To say that critics made Kevin Smith’s career might seem to ascribe too much significance to the whims of a vocal but oft-ignored minority. But to hear Smith tell it, it was New York Times writers Janet Maslin and Dave Kehr whose unreserved praise of his modestly budgeted Clerks (1994) helped put the former convenience-store cashier on Hollywood’s map.
Congolese Director Djo Munga Aims to Revitalize a Nation's Film Industry with the Gripping Gangster Thriller 'Viva Riva!'
Djo Tunda Wa Munga didn’t have to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he was born and spent the first nine years of his life, to make his terrifically entertaining feature debut, Viva Riva! In fact, filming the erotically charged film noir, which he likens to the movies of Quentin Tarantino and True Romance director Tony Scott, might have been easier if he’d stayed in Belgium, where a cinema workshop Munga attended in 1993 inspired him to enroll in film school.
There’s nothing in Hobo with a Shotgun that you haven’t seen before in Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma pictures and the grindhouse films of the ’70s, save for perhaps better production values and an impressively grizzled Rutger Hauer.
That’s not to say Jason Eisener’s feature debut, inspired by the fake trailer he contributed to Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse during its 2007 Canadian theatrical run, is less than elegant in its simplicity. But there are far better reasons that “elegant” and Eisener’s Shotgun should never appear in the same sentence.
Don’t hate him because he’s beautiful.
So much has been made of Fish Tank star Michael Fassbender’s rugged good looks, which have earned him comparisons to a young Daniel Day-Lewis, that it might be tempting to dismiss him as just another pretty face. Yet to witness his harrowing depiction of late Irish Republican Army militant Bobby Sands in last year’s Hunger is to appreciate his dedication to craft.
Nominations for the 82nd annual Academy Awards were announced this morning at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, and though there were few surprises in the major categories – one notable exception being The Blind Side, a surprise contender for Best Picture in this year's expanded category – the races should be tighter and less predictable than in years past. The following is a list of the nominees, with the presumed favorite denoted by an asterisk. Conventional wisdom can change in a hurry, though – just ask Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee, whose movie was erroneously considered a shoo-in for the top prize that went to Crash in 2006 – before the ceremony's official telecast on Sunday, March 7.
The final days of December are not just an excuse to eat, drink and be merry, but also to organize our most beloved cultural offerings into a series of lists. Who am I to buck the trend? With 2009 winding to a close, the time is right to reflect on the past decade and the movies that made it great. Among those honored: Michel Gondry, the French-born auteur whose Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Science of Sleep proved two of the most poignant romances in recent memory, and Jake Gyllenhaal, the quietly effective star of Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain and Zodiac.
This has been heralded as the year of the animated movie, and with good reason: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline and Up, among others, proved as engaging for adults as for children, validating a genre unfairly dismissed as kiddie fare by some critics and too many Oscar voters.
To me, 2009 was most memorable for its documentaries. Tyson, Capitalism: A Love Story, The Beaches of Agnes and The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers entertained as well as informed, and all remain worthy candidates for end-of-the-year accolades. Consider them (as well as Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are) runners-up to my list of the year’s best films.
With Christmas, Kwanzaa and Festivus just a week away, the holiday season is in full swing, the malls are packed with last-minute shoppers, and the city's indie theaters are playing host to some of the year's most satisfying films.