Thursday, November 27, 2014

Big Eyes review – Tim Burton’s art fraud film is a slow-burn study of abuse

Amy Adams as Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes.
But is it kitsch? … Amy Adams as Margaret Keane in Tim Burton’s Big Eyes.
The irony of Big Eyes, Tim Burton’s film about the authorial stamp on a work of art, is that it is nearly bereft of what makes Burton’s work so recognisable. The deeper implications of this are a matter for Burton and his shrink, but for us in the audience it’s a welcome recharge from a man whose last picture, Frankenweenie, was merely a longer version of one of his earlier projects.
Big Eyes reteams Burton with screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who collaborated on the (dare I use the M-word?) masterpiece Ed Wood. Both films are about a misunderstood artist, but the similarities end there. The new film tells the strange but true story of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), a divorcee who arrives with her young daughter in San Francisco in the late 1950s. She’s a bit of a mystery – women simply didn’t just up and leave their husbands back then – but she takes great pride in her paintings. Her work, at first mostly portraits of her daughter, takes the cute but sad form of waif-like children with dark, enormous eyes.
Big Eyes film still
Margaret finds a stable provider in Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), a real-estate man and “Sunday painter” of dull street scenes. What he lacks in artistic spark he more than makes up for in loquaciousness and hucksterism. He can’t get his or Margaret’s work exhibited in art galleries, so he works out a deal to get the paintings shown in the Hungry I jazz club. When Walter argues with the club owner (Jon Polito), he is fortunate enough to do so while the press is watching. Amid the confusion, the paintings start selling and the next thing you know, Walter is taking credit for Margaret’s work.
They don’t just sell a few portraits of “big-eyed waifs”; the paintings become a national sensation. Despite the work being derided by serious art critics as kitsch, Walter, with the aid of a columnist pal (Danny Huston), gets it seen and admired by movie stars. He goes on television. The masses who can’t afford a painting are soon buying cheaply produced posters. Even Andy Warhol approves. Meanwhile, trapped in a darkened studio in their new googie-style mansion, Margaret slaves away creating more “Keanes”.
The slow burn of Big Eyes is watching Margaret find the courage to confront her husband, resulting in a fascinating, and funny, trial. Though it is set 50 years ago, Big Eyes is eerily a film of the moment. As we hear more testimonials from the victims of Bill Cosby – himself a figure of Americana bordering on kitsch – there are many who still refuse to take a woman’s allegations at face value. CNN talking head Don Lemon’s ludicrous line of questioning to Joan Tarshis lays bare the misunderstanding some people still have about abuses of power. Margaret has her confidence and agency destroyed slowly and methodically. Walter can stumble into his scheme, knowing that he’ll be able to rely on the “woman’s place” argument when he needs reinforcement from a patriarchal system. (A visit to a Roman Catholic confessional in which the priest tells Margaret to just do as she’s told is among the more infuriating moments in the film.)
Big Eyes film still
The setting and the politics of the era are what keeps Big Eyes intriguing, but much like the waif paintings themselves, the script isn’t exactly subtle. There are many scenes in which we don’t so much get an insight into a character’s thought processes through some deft observation, we get it because the characters stand in a corridor and shout their inner conflicts at one another. Shading from supporting players, even entertaining ones such as the hipster gallerist (Jason Schwartzman) or the snobby New York Times art critic (Terence Stamp), are really there to bark a point of view, and are not gracefully threaded into the drama.
Tim Burton’s usual visual language peeks through sparingly. There’s that fabulous house and then there are the paintings themselves, which harmonise nicely with Burton’s established, playfully macabre iconography. Part of the film’s problem, though, is that it’s hard to know if we should be celebrating or laughing at Margaret’s work. Certainly we care for Margaret and the way Walter has her trapped, but her character comes across as a cypher representing a great number of issues without being a real individual. This movie wants to be an oil painting, but ends up being more of a mass-produced, though good-quality print.
  • Big Eyes is released in the US on Christmas Day, in the UK on Boxing Day and 19 February in Australia

Saturday, December 29, 2012

What Are The Best Hollywood Action Movies Of 2013

What are the top 10 Hollywood action movies of 2013, The American Film Industry, or the Hollywood, as is commonly known, is termed as one of the most versatile industries in the world is also termed as decades ahead from any other film industry in the world in terms of imagination, filming, direction and acting. Be it action, drama, romance, comedy, science fiction, historical, theme based or any other cinema, Hollywood makes them all and excels at them most of the times. The number of categories being so many, it is difficult to list the best of them altogether, hence let's has a look at the upcoming best Hollywood Action movies of 2013 ones category wise.

The list of Top Hollywood action movies 2013 is a big comparison to last year 2012. After reviewing the movies as based on box office report, we picked the best ones. Some of them have great action with amazing quality of visuals. As the year goes on, the list will increase with some greatest upcoming English movies in action category.

1. G.I. Joe: Retaliation: In this sequel of G.I. Joe rise of the cobra, that released in 2009, Rob Moore, hired writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to write the plot and the movie stars Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson with Channing Tatum, Arnold Vosloo, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, and Lee Byung-hun continuing their roles of the first part. The G.I. Joes have to not only fought their worldly opponent the cobra, but they are also forced to compete with the continuous threats from the government that bringing in danger the very existence of their department.

2. The Lone Ranger: This upcoming action western film is directed by Gore Verbenski and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. The leading role is played by stars Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp playing Tonto. This action comedy revolves around a masked hero who is brought to life via new eyes. Native American spirit warrior Tonto narrates the countless stories that altered John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice. The two not likely heroes have to now work as team against the antisocial elements like greed and corruption.

3. Snitch: Scheduled to be released on February 22, 2013, this action thriller stars Dwayne Johnson and Susan Sarandon, directed by Ric Roman Waugh. The movie shows how a father becomes an undercover informer in order to expose a drug supplies group when his teenager kid is arrested for drug distribution and sentenced prison for a decade despite of being innocent.

4. Office Down: Directed by Brian A Miller, the movie is written by John Chase starring Stephen Dorff, Tommy Flanagan and Dominic Purcell. The plot revolves around a cop whose not so good past comes in his present and haunts him. Now the decisions to either do what's right or to bow down to the threats of his past connections.

We hope the above list helps you decide your watch list for the coming year. So it's just a few more days and you can start booking your tickets for the shows of these Top 10 Best Hollywood action movies 2013.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Top Famous Feature Films This Year

Most film critics are list fetishists. And while I do enjoy stacking up movie titles at the end of the year, it's also a frustrating holiday ritual. First off, I've seen a few hundred movies this year, and yet inevitably a few slip by that, based on the buzz they are receiving, I suspect would rank on this list. This year those include feature films like Tabu and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and documentaries like Brooklyn Castle and This is Not a Film.

Also, going over all the movies I saw this year, it was hard to let some go unmentioned. Sure, Steven Soderbergh had a great year with Magic Mike and Haywire, but how do those compare with The Turin Horse? I was also big fan of the insanely exciting Indonesian martial arts film The Raid: Redemption, but how do you compare that with Bernie? Then there are the films you list because, despite their flaws, they have a particular personal resonance. Sarah Polle's adept direction of Take This Waltz, and Michele Williams' endearing performance in that film, have not garnered mention on many other year-end lists, but the movie stayed with me for so many months I couldn't leave it off mine.

1. Amour (Dir. Michael Haneke)

Haneke's quiet movie about a dying woman and her devoted husband is simply unshakable. In it we encounter two of the most subtly rendered characters on screen this year, and their last days inside a modest Parisian apartment reveal so much about human interrelation. Here Haneke's penchant for starkly-drawn worlds allows for an exploration of character and affection that resists sentimentality and nostalgia. Instead, his straightforward rendering lays bare our longings, frailties, fears, and failings.

There are plenty of movies this year that try to engage with the peculiar confusion of contemporary life – from blinding violence to a splintered sense of self – but Haneke's film reminds us that perhaps what we often fail to grasp is a nuanced appreciation of the nature of a love that is hard-bearing, sacrificial, violent, open-ended, enigmatic, and necessary.

2. Holy Motors (Dir. Leos Carax)

Leos Carax's Holy Motors is befuddling, enrapturing, diabolical, exhilarating, infuriating, and beguiling. It is a movie-riddle that strikes at something unsettling close to the core of existence. In it, Denis Lavant delivers the year's best singular performance as a hard-to-pin-down actor who glides through Paris in a stretch limo, performing living scenes. It takes a while to begin to understand what Carax is up to with his film, which breaks down our expectations of what we take to be "true" or "real," initially in a cinematic sense, and then more broadly. Lavant plays a businessman, an actor, an artist, a performer, a beggar, a thief, a murder, a father, a scoundrel, a lover, a dying relative. He is lived contradiction, honesty manifested as a lie, whose presence serves as a foil both to society and existence.

Holy Motors is an unholy satire, an elusive and beguiling critique of life itself. Through his character, Carax breaks-down his audience, spinning Holy Motors into a carnivalesque hall of mirrors, an image play about images. "What is beauty if there is no beholder?" Lavant's character speculates at one point. The answer that emerges in the movie is that beauty is something equal parts seductive and horrifying — horrifying, perhaps, because, as we fear (and begin to suspect), in the context of Carax's vision of reality, it may be nothing at all.

3. Zero Dark Thirty (Dir. Katheryn Bigelow)

There has been no small amount of controversy surrounding Katheryn Bigelow's new film. Objections have been raised regarding its depiction of torture, its glorification of war, its blurred moral stance on human rights, its possibly racist depictions of Muslims, its conflicting characterization of feminist vigilantism, its suspected historical untruths and journalistic indiscretions, its flagrant breaching of national secrets, and what might be characterized as callous patriotic blood-lust.

The reason for all of these muddy and uneasy reactions to Bigelow's movie is that while Zero Dark Thirty appears in the form of an exciting Hollywood movie about search and capture of Osama bin Laden, it is equally a challenging critique – of the institutional structures that drove the manhunt, of the structure of human reason and capacity for understanding that deciphered the riddle of bin Laden's location, of the seek-and-destroy mentality that ended up leading a team of Navy Seals to the hated terrorist leader. And while Zero Dark Thirty is ostensibly a movie about hunting for bin Laden, it is also a piece of entertainment that raises its very entertainment as a crucial point of moral questioning. If hunting and killing bin Laden was a victory for America, than Americans share complicity in the murky and unsettling means to that end.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Here Are Some Top Fashion Movies

With today marking the beginning of NYFW, we thought we'd explore the best movies that revolve around fashion. We're not simply talking about those with memorable costumes, or this list will simply turn into an Old Hollywood love fest. Instead, we only wanted to highlight those fashion movies that dealt with characters working in some aspect of fashion.

1. "Funny Face"

Bookish Jo Stockton, portrayed by Audrey Hepburn, is transformed into a fashion model when Maggie Prescott, a fashion magazine editor, looks for the next big thing. Not only is the clothing to die for, there is also a great scene in the beginning about the color pink in fashion. The Prescott character has been said to be loosely based on Diana Vreeland, an editor for Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.

2. "Bill Cunningham New York"

Bill Cunningham has been a longtime fixture in the fashion industry. This documentary goes behind the scenes of Cunningham's photography. He explains his signature blue smock, why he doesn't cover celebrities and shows his apartment, which serves mostly as a storage space.

3. "The September Issue"

Anna Wintour has a reputation for being difficult, and it's something audiences can witness firsthand in this documentary following the Vogue's editor in chief as she works on the biggest issue of the year. Grace Coddington, the fiery fashion director, is shown as the only person brave enough to stand up to Wintour.

4. "L'amour fou"

The Pierre Bergé-narrated film touches on the first meeting of Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Bergé. It has vintage footage of a young Yves Saint Laurent, and goes into some detail about the life the two led.

5. "The Devil Wears Prada"

Miranda Priestly, editor in chief of Runway, has as much control in fashion as Anna Wintour does in real life. The movie follows Andy Sachs, an aspiring journalist with no experience in fashion, who ends up working as an assistant for Priestly. She proves to be an impossible boss, and Sachs soon sees how unprepared she is for the position.

6. "Coco Before Chanel"

Audrey Tautou is Coco Chanel in this film that follows her life before launching the brand.

7. "Zoolander"

Ben Stiller is model Derek Zoolander, who feels unsatisfied with his shallow life. He decides to quit modeling, but is lured back when designer Mugatu shows an interest in him for the first time. Zoolander has dumb model friends, a fierce rivalry with Owen Wilson and a pesky journalist following him around.

8. "Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead"

Sue Crandell is 17 when her mother takes a two-month trip to Australia. She and her siblings are left in the care of a babysitter, who dies. Faced with money issues, Crandell is forced to get a job. She tries fast food and sees it's not for her, so she lies on her resume and lands a great job in fashion. Though she has no experience, she ends up making contributions because she's in touch with the youth the company aims to impress.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

These Tips Will Make You Enjoy Movies Better At Home

If you think you need to invest in an 80" HDTV and an elaborate surround sound system to have an enjoyable at-home movie experience — you're wrong. Turns out there are small things you can do to improve the mood of your media room and make it perfect for watching movies at home. Here's my tpis:

Improve sight lines: Everyone has a "favorite spot" at the movie theater. Mine is approximately four rows from the top, center. Think about your favorite spot and then determine how you can recreate that same sight line at home. It may mean your TV is too far away or too far to the left of your ideal seating location. Now, problem solve by moving your furniture or television.

Forget the "no food" rules for a day: Growing up, we had a pretty strict "no food rule" in the living room. At least, until the movies came on. Try to let your desire for a clean home go and pop an outrageous amount of popcorn. What are dogs and vacuums for anyway, right?

Pick your flick with care: I've invited my dad to watch a movie with my boyfriend and me and things are going great. That is, until a totally unexpected sex scene pops up. I know I'm not alone in this. Pick a couple movies in advance and read the reviews, even Google the movie title with terms like "sex scene" or "inappropriate for family viewing" to see if anyone else has already experienced this unfortunate fate.

Ask guests to bring extra pillows and blankets: Comfort is key, but if you're having friends over, no host could possibly have enough blankets and pillows for everyone.

Go for bottled beverages: Congrats on allowing food on your couch. Allowing people to drink beverages on your expensive furniture requires a lot of trust, so in this case, splurge for bottled beverages and avoid disaster.

If you're going to upgrade one thing, make it a sound bar: A full surround sound setup can be expensive, but most sound bars start in the mid to high $100s and are typically paired with a wireless subwoofer. It's a lot of extra sound quality without making a huge investment.

Turn off the lights (and lighted devices): It's easy to turn off lamps, but if your family and friends are constant phone checkers, here's a game to play. Make everyone turn off their phones and put the phones in a bowl in the middle of the room. The first person to break and reach for their phone has to do snack refilling duty the rest of the night. Texting at the movies is unacceptable — same goes for home movies.