An admirable month filled with a smattering of cinema from all sects foreign and domestic, June was a pleasant surprise. As work continued to bog me down at home and in the actual workplace, my writing once again and unfortunately to a backseat to my moneymaking endeavors, however I’m back to share with you my thoughts on my best first-time viewings of last month.
A mildly authentic rumination on the sense of maturation and self-discovery burgeoning young adults face, David Mitchell’s feature-length debut sports enough base level charm to outshine its obviously amateurish, laid back sensibilities. Focusing on the interconnected lives of varying high schoolers and an older sibling, the film thrives on sheer nostalgia as I thought back to my days as a young man making an important transition. It isn’t a surefire indie darling, but Mitchell’s deftness in tapping into the rapidly fluctuating nuances of the average teen psyche and technical competence benchmark this otherwise straightforward exercise.
An alternately if appropriately bombastic and shallow cautionary tale set against the backdrop of true events, Coppola’s latest is a more or less vast departure from her subtler masterworks but a mild triumph all the same. Not quite reaching a dramatic crux prior to its conclusion – even despite the startling nature of what’s frequently depicted – The Bling Ring is instead a more than serviceable commentary on the cult of celebrity’s unhealthy procuration of worship among today’s youth. Oft entertaining if inevitably underwhelming, Coppola’s gamble with her source inspiration’s simplicity, suffice it to say, pays off. Full review here.
My introduction to this prolific Hong Kong native’s filmography came in the form of 2005’s Hak se wui (Election) – a straightforward examination of conflict and exploding tensions as rivaling Triad superpowers struggle to elect a new leader. Apt and intriguing in its depiction of said rivalry, the contrast between Lam Lok (Simon Yam) and increasingly hot-headed Big D (Tony Leung Ka Fai) provides for the viewers’ easy pledge of allegiance to the former, the film instead focusing on the slow burning build-up to a war that will irreparably topple the Wo Shing society’s already fragile resolve. Culminating in one of the more memorable, appropriately brutal final sequences in recent memory, Election is and will remain a solid introduction to the acclaimed filmmaker in question.
A sophomore effort as beguilingly hypnotic as his 2004 debut Primer, director/writer/producer/editor/composer/cinematographer/star Shane Carruth has provided us with something intendedly indecipherable if engaging enough to thoroughly enjoy. Enthralled from start to finish, my mesmerization brought on by the film’s unrelentingly obscure sensibilities forced me to comprehend the events that played out on a base level, “The Sampler”‘s presumed harvesting of our two fate-linked central characters is rendered peculiar to say the least as the latter form a complicated if necessary relationship. Embarking on a quest to pick up the pieces amid bit after bit of melancholic exposition, Kris (Amy Seimetz) and Jeff’s exploits aren’t conventional in the slightest, yet I found myself inexplicably and knowingly enamored by Carruth’s latest.
Having already discussed and written about this contemporary masterpiece at great length, here’s an excerpt from the closing paragraph of my review: “… Before Midnight is the pinnacle of authenticity, passion and sophistication within the realm of romantic drama. Laughs are had and tears fall, but Jesse and Celine are – to me – forever cinema’s greatest contemporary couple. With movingly expressive bits of dialogue and interaction remaining seemingly infinite, the film paints a gratifying portrait of this complicatedly miraculous relationship while ending a cinematic legacy on the highest note. If I could thank Delpy, Hawke and Linklater in person, I would do so with a group hug, because this trio of films is perfectly reflective of these individuals’ union and maturation over time, Before Midnight serving as the icing on an already delicious cake.” Full review here.
Other first-time viewings (in alphabetical order):
Leaving Las Vegas (Figgis, ’95)
Like Crazy (Doremus, ’11)
Total number of films watched: 11