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Mama: A Strange and Fantastic Film
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) gives a compelling performance that is a caliber above many, many horror film actresses. Her nuanced character is believable and one you can root for. I was originally expecting her to be the only redeeming quality of the film, but I found myself enraptured by the film for a majority of it. Mama, directed by Andres Muschietti in his first feature length, is wonderful and tense at it’s best. The film adds layers of magic between the ghost, Mama, and the children. Their interactions carry levels of intensity and wonder that capture my attention every time. The child actors were also surprisingly good, something I’ll attribute to the directors ability with his cast. They were genuinely creepy without playing up the stereotypical “scary demon child”. The entire film avoided many of the horror film cliches that usually plague the rest of the genre. My only major problem with the film comes at the the very end, it left me thinking, “Well, now what?” Which I guess is an appropriate ending for something as strange and bizarre as this film was.
At the front of Mama is the question, “What does it take to be a mother?” Do you have to be the biological parent? Is it something that someone can just stumble upon and be ready for? What the film ultimately says about that is that it takes everything to be a mother. It requires an ultimate self-sacrifice, but in return it also creates an obsessive tie between mother and child that can be harder to overcome. Ultimately, the film leaves us with the question, “Is it worth the cost?”
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Amour: A Powerful and Compelling Tour-De-Force
Emmanuelle Riva gave, what I consider to be, the best performance by any actress this year. Every scene she is in feels real. It feels as if I am really watching her slowly collapse in on herself as her body slowly decays. Her powerful performance, along with her co-star Jean-Louis Trintignant, take a slow paced film about an elderly couple and bring it to award worthy heights. This is not to say that their performances are the only things that are so great about it. Michael Haneke resourcefully extends the scenes to slow paced crawl forcing the viewer to sit in on this couple’s lives. Each lunch, dinner, reading session, every moment that they spend together feels as if the viewer is in the room with them as well. This has a terrible effectiveness that ultimately devastates as the film goes on. At the end of the film we are left with a meditation on what it means to love and be loved, and how awful, and powerful, that can truly be.
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Les Miserables: An Uncompromising, but Ineffective Musical Drama During an extreme close-up of Anne Hathaway’s face I realized that this might be the most emotionally heart wrenching performance of the film. Ultimately, it did end up being that, but what it also did was destroy the rest of the film. Les Miserables suffered from failing to bring any real drama to the screen. Moments that should have been harrowing and sad were made oddly funny due to strange choices made by the actors and director. This was one of many defects found in Les Miserables. The constant extreme close-ups during songs only work some of the time, specifically during “I Dreamed a Dream”. Many times the close-ups are unnecessary and take away from the film. It is surprising to see so many close-ups when the sets were so wonderfully done. It definitely takes away from the ability to appreciate the sets. The strange choices should be acknowledged and admired for being so strongly followed, but at the same time admonished for their inability to bring about a strong drama when the story itself is strong.
Just bought a festival pass so I can see some of my favorite films of all time in glorious 70mm film print in a theater! I’m so excited! There’s going to be a quite a few films I haven’t seen too!
It’s going to be so awesome.
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Zero Dark Thirty: An Astounding International Manhunt Slow Burn
I imagine that this film, in less capable hands, would not be nearly as good as the one I have seen today. Zero Dark Thirty is unlike many contemporary “war” films, even Bigelow’s previous Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker. It’s a slow burn, it builds anticipation and tension throughout it’s two and a half hour run time to the point of a fever pitch that when (spoilers, as if you didn’t know how this was going to play out) the choppers land around “The Third Floor Guy’s” compound I was on the edge of my seat.
Maya (played brilliantly by Jessica Chastain) is the heart of this film. As we follow her relentless manhunt we see a woman determined, someone who will not stop until she gets what she wants. Chastain’s performance is reserved to the point where it is almost impossible to tell what Maya is exactly feeling during scene’s and it’s wonderful. In the moments that are heated her performance is fiery. What is so beautiful about her reserved performance comes at the end. After all is said and done, and she has gotten what she wanted. Is she relieved? Is she happy? Does she wish that it wasn’t over at all? I know that when the film ended I wish it hadn’t. But when it’s over. It’s over.
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There’s just been far too many good films this year. Here’s my list of what I considered my favorite films of 2012. There are I haven’t seen, nor will I before the end of the year so this is pretty conclusive. Let me know if you disagree / agree and what your lists are!
8. The Hobbit
7. Django Unchained
5. Beasts of the Southern Wild
4. Cloud Atlas
3. The Master
2. The Dark Knight Rises
1. Silver Linings Playbook
Dead Man Down Pre-Release Trailer
With all of the words we say we’ve stopped using some particularly wonderful ones
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