Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Crisp Criticism - "Tomb Raider", "Red Sparrow", "Game Night", "The Death of Stalin", "12 Strong"

Julien Faddoul

Tomb Raider

Lara Croft must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.
A reboot of a pair of films based on a utterly uninteresting video game character; one whose only seeming ability is to run away from danger. Some set-pieces are exciting, but all of them seem extraneous.

d – Roar Uthaug
w – Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons, Evan Daugherty
ph – George Richmond
pd – Stuart Baird, Tom Harrison-Read, Michael Tronick
m – Junkie XL
ed – Gary Freeman
cos – Colleen Atwood

p – Graham King

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Walton Goggins, Dominic West, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi, Nick Frost, Hannah John-Kamen, Antonio Aakeel

Monday, March 12, 2018

The 6th Annual Cinema Touch Awards!

Julien Faddoul

Welcome to the 6th Annual Cinema Touch Awards for 2017.

Here are my favourite cinematic achievements of the year in several categories.


The 2017 Cinema Touch Awards - SPECIAL CITATIONS




Twin Peaks: The Return
Washington State. The White Lodge. The Roadhouse. The Double R Diner. The Great Northern Hotel. Laura Palmer. Dale Cooper. Diane Evans. Audrey Horne. Dougie and Janey-E Jones. Gordon Cole. The Log Lady. BOB. MIKE. The Arm. HELLOOOOOO!!

This is David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks.

The recognition from film critics over what is clearly a masterwork has once again sparked the debate as to what constitutes a film. For me it has always been dependent on the medium to which it was both intended and ultimately presented. Both Lynch and Showtime intended for this to be television, so it is. End of discussion. That being said, no other work of art this year grabbed me, frightened me, uplifted me or even moved me as much this 18-hour leviathan.

When people – somewhat transparently, I feel – cite that they believe television in recent years is more satisfying or audacious than cinema, I often think of something Charlie Kaufman once said: “I’m still waiting for the experimental TV”. I feel similar. I have dedicated my life to movies not because it’s my resolute religion, but because I truly see nothing else that quite measures up to them, despite a love/hate relationship that we share. If something someday greater reveals itself, it’ll be a glorious discovery. But until then, Fire Walk with Me...


The Shape of Water
Del Toro’s sketchbook of ideas has never worked for me. And I remain astonished as to why this one in particular worked for so many others. All the characters are flimsy cyphers with none of what they represent coalescing in any way. Even apart from that, as a piece of direction, it’s pedestrian at best, with Del Toro clumsily keeping his camera moving for no reason other than to add mobility to an inert plot.

Runner Up: The Killing of a Sacred Deer


One of the best children’s films of recent years. It flopped at the box-office and even critics didn’t feel it measured up to Todd Haynes' previous work. Please ignore all of this and experience it for yourselves. It’ll stay with you.

Runner Up: Logan Lucky


Star Wars: The Last Jedi
One of the most incontrovertible examples of the influence and necessity of a dynamic auteur: Rian Johnson crystalizes all the adolescent mumbo jumbo of the Star Wars franchise, designed to coddle a malnourished movie-going public that is bred on nostalgia, into a rather gratifying piece of interplanetary theatrics. The religious mysticism is harmonized, the humour is acute and the battle sequences, both on the military and hand-to-hand scales, are expertly filmed. He also accomplishes the task of conveying a sense that momentous consequences are involved in the decisions taken. Surely the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy, the aesthetic is deeply rooted not only in those films, but in the Kurosawa masterpieces that inspired them. It’s too long, too sentimental and too preoccupied with setting up plotlines for future instalments, but this is probably about as personal as these films are going to get.

Runner Up: Happy Death Day


The Beguiled
Surely Sofia Coppola’s least interesting work to date, not so much adapting the novel again but directly remaking the 1971 film. Her version strips away the psychosis of wartime impropriety and sexual frustrations and relies, almost solely, on atmospherics, and the disequilibrium that comes from isolation. The isolated girl – the ladybird trapped in a cage, if you will – has always been Coppola’s dominating theme but there is little evidence of anything else added here and the reason she would want to remake such material remains, for me, a mystery.

Runner Up: I, Tonya


Truly a strange, half-baked brew, and one that merits admiration for its unconventionality alone. The fun here is in the details, as opposed to its narrative, which sets up its central premise brilliantly and then completely collapses into a hole of liberal finger-wagging and distasteful stereotypes. Though claims of stereotyping and racism were fairly undeserving, with said reaction stemming more from being bored. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is far more queasy in its depiction of the prejudiced but, because it’s a far more conventional movie, no one outside of the film critic community seemed to care.

Runner Up: The Boss Baby

To return to the main awards page, CLICK HERE.

The 2017 Cinema Touch Awards - PICTURE

Julien Faddoul

5. BPM (Beats Per Minute)
For a dense, beautifully acted and constructed rendering of ACT UP Paris in the early 1990s. It's two major accomplishments lie in making committee meetings completely enthralling and, despite following similar story beats, completely subverting the genre of the AIDS-victim movie.

4. Good Time
For the year's greatest yarn. Narratively, a series of sordid dead-ends, all of which are electrifyingly rendered in a way to note on issues of race, drugs and the intellectually disadvantaged.

3. A Quiet Passion
For a witty and meticulously composed biopic on Dickinson by a filmmaker with similar personal tribulations. The whole thing is endlessly engaging with everyone concerned completely in sync.

2. The Florida Project
For an exquisite, intuitive depiction of the hidden homeless, living week-to-week, as seen through the eyes of children. Comparisons to the European neo-realist films of the late 50s are undeniable, and Baker orchestrates his meandering episodes – shot on 35mm – with an unshakable mix of joy and distress.

1. Call Me by Your Name
For a wise, Rohmeresque, gorgeously composed and acted account on the minute nuances of human passions. It exhibits an authenticity concerning both sexual desire and cherished companionship that is rarely seen on screen.

My Top Ten

6. Nocturama
7. Lady Bird
8. The Post
9. Wonderstruck
10. Columbus

Honorable Mentions (Alphabetical)

The Big Sick
Phantom Thread

Films I'm Sad to Have Missed

All I See is You
Band Aid
Dawson City: Frozen Time
The Death of Louis XIV
The Dinner
EX LIBRIS – The New York Public Library
The Glass Castle
God's Own Country
Hermia & Helena
I Love You, Daddy
In the Fade
The Light of the Moon
The Little Hours
The Lovers
My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea
Starless Dreams
The Woman Who Left

Films I'm REALLY Sad to Have Missed

A Fantastic Woman
The Ornithologist

To return to the main awards page, CLICK HERE.

The 2017 Cinema Touch Awards - DIRECTOR

Julien Faddoul

5. Good Time Josh Safdie, Ben Safdie
For pushing their aesthetic to its riskiest point and creating their best film so far. Whether you find them problematic or not, their narrative aptitude is certainly distinct.

4. Nocturama Bertrand Bonello
For an intense, disturbing and, in many ways, dislikable film: partly because Bonello’s aesthetic has always been subtly exhibitionistic and partly because that very expression, in dealing with this subject matter, teeters on trivialization. As a piece of cinema, it is immaculately done and impossible to ignore.

3. Call Me by Your Name Luca Guadagnino
For his most mature work to date, dialing down his showboating tendencies (which have never worked for me) and revealing himself as a benevolent humanist.

2. A Quiet Passion Terence Davies
For his best film since The Long Day Closes (1992). His meticulousness is unmatched in cinema today and the day he hangs it up will be a sad one.

1. The Florida Project Sean Baker
For two meritorious accomplishments: His compositional aptitude and his empathy. Baker is essentially the Dafoe character here, always empathizing with the struggle of his characters yet still exasperated with their choices/behaviour in a way that never lets them off the hook. With this film, he cements his position in cinema as a singular voice.

Runner Up: Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig

To return to the main awards page, CLICK HERE.