Sunday, December 30, 2007

"There Will Be Blood"

Instant Classic.

Seriously... ManwithaVan can't recall the last release he enjoyed more. Far from conventional, yet "Blood" will surely rank atop many critics' 2007 review and likely earn several Oscar Noms, including Best Picture, Director, and Actor. Daniel Day Lewis, usually covered in filth and oil here, his teeth included, has this complex character piece by the balls from start to finish, exploring a range of themes in frightening fashion. A hardcore Western with unabashed straightforward storytelling, full of sprawling wide shots and long takes, a riveting musical score that makes even a lengthy scene of men laying metal stakes intense, and already drawing comparisons to "Chinatown", "2001: A Space Odyssey", and "Citizen Kane", it looks like we've got an American masterpiece on our hands.

"American Gangster"

Surprisingly good.

Seriously... With a title as generic as "American Gangster" and with actors as huge as Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington, ManwithaVan was expecting a typical Hollywood shoot-em-up. But the story Director Ridley Scott ("Gladiator") tells here of a low-key Harlem Kingpin and a by-the-book Jersey Cop is far more exciting; unique in its utterly gritty and honest portrayal. Both Crowe's and Washington's real-life characters (Richie Roberts and Frank Lucas) were consultants for the extensive locations shoots in New York City, which doubles terrifically as its filthy 70's self.

"Eastern Promises"


Seriously... "Eastern Promises" scores in its very tight narrative and clever plot twists. So tight is this film (in camera coverage too) it seems hardly populated outside of its core characters. Here, Director David Cronenberg, aka "The Baron of Blood", culls some strong performances. "I'm just de driver", explains Viggo Mortensen to Naomi Watts, and as one hell of a Ruski he slowly but surely starts to drive the film, including a tense bathhouse scene where he goes all primeval on some thick-headed hooligans.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"No Country for Old Men"

Best Film of '07... so far.

Seriously... With "No Country" the Coen Brothers have delivered a master work and undoubtedly solidified themselves as 2 of the greatest modern Directors. "No Country" is at once a beautiful Western and an incredible thriller with a slew of stand-out performances-- Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson; and it's always a treat to see that guy from "Office Space" and TV's "NewsRadio", Stephen Root. But what makes this film special, as the title suggests, is that it's a story about humanity. ManwithaVan predicts a Best Picture Oscar Nomination.