September 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
“Whiplash” was screened to a sophisticated audience at Alice Tully Hall as part of the prestigious New York Film Festival this past Sunday night, and received a standing ovation. Many cinephiles may have been lucky enough to have already viewed the film at Sundance and/or Cannes, 2014.
Terence Fletcher, played by actor, J.K. Simmons, is a jazz conductor, who makes the nuns who used to hit their students with measuring rulers when they misbehaved in Catholic schools during the 1950’s, seem like angels.
As a music instructor at Shaffer Conservatory of Music in Manhattan, the top music school in the country, Terence Fletcher is authoritarian, militaristic, demanding, unconventional, violent, sadomasochistic, and downright, abusive towards his musical orchestra and students who are preparing for competitions around the area. If the student was lagging behind, he would often get close up to a students face, and violently remark, “I will NOT have you screw up MY band!” If the student didn’t know if his instrument was out of tune, he was sent home. If a student wasn’t performing to Terence’s satisfaction, he would replace them with another eager musician. Terrence would also often remind his class of a jazz teacher who threw symbols at his students to demand the best out of them, and one of them went on to become a jazz legend.
Fear and dread were on the faces on many of the students, but one jazz drummer, Andrew Neyman (played by Miles Teller), was determined to see it through with the hopes of being the next jazz great. Putting aside things that most college aged men enjoy (parties, sports, and girls), he practices non-stop and keeps going even through every obstacle.
Will he make it through the cruelty, and bloody palms and knuckles?
One World Cinema
September 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
I usually don’t write bad reviews, but considering that this was chosen for the opening night of the NYFF, I guess I should write something.
“Gone Girl” is based on a book, therefore, it is really the plot that is disturbing, and not so much the filmmaking or acting.
So, (wishing I had the 2 1/2 hours of my life back), the opening scene of “Gone Girl” is also the closing scene. A husband is lying on his bed (the camera angle from his focal point). As he strokes his wife’s blonde hair, he is wondering “What is she thinking?” “What have we done to each other?”
Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), is an average guy with low ambitions, he married an uppity trust fund Harvard graduate who is well-known for her “Amazing Amy” books. He was working as a writer himself, until he got laid off. When his mother got sick, they moved back to his hometown in Missouri, and while Nick is happy to be home, Amy feels unwanted, and as if she could disappear without anyone even noticing.
On their fifth wedding anniversary (wood), Nick returns to their home, and finds the glass coffee table turned upside down, the iron still hot, traces of blood on the molding, and Amy missing. He calls the police and when the detectives arrive, Nick answers their questions very nonchalantly and apathetically, almost as if he is relieved that she is missing. As Amy left note cards marked “Clue 1,” “Clue 2,” and “Clue 3,” around their house(s) for their 5th wedding anniversary, the husband, and the detectives are trying to piece the puzzle together. A diary citing marital problems, money problems, and infidelity is discovered, inevitably setting Nick up to look like the guilty party.
Will Nick get charged? Will they figure out who the murderer is? Is Amy even still alive? What was the motive?
Neil Patrick Harris, as the ex-boyfriend, who was still in love with Amy after all these years, was hysterical.
I found Amy to be very unlikeable.
This is my first bad review. One star.
If you like a good murder mystery, watch “Sherlock”!
One World Cinema
September 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
“To be 25 years in, and to still be so inspired using the gift God gave me, I feel like I am just beginning.” -Lenny Kravitz
Look for Lenny Kravitz live over the next few months in the UK/London for the itunes Festival, Russia, Scandinavia, and Eastern and Western Europe!!! Click on the link for the exact locations, dates and venues.
Like a fine wine, Lenny Kravitz continues to improve with age, and is just getting started! 25 years to the day, “Let Love Rule,” one of the greatest albums ever created, was released. Now, on his 10th studio album, “Strut” was made available yesterday, Sept 19, 2014, on itunes. To help kick off his promotional tour, Lenny appeared in his hometown, New York City (which is also a title track off of his new album “Strut”). A sold out audience packed the 92nd Street Y for a Questions and Answers with contributing editor for “Rolling Stone” magazine, Anthony DeCurtis, and the spiritual, hard working, rock legend, Mr. Lenny Kravitz!!!
Some highlights from the interview:
Q: “Where did you get the drive for ‘Strut?'”
A: “I just finished the world tour for “Black and White America,” and had to be at work on the “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” movie set at 5am. 5am is usually the time that I am going to bed, and I found myself having to wake up to go to work to be on the film set. There is a lot of waiting patiently and quietly on film sets, and the songs kept coming to me, 2 or 3 at a time. It is a gift, so I didn’t want to let it pass. I stayed awake for 2 weeks (without the use of any substances), only sleeping one hour a night, humming into my phone. I felt like I did back in high school when I used to make music back then. To be 25 years in, and to still be so inspired using the gift God gave me, I feel like I am just beginning.”
Q: Talk about the gist of the album.
A: “A lot of the songs are about relationships, desire, sex, lust, passion, the town I grew up in, misunderstood love, devotion and heartbreak.”
Q: What does NYC mean to you?
A: “NYC is magical. I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t grow up in NYC, Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn and 82nd Street and 5th/Madison in the Upper East Side. I was born at St. Johns Hospital. I am of a mix background, Russian Jewish, and Bahamian/African American.”
The radio in the 1970’s in NYC played everything you wanted to hear. I remember listening to music in my father’s VW bug (Sly and the Family Stone, Robert Plant, Curtis Mayfield). The look and the sound was very powerful, people were expressive and free. My parents tried to take me to every kind of music and cultural arts event that they could, giving me a vocabulary that I could use later on.”
Aside: Lenny Kravitz published his first coffee table book filled with photos from his career spanning over 25 years. The Rizzoli’s publication will be hitting the stores on 23rd September 2014.
Q: Talk about the coffee table book.
A: “I enjoy risks. I get into the moment, and feel free in that way. I understand the use of light, as I also enjoy photography myself. Actually, sometimes I can be a pain because I tell the photographer where the light should come from. It’s fun to collaborate.”
Q: Who do you admire?
A: “I just ran into Mick Jagger at at club in Paris, and I hope that my next 25 years can be like his career. He just played in Barcelona a month ago, and he said it was the best show he’s ever done. He’s still doing it! It is wonderful to still see people moving forward. I hope that the best is yet to come. The first 25 years have been a great education, and I still have a lot of growing to do in the next 25 years. My focus is on my spirituality, faith, and belief. My grandmother on my mother’s side always brought God into the picture. She said that all the up’s and down’s, it all came from God. Without God life would be empty. We live in a day and age where God is moving to the back burner. My focus is on God.”
Q: Anthony DeCurtis read a letter from a man dying from leukemia, who stated that he found solace from the album, “Mama Said,” especially the song, “Fields of Joy.”
A: “There is no amount of fame or money that can compare to this.
If that was the only person who listened to the album, than what a blessing.”
Q: What is your greatest accomplishment?
A: “My daughter, Zoe Kravitz. She keeps me grounded.
Each day of life is a gift from God. I am trying to enjoy every moment, and I try not to complain.”
God bless Lenny Kravitz!!!
One World Cinema
Winner of Cannes Film Festival 2014 for Best Director, as well as, a strong Oscar Contender, “Foxcatcher” Nov 14, 2014!
September 7, 2014 § Leave a comment
“Champions in sport, winners in life, and good citizens for America.”- John du Pont
Based on a true story, Foxcatcher, opens with black and white clips of equestrians with their hunting dogs, and quickly turns to Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), wrestling with a dummy alone on a mat in a gym.
It’s March, 1987, and Mark is wearing a gold medal around his neck and talking to an auditorium full of young children about his wrestling career. “Both he and his brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo), have competed in some of the world’s toughest competitions. Dave, earned a silver medal and was the highest-placed American in the Tblisi Tournament in Soviet Georgia, and in 1984 both Mark and Dave won Olympic Gold. The following year Mark won the World Championships and faced all the Eastern bloc countries that boycotted the 1984 Olympics. In the World Finals, Mark built a 10-2 lead after one minute and won 10-5. Dave Schultz is the only 1984 Olympic Champion to win the 1983 World Championships and Mark is the only 1984 Olympic Champion to win the 1985 World Championships.
Sitting on the couch playing a handheld electronic Mattel video game, the phone rings. A very official sounding representative for John du Pont (Steve Carell), invites Mark to the du Pont estate in Pennsylvania to meet with the John du Pont, an eccentric, multi-millionaire, in person.
After going through a background check, Mark meets with John, who talks very slowly, and appears to exhibit signs of Asperger’s or schizophrenia. He asks Mark what he hopes to achieve in life. When Mark tells him that he wants to go to the World Championship and Seoul, Korea for the 1988 Olympics, John explains his belief that “our nation has failed to recognize you. I am a patriot and I want to see you soar. I think that without your brother, you can do anything you set your mind to.” He allows Mark and other wrestlers to live and train on his estate.
As the movie continues on, and the relationships become more complicated, an ominous feeling that something terrible is going to happen, lurks.
There is already Oscar buzz for Best Actor: Steve Carell, Best Supporting Actor: Channing Tatum, and Best Picture: for the Bennett Miller directed working class hero drama, Foxcatcher.
5 out of 5 stars.
In theaters November 14, 2014.
One World Cinema
September 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
Jon Stewart made the packed audience laugh while he was in Telluride, Colorado this past Labor Day weekend (29 August to 1 September, 2014) as he was introducing his new film, ROSEWATER.
“I am just starting to adjust to the altitude, so I guess that means it is time for me to leave to go home now. What is the best thing for adjusting to high altitude? Water. So, most of you are hydrating and drinking a lot of water? And now I get to watch you squirm in your seats while you watch ROSEWATER, because you won’t be able to use the bathroom for the next two hours.”
The 41st Telluride Film Festival is hard to get to, but worth the trip, and showcases the most anticipated US premieres from first time filmmakers like Jon Stewart to veteran filmmakers including Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Bennett Miller. There were also several classic auteurs honored such as Orson Welles, his incomplete feature, made just three years before Citizen Kane, which was never shown publicly, THE MAGICIAN, a 2014 documentary about Orson Welles himself, Robert Altman, CALIFORNIA SPLIT, 1974, and Francis Ford Coppola, APOCALYPSE NOW, 1979, A CLOSE-UP ON APOCALYPSE NOW and HEARTS OF DARKNESS, 1991. The festival has a low key, small, casual, and approachable style, without any fancy red carpets. At 8,750 feet, this gorgeous mountain town, with a history rich in mining, is set in a valley surrounded by mountain peaks. The sun shines in that Rocky Mountain High sort of way which places a halo around the person you are talking to. The screenings are held at approximately 12 venues all within walking distance in town, and if you ascend in the gondola 1,000 to 2,000 additional feet, to Mountain Village (a ski resort plaza with hotels, outdoors shops, and restaurants), there is another 500 seat theater, named after Chuck Jones. The gondola is very safe, is powered by solar energy, and offers 360 degree panoramic mountain views. It is breathtakingly gorgeous and offers the opportunity to meet others who share the same passion for film as yourself.
There are three airports that service the Telluride area; Telluride, Montrose, and Durango, and if you are unable to fly directly into Telluride (because soon it will be for private flights only), Tellurides.com offers transportation from Montrose or Durango. It may sound far to an East Coaster, but the hour and 20 minute ride from Montrose to Telluride is part of the vacation as you drive by ranches, 14,000 foot peaks, red rocks, and rivers with trout jumping from them. In other words, getting there is half the fun.
I saw 10 films in only four days, most of them brought me on an emotional catharsis.
Films included the following;
FOXCATCHER: the sports drama about two brothers, both Olympic gold medalists in wrestling, and an eccentric wealthy mentor.
WILD: based on the novel by Cheryl Strayed, about a recently divorced woman who reflects back on her past and her relationship with her mother and ex-husband as she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail.
THE HOMESMAN: Tommy Lee Jones as a claim jumper, who tries to help three troubled women make it across the prairie safely,
BIRDMAN: a washed up action film actor who tries to rekindle his career in the theater,
RED ARMY: a hockey documentary about the Cold War,
71: an IRA war drama set in Belfast, starring Jack O’Connell from “Starred Up,”
ROSEWATER: based on the true story about a detained journalist (Maziar Bahari) in Iran.
PARADISE LOST: a Godfather-like film about Pablo Escobar starring Benicio del Toro, and Josh Hutcherson, and lastly,
DANCING ARABS: a young boys viewpoint growing up Arabic in Israel.
Many films received terrific buzz at the festival. There is already talk of Oscar contention for Foxcatcher, Birdman, and Imitation Game.
Thanks for reading.
One World Cinema
August 13, 2014 § Leave a comment
Lots of loss, and a whole lot of soul.
“I paid the cost to be the boss.” ~ James Brown
The James Brown biopic starts off when a 55 year old James Brown reacts negatively to a tragic event that just took place in his life and storms into an insurance meeting. It is not until the end of the film that you piece the timeline of events together to understand why and how he behaved the way he did.
Next the film turns back to 1968 with James Brown and his entourage on a military plane flying through a war zone trying to make it to a concert for the troops. Although it is dangerous, James feels that it is not yet his time to go.
Flash back to 1939, when you see him as a young boy being raised in the woods in Augusta, GA. His father is abusive towards him and his mother and, eventually she leaves. The father goes off to war, leaving James alone in the center of town. He ventures into the community church where he looks up to the eccentric minister, who is twirling around, while preaching the gospel. It is obvious, this was one of his influences.
Skip ahead to 1949 where he steals a mans suit, and is about to be punished when a band member from a group called “The Starlighters” comes to his aide. James begins to sing with them.
From there you journey on his rise to fame, his wife and family, King Records signing him, the return of his mother, his relationship with his wife, his band, his good tried and true friend, Bobby Byrd, his manager, stage performances, the infamous concert at the Boston Garden, MLK’s death, back taxes, his desire to stay on top, and finally back to the first scene in Augusta, GA in 1988.
He died on Christmas Day 2006. He was 73.
The film flips back and forth over his lifespan more than any other film I’ve ever seen, however, it is understandable and entertaining.
4 out of 5 stars.
One World Cinema