Tag Archives: Enemy

H. (Sundance 2015)

4 Feb

Artsy. Wierd. Pretentious. Experimental. Cryptic.

Whatever labels you throw at it, the 2015 Sundance film H. is a hard one to tackle. Equal parts romance, sci-fi, relationship drama, and visual poetry, H. tells the story of two couples whose lives slowly start to intersect into each others’ in conjunction with the passing of some celestial object from space.  The first characters we encounter are Helen and Roy (played by Robin Bartlett and  Julian Gamble respectively), an aging couple from Troy, New York. Helen likes to purchase life-like baby dolls and treat them like real newborn (or as she calls them “reborn” babies, which includes pretending to put them to bed, feeding, and burping them. Roy likes fishing. There is another woman named Helen (Rebecca Dayan), but she is in her 8th month of pregnancy and is into artistic photography along with her husband Alex (Will Janowitz). Both couples seem to innocently carry on with their lives until a mysterious something (natural disaster? meteor? space aliens?) causes the city to go into chaos, triggering a domino effect that weaves in and out of the city.

Featuring some fantastic imagery from this year’s festival (rivaled only perhaps by Lubezki’s work in Last Days in the Desert and the stunning visual palette from The Witch), H. was designed and experienced as a bold visceral journey. Along the way are various cryptic messages referencing the great Greek drama The Iliad. H.‘s music is also intensely compelling. If you haven’t already associated the beautiful cello and piano piece Arvo Part with great cinema after watching There Will Be Bloodyou will now; almost every scene in H. has some variation of the intense melody.

The story itself is pretty inaccessible – most of the audience’s understanding (or lack thereof) comes from subtle visual references – but H. is really a must see because of it’s ability to exhibit and celebrate a truly unique flavor of film. The tone of this thing washed right over me from the start and I was completely entranced by it’s hypnotic spell. In an age where most films feel the need to explain everything to the point of redundancy, it’s incredibly refreshing to see something trying so hard to be ambiguous. H. does feel a little like an amatuer student production at some points, but I absolutely think filmmakers Daniel Garcia and Rania Attieh have a solid future ahead of them. Its lack of a concrete explanation (or any explanation at all) for the events on-screen will surely leave some viewers frustrated, but H. is a bold execution in ambient, atmospheric filmmaking and deserves to be seen.

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Rating: 7/10 

Similar to: Enemy (2014), Under The Skin (2014), Upstream Color (2013) 

Check out the trailer below:

MY FAVORITE FILMS OF 2014

30 Dec

For your viewing pleasure: my favorite films of 2014. I only counted films that had a theatrical or VOD release this year, so some stuff I saw at festivals (like Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter & Infinitely Polar Bear) and late Oscar films (like Foxcatcher & Inherent Vice) will be saved for next year.  Enjoy!

EDIT – unfortunately, Vimeo took down my video, so here is a direct link to view it from my Google Drive (thanks Google!)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9ugyZi0NsQmZGwwVkt0bmVMREk/view?usp=sharing

I want to hear your thoughts. Anything you think I missed?

Best Film Scores of 2014

22 Dec

Sorry, I have been inactive as of late. As tradition, I have been editing a year’s worth of film viewing into my annual “Best of” video series. Today, I’m happy to present my top 10 film scores of the year which you can check out below (headphones highly suggested!).

2014 film scores from Tyler Belk on Vimeo.

I also plan to have my Top 10 Documentaries video out tomorrow, so stay tuned 🙂

The best of 2014 (so far)

23 Jun

With June winding down, the year is nearly reaching its halfway point. Now it’s time to sort through the good, the bad, and the ugly, and take a look at my favorite 15 films of the year so far. Keep in mind there are a few films released with a lot of good buzz I have yet to see (Ida, Tom at the Farm, Hellion, Cold in July, Night Moves, Obvious Child and Snowpiercer). Note I am also using the word favorite as opposed to best or greatest – these are simply the ones I enjoyed most. So without further delay:

 

15 – Edge of Tomorrow 

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Why? – I was pleasantly surprised by how tight and free-flowing this film was. It has a great time with the whole time-loop ting but still manages to be kickass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 – Grand Piano

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Why? It’s so refreshing to see a “concept horror” that actually knows how to have a good time and not suck. Plus Elijah Wood playing a non-hobbit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 – The Grand Budapest Hotel 

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 Why? Wes Anderson has outdone himself again and created an enchanting film with an all-star cast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 – X-Men: Days of Future Past 

Why? –  The action is playful and fun and character dynamic between Magneto, Prof. X, and Mystique is great stuff. Plus – time travel. What could have been a TOTAL mess-up ended up becoming my favorite summer blockbuster.

11 – The Immigrant 

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Why? Great performances all around, but Marion Cotillard absolutely steals the show and gives her finest performance to date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 – Joe 

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          Why? Because Nic Cage is still a total badass (seriously).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 – The Babadook 

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Why? Australian horror gets a makeover with a genuinely terrifying film that satisfies with smarts as well as scares.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8-  Infinitely Polar Bear 

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Why? This heartfelt film shows the ups and downs of mental illness and boasts some of the best child acting I have seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 – Whiplash 

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Why? With great performances from J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller  make this is an absolute must see for music fans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 – The Double 

Why? A clever, dark comedy from Richard Ayode brings an introspective examination of identity, corporatism, and fate.\

5 – Borgman

Why? This weird, surreal tale about a mysterious vagabond probably won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s still an incredibly bold exercise in filmmaking.

 4 – Blue Ruin            

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  Why? A new arthouse take on the homestyle revenge thriller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 – Enemy

Why? Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this trippy, Freudian story of the dual nature of sexuality and manipulation.

2 – Under The Skin 

Why? A beautifully creepy film featuring aliens, sexual tension, and jaw-dropping cinematography. Oh – and that haunting score by Mica Levi is genius.

1 – Boyhood 

Why? Richard Linklater delivers the year’s best emotional high with his 12-year film which lets us follow a child who literally grows up right before our eyes.

So there ya go. Let me know in the comments of via email what films you think deserve a spot here, as well as any titles I might have missed out on.

Enemy (2014)

5 Jun

Filmed before but released after 2013’s breakout thriller Prisoners and also starring Jake Gyllenhaal, director Denis Villeneuve takes the road of the arthouse in his new film EnemyBased on a similar premise to this year’s fantastic comedy The Double, Enemy focuses on one man who comes across what appears to be his exact copy.  Gyllenhaal plays Adam, a university professor who spends his days teaching history and his nights with his lover Mary (Melanie Laurent).  His life is one of repetition; a cycle of rhythms  consisting of school, food and sex. His cyclical and comfortable lifestyle is interrupted when a coworker recommends a film that has an exact lookalike as Adam in the background. We soon find out this actor is named Anthony (who is also played by Gyllenhaal), and he curiously doesn’t live too far from where Adam works. The rest of the film becomes a hazy mess of events that spiral out through the interactions between Anthony the actor and Adam the spectator, and eventually concludes with a complex examination of the duality inherent in everyone.

Enemy is a dark, cryptic, and brooding film that relies heavily on atmosphere and tone. Lying somewhere in between the styles of Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and David Cronenberg, Villeneuve makes incredible use of lighting, music, and color to give us a mysterious and puzzling look into the lives of these duplicate characters.  The film becomes a sort of Freudian gaze into the subconscious when Gyllenhaal’s two characters each try to manipulate each other and each other’s woman. Wrought symbolism, tension, and the ongoing threat of violence, Enemy is not your everyday film, and many people will be frustrated by the film’s lack of focus on plot and character. I think the film has more to say that it initially lets on however, and multiple viewings and discussions will prove to be useful.  Enemy is an artful delight filled with various puzzles and meanings, and while it might prove to be too complex for some, it’s still provocatively thoughtful in its execution.

Rating 9/10 

Similar to: Mulholland Drive, Cosmopolis, Under The Skin

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Top 10 Anticipated films of 2014

5 Jan

Well hats off to a new year. In the midst of all this awards season talk (you can catch my top 15 list of 2013 here) I’d like to present the films I’m most looking forward to seeing this next year. If available, I’ve provided the trailers and release dates. Make sure to let me know what films you are looking forward to seeing and if there are any I missed.

10 – Knight of Cups

This one is still a bit of a mystery as director Terrence Malick hasn’t officially said anything about Knight of Cups (or much else about his other projects). What we do know is that is stars Christian Bale, Imogen Poots, Joel Kinnaman, Cate Blanchet, Natalie Portman, Jason Clarke, Wes Bentley, and Antonio Banderas (wow!!). If the cast isn’t enough to get you excited, rumor is that Malick has a few additional films planned (though these are most likely to be pushed back to 2015 and beyond).  No release date yet.

9 – Foxcatcher

Director Bennett Miller made waves a while back with his Oscar-winning film Capote and 2011’s Moneyball. Next year he returns with a film based on Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz. Originally intended for 2013 (there was even a trailer released last fall), the film was pushed back due to editing issues and concern the awards season would be too crowded. Channing Tatum and Steve Carell (supposedly playing against type) star alongside Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, and Tara Subkoff.  Foxcatcher is rumored to be released in the spring, but could be pushed back to fall.

8 – Boyhood

This mysterious project from Richard Linklater supposedly has been in production for the last 12 years, chronicling the life of Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette’s son. As a huge fan of his Before trilogy, I can’t wait to see what frequent collaborators Linklater and Hawke have in store. No release date yet.

7- Transcendence

Wally Pfister, who is mostly known for his cinematography work with Christopher Nolan, makes his directorial debut next year with a mind-bending sci-fi about artificial intelligence. This looks like it has all the right ingredients to be the next Minority Report, and I’m excited to see Johnny Depp actually using his talent. Depp stars alongside Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Paul Bettany and Rebecca Hall. In theaters April 14.

6 – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Boasting an amazing all-star lineup of Saoirse Ronan, Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux, Jude Law, Edwards Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham, and Harvey Keitel (!!!), the film from Wes Anderson promises mystery, laughs, drama, superb music and Helvetica font. In theaters March 7.

5 – Enemy

After filming the Oscar-nominated Incendies, and last years incredible Prisoners, Denis Villeneuve is making a name for himself and this year he agian reunited with Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy. The thriller is supposedly about a man who goes after his look-alike after seeing him in a movie. I’m intrigued. In theaters March 14.

4 – Gone Girl

One of my favorite directors, David Fincher, gives us a film about a man whose wife mysteriously disappears while on honeymoon, starring Ben Affleck. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, Gone Girl could become this year’s Girl With The Dragon Tatoo. In theaters October 8.

3 – Noah

Yes, you are familiar with the biblical story, but director Darren Aronofsky is sure to put a new spin on the tale. Staring Russel Crowe, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins, and supposedly boasting some of the best digital effects ever to be done by Industrial Light and Magic, Noah arrives March 28.

2 – Interstellar

Christopher Nolan is back in action with a story about wormholes, space travel, and corn shortages. Yup. Staring Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, Topher Grace, and Ellen Burstyn, the film is out November 7.

1 – Inherent Vice

My most anticipated film of 2014 brings back Joaquin Phoenix and Paul Thomas Anderson into a thriller/comedy/crime story about a detective investigating the disappearance of an ex-lover.  Jena Malone, Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, and Maya Rudolph star. No release date yet.