Firstly, thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday a few weeks ago! That above picture is of me at the age of four. My cousin is the one staring into the camera. Look at my perfect bowl cut though. Like I can't get over how perfect it is.
As is the case with me, I never quite make a big fuss over celebrating my birthday and it was pretty much the same as usual this year. I mean, I went to go see The Wolf of Wall Street with the usual suspects like any other Friday night so there really wasn't a change.
I did however receive this as a birthday present! It was such an unexpected gift that I never, in a million years, would have expected to receive but I'm glad I have it for reasons involving The Room and the mystery of Tommy Wiseau.
I've got another piece published over at Modern Korean Cinema but instead of a review, this time it's a feature on the lovely and talented Bae Doo-na. The actress has appeared in many notable Korean films over the years including Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, The Host and, more recently, has found herself in Hollywood engineered blockbuster, Cloud Atlas. It's basically just a giant love letter to the actress in hopes that she notices me, hahahahahahahaha.... ha. Hrm. Check it out, please.
The big news of the week so far has been the unexpected passing of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman - a big deal if you care about films. Always fun to watch on screen. I'll always remember his collaborations with director Paul Thomas Anderson as I think Anderson really brought out the best in him. He has a small but pivotal part in my favourite PTA film, Punch Drunk Love, which still makes me laugh and his reverence in The Master was particularly outstanding as well. I think what's even sadder about this news story is that he is survived by his wife and three children who have to come to terms with the alleged nature of their father's passing.
No where near as sad, is the recent news of wrestler CM Punk's sudden departure from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). As one of the top guys in the WWE - and certainly one of the most popular wrestlers in the world today - Punk's exodus from the company has had everyone in the wrestling world buzzing. Speculation's currently running rampant over whether or not this is all a work (something that Punk and the WWE already planned) but I feel this is legit and akin to Stone Cold Steve Austin's similar walk out on the professional wrestling monopoly. Hrm.
WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING
THE WOLVERINE: A pretty fun and faithful depiction of Wolverine up until the final moments of the film where it devolves into the usual comic book movie shenanigans with a ridiculously dumb fight with the end boss and almost ruins what came before. Much of the success of X-Men: First Class, I felt was that it changed up the superhero/comic-book movie formula a bit by readjusting things to a period context. It totally worked for that film and guess what - it totally worked for The Wolverine too. Its stark beginning in World War 2 made it its own little film within a film and, if I'm being honest, an entire movie on that would have been far more interesting than what they eventually came up with. Never mind though as everything that proceeds the WW2 stuff was almost as interesting as James Mangold essentially turns the story into a noir-like piece filled with corruption, femme fatales and lonely men. Also amazing how different a series can can feel just from changing locations (see Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift).
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET: The energy from the latest Scorsese/DiCaprio team-up is so infectious that you'll likely be feeling indestructible even when you leave your seat after the film's through. It's DiCaprio's best performance on film to date as the actor (who's 39, can you believe that?!) puts in a deliriously manic show as the egotistically drug-fueled millionaire, Jordan Belfort. If anything the film is essentially a cross between Scorsese's own Goodfellas and Oliver Stone's Wall Street but I really felt the three hour length of that film wasn't necessary as it practically dragged out conversations and comedic moments. Those crying about the film being a celebration/glorification of Belfort's crimes and excess need to realise though that the film really is a ferociously cruel indictment of Belfort, his associates and pretty much anyone on Wall Street with as much audaciousness as Belfort.
12 YEARS A SLAVE: If this film doesn't sweep the Academy Awards this year, I'm going to riot (okay, I won't go to that extreme of a length...). Steve McQueen never fails to astonish and 12 Years A Slave will undoubtedly go down as one of the most audacious and important American films ever made. It's the true story of Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery and it's incredibly told by McQueen and company. Chiwetel Ejiofor is a lock for Best Actor as is newcomer Lupita Nyong'o who turns in one of the most dire performances of any actress this year. McQueen regular, Michael Fassbender is also fantastic and while I certainly hope he takes home an Oscar, I fear he may lose it to Jared Leto. It mightn't be as much of an arthouse feature as Hunger and Shame but that isn't to say that there are moments in the film that transcend your standard biopic. Essential viewing - definitely one of the best films this year or any other year.
PHILOMENA: Was completely surprised by how enjoyable of a film Philomena is especially given its bizarre promotional campaign! Recounting the true story of Philomena Lee, a woman whose child is taken away from her as a teenager, the film picks up in present day where Philomena, with the help of journalist, Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), the two set out on a journey to investigate the whereabouts of Philomena's missing son. It's a huge crowd pleaser with so many unexpected layers than what what you're lead to believe. Surprisingly deep and Just when you have the film figured out, it swerves into unexpected revelation. A really great watch with a heartwarmingly endearing performance by Judi Dench. Totally not a grandma film!
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY: Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, this domestic drama/comedy features an ensemble cast of acting talent with Meryl Streep at the top of that pool of actors. Like Philomena, I felt this was quite a surprisingly enjoyable film and as a fan of films contained in enclosed spaces (the action in the film takes place in an unassuming home out in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma), was incredibly pleased with how effectively contained the drama in this was. Though the beginning lags considering the number of characters and subplots going on, it all builds towards the film's centerpiece - the dinner scene. It's one of the best dramatic dinner scenes I've seen in recent memory (sorry Before Midnight) and this is largely owed to the careful direction and tight script. Meryl Streep is scarilly good in the film and if Cate Blanchett hadn't been in Blue Jasmine this year, I'd feel confident in giving Streep another Oscar as the matriarch of the Weston clan.
THE ACT OF KILLING: For all its hype, The Act of Killing disappointed me on all fronts. I watched the director's cut of the film and oh man was that such a difficult watch. The film moved me to boredom and, for me, really didn't do much as a character study or a document of Indonesia's sordid past. Never does it feel like a study of man's pride and capacity for murder or genocide and while I will admit that the film is very surreal, stylistically different and a very disturbing watch, I just felt like there was nothing to latch onto. For the most part, it feels like as though Joshua Oppenheimer, the documentary's director, is just stumbling around in the dark, hoping to find something profound and meaningful for the audience to jump at. While I am curious about the theatrical cut to see if it fares any better, I don't think I'd want to revisit the film any time soon. Really disappointing.
And that's it for this post. More earlier than the usual monthly wait, ey? Anyways gonna leave ya'll on some Skrillex cause that's how I roll. Not quite dubstep (not really dubstep at all, really, don't be afraid). Straight from the Spring Breakers soundtrack!