When a slew of young girls are discovered murdered, amongst other unspeakable acts, a rogue detective, a grieving parent seeking revenge, and the top suspect are sent careening toward one another. When their paths meet, the events their intersection sets in motion are unbelievably intense, smart, violent, and most surprising of all, hilarious. This is “Big Bad Wolves.” The film that revolves around a chair in a room. But don’t let the simplicity of the setting mislead you. One minute you’re watching the unfolding of a severe plunge into the human psyche, the next you’re realizing that it’s you who has been tortured and dissected for the past two hours. By no means is this a negative thing, never will you experience a thrill-ride as immersive and thorough as this. Delving into our social evolution and its parameters, the strengths and weaknesses of our morals, and the terrifying, infinite probabilities one will enact and undergo for a loved one. “Big Bad Wolves,” all in all, is a prime example of a film that tests you both mentally and physically.
Now, you might be thinking that there is nothing funny about innocent little girls being sexually assaulted, tortured, and murdered. Next, you might be pondering what kind of sick psychopath would find comedy in this, let alone interesting enough to make an entire film on the subject. The answer to that last question is Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, but that’s besides the point. This might lead you to combine both thoughts leaving you, more than likely, prompted to say “well…I never!” While I can’t blame you for this reaction, because I would have responded in the same manner had I just been provided with this information, I can take responsibility for it. I might have mislead you earlier. See, “Big Bad Wolves” doesn’t so much poke fun at pedophillia, it just simply uses it as a common base for the characters to cohere around. It’s merely meant to draw the characters together and motivate them. The hilarity stems from it, you know, it’s employed around it, it’s not the subject of the laughs. So by no means rant and rave about this film or its creators negatively. What you should be doing is praising Aharon and Navot for their impressive talent to use comedy in such a deplorable situation tastefully.
If I’m to be honest with you, I’m finding it really difficult to review this film. Not because it was awful or it’s themes despicable. I mean, when Quentin Tarantino says that it’s the best film of the year, what else can one say? How can I argue the truth? What weight does my word have against that of the great, illustrious Quentin Tarantino? None, that’s how much! Of course, as it is with every flick ever released, “Big Bad Wolves” will undoubtedly not be to everyone’s preference. It’s a very provocative, controversial film dealing with delicate, deplorable topics. That being said, if you’re a cinephile, I implore you not to pass up the chance to see this flick. Everything about its execution and structure is beyond phenomenal. The acting is quite possibly the strongest I’ve seen so far this year by an ensemble, the story is captivating and horrifying, yet you can’t look away, and the visuals strike as subtly atmospheric, but at times disgusting and disturbing, so it’s quite the contrast to experience.
If you’re familiar with Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, you’re probably familiar with their debut feature “Rabies.” If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you check it out. They’ve come a long way, all the way from Israel as a matter of fact, to bring you one of the most inventive, thought-provoking films of the year. So put away any displeasure you might have of viewing a film that’s subtitled and brace yourselves for the onslaught. Keshales and Papushado’s camerawork is absolutely sublime and if there was ever any question regarding their storytelling abilities, they’ve definitely put those criticisms underground. “Rabies” hit some viewers as slightly jumbled and incoherent. So what does this diabolical duo do to silence their critics? They revive one of the oldest forms of storytelling, the fairy tale, with a dark, sociopathic, ingenious twist. “Big Bad Wolves” doesn’t pull any punches or flinch away from the ugly bits, which is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your tolerance level.
I apologize, I just couldn’t leave without giving you the details on “Big Bad Wolves” outstanding ensemble. The film stars Lior Ashkenazi (who you might recognize from “Rabies”) as rogue detective Miki, Tzahi Grad as Gidi, the vengeful father of the latest victim, and Rotem Keinan as Dror, the unfortunate recipient of Gidi and Miki’s uncontrollable rage. Usually I’d tell you which actor outperformed the others and so on, but not this time. As I said previously, this is without question one of the best collective efforts I’ve seen so far this year. The earnestness, confusion, and helplessness each character exudes at the hands of this depressing motivation oozes with authenticity. The believability in each glance, each movement is astounding, as if each portrayer has transcended their role to become entangled in this saddening circumstance. They don’t know why their humanity has fleeted them so quickly, but their soldier on nonetheless. Truly superlative work from the entire cast.
Funny, violent, and honest, “Big Bad Wolves” is as original, entrancing, and creative as they come.
Big Bad Wolves: 9 out of 10.
Well, it might be only the third edition of The Guest List, but I think it’s already a huge success. It’s accomplished exactly what I had hope, introduced fellow film lovers to one another, spurred on some debate, and definitely stirred the pot. And I can already tell that this week’s edition featuring James from Mr. Rumsey’s Film Related Musings is only going to improve upon the segment. If you don’t know who James is or haven’t already followed/subscribed to his website, I highly recommend you do so right now. You’ll find some solid reviews, terrific articles, and a lovely segment entitled “Who’s That?” when you head on over. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!
Now, I have to get some administrative stuff out of the way. For those of you who have signed up for The Guest List segment, could you please post a comment below on when I can be expecting your article. I am very organized about my posting and would love to get a schedule going with this segment.
If you’d like to submit your very own top 10 to The Guest List, here’s how to do it! First, shoot me an e mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name, website info (if you have one), and the topic you have chosen for your top 10. If I like what I see, I’ll give you the all clear and you can begin composing your entry. Make sure to include a descriptive, yet brief introduction and a picture or clip for every entry in your top 10. Use my own top 10s as references. Then, send it back to me and we will discuss a date of publish.
Also guys, please if you haven’t already, check out my TIFF 2013 reviews. I wouldn’t usually beg like this, but I worked extremely hard on them. It is totally worth your while, there are a bunch of films reviewed that haven’t even be released yet with plenty more write-ups to come. So head on over to a review or two by clicking on the picture under the sidebar entitled TIFF 2013.
Okay, now that the boring stuff is all taken care of, I am going to turn things over to James, enjoy!
Top 10 Films of the 2000s: by James
Thanks Joseph for allowing me to spread my opinions out across your blog here! This is my pick of the top ten films of the last decade. There are endless films which could have made it into here but didn’t, such as Oldboy, so feel free to criticise, praise, rant or rave at me and my choices in the comment section below! For now though, take a look at what I did pick out:
10: Spirited Away
This charming tale of a young girl who ends up in a mysterious place inhabited by gods and monsters is the only animated film to make it onto this list, and it truly deserves its place here. It’s some of the finest animated storytelling of all time, and a personal favourite to re-watch.
9: Battle Royale
Shockingly different to the previous entry; Battle Royale has kids killing each other off in all sorts of ways after being forced into a nightmarish situation. For its satirical commentary and also sheer entertaining spectacle Battle Royale makes it onto this list.
One of the first films that introduced me to Almodóvar, Volver quickly became one of my favourite films for it’s well handled and performed story of loss and redemption. If I said any more I would spoil it, but please do seek it out if you haven’t already seen it.
7: Kill Bill: Volume 1
I often describe the final third of this film as being perfect cinema; and anyone who listens long enough will hear me rant and rave about the use of colour and music, the well-handled action, and the enormous sense of fun that Tarantino seems to be having which then crosses on over to the audience. The rest of the film isn’t too far off this level of entertainment either, making Kill Bill an obvious entrant into my list here.
6: The Pianist
Adrien Brody is incredible here as he takes us through the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto. This isn’t an easy or an uplifting watch, but it’s certainly one that lingers in your mind for a long time after the credits roll.
This is one stunning film. The focus on the splendour of the visuals may not be for everyone, but Hero really deserves more praise than it often gets. It is not a fast paced action film; rather it’s an exploration of movement.
4: City of God
Now this is where the list becomes really tricky, I can play around with the ordering of these last four movies endlessly and quite happily put any four of them in first place. City of God is a tale of violence set in Rio de Janeiro and is essential viewing if you haven’t already seen it. The directing style and rawness to the film makes it a pretty special watch.
3: No Country for Old Men
Javier Bardem is an unforgettable presence in what is arguably the Cohen brothers’ best film, and yet its success is not all down to those three. Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones and Kelly Macdonald all contribute fantastic work and collectively make this one of the best and most important films of the decade.
2: Lost in Translation
My personal favourite out of all the films on this list, or in this decade, Lost in Translation is the deceptively simple story of two people who meet in Tokyo and form a relationship that’s more meaningful than they could have previously imagined. It features excellent performances by both Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, who have brought characters to life here that I have grown far too attached to and fond of. This is easily one of my absolute favourite films.
I know of no other film which so confidently, nor so successfully breaks itself apart and exposes itself. This is unquestionably a fantastically handled film that is about film; it’s about itself, the creation of itself and then the evolution of itself. Not only is it incredibly clever though, it doesn’t come across as pretentious but is instead warm hearted, funny and occasionally touching with great performances given by Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper. I cannot recommend Adaptation enough.
What an outstanding list. A BIG thank you to James for contributing his list this week. Remember, check out the criteria for submitting your own list above. Have a great weekend!
Another week, another Top 10, and I couldn’t be more excited! As you probably realized from the article title, this week’s edition will contain 10 cameos I figured to be just plain awful. However, while I was compiling this list, I realized how exceedingly hard it was to find 10, utterly terrible cameos, so I expanded the criteria a bit. The cameos listed are not confined to just being terrible, they can be odd, bizarre, unnecessary, and so on, and so on. Essentially, anything that’s out of the ordinary. I was initially going to post the 10 best cameos I could think of, but came to the conclusion that one couldn’t exist without the other. So, instead of starting strong and finishing weak, I reversed the printing order. Next week’s top 10 will contain the best cameos, so, yeah, look forward to that!
And no, before you even ask, Mike Tyson’s cameo in “The Hangover” is not on this list. Until I am able to concoct a header image for this “Top 10” segment, I will continue to use random pictures that are in some way connected to the general theme.
I know that some of you may not agree with my choices or think that I overlooked a cameo that down-right ruined a movie for you. If this is the case, leave a comment below and I will address you personally, because I have nothing better to do ;).
Without further ado, let’s get started!
10: Bruce Willis in “Oceans 12.”
Why?: Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the “Oceans” trilogy. It’s just that this particular segment really annoys me. The whole Julia Roberts thing and meeting Bruce Willis and him being oblivious to the stars and situation around him, it just really bothers me.
9: Thomas Lennon in “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Why?: Another film that I genuinely love through and through. I just feel that this is a cameo that Mr. Nolan should have let slip through the cracks. Regardless if it was casting or a legitimate attempt at a cameo, it is so bizarre and unnecessarily funny.
8: Quentin Tarantino in “Django Unchained.”
Why? Again, I absolutely love Mr. Tarantino and his films, yet, I can’t let this cameo slide. I know he likes to appear in his own films and I am fine with that. I thought his cameo in “Pulp Fiction” was hilarious, but “Django Unchained” is another story. The accent is atrocious and that entire sequence felt a bit off to me. I know I am going to catch hell for this.
7: Matt Damon in “Finding Forrester.”
Why?: Reprising his role as Will Hunting, oh wait, does he? Anyway, the movies are so similar that Damon’s cameo really connects the two in an unpleasant way. This is as unnecessary a cameo as they come. Don’t worry, this list has more Matt Damon to come.
6: Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Expendables.”
Why?: I know that Willis has a brief cameo as well, but didn’t feel like picking on him twice. I didn’t care for “The Expendables” and I see no reason to drag down another action star just for a brief chuckle.
5: David Hasselhoff in “Piranha 3DD.”
Why?: Because I said so, that’s why. This is such an unnecessary film and I see no need to bring the “Hoff” into it.
4: Matt Damon in “Eurotrip.”
Why?: Yes, the movie is somewhat entertaining and the cameo may be funny as hell, but it is so weird and idiotic. A mega-star like Matt Damon doesn’t belong down in the gutter.
3: Stan Lee in, take your pick.
Why?: Yeah, it was cute and charming for a while, but it got real old, real fast for me.
2: Macy Grey in “Spider Man.”
Why?: I don’t mind a good cameo, but it can’t date a film for eternity, if you know what I mean.
1: M. Night Shyamalan in “Signs.”
Why?: I don’t think a career has ever gone so sour, so fast. This is as unnecessary a cameo as they come. Terrible acting and just plain weird. M. Night Shyamalan will be forever repeating to people “Hey, remember “The Sixth Sense?”
If you’ve got beef with this top 10, be sure to let me know in the comment section below ;). Have a great weekend!
Anchored by a couple of tremendous performances from its two outstanding leads and an honest, gripping script. Fish Tank may not be the typical coming-of-age story we’re all used to. Nonetheless, it’s a more authentic, albeit darker take on growth and the vulnerability that encompasses it. Although its characters run about gritty neighbourhoods and struggle to find their place. Writer and director Andrea Arnold has a firm hold on Fish Tank and its seemingly reckless rawness is more of a guided chaos. Fish Tank is a highly vivid film with socio-political motivations and realism. More than a few will likely be turned off by its stark, brash, and paced simplicity. However, any blemishes one is inevitably going to stumble upon are easily rubbed out by infallible performances from the entire cast and visually harsh, yet stunning realities.
Mia (Jarvis) is an angry and isolated 15-year-old. She lives in East London with her mother and younger sister. Mia is an aspiring hip-hop dancer and will do anything to achieve her dream. Seemingly, Mia had a falling out with one of her close friends and now antagonizes her and other kids her age. Walking home one day, Mia spots a weak and weary horse tethered in a parking lot. When Mia tries to free the horse, she is attacked by two young men, but eventually saved by another. Mia’s mother’s new boyfriend Connor (Fassbender) begins hanging around the house more frequently. As he becomes closer to the family, the more Mia becomes infatuated with him. What follows is an obscure tale about growing up and the consequences of youth.
Be forewarned that watching Fish Tank does come with a few challenges. Every so often there is a scene dealing with relatively subtle disturbances and unsettling content. At moments, it isn’t even the material that gets under your skin. The portrayals by Fish Tank’s ensemble are so real, it’s easy to forget that you’re watching a film. Regardless, without these bold, at times unpleasant sequences, Fish Tank’s unflinching gaze into adolescence would be rendered useless. Besides, the reward heavily outweighs any disgust one might feel while experiencing Arnold’s Fish Tank. When agreeing to succumb to the uninhibited, effervescence of youth, you’re accepting both ends of the spectrum, you can’t have the good without the bad. In the end, Fish Tank is the winner of the Cannes jury prize for a reason.
If you’re unable to find value in Arnold’s story of a broken family struggling to find an identity together and individually. At least take solace in the immaculate performances, you’ll find it very easy. Featuring Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing, and newcomer Katie Jarvis. Fish Tank has the investment of the collective to match its undying spirit and emotional complexity. Wareing, despite being hardly used, manages to steal every shot she is in. Jarvis, who makes her cinematic debut in Fish Tank, is astounding. Capturing the angst, defencelessness, and infatuation that swims through youthful veins. Jarvis shows remarkable range and persistence for someone with little-to-no experience and undoubtedly gives the best performance in the film.
The only other performance worth discussing, besides the stunningly accurate and haunting portrayal by Katie Jarvis belongs to Michael Fassbender. Since Fish Tank, he has absolutely skyrocketed to stardom with high-profile performances in such films as Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, Steve McQueen’s Shame, and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Yet, oddly enough, Fish Tank contains one of Fassbender’s best, most polarizing performances and still remains sparsely seen. Throughout Fish Tank, it becomes apparent that one can’t quite get a read on his character, this isn’t by accident. Fassbender beautifully exudes the questionable ambitions and lulling safety needed to lure in the wounded and vulnerable. Ultimately, Fassbender continually reminds us that he always had the talent and still does. Earning his status of one the most sought after actors in the business currently and why he is one of my favourite actors of all time.
Sinister, endearing, and utterly entrancing. Fish Tank is a unique story about one girl’s struggle to cope with growing up.
Fish Tank: 8.5 out of 10.
We might be a bit late to this particular list’s party, but better now than never. This was a difficult list to compile, lots of great pictures to chose from. But myself (monster1711) and my bud (cinema2033) think we’ve created a diverse and respectable list. If you feel that we overlooked a certain film or have any suggestions for future top 10’s, please comment below. Without further anticipation, let’s get started.
10. Looper. Easily the best science fiction film of the year. Featuring terrific performances from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, Looper is a brain scrambler that will leave you stunned.
9. The Cabin in the Woods. Speaking of brain scramblers. The Cabin in the Woods is definitely the most bizarre film of the year. Mixing the hilarious and terrifying elements of horror and poking fun at them, it is sure to be a cult favourite.
8. Skyfall. Quite possibly the best Bond film to ever grace the big screen. Skyfall is witty, charming, and one hell of a ride. With towering performances from Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem, Skyfall is not to be missed.
7. Seven Psychopaths. Another entry into Martin McDonagh’s violent comedies. Seven Psychopaths is full of violence, hilarity, and outstanding performances from Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken.
6. Argo. Winner of the 2012 Oscar for best picture, need we say more? Directed and starring Ben Affleck, Argo is history come alive.
5. Silver Linings Playbook. Thought by many to be the best picture of 2012. Silver Linings Playbook is another solid outing from David O. Russell and features a return to form for Robert De Niro. Not to mention the emergence of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as real acting heavyweights.
4. On The Road. Possibly the most controversial film on the list, On The Road left audiences divided. Based on Jack Kerouac’s generation defining novel. On The Road features entrancing performances from Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, and especially the lovely Kristen Stewart.
3. Django Unchained. The second chapter in Tarantino’s yet to be finished history trilogy. Django Unchained landed Christoph Waltz another supporting actor Oscar. Also starring Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, and a deliciously evil performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained is violently hilarious.
2. Zero Dark Thirty. Best picture nominee Zero Dark Thirty is brought to you by the creators of The Hurt Locker. There really isn’t anything else that needs to be said. Incredibly tense, monumental performances, and impeccably scripted. Zero Dark Thirty is an unstoppable force.
1. The Dark Knight Rises. The conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy, directed by the brilliant Christopher Nolan. With Tom Hardy as Bane, The Dark Knight Rises has the best villain performance of the year. Including an unmatchable cast and an epic finale no one saw coming, The Dark Knight Rises might be the greatest comic book adapted film in the history of cinema.
Honourable Mentions. Lincoln, Sightseers, Prometheus, The Avengers, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, End of Watch.
It goes to darker and more controversial places than Inglorious Basterds. Something that, by most was thought to be impossible. Django Unchained is another monumental entry in Quentin Tarantino’s remarkable repertoire and once again displays his confidence and comfort level handling questionable subject matter. One thing Tarantino deserves mammoth respect for is his ability to connect with his target audience and more importantly, never undermining their intelligence. Whether it is the use of several languages or rewriting historical events, Tarantino gives the viewers credit and is rewarded for his investments. Django Unchained’s cast is led by Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L Jackson, and Kerry Washington. Profane, violent, and incredibly entertaining, Django Unchained is a showcase of Tarantino’s unique brain and style as well as impeccably acted.
Dr. King Schultz (Waltz), a former dentist, manages to track down and obtain the freedom of a slave named Django (Foxx). Upon learning that Schultz is a bounty hunter, Django is trained to become his apprentice. Schultz needs Django to help him hunt down a group of brothers to collect a bounty. After finishing business with the brothers, Django and Schultz shift their gaze to a ruthless plantation owner named Calvin Candie (DiCaprio), who owns Django’s wife Broomhilda (Washington). Concocting a plan to free Broomhilda from Candie and his conniving slave and friend Stephen (Jackson), Django and Schultz get more than they bargained for.
With his last two outings, Tarantino has managed to turn even his harshest critics into fans. The reason being that no matter how his previous films struck you, Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained are ingenious and too well crafted to ignore. I know numerous people who absolutely appalled Tarantino movies up until 2009. The comedy, action, and pure, creative brilliance in Django and Basterds is impossible to dismiss. Earning several Oscar Nominations for Django Unchained both on and off screen. Tarantino, cast, and crew put their talents to work and don’t disappoint. Waltz is the MVP for the second straight Tarantino outing, winning his second Oscar in as many nominations. DiCaprio and Jackson battle one another in hilarious fashion and manage to outshine Foxx. Foxx who performs admirably is simply outgunned by his surrounding cast. It isn’t his fault entirely, it’s just that with these acting heavyweights, someone has to be the weak link,even if it is by comparison. Django Unchained is as brutal as it is fun making it a must see whether you’re a Tarantino enthusiasts or not.
Django Unchained: 9 out of 10.
When Quentin Tarantino (one of the greatest directors and writers of all time) claims that Battle Royale is the only film in the last 20 years he wishes he’d made, it should be incentive enough to drop whatever you’re doing and watch it. Full of innocent, eager, bright eyed students who are forced into savagely murdering their peers before the allotted time expires. Battle Royale puts a surprisingly political twist on gore and horror. Directed by Kinji Fukasaku and featuring a youthful ensemble soaked in blood and armed to the teeth, Battle Royale is as fun as it is painful to watch. Battle Royale is a “how to” video on violence and murder.
A group of ninth-grade students from a Japanese high school are forced by legislation to participate in a Battle Royale. Forty-two students enter and have three days on a secluded island to be dwindled down to one. Each participant is given a bag at random filled with various weapons and supplies, the luck of the draw is crucial. If the students refuse to murder their classmates or a single survivor is not crowned by the end of the given time, a collar rigged with explosives will detonate and kill all remaining combatants. As the battle rages, it is clear that some will use whatever tactics needed in order to survive, while others simply cave in to their morals.
Battle Royale is not a horror so much as it is horrifying to watch. Most of the time it’s not even the killing or severed flesh that gets to you. While you’re watching these combatants tear each other apart, you find yourself thinking about how quickly the kids turn on one another and the psychological damage the battle inflicts on the participants, let alone the physical toll. The background of the war is a mountainous island that Fukasaku uses in a flawless divergence. There is something that gets under your skin as you’re watching countless murders take place in a spectacular forest or beside an infinite mountain rage with the ocean as a backdrop. Battle Royale is cruel, potent, overwhelming, and should be viewed with caution.
Battle Royale: 8 out of 10.