Okay all, you know the drill, it’s time once again to Vote!
With a new year comes a clean slate. The films of 2014 take their leave and we’re left with nothing but speculative anticipation and excitement about the year ahead in cinema, a significant reason why I love being a cinephile, in contrast to every other fandom. Our ability to teem with an uncontrollable eagerness and curiosity in regards to forthcoming films never ceases to amaze me. With that in mind, it’s time to voice your opinion on what we should look forward to in the world of cinema in 2015.
I know I’m a tad late with this, but below you’ll find a rather long list of films set for release in 2015 (took me quite a while to throw it together). Simply select the three at the top of your “most anticipated” list, if I’ve left out one of your selections, feel free to write it in and a couple of weeks from now I will post the results!
This post officially puts an end to The Cinema Monster’s hiatus of 2014! If you hadn’t noticed, I’d neglected the site for roughly two months, for a variety of reasons, the most prominent of which was a lack of passion. Writing reviews simply became too much of a chore, I’d lost any remaing drive and decided to set my most beloved hobby aside for a while. I won’t bore you with the several other aspects that led to The Cinema Monster being pushed to the backburner, just know that from here on out I will do my utmost to post content…weekly, at the very least.
I don’t have any reviews completed at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been watching flicks. I’ve kept up with the cinematic universe during my absence and have nearly seen every film I set out to in 2014, with the exception of an important few. For now, I will simply list the films I’ve seen below with my rating alongside. I will do my best to get reviews posted for each film listed, but that will take some time. However, I plan on reviewing each film I see in 2015 as close to their release as possible, so I never fall behind again.
Sometime before the end of the month, I’ve scheduled the second half of my 2014 roundup, once I’ve seen the remaining films on my list. Next week, The Cinematic Katzenjammer, a site I contribute to, will be publishing a summary of our most anticipated films in 2015 which I will reblog for your viewing. Additionally, I have two new Vote! polls that I hope to release sometime next week, which I hope you all will participate in. Finally, I’m currently scrambling together my list of 2014’s best films, which I will also publish before the end of the month, again, once I finish seeing the remaining films on my list.
Over the next couple of weeks, expect the appearance of The Cinema Monster to change as well. And before I forget, a post laying out the Oscar nominations and my predictions will also be out before the month’s end. I know there’s a lot to catch up on and digest here, but I hope you’ll stick it out with me. I pray I didn’t lose too much of you during my unwarranted absence, please feel free to lay into me in the comment section below. The truth is, I missed this more than I’d care to admit and I need to get this site back to where it was before this mess took hold. I will also be catching up on all of your blogs, because simply, I missed you all too damn much. Lastly, I’ve made it my New Years resolution to be more active on Twitter, so follow me (@cinema_monster) if you don’t already.
Now, without further delay, on to the roundup!
’71: 9 out of 10
99 Homes (2015): 8 out of 10
The Babadook: 9 out of 10
Birdman: 9 out of 10
The Dissappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them: 8 out of 10
The Drop: 8.5 out of 10
Force Majeure: 9 out of 10
Foxcatcher: 8 out of 10
Frank: 8.5 out of 10
Gone Girl: 9 out of 10
The Guest: 9 out of 10
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: 8 out of 10
Inherent Vice: Rating Pending Second Viewing
Interstellar: 9.5 out of 10
Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter (2015): 9 out of 10
Mommy: 9 out of 10
Predestination: 7.5 out of 10
Starred Up: 9 out of 10
Still Alice: 7.5 out of 10
Suburban Gothic: 5.5 out of 10
Two Days, One Night: 8 out of 10
TAD’14 is coming to a close and as usual, I am behind on coverage. For those of you who don’t know, I obtained a press all-access pass this year to cover the festivities. I will be posting all content related to the festival: reviews, interviews, etc…over at Gone With the Movies, a site I have been contributing to for a while. If you feel so inclined, please head on over (click the link below) and give my coverage a look. The first film I reviewed is “Housebound,” a delightfully original take on the haunted house premise.
My TIFF 2014 reviews continue to trickle through and today I’ve got something special, one of my most anticipated films of the year, “The Imitation Game.” Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, and Rory Kinnear, “The Imitation Game” retells the unbelievable life-story of Alan Turing. Feel free to click on the link below which will redirect you to my review over at The Cinematic Katzenjammer and please drop a like/comment/share.
Greatly influenced by Arnold Fanck, pioneer of the mountain film genre, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and his film, “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.” Oliver Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria” can’t help but keep its glamourized mindset floating amongst the thin, cool, moist air. Whether it’s the altitude, a life of fame, or a last-ditch attempt at recapturing dissipated youth, the fleeting, ungraspable nature of the film’s gaseous metaphor leaves little to sink one’s teeth into. That’s not to say there isn’t redemptive qualities about having one’s head in the clouds, literally and figuratively.
The Swiss Alps, ripe with greenery and dusted with snow at their dizzying peaks, provide a heavenly backdrop for this supremely meta drama. Yet, the promise of a Maloja Snake, the result of ideal atmospheric conditions, clouds drifting north from Italy and slithering their way through the distant mountain scape is the scenic treasure we, along with our leading ladies, can’t help but ache for.
We arrive at the remote, sparsely populated town of Sils Maria via a spectacular train ride through central Europe’s vistas and some fine vehicular maneuvering brought on by our heroine, Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) and her passionate assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart). Enders, a well-renowned actor, has dragged her lovely and devout second in command Valentine to the middle of nowhere to accept a rather prestigious award on behalf of Wilhelm Melchior, the author/director who’s play had a significant role in launching Maria’s career when she was 18.
We’re now 20 years down the road from her big break and Enders is dealing with a rough divorce, a tragic loss, and an up-and-coming co-star (Chloe Grace Moretz). All whilst struggling to grasp the opposing role in a reimagining of the same play from her youth that landed her in the spotlight. Alienating herself in Sils Maria to rehearse with her assistant, Enders inability to comprehend and execute her latest part slowly dissolves everything around her.
“Clouds of Sils Maria’s” intertwining narrative is a tough code to crack. Touching on a slew of themes with relevance to both the lives of the film’s characters and the actors who portray them (Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloe Grace Moretz). This makes it exceedingly nerve-wracking to decipher the film in its entirety upon a single viewing. It’s quite easy to see that Assayas’ intentions were to infuse a sense of realism into his characters, a sort of funhouse reflecting multiple vantage points on age, immediacy, choices, power…and he achieves a level of theatrical meaning and importance unlike anything I’ve witnessed.
In addition to the intersecting paths of Assayas’ characters and cast, the dialogue between Maria and Valentine rapidly shifts from rehearsal of Binoche’s character’s source material, which the two constantly run-through, and genuine, wholehearted conversations…seamlessly I might add. These prolonged isolated interactions Maria and Valentine find themselves in often descend into visceral altercations, envy, and sexual meddling, curiosity on Maria’s behalf, akin to that of the two characters in Enders’ source material, making the origins of their discussions almost indecipherable.
Typically, a film of such self-reference and intertextuality would be better off leaving hints, subtle clues throughout to assist the viewer in the process of decoding. Yet “Clouds of Sils Maria” benefits greatly from the shroud of mystery and is surprisingly quite rewarding, like the satisfaction that accompanies the solving of an intellectual recreation puzzle. Assayas does a phenomenal job structuring and carrying through his latest as the experience will greatly attest.
The uncanny similarities between the cast and their characters makes it relatively easy for the ensemble to invest, explore, and portray their respective roles. Chloe Grace Moretz, a serious talent with an extremely bright future, does what she can in the limited screen time given. She adds a much-needed comedic element to a rather bleak, intentionally monotonous picture. Not to mention the hilarious, yet oddly depressing connection to modern starlets.
Juliette Binoche is everything Assayas could’ve hoped for when scribing the role of Maria Enders. She’s encompassing, stunning, complex, and there’s rarely a moment when she doesn’t command the screen. Her character might not demand that significant of a stretch, but there’s no room for error. If a hint of disingenuousness or indifference seeped, the rest of the film would crumble. Thankfully this is not the case.
With little hesitation I conclude that Kristen Stewart’s performance in “Clouds of Sils Maria” is a career-best, ‘On the Road’ being the only evidence to the contrary. Stewart has always chosen interesting, emotionally driven roles and that doesn’t change. As she matures, Stewart has ditched the mannerisms that plagued her early on and has really become comfortable acting outside of the ‘Twilight’ series. With Valentine, there isn’t much on the surface, but there is a hurricane under the skin. Clearly producing the stoic surface and hidden treasures of emotional vulnerability and honesty, Stewart is brilliantly transparent.
Easy on the eyes yet incredibly intricate, Olivier Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria” is beneficiary of strong performances and striking panoramic views…
Clouds of Sils Maria: 9 out of 10.
TIFF 2014 has barely begun and I’m already looking ahead to the next incomparable Toronto-based film festival, Toronto After Dark! A few days ago, the first set of films screening at this years festivities were unveiled and needless to say, TAD definitely picked up the slack left by this year’s Midnight Madness programme. You can see the full, 10-film list below with trailers and synopses. I’ll be posting the remainder of films yet to be announced when they’re unleashed at the end of september.
From the twisted mind of writer Tony Burgess (PONTYPOOL) comes a stunning, spectacular ode to classic horror and fantasy.
In the scary new horror hit from Australia, single mother Amelia must battle with her son Samuel’s fear of a monster lurking in their house.
Based on a story by acclaimed sci-fi author Robert A. Heinlein (STARSHIP TROOPERS), the Spierig Brothers (DAYBREAKERS, UNDEAD) direct Ethan Hawke (GATTACA, TRAINING DAY) in this riveting sci-fi thriller in the mold of LOOPER and MINORITY REPORT about a Temporal Agent, tasked with traveling through time to stop crimes before they’re committed.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead
The gruesome army of awakened Nazi Zombies from fan favourite DEAD SNOW once again return to terrorize the Norwegian countryside!
In this coming of age werewolf action movie from David Hayter (writer of X-MEN, X-MEN 2), Lucas Till (XMEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST) plays Cayden Richards, a high school senior who awakens one day to find his parents brutally murdered and his body transforming into a wild, savage wolf.
In the vein of Alfred Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW comes this gripping cyber-thriller from acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo (TIMECRIMES) that exposes a terrifying dark side to internet voyeurism.
From the producers of CABIN FEVER, THE HANGOVER, and AMERICAN PIE comes ZOMBEAVERS, a crowd-pleasing zombie comedy co-starring Cortney Palm (SUSHI GIRL) that delivers exactly what you’d want from its title and more!
Richard Bates Jr. follows up his acclaimed horror film EXCISION with a supernatural comedy about an unemployed graduate (CRIMINAL MINDS’ Matthew Gray Gubler) who returns to his small-town family home, only to encounter a vengeful ghost and a mystery that must be solved before everyone’s lives are lost.
In this award-winning new sci-fi thriller, three friends, including Danielle Panabaker (THE FLASH) discover a mysterious machine in an abandoned apartment that seems to print photos taken 24 hours into their future.
ABCs of Death 2
Get ready to gasp, laugh, shriek and cheer at this latest anthology of 26 short tales, each punctuated by a different shocking, wickedly entertaining death.
Which film at TAD are you most looking forward to seeing? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section below! A big thank you to TADFF for supplying a majority of the information in this post!