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Entries in Weekend Viewing (25)

Sunday
Aug102014

Weekend Viewing: La Grande Bellezza

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—01. Toni Servillo as Jep Gambardella.

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I was recommended La Grande Bellezza recently, embarrasingly having never even heard of it, but now I'm quite grateful for the tip. The film opens with a beautifully shot, eerie scene featuring little dialogue, followed by a high energy party reminiscent of something by Baz Luhrmann – the tone was set. After 15 minutes I wasn't sure if my viewing partner would be okay to continue watching, but we pressed on and by the end of the film it had won us both over. The cinematography was stunning, but the conversations, metaphors and main character, played by Toni Servillo, were what made it so special. Some reviews only gave credit to the film for its romantic portrayal of modern Rome, but there is much more to take away on several different levels. Of course, I'm not the only one who felt this way as it won Best Foreign Language Film earlier this year at the 86th Academy Awards.

Trailer via YouTube

Saturday
Jul262014

Weekend Viewing: Zane Lowe meets.... Rick Rubin

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Facilities courtesy of Amos Clarke & Eric Lynn
Produced by Lee Edmenson

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Although it was published earlier this year, I only just got a chance to watch Zane Lowe's interview with Rick Rubin. As one of the music industry's most unsung heroes and influential contributors, he opens up about working with a variety of musicians, the different processes, his start with Def Jam and his admiration for the artists.

Via BBC Radio 1 on Youtube

Saturday
Jul052014

Weekend Viewing: Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton

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—01. DVD and CD set.

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This spring Stones Throw Records released a feature-length film documenting the birth and evolution of the label, and the people that made it possible. Peanut Butter Wolf can be credited with Stone Throw's direction and success – financially and artistically – so it's no surprise to find him narrating. The film provides intimate insight into an otherwise quiet group of musicians, from the early days and the death of Charizma to a peek at the prolific work of Madlib and the latest wave of artists to be signed. It's an inspiring and emotional look inside one of the most impressive independent record labels of our time.

Available at Stones Throw

Sunday
Jun292014

Weekend Viewing: Hearts of Darkness – A Filmmaker's Apocalypse

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—01. Francis Ford Coppola.

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Aptly titled, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse is culled from documentary footage shot on the set of Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola’s wife, Eleanor. It shows the unraveling of the director due largely in part to his having to finance the film out of his own pocket, but also under the constraints of a civil war, a typhoon, Martin Sheen’s mid-shoot heart attack, endless studio gossip and Marlon Brando’s unwillingness to cooperate. In the documentary, released on Showtime in 1991, Coppola is constantly shown doubting himself and the artistic merit of a monstrous film, initially scheduled for a 14 week shoot that lasted in excess of 200 days. Tied together with audio clips of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio play of the source material, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, much of the insight provided by the director was recorded surreptitiously, providing an unrestrained commentary on the project. The documentary now serves as an indispensable companion piece to one of the most epic and artful films ever made about war, brutality, madness and futility, and stands alone as an incredible piece of filmmaking in its own right.

Available from Amazon

Sunday
Jun222014

Weekend Viewing: Last Days

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—01. Michael Pitt as Blake.

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Sometimes you see a film at just the right time and it strikes an emotional chord. I'd been putting off watching Last Days, Gus Van Sant's 2005 semi-biographical account of Kurt Cobain's demise, but I was ready for it last Sunday. Michael Pitt stars as Blake, an often incomprehensible musician disenchanted with life, especially other people. Beautifully shot by longtime Van Sant collaborator, Harris Savides, the film follows Pitt around a sprawling Pacific Northwest estate, escaping conversations with friends and family. Restrained but gripping from start to finish, the most special moments are when he's alone and allows himself to open up through his music: the only way he knows how.

Trailer via YouTube
'That Day' performed by Michael Pitt

Sunday
Mar302014

Weekend Viewing: A Zed & Two Noughts

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—01. A film directed by Peter Greenaway.

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Their are plenty of adept filmmakers in the world, but there are very few genius filmmakers. Peter Greenaway, the director of A Zed & Two Noughts, almost certainly belongs to the latter group. This film came out in 1985, only his third film after the mind-boggling conceptual masterpiece The Falls and the incredibly bizzare The Draughtsman's Contract. A Zed & Two Noughts was a total departure from his previous work though, largely due to him teaming up with cinematographer Sacha Vierney, who helped him develop the crisp, meticulous, almost stagey look that would come to be his visual signature. The power of this film's quirky beauty is only matched by its morbid themes, involving the all too relatable constructs of decay, disaster, and death. Words really can't describe a picture this singular, so please just go and see it, but do prepare to have it burned into your mind's eye for the rest of your life. 

Trailer via YouTube

Sunday
Mar092014

Weekend Viewing: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

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—01. Ben Gazzara as Cosmo Vitelli.

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In 1976's The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, director John Cassavetes turns his incomparable independent cinema verite style and improvised performances on the crime genre, resulting in a seedy depiction of 1970s LA. Ben Gazzara's reading of a strip club owner Cosmo Vitelli, whose degenerate gambling ties him to the mob and forces him to do a job that puts him up against tough odds, is nuanced and believable. The 108 minute re-edit moves with a spare economy that is missing from the original, being 30 minutes longer, but the lingering closeups and fantastic camera work are just as marvellous. 

Available from Criterion

Saturday
Feb152014

Weekend Viewing: Interiors

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—01-04. Select stills.

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I've been on a bit of a Woody Allen binge lately – enjoying his self-deprecating, New York-centric sense of humour – and I usually prefer it when he features in his films, essentially playing a version of himself. Interiors, however, offers an almost entirely female perspective on Allen's recurrent themes, providing a more serious examination of the balance between a career, family and love. Aesthetically, the film is also one of Allen's most elegant, especially in terms of the wardrobe and production design. While it was released in 1978 it feels incredibly undated, and just as inspiring today as it would have been 36 years ago.

Trailer via YouTube

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