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Golden Girl

8 Mar

Kathryn Bigelow, director of The Hurt Locker

I’m blogging one day early than my usual Tuesday morning posts in recognition of International Women’s Day and last night’s incredible Oscar win – Kathryn Bigelow will go down in history as the first woman to win an Academy Award for ‘Best Direction’. She appeared genuinely surprised and grateful, unlike the woman who won for ‘Best Costume Design’ who looked down at her golden statue and flatly stated, “I already have two of these.” 

Just for fun, here’s a list of five great films directed by women:

Across the Universe (2007) Directed by Julie Taymor – An incredible visual experience even if you aren’t a fan of the Beatles.

Away From Her (2006) Directed by Sarah Polley – Beautifully crafted, quiet storytelling in the classic tradition of Canadian cinema. 

Lost in Translation (2003) Directed by Sofia Coppola – A sweet, funny yet melancholic film.

Orlando (1992) Directed by Sally Potter – A truly unique and magical film starring Tilda Swanton who plays multiple male and female characters throughout many decades. 

When Night is Falling (1995) Directed by Patricia Rozema – This was one of those films I watched while in film school and it made me want to make films.

Hoping Oscar night will be Precious

7 Mar

I try to see all best picture nominations before the Academy Awards show. Although this year with twice as many films that means twice as many visits to the theatre. Not that I mind!

The film I’m rooting for this year is Precious – in my mind it really is a perfect film. This film is nominated for six Academy Awards in all highly deserving categories including best picture!

There is so much I love about this film. Right from the opening credits, the audience is effortlessly transported into Precious’ world. The film’s overall visual treatment is detailed, deep, dark, and buttery. And the layering of narration over character’s dialogue is just brilliant.

Speaking of sound, the use of upbeat music during difficult scenes (a technique I’ve seen before, possibly most memorably by Tarantino – although I feel his treatment makes light of the violence on screen). In Precious, the music mirrors the character’s perseverance and reflects their internal strength. It also helps the audience stomach what’s happening on-screen.

Lenny Kravitz and Mariah Carey are both unrecognizable in cameos and, like the rest of the cast, their performance is authentic and flawless. How can I not attribute this to great direction?

There are other great films which are also nominated for best picture. But I find it dumbfounding that The Blind Side is nominated in the same category. It’s a fine film, but after seeing Precious, The Blind Side feels stiff, contrived and artificial.

Precious is the best film I have seen this year and now has a spot in my top 25 favorite films of all time. I sure hope it gets the recognition it deserves.

P.S. I also got the chance to see all the live-action films that have been nominated and I’m hoping that Miracle Fish will win over the Academy. However, I can’t help but be reminded of all the wonderful films from around the globe that are overlooked each year.  Maybe next year they will double the number of short films that are nominated as well?

Leaving me speechless in ’09

21 Dec

The cinema where I went to see half of these films - The Mayfair Theatre

To honour the { First Kiss Films } mission “Make it timeless, leave them speechless“, here are five films that left me speechless this year:

Let the Right One In – A Swedish romantic horror film that’s refreshing and haunting. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen right up until the intense, beautifully crafted final scene.
Brüno – My jaw hung open for about half of this film. Mixing comedy with social commentary can be fascinating & hilarious, although I found the last scene was anything but funny.

The Road – I still haven’t completely shook the heavy feeling this film left me with two weeks ago. If you’ve seen the trailer and think this is going to be 2012 part deux then you have been mislead through the magic of editing. Despite the film’s slow pace, I actually could feel my heart racing during one incredibly tense scene (you know the one if you’ve seen it).

 Pontypool – Another Canadian film! The lead is amazing as always, the tone spot-on, and over half of the suspense is created by characters reacting only to sound. It’s quite an inspired film for anyone who wants to make films with maximum imagination and minimal means.

So now it’s your turn – what films left you speechless this year?

Polytechnique – An incredibly powerful Canadian film based on a tragic true story. The director manipulates the chronology of events and point-of-view in a way that helps the audience understand the narrative better and creates a feeling of unease.