Romy Shiller

Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Lincoln

In Film, review on November 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm


Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool than to Speak and Remove All Doubt

Abraham Lincoln

Warning: Gush-fest ahead.

Story: Lincoln is a 2012 historical drama film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. The film is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of Lincoln, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, and covers the final four months of Lincoln’s life. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_%282012_film%29]

Lincoln is shot beautifully and is very important but it is not a biography and if you want an accurate history lesson do not look to this film. It is BASED on a great American president who was instrumental in getting an amendment to the United States constitution – the 13th amendment – passed. It banned slavery.

To be honest I didn’t know much about this period in history, so being the kind of person I am – I did some research. I watched a historian on the television discuss how the 13th amendment was created before Lincoln championed it, but that you’d not know this by watching the film. I saw the film after watching this interview and it did make a difference to me. I was able to watch the film as a film and I avoided my own inference.

So, the story: Amidst the civil war is another fight – the one to abolish slavery. The drama focuses on getting an anti slavery amendment passed. Like Titanic, we know the outcome but that does not lessen the dramatic effect – it adds to it

Getting enough votes to permanently end slavery is the goal of the movie and the film does not deviate from it’s target. Even the son’s desire to fight in the war is a backdrop to the story and not the story itself. Things are going on around the film’s central aim but honestly, nothing detracts from that aim.

I could not believe I was watching a movie. The shots were composed like a painting. Tones were dark which made the stunning lighting prominent. The acting by Daniel Day-Lewis as President Lincoln was somber and restrained like the mood of the shot. Steven Spielberg advocates for the oppressed and here he is magnificent, letting the story speak, sidestepping showy direction. He was working with great actors, which I’m sure helped. Daniel Day-Lewis should get the award for best actor at the Oscars.

After writing the above paragraph I watched a video clip where Spielberg actually said that he was restrained, didn’t want fancy shots and wanted the story to speak for itself. (I was right!)

I can’t say enough about the stunning cinematography. Janusz Kaminski is an Oscar winning, Polish-born cinematographer who has shot all of Spielberg’s films since 1993.  Lighting was very important to him and I could definitely see that. Lighting was never obtrusive. It was symbolic and beautiful. Like I said, most shots were like a painting. I remember in Art History class we studied Rembrandt – his dark tones and use of lighting…I was reminded of that.

There is so much violent history for black people in America that it is a great relief to see the opposite. The fight for justice and freedom extends to many groups today and seeing someone outside of a ‘group’ fighting for that group is inspirational.

The acting. Daniel Day-Lewis is usually excellent, right? As always, he becomes his character. His extreme method acting allows him to feel blended into the character. He says that he really loved this character and that the character stayed with him long after shooting was finished. I like that he was a layered character. I think that historical figures might be flat or appear knowable. The attempt to bring humour, pathos and struggle to Lincoln is admirable.

Sally Field is also usually brilliant. She plays Lincoln’s vivacious and perhaps unstable wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. Field remains in character throughout shooting, gained 25lbs. to play the role and still hasn’t left her character behind her. Again, there are layers to this historical woman. Seeing one of her interviews reminds me of her personal vulnerability which she bring to a headstrong character. She is a front-runner for a best actress Oscar in my opinion.

Tommy Lee Jones is utterly fabulous. He is so wonderful here that I am speechless. I believe that if he were put in a best-actor Oscar category, he might win. He will likely be placed as a supporting actor. He plays cantankerous Radical Republican Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. He and Lincoln are enemies but they both want the 13th Amendment passed. His character must be an actor’s dream – he had a lot to play with. He is likable and hateful, a wild card yet also even. He is loveable but a loud old-fart too.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in everything these days and at the very least shows great range. Here he cannot hold a candle up to the others acting skills but props to him for trying. He play’s Lincoln’s son.

I can imagine that having a black American president now only heightens the drama. It was a very contentious thought in the film that black people and women might have the right to vote one day. While I could be very cynical and elaborate on the financial premise of releasing this film in North America on the weekend before American Thanksgiving, I kind of just feel thankful really. Oh yeah, I can see the manipulation here but the reality is that I am a woman who can vote – that was not possible for a very long time. This film makes you realize how precious much of what we take for granted, is.

This is a beautiful and important film that might win an Oscar. There are unbelievable acting skills here. It is well worth your time and money to see this film.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2

In Film, review on November 20, 2012 at 11:40 am

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.


Mahatma Gandhi

 

IMDB: After the birth of Renesmee, the Cullens gather other vampire clans in order to protect the child from a false allegation that puts the family in front of the Volturi.

Director: Bill Condon

Writers: Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay), Stephenie Meyer (novel)

Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner

 

[I will talk about the story but I give nothing away.]

 

Here we go, AGAIN (Review of part 1) but for the last time [apparently – call me a cynic]. This is the final Twilight film in a series of five films. It deviates from the Stephenie Meyer’s novels in that Meyer and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg created a new climax to the story. Like the final Harry Potter film, it makes absolutely no difference what I say – fans are fans, you know? In this case fans of the series are called Twihards. If you are a Twihard, let me be clear: I’ve seen every film, I know vampires in many pop culture forms, but I am not a fan of the Twilight Saga – I am a fair critic though.

[The following plot points are well known, however if the story remains unknown to you, you might want to skip this paragraph.]

So this film begins where the last film left off. Renesmee, Bella and Edward’s daughter, has been born and a dying Bella has been transformed by Edward into a vampire. Irina, of the Denali coven misidentifies the human infant as an immortal and tells the Volturi. This leads up to an epic battle.

At Movies Online Pattinson said that even though the “franchise” has opened many doors for him, the term “franchise” is problematic for him: A franchise is a Burger King or a Subway. It’s not a movie. The people who start to say it are generally the people who are making money off of it. That’s how they refer to it. They love it when something has become a franchise. But, as an actor, I think it’s scary. You really, really feel like you have no control. I mean, it’s a huge juggernaut, especially when something becomes part of the cultural landscape in a way as well. It’s really scary because you get trapped and you get scared of changing, which is the worst thing that can happen if you want to be any kind of artist.

I wish his acting made that kind of good sense. The 26-year-old actor is set to star in five upcoming dramas for 2013.

The Toronto Star interviewed Stewart and Pattinson. Stewart commented on playing the same character for five years. (She was 17 when she started, now she’s 22):

“There are so many beloved moments in this series that we would think about for five years,” she said. “They weigh on you, whereas in a normal movie, you’ve got five weeks, five months. . . . We, for five years, have been waiting for the story to be told. And now that it is, I don’t want to say that I’m so excited that it’s done, because that sounds like I just don’t want to do it anymore…”

Yup. Move on – please. Unlike her busy sometimes boyfriend (Pattison), she is not scheduled to do much. She’s Dean Moriarty’s teenage bride in Walter Salles’ IFC Films adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road – that’s it.

‘Twilight’ director Bill Condon, right, poses with his film’s actors, from left, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner.

 

The director of the film, Condon (“Dream Girls,” “Gods and Monsters”) seems eager to move on to other projects. He says that his experience with this film is not “bitter-sweet.”

“It’s sweet,” he said. “Just sweet. Because I think it took up a good chunk (of time) and now it’s time to do other things. It was really pleasurable, and I learned a lot. But I’m really excited about moving on to something else.”

To me, the direction felt bored, very tired and kind of ambivalent really. Some people feel that this is the best Twilight film. To them I say, “Really?” I  wonder if I watched the same film as them.

Taylor Lautner was by far the best actor. He was not wooden or stale and was easy to listen to amidst predictable and choppy dialog. It is claimed that Stewart and Pattison evolved their acting styles over the years. Wrong.

The cinematography at the beginning of the film was interesting. Bella, being a newborn vampire had a heightened sense of vision and hearing. Both aspects were reflected in the film. This was done well.

Sucky cardboard characters, bad acting, whatever direction but who cares?

Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times says; The dialogue remains spotty and sappy, the effects still haven’t caught up to modern-day standards, but “Twilight’s” popularity is such that even when it falls short, it doesn’t seem to matter.

It does not matter at all.

 

 

 

Team Live for Films – October highs and lows…

In Team Live For Films on November 5, 2012 at 1:05 pm

October has gone and November is here and V masks are donned ready for this evenings festivities. With that in mind here are some of Team Live for Films talking about their favourite movie moments of the past month and what they are looking forward to in November.

First up is me.

Phil Edwards

Highs:October was the month of James Bond. He turned 50 and also had Skyfall which has had the biggest opening for any Bond film ever.I thought nothing would be able to steal its thunder. Then came news that a certain Mouse had bought the Jedi and the Internet exploded.This made me put on the original trilogy and my daughter watched them for the first time and loved them. This led to drawings of Darth Vader and Yoda.Killing Them Softly was a great film with Brad Pitt doing amazing work. Cockneys vs Zombieswas a lot better than I thought it would be and a good film to watch with a group of friends.Other than that we had some great reviews from the London Film Festival (check them out here) and 31 Days of Horrorscared us on a daily basisLows:

I didn’t actually get to see many films in October.

Next month:

I cannot wait to see Argo and Rise of the Guardians.


Adam Truscott

Highs:

    • SkyFall. Genuinely brilliant.
    • Paranormal 4. Genuinely OK.
    • Sinister. Genuinely excellent… (Until last ten). Still possible soundtrack of the year, mind.
    • Killing Them Softly. Top three of 2012, For’ sure.

At Home;

  • Indiana Jones Blu Ray box set. Prom/Avengers/Wrath owned in 3D.
  • Realising Copland was out on Blu.
  • Being able to dance to Rock Of Ages in my pants, and not be judged

Lows:

  • SkyFall. Sheep.
  • Paranormal 4. Guy I went with turned and said: “I had my eyes closed. What happened?”, during last five.
  • Sinister. Last ten. Worst ending to a movie ever?

At Home;

  • No wifi for two weeks. (Possibly worse than not living.)
  • Not being very good at dancing in my pants.


Romy Shiller

Highs: Cloud Atlas. It is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea though.
Lows: Didn’t see enough films for a low.
In November I’m looking forward to Anna Karenina and Lincoln.


Mike Williams

Highs:SKYFALL! Brilliant stuff. Plus the sheer amount of horror films that it felt right to watch because of Halloween. Ended up going for the likes of [REC] and both EVIL DEAD films. LFF was also my highlight. Wasn’t prolific by any means, but managed about 12 films in the full week I was there, which included gems like RUST AND BONE, but more specifically, sci-fier, ROBOT & FRANK, and a wonderful French animation called ERNEST AND CELESTINE, which were both marvellous and my LFF highlights!Lows: FRANKENWEENIE for me. It wasn’t great.


Paul Jonze

For me, October has been a bit of a quiet month at the cinema.Of course, the cinema has been dominated by monster themed movies for adults and kids alike. The high for me this month has been Sinister. Initially, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it knowing it was from the makers of Insidious, a film that just seemed a regurgitating greatest hits of a lot of horror films of the 2000s. But, it was genuinely pretty scary in places and pretty enjoyable to watch. The only downside was the last ten minutes, all of which I think was pretty obvious and a greater twist would have been better appreciated.The low for me was Paranormal Activity 4. I loved the first film when it was released, and am in the minority of people who actually really enjoyed the second instalment. But the last two, in particular the most recent that currently appears to be boring people at the cinema have totally missed the mark. It seems full of cheap imitation tricks stolen from the first one. Not doing it for me.The big news of the month has been Disney taking over the Star Wars films and subsequently the news of a 7th instalment in 2015. This is pretty exciting stuff and I’m curious to see what they add. As long as Jar Jar isn’t even referenced to, then I’m gonna be one happy chappy. I am however looking forward to a new generation of heroes and villains in the ever expanding Star Wars universe.

Stephen Bowron

Highs: I’m pretty certain everyone will have the London Film Festival on their lists this month. The LFF had some great films and Rashida Jones’ ‘Celeste & Jesse Forever‘ was definitely my favourite. Everyone blathers on about how ‘Bridesmaids’ is a landmark film for the “real woman” but ‘C&JF’ is far superior. I can’t wait for it to come out in cinemas. Another high was the Iron Man 3trailer. It seems to have come and gone just like that, but for those two minutes and six seconds it ran for we were all more excited for it than we ever were for Christmas as children.Lows: I never got to see Argo at LFF. I have only used my Cineworld card once this month. I wasn’t as impressed as everyone else by ‘Looper‘, which is disappointing as I am a huge fan of Rhian Johnson.Looking forward to: I have never been a Bond fan but I’d quite like to catch Skyfall. I am also very much looking forward to Alec Baldwin as a Russian Santa in this month’s ‘Legend Of The Guardians‘.

Jackson Ball

Highs: The obvious one has to be Skyfall. Everyone involved was on top form and Craig has cemented himself as a more than worthy Bond. Also love how the last half hour is basically Home Alone!I also really enjoyed Frankenweenie. It reminded that once you strip away all the hype and lunacy, Tim Burton is a genuinely good filmmaker. It’s easy to forget that sometimes. Frankenweenie was funny, clever and bags full of fun.Lows: Paranormal Activity 4. What a waste of time an energy that was. Made me angry at myself, because I knew going in it was going to be bad, but I still got burned. Just awful.Low/Possible High: The whole Disney making Stars Wars thing. Initially, I have to say I am mortified, but I’ve been quick to judge and been wrong before (see: Heath Ledger cast as the Joker).


Maria Alexopoulos

Highs: I have been anticipating the release of Taken 2, for quite sometime now – having been blow away by the first one. The sequel did not disappoint with deep characters, coupled with a rich plot that left you on the edge of your seat. Aside from a few over-the-top action sequences the film was a big win for me.Lows: Yeah, um sorry but Frankenweenie, bit the proverbial wiener…and I mean that with all due respect. I have always been a fan of stop-motion, but there is something off-putting, not to mention down right disturbing about a dog with sown-on-flesh. Sorry kids, but this one just didn’t do it for me. It did have its clever moments, but still I left the film thinking ‘YUCK’.

Cloud Atlas

In Film, review on November 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Please see: Cloud Atlas – Review, kind of…

http://www.liveforfilms.com/2012/11/02/cloud-atlas-review-kind-of/