25 January 2011

Announcement: The Oscar Nominations (2010)

All right, kids; let's keep this brief:

The (Major) Yeses:

  • James Franco, Actor in a Leading Role, 127 Hours;
  • Matthew Libatique, Cinematography, Black Swan;
  • Antonella Cannarozzi, Costume Design, Io Sono l'Amore (I Am Love);
  • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Original Score, The Social Network; and
  • Sylvain Chomet, Animated Feature, L'Illusioniste (The Illusionist).
The Nos:
  • the absence of Andrew Garfield, Actor in a Supporting Role, The Social Network;
  • Amy Adams, Actress in a Supporting Role, The Fighter;
  • the absence of Lesley Manville, Actress in a Supporting Role, Another Year;
  • David O'Russell, Directing, The Fighter; and
  • the general dearth of nomination-worthy Original Songs.
Not so horrible are you this year, Academy. For remonstrations nevertheless, stay tuned; nominations on my ticket are to be announced anon.

24 January 2011

Note: On the SpyGlasses Full (2010)

Dear readers,

Though I usually have completed my own nominations by the time the Academy rolls out its each year, this year in film - with the "big announcement" coming tomorrow morning - my scope of the work from 2010 is still unfortunately incomplete. As a result, I shall be announcing my nominations after the Academy's, after I have seen all the films that want to be seen from this past year. Alhough changes will no doubt be made to the specific details of my ballot, here at A Year in Film no (additive) change regarding any film already reviewed or officially considered will take place.

On the flip side for a change,

Review: Another Year

Genre: Drama

Director's, Mike Leigh's, newest film is truly, as its name implicates, a chronicle from a British perspective of contemporary life. Embodying class-based struggles in a steady gaze upon birth and death, marriage and separation, Another Year places itself within the conservatory's daily wisdom that marvels at the apparently swift passage of time simultaneously as it lingers listless amid the ticking minutes, hours, and days. A treatise on relevance and responsibility, the film is a clearly commanding work; yet it is also somehow one that adds nothing but a false documentarian's commentary to an otherwise quotidian narrative.
Perhaps this simplicity is Mr. Leigh's aim, you say: dispense with pretense and show only the studied reality - and to the writer/director's credit I, considering the sequence of his works until this one, must agree that this ascetic tone is a natural step in the progression away from social and historical contrivances and into unadorned anthropological observation. However, picking up the pieces from this free-form drama, Mr. Leigh as both writer and director does retain a dauntingly high level of complexity in reaching over the fence, from interpretive fiction into microcosmically didactic reproduction. Evidenced by the trying silences of the film's fourth act, this layered structural intricacy is itself the wonder of the film; so tight in its composition that one could easily overlook it, the bedrock of Another Year does admit Mr. Leigh's having pushed himself farther into new ground, albeit as flat and inexorable  as the "digging holes" descriptor is to the character's (Tom's) infrastructure-engineering geology.
Forgiving us all our professions - including his himself's - Mr. Leigh abandons the director's chair for the pottery-maker's stool; and by his unlearning hands, upon cyclical smoothening, a true clay-pot emerges - one just for the perennials in the flowerbed underneath the sill, which do in certain aspects take on the beauty of the situation but which mainly form in their motley collection a reflective personal accomplishment for him who views them just every morning.

Grade: B+

17 January 2011

Review: Blue Valentine

Genre: Drama (Romance)

Derek Cianfrance's [depicted] long-time project Blue Valentine begins with the perfect delicacy of a film-master's pervasively hand-crafted, spell-binding work; purposefully interwoven leaves of a quiet interpersonal drama confidently unfold an elaborate, visually narrated yet somehow still eloquent history. Aided greatly by Andrij Parekh's intentional and compassionate cinematography, this history lifts its action gently but immediately upon inception from the tangible grounds of commonplace occurrences, into the conceptual ether of meditative reflections, emotions and impressions. However, despite the long-time during which Mr. Cianfrance developed his work, the film unfortunately founders, loses its ethereal lift, and fumbles suddenly unnatural to its environmental details part-way through, about when Michelle Williams' Cindy contemplates the future of her pregnancy. Then, the film just gets too confused within its own plot, recombining the mechanics of the story with the purposes meant to alight from them. Though remonstrances for conclusion manages to recover a bit of the levity deeply imbrued into the film's former half, by last-minute expressionistic details belonging to the circumstances of the ending, the vitality drained from the work by the preceding latter half has already diluted so much of its vibrancy, vitality, and color.
Luckily, Ms. Williams is consistently brilliant throughout, exercising her growing talents by her instinctive and quotidian reactions, fraught with powerful explicative contrails, to every minute's new situations; in the smallest changes, complementary with Mr. Parekh's magnificative cinematography, she creates one of her best characters. Her partner in the film, Mr. Gosling wobbles a bit more than she, he forgetting apparently from time to time the full sincerity of his character's motivations; nevertheless, he too delivers a performance great for the year. Aptly together they carry the weight of the film beautifully (for the film's own changing ponderations) and step really across the (still primarily smart) screenplay, written by Mr. Cianfrance, to a horizon at their story's end.

Grade: A-/B+, so promising unentirely fulfilled.

Review: The Fighter

Genre: Drama

Director David O. Russell reduces this intense family-based drama, concerning the liberation of the disenfranchised, to a quaint and localized character-study in which his actors may stretch their technical fortes. Produced rightly to the utter distastefulness of the demimonde on view throughout the film, The Fighter features momentous performances by Christian Bale and technically Melissa Leo but really stops there in excellence. Fraught by awkward musical cues, a dulling recursion of dramatic tensing, and a somewhat thrustless climax, the film limits itself unwittingly, half pandering to the invested crowd.

Grade: B-.