Monthly Archives: October 2012

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

This film just gets me. No film moved me more this year than debut writer-director Stephen Chobsky’s adaptation of his own 1999 novel about high school malaise and the struggle to fit in. Its hero, Charlie (Logan Lerman), traumatized at a young age by a violent car accident which killed his favorite kooky aunt (Melanie Lynskey, shattering in mere flashback and insinuation), is set adrift in a suburban Pittsburgh high school only to find his niche among the outcasts and “freaks” (including a terrific Ezra Miller as flamboyantly gay Patrick; Emma Watson as his violent but fragile half-sister Sam, aka Charlie’s first crush; and Mae Whitman as even more violent and fragile Buddhist Mary Elizabeth). Perhaps no film has captured the humor and the heartache of young love and the growing pangs of adolescence quite so vividly. Chobsky is a talent to watch.

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ARGO

Ben Affleck has been the laughing-stock of Hollywood actors the past decade or so, but in 2007 with Gone Baby Gone and again in 2010′s The Town, he proved that he had a real filmmaker’s vision. His latest, a real thriller, is also his best. The astonishing but true story of a CIA-sanctioned operation to retrieve a group of Americans holed up in the Tehran home of the Canadian ambassador during the Iran hostage crisis, the film stars Affleck as a CIA operative who comes up with a crude but effective plan to get the Americans out of Iran alive: he’ll fly in as part of a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a B-grade science fiction film production and they’ll all fly out together. The ludicrous yet ingenious plan involves a foul-mouthed Hollywood producer (Alan Arkin, terrific), a fat but famous makeup artist (John Goodman) and a bit of finagling on the part of a CIA ally (Bryan Cranston). The results are wonderfully-made, tense, gripping and often hilarious.

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THE MASTER (2012)

A think-piece on my experience of difficulty with Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.

I wrote in my belated review that:

Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is an enigma at which to marvel. It consists of virtuoso acting framed within stunningly crisp and gorgeously vibrant filmmaking, showcased by a confounding narrative.  It is beautiful to behold, often mutely passionate, and finally…cold to the touch. If at first your hand closes on air, try try again. Imagine not precisely a narrative but a greatly designed cinematic Rorshach test and you may begin to acquire some inkling of what Anderson is up to here. Continue reading

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