The frame occurs at 01:43. In a medium wide shot, Max Fischer stands dead center, in front of the chalkboard at the front of the classroom, facing the left side of the frame. His right hand is outstretched to catch a flying piece of chalk being tossed to him, with his left hand holding the tea cup he was just drinking from. Two students sit on either side of the frame, eye lines trained directly on Max, the right side student with the eraser end of his pencil visibly sticking out from behind where his mouth would be, indicating he’s chewing on it (a sign of nervousness). On the left side of the chalkboard is the problem the teacher was illustrating for the class, with a partial homework assignment framed on the right and what looks like part of a calendar below it, and a big blank space in the middle behind Max. Continue reading
Martin Scorsese’s gorgeous tribute to cinema, based on a beloved children’s book no less, manages to embrace new technology (3D!) in its depiction of the distant past and still create a cinematic love poem for the ages, just about giving The Artist a run for its money. Asa Butterfield is the title character, a homeless orphan living in the clocktower about the Paris train station who discovers a discarded and broken robot that may hold the key to a message from his father (Jude Law) – or does it hold the key to a secret at the heart of a mysterious old shopkeeper (Ben Kingsley)? Or both? With help from the shopkeeper’s granddaughter (Chloe Moretz), and despite constant hounding from a crippled security officer (a sometimes hilarious Sacha Baron Cohen), Hugo will find out. Another touching tribute to the power of movies from our greatest director.
Lars von Trier’s Melancholia is the Danish provocateur’s much-anticipated (and surprisingly well-received) follow-up to his polarizing Antichrist (one of 2009′s best). This time he directs Kirsten Dunst in a Cannes Film Festival Best Actress award-winning performance as, ahem, melancholy newlywed Justine who spends part I (roughly the first hour) enduring the aftermath of her wedding at the sprawling and gorgeous home of her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg, continuing her emotionally brutal collaboration with von Trier; she won Best Actress at Cannes for their previous film) and her brother-in-law (Kiefer Sutherland). What should be the happiest day of Justine’s life feels uncannily like the end of her world; groom Alexander Skarsgard picks up on this. In part II, the sense of impending doom is amplified as Melancholia, a bright blue planet, enters Earth’s atmosphere and threatens to plummet on a deliberately-paced collision course. Von Trier watches as first Justine and then Claire are virtually crippled by feelings of helplessness and despair – but not fear. It is certainly the most visually stunning depiction of apocalyptic horror this year – and there was competition.