I find myself back at my IMDB top 250 challenge after a couple of months without a single post. Magnolia, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, marks only my 14th review since I began this series in March, which tells me I need to pick up the pace if I am ever going to finish.
Released in 1999 to critical acclaim, Magnolia is not only engrossing, but it is the sort of movie that lends itself to analysis for its purpose does not easily come across. In fact, there are sequences of the film which are downright odd, though imbedded with symbolic meaning.
Magnolia is a poem written and produced in cinematic form. It comes across as a tragedy filled with tender, highly emotional moments where lives either get significantly and permanently altered, or they meet their unavoidable end.
With much left to write to update my IMDB TOP 250 film challenge, I give you a few reviews of some of the films I have seen recently.
Moneyball (2011 – Bennett Miller): not being a fan of baseball in any way, I can say it is quite an accomplishment for a film that revolves around the sport to have captured my attention so deeply. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say it is the best performance of Brad Pitt’s career and I would go even further and say he is in my short list in the Best Actor category of 2011. I confidently state it because I could not imagine anyone else playing the part of Billy Bean, the former sporting director of the Oakland Athletics that significantly changed the philosophy on how to manage a major league baseball team.
The film’s script is smart, funny and carefully crafted. It provides a great portrait of Billy as a person, exploring not only his love and devotion for baseball, but his insecurities and deeply personal struggles. The cast around Brad Pitt is equally persuasive, with the great Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a standout in the role of manager of the Oakland A’s. The cinematography is equally impressive. Baseball fields are treated as temples that are to be admired, which also serve as catalysts to people’s hopes and fears.
Props go to Jonah Hill who was convincing as Brad’s geeky sidekick.
After a couple of months of hiatus, I find myself back at my “Search for the Perfect Chicago Skyscraper”. In this exercise I attempt to review all of the great skyscrapers that have been built in the city that invented and perfected this building type. In this series I have tried to give insight into which is the one that reunites and summarizes the architectural tradition of the Windy City while pushing the boundaries of what was possible at the moment in which it was built.
Great architecture is not only about taste, refinement and attention to detail, but also about originality, one that is not limited to stylistic decisions, but that advances certain concepts or technologies that suggest new possibilities. In this sense I approach the several highrises that were built under the guidance of the great Mies van der Rohe.
I begin yet another series in The Blog of Big Ideas that will concentrate on exploring great pieces of film that are worth watching but are very much unknown by the majority.
Today I start with a wonderful film titled “Hermano” which in Spanish means “brother”. Released in 2010 and directed by Marcel Rasquin in his first try at the chair, “Hermano” is a low-budget Venezuelan feature film that dreams big in the chaotic and violent setting of the “barrios” in Caracas, one of the world’s most dangerous cities.
After a very entertaining weekend in which I was the host of a Halloween party, I decided to spend the actual night of Halloween in good company to enjoy a double-feature-stay-at-home-movie-date.
My evening started with 2007’s “Trick ‘r Treat” followed by 2003’s “High Tension”. Thankfully, both proved to be somewhat entertaining in their own ways making for a rather enjoyable end to the festivities.
Trick ‘r Treat
Directed by Michael Dougherty and starring Anna Paquin, the wonderful Brian Cox and Dylan Baker, “Trick ‘r Treat” follows interwoven story lines that take place on Halloween night in some nameless town in America. At first, I assumed I was watching your typical serial-killer type of movie where our murderer hides in the fully costumed crowds to perpetrate crimes without being noticed. Luckily, I was a bit off. From the beginning, there is a certain element of the supernatural that lurks in the shadows just enough not to become so obvious. The stories do rely a bit on the typical mistakes victims tend to make that ends up getting them killed, which I call “Low IQ horror Flick Syndrome”. Despite the obvious cliches, the film does pull through, especially when we are introduced to the terror-seeking group of kids that head to a quiet part of town to find out if the myths about a school bus massacre are true. As it happens often in Hollywood, talented child actors give a movie a sense of wonderment, innocence and tenderness that is otherwise unattainable with adult actors.