I was interested in seeing Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine (2013) given all the positive press it received. I am happy to say that unlike last year’s Midnight In Paris, it lives up to the hype. I suppose much of this has to do with Cate Blanchett’s strong portrayal of the Bernie Madoff-like wife who has fallen on hard times. Teetering on the brink of insanity and trying to forge on in a world without status wealth and comfort that she had gown accustomed to. There is a great supporting cast with the likes of Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale, Louis C.K., and Peter Sarsggard among others. Certainly one his best film in the last decade.
No (2012) is a Chilean film directed by Pablo Larrain about the national plebiscite in 1988 designed to give dictator Augusto Pinochet international legitimacy. Gael Garcia Bernal stars as the commercial director that inspired the “No” campaign to defeat Pinochet. I always enjoy historical based dramas that tell contemporary political stories. It was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards this year.
Surprisingly, A Band Called Death (2012) is the second powerful Detroit musical documentary about an overlooked and obscure band to come out of the Motor City in recent years. It follows the amazing story of Searching for Sugarman. It is the story of a proto-punk band, Death, which was formed by a black family of brothers, the Hackneys-David, Bobby Sr., and Dannis, who recorded an album that was ahead of its time in 1974. It wasn’t released until 2009 by Drag City records. It is another moving story.
I also saw another well-received film, Rust And Bone (2012) directed by Jacques Audiard (director of A Prophet). It was on many critics’ best of 21012 lists. It was a powerful story of class, poverty, struggle, hope and more. Matthias Schoenaerts stars as a single father who is a boxer/kick boxers who is struggling to get by and ends up in a relationship with a killer whale trainer who loses her legs in an accident. It may sound like an unlikely story, but is very cinematic and dramatic as both leads are very convincing in their roles.
I enjoyed JJ Abrams first Star Trek installment and could say the same of Star Trek Into Darkness(2013). This is not great cinema or art, but great tent pole summer movie fun. Some implausible moments, but that’s what Star Trek was always about. There were some great special effects.
I was intrigued by the teasers I saw of Baz Lurhman’s The Great Gatsby (2013), but was wary of the negative reviews I read about the latest cinematic version of one of my favorite novels of all time. I thought the main casting of the main characters was great: Tobey Maguire (perhaps a little too earnest for Nick Carraway), Carey Mulligan (Daisy), Joel Edgerton (Tom Buchan), and Lenoardo DeCaprio (Gasby). There were some great set piece spectacles of the jazz age through out the film as well as the Valley of Ashes with the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleberg (straight from the classic cover of the novel) watching over all. I felt it stayed close to the plot of the novel and used some of the same classic lines in the screenplay. So I was surprised I liked it as much as I did. Not the same experience as reading the novel, but it covered the main themes present in the novel.