So, only two months in and I’m already behind on this, I’ve got to stick with it though, my aim is to publish these within the first week of the month, and I must try harder next time. Anyway, a couple of years ago I wrote a piece about what I considered my top ten movie “blind spots” – the most famous movies I had never seen. At the end of the list I wrote down a couple of names of famous directors who I hadn’t seen any films from, one of whom was acclaimed Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami. I had intended seeing all my blind spots to be a challenge for the following year but then unfortunately forgot all about it, though I might resurrect that post next month. I did want to include Kiarostami in my ‘director months’ project though, particularly after his death last year led to a number of articles highlighting his work, reminding me just how respected he was among critics and fellow directors. Continue reading
The notion of ‘faith-based cinema’ nowadays generally refers to low-budget garbage like the output of PureFlix Studios (Do You Believe? God’s Not Dead) that do not seek to do anything more than shamelessly, and often insultingly pander to evangelical Christian audiences. Then, whenever a director gets a rare chance to actually try something riskier, it usually ends up proving controversial among religious audiences, such as Darren Aronofsky’s recent Noah. No stranger to controversy himself, Martin Scorsese last took on the weighty subject in 1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ, a film that caused sufficient outrage to be banned in multiple countries and a terrorist attack at a Paris cinema occurred at a showing. Scorsese isn’t seeking to offend at all though, and at the heart of his latest film Silence, a project he’s wanted to tackle for over two decades, is a sincere exploration of faith and its consequences. Continue reading
One of my movie-related new year’s resolutions this year was initially just to try and watch a few more older movies I hadn’t seen, but I then decided to be a bit more rigid and instead opted to settle on becoming familiar with some more well-known and acclaimed filmmakers that I’d personally not seen much, if anything from. I decided to split this into what I feel is a fairly manageable format; one director per month, who has an established reputation and body of work, but that I’ve only seen a very small portion of, if anything at all. Then I must try to see at least three films from each director’s filmography, and not just the three most recent ones. Continue reading
Come the ‘awards season’ phase in every cinematic year, film fans are likely to find at least one historical biopic vying for attention. These types of movies often tend to be the easiest option for awards recognition, and yet simultaneously among the most difficult for me to get in any way excited about. While often these are stale movies that expect to gain appreciation solely because of their subjects’ lives rather than their actual cinematic merit, there’s occasionally one that attempts to do something more innovative with the genre than just run through a person’s life. In 2015 the wonderful Love & Mercy turned out to be one of the best movies of the year for example, and I’m pleased to report now that Jackie, a nominal biopic of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (Natalie Portman) is very much in the same camp. Continue reading
After making his English-language debut with underrated thriller Stoker, Korean master Park Chan-wook has returned to his home country to make The Handmaiden, a devious, knotty romantic thriller that marks his first venture into period fare.
At the fine age of 86, Clint Eastwood still shows no signs of slowing down, just 18 months ago he scored the biggest hit of his career with the surprise smash American Sniper. He returns now with another adaptation of a recent true story examining reluctant American heroism, a common theme for Clint, though a much less (potentially) controversial one with Sully. Continue reading
Showing no concern for being pigeon-holed, writer-director John Carney follows up his previous two folk/pop musical comedy-dramas Once and Begin Again with, wait for it…a new comedy-drama centred around aspiring pop musicians! Where does he get his ideas? What’s a little more surprising is that he’s returned to his native Ireland for a lower budgeted independent effort rather than working in the US again with any big Hollywood stars as he did last time, but here that proves to his advantage. Continue reading