Monday, June 04, 2007

What Lies Ahead

Soooo... how come no one has commented on the new banner? ;)

In many ways, it doesn't really depress me that I've only squeezed out six blog entries since my (overkill) Oscar ceremony afterthoughts way back in February. In fact, I'm rather surprised that I was able to post that many; for an example of my no-flourish composition lately, I've barely been able to write e-mails to family and friends spanning more than a paragraph or two. And only then when I've received irate lectures about my lack of responsiveness. I don't think there's any point in blaming my post-Oscar season fatigue on any one reason, although I can certainly say that the last two months of my final term were quite hectic and demanding. I really have no interest in narrating my many hours spent pulling all-nighters in the library, or popping caffeine pills every three hours. Anyways, all the time and effort I had usually reserved for film-related writing was soon redirected towards paper writing, so that's likely the main reason for my blog negligence of late (laziness and poor time management were/are also at play.) Now that school is more or less over, with grades having been entered (3.7 Cumulative GPA) and graduation pending (eep - June 14th), I really have nothing else to use as an excuse.

Thankfully, since my last exam in mid-May, I've slowly been getting back into the swing of writing and film-watching. Trips to the movie theatre have been much more frequent (although I'm not venturing out for Shrek 3, Ocean's 13 or Pirates 3 - thanks, but no thanks), and I've been spinning "catch up" DVDs in my player non-stop. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm still very committed to making this blog work. I may not be able to match the regularity, wit and passion so many of my fellow bloggers are well-known for, but I'm going to try my best. Really. At the very least, you'll see something here once or twice a week, even if it's worthless filler (only the best for my readers, the two of you that are out there.)

If you've been stopping by frequently over the last few months in hopes of activity (in vain), you'll notice that I'm putting a lot more effort into writing full-length reviews (for Notes on a Scandal and Away from Her most recently.) Short paragraphs a la capsule reviews don't really cut it anymore personally, and I often find the overall results vague and bordering on summary. I also find writing long reviews much more fulfilling, and I'm able to get out all I want to say without worrying too much about length. I enjoy the process, even if it takes me longer to think through my thoughts/critiques (which is certainly a good thing.) So expect to find more of that in the coming weeks and months...

I also haven't forgotten about my countdown of the best male performances of the first half of this decade. It's a little embarrassing to think it's almost been a year since I began that project (and had originally planned to finish it by the end of the summer!). The main issue is that the movies I had re-watched during that time have largely faded from memory, so I really need to skim through certain films before committing my thoughts to "paper". But soon!

I also want to commit a lot of time to reviewing many more films from India. After reviewing the imdb database in terms of external comments and reviews, I've found these movie pages lacking in many respects. I also hope to convert many of my readers who are not familiar with these films a chance to see that Indian cinema does not automatically equal Bollywood. I look forward to churning out a lot of reviews soon - look out for thoughts on some of my recent favourites: Zubeidaa, Dil Se.. (best known in North America for featuring the song "Chaiyya Chaiyya", used in the opening and closing credits of Spike Lee's Inside Man) and the Oscar-nominated Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India.

Other projects in the pipeline? A reappraisal of Aronofsky's The Fountain (that has been pending since my grade change in November) and some commentary on 2007's most anticipated titles...

What else has occurred recently that may be of interest? Of special note is my re-evaluation of Lynch. Another lesson learned by Ali this year - stop judging directors on the basis of two or three films. After being less than wowed with Blue Velvet, Mulholland Dr. and Wild at Heart, I had angrily written him off for good. But with the double whammy of Inland Empire and The Elephant Man combined, he's more than back in my good graces (the former film is particularly awe-inspiring) - on to Eraserhead and Lost Highway! I may even have to give Blue Velvet a second chance, especially since Nick was taken aback by my thumbs-down evaluation recently.

It may seem contradictory after expressing my need to write longer reviews, but here are some other quick notes to jot down (sans plot summary):

Peyton Reed's The Break-Up is a surprisingly uncomfortable sit, fully capturing the rapid disintegration of a once-happy relationship. For a minute, I thought Reed was doing something quite interesting with the rom-com genre (take for instance the non-showy references toward class difference), but ultimately, the film's tone turns non-committal. Soon enough, we have sitcom-y type humour trumping the biting moments that were so promising, and a wish-washy conclusion. The supporting cast is something of a dream on paper, but none of them have enough screentime to make a lasting impression minus Judy Davis. C-

It's easy to understand why D.J. Caruso's Disturbia was a late spring sleeper hit - with its merging of current tween trends (YouTube, iTunes, etc) with the Rear Window formula, the lingo and banter of these bored suburban teenagers is instantly familiar. Shia LeBeouf will never convince me that he has much range as an actor, but he definitely has a commanding presence. In that respect, the movie works best in its exploration of lazy summer days and sexual discovery, and less so in its second-act slasher film turn. I enjoyed it for what it was, but I doubt I'll remember it in a few months, or that it will hold up at all on a second viewing. I hope that the film's success will point viewers in the direction of Hitchcock's classic at the very least. C+

Although it may cost me much credibility, I have no problems in stating my utter adoration for 2003's winsome Something's Gotta Give. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Nancy Meyers' The Holiday, a Christmas turkey offered to audiences last December. Despite many friends warning me to pass it up, I plunked down the six dollars required to take in Kate Winslet's attempt at a rom-com on DVD. Happily, she's the best thing about the film, but she's unfortunately dragged down by the lines she's required to recite and the actors she's forced to work with. There's no spark here, no spontaneity - the magic of the Diane Keaton-Jack Nicholson vehicle has clearly been used up. Cameron Diaz provides a good case for her return to modeling as a career, and Jude Law seems more desperate than ever (although it's good to see him moving away from playing married liar-cheaters, even if this film sets that up as a possibility.) There's only one way I could ever consider re-watching this: if a director's cut centred solely around Winslet's Iris and re-wrote Diaz's character arc straight into a tragic plane crash en route to England. D


jesse said...

Hmmm, I like the capsules, but if you're more comfortable writing longer and more in-depth, then by all means indulge yourself (and all the more reason to take up that writing opportunity! ;) ). I just know my increasing tendency is to write short, short, short.

And cngrats again on finishing up college and the high GPA (it's certainly higher than mine).

Kathleen said...

I thought your full-length review of Away From Her was great. I'm with Jesse on the inclination toward writing shorter and shorter thoughts on movies, and it is certainly something I want to cease in the near future.

Ali said...

Thanks re: the GPA; it was higher at one point, but I'm honestly past the point of caring. I'm done!

/throws confetti, toots horn.

I'm not saying I'm done with capsules for good, only that I'm trying to have more of a balance between the two writing approaches. Still, it's good to know there's an audience for them... often it's easier to dash off a couple of lines rather than plan a detail-heavy review that never gets written as a result. ;)

Thank you, Kathleen, your comments are much appreciated on Away from Her.

Nick M. said...

I'm not speaking with you until you rewatch Blue Velvet.

Jose said...

That plot suggestion for "The Holiday" truly made me laugh my ass off.
I loved Kate and Eli's scenes, everything else was pure crap.
I'm also excited bout the Indian movie reviews. I'm quite ignorant on what goes over there, we never get any movies here, not even on video. I was lucky to see Lagaan a few years ago when I lived back home and I loved it.

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