Directed by Werner Herzog and released in it’s home country of the USA in 2005.
Werner Herzog’s subjects are always extraordinary and eccentric people, regardless of whether or not his film is a documentary. Previous films like God’s Angry Man and Fitzcarraldo are two great examples of extraordinary and eccentric character subjects and the latter of which was made with equal eccentricity by Herzog.
Grizzly Man, however, is Herzog’s finest film as a documentary filmmaker. Taking real footage filmed by it’s subject, Timothy Treadwell, Herzog splices interviews with Treadwell’s family and friends with footage of the grizzly bear enthusiast studying the bears and protecting them from poachers and what not. The obvious stand-out scene is that which appears around the midway mark. Werner Herzog is allowed to listen to the tape which features the death of Timothy Treadwell and his then-girlfriend while Tim’s ex-girlfriend watches on unaware of what sounds are on the tape.
Herzog is an unbelievably conventional filmmaker and his techniques have been seen in cinema for over a century now but he always manages to keep his ideas fresh. His themes of humanity, compassion for his subjects, aswell as never failing to show the other side of the argument (a staple of any non-bias documentary), despite how he may feel about his particular subject at that time, always shine through plot and characters in every one of his films.
Grizzly Man is a beautiful film about one man who fought, not for his own human rights, but for the rights of the animals he lived with for over 13 summers.
Directed by Leos Carax and released in it’s home country of France in 1991.
The most unconventional of love stories. Denis Lavant is a terrific actor whose talents never go outshone and the same goes for Juliette Binoche. The camera flows so beautifully across this bridge on which our two primary characters spend the majority of the film. The editing is so spontaneous, something I always love in a film as such as this that features elongated scenes without music but the score itself is also enjoyable aswell as quite spontaneous.
So, Leos Carax’s style of filmmaking is what really does it for me and having only seen this, Holy Motors, a short entitled Sans Titre and a segment in the film Tokyo! I am very eager to explore more of his films. I can only imagine that this and Holy Motors are both excellent entré’s into his work.
Directed by Ki-Duk Kim and released in it’s home country of South Korea in 2012.
An interesting return to filmmaking for Ki-Duk Kim, who escaped the industry in 2008 after Dream and returned with Arirang in 2011 – a documentary exploring his inner self – aswell as Amen which is yet to surface on DVD or online. With Pieta he doesn’t swim too close to themes expressed in Arirang but he does manage to capture some of those from his earlier work, what with Kim bringing sex back to the forefront, ala The Isle and Samaritan Girl. Pieta also marks the first film in which Kim really involves criminals in his plots.
As the credits say, this is his 18th film but it’s not one of his best although it is very interesting to see the transition back into filmmaking after leaving the industry for three years. There is a definite shift in pace compared to his last two films, Dream and Breath. The lead male performance I wasn’t that big of a fan of but the role of the mother was excellently played and is among my favourite supporting actress performances from this year.
Kim almost always manages to only bring the best out in his actors so it is too bad that the actor couldn’t do something better with his character. While this is one sad change, the ending is typical for Kim’s style – a terrible event that brings the plot full circle.
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, and released in it’s home country of the USA in 2012.
While not the masterpiece I was expecting, The Master is an excellent ensemble that works from an already excellent screenplay – from the master himself Paul Thomas Anderson. An undeniably career best performance from Joaquin Phoenix and while I’d love to say the same for Philip Seymour Hoffman I just can’t overthrow his performance in Synecdoche, New York, despite how brilliant he was in The Master. Both actors have already shown their extraordinary talents on plenty of occasions and for Phoenix to go from I’m Still Here to this is quite a feat…. but for an actor of his calibre, it’s nothing special. His performance here is nothing short of a revelation.
The cinematography is probably my favourite aspect of the whole film, every single shot is beautiful and all of Freddie Quell’s dream sequences further allude to the characters’ own madness genetically handed down by his mother. Phoenix dives so deep into this character that by the end of the film when one of those long trademark shots of PTA stares at Freddie Quell, be it in bed with a woman or lying on the beach, we see the despair of this man. I felt such a strong connection to the character at the end of the film aswell as a bad inclination toward Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd – but I felt his performance so strongly and his final sequence is an astonishing acting display from both men but more so Hoffman, the passion that these two actors have for their craft is so admirable.
All in all, it’s an incredible piece of cinema that features one of the very finest performances of this century. I’ll be hoping to rewatch this very soon as I can only imagine this will get much much better after time.