A Star is Born has been garnering a lot of attention over the last couple of months. Aside from it being a remake of a film that has already been remade once or twice, it is a big step for both Cooper and Gaga. It is Cooper’s directorial debut and Lady Gaga’s major acting debut. Both are stepping into uncharted territory and it has brought all eyes on them. The overall result is a positive one to say the least. Critics have been raving about the film since its release. Positive reviews are seen everywhere and many speculate it is a front-runner for this year’s Oscars. Although the film has been getting amazing reviews, there are many people that see the exact opposite. The film has been polarizing to many, some seeing it as a masterpiece while others feeling like it is a waste of time. Personally I fall in the middle. I don’t think the film is a complete waste of time, and I don’t think it is a masterpiece. A Star is Born to me is a solid effort from both Gaga and Cooper, that had some great moments while still having some glaring missteps.
I had never heard of Don’t Look Now before. I would usually have seen such films on lists or maybe recommendations from other film critics. However, for some reason I had literally never heard of this film before. Which compelled me even more to watch it. I sit down in my room and I turned off the lights. Grabbed my notepad and started the film. What happened in the next hour and fifty minutes was something I did not expect. I went through so many different emotions. From loving certain parts to absolutely hating others. From being nervous to laughing at loud at the silliness that is happening in front of my eyes. It was definitely an experience, however I’m not sure if it was a great one.
With every film I watch, I go into it with no information. To try to be as objective as I can, or at least let the film speak for itself. I don’t need to watch a trailer to hype it up for me. I just need the film to do the work. With Leave No Trace, it was the same thing but to the extreme. I seriously knew NOTHING about the film. All I knew was the title. I didn’t get a glimpse of the short summary, or the cast, or anything for that matter. I remember seeing it in a list or on reddit one day and thought why not. So all I had going for it was the title and that’s it. So when the film first started, I was like “oh is this going to be like The Last of Us or something?”. I thought maybe it would be a post apocalyptic film where they had to survive and all of that. However, at 10 minutes something happens, and I straighten up and think “oh this is interesting”.
Every time a new action-blockbuster comes out in the theaters, I rarely care. These films have become so similar that they all start to mesh into one big blob of Hollywood clichés. However, something strange happened this time, one of these films managed to grab my attention. Mission Impossible: Fallout for some reason was being highly praised. All over twitter and letterboxd I see some of my friends giving it rave reviews and speaking its praises. At one point I even saw some people comparing the film to The Dark Knight and even Mad Max! I was certainly intrigued. Why was this film singled out from all the other action blockbusters? What is it doing differently? I had to find out. Unfortunately, even after watching the film, I am still asking the same questions. Why is this praised so highly? I have no idea.
"I'm siiiiingin' in the rain, just siiiiiingin' in the rain. What a glorious feeling I'm happy again"
Chances are that you have heard that once in your life. Even if you haven't seen this film. That is how famous Singin' In The Rain has become. I bet there are people out there who know the main tune but don't even know there is a movie attached to it. When it comes to these sort of films I am very wary of writing my thoughts on them. I mean what more can I say about the film that hasn't been said before. Its too popular to talk about. So why am I even talking about it? Well I don't really like it........... So, here we go.
Reviewing old movies is always hard for me. On one hand I understand the limited technology that they had along with maybe a limited scope on what they are actually able to do. However, on the other hand I think of films like A Trip To The Moon, Modern Times, Citizen Kane, or any Hitchcock movie and think to myself "but those ones are still timeless". They were able to stand the test of time and still offer something no matter how much time has passed. I think a big criteria for me whenever I review an old film is "does it stand the test of time". Is it still enjoyable after all these years. I still know in the back of my mind about the limitations they had. Yet, I don't let it become a handicap for the film and it ends up getting a better score than it deserves. Because at the end of the day, if a film is not enjoyable or not worth watching, then why bother?
It's strange. Watching films for such a long time and still getting tricked about the content of a movie. I can usually tell where the film is going within the first 20 minutes. The last time I remember being faked out by a film was Mulholland Drive, and that was worth the trick to be honest. Going into First Reformed, I had no expectations. I knew that I liked Ethan Hawke, and that it was directed by the writer of Taxi Driver. That's about it. During the first 20 minutes of the film, I was enjoying myself. I felt like this would be a character driven film that gripped the viewer with the intricate life of a lonely priest. Halfway through the film I began to realize this movie wasn't what I thought it was. And I don't know how to feel about that.... Here are my thoughts.
The toughest aspect of being a cinephile in my opinion is deciding what to watch next. Its always the same scenario. I finally find some free time to watch a film, and I ultimately sit there staring at hundreds of films and ending up wasting all the free time I had. This has been a constant issue, and I tried many methods to try and fix this. The latest method has to do with the book 1001 Movies To See Before You Die. I've had the book for a long time, but never used it as a definitive guide. I would just on occasion go through it and sometimes find something that peaks my interest. Well, I decided that I am sick of not being able to choose a film to watch, I made the book do it for me. I went on random.org and I made it pick a page number. It landed on the film you are currently reading the review for. I had no idea what the film was about or anything. I went online and found it and started watching. Here are my thoughts.
Out of all the countries in the world, South Korea has definitely been my favorite when it comes to films outside of America. Obviously studying there helped a lot with exposing me to their culture and way of life. Furthermore, I took a course specifically on Korean Cinema where I managed to get an insight into their whole industry. From that course I acquired many recommendations. A key one being Lee Chang Dong who is easily in my top 3 favorite directors of all time. However, another person I heard a lot during the course was Hong Sang Soo. Although I heard about him many times during class, I never really thought of giving him a try because of all the other films that peaked my interest way more. Anyway, fast forward to yesterday where I was dead tired after a long week of work and I just felt like watching a simple film. I remembered Hong Sang Soo and though "Why not?". Boy was I glad I watched this film. Because not only was the film simple, it was exactly what I needed at the time. Furthermore, it has lit a fire in me again to go back and dabble in Korean cinema because I truly feel like it needs more love.
To believe or not to believe? That is the operative question of this film. At every second you are questioning what is real and what isn't. This is just one method Polanski used to try and induce fear and tension. Rosemary's Baby is classified as a horror film. Yet it has no jump scares, no scary imagery, no gruesome content, nothing truly disturbing. So how can this film be considered a horror? Well, Polanski managed to wisely use various techniques in order to induce the sense of fear in the person watching. These methods are so tricky to pull off right because they straddle a fine line between "edge of your seat" tension, and bored to death. I'm glad to say that Polanski managed to achieve the former. So let's dive into this complex film and see how a seemingly bare-bones horror film is able to have viewers biting their fingernails in dread and anticipation.