Tag Archives: jodie foster

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

15 Sep

Far from your typical detective story, Director Jonathan Demme‘s 1991 masterpiece helped to refine the genre. Based on a novel of the same name by Thomas Harris, Demme’s adaptation successfully takes us on a thrilling but dark journey into a territory so rarely explored in cinema: the bleak recesses of the human mind.

Part Freudian mystery, part crime thriller, Silence of the Lambs first introduces us to our protagonist, Clarice Starling, an aspiring FBI agent currently finishing training. Played by Jodie Foster in her most iconic role to date, Clarice is fearless, smart and tactile as she tries to put together the clues and help catch a mysterious serial killer known as Buffalo Bill. In order to do so, however, she must enter and dismantle the mind of the brilliant but ruthless Dr. Hannibal Lecter (in another iconic performance from Anthony Hopkins) who is being held in a high-security prison for multiple murders.

“Do you know why they call him ‘Buffalo Bill'”? He asks Clarice, during their first encounter together. “It started as a bad joke,” she replies. “It’s because he always skins his humps”.

The personal exchanges between Clarice and Hannibal are the film’s heartbeat and give us tremendous insight into the multiple layers of their characters, including Hannibal’s immense knowledge of psychology and his ability to manipulate others. This is contrasted with Clarice’s desire to rid herself of her own demons, and take on the daunting responsibility of being a new female FBI agent.

Both Hopkins and Foster received Oscars for their work, and rightfully so. Universally acclaimed as one of the best films from the 90’s, Silence of the Lambs also took home awards for Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture.

Besides its influence on everything from The Dark Knight to the hit HBO series True Detective, the film helped highlight our culture’s fascination with serial killers, and the complex and horrifying psychology that accompanies them. Silence of the Lambs is, in my opinion, a great film because of its bold ability to introspectively examine the inner emotions, thoughts, and motivations that lay buried deep in the heart of human beings – despite what horrors might eventually be unearthed there.

 

Clarice Starling

Clarice Starling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rating: 10/10

Similar to: Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011), Se7en (1995), True Detective (2014) 

Elysium (2013)

9 Aug

 

If you haven’t seen Niell Blomkamp’s directorial debut District 9, then Elysium will probably come off as one of the best sci-fi films to hit theaters recently.  But for those of us who saw (and loved) District 9, it’s impossible not to compare the two pictures, and unfortunately, the former proves Niel Blomkamp is capable of far better work.

Elysium follows Max (Matt Damon), who is living in Los Angeles over a hundred years from now.  Most of Earth as we know it has become degenerated to an overpopulated ghetto and the few richest citizens have moved up into space in this new-age living station thing called Elysium. Of course, its the earthlings who provide the manual labor and resources while the rich up above apparently spend their days tending the garden, speaking French and drinking white wine.

Things get complicated when Max undergoes an accident at work and receives harmful radiation which gives him a mere 5 days to live. Knowing he can be healed on Elysium, he plans some sort of espionage/hacking/hijacking scenario so he can get up there with the top. There is also this sub-plot involving his childhood crush and something about a South African man’s plot to take over Elysium by force, but we won’t get bother getting into that.

Anyway, while Blomkamp has some great ideas going, they never really go anywhere. While the film is fast-paced and thoroughly entertaining, the last 30 minutes are a cluttered mess that ends with a resolution that feels forced and uninteresting. Blomkamp makes up for his lack of story development by giving us some of the best visuals we have seen all year.  The man got his start in the industry from creating special effects, and (with the help of some of the guys from WETA) he shows off his expertise wonderfully.

The cast includes acting heavyweights Damon and Jodie Foster (who is tragically misused), and supporting work by Sharlto Copely, Alice Braga, William Fichtner, and Diego Luna. For the most part, everything works as it should, but there are times when the dialogue is thin and characters feel artificial.

District 9 was one of those rare films that finds the perfect balance of action, character, story, genre, and social commentary, all the while remaining true to its blockbuster form (without a leading star!) and refusing to be watered down to the family-friendly PG-13 film we have seen a zillion times over.  District 9 tries to follow in the same footsteps, but falls just a bit short. I give props to Bloomkamp for taking his big ideas about the Occupy/ “Us vs. Them” movement and bringing them to life, despite the fact that he might have bitten off more than he could chew in the process.

 

 

Rating 6/10

Similar to: Equilibrium, I Am Legend, Gattaca

 

 

Best films of 2012

27 Dec

2012 was a great year for film-lovers.

With a slew of veteran directors including Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, Wes Anderson, Ridley Scott, Ang Lee, Peter Jackson, Robert Zemeckis, Tom Tykwer, The Wachowski siblings, Rian Johnson, P.T. Anderson, Ben Affleck, Sam Mendes, David O. Russell, and Tom Hooper all releasing films this year, there was no shortage of high-quality movies to choose from. Heck Steven Soderbergh, Tim Burton, and Joss Whedon each had two 2012 films.

This is why making a “best-of” list was no easy task, but after some thought here are my personal picks for the top 25 films of 2012 (meaning they had a widespread theatrical release from jan-dec).

25- Cabin In The Woods 

As cliche’ as it might seem, there is a subtle mix of playfulness and horror throughout Cabin In The Woods that makes it such a fun ride ride to see over and over again.

24 – Les Miserables 

The music, acting, and look of the film all work nicely together to create one of the most powerful musical adaptations I have seen in recent years.

23- The Dark Knight Rises

While it doesn’t quite have the thrills of it’s predecessor, Christopher Nolan’s third and final installment into the Dark Knight franchise is emotionally satisfying and clever with all the twists and turns that make the franchise unique among super-hero films. Even if they don’t make any logical sense.

 

22 – Cloud Atlas 

From the costumes to the cast to the six interwoven stories, everything about Cloud Atlas begs to be called epic.  While the first third of the film is a confusing mess of ideas and characters, things get straightened out nicely in the end once you figure out who is playing who and what planet they are on.  With such an ambitious project as this, it is really, really easy for things to go wrong. Miraculously, Cloud Atlas gets everything right.

21 – Skyfall 

Bond is back and better than ever in this wonderful addition to the 007 franchise.  Hopefully Daniel Craig will not hang up the suit quite yet…

21 – Compliance  

A simple concept brought to life with amazing performances with an even better nail-biter of a script.  This is the stuff great indie flicks are made from.

20- Chasing Ice 

The single most gorgeous-looking documentary I have ever seen.

19- Argo 

Great screenwriting and cinematography create a well-balanced political thriller. The great cast was the icing on the cake.

18- Carnage 

Four people arguing in a living room for hours might not seem like much, but when those four people are John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster, and Kate Winslet…….   things get interesting and dramatically hilarious.

17- Looper

Good movies are usually either intellectually, sensually or emotionally stimulating.  Looper manages to be all three at the same time.

End of Watch

While it might seem like a feature film about the TV show COPS, End of Watch is actually one of the most emotional movies I have seen all year.  Great chemistry from Gyllenhaal and Pena.

16- Seven Psychopaths 

An amazing cast mixed with an ever-unpredictable story makes for an offensively wild film. From the writer/director of the cult-favourite In Bruges.

15- Prometheus 

The epic and visually stunning prequel to Alien, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus proves you can reach the end of a journey looking for answers, only to have more questions that when you first started. The film’s many mysteries had Alien fans scratching their heads for ages, and left me wanting a sequel.

 

14- Headhunters 

Part heist-flick, part survival-drama, Headhunters tells the story of one man’s quest to steal a million-dollar painting. And what ultimately happens when things go sour.  If you are a fan of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, don’t miss out on this.

13- The Master 

P.T. Anderson’s sprawling epic about the life of a  very peculiar WWII veteran. Both Phillip S. Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix give amazing performances and the cinematography is stunning.

12 – The Imposter 

The bizzare-but-true story about a missing Texas boy who winds up in Spain over three years later. This is the WTF documentary everyone will be talking about.

10 – Django Unchained 

Tarantino returns with a revenge/western/drama/shoot-em-up set in the South 2 years prior to the Civil War. It’s long and overly playful, but Django Unchained somehow manages to be one of the year’s most entertaining films (if you can get past the hefty amount of racial slurs and fake blood).

 

9-  The Hunt

8- Holy Motors 

Obscure and senseless, Holy Motors is a collage of surreal scenarios and situations that make up a thought-provoking and mesmerizing piece of cinema.

7 – Frances Ha 

6 – Silver Linings Playbook 

David O Russel cleverly mixes bi-polar disorders with the Philadelphia Eagle’s in this witty romantic comedy.  Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, and Jennifer Lawrence are great, but the real treasure is seeing a chic-flick that is this entertaining without being cliche’.

5 – Killer Joe 

A low-budget crime thriller that hits all the right spots, and then some. Killer Joe boasts some of the best acting of the year, and a script that leaves you on the edge on your seat. You will never look at KFC the same way again.

4 – Moonrise Kingdom 

Wes Anderson’s magnificent drama about a boy and a girl who leave the world behind and set out together for adventure. Not only does the film look amazing, but Anderson has really outdone himself (again) with the set pieces, characters, use of music and brilliant screenplay.  Though it has an all-star cast, Moonrise never lets celebrity get in the way of it’s story and splendor.

3- Beasts of the Southern Wild 

A simple low-budget film that captures the innocence and curiosity of childhood, mixed with the drama and emotion of an entire community. This movie is brilliant, well directed and breathtakingly beautiful from start to finish.

 

2-  We Need To Talk About Kevin 

A powerfully gripping psychological thriller about a child who is…. different. This is one you will want to see a second time around.

1- It’s Such A Beautiful Day 

So there ya go. An honorable mention goes to 21 Jump Street for being the funniest movie of the year.

My picks for film categories can be seen HERE.

Feel free to disagree as there were so many other great films that I didn’t mention, and  if you want to take a look at what i’m most excited about in 2013, click HERE