Tonight I watched a really beautiful film, Jean-Marc Vallée and Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s auto-biographical memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Wild is remarkable; Not only does the film feature some beautiful landscapes from across California and Oregon, but it manages to create a compelling and engaging drama from a fairly simple narrative: the story of one woman’s journey on foot across America as she walks the Pacific Crest Trail.
I think the reason the film works so well is because it manages to reflect human nature both at large (through the weird and wonderful people she meets along the way and the experiences she has) as well as on the inside (by treating us to numerous flashbacks into Cheryl’s past, allowing us to see the tragedies and joys of her unprivileged life that have brought her to this point).
Reese Witherspoon does an excellent job of conveying a damaged but strong and hopeful woman, and certainly deserves the Oscar nomination – but the writer and the director deserve the lion’s share of the credit for bringing this meandering journey to the screen in a way that makes sense. Nick Hornby’s touch is evident, he always seems to brings characters to life in a way that makes you appreciate the totality of their lives, not just the moments that we see. The internal thought vocalisations and well-timed flashbacks really help us understand Cheryl and where she has come from. And if this is typical of Vallée’s work, it makes me want to watch Dallas Buyers’ Club all the more.
Wild is a film that can’t fail to move you. As Cheryl remembers the defining moments of her life it seems almost every aspect of human nature is given space for us to feel and ponder it – love, loss, missed opportunity, random chance, depression, hope, determination and family. The film made me think a lot about my own life, it made me sad for the bad things that have happened, and joyful for the good things in my life. As someone who has travelled a lot, I know that travelling is as much about the journey you make through your thoughts and memories as it is about the experiences you have on the outside, and the film manages to do justice to both aspects equally.
But I think what is most impressive about this film is this: That it can bring the viewer a degree of the self-reflection Cheryl Strayed experienced on her journey, that for a couple of hours it takes you on your own little journey through the wilderness.
Thoroughly recommended, the best film of the year so far, and very deserving of Oscar nominations and more.Read More
“Science Friction” (2013, Canada) – Director Liam P Kiernan – sciencefrictionthemovie.com
“Science Friction” is a movie I really wanted to like. When I was invited to the first ever screening of a new Montreal-made sci-fi movie I was very excited. The trailer promised tense drama with lots of action and other-worldly happenings – an asteroid slowing as it approaches the earth; a glowing sphere, arcing with energy; a strange figure in a diving suit wandering through a cave; explosions, blood, and fire.
The narrative of the movie concerns reluctant projectionist Jack, who is tricked into chauffeuring three girls on a drug run across the Mexican border. Deep in the Mexican woods (which look suspiciously like Quebec, but that’s forgivable!), they take a wrong turn and find themselves in trouble, stranded by a dilapidated old house. Inside lives a crazed old man, Billy, and an alien presence lurks in the caves below.
The ideas underlying the narrative are clever: the alien compels each character to each face the demons of their past, to conquer the guilt that is, as one beautiful line of dialogue describes it, “tattooed upon their souls”. Flashbacks and smart Tarantino-style time jumps are used to convey backstory with good effect, and I enjoyed being left with a puzzle to piece together.
Unfortunately, the movieRead More
“Crave” is the confident and compelling directorial debut from Charles de Lauzirika, one of the world’s most renowned DVD/Bluray boxset producers. It tells the story of Aiden (Josh Lawson), a crime scene photographer with vigilante urges and romantic longings. It’s hard to say too much about the story, but we the viewers are treated to seeing the world through his eyes and from within his head, every aspect of his character laid bare. He’s lovable but increasingly misguided, and as the storyline progresses we see him tested by both the threats of dangerous criminals and the desires to woo his would-be lover Virginia (Emma Lung).
So, it’s time for my first movie review of Fantasia 2012. Yesterday I saw a very enjoyable and quirky film called Black Pond. It’s a British movie from a new director Tom Kingsley, about a family who have a stranger to dinner, who promptly drops dead at their table.Read More
For the last three and half weeks, I have had the pleasure of watching some outstanding movies from around the world at the Fantasia Festival 2011. Ever since I first attended a few films at Fantasia last year I eagerly awaited this event, because the bar they set for the movies they show at Fantasia is so incredibly high.
With the never-ending stream of sequels and recycled storylines that Hollywood churns out these days, festivals like Fantasia are a breath of fresh air. They remind us that filmmaking is an art, that out there skilled and dedicated individuals are pouring their love and creativity into works of real quality. Movies for which telling a good story and taking the audience on a journey, perhaps even changing them a little, is what matters – not the takings at the box office.
If you love movies and have noticed the decline in quality of movies you see in the megaplexes you should really seek out and attend independent film festivals like Fantasia.
At this year’s Fantasia I was lucky enough to see 27 new movies, only one of which I actively disliked. I’d also seen a couple of the films showing before. So, now that the festival has drawn to a close, it’s time to look back at the movies I watched and share with you my opinions, recommendations and rankings. So here they are, arranged in order of how much I loved them, with a one sentence review of each:Read More