The Mixed Tape


Winter’s Bone by Andy Motz
August 3, 2010, 6:55 pm
Filed under: Film, Reviews | Tags:

Lifeless trees, dry grass, and gray skies.  Dreary houses on hills with confined cluttered interiors.  Children’s toys strewn over yards and trampolines without covers. A rusty rocking horse covered icicles that are slowly melting.  A young girl, on the search for her missing father through a barren landscape. This is Winters Bone. A film from writer/director Debra Gratnick that won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this past year and for good reason.

Taking place in the Ozark Mountains, Winters Bones tells the tale of 17 year of Ree.  Ree takes care of her mentally ill mother, her younger sister, and her little brother. One day however she gets a visit from the Sheriff who comes bearing bad news. Her drug-dealing father is missing and if he doesn’t show up for court Ree loses the house and the property. Her and her family will be rendered homeless.  Therefore Ree sets out on a journey to find her father.

The ads describe Winters Bone as an intense crime saga, yet that is misleading.  It is a crime story albeit an unconventional one.  It never picks up speed, our heroine is often left hopeless, and the climax turns our heroine into more of a puppet than someone with power. Yet throughout all this Ree never looses her strength even in moments of emotional drainage.

The film may seem frustrating in this aspect yet these are the same emotions Ree feels. Both the audience and Ree desperately want clues to come together, we want people to open up, and we want Ree to save the day.   We feel this way because Jennifer Lawrence’s performance convinces us this is a real girl we can root for.

In the end Winters Bone is a great film for its striking imagery and its vision of a decaying America. Where buildings, cars, and drug labs are tattered. Where human beings are physically and emotionally run down. Where there are rules that one does not dare mess with. It’s a poetic crime story of a desperate young woman on a bleak journey and one of the best films of the summer.

-Andy Motz

Advertisements


Il Lim’s Acts of Violence out this weekend. by Nolan Wilson Goff

I’ve never been much of a martial arts film fan (outside of the great Tony Jaa). Today in class, Il Lim, the writer-director-star of the upcoming martial arts flick Acts of Violence paid us a visit. He showed a trailer, and I am intrigued. It has some great martial arts action. Hopefully it has a story to back it up. It stars Leelee Sobieski (who got her start in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut), Lim, and Hellboy himself Ron Perlman.

Lim is a first time filmmaker, but produced every aspect of this film and is now self distributing it. It is having a very limited release at a few Southern California theaters this weekend:

  • AMC 30 at The Block in Orange
  • AMC 20 Rolling Hills in Torrance
  • Bevery Center 13 Cinemas in Beverly Hills
  • AMC Puente Hills 20 in Puente Hills

Check it out. Ron Perlman committed to the film after a first reading of the script and told Lim “A first time director once changed my life.” That director, of course, was Guillermo del Toro.



The White Ribbon by Andy Motz
March 19, 2010, 12:27 am
Filed under: Film, Reviews, Thoughts | Tags: , , ,

The final moments were near. I could feel the film coming to a close, yet I was still on the edge of my seat. What I had seen and what I hadn’t seen left me disturbed and unsettled. Then, there it was, the last shot of The White Ribbon, so powerful, meaningful, and stunning. After two and a half hours I had become immersed in Haneke’s world, his characters, and the layers he reveals along the way. Simply put, The White Ribbon is a masterpiece.

The story of a small German village in 1913 and the strange disturbing events that happen to its citizens may not sound like a film that covers the themes of sin, secrets, innocence, fascism, religion, evil, sexism, and apathy, but it is. It is a story of about festering evil. It is a story about purity amidst evil. Yet with  all of it is cleverly portrayed, none of it preachy. The film actually raises a lot more questions than it gives answers to. Therein lies the brilliance and beauty of the film. It is such a breath of fresh air, and it is a full on movie experience that will pull you in and shock you.

The film is in black and white, giving it more power.  Haneke lets his continuous shots linger just enough to build tension and terror, but not to the point of tedium. An important aspect of The White Ribbon is what we see and what is implied. At times we only see the aftermath of the crimes, at others we see it happening on camera. There is a shot of a boy walking into a room, he shuts the door, and the camera lingers outside the door. We the audience knows what is going to happen, but it is never shown, leaving us to our imagination. This film constantly makes you think about what is going on in the story and on the screen.

I cannot recommend this challenging film enough. It will create a lot of discussion and people will come away with different opinions than your own. So much to talk about and discuss. So much to analyze and ponder. The White Ribbon is a film I could write about for pages, but the best thing to do is to experience it for yourself.



Oscars 2010: Best Actress Categories by Nolan Wilson Goff

So the moment I’ve been waiting a long time for is just a few days away. That’s right, the Oscars are here this Sunday. Over the next coupel days, we want your thoughts on who YOU think should win statues come Sunday night.

First Up: Best Actress Categories!



Sundance 2010 Top 10 by Nolan Wilson Goff

Here’s my list. After a few weeks of thought, a few films stand far above the competition. One of the best experiences of my life. Great films, great friends, and excitement about the future all resulted from a great week of Sundance style rebellion.

-Nolan

The Top 10

  1. Blue Valentine
  2. Winter’s Bone winner of Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic
  3. Gasland winner of Special Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary
  4. Hesher
  5. Animal Kingdom winner of Grand Jury Prize for World Dramatic
  6. Douchebag
  7. The Dry Land
  8. Cane Toads 3D
  9. Sympathy for Delicious winner of Special Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic
  10. Daddy Longlegs

*keep in mind, these are out of the 19 films I saw (over 80 screened at Sundance).



Sundance 2010 Day Five by Nolan Wilson Goff

This a few days late, and that’s because getting back to LA has been a whirlwind (including a lovely 12 hour drive). The last day of Sundance was fantastic. It started slow, but came to a wonderful finish as we got to see the Grand Jury Prize Dramatic Winner of Saturday night, just minuted after it was announced. Check out the reviews. A Best of Sundance list will be here soon.

– Nolan

Winter’s Bone review by Nolan

On Saturday night I anxiously awaited the announcement of who won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize. I had tickets to see a screening of the winner, but had no clue who had won. When the winner was released I was so excited that it was Winter’s Bone. I had heard great things all week. Let me tell you: It did not disappoint. Winter’s Bone plays much like a gangster film, instead trading the big city landscape for the impoverished areas of the Ozarks. The performances were all astounding and incredible (the best of the week), and the story featured a strong female protagonist with her eyes set on providing for her young sister and brother. The closing moments of the film solidify this film as a fantastic independent film, and one of the best Sendance 2010 had to offer. Hopefully this film will appear in theaters late summer.

(Score: 9/10)

Lourdes review by Trevor

I was hesitant about this film, at first. Turns out I was right. This foreign film about healing was not my cup of tea. The editor held on a shots for far too long. With very little dialogue the movie drags and drags on. I can’t hate it completely because as I write this 4 days after, I am still trying to figure out what the director is saying about healing and how we deal with it.

(Score: 5/10)

Jack Goes Boating review by Trevor

The directorial debut of Philip Seymour Hoffman presents a story about a relationship, a simple seemingly boring relationship. But it thrives off supporting actors who are in a relationship that is ending, as Philip’s character and Amy Ryan’s character’s relationship is beginning. The way the scenes are set up you can tell it was based off of a play. At the end off the movie you feel disappointed but you have a smile on your face.

(Score: 7/10)

Skateland review by Nolan

I had high hopes for this flick. With a Texas director, directing a story set in 1980s Texas, what’s not to like? This was the most disappointed film of the week for me. Poor performances and poor direction were too much for this film to overcome, despite the wonderful production design. Right now, I’m writing a short film set in a 1970s roller rink (drastically different than this one). Let’s hope my film stands far above the level of Skateland.

(Score: 4/10)

Cyrus review by Trevor

Probably the biggest movie coming into Sundance. A hilarious comedy follows Jonah Hill’s character Cyrus who has a very close relationship with his mother played by Marisa Tomei. Enter John C Reilly. Thus an awkward love triangle beginsfor Marisa’s affection. The all star cast works seamlessly together thanks to the Duplass brothers’ direction, which left room for improvisation. Visually speaking, There were too many zooms, taking me out of the moment, but overall it was a great  hilarious movie.

(Score: 8/10)



Sundance 2010 Day Four by Nolan Wilson Goff

Sundance is winding down, but the last weekend has been full of cool experiences. I have yet to see a bad film, and the week remains strong. America Fererra sat two rows in front of me during Blue Valentine. Before the screening started, I looked over as Adrian Grenier (star of Entourage) walked right past. Seems like the big names are starting to come back in for awards weekend. Looking forward to my last day at the ‘dance.

– Nolan

Blue Valentine (directed by Derek Cianfrance) review by Nolan

This is the story of a couple falling out of love. Cianfrance directed this low budget film flawlessly. This is the best narrative film at Sundance, thanks to the heartbreaking story and the incredible performances of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. The film broke my heart apart. Cianfrance used contrasts (one of my favorite storytelling devices) to show the condition of the couples’ romance (or lack of). The story is contrasted with a parallel story that tells of how they first fell in love. The contrast between past and present were photographed in film and digital, respectively, and the production design features a wonderful color pallete that compares to the two different times. The soundtrack (courtesy of indie band Grizzly Bear) is both stirring and haunting. See this movie. But here is a warning: you may walk away as heartbroken as the characters within the story.

(Score: 9/10)

Four Lions review by Trevor

A dark dark comedy about 4 jihad terrorists in London as they begin to set plans for a bombing. You are laughing throughout but then you realize how depressing it is. These four characters act like they have a reason to be doing what they do but I didn’t see any motivation. The subject is very edgy and hard to laugh at sometimes, but in the end if you take it lightheartedly you get a few laughs and a very intriguing story

(Score: 6.5/10)

Sympathy for Delicious (directed by Mark Ruffalo) review by Nolan

Mark Ruffalo’s directorial debut is a great first effort. Featuring a stellar cast of big Hollywood names (Orlando Bloom, anyone?), the film is about a paralyzed DJ who gets the power to heal everyone but himself. Ruffalo says that the story is about “a man getting what he needs, not what he wants.” What a theme, right? Well, it is definitely visible in the film, but the story falls just short of fully investigating the theme.  Writer Christopher Thornton does an adequate job with his pen, and excels in his perfomance of the lead character, Delicious. I’m looking forward to seeing this film again. Could be better after a second viewing.

(Score: 6/10)

happythankyoumoreplease (directed by Josh Radnor) review by Trevor

First time Writer/Director Josh Radnor also stars as Sam in this romantic comedy with a lot more heart that your typical crappy rom-com. With a well rounded cast Josh brings together a compelling story that centers around Sam and a foster boy who he finds on the subway. The boy played by newcomer Michael Algieri was fantastic as the catalyst for change in Sam’s life.

(Score 6.5/10)

Night Catches Us (directed by Tanya Hamilton) review by Nolan

Night Catches Us is a good movie. Great? No. I wanted alot more. The performances are all above average, but the story lacks tension. When one of their family members joins the Black Panthers in 1976, a family is forced to deal with the consequences. I wanted to witness more about the Black Panthers. Instead, we get a story about a family on the outside looking in. By the time the influence of the Black Panthers begins to take effect, the story is nearing the final act. Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) once again delivers a top-notch performance. High marks to the production design team, and cinematographer. One last note: Jimmy Fallon’s late night band The Roots provided a perfectly fitting score.

(Score: 6/10)

More reviews coming late today!

Next Up For Us:

  • Lourdes
  • Jack Goes Boating
  • Dramatic Competition Grand Jury Winner
  • Cyrus
  • Skateland