FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #146 – “Bumblebee” (dir. Travis Knight), “Suspiria” (dir. Luca Guadagnino)

Poster for "Bumblebee"

On this week’s podcast, Glenn and Daniel fulfill a prior threat to fan-favorite intellectual heavyweight Erika Spoden: to make her review a Transformers film. And with all props to Scene Unseen before us, it’s one that Daniel didn’t even bother to watch. Then we drill into Luca Guadagnino‘s operatic horror remake, Suspiria, a film that we started off uneven and disturbed by, only to talk ourselves into watching it again during the ride home (01:04:36).

May contain NSFW language.

Still from "Suspiria"

FilmWonk rating (Bumblebee): 7.5/10 (Erika), 6.5/10 (Glenn)
FilmWonk rating (Suspiria): 7/10 (Glenn/Daniel), 8.5/10 (Erika)

Show notes:

  • [02:59] Review: Bumblebee
  • [24:39] Review: Suspiria
  • [44:54] Spoilers: Suspiria
  • Music for this episode is the tracks “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears, from the soundtrack for Bumblebee, and “Suspirium” by Thom Yorke‘s excellent score and soundtrack to Suspiria.
  • Correction: Per Wikipedia, the Three Mothers are: Mater Tenebaraum (Mother of Darkness – not death), Mater Lachrymarum (Mother of Tears), and Mater Suspiriorum (Mother of Sighs).

Listen above, or download: Bumblebee, Suspiria (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

Advertisements

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #42 – “3 Days to Kill” (dir. McG)

This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel bear witness to Luc Besson’s latest take on “An Aging American Action Star in Paris”, featuring Kevin Costner in 3 Days to Kill.

Spoiler alert: We’re not shy about our disdain for this film, and we are a bit more lax than usual about concealing plot details.

Check out our discussion below (28:58).

May contain some NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 2.5 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode features Edith Piaf‘s “Non, je ne regrette rien”, and MC Solaar‘s “Sauvez le monde”.
  • Sarah Silverman was indeed credited as “Raving Bitch” in the 2000 Christopher McQuarrie film, The Way of the Gun. She appears directly below another actress credited as “Sloppy Prostitute”.
  • We also referred to a 2002 film featuring Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock working for the “Dumb CIA”- that film was Bad Company, directed by Joel Schumacher (not Besson).
  • I couldn’t find a French legal citation, but I was able to find several references to the French squatters law, all quite similar in that they suggest that squatters cannot be evicted in winter. More info on EU squatting law here.

Listen above, or download: 3 Days to Kill (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

Movies, Podcasts, Kevin Costner, 3 Days to Kill, Luc Besson, McG, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld

2010 Glennies, Part 4: Best Actress

#5: Annette Bening – Nic, The Kids Are All Right

This film didn’t quite do it for me, and reminded me that I sometimes have to catch myself from thinking that the best performances of the year will invariably fall within the best films. But while Lisa Cholodenko’s sex comedy/family drama was not without its flaws (particularly in the second half), Annette Bening’s performance as the conservative “patriarch” of this surprisingly* conventional family was immaculate. She completely sold her ever-changing reactions to the introduction of her kids’ birth-father (Mark Ruffalo), treating him first like a looming threat to her primacy, then laughing and drinking wine with him and the family. This is a completely authentic character, and Bening’s delivery of dramatic outbursts and comedic barbs alike was spot-on. Her chemistry with Julianne Moore felt mostly believable – it had a kind of comfort and ease, just like an old married couple.

She also completely nails the best two lines in the film, which I won’t spoil here.

*By the standards of quirky indie film, that is.

#4: Carey Mulligan – Kathy, Never Let Me Go

I’ve seen Carey Mulligan play cheerful, but I’ve seen her play somber much more frequently. While I may eventually reach a point of wanting to see a wider range from this actress, I found every dour moment of her screentime in Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go to be completely compelling. This film relied heavily on tone, and Mulligan’s performance and chemistry with her fellow leads (Keira Knightley in particular) helped maintain the film’s bleak and somber atmosphere without ever letting the audience lose emotional touch with the characters. These are wretched and pitiable creatures, and it is Mulligan’s heart and compassion that keeps the audience caring for them right to the end.

#3: Hailee Steinfeld – Mattie Ross, True Grit

An early scene in True Grit features Mattie Ross in hardball negotiations with a stable owner over her late father’s horses. Her unrelenting performance amid rapid-fire dialogue in this scene would have been enough to get 13-year-old newcomer Hailee Steinfeld a supporting nod from me, but the Academy be damned – this is unquestionably a lead performance. Steinfeld is in every scene of True Grit, and the film could not have succeeded without such a mature and charismatic take on this character. Mattie Ross is articulate, intimidating, and a bit of a gadfly, and has to keep up with powerful characters three times her age without ever overstaying her welcome with the audience. It’s a tall order, but Steinfeld completely pulls it off. Her rapport with Jeff Bridges was admirable, treading some fascinating ground between road-trip comedy and an intense father-daughter bond. This film is a delight, and it owes much of its appeal to Steinfeld.

#2: Natalie Portman – Nina Sayers, Black Swan

The effectiveness of Nina Sayers is in both her initial state- the pure and fragile “sweet girl”- and her incredible mental and physical transformation. Natalie Portman not only sold both aspects of the character, but fearlessly committed to all the pain and revulsion – bordering on body horror – that she must experience. Portman’s chemistry and frightful interactions with her fellow players (Barbara Hershey in particular) become increasingly fascinating as Nina descends into full-blown schizophrenic madness. Along with Aronofsky’s direction, this was a performance that would make or break the film, occasionally even compensating for deficits in the screenwriting.

“I’M the Swan Queen!” screams Nina as she embarks on the film’s final performance. And indeed she is. Embodying both the white and black swans, Portman’s performance is complete and unmatched.

#1: Kim Hye-ja – Mother, Mother

It is a rare movie tagline that so adequately captures the tone of a film. For Bong Joon-Ho’s Mother, it was this: “She’ll stop at nothing.” Simple and straight to the point. Kim Hye-ja, an actress primarily from Korean television, gives a tour de force performance as the unnamed titular matriarch. Every one of her character beats rang completely true, from her constant worry about her mentally disabled adult son (Won Bin) to her utter desperation to clear his name for murder. She goes to some alarming lengths as the film goes on, and Kim’s performance completely sold each one of her increasingly heartbreaking decisions. The gorgeous opening scene features Kim breaking into an uneasy dance in the middle of the field, with a very pained expression in her face and body language. The full meaning of this scene becomes apparent later in the film, but from the outset, it is clear that Kim Hye-Ja can convey a great deal of emotion in completely unspoken terms. This is a character that the audience wants the best for at all times, no matter what she becomes.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jennifer Lawrence as Ree in Winter’s Bone
  • Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Emma Stone as Olive Pendergast in Easy A
  • Marisa Tomei as Molly in Cyrus
  • Julianne Moore as Jules in The Kids Are All Right (Honorable, honorable mention: as Catherine Stewart in Chloe)

Click here to see the rest of the 2010 Glennies.