Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

cold night playlist

"Empire Ants (Miami Horror Remix)" - Gorillaz

"Pumped Up Kids" - Foster the People

"Painted Eyes" - Hercules & Love Affair

"Chinatown" - Destroyer

"Marathon" - Tennis

"XXXO on the Dock of the Bay (M.I.A. vs. Otis Redding)" - ToToM

"Tree By the River" - Iron & Wine

"Take Off" - Jon Giovanni

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

oscar nomination day shoutouts

My favorite film of the year The King's Speech rules with 12 nominations. Complete list here.

Martin Filler tells us what's truth and fiction in The King's Speech in New York Review of Books.

Oscar frontrunner Colin Firth interview on the film.

Annette Bening talks about making The Kids Are All Right.

Natalie Portman talks Black Swan.

Melissa Leo defends the character she portrayed, Alice Ward, in The Fighter. See also The Steely Matriarchs Speak.

Director David O. Russell on The Fighter.

Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld on True Grit.

The excellent John Hawkes from Winter's Bone discusses the film.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

frosted flakes

It's cold in New York so what better flick to watch and write about for Stacie Ponder's Final Girl Film Club? O Frozen. I'll try to avoid "cold" puns throughout this review... but it's so tempting. Frozen is pretty thin ice. Three dimwitted friends decide to get one last ski run in before closing time and end up stuck on the lift. They panic a little and conversation ensues about "the worst way to die" including an awkward reference to September 11th. Soon enough, just when you would say to yourself "I would just jump off that piece," Kevin Zegers decides to jump, but unfortunately, feet first. Wolves come out of the woods. And that's about an hour in, with 30 odd minutes to go. So we have to watch Emma Bell weep about her little dog, pry her icy grip from a metal bar, pee her snow pants, and ask her comrade (Shawn Ashmore) why he doesn't have a girlfriend. The remaining time consists of more climbing across creaky cables, landscape shots, heavy breathing, growling wolves, and a lackluster conclusion. Shrewdly marketed as horror (and featuring a small cameo by Kane Hodder), Frozen is less (much less) Jaws on the slopes, more ultra lite 127 Hours. I guess the filmmakers deserve credit for attempting to make a good-looking thriller on such a tiny scale. *

-Jeffery Berg

Thursday, January 20, 2011

top 10 films of 2010

There were so many good movies this year that it was hard to narrow down this list. It was exciting to see quality films (the already iconic Black Swan and True Grit) crossing over to mainstream audiences. Two films that almost made it were Nowhere Boy and The City of Your Final Destination, which I consider underrated.

So here goes my Top 10 of the year and some honorable mentions. Which films did you love this year?

10. The Ghost Writer

Spooky, entertaining thriller with Ewan McGregor stumbling upon the shady affairs of Prime Minister. Expertly directed by Roman Polanski.

9. The Kids Are All Right

I know there's a lot of controversy over the way Lisa Cholodenko portrayed California lesbian couple dealing with the return of their sperm donor but this deft comedy is more about how a family copes and protects itself than it is about politics. My friend said it best that Annette Bening deserves the award for "best acting with stemware." I could watch her performance for hours.

8. The Fighter

Unexpectedly rousing and moving study of a family pushing one (Mark Wahlberg) into the boxing ring while clinging to the past glory of another (Christian Bale).

7. A Prophet

Haunting, shattering journey into lives within a racially divided French prison.

6. Winter's Bone

Neo-noir in the Ozarks. A brave young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) on the quest to find her missing father to save family and home is met with many odds, while everyone around her fights to survive.

5. Blue Valentine

Great chemistry between two leads elevates this painful study of the beginning and the end of a marriage. A low-budget labor of love for the talented stars and new director/screenwriter Derek Cianfrance.

4. The Social Network

The film of the moment. Electric, engrossing look at the birth of Facebook.

3. Please Give

Sharply written comedy about Manhattan neighbors. Natural, authentic portrayals by Catherine Keener and Rebecca Hall and supporting cast.

2. Another Year

Lesley Manville gives an astounding performance as lonely, anxious friend of well-to-do couple (though my opinion of them turned by film's end). One of Mike Leigh's best, most potent character studies.

Call me old-fashioned but I enjoyed this more than any other film this year. Colin Firth as stammering King George and Geoffrey Rush as speech therapist make a terrific duo. Uplifting, well-written, handsomely filmed.

Some other great films from the year...