Friday, July 30, 2010

Film Yap: Charlie St. Cloud

In the contest of films from 2010 that have a contrived and manipulative young romance with an inappropriate twist in it, Charlie St. Cloud wins a silver medal. Please note there are only two entries so far this year.

It will be very difficult for a movie to be lower than St. Cloud because this movie prides itself in being baby food. It used to be regular food, but it was meshed up and now its end result is just gross. Yet the film still insists on shoveling spoonful after spoonful at you, equipped with the condescending airplane noises.

Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) is the greatest human being on the planet. He is the perfect yacht racer and the perfect brother to Sam (Charlie Tahan). Everyone around him keeps telling Charlie that he is going to go on to great and wonderful things. Sam keeps talking about how great they are together and how happy they are. Nothing can possibly go wrong!

Charlie makes a bizarre promise to Sam saying that every day at sunset he will play catch with him for one hour until he goes to Stanford. (Oh he’s also perfect at baseball.) They repeat this promise verbatim several times throughout the movie to further stress the point that nothing can possibly go wrong in their lives. So they get into a car accident and Sam dies. Charlie technically dies too, but the paramedic (Ray Liotta) doesn’t belief in lost causes and tries the defibrillator and that wakes up Charlie.

Not more than two movie minutes after Sam dies, Charlie runs into the woods out of angst and sees his ghost brother ready to play catch. The audience has no time to ever miss Sam, which would be difficult considering he was quite a brat throughout the movie. So Charlie plays catch with Sam FOR FIVE YEARS. That’s over 1800 games of catch.

During that time Charlie has become more emotionally unstable. His mom (Kim Basinger) moves for no particular reason. He doesn’t go to college and decides to work at the graveyard where his brother was buried. This is a very subtle movie. The town has noticed that Charlie has paused his life because of grief so every single character tells him this. Even the paramedic comes back and tells Charlie exactly what he needs to do with his life.

What he needs to do is fall in love and learn how to live again. He starts up a romance with Tess (Amanda Crew), a girl who is also excellent at sailing. (Not as good as Charlie though). She’s planning to sail around the world in a race. Before she goes she learns more about Charlie and a romance beings. By the way we learn that Charlie is a perfect cook, artist, and doctor. He’s also in perfect shape and is constantly shirtless. (Did you notice part of his name is “saint”?)

This movie is baby food because it doesn't trust the audience at any point during the movie. Every line of dialog is used only for foreshadowing or bluntly repeating its message over and over and over again. In this world there is no such thing as subtext and this overt simplification ruins this movie.

A lot of people like to riff on Zac Efron, but I do believe that he is a good actor. He has a natural charisma and knows how to handle a strong range of emotions. He’s fine in this movie, but he’s forced to say lines that are hammier than anything he had to say in High School Musical. This is not the sort of movie to show off his skills, because it’s the worst type of character study. The characters in this film are Charlie St. Cloud and ensemble. There is not one other character that is even 2-demenisional. He can bounce or clash with anyone, because each character is designed only to give him blunt and repetitive advice.

Since I referenced it in the opening, there is a twist halfway thought this movie. It makes absolutely no sense and makes one scene incredibly inappropriate. It’s just gross, Splice gross.

1 Yap


http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/07/29/charlie-st-cloud/

Film Yap: Remaking Foreign Films

America hates subtitles. You know why? Subtitles means reading and reading is for losers. This may not be true—hopefully this is not true, but it is what Hollywood thinks. That’s why whenever a foreign film becomes popular, there are quickly plans to remake it. This time all of the actors will be speaking English. Thankfully!

Most of the time Hollywood messes it up, but every once and awhile the right filmmaker knows how to respect the original. This allows them to make their own product that stands on its own while drawing from its new location to benefit the story. This makes me think of both versions of Insomnia and the trio of The Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven/A Bug’s Life.

So here’s a look at some recent and upcoming remakes and their foreign counterparts:

Nine Queens (2000)/Criminal (2004)

One of my all time favorite subgenre is the con artist film. Nine Queens (or Nueve reinas) does a very good job of constructing a situation where two thieves team up to pull off a con involving a set of stamps. It stars Ricard Darín who was great in the recent film The Secret in Their Eyes. He works so well with Gastón Pauls in that they can pull off cons together, but the audience still doesn’t know who to trust at one moment. A lot of the smaller cons have seen before in Paper Moon and the ending can be deduced if you’ve seen too many of them, but the ride is plenty of fun.

Criminal’s casting wasn’t as strong. I think John C. Reilly in the Darín part was very inspired, but Diego Luna never pulled off what Pauls was able to do in being very suspicious and keeping the cards to the table while still operating the cons. The original Argentian movie knew how to keep the movie flowing in a natural direction, while I think Criminal suffers from being a bit too rigid in setting up its ploys. It’s still entertaining and I appreciate it not just being a frame-for-frame copy.

Winner: Nine Queens

Infernal Affairs (2002)/The Departed (2006)

This is such a great concept, it’s a wonder that it hasn’t been done a million times before. Tony Leung (In the Mood For Love) plays a cop who goes undercover in the Traid society while Andy Lau is a Triad who is working his way through the police department. It’s a fantastic game of cat and mouse with brilliant set pieces. There’s one in particular that uses Morse code that is very suspenseful.

The Departed takes that concept and uses a lot of similar things, but adds a lot more. There are new themes of fathers and the role of the Catholic Church. (In a Scorsese film? No way!) It’s noted for having a very different ending from Infernal Affairs, but I think each ending works for their respected movies. There’s not a scene that can top the Morse code scene in the original, but the entire movie is amazing, ranking among Scorsese’s best in my mind.

Winner: Tie

REC (2007)/ Quarantine (2008)

One of the coolest horror films of the last decade was the Mexican movie REC. This follows in the vein of The Blair Witch Project where the entire movie is told through a handheld camera. The camera was used to shoot a fluff news piece about the late-shift firefighters. The reporter (played by Manuela Velasco) decides to hop along and they end up in an apartment complex where something is going bump in the night. The entire place is put on lock down and then the thrills begin.

REC is not a very long movie, but knows how to perfectly pace it. It is a slow burn while they spend a long time at the firehouse, but even that builds up suspense. The American movie, Quarantine, copies the movie almost beat for beat but it doesn’t work. Maybe it’s because Jennifer Carpenter isn’t as charming as Velasco or maybe the budget was too big for it. The American apartment complex didn’t seem to have the same level of danger as the original. Very disappointing.

Winner: REC

The Dinner Game (1998)/Dinner For Schmucks (2010)

Now we’re into the upcoming category. I haven’t seen Dinner For Schmucks yet but you can see the Yap’s review for it up on the site on Friday. However I can already tell a ton of differences just from the trailer. The original movie introduces the concept of a cruel dinner party early on. A bunch of elitists find some idiots and bring them to dinner and makes fun of them. The one who brings the biggest idiot wins. Thierry Lhermitte thinks he’s struck gold with Jacques Villeret. However they can’t make it to the dinner because Lhermitte throws out his back and is stuck with his person idiot for the duration of the night. It’s not a great comedy, but it’s very enjoyable.

The trailers for this new version is rather odd. It looks like it’s taking all of the subtly of the original and going really broad. Seeing Steve Carell hit the windshield with the forced face is a bit embarrassing. I know I’m just basing it on early material, but a lot of the ads are showing the actual dinner and it’s crazy slapstick. It’s just weird to take a movie that was praised for being based in reality and going a complete opposite direction with it. Maybe the tone works, but right now I’m very hesitant.

Let the Right One In (2008)/Let Me In (2010)

One of my favorite films of the last decade was Let the Right One In. It’s this very creepy and brilliant vampire tale. It’s not a story of teenagers, but smaller children. A young girl moves in and she looks to be a nice companion for the weird boy next door. Yet she is a terrifying creature when she’s hungry. The film succeeds by being very intelligent with using small ways to unnerve the audience. Like having a lot of the scarier bits off screen or in the background.

Bringing the story to America seems to be an impossible task. One of the things that added to the creepiness was the vast Swedish atmosphere. However when they hired Matt Reeves as the director I had a bit of hope. I may be alone, but I loved his Cloverfield. Then they hired Chloe Moretz (Kick Ass’s Hit-Girl), Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Boy from The Road) and Richard Jenkins as the three leads. Then the first trailer came out and it looks like this movie will definitely not be an embarrassment, to say the least. There’s still a chance it may be too faithful to the original that it can’t stand on its own, but for now I’m looking forward to it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Film Yap: The Criterion Collection

Austin Lugar and Sam Watermeier have argued about film for years now. Instead of just keeping it to themselves, they’re bringing it to the Yap. You’re welcome! Today’s topic is The Criterion Collection.

Austin: As I conclude my viewing of the latest edition of Black Narcissus, I can't help but marvel in how awesome The Criterion Collection is. They really are everything a film buff respects. They bring forth unseen and beloved movies onto DVD and Blu-Ray with pitch-perfect transfer. They load the discs with scholarly bonus features and wonderful box art. Their stamp really does hold weight and I know you're a big fan of them as well. So let's start off our discussion by talking about some of the movies you never would have heard of if it wasn't for The Criterion Collection."

Sam: I blind bought Seduced and Abandoned before I even knew it was a hilarious and biting comedy of manners from Italy. That's how much I trust The Criterion Collection and its enticing DVD cover art. Check out the cover for Seduced and Abandoned http://www.criterion.com/films/796-seduced-and-abandoned.

Another film I discovered, thanks to Criterion, is Clean, Shaven. It's a trippy journey in the mind of a schrizophrenic as he searches for his long-lost daughter — or a figment of his imagination? It's not a film I fell in love with, but I certainly don't regret watching it. I had never heard of it or seen it in video stores before. It was probably rotting away at the bottom of some $2 DVD bin. So there's a power of Criterion — it takes lost, obscure films and gives them the Hollywood treatment so to speak, with impressive packaging, essays and other special features.

Criterion also gives Hollywood films a certain mystique and weight they never had before. For example, I was inspired to give Michael Bay's The Rock a second shot when it was released on Criterion!

Austin: I still haven't seen Seduced and Abandoned, but I need to. It looks like fun. Now you bring up The Rock. I never viewed the Criterion version of it, but many people cite that and Armageddon for being rather odd titles. They now have over 400 titles of acclaimed and challenging films from all over the globe....and two Michael Bay movies. What do you think of these picks? It seems like they need these in order to pay the rent. It's not as tasteless as Bay, but we're also seeing this with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and every Wes Anderson film. (Sans Fantastic Mr. Fox so far). Does this lessen the label?

Sam: I don't think they lessen the label too much because they are still good movies. The Rock and Armageddon don't tarnish the Criterion label as much as say, Bad Boys would.

However, I wonder how much these more mainstream releases are really helping Criterion "pay the rent". These DVDs still cost $30-$50. If Criterion wants to attract more customers, I think it would benefit more from simply lowering costs than keeping the same costs with the addition of mainstream films. I mean, who wants to buy a $40 edition of The Rock, right? I'd rather buy something like Seduced and Abandoned for $15.

Austin: Well I'm not an expert on economics, but I believe there is a strong reason why the movies cost so much. Like a nice restaurant, the price means a certain level of quality. With a $40 DVD you can expect the best from them in terms of picture quality and impressive bonus features. They don't just have director commentaries, but more often they have esteemed scholars providing commentary tracks, essays, and documentaries. It isn't about providing sound bites from the cast saying "I had a great time working on this feature!" but allowing the audience to have a richer cerebral experience.

In terms of paying the rent, I would say that films by Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson are easily more compelling than Michael Bay.

Sam: You're right about the price reflecting the quality, but I don't think people who are new to Criterion are going to spend $40 on something like The Rock or The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, you know? So that's why I'm suspicious as to how much mainstream releases are really helping financially.

I agree that more mainstream directors, like Linklater and Anderson, are at least opening people's eyes to The Criterion Collection.

I'll admit that my introduction to Criterion was from more mainstream or well-known films like Rushmore, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Dazed and Confused, etc. In fact, I'm still drawn to those recognizable films now. For example, I'm looking forward to the release of The Thin Red Line. I think Criterion fans like us will always have a certain excitement, maybe even a bias, for the Criterion release of films we've already seen or heard of.

Austin: I can't remember my introduction to them exactly besides noticing a difference in some of the DVDs I was checking out at the library. See I guess I'm a different kind of Criterion fan. Sure, sometimes I'm excited about Criterions I've already seen (Chungking Express was a fun one), but I actually like it more when they announce films I haven't seen from directors I love. They just announced The Magician by Ingmar Bergman a few weeks ago and I'm pumped to check that out. Even though the director is dead, it's like he has a new movie out.

Criterion just made a deal with IFC so it's weird seeing more recent movies coming out though the label. Like A Christmas Tale, Summer Hours, Everlasting Moments, and Che. Worthy movies, but it's still odd seeing a 2008 movie next to Josef von Sternberg's The Docks of New York. Cool range.

Now I don't want to argue with you on how “good” The Rock and Armageddon are. We'll go ahead and say they are both watchable. Now I've mentioned The Criterion Collection has hundreds of titles. (540 to be exact.) Not every one of them can be a masterpiece. What are some bad ones that you have come across? Personally I can't stand Taste of Cherry by Abbas Kiarostami or Naked Lunch by David Cronenberg. I get why people like them, but man both of those left me extremely cold. I'm also not the biggest fan of a lot of work by Jean-Luc Godard or John Cassavetes. (Will my snobbery card be revoked from that statement?)

Sam: Well, speaking of Godard, I couldn't stand Pierrot Le Fou. I found it unbearably pretentious. There is actually a scene where the main character talks about death while sitting on the edge of a dock with a parrot on his shoulder, looking out at the beautiful ocean. Give me a break. I gathered that the film was partly satirizing this character's pretentiousness, but it was also pretentious itself.

Another film I didn't like was Secret Honor, the one-man act starring Philip Baker Hall as Richard Nixon. The film consists of him madly pacing back and forth in the Oval Office for 90 minutes, pontificating about Watergate and his troubled past. To me, it grew tiresome pretty quickly. It's a dreadfully one-note film. I might have tolerated it more as a one-act play, but from a film, I want something visually dynamic, something rich.

Those are really the only Criterion films I've been disappointed by thus far, though.

Austin: I think we've talked about this outside of this article, but how much Godard have you seen? If you think that is pretentious you may not be able to mentally handle Week End, Alphaville, or Made in U.S.A. I wish you good luck if you are to continue with his canon. I do strongly recommend Breathless, Contempt, and A Woman is a Woman.

Also I love Secret Honor. I think that's a very captivating movie that I would consider one of Robert Altman's underseen films. In that case I think the writing is so strong and the situation is fascinating. You forgot to mention it's the night before he's going to resign. That's great internal conflict.

Now are there any films you wish would get the "Criterion Treatment"? I know they've teased at a definitive Magnificent Ambersons for years now and I would love to see that happen. I would also like them to take on the Three Colors trilogy by Krzysztof Kieslowski. They've already released Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronica which is brilliant. I know the trilogy has a DVD release already in the States, but I can't testify to their quality. (I originally saw the trilogy on VHS.) But those movies are so beautiful with its use of color and light, that I think it could just look even better with the right digital transfer.

Sam: The only other Godard film I've seen is Breathless. Don't worry, I survived that one. I liked it a lot actually.

Last thing about Secret Honor: I think the history it is based on is richer and more interesting than the film itself. To me, the film was just saying, over and over again, that Nixon was a bitter paranoiac with a troubled past. I just grew tired of it. I can see how one would be engaged by Hall's feverish performance as Nixon, though.

Because I am a huge nerd, I often think of movies that I want to receive the Criterion treatment. I even think of possible cover art for them! One film I saw recently that I would like to receive the treatment is Red Rock West. It's a stark southwestern thriller starring Nicolas Cage as a drifter mistaken for a hitman in a small town. It's a taut neo-western-noir. It also has an interestingly rocky backstory worthy of Criterion. You see, it was well-received at the Toronto Film Festival, but strangely went straight to cable and video after that. Then, after positive word-of-mouth, it was picked up for theatrical release and it toured the U.S. as an art-house hit. Now it seems to be rotting away on a bare-bones DVD. I'd like to see it revived by Criterion the way it was revived at the time of its release.

Another one I'd like to see a Criterion version of is Manhunter, the first film in the Hannibal Lecter series. It seems to be slowly fading from people's memory.

I'd also like to see Criterions for The Counterfeiters, Das Boot the masterful German submarine thriller, Paul Thomas Anderson's directorial debut, Hard Eight, the list goes on and on.

The Criterion DVD artwork alone seems to be enough of a reason to revive these films. That is part of the thrill of Criterion — seeing how films are reinterpreted through beautiful illustrations and photography. The artwork adds a weight to these films, the same weight as the Criterion stamp of approval itself.

Austin: Red Rock West sounds pretty interesting. I'll throw it on my queue. Hard Eight would be a good choice. Manhunter I think is just okay. I remember it being too visually dark to understand what's going on, but I'm not a big Michael Mann fan either. (The book is better!)

I do agree with the artwork. It's uplifting because it's always an original take on the graphic. It's either an underused moment from the movie or original artwork. I think they've only caved once (Benjamin Button!)

As we wrap up, let's give some final recommendations that people can check out. For me, I'm going to say the amazing crime movie Le Samourai, Ingmar Bergman's masterpiece Winter Light and the great 90s independent film The Last Days of Disco.

Sam: I'd recommend Knife in the Water, Roman Polanski's directorial debut — and one of my all-time favorite films. I couldn't leave this discussion without also recommending Wages of Fear and Withnail and I. For those who don't know, Wages of Fear is a French film following four men as they transport truck-fulls of nitroglycerine across extremely dangerous South American terrain. During the trip, a rivalry develops between the two sets of drivers. How cool does that sound?

Withnail and I is a hilarious British black comedy about two unemployed actors living together who leave their squalid flat to go on a road trip to the countryside. It's one of the funniest movies you will ever see.

I still need to see the films you recommended, I'm sure they're great. After all, Criterion films rarely aren't.



http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/07/27/the-criterion-collection/

Film Yap: The Art of the Steal

In 2005 documentary filmmaker Don Argott debuted with the movie Rock School. It was an entertaining parallel to School of Rock, but the subject matter never felt like it could fill up a whole movie. Years later, the game is totally changed with The Art of the Steal.

This is a story known to a lot of people who follow art and those who have a stake in Philadelphia tourism, but the rest of the world has probably never heard of The Barnes Foundation. Albert C. Barnes developed a drug that was a huge step against venereal diseases. This left him with a ton of money and he put it towards modern and post-impressionist art. Over time he created a house of over 800 paintings that is almost impossible to value, but the end result is undeniably in the billions.

Barnes was a very opinionated man. He had very strict beliefs about how The Barnes Foundation was to operate. It was supposed to be used for education, not for upholstery as he put it. Part of the week was devoted to students and teaching. It was not exactly open to the public. When he died, his will expressed his beliefs very clearly. The paintings were not to be moved.

Then people became greedy. In order to “repair the facilities” paintings were sent on a world tour in order to raise money. This starts a chain reaction where people are completely disregarding Barnes’s will and claiming this private collection for their own profitable use.

At the beginning of the movie, Argott does a great job setting up the artistic value of the Foundation. It plays off any admirer of art, regardless of the medium. He brings together a lot of experts who are really passionate about what is happening to the Foundation. In fact, later on we see one of the people interviewed in a crowd with a sign screaming at government officials. It doesn’t invalidate him; it actually makes him more credible in my mind.

The film does get a little weighed down once it becomes more complicated in all of the money changing hands and who has control over what. However the intensity is always there and it is a really compelling story. This is an angry and reactionary film, but that makes it very eye opening.

It doesn’t only speak to those who appreciate art, but those who are worried about what is considered private anymore. The Barnes Foundation was never a museum, but one man’s possessions. It’s scary to see what happens when that no longer is true.

Like a lot of films from IFC, this disc is empty with bonus features. All that was there was a trailer for this film and other films by IFC. So I guess it was useful because it reminded me that I really ought to see Mary and Max?


Film: 4 Yaps

Extras: 1 Yap


http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/07/26/the-art-of-the-steal/

Friday, July 23, 2010

Higgens Network: The Kids Are All Right

The Kids Are All Right got so many things right. This isn’t a backhanded compliment placed only so I can say “But it got SO MUCH MORE wrong.” The truth is, the film had a set goal in mind and accomplished it more than admirably. In a world where independent films are starting to become as predictable as big studio fare, this is a fresh take on what could have just been another quirky family dramedy.

Once Joni (Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska) turned 18, she was legally allowed to call and find out who was the man who was her and her brother’s (Josh Hutcherson) sperm donor. They’re worried to tell their moms Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening) because they’re bound to disapprove. It turns out to be Paul, a college dropout who owns his own restaurant played by Mark Ruffalo. After a naturally awkward introduction, they end up really liking Paul so he slowly becomes a part of their family.

I like the concept of the plot, but what really sold me were the moments away from the plot. Writer/director Lisa Cholodenko perfectly nailed so many character interactions. The kids really felt like modern kids down to the sexually awkward Scrabble games on the bedroom floor. It’s not about exactly relating to the characters—Maybe you played Risk—but the shared similar moments. For once, a movie actually accomplished awkward moments or small humorous ones without relying on the same tired traps.

This makes for some fantastic characterization. When their marriage is working Jules and Nic are really nice to be around. You can see the affection and the lived-in quality. Then in the same aspect, when challenges come up, every note feels genuine and inspired. A lot of this comes from Cholodenko’s script, but even more comes from great performances from Moore and Bening. Neither of them falls onto archetypes but really create fully-fledged characters.

Even Paul, who is the closest thing to a caricature, is played out properly. He often talks about being a “do-er” and not really being able to be part of a team and whatnot. The film sets him up to think what he is saying is deep, without using him as an easy source of mockery. The humor in this film always comes from honest sources and that makes the film to be more fulfilling.

The movie ends at just the right place, but I couldn’t help but wish they provided a little more towards how all of the characters would end up. The film did such a good job investing me in these characters and it doesn’t drop the ball at the ending. I just left feeling confident about the fates of most, but not all of them.

Only rarely does the film have a scene where it’s there because it’s only necessary to move the plot forwards. They are only slightly contrived, but always enjoyable because of how excellent the rest of the filmmaking is operating. This is a film that deserves all of the attention it is getting.

That said, they still could have played The Who song during the credits.


http://www.higgens.net/ticketstubs/?s=lugar-072310

Film Yap: Black Narcissus

In this edition of Reeling Backwards, I’m reviewing a film that I had already seen. I first caught Black Narcissus by chance while watching Turner Classic Movies during the summer. I had no idea of who the Archers were or what the movie was about but I was immediately drawn in. This caused me to dive into more of their canon including such magnificent films like The Red Shoes, A Matter of Life and Death, and Powell’s solo film Peeping Tom.

This week The Criterion Collection reissued Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes on Blu-Ray and I used this opportunity to revisit this powerful film. Good God, it’s still incredible.

Deborah Kerr plays Sister Clodagh, a nun who is picked to be a Sister Superior in a new nunnery. It will be a convent held in the Himalayan Mountains. They shall set up a school and a hospital, all which is needed for a small Christian society. They are not welcomed with hostility, but curiosity. The previous inhabitants of the facilities were a group of monks who only lasted five months.

Mr. Dean (David Farrar) doubts the nuns will stay very long, but is always there to help them whenever they are needed. He is a charming man who is a bit of a puzzle. He doesn’t seem to approve of Sister Clodagh’s beliefs, but he still seems to be very knowledgeable of Christianity. He can sing the hymns without looking at the words and is often challenging the nuns on their true purpose in correlation to Christ. Hs presence has an undeniable affect on the nuns.

Immediately upon arriving, the nuns know the land is different. The high altitude makes the air strange and the isolation causes strain upon their sanity. Michael Powell claimed this to be the most erotic film he ever made. There are no advances or innuendo, but suggestion. The sisters are tempted by their own desires and this leads to one of the greatest endings I’ve ever seen in film.

This film is especially remembered for its marvelous use of color and sets. Yes, sets. When I rewatch this film, it is hard to believe they didn’t travel to India in order to film these incredible landscapes. Isolation is not portrayed though enclosed areas, but vast surroundings that never seems to end or bring comfort. Every frame of this film could be hung up on a wall.

This latest transfer only heightens that cinematic wonder. There is an unnerving aspect to this film where it seems like colors are fading in and out, matching the undertones of the character’s emotions. This was never seen as clearly until this edition.

The Archers, the name of the production team headed by Powell and Emeric Pressburger, are truly one of the greatest filmmakers of all of time. It is no wonder they are obsessed over by Martin Scorsese and Alfred Hitchcock. In fact a lot of the visual style of Vertigo is an homage to Black Narcissus. Their films continue to captivate people over 50 years later and this film may be their crowning achievement.


5 Yaps


http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/07/23/black-narcissus/

IIFF Film Yap: Interview with Movers and Stakers director Nancy Carlson

Movers and Stakers: Stories along the Indiana National Road was one of the delightful documentaries from this year’s Indianapolis International Film Festival. In just one short hour, director Nancy Carlson was able to paint a portrait of U.S. 40 that is rich with history and stories. We’re thrilled Nancy was able to talk to us about the making this film.

The Film Yap: What made you interested in the Indiana National Road?

Nancy Carlson: I’ve lived in Indiana over 30 years and didn’t know the history of the National Road. When I saw the grant offering from the National Scenic Byway Program, I decided to apply for it and make a film about the Road.

Q: What surprised you the most while making this movie?

Nancy: History is, in part, what people remember, and sometimes they are wrong. I found three communities that claim to have upset former President Martin Van Buren in his buggy (to protest his stance against funding the National Road). I doubt if the buggy accident happened in three towns.

Q: The film does a good job about creating this lively tone about Indiana and its history. How important do you think it is to have this sense of history about where you live?

Nancy: Knowing the history of your area makes your life richer. When I hear a Louis Armstrong song, I can appreciate that he first recorded his jazz in Richmond. Or I can argue with folks that “Back Home Again in Indiana” is NOT the state song.

Q: How long did it take to prepare, film and edit this movie?

Nancy: I first applied for the NSBP grant in 2004 and didn’t get it. I nursed my wounds for a couple years, added the word “digital” to my application in 2006 and was funded. The money arrived in 2007 when I started pre-production. I shot it in 2008 and edited it in the Spring of 2009. That’s five years to make the film – wow.

Q: What was the research process like?

Nancy: Research is fun. We have to keep good records and a logical labeling system, or we’d get lost. I talked to so many Hoosiers about the bridges, pavement and layout of the road that my head was spinning. I had to keep track of all who helped me because later they were listed in the REALLY LONG CREDITS.

Q: What was the hardest thing for you to cut out of this movie?

Nancy: I had to cut some really good stories because of time…the roses of Richmond…the leader of the KKK….the Van Buren Elm…bridge architecture…century old farms. Sigh.

Q: What was it like working with Ball State students?

Nancy: I couldn’t have made this film for my grant amount if I didn’t have student help. They are eager to get credits on a film and happy to work in the field. While I can get grants, research and write, I have limited production skills, so the students did that kind of work. Thank heaven.

Q: What was different in making Movers and Stakers as opposed to your other previous documentaries?

Nancy: My other two docs were biopics. The first was on author Gene Stratton-Porter who died in 1924. She grew up poor and there were hardly any pictures of her, which makes it tough for the filmmaker. My second was on the industrialist and leading citizen of Muncie, Edmund F. Ball (of Ball jar fame). He grew up rich, so there were 1000’s of pictures of him to choose from. I had to capture the essence of the subjects in those films. In this film, I wanted to find stories along the road and not just talk about a highway (yawn).

Q: Do you know what you are going to work on next?

Nancy: I’m researching a great (and shocking) story on the Osage Indian murders of the 1920’s in Oklahoma. I won’t make it if I don’t get funding. On the other hand, I don’t do films I’m not interested in, even if there’s funding. I’m picky that way. It has to be my passion, not someone else’s project.


Movers and Stakers: Stories along the Indiana National Road will be playing on Saturday July 24th at 2:45PM. Ticket can be purchased online here.


http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/07/23/director-nancy-carlson-movers-and-stakers/

IIFF Film Yap: Movers and Stakers: Stories along the Indiana National Road

The Film Yap has been covering the Indianapolis International Film Festival for almost two week snow. I supplied a bunch of reviews for the Yap that I shall reprint here. Visit www.indyfilmfest.org for more information about the festival and visit www.thefilmyap.com/topics/iiff10/ to see more reviews on every single feature and short in this year's festival.

A good documentary shines a light on a subject you didn’t even know you were lacking information on. Mover and Stakers shows the history behind US-40, Indiana’s National Road. The documentary just focuses on the Indiana portion of the road that stretches from Maryland to Illinois. There is plenty on information filled in the hour, but the tone it supplies.

This may not start off as the most interesting of topics, but the way it is delivered is worth the viewing. The talking heads and the stories are not like a forced school lecture, but by a charming friend who is very knowledgeable. The film is delightful and a lot of that comes from knowing how to tell these tales. It balances how to tell a story through talking heads, voice-overs, and recreations. None of them overpower the other or compromise a good story.

None of the segments are ones that will shatter your perspection of the modern world, but they are all interesting. The strongest one was focusing on the author James Whitcomb Riley. A lot of the information comes from an actor who has portrayed him for many years. Riley was best known for Little Orphan Annie, even though he intended the creation to be called Little Orphant Allie.

Since the throughline of the movie is the road, they had to cover the invention of the automobile. They talk to the descendent of Henry Ford about the impact of the Model-T. It turns out it wasn’t the invention that made the automobile boom, but it boomed once it was accessible to families. The road became more useful when families were actually able to travel for the first time.

Some segments work more than others, but none of them last too long. What you really come away from is a sense of history about Indiana. This film may not work as a universal picture, but it plays upon the heartstrings of Hoosiers. It’s a well-made documentary and is a worthy inclusion in this year’s festival. As great it is to see some amazing movies from across the United States and other parts of the world, the Indianapolis International Film Festival should also be there to highlight some of the unseen portions of its home state.


4 Yaps


Movers and Stakers: Stories along the Indiana National Road will be playing on Saturday July 24th at 2:45PM. Ticket can be purchased online here.


http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/07/12/movers-and-stakers/

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Film Yap: Who is the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo?


Nobody knows when or how a literary phenomenon is going to happen. Dan Brown hit it big with The Da Vinci Code and J.K. Rowling will forever be getting paychecks for her Harry Potter franchise. Now those books are charming and can appeal to a mass audience. Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy is an entirely different story. This (incomplete) saga is horrifying at times and very dull at times.

Yet the three books were not only gigantic bestsellers in its home country of Sweden, but they have also swarmed the bestsellers lists in countless other countries as well, including the United States. Within just five years, the three books have already been made into movies and American remakes are now in the works.

The rumor is that it was supposed to be a 10 part series, but Larsson died at age 50 from a heart attack. He left behind three completed manuscripts and an unfinished fourth one. His estate handled the publishing of the books in an attempt to stay true to Larsson’s vision.

There have been a ton of scholars breaking down these novels and movies. It can be overwhelming. So here is a personal breakdown/introduction to this incredible trilogy.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

This is the name of the English version. The actual translation is The Men Who Hate Women, which is a smoother transition into the major themes of the trilogy. Larsson was a public feminist and so much of the series shows terrible things happening to women and an attempt towards justice. There are two main characters: journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker Lisbeth Salander. For most of the novel they are separate. In fact one of the oddest things about the book is the very long exposition about Blomkvist’s libel controversy that doesn’t fact enough into the novel.

Yes, Salander is the one with the titular tattoo and this character is the reason why this series is such a success. After all three books she’s still an enigma. Without giving too much away about her past, she has become very distrusting and anti-social. She’s absolutely brilliant with computer skills. Those skills are incorporated when Blomkvist is hired to solve a locked room—okay locked island—missing person case and Salander becomes tangentially intrigued.

The mystery aspect is very strong, but the book works because the characters are so fascinating. This has to be attributed to Larsson and his writing style which still has a powerful impact even after translation. This book won a lot of mystery awards including the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. (It was also unprecedentedly nominated in the Best Novel category for the Anthonys that year. This is a choice the awards chairman still thinks was a good idea to allow. So I don’t want to hear anymore complaining on the blogs.)

A Swedish film was made and it came out last year with rave reviews (including one from Chris on this site.) I thought it was a very strong adaptation with an unexpected visual style. It handled a lot of the bumps in the novel well, but it seemed to lose focus of some of the supporting characters. The major reason to recommend this movie is the brilliant casting of the leads. Michael Nyqvist is just how I pictured Blomkvist and Noomi Rapace is just perfect as Salander. This film did well in art houses in America and is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Netflix streaming.

The film is already on the fast track to be remade because we all know subtitles are the worst things in the entire world. I do have hope because this is now such a big success Hollywood is afraid to tamper with it. They’ve hired David Fincher (Se7en, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) to direct it. They’ve hired Steven Zallian (Schindler’s List, A Civil Action, Gangs of New York) to write it. It’s not confirmed, but Daniel Craig has been attached to play Blomkvist and they are now searching for a Salander. Fincher says he wants an unknown, but come on let’s let Carey Mulligan knock it out of the park.

The Girl Who Played With Fire

This is actually my favorite book of the series. It is a lot quicker to get into the plot and expands the world in an interesting way. In this one, Salander is framed for three murders that are tied into a sex-trafficking scandal. Blomkvist was looking into this for his magazine, the Millennium, and is the only one who absolutely believes that Salander didn’t do it. The book is very exciting and shows the power of persuading the public to believe a certain truth.

The movie, however, really dropped the ball. They switched up the director and screenwriter for the next two movies. I heard it was so they could film #2 and #3 at the same time. The movie becomes too muddled and boring. It felt like the director didn’t care about any of the stakes at hand. Rapace is still captivating as Salander and that is still a worthy plus.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

While I thought the opening part of Dragon Tattoo was odd, I never really felt burdened by how long it was. That is not the case for this book. I can’t exactly explain the situation without spoiling Fire but this book spends way too much time resolving all of the plot from the last book. It is almost the halfway point for my interest to return. How about this: Once a Palm Pilot comes into play, then I felt the excitement I had towards the last two books. The ending is fantastic and accidently serves as a great capper for the trilogy.

I have not seen this movie because it hasn’t been released in America yet. Like I said, it’s the same team from the last one and that does not give me much hope. For once, it actually makes me excited for the American remakes. They may actually be better for once! USA! USA! USA!

There will always be rumored that the Larsson family will released the incomplete fourth novel or reveal his notes for the rest of the series. At this point I like what was accidently created. It works as a trilogy and not just because there are three films. There is an arc that is established and I like how it all ends. I’m thrilled these books have become this successful but I will remind people this is not for everyone. Every film is rated R and definitely should be. However if this is for you, I cannot recommend it enough.


http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/07/20/who-is-the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo/

Film Yap: Cop Out

Being a director for hire is an odd thing. Film is often credited as a director’s medium so people tend to expect things when they see a name attached, even if it obviously isn’t a passion product. Kevin Smith directing a Bruce Willis callback movie should be great…but it’s missing too many things.

Smith has said countless times that he is not the best director. He’s known for his witty and vulgar screenplays while still having a bit of childish heart. (You know, the formula that made Judd Apatow filthy rich?) Cop Out is none of those things, but pretends it is.

Willis and Tracy Morgan play Monroe and Hodges, a couple of dicks who have been partners for nine years despite having zero chemistry together. After an undercover stint goes expensively wrong, they’re suspended for a month without pay. During this time, they are trying to track down a baseball card that will be able to pay for Monroe’s daughter’s wedding. This gets them tied up with a Mexican drug lord played brilliantly by Guillermo Díaz and a nutjob thief played by Seann William Scott.

If this sounds like a 80s cop movie, it’s because it wants to desperately be an 80s cop movie. Despite the R-rating, this feels very PG. There’s no grit to anything on screen. Too much of it has such bright lighting and no stakes to their actions. It can still be a comedy and have that tone; look at Beverly Hills Cop.

Instead of playing off the cop movie stereotypes, it just repeats them. There’s no irony in the scene where the captain takes their badges. It’s not even invoking a sense of nostalgia, just happily replaying the clichés.

The worst offense is that the movie isn’t that funny. There are a ton of really funny people in this movie, but the few laughs come from them obviously improvising. Díaz, as I mentioned, is a really skilled comedic actor who is very dedicated to this stereotypical villain. Scott gets a few smirks out of a character that strives on being annoying. (Thankfully this was more entertaining than his tired American Pie persona.) Adam Brody and Susie Essman are also solid but the script is not helping them at all.

This cast is so strong though! Aside from all of the names I mentioned, there’s still Jason Lee, Michelle Trachtenberg, Rashida Jones, Kevin Pollak, and relatively unknown Ana de la Reguera. These are very talented comedians who could make this movie a comedic powerhouse if there were any effective jokes on the page.

How do I know what was on the page and what wasn’t? The bonus features told me everything I needed to know. Apparently Warner Brothers have started this new thing called “Maximum Movie Mode” which is renamed for this flick “Maximum Comedy Mode.” This is a unique concept where they combine the commentary, deleted scenes, blooper real, and featurettes into one crazy long thing. I wish this was attached to my favorite movies because this is really cool.

Basically Kevin Smith is standing on a green screen and he just talks over the movie and then may pause the movie to show an extended version. Or he may play something back to back or he may just have Seann William Scott interrupt him to give a small comedy sketch. It’s a really cool concept, but three hours of Cop Out footage can be exhausting.

In the footage was a lot of revealing aspects of this movie. The ad-libbing was much stronger than what was in the final cut. Also every scene that was thought was a cool concept was invented during reshoots. Love him or hate him, Kevin Smith is really good at being honest and this is seen during this MCM. It’s clear he likes this movie and liked being on this movie, but he also pokes fun at what kind of movie this is and how he isn’t a very good director. He even shows his least favorite scene. In the middle of the MCM, he goes into a story where he revealed to Bruce Willis that he has no idea what kind of lens there are on a camera. That story was funnier than the scene he was interrupting and that makes this an odd DVD review. Don’t watch the movie but just watch the bonus features. You’ll laugh more.


Film: 2 Yaps

Bonus Features: 4 Yaps

http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/07/20/cop-out-2/

Monday, July 19, 2010

IIFF Film Yap: Interview with Peepers director Seth W. Owen

Seth W. Owen really made a mark with his first feature film. Peepers is a comedy about a group of peeping toms that has to deal with a college professor who becomes fascinated by the peeper lifestyle. It’s an original tale and a tricky one to pull off.

Owen spoke to The Film Yap talking about the balance of this type of comedy and what it takes to make a film like this in Canada.

The Film Yap: The first obvious question has to be asking about the origin of the story. Telling the endearing story of peeping toms is definitely an unusual concept. How did it come to be?

Seth Owen: Montreal rooftop is a pretty pleasant place to be, in the summertime, and way back when, when I had a place with roof access, a friend named Eric Hart and got to joking about a community of Peeping Toms... And it was one of those ideas that just never went away. When Dan, Mark and I were thinking about making another film, it was the one that seemed to really captivate the three of us. Especially since it seemed like a novel way to illustrate some things that were happening with voyeurism and society without being too literal. I don’t like to see people in online chat rooms in movies. I would prefer to see them on rooftops, with a little derring-do.

TFY: One of the most impressive things about the movie is that it never feels creepy, even when they are successful with their voyeurism. How did you create this atmosphere?

Seth: I’m glad you didn’t find it creepy! I’m sure some still might. I like things a little creepy, but you’re right, it’s an unsavory topic to many, and tone was definitely a big concern from the beginning. We just really tried to focus in on these guys as very vulnerable, very lonely human beings. But of course, at the same time, everyone making the film felt pretty strongly that if you make a film called Peepers, about Peeping Toms, you have to have a little flesh on the screen. Or else people would rip up the seats in the cinema! I know I would! So that was a dilemma, how to reference all these exploitation films without making an out and out exploitation film ourselves. Ultimately, I think we may have just pulled it off, and I think that’s due in large part to the performances, and Max Henry’s score, both of which put one in a more sympathetic frame of mind.

TFY: Although Peepers primarily follows Steve Sherman, the film does a good job about have developed subplots with some of the other peepers. How important was this balance of focus?

Seth: It was very important. And in the editing room, it was something that went through many, many variations. We knew we were locked onto Steve, but weaving in the other threads and knowing just how much we needed was an ongoing dialogue. With the Paul Spence character, Peter, he’s a more reserved family man who finds himself drawn into the world of the Peepers, and that was particularly tough, as it’s a less overtly comic thread than the others, but one I think is crucial to the film’s underlying meaning and intent. I still am hemming and hawing over whether we have enough of that in there. I hope so. But yeah, trial and error, that’s how we finessed it.

TFY: I’m almost afraid to ask, but did you do any research for this movie? (Primary or otherwise)

Seth: Well, funny you ask… We didn’t initially do any research – it was a world that we just kind of cooked up... though of course, if you’re a filmmaker, you don’t have to dig too deep to find some latently voyeuristic tendencies. Then, funnily (or disturbingly) enough, after we had finished a draft, we came upon a local college newspaper article that had a profile of a Peeping Tom, and it was pretty much to the letter of what we had come up with. So that was encouraging. The other “research” we did came out of a very fortuitous circumstance when we were writing the script. Our studio at the time was in a loft building that had these big, wraparound windows. And directly across from us was this apartment building, with all of the bathroom windows facing us. So we’d be writing, and then all of a sudden, there’d be, like, a cinemax movie playing itself out right before our eyes. We saw some pretty spectacular things. A lot of lathering. You couldn’t not look. But it may have slowed our writing down a touch.

TFY: You’ve worked with Daniel Perlmutter and Mark Slutsky before on The Recommendations and again on the script for Peepers. How does your creative collaboration work? Do you all write in the same room? Do you email drafts back and forth? How do you settle disagreements?

Seth: We tend to talk things out, endlessly, in the same room, cook up a bunch of gags, and then we divvy stuff up and pass it around, rinse and repeat. Disagreements tend to be settled by a winning combination of endurance and passive aggression. And when it became clear that I would be directing this one, I played the director card as much as humanly possible.

TFY: What was the most difficult part either writing or directing this movie?

Seth: It was a hard shoot. A wonderful, wonderful experience, but hard. We had 14 days to get it in the bag, and not a lot of dough, and a lot of that was shooting at night, outside, on Montreal rooftops in November. With the wind and the rain, and sometimes even the snow howling around us. And our budget – well, it was huge compared to what we were used to working with, which was literally peanuts! – but for a “real movie” it was limiting, especially for something this ambitious in scope. Editing had its own set of challenges, and frustrations, but none that are as interesting, or as cinematic as rain smacking you around on a roof.

TFY: What were some of the films that influenced you for Peepers?

Seth: It’s a real rogue’s gallery for this one. Porky’s was an obvious touchstone. All those 80s sex comedies. We really wanted to make a sad, grown up version of one of those. Ghostbusters. That’s always an influence. Rear Window is kind of unavoidable when you’re making a film about voyeurism. You kind of have to tip your hat to that. Visually, Bobby Shore (the DP) and I talked a lot about Klute, of all films. And there’s a great Israeli film about peeping called Metzitzim that we discovered late in the day, that has a really similar combination of melancholy and um, horniness.

TFY: What has the film festival circuit experience been like for you?

Seth: Well, it would figure that we’ve been doing the festival circuit just in time for a huge economic downturn. So not enough free flights and hotels! It’s been great, though, getting to see it with an audience, and making connections with other filmmakers. That’s always nice. But honestly, we seem to just be hitting our stride now, so I hope we can hit a few more. Drink tickets and free hors d’oeuvres – I’m a still-struggling filmmaker, so these things mean a lot!

TFY: Can you speak a little bit about making an independent feature in Canada? What are some of the up-sides and down-sides?

Seth: The up-side of making an independent feature in Canada is that if you’re lucky, the government will give you money to make one! The downside is that once it is made it may disappear into a pit of Northern oblivion and never be heard from again. Nobody in Canada really wants to see Canadian movies, for whatever reason – at least not English Canadian movies. The French have it figured out a little better. But all things considered, we’re pretty lucky here. Though ask me that again if I’m still trying to get the second one made a couple decades from now.

TFY: Now the big question. What are you going to work on next?

Seth: I’m working on a film called Motorway Lodge. Writing that now. It’s about a timid man at an international mineral processing conference. This one will be even more creepy – that’s my hope, anyway! So another easy sell! Not obscure enough? I’m also finishing up an experimental music documentary on a composer named Osama Shalabi, who is kind of a genius, as far as I’m concerned, even if he hasn’t yet hit Justin Bieber levels of stardom. But I haven’t completely forsaken the mainstream – I’m ready to make Marmaduke 2, or whatever… maybe get a piece of this Smurfs action. I am ready to whore it out for the highest bidder at the earliest possible convenience. So if you know any one, please don’t hesitate to pass along my digits…!


Peepers will play on Tuesday July 20th and once more on Friday July 23rd. You can find more about the film and by tickets by clicking here.


http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/07/19/directorco-writer-seth-w-owen-peepers/

Film Yap: The Losers

The Losers was lucky and came out a few months before The A-Team, but everybody still noticed that it’s still the same plot. Instead of being Rangers, they are members of a CIA black opts unit who are burned by a corrupt government guy and is now trying to get reinstated and revenge. The team is composed of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, and Óscar Jaenada who I suppose each have their own thing they do.

The way they were set up was there was this evil guy named Max who wanted to blow up a house full of orphans in Bolivia. The Losers decide they can’t kill orphans so they try to call off the mission, but Max blows them all up anyway. So they hide in Bolivia because….um…I dunno. Then Zoë Saldana shows up and then tries to kill Jeffrey Dean Morgan! Then it turns out she never wanted him dead but wants revenge on Max! So they easily go back to America and then do stuff and very little of it makes sense.

Flimsy doesn’t begin to describe this movie. The plot makes absolutely no sense and characters are hilariously inconsistent. Saldana and Elba are talented actors, but they can’t help it when their characters continuously change what they stand for all of the time. The same goes for Evans, who they can’t decide is the bumbling comic relief or a badass technical wizard.

A lot of this would be excused if it were even a little bit fun. Jason Patric brings a little bit of entertainment to Max, even if it appears that the script is determined to castrate the character. Nobody in this movie has any friendly chemistry with each other. It’s one of the worst team dynamics I’ve ever seen captured in film. Yet they’re still supposed the best of the best of the best of the best of the yawnnnnnn. If that actually was the case then there would actually be a sense of style and competence to what they’re doing.

The Ocean’s 11 team were able to swoop in, be suave and get the job done in the smartest way possible. The Loser’s policy is to BLOW EVERYTHING UP AND SHOOT EVERYTHING AND THEN SAY ‘YO MAMMA’ JOKES. This is reflected in the direction by Sylvian White, the auteur behind Stomp the Yard and I’ll Always Know What You Did Summer. Everything is either in slow motion or radical editing or everybody’s high-fiving. This movie is the drunk guy who is being obnoxious in the middle of the food court at 2:30PM on a Wednesday. It’s just embarrassing after too long.

It doesn’t even make sense how stupid this movie is. The two credited screenwriters are Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) and James Vanderbilt (Zodiac). They are two very smart writers who somehow created the laziest screenplay. I’m not asking for movies to be pretentiously smart, but there are other ways where movies can be intelligent. Give me clever and inventive action scenes or some fun insults. Instead this movie just goes the cheapest things that will be forgotten almost immediately.

The bonus features are surprisingly a different story. There are six featurettes that are well done and entertaining. They break down the weapons training, their experience in Puerto Rico, how they film the action, and how cool Zoë Saldana is. There are small hints where you can guess how the film went wrong, but the movie shown in these features is a much better one than the completed one. There was also a deleted scene that was really confusing. I don’t know what happened or where it was supposed to be. On the Blu-Ray there is also a digital copy of The Losers.

There is also a 13-minute long behind the scenes look at a new Batman animated movie called Batman: Under the Red Hood. That was oddly the best bonus feature because that focus was actually about storytelling. The featurette kept showing experts talk about understanding character and responding to the fans. This was inadvertently a hilarious comparison to The Losers because those bonus features had tidbits like finding out they filmed at the Arecibo Observatory just because it looked cool and then changed the script to include it. One form of filmmaking is easily superior in my mind.


Film: 1 Yap

Bonus Features: 4 Yaps


http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/07/19/the-losers-2/

IIFF Film Yap: Paulista

The Film Yap has been covering the Indianapolis International Film Festival for over a week now. I supplied a bunch of reviews for the Yap which I will reprint here. Visit www.indyfilmfest.org for more information about the festival and visit www.thefilmyap.com/topics/iiff10/ to see more reviews on every single feature and short in this year's festival.


Paulista suffers because there are too many other independent films like it. This is the kind of story where seemingly random people are seen through a short period of time. This time is three people who all live in an apartment building in São Paulo. There is Marina who wants to move to the big city and become an actress. Suzana is a lawyer who is having a love affair. Jay is an author who befriends a prostitute.

With an anthology of stories each story needs to be able to be compelling on its own. It should be the ebb and flow of wanting to stay with one person while also wanting to continue the story across town. In Paulista, there was never this urgency to continue a storyline or even much curiosity of what is going to happen next. Each story ends exactly how they have played out before in other stories.

The most disappointing was Jay’s story because stories about writers usually have a nuanced charm to them when done well. Writers tend to have an articulation about their world, which can lead to new insights for the audience, but Jay wasn’t a very interesting author and thus not a very interesting story.

Sílvia Lourenço gives the strongest performance as Marina because she has a very natural on-screen charisma. She’s very watchable even as her story leads into weaker material. Marina ends up going to a nightclub and becomes entranced by one of the female singers. They end up having an intimate relationship.

None of the supporting characters seem to be entirely developed and that is too bad considering the entire movie is these three characters interacting with a few other people in their lives.

The film has a very cool and appealing look that makes scenes feel more enjoyable. Even though the script is lacking, the tone of the film is light enough where the film never feels like a burden. Just a series of missed opportunities.


2 Yaps

Paulista will play on Sunday July 18th at 6:45Pm and on Tuesday July 20th at 3:15PM. Tickets can be purchased here.


http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/07/12/paulista/