You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Drama’ tag.

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)

“Just pretend like it’s a video game.”

-Candy, Spring Breakers

“Spring break forever, bitches.”

-Alien, Spring Breakers

Read the rest of this entry »

Nader and Simin have been married for over a decade. They have an eleven-year-old daughter, Termeh, and also live with Nader’s father, who suffers from severe Alzheimer’s and needs round-the-clock care. The couple is solidly middle-class, with a well-furnished apartment, two cars, and apparently steady employment. When Simin insist they leave the country for the sake of their daughter’s future, and Nader refuses to join her, Simin files for divorce. Read the rest of this entry »

Few films use animals to comment on its characters to the extent that Sátántangó does. This thematic conceit is laid out in the film’s notorious opening shot, an 8+ minute tracking shot of cows grazing a barren Hungarian wasteland, moving from one muddy patch to the next with little sense of purpose (and occasionally trying to screw each other). Aside from its purpose as a stylistic rejoinder to the much more audience-friendly pacing and aesthetics of typical films, it functions as an amusing, low-key overture for the rest of the film. Because dumb animals living purposeless lives in flux, and occasionally screwing each other, isn’t far from the mark in describing Sátántangó‘s characters. The people in this film are thoughtless and crude, content to mire around in the muck; only financial opportunity (more to the point, greed, a base instinct) acts as sufficient motivation for them to get off their asses and do something. Even then, they’re led around by the nose as a rabbit might be with a carrot, instead of taking their own initiative.

Read the rest of this entry »

Let it be said: Ralph Fiennes is an extremely capable, even great, actor, but as Francis Dolarhyde, the twisted, enigmatic serial killer of Red Dragon, he’s nothing special. In broad strokes, his performance is effective and believable, but what results is a rather one-note portrayal of a demented, schizoprenic victim of child abuse. What’s lacking is any sense of pathos, so the film is reduced to surface pleasures: a perfunctory thriller without an emotional center.

Read the rest of this entry »

In the interest of encouraging myself to be more active on my blog, I figured I’d add some other features beyond the boilerplate film review. Of course, my interest in film is still heavily slanted towards analysis over anything else, so this is more of an extension than anything radically different. I intend to single out great scenes (whether from great films or otherwise) and fit them within the context of the entire work, as a summation of style, themes, et al. Oh, and I figured I’d touch on TV as well, because why not? It is, in fact, a scene from The Sopranos that inspired this. And it goes without saying that these features will be pretty spoilerific by nature.

Okay, on to the analysis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Drive begins with a monologue, spoken over the phone, from its titular character, the otherwise nameless “Driver.” In it, he espouses his personal code for his job (which, inbetween stunt-driving gigs for movies, entails getaway driving for thieves). Shortly thereafter, we get a look at him in action, driving the getaway car during a nighttime heist in which he escapes police attention with robotic precision and skill. In this opening sequence, Nicolas Winding Refn establishes a well-explored archetype as the basis for his lead character, and proceeds to spend the next 90-odd minutes dismantling it piece-by-piece, revealing a character that is perfect on the surface but broken underneath.

Read the rest of this entry »

True Grit finds the Coen brothers in what is, in many ways, foreign territory: a straight-forward genre exercise, free of ironic sentiment, revisionism, or genre-bending, marked not by their own cynical vision and thematic conceits but rather by its strengths as a piece of storytelling. And this is compounded by the fact that, though it is ostensibly a re-adaptation of the original novel and not strictly a remake, it will inevitably be cast in the shadow of the beloved 1969 film starring John Wayne. However, given their remarkable ability to jump from one style to another – from stoner comedy to neo-noir to period parable et al – it should come as no surprise that the Coens succeed on this playing field as on all others.

Read the rest of this entry »

In his new psychosexual thriller Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky looks to Michael Powell’s 1948 classic The Red Shoes as his primary inspiration. In that film, a beautiful ballerina (Moira Shearer) is torn between her commitment to her art – driven to perfection under the firm and unyielding demands of a famed ballet impresario (Anton Walbrook) – and love. Pulled asunder by the opposing forces on either side of her, ballet ultimately destroys her. But while Powell’s melodramatic touch remains here, it’s layered with sexual tension, horror, and even comedy, giving it a far different (and more striking) tone than that film.

Read the rest of this entry »

Getting to the heart of Robert Altman’s 1975 masterpiece, Nashville, is a monumental task. Aside from its ostensible sprawl – how can I encapsulate the many ways in which its cast of over 20 main characters moved me so much? – Altman takes on so many subjects and targets that the film, as much as anything, leaves you breathless by the time its shocking climax rolls around. It’s at once an epic, an intimate character film, a satire of the 70s country music scene (and in equal measure – though some, including 70s country stars, would disagree – an appreciation of it), an examination and criticism of America’s celebrity culture (a “nation of groupies,” as one Playboy interviewer put it) and political culture. The scope of Altman’s film is stunning enough, but that he succeeds in bringing it all together into a rich tapestry that is funny, somber, tragic, and joyous all at once is what makes it such a treasure.

Read the rest of this entry »

Now that he’s largely confined himself to directing overblown period epics, it’s hard not to wonder at what point Ridley Scott decided to move away from science fiction, after directing, back-to-back, two of the best films the genre ever produced: 1979’s Alien (the greatest monster movie I’ve seen), and 1982’s Blade Runner. Perhaps it was the difficulty of making the latter – the studio interference, Harrison Ford’s attitudinal problems, the casting difficulties, etc. – that turned Scott off to the experience, though ironically he’s had just as much trouble getting films made in his vision in the ensuing years. Whatever the reason, it’s sad to watch a film as original, thematically rich and expertly crafted as Blade Runner and wonder what could have been had Scott continued to make science fiction films.

Read the rest of this entry »

Categories