Saturday, April 27, 2013

Trance (2013)

I think it is time to clarify the distinction between a 'reveal' and a 'twist':

- A reveal ends a plot. It is an essential part of a story, without which there would be no ending, no resolution of conflict, no catharsis … no end credits.

- A twist is an add-on, a luxury. It adds depth to a plot that is already finished, it makes Rashomon what it is - a device to change the point of view of the beholder and makes him/her see things in a different light, without altering what happened beforehand.

The ending to The Sixth Sense is a twist, because it has absolutely no bearing on the plot. It adds a new depth to the story, but it is not essential for it to work. Sure, it makes it a better story, but as audience we are satisfied with how the plot played out already. Our enjoyment of the story is enhanced, which is admittedly a subjective thing.

Rebellion (2011)

Matthieu Kassovitz needed Rebellion. Long known as the romantic co-lead in Amelie (2001) and the director of the sublime urban teen crime drama La Haine (1995), which gave us Vincent Cassell if for nothing else, his directorial output has been pretty patchy. And that's an understatement.

With Rebellion he puts himself in the spotlight as a director and as an actor more than capable enough to pout and ponder when the camera is on him. It must have been irresistible to keep the focus on him all the time, but Rebellion is far from a desperate attempt at a vanity project. It is a superior war drama, the likes of which we have rarely seen since Platoon (1987).

Sunday, April 7, 2013

In the House (2012)

Into the House is a more sombre and bleak effort by François Ozon, following from his über-camp, but heaps of fun, Potiche from a couple of years ago. Fabrice Luchini returns, this time as the high school literature teacher that treads a very fine moral line when it comes to getting the best out of his pupils. For those familiar with Ozon's previous efforts might be led to believe that he partakes in some lewd relationship with a pupil. Fortunately, Ozon evades this obvious element with something a little bit more subtle but ultimately more sinister and self-desructive.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Beyond the Hills (2012)

Cristian Mungiu's much-lauded and awards-happy feature follow-up to the brilliant 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is a sublime exploration of superstitious dogma clashing with strict secularism. It is at first a painfully slow and bleak account of two women whose lives cross paths once again after they leave the orphanage where they grew up and where, it is inferred, they were sexually and physically abused.

Voichita, played by debutante Cosmina Stratan, is a novice nun of a hilltop Orthodox monastery in rural Romania. The monastery is run by a young conservative priest, Papa (Valeriu Andruita). The remaining members of the monastery are a group of misfit nuns from all walks of life. Papa, like his name, runs the place like a devoted, but distant father. He occasionally interferes with the nuns' overly superstitious beliefs, but he has a strong stance against all those who are not of his faith. He is at times a repulsive character.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2013 Academy Awars Predictions

It's that time of the year again, folks, and the predictometers are a-working overtime.

The 2013 Academy Awards are to be announced this Sunday and here are Cinewise's own little predictions, wishes, and a few other words to that effect. As per previous years, I will only comment on categories where I have seen at least 3 films. The minimum for Best Motion Picture is 5, because of the expanded number of nominees.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts on this Sunday's glam-a-thon:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bullhead (2011)

Bullhead was Belgium's official entry for the Best Foreign Language film Academy Award last year. It made the shortlist but eventually lost to the far superior A Separation from Iran. It is a decent drama that boasts an incredible central performance by Rust and Bone's Matthias Schoenaerts. For a feature debut, you could do a lot worse than this.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Great Cinewise Preview of 2013

What follows is a list of the 100 films I am looking forward to seeing this year. These are films currently scheduled to be released in the UK over the next 12 months.

I am sure I will have missed a few of these films come December and they will likely to be replaced by films I either didn't pay too much heed to in January or films that I have missed completely in my initial census. Because some films have no confirmed UK release dates yet, I have opted to list the films alphabetically. I have also singled out the films that I am most looking forward to with a shining green star - the must-sees of 2013.

One final caveat - a few of these films have already been released while I was writing this, so ... go and see them!


Friday, December 28, 2012

Review of 2012

It has been a quiet year for Cinewise, but that doesn't mean films weren't watched. They just weren't elaborated on in this humble blog. Continuing with the tradition, it would be remiss not to feature a best-of-year retrospective, with the usual caveats and new features:
  • Instead of last year's rather mammoth Top 50, I went for a more modest and concise Top 30. This concision was partly driven by a considerable lack of quality releases beyond this mark.
  • The films need to be generally released within the UK cinemas between January 1st and December 31st 2012 (no festival-only releases from 2012, but you will see some festival releases from 2011), which meant, some films like The Artist have been omitted this year. Sadly, it didn't feature in last year's list either because I hadn't seen it when the list was published. Oops.
  • As prefaced in previous years' lists, we get films a bit later than the rest of the world here, so some films will have been indexed by online databases as 2011, or even 2010, releases. That being said, they are still included in this year's list because of their UK release dates. Otherwise the pool of films I had to draw from would have been far less than 30!
  • Some of the big names will be missing (such as Lincoln and Django Unchained), because those won't be released here until next year.
  • And, it goes without saying, these films are drawn from the pool of films I have in their entirety.
But, wait. There's more.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Amour (2012)

This blog went into a slumber a while ago and that's mostly due to my new hectic work/school schedule. The simple truth is that I don't have time to write anymore. And when I squeeze in an hour or two here and there, I seem to lack the capacity to write. Call it mental fatigue, writer's block ... either way, I'm the one to blame for the prolonged radio silence. Despite this apparent lack of temporal and mental resources, once in a blue moon something comes along and compels me to brandish my keyboard (no euphemism there) and type some nonsensical reasons why I like or dislike a film. Amour is one such beast.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

About Elly (2009)

After the immense success of A Separation it was inevitable that Asghar Farhadi's filmography would generate interest from both filmgoers and distributors alike. So here we have his previous film, About Elly, finally getting a UK release. And what a shame that we had to wait 3 years.

What made A Separation such a great film is also evident in About Elly and, I must admit, in abundance: the controlled pace, an impending doom and a boiling group dynamic, all of which make About Elly one of the two outstanding films to be released in the UK this year, along with Once upon a Time in Anatolia. Draw your own conclusions about the fact that neither film are 2012 productions and that they are both from the Middle East.


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