Every now and then, in the course of human events, life brings us someone like David Bowie. A man of many words, many changes and fierce-ass facets, a myth and legend, a man that can not be tamed, nor can he truly ever die. Holidays, family in town, back to work, Bowie’s death. I don’t think anything marked me quite as strongly as this news on Monday…at least not since my doggie passed two year ago. Take some time this week to do good to someone else, jam out to Hunky Dory and/or watch one of his brilliant pieces of cinema, from The Man Who Fell to Earth to The Hunger to Basquiat. Long Live The Thin White Duke.
Another strange being brought to us in the form of a writer/director comes in the form of Quentin Tarantino. A man of too many words sometimes (note his egregious ‘ghetto’ comment at the Golden Globes the other day…ugh and sigh!). As The Hateful Eight gets under way, it is immediately noted that not only is he using 70mm classic celluloid filming for the picture, he has the evocatively haunting soundtrack composed by Ennio Morricone and every hearkening tool to ye olde Westerns (Spaghetti and more) of yore. It appears lovely, classic, nostalgically artistic. Samuel Jackson plays a bounty hunter named Marquis Warren, who gets caught in a blizzard en route to Red Rock and begs a ride in a stagecoach with another bounty hunter called John Roth and played precisely by Kurt Russell in tow with his prisoner named Daisy, played expertly and eerily by Jennifer Jason Leigh. When they wind up knee deep in a blizzard the size of Texas, they hole up in a wooden dive called Minnie’s and here is where we congregate the hateful eight in the title. Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern and Demian Bichir make up the other members of this film, and let it be said that you could do worse for a team of ensemble actors. Here’s the twist…very little really happens until you draw close to the intermission—yes, that’s right, an intermission, and Tarantino has done it before. And then comes the bloodshed…in such slow yet intense bravado that even the appearance of Channing Tatum to wet your seat serves only to draw more ire. I have been prone to saying that every Tarantino film (at least for this critic) has been a step up and/or forward for this crazed, brilliant writer-director. With this film, we take a step or two back…and that’s a damn shame. Note: the film is nearly 3 hours long! ###
Ahhh Eddie Redmayne. You certainly earned your accolades and polished your chops with your role of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. In his latest, award-nominated film The Danish Girl, Redmayne plays Einar Wegener, an acclaimed Copenhagen painter in the mid-Twenties who discovers after slipping into stockings and a dress to pose for his painter wife, Gerda (Alicia Vikander), when her model is late, that there is someone else inside him and her name is Lili. The film is based on David Ebershoff’s novel but the fact is that the existence of Lili Elbe was certainly not a fabrication and she was a very successful painter named Einar Wegener in Copenhagen before becoming Ms. Lili. Alicia Vikander plays his wife Gerda, also an accomplished painter, and she really is a true acting gift in this film and though I must say Redmayne is great in his role, it is Vikander who really aides the progression of the film from something other than an early trans-biopic. I will say this: perhaps in the hands of another director, it would have been conceived differently. The director of The King’s Speech and the last Les Mis yawnfest is an impeccably-gifted craftsman, no doubt, but the entire film feels like a nicely albeit overly-orchestrated BBC tele pic, which might have been better suited had it been given more elements of profundity. Gifted or not, Hooper has failed to bring that truth-filled panache to the screen, and the viewer is left with a most fascinating true story (frankly, how I have never heard of this painter/trans pioneer is beyond me) given a dramatic twist but without a soul punch. The film is exquisitely shot and the cinematography of early-20th-century Europe by Danny Cohen (who also helped shoot the upcoming, highly-lauded Room) stands as an under-rated player in the film. Still, I couldn’t help feeling that something was missing, despite the excellent portrayals in the film. ###
Now children, let’s talk Golden Globes 2016, because I completely figured something out after a series of deductions based on a theory. Knowing that these noms and winners are chosen by critic and press members of the Foreign Press Association, it’s easy to presume that the US-American focus is less emphatic and, especially on television, the unexpected can be expected. Pretty much, name the odd woman or man out in the category, and then give them the award in respected category…it’s pretty much that game, it seems. But what I want to focus on in this blog is the cinema aspect of the show. I made a joke recently about The Martian being ridiculously nominated for Best Comedy/Musical…and then it won the same award. So did Matt Damon for best comedy/musical actor, whilst The Revenant won for best dramatic film, as did its lead actor in the same category, Leo DiCaprio. Other winners wee Jennifer Lawrence for her role in Joy and Brie Larson for Best Dramatic Actress in Room. Kate Winslet and Sylvester Stallone took home trophies for their supporting roles in Steve Jobs and Creed, respectfully and the Hungarian drama Son of Saul snagged the Best Foreign Language Film, first time the country has won that award! Now the Oscars have just been announced…here’s a link to check that out…Next week, we’re all about those nominations. Have a great weekend all…make it count!