Blue Is the Warmest Color Directed by: Abdellatif Kechiche Written by: Abdellatif Kechiche & Ghalia Lacroix (screenplay), Julie Maroh (graphic novel) Starring: Adèle Exachopoulos, Léa Seydoux, Salim Kechiouche and Benjamin Siksou
A three-hour epic of writhing limbs and ferocious love, Blue Is the Warmest Color is without a doubt one of the most unforgettable and complicated movie-going experiences of year. The performances are so raw, the young actresses so vulnerable in their portrayal of this intense relationship, that it nearly transcends some of its director’s problematic depictions of them.
Abdellatif Kechiche’s film deeply impressed this year’s Steven Spielberg-led Cannes jury, taking home the Palme d’Or but also sparking intense debate. Julie Maroh, the writer of the graphic novel, said that while watching the sex scenes it became clear to her that there were no lesbians on the set. She connected the way Kechiche shot those scenes to a later conversation in the film, where a man at a dinner party discusses how sacred and mystical the female orgasm is.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Directed by: Edgar Wright Written by: Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright (screenplay), Bryan Lee O’Malley (graphic novels.) Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jason Schwartzman, and Anna Kendrick
It almost seemed as if America had had enough of Michael Cera. His “quirkier than thou,” acting career had cornered its hipster niche, and then pummeled it with character after awkward character until they just couldn’t take it anymore. As we saw with his two earlier and still best movies, Superbad and Juno, his comic style’s effectiveness is screenplay dependent. Thankfully, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World‘s got one of those, and it doesn’t pummel you with his long pauses or dopey, annoying sensibilities.
Another thing this potent, and fully alive comic book adaptation’s got is a visual style. I’d rather be pummeled by fantastic visuals than awkward pauses any day, and director Edgar Wright does this. It can overwhelm at times, and if it were in 3D it would kill you, but Wright effectively makes up for this summer’s lack of visual polish. You’ll feel like you’re watching a music video and playing a video game, especially if you’re familiar with the artistry of both mediums.
Watchmen Directed by: Zack Snyder Written by: David Hayter & Alex Zse (screenplay), Alan Moore (graphic novel) Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Malin Ackerman, and Billy Crudup
You must give credit where credit is due: Zack Snyder knows which graphic novels to adapt to the screen. 300 was his claim to highly stylized fame, and now with Watchmen, he tackles perhaps the most important graphic novel of all time. Of course it won’t live up to the source material, even when/especially because he sticks to it almost frame for frame.
Why storyboard when it’s already been done for you? This appears to be the only original question Snyder poses. His source material must do all the talking, because he is concerned with stylistic bloodshed by the gallons. As he did in 300, he lets his characters run rampant within the frame, leaving nothing- violent or sexual -to the imagination.
A History of Violence Directed by: David Cronenberg Written by: Josh Olson (screenplay), John Wagner & Vince Locke (graphic novel) Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, and William Hurt
When David Cronenberg decided to direct this brutal, idealistic masterpiece in 2005, it was snubbed royally by both the Academy Awards and general public. As time wore on, though, and the end of the decade lists needed to be made, A History of Violence rightfully appeared on them.
Once you see the movie, the title will evoke Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States. That’s how definitive it is on the subject. Cronenberg knows that violence is a part of human DNA, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. He uses this to create a visually stunning, relentlessly violent assault on the typical American family.
The Stahls are that family. Once the film moves past it’s brutal introduction, we see that almost too perfectly. They banter carelessly, the children are obedient stereotypes, and the couple are hopelessly in love. Thankfully, Croneneberg doesn’t stay there for long. We see Tom (Viggo Mortensen) and Edie (Maria Bello) engage in wildly erotic, kinky sex after the kids are gone. We see their son Jack (Ashton Holmes) do well in gym class and then almost get pummeled.