Skip to main content

Posts

Last February Movies Post

In this post I review 6 new films including a Canadian feature as among the best. The Traitor (Italy/France/Germany/Brazil 2019 https://www.sonyclassics.com/thetraitor/) Veteran Italian director and co-writer Marco Bellochio’s sprawling crime drama is based on the actual life of Tommaso Buscetta (strikingly played by Pierfranceso Favino), a key member of the Sicilian “Costa Nostra”, who had moved his family to Brazil when several sons were murdered by rivals (during the internecine mob wars over control of the heroin trade an on-screen body count clicks past 150).The flamboyant Buscetta, no stranger to killing, became known as “the boss of the two worlds”.But after being arrested and tortured—there’s an especially harrowing scene where his wife’s life is threatened—he was extradited back to Italy where in the 1980s he became a protected key witness in a famous series of anti-mafia trials, although he continued to regard himself as a “man of honour” not an “informant”. Buscetta forged a …
Recent posts

Post-Oscars Movie Update

First, about who and what got Oscar valentines (for all the winners see: https://oscar.go.com/news/winners/oscar-winners-2020-see-the-full-list).  I was so thrilled by the triumph of the South Korean Parasite as best picture (as well as winning best director for Bong Joon-ho, and original screenplay along with the expected best international feature).  Parasite topped my own list of the best films of 2019 (https://gjschmitz.blogspot.com/2020/01/new-year-post-best-movies-of-2019-and.html).  It had won the prestigious Cannes festival’s Palme d’Or.  But past holders of that distinction were rarely even nominated.  In the age of Trump and “America First”, it’s the first best picture for a non-English language, non-American movie in 92 years.  [*Only one other Cannes Palme winner has gone on to take the top Oscar prize—that was Marty in 1955-56, but it was an English language American movie.]  I was also relieved that 1917—my least favorite among the 9 nominees (although its legendary cine…

First February Post: Two Arts Docs and a Doc Fest Preview

First February Post on Two Arts Docs and a Doc Fest Preview 3 February 2020
Chaakapesh (Canada 2019 trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcvE_16Of10) Directors Roger Frappier and Justin Kingsley record the remarkable collaboration that took place during 2018 between the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Indigenous artists resulting in a new work that traveled to Indigenous communities across Quebec’s northern “Nunavik” region.The title comes from the original composition, an opera “Chaakapesh: The Trickster’s Quest”, with a libretto by Cree playwright Tomson Highway and music by Matthew Ricketts.An underlying theme is that of mutual cultural encounters and musical expression as a means towards reconciliation.Symphony conductor Kent Nagano stresses this point.Of Japanese-American ancestry, he could pass for an Inuit elder.Highway refers to the role of laughter in the Cree mythology of the divine, absent from the gendered Christian concepts with which he was raised.One performer Florent…

Late January Movie Post

Oscar thoughts About those Oscar nominations announced January 13 ... not a lot of surprises.(See the full list at: https://oscar.go.com/news/nominations/oscar-nominations-2020-list-nominees-by-category.) Although Joker is a controversial choice to lead the pack with 11 nominations.It won’t win, except perhaps for Joaquin Phoenix in the best actor category.He’s as amazing as the movie is deeply disturbing. Good to see the South Korean Parasite included for “best picture” as well as “best international feature”, which it will surely win.The Two Popes should have been included to compete for the top prize instead of Ford v Ferrari (but at least Two Popes has acting nominations for Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins and one for its screenwriter Anthony McCarten).Also good to see Parasite director Bong Joon Ho recognized in the directing category, though it’s another all-male list excluding Greta Gerwig for her wondrous remake of Little Women.What should win is Scorsese’s The Irishman but …

First New Year Movies Post

First, a few comments on the 77th “Golden Globes”.Netflix had no less than three of the five nominees in the major category of best dramatic feature—The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes.Yet these collectively scored only one minor win—Laura Dern in a supporting category for Marriage Story.(I still expect all three to be in the running for the Oscar best picture nominations to be announced January 13.)The biggest surprise was the big-screen epic 1917 taking the top award of best drama as well as best director for Sam Mendes, giving it an undeniable boost ahead of a January 10 North American wide release.Once Upon a Time in Hollywood took three Globes including for best musical or comedy.When it comes to movie awards, the streaming services have yet to catch up to these made-for-theatrical-release features.Series are another matter as streaming increasingly dominates.I was glad to see Olivia Colman win for her superb portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in the third season of Ne…

New Year Post: Best Movies of 2019 and Best Movies of the Decade

The Ten Best Movies of 2019
Below are very brief descriptions of my favorite films of this past year. Most have been the subject of longer reviews.For reference to these I have indicated both the blog post dates and the page number(s) in the 2019 collected reviews document.I have also added a list of a dozen documentaries that most impressed, with information links and review dates and page numbers if applicable. Parasite South Korean director Bong Joon Ho’s savage satire of his society’s class divides earned the Cannes film festival’s top prize Palme d’Or and should be the favorite for the best international feature film (previously best foreign-language film) Oscar to be announced February 9.Don’t be surprised if it also makes it into the main best picture category, nominations for which will be announced on January 13.(Reviewed 30 October, p. 67) The Two Popes Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles’ insightful imagining of this unusual relationship features stellar performances from Jona…