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1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Miér Ene 20, 2010 11:59 am

996
Atonement (Joe Wright, 2007)



Director Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice) gives Ian McEwan’s bestselling novel a sumptuous treatment for the screen that should come to be regarded as one of the defining films of the epic romantic drama. Indeed, everything about this film stems from those three words: there is little here that is not epic, romantic, and dramatic, and Atonement is a film that masterfully expresses the overarching sense of adventure and emotion that such stories are meant to convey. In this instance, the story centers around the love story of highborn Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley) and housekeeper’s son Robbie Turner (James McAvoy, in a star-making turn), in England shortly before World War II. Despite their class differences, they are powerfully attracted to each other, and just as their relationship begins Robbie is tragically forced away due to false accusations from Cecilia’s younger sister Briony (Saoirse Ronan). She has a crush on Robbie, too, and after reading a private letter he sent to Cecilia, and then witnessing the first expression of their mutual love but mistaking it for mistreatment, her resentment grows until it leads to her telling the lie that will send Robbie away. Soon World War II breaks out; Robbie enlists and is posted to France, Cecilia is a nurse in London, and Briony, now age 18 and aware of what she has done, tries to atone for her actions--but none of them will be able to get back what they have lost. Knightley and McAvoy are perfectly cast as the young star crossed lovers, and the young Ronan is particularly impressive, but it’s clear that the real star of this film is the director. Wright allows Atonement to revel in every moment of its story and each scene is compelling in its own way, but that now famous extended shot with Robbie on the beach at Dunkirk--filmed in one take and sure to be considered one of the great long tracking shots in film history--is the most memorable moment in this remarkable film. Atonement is an excellent example of what can happen when a great book meets great filmmaking. This is one that is not to be missed.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Miér Ene 20, 2010 12:02 pm

997
Into the wild (Sean Penn, 2007)



A superb cast and an even-handed treatment of a true story buoy Into the Wild, Sean Penn's screen adaptation of Jon Krakauer's bestselling book. Emile Hirsch stars as Christopher McCandless, scion of a prosperous but troubled family who, after graduating from Atlanta's Emory University in the early 1990s, decides to chuck it all and become a self-styled "aesthetic voyager" in search of "ultimate freedom." He certainly doesn't do it halfway: after donating his substantial savings account to charity and literally torching the rest of his cash, McCandless changes his name (to "Alexander Supertramp"), abandons his family (William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden as his bickering, clueless parents and Jena Malone as his baffled but loving sister, who relates much of the backstory in voice-over), and hits the road, bound for the Alaskan bush and determined not to be found. For the next two years he lives the life of a vagabond, working a few odd jobs, kayaking through the Grand Canyon into Mexico, landing on L.A.'s Skid Row, and turning his back on everyone who tried to befriends him (including Catherine Keener and Brian Dierker as two kindly, middle-aged hippies and Hal Holbrook in a deeply affecting performance as an old widower who tries to take "Alex" under his wing). Penn, who directed and wrote the screenplay, alternates these interludes with scenes depicting McCandless' Alaskan idyll--which soon turns out be not so idyllic after all. Settling into an abandoned school bus, he manages to sustain himself for a while, shooting small game (and one very large moose), reading, and recording his existential musings on paper. But when the harsh realities of life in the wilderness set in, our boy finds himself well out of his depth, not just ill-prepared for the rigors of day to day survival but realizing the importance of the very thing he wanted to escape--namely, human relationships. It'd be easy to either idealize McCandless as a genuinely free spirit, unencumbered by the societal strictures that tie the rest of us down, or else dismiss him as a hopelessly callow naïf, a fool whose disdain for practical realities ultimately doomed him. Into the Wild does neither, for the most part telling the tale with an admirable lack of cheap sentiment and leaving us to decide for ourselves.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Miér Ene 20, 2010 12:05 pm

998
No country for old men (Joel & Ethan Coen, 2007)



The Coen brothers make their finest thriller since Fargo with a restrained adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel. Not that there aren't moments of intense violence, but No Country for Old Men is their quietest, most existential film yet. In this modern-day Western, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is a Vietnam vet who could use a break. One morning while hunting antelope, he spies several trucks surrounded by dead bodies (both human and canine). In examining the site, he finds a case filled with $2 million. Moss takes it with him, tells his wife (Kelly Macdonald) he's going away for awhile, and hits the road until he can determine his next move. On the way from El Paso to Mexico, he discovers he's being followed by ex-special ops agent Chigurh (an eerily calm Javier Bardem). Chigurh's weapon of choice is a cattle gun, and he uses it on everyone who gets in his way--or loses a coin toss (as far as he's concerned, bad luck is grounds for death). Just as Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a World War II vet, is on Moss's trail, Chigurh's former colleague, Wells (Woody Harrelson), is on his. For most of the movie, Moss remains one step ahead of his nemesis. Both men are clever and resourceful--except Moss has a conscience, Chigurh does not (he is, as McCarthy puts it, "a prophet of destruction"). At times, the film plays like an old horror movie, with Chigurh as its lumbering Frankenstein monster. Like the taciturn terminator, No Country for Old Men doesn't move quickly, but the tension never dissipates. This minimalist masterwork represents Joel and Ethan Coen and their entire cast, particularly Brolin and Jones, at the peak of their powers.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Miér Ene 20, 2010 12:08 pm

999
La vie en rose (Life in pink- Olivier Dahan, 2007)



Edith Piaf is the subject of La Vie en Rose, director Olivier Dahan's powerful if emotionally redundant biographical film about the iconic French superstar whose life, as depicted here, seems to have been a numbing succession of tragedies interrupted on occasion by artistic triumph. Dahan's portrait begins with Piaf's stay in a brothel as a young girl. Left to the care of her grandmother (who runs the place) after her father pulls her away from a narcissistic mother, Piaf undergoes significant health problems and grows up to sing on the street in lieu of outright prostitution. The film pulses along with the usual biopic rhythms, with pivotal moments in the life of Piaf (played as an adult by Marion Cotillard) turning up regularly only to be smacked aside by the unseen hand of perpetual misfortune. There's the impresario (Gerard Depardieu) who recognizes Piaf's great but raw talent only to have a run-in with the criminal element around her. There's the heavyweight fighter (Marcel Cerdan) who becomes the love of Piaf's life but can't be with her. Drug addiction, random car accidents, tax problems, you name it, it's all here, topped by an unnerving revelation that pops up in La Vie en Rose's final moments. After awhile, with such a concentration of bad news squeezed into 140 minutes, one begins to wish Dahan had taken a more expansive approach to Piaf's life and times. But the film is never less than interesting, and the lead performance by Cotillard is often astonishing.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Miér Ene 20, 2010 12:13 pm

1000
Le scaphandre et le papillon
(The diving bell and the butterfly- Julian Schnabel, 2007)



The seemingly claustrophobic story of a man imprisoned in his paralyzed body becomes a dazzling and expansive movie about love, imagination, and the will to live. After a stroke, Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric, Kings and Queen) can only move his left eye--and through that eye he learns to communicate, one letter at a time. With the help of his speech therapist (Marie-Josee Croze, Munich) and a stenographer (Anne Consigny, Anna M.), Bauby writes the stunning memoir The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. But such a plot summary makes the movie sound like lofty, self-important medicine--far from it. Director Julian Schnabel (Basquiat, Before Night Falls), working from an elegant screenplay by Ronald Harwood (The Pianist) and with an oustanding cast (which also includes Frantic's Emmanuelle Seigner as Bauby's neglected wife), has created a movie as engrossing and hypnotic as a thriller, a movie that wrestles with mortality yet has stubborn streaks of dark humor and eroticism, that portrays a man who overcomes unimaginable obstacles but refuses to paint him as a saint. Schnabel was once dismissed as a pompous and overblown painter, but he's crafted an intimate visual poem, a humble sonata about life at its most fragile.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Miér Ene 20, 2010 12:16 pm

1001
There will be blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)



Unmistakably a shot at greatness, Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood succeeds in wild, explosive ways. The film digs into nothing less than the sources of peculiarly American kinds of ambition, corruption, and industry--and makes exhilarating cinema from it all. Although inspired by Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel Oil!, Anderson has crafted his own take on the material, focusing on a black-eyed, self-made oilman named Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), whose voracious appetite for oil turns him into a California tycoon in the early years of the 20th century. The early reels are a mesmerizing look at the getting of oil from the ground, an intensely physical process that later broadens into Plainview's equally indomitable urge to control land and power. Curious, diverting episodes accumulate during Plainview's rise: a mighty derrick fire (a bravura opportunity that Anderson, with the aid of cinematographer Robert Elswit, does not fail to meet), a visit from a long-lost brother (Kevin J. O'Connor), the ongoing involvement of Plainview's poker-faced adoptive son (Dillon Freasier). As the film progresses, it gravitates toward Plainview's rivalry with the local representative of God, a preacher named Eli Sunday (brimstone-spitting Paul Dano); religion and capitalism are thus presented not so much as opposing forces but as two sides of the same coin. And the worm in the apple here is less man's greed than his vanity. Anderson's offbeat take on all this--exemplified by the astonishing musical score by Jonny Greenwood--occasionally threatens to break the film apart, but even when it founders, it excites. As for Daniel Day-Lewis, his performance is Olivier-like in its grand scope and its attention to details of behavior; Plainview speaks in the rum-rich voice of John Huston, and squints with the wariness of Walter Huston. It's a fearsome performance, and the engine behind the film's relentless power.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

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