth, came in 2013 with his second major film titled ‘Upstream Color’, a film to rival his brain-wrecking ‘masterpiece’ – ‘Primer’ (2004). Revered by critics worldwide, Upstream Color’ starts off with a thief who kidnaps a woman and drugs her into the game of manipulation to relieve her of her possessions. From then on we see the unfolding of probably some of the most confusing and perplexing events on screen in years. The audience is confronted with such deep philosophical/psychological, biologically themed topics as the essence of nature, the cycle of life, free will/determinism, among others. This existential feel to the film is felt throughout its 96 minutes’ duration. However, the main weakness of the film is that the underlying idea of it, which remains hidden, is too complex and difficult for an average viewer to guess or workout, and even Sherlocks out there may find it hard to comprehend everything that is happening on screen, even when the film has ended. Little help is provided by a sporadic dialogue. It would have been nice to include some extraneous clues on the plot, as this would have made the film more engaging and interesting, and its narrative less messy and empty. The failure to do so is unfortunate as the film is very original; its aesthetic beauty of shots has been compared to the artwork of Terrence Malick, and it also contains very interesting camerawork. The sound design in the film is also remarkable, remindful of Aronofsky’s ingenuity in ‘Requiem for a Dream’ (2000).  This is why when you finally do disentangle the logic behind the film’s events, the film becomes a truly rewarding experience and you really start to ‘enjoy’ it then and there. Therefore, repeated viewing is advisable. Overall, although bound to confuse, ‘Upstream Color’ is also a brave, stylish, thought-provoking, emotive, strangely raw and honest piece of an American experimental cinema, and should really be considered as one of the best and certainly most admirable attempts in its genre. 7/10

The Academy Awards (Oscars) 2014

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Best Picture

Winner: 12 Years a Slave

Other nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street

Well, there are hardly any surprises here, with virtually every film commentator predicting ‘12 Years a Slave’s win. It is easy to see why there was hardly any competition at all in this category, too. With greatest respect and admiration for other nominated films, ‘12 Years a Slave’ just stands out in terms of its artistic merit and, most importantly, the impact it produces. I don’t mind if ‘Gravity’ sweeps every award out there, as long as the Best Picture goes to its most deserved contender. Arguably, ’12 Years a Slave’ is the only film in the category to which you can comfortably assign the word ‘masterpiece’. It is a great achievement for everyone involved in the production of this film, especially for its director, Steve McQueen.

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