Thursday, February 26, 2009

On Ottawa Film Review

The blog description is film listings, reviews and criticism though i expand on other domains. I write listings for upcomming new releases and screening of films I believe are important to the Ottawa film going experience. I do this through researching what the critical community is praising through reading the New York Times film critic A.O. Scott, The New York Oberserver film critic Andrew Sarris and the Ottawa Citizen film critic Jay Stone. As well as film magazines varying from Film Comment, Sight & Sound, CinéAction and les Cahiers du Cinema. When it comes to listings of older films, I usually would list films I have yet to see as I find more interest in the unknown then in familiar territory as well films I believe it are worth re-watching or essential to view on the big screen. My reviews pop up sporadically in the student paper The Fulcrum with an increasing reguliarity this semester, Winter 2009. My criticism includes insights and judgment of form, content, narrative of films. At times my post are simple titles, film, director, year of release and still. I have started to include additions to meet my changing interest including researched film criticism, screen captures from dvd`s, and miscellaneous writting. I post sporadically once or twice a week. It depends primarily on my schedule and if there are immediate listings to post. I re-read my post but at times there have been typos that i miss which is something i hope to diminish. If while re-reading a post I notice faults in sentence structure or spelling, I would return to the post and fix it, usually without leaving a trace of an edit. I hope you can use this site to keep up to date with what is going on in Ottawa in regards to screenings as well learn more on the history and art of cinema.-David Davidson

Friday, February 20, 2009

March Movie Mania

Archangel (Guy Maddin, 1990) (Saturday, March 7th, 7:00PM)
Adoration (Atom Egoyan, 2008) (Saturday, March 14th, 9:00PM)
(National Archives Auditorium, 395 Wellington Street)

The Night Of The Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955) (Monday, March 2nd, 9:15PM)
Che Part: 1 & 2 (Steven Soderbergh, 2008) (Wednesday, March 11th, 4:10PM)
Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson, 1994) (Monday, March 16th, 9:20PM)
Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone, 2008) (Friday, March 27th, 9:05PM)
(Bytowne Cinema, 324 Rideau Street)

Evil Dead (Sam Raimi, 1981) (Friday, March 6th, 12:00PM)
Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962) (Sunday, March 15th, 1130AM)
Schrader`s Exorcism (Tim Silano, 2005) (Wednesday, March 18th, 7:30PM)
(Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank Street)

war-time comic-book consciousness

An edited version of this capsule was published in the Volume 69, Issue 22 of the Fulcrum. —D.D.

Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman, 2008)
*** (A Must-See)

Ari Folman’s, animated documentary Waltz with Bashir (2008) is about his personal recollections of his involvement in the Israeli Army during the Lebanon War of 1982. The film is split between the present and the past as Ari Folman remembers his forgotten experience in the war after conversing with a veteran who is being haunted by a recurring dream. The dream has a ghostly quality as 26 raving dogs run threw the streets instilling chaos and then looking up at his apartment and barking. The story is multifaceted which suits the subject of war and the different perspectives tries to organize the impenetrable issues of war. The present is filled with civilian reflection of memories and moral stances of their invasion. While the re-creation of being at war show the individual’s alienation and fear. The stories are overtly over-the-top including a soldier getting left on a beach and swimming back to his troops, a slow-motion ambush accompanied by a light-hearted tune, a soldier with post-traumatic stress wandering in slow-motion in a fast-forward city and the title derived scene where a soldier shoots chaotically in the town Bashir while waltzing. The animated cinema turns the tall tales into realities and makes them all the more believable instead if it was done through live-action. These individuals are living with the guilt of participating and aiding murder. With the recent re-invasion of Israel in Gaza the anti-war message becomes ever more immediate and instills a cathartic feeling in its ability to denounce war-time violence through comic-book consciousness.-David Davidson

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dwight Macdonald, On Film Criticism

What rules, principles or standards I judge movies by:

(1) Are all the characters consistent, and in fact are there characters at all?
(2) Is it true to life?
(3) Is the photography cliche, or is it adapted to the particular film and therefore original?
(4) Do the parts go together; do they add up to something; is there a rhythm established so that there is form, shape, climax, building up tension and exploding it?
(5) Is there a mind behind it; is there a feeling that a single inteligence has imposed his own view on the material?

Dwight Macdonald, On Movies, Da Capo Press, New York, 1969, pp. ix

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Antonioni's mood

"The paradox of Antonioni's vision of art: The further we draw away from reality, the closer we get to the truth."

Andrew Sarris, Confessions of a Cultist: On The Cinema, 1955 - 1969, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1970, pp. 283

Friday, February 6, 2009

Documentary Features

The 81st Annual Academy Awards Documentary Feature Nominee list consist of Ellen Kuras & Thavisouk Phrasavath's The Betrayal, Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World, Scott Hamilton Kennedy's The Garden, James Marsh's Man on Wire, and Carl Deal & Tia Lessin's Trouble the Water.

Documentaries currently playing in February include Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir(2008) and Rob Epstein's The Times of Harvey Milk (1984).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Country-western dance sequence

My Darling Clementine (1946)

Director - John Ford
Director of Photography - Joseph MacDonald

Henry Fonda - Wyatt Earp
Cathy Downs - Clementine Carter

Wyatt Earp : Oblige me ma'am.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sourthern Gothic

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Clint Eastwood, 1997)
** (worth seeing)

The film is based on the non-fiction crime novel, which deals with the romanticism of people, tradition and values of the American south in the 1980s, of the same name by John Berendt. The adaptation is kitschy as it focuses on Southern Gothic trappings instead of any kind of reality. The characters, mannerism and situations are over the top and disrupt the sense of disbelief. John Kelso (John Cusak) arrives into Savannah, Georgia, to document Jim Williams (Kevin Spacey), an eccentric nouveau-riche, eventful party for the magazine Town and Country. After realizing the boastfulness of the environment John Kelso decides to cancel his dinner-party piece and make a book out of the ensuing foolishness. After a surprising plot twist the film switches into a court room drama. Mr. Eastwood directing style includes the incorporation of arts to reflect the melieu interest varying from art deco architecture to traditional paintings, from lavish catering to blissful classical compositions. Some entrenching Clint Eastwood thematic elements are moral ambiguity, culpability and moral stances are understated, pronouncedness, sparking conversations regarding social taboos, and the diversity of the American Landscape with African-Americans, homosexuals, transvestites and voodoos. Oddly surrealistic moments pop up including a man who takes a leash out for a walk every morning, sagging rich old ladys, a man that has horse flies tied onto him and bunuelian naturalistic shots of squirrels, dogs, and horses. Great supporting roles include Alison Eastwood, Clint Eastwood daughter, as the female in the romantic sub-story, Jude Law who plays the tough hustler with a Chevrolet Camaro, and the sparkling Lady Chablis. With lamenting performances from the leads, incongruent editing shifts of time and place, and the tongue-in-cheek characters and situations, this minor work contributes to the output of awkward 1990s cinema. Good-night!-David Davidson

twenty-five favorite films

Clash by Night (Fritz Lang, 1952)
Grand Hotel (Edmund Goulding, 1932)
The Champ (King Vidor, 1931)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)
El Dorado (Howard Hawks, 1966)
Daisy Kenyon (Otto Preminger, 1947)
Mr.Arkadin (Orson Welles, 1955)
Irma la Douce (Billy Wilder, 1963)
Family Plot (Alfred Hitchcock, 1976)
Aparajito (Satyajit Ray, 1956)
Black Narcissus (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1947)
L'Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960)
Au Hazard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966)
Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965)
Baisers volés (François Truffaut, 1968)
The Nutty Professor (Jerry Lewis, 1963)
Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989)
Jeremiah Johnson (Sydney Pollack, 1972)
Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975)
Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)
Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders, 1984)
All or Nothing (Mike Leigh, 2002)
The Outlaw Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood, 1976)
Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)