Friday, November 27, 2015

Creed (2015/US)

Julien Faddoul

*** (3 stars)

d – Ryan Coogler
w – Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington   (Based on the Characters by Sylvester Stallone)
ph – Maryse Alberti
pd – Hannah Beachler
m – Ludwig Göransson
ed – Claudia Castello, Michael P. Shawver   
cos – Antoinette Messam, Emma Potter

p – Robert Chartoff, William Chartoff, Sylvester Stallone, Kevin King Templeton, David Winkler, Irwin Winkler

Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Tony Bellew

When it was announced that Ryan Coogler would be directing the next film in the Rocky franchise, many were nonplussed. Looking at Mr Coogler’s only previous film Fruitvale Station (2013), which was a small, serious film about racial potency, one would not assume he’d be interested in this series of macho sports films. Of course, one should never decree they know an artist fully when they’ve made only one previous film. An artist is free to do whatever he or she pleases with their work despite their past creations. And a boxer should be able to make it on his own despite the status of his name, if he or she pleases.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Crisp Criticism - "By the Sea", "Our Brand is Crisis", "Love the Coopers", "The Program"

Julien Faddoul

By the Sea **

In mid-1970s France, a former dancer and her husband travel the country together and slowly grow apart.
A fascinating film, partly due to the cultural consciousness that its husband/wife filmmaking team bring to it and partly due to its confused if charming aesthetic, with its writer/director borrowing heavily from, of all people, Michelangelo Antonioni. The fact that the culmination is fairly unsatisfactory doesn’t detract from its eminence as a curious cinematic artifact.

wd – Angelina Jolie Pitt
ph – Christian Berger
pd – Jon Hutman
m – Gabriel Yared
ed – Martin Pensa, Patricia Rommel
cos – Ellen Mirojnick

p – Angelina Jolie Pitt, Brad Pitt

Cast: Angelina Jolie Pitt, Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Melvil Poupaud, Niels Arestrup, Richard Bohringer, Laurence Rickard

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Crisp Criticism - "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2", "Secret in Their Eyes", "99 Homes", "He Named Me Malala"

Julien Faddoul

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen must bring together an army against President Snow.
The conclusion of a series of films that want to celebrate heroism and at the same time denounces imperialism; this final chapter is mostly clutter, becoming more dull and repetitive as it goes along.

d – Francis Lawrence
w – Peter Craig, Danny Strong   (Based on the Novel by Suzanne Collins)
ph – Jo Williams
pd – Philip Messina
m – James Newton Howard
ed – Alan Edward Bell, Mark Yoshikawa 
cos – Kurt and Bart

p – Nina Jacobson, Jon Kilik

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Paula Malcomson, Stef Dawson

Friday, November 13, 2015

Crisp Criticism - "Tangerine", "Absolutely Anything", "Z for Zachariah", "Appropriate Behavior"

Julien Faddoul

Tangerine **

A transsexual prostitute tears through Los Angeles on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart. Meanwhile, her working girl cohort prepares for a music performance and a cab driver, a regular customer of theirs, tries to hide his sexual secrecy from his family.
Raw, droll comedy that connotes the works of Wong Kar-Wai, Pedro Almodovar and John Waters, with a simple plot and a fascinating set of characters. Notorious for being shot entirely on an iPhone 5S outfitted with an anamorphic lens adapter, there is clearly an enormous amount of cinematic expertise on display despite the film’s low budget. But its story strand of the Armenian cab driver feels frustratingly conventional and not as formative as the rest of its world.

d – Sean S. Baker
w – Sean S. Baker, Chris Bergoch
ph – Sean S. Baker, Radium Cheung
ed – Sean S. Baker
cos – Shih-Ching Tsou

p – Sean S. Baker, Shih-Ching Tsou, Darren Dean, Karrie Cox, Marcus Cox

Cast: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian, Mickey O'Hagan, James Ransone

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Spectre (2015/UK)

Julien Faddoul

** (2 stars)

d – Sam Mendes
w – John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth   (Based on the Characters by Ian Fleming)
ph – Hoyte van Hoytema
pd – Dennis Gassner
m – Thomas Newman
ed – Lee Smith
cos – Jany Temime

p – Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli

Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen, Alessandro Cremona

Earlier this year when I reviewed Furious 7, I expressed my disappointment in how a once singular series of films had been frustratingly systematized by the current Hollywood cinema surrounding it. Comic Book films are the dominating market for Hollywood, which means serialized, referential storytelling is the preeminent command. Each film is a sequel to the previous one, with information stacking together to give succeeding moments higher volume and to mitigate fans who are paying attention to every detail.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Crisp Criticism - "The Last Witch Hunter", "The Dressmaker", "Sleeping with Other People", "Mistress America", "Freeheld", "No Escape"

Julien Faddoul

The Last Witch Hunter

The last remaining witch-hunter battles against an uprising of witches in modern day New York.
Conceptually, so ludicrous that it’s kind of enjoyable. In execution though, the cheerless bombast is agonizing, with its star showing how little his range truly is.

d – Breck Eisner
w – Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless 
ph – Dean Semler
pd – Julie Berghoff
m – Steve Jablonsky
ed – Chris Lebenzon, Dean Zimmerman
cos – Luca Mosca

p – Mark Canton, Bernie Goldmann

Cast: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Michael Caine, Lotte Verbeek, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Allegra Carpenter