ARCHIVE REVIEW: L.I.E.

L.I.E.
Directed by: Michael Cuesta
Written by: Stephen M. Ryder, Michael Cuesta, & Gerald Cuesta
Starring: Paul Dano, Brian Cox, Bruce Altman, and Billy Kay

Watching L.I.E. reminds you of what the American Independent Cinema first set out to do; it’s of full moral ambiguity within a premise that would never in a million years be green-lit by a Hollywood studio.  Looking at recent indie fluff like Juno or any of its brightly colored siblings makes the often edgy facade of independent movies seem like they’re losing touch, never mind the quality.

L.I.E. stars Paul Dano in what is still his most daring role.  His excellent performances in Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood almost seem safe next to his role as Howie, a gay, misguided 15-year-old who becomes romantically entangled with a much, much older man.  If Dano is daring, than Brian Cox is fearless on an almost unparalleled level as that older man.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Magnolia

Magnolia
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, and Philip Seymour Hoffman

Capturing the entirety of the human experience is an ambitious goal, one that many filmmakers never really feel up to tackling.  Paul Thomas Anderson thinks its third feature material.  Let’s face it though, the movies are better when the focus is narrowed.

That’s not to say Magnolia is not a beautiful, often breathtaking piece of work.  It is, in fact, a blueprint of sorts of the new decade of filmmaking that was to follow in the year 2000.  The seemingly unrelated yet interwoven storylines of films like Traffic, Babel or Crash meet the bizarreness of network television polluting Requiem for a Dream.  Bookending the film is the snarky know-it-all narrator you may know from Woody Allen films.

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Five movies to watch alone

To coincide with our “Five movies to watch with a group,” post from the summer, it’s time for the foil.  Here are movies that we think you’ll get a deeper understanding from if you kick out the guests and block out the rest of the world.  While the group movies offer visceral thrills and outlandish humor, these movies use a sometimes understated, subtle way of telling the story that can’t be appreciated with a loud group of people.

There Will Be Blood- We both named Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic the best movie of the 2000s, but we’ve never watched it together.  Something primal about Anderson’s direction and Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance (also topping our best male performances list) leaps off the screen and speaks right to you.  If you’re in a crowded room, you won’t hear it as well.

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SPOTLIGHT: Daniel Day-Lewis

Gargantuan doesn’t even begin to describe a Daniel Day-Lewis performance.  One of the greatest living actors, if not the greatest, he towers over other actors of his generation with a surreal dedication to his roles.  Known as a definitive method actor, he stays in character from the time a movie starts shooting until the time it finishes production.  This practice has won him 2 Oscars out of four nominations.  He only does a project when he can truly commit himself to the grueling experience he goes through to prepare, which is why we don’t see him every year.  When we do though, it’s one goddamn hell of a show.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Gangs of New York

Gangs of New York
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Jay Cocks
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, John C. Reilly

In its early ages, New York City was a dirty, filthy, muddled mess, sprawling over an untamable piece of land, controlled nothing more than the violent, greedy people who were trying to civilize it. With immigration and war on the rise, it was growing faster than ever, more torn that ever and more important than ever. Despite the bloodshed, it bloomed with the nation, undertaking a rapid transformation that would summarize America’s birth and stay in the world. In more ways than one, Gangs of New York is just like the city.

The film is often one that is most hacked by critics and Scorsese fans, mostly for its historical inaccuracy, length and muddled narrative. But just like the violent mess the city was, the movie follows suit, becoming a grand, grotesque but truthful epic tale of how a city and a nation were born.

Scorsese incorporates similar themes to his other famous works. There are the power struggles with men and women, violence as a substitution for sex, violence within class, nationality and religion. This movie hits them all, and it hits them with brute force. Continue reading

A Few Movie Facts: Matt

1.  I hated Pulp Fiction the first time I saw it, but for some reason watched it again a week later and loved it.  Now I watch movies I think are bad twice on occasion just to see if I’m missing out.  (Exception: Michael Bay movies or ones that are really bad.)

2. I saw The Dark Knight 7 times in the theater.  I’ve only watched it twice on DVD.

3. Like Luke, my favorite director is also Martin Scorsese.  The Coen Brothers and Francis Ford Coppola are close behind, though.

4. One movie that’s super acclaimed that I will never, ever watch is Bridge on the River Kwai. It just looks like something I could never sit through.

5.  Out of all the movies I’ve seen, I probably think about There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men more than any of them.  This is mostly because they are from the same year and thinking about one leads to the other, but also because they are two of the greatest movies made in the past 30 years.

6.  Brad Pitt is a good actor, but I really don’t like that many of his movies even though I’m a guy and I’m “supposed to.”

7. My two favorite actors are Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis.  If they ever did a movie together, the script wouldn’t even matter.

8. TV Shows like Mad Men and The Sopranos are better than 90% of the movies that come out these days.

9. I consider myself a huge movie buff, but I don’t want to sit around for hours and discuss the French New Wave or German Expressionism.  I’d rather watch the movies.

10.  My guilty pleasure movie is The Devil Wears Prada.  I know it doesn’t utilize anything revolutionary or tell a new kind of story, but come on.  Meryl Streep’s power to carry a movie has never been more prevalent.

A Few Movie Facts: Luke

1. Of the AFI’s top 10 films of all-time, Raging Bull, Gone With the Wind and Lawrence of Arabia are the only films which I have not seen. The only films I think belongs in their top 10 list are Schindler’s List and Citizen Kane.

2. Some films I think they are missing out on are Children of Men, There Will Be Blood, Gangs of New York, Apocalypse Now, Kill Bill, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Pan’s Labyrinth and Taxi Driver. Man, I have a thing for dark films.

3. Favorite director is Martin Scorsese, hands down. Continue reading