Gustave H awaits your glowing review of the Grand Budapest Hotel

Thursday, 24 July, 2014

Grand Budapest Hotel lobby

The Grand Budapest Hotel, the same establishment featured in Wes Anderson’s most recent film, now has its own page on TripAdvisor. It’s already collected a number of glowing reviews, making it the top rated hotel in The Republic of Zubrowka:

When we arrived we had some problems with the tram that leads to the main building, but it was quickly fixed by the highly efficient lobby boy. Out of all the common areas the one you should give special attention to is the Turkish bath and the Greek spa. Food was excellent, and on our first day there were regional sweets from the Mendl’s bakery in our bedroom out of courtesy – that was really nice and they tasted delicious. Staff was particularly kind and helfpul. Next season we’ll certainly go back!

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Charlie’s Country

Tuesday, 22 July, 2014

3 and a half stars
Charlie's Country scene

Charlie (David Gulpilil), an Indigenous Australian living in Arnhem Land, is in a bind. His overly dependent family relies on his pension money, and his house, leaving Charlie to live in a makeshift shed. Government regulations meanwhile prohibit him from owning a hunting rifle, something that makes living off the land difficult.

Determined however to embrace a traditional lifestyle, Charlie sets up camp deep in the bush, and for a time is content. After illness strikes though, he is sent to a hospital in Darwin. He soon discharges himself and connects with the city’s Aboriginal community, but it is an association that quickly leads to strife with local police.

Charlie’s Country, trailer, the third collaboration between Gulpilil and Australian director Rolf de Heer (“Bad Boy Bubby”, “Dingo”), in taking a subtle, almost tableau like, approach to the points it is making, often goes wide of the mark. This is still compelling viewing though, on account of Gulpilil’s brooding, dignified, performance.

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Surviving a night in the woods… what horror films can teach us

Friday, 18 July, 2014

Enough horror movies, set in cabins, in isolated forest areas, have been made by now for the rest of us to know the right and wrong things to do when partaking of such getaways ourselves. There’s over a dozen points you need to take into account, and even though there’s no guarantee of survival, at least you’ll know what to expect…

It doesn’t matter how many rooms the cabin has; tonight everyone’s sleeping together. Set up your sleeping bags or whatever in the cabin’s largest room, preferably in a circle allowing you all to face each other and past each other to all entrances to the room. The idea is to be able to see a threat coming from all directions simultaneously, while also keeping your fellow campers in sight.

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Give yourself your own opinion, do more things alone

Friday, 18 July, 2014

It’s always fun sharing experiences with other people, but doing (possibly) the same things alone may be just as rewarding, and even edifying:

Perhaps this explains why seeing a movie alone feels so radically different than seeing it with friends: Sitting there in the theater with nobody next to you, you’re not wondering what anyone else thinks of it; you’re not anticipating the discussion that you’ll be having about it on the way home. All your mental energy can be directed at what’s happening on the screen. According to Greg Feist, an associate professor of psychology at the San Jose State University who has written about the connection between creativity and solitude, some version of that principle may also be at work when we simply let our minds wander: When we let our focus shift away from the people and things around us, we are better able to engage in what’s called meta-cognition, or the process of thinking critically and reflectively about our own thoughts.

The example here about seeing a film alone strikes a chord. I’ve always thought film writers should see the movies they’re critiquing by themselves… it can sometimes be too easy to be swayed by the opinions of those around you otherwise.

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The best and most memorable instances of editing in feature films

Wednesday, 16 July, 2014

Ten of the best, or most memorable ever instances of editing in feature films, at least to the minds of the people at CineFix.

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Still Life

Tuesday, 15 July, 2014

4 stars
Still Life scene

Forty something British municipal worker, John (Eddie Marsan), has the unenviable task of tracing the often indifferent, and sometimes hostile, relatives of local residents, those homeless or living alone, who have died in his jurisdiction, in Still Life, trailer, the second feature from Italian filmmaker Uberto Pasolini (“Machan”).

After an elderly man who lived in his own apartment block is found dead, having died unnoticed some weeks earlier, John begins to realise just how socially isolated he has become. In meeting his late neighbour’s estranged family though, he begins to form what seems to be a hopeful bond with Kelly (Joanne Froggatt), the man’s daughter.

With a bittersweet blend of charm and poignancy, and a subtle humour, “Still Life” is a film that surprises, as it delicately explores a social issue that is more prevalent than many would prefer to admit. Marsan’s performance as a sensitive, diligent employee, determined to bring dignity to the deceased in his charge, is nothing less than superb.

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Are digital technologies a threat to documentary film revenues?

Tuesday, 15 July, 2014

Digital technologies are making it easier for documentary filmmakers, especially those who are emerging, to produce and distribute their work, but what are the chances of audiences ever seeing these productions? And if more documentaries are to be distributed solely online, what future, if any, will these sorts of films have?

Thanks to cheaper digital production equipment and a seemingly endless line of new distribution options, documentary filmmakers are experiencing boom times. But who’s getting the bucks from this bang? “An individual can pretty easily and cheaply put their film online; whether anyone sees or finds it is another matter,” Michael Lumpkin, executive director of the International Documentary Association, told TheWrap. “There have been a constant parade of new platforms to watch movies online. But I think for filmmakers, not enough of those opportunities are actually financial opportunities.”

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An illustrated version of Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road”

Tuesday, 8 July, 2014

Brazilian film director Walter Salles’ 2012 adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel “On The Road” didn’t exactly collect the most glowing of accolades.

I suspect US illustrator Paul Rogers, who is producing a drawing based on each page of Kerouac’s book, will however be accorded a warmer reception.

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Martin Scorsese and the art of silence

Monday, 7 July, 2014

The Art of Silence, a short documentary by Tony Zhou that looks at US filmmaker Martin Scorsese’s dramatic use of silence in his work. It seems to me many directors prefer sound at high volume to achieve effect, and there you have it, another reason why Scorsese stands out from his peers.

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Jersey Boys

Tuesday, 1 July, 2014

3 stars
Jersey Boys scene

Who knows what direction the life of Francesco Castelluccio, better known as Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young), might have taken had he have not believed in himself, and his dream to succeed as a singer, given the friends he had fallen in with as a teenager were more interested in larceny and theft, than being musicians.

Valli’s story, together with that of his band cohorts, Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza), Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen), and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda), and the formation of their act, The Four Seasons, is explored in Jersey Boys, trailer, the latest feature of US actor and director Clint Eastwood (“Mystic River”, “Million Dollar Baby”).

Based on the award winning 2005 musical of the same name, “Jersey Boys” probably doesn’t transition to the big screen with quite the same fervor, and this adaptation feels more like a mere re-telling of the Four Seasons story than anything else. Thanks to the music however, a veritable high point, viewers should still come away content.

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