Month: February 2012

God is the Bigger Elvis. 3 stars

12 Feb 2012

Dolores Hart gave Elvis his first onscreen kiss in ‘Loving You’ in 1957. By 1963 she had left the film industry and became a nun. 
God is the Bigger Elvis tells the story of Hart’s journey from Hollywood to the monastrey; allowing us access into her day to day life.  

The film’s focus is about the journey, not the beginning.  Only a fraction of the 37 minute running time covers her performance opposite Elvis (and other stars such as Montgomery Clift).  
I’m not a religious person at all , but Hart gives a convincing explanation as to her reasons for leaving behind Hollywood.  Even at her elderly age, she is an engaging figure – and her story and the commitment she gave to her faith above everything else – help build an interesting documentary. 

About three quarters of the way through the film, a subtle subplot develops which eventually gathers momentum to becomes the focal point of the final 15 minutes.   It adds an emotional layer to the story that could have easily ran out of steam. 

Director Rebecca Cammisa skillfully juggles multiple storylines across the short documentary and allows us to form our own opinions on Hart’s life decisions.  During the film I found myself asking ”Would I have left Hollywood?”  and ‘How difficult must it have been to let go of such potential’.  

God is the Bigger Elvis is a thoroughly entertaining and engaging film.
The final moments of the documentary delivers one of the finest endings you will see in a film all year.  It forced me to rewatch and re-evaluate certain scenes and my initial thoughts about Dolores.
That is the reason why I love this genre above any other.

Director: Rebecca Cammisa
Running Time: 37 minutes
Score: 3 stars 

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Review: God is the Bigger Elvis (Oscar nominated).

12 Feb 2012

Dolores Hart gave Elvis his first onscreen kiss in ‘Loving You’ in 1957. By 1963 she had left the film industry and became a nun. 
God is the Bigger Elvis tells the story of Hart’s journey from Hollywood to the monastrey; allowing us access into her day to day life.  

The film’s focus is about the journey, not the beginning.  Only a fraction of the 37 minute running time covers her performance opposite Elvis (and other stars such as Montgomery Clift).  
I’m not a religious person at all , but Hart gives a convincing explanation as to her reasons for leaving behind Hollywood.  Even at her elderly age, she is an engaging figure – and her story and the commitment she gave to her faith above everything else – help build an interesting documentary.

About three quarters of the way through the film, a subtle subplot develops which eventually gathers momentum to becomes the focal point of the final 15 minutes.   It adds an emotional layer to the story that could have easily ran out of steam. 

Director Rebecca Cammisa skillfully juggles multiple storylines across the short documentary and allows us to form our own opinions on Hart’s life decisions.  During the film I found myself asking ”Would I have left Hollywood?”  and ‘How difficult must it have been to let go of such potential’.  

God is the Bigger Elvis is a thoroughly entertaining and engaging film.
The final moments of the documentary delivers one of the finest endings you will see in a film all year.  It forced me to rewatch and re-evaluate certain scenes and my initial thoughts about Dolores.
That is the reason why I love this genre above any other.

Director: Rebecca Cammisa
Running Time: 37 minutes
Score: 3 stars 

Mother_dolores_hart2

 – Rhett Bartlett
For ongoing film news, trivia, opinions – you can follow me/contact me on Twitter: @dialmformovies 

Peter Breck obituary

In the New York Times online obituary this week for Peter Breck, there is sparse mention of his motion picture performances.  His most famous role, was not even listed.

Breck’s portrayal of the reporter going undercover into a mental institution to solve a murder, in Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor was a significant performance of the 1960s.

Fuller’s film showed explicit electro-therapy, cases of erotic dementia , manic sensualism as well as acute dementia by an African American patient. 
Breck delivers a tour de force performance of a man slowly becoming part of the fabric of his story.

Alongside Shock Corridor, Breck also appeared in Thunder Road – as a rival driver in the moonshine business. He gained top billing as the owner of the purebred collie Lad, in Lad, A Dog– the film based on a 1919 novel by Albert Payson.

Fans of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, may recognise him from the film The Crawling Hand – about a severed hand that comes back to life.  
He was also the lead role in the cult classic Terminal City Ricochet (1990).

In 1996, the National Film Preservation Board included ‘Shock Corridor’ on its National Film Registry.
In Fuller’s 1964 film ‘The Naked Kiss’ – the theatre near the bus shelter is showing Shock Corridor. At the start of Bertolucci’s ‘The Dreamers’ (2003) – Shock Corridor is screening on the television.

Peter Breck was 82 years old.

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The Trailer for Shock Corridor

The Trailer for Thunder Road

The Trailer for Lad, A Dog. 

The Trailer for The Crawling Hand

The Trailer for Terminal City Ricochet

You can follow 24/7 breaking film news, Oscar trivia and opinions on twitter – @dialmformovies

 

The Artist – 3.5 stars

The Artist is a victim of its own success.
Before its release in Australian cinemas – the film had received Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe, Broadcast Film Critics, Cannes Film Festival, Director’s Guild and National Board of Review nominations (and in most examples at the time of this review- wins)

So the expectation was created that The Artist is the “IT’ film for 2011/2012.
For most of the running time, The Artist delivers a well-constructed nostalgic trip through a part of cinema long since eroded.

Jean Durjadin, portrays George Valentin, a narcissitic silent leading man who hogs every spotlight and every encore. But with the introduction of talking films- his career must go a different path. But the stubborn Valentin refuses to budge.
At the same time, the newest IT girl on the block – Peppy Miller (played by Berenic Bejo) embraces the newest form of film making.

Durjadin, clearly channeling the ghosts of John Gilbert and Douglas Fairbanks, delivers a wonderful engaging performance that rarely puts a foot wrong. In particular, scenes involving his actual acting or dancing a the silent leading men, are some of the most memorable.

Bejo’s performance is one that grows in statue after the film.  While Durjadin clearly drives the story and is instanteously loved – Bejo’s performance, upon reflection, continues to push to the front of one’s mind – but never quite supersedes Durjadin.
Although placed in the supporting category for the Oscars – Bejo is clearly the lead actress, and to not promote her as such (Oscar politics aside) is disrespectful. 

When scenes in The Artist are successful, they really are tremendous film moments. And just watching the film to find subtle silent /talkie historical references is part of the fun.
It does start off slow and really only gathers strength once the subplot of the talking film is introduced. 

Not every performance in The Artist hits the mark. John Goodman’s portrayal as the studio boss Al Zimmer is too forced and comes off as obvious.  The irony being that the transition from talkies to a silent film for Goodman doesn’t work.  

James Cromwell’s supporting role is minor, with the character not having much influence over the story, and becoming easily forgotten.
Malcolm McDowell’s appearance is so minor it’s almost worth glossing over – if not for the subtle and (hopefully) intended in-joke of casting the man who sang ‘Singing in the Rain’ in A Clockwork Orange-  a song made famous in another silent-to-talkie film.

If we look at The Artist as a whole, it is exhilirating to think that a silent, black and white film, has garnered so much attention within the last year.  If, at the very least, it has forced film-goers to become acquainted with silent films from the early 1900’s, then it has achieved more than we should greedily have wished. 

Kevin Brownlow, the Oscar winning historian, wrote a publication about the silent film industry. The title was ‘The Parade’s Gone By’, a reference to how actors and crew must accept that the silent films have passed.  But it hasn’t gone quite yet.  There appears to be one last goodbye, one last spotlight, for an industry that should never have left us in the first place.

Director: Michael Hazanavicius
Runtime: 100 minutes
Score: 3 /5  

The-artist

Shame – 2.5 stars

There’s a moment in Shame, where a character says; ‘We are not bad people, we just come from a bad place’.  And the sentence helped consolidate for me, what was missing from Shame.  

We know Michael Fassbender’s character is a sex addict – but we don’t know why.
And it’s not right to say the film doesn’t have to tell us – because two hours worth of Fassbender portraying brilliantly an emotionally struggling sex addict, does not constitute a great film.  

Seeds have to be sewn for the audience, to allow us to at least consider what drives a man to perform the way he does.  The above quote appears some three quarters of the way into the film. Too late. 

Shame is the story of Brandon Sullivan, a businessman (who we assume is successful), who only has one thing on his mind. Whether is be physically, or through his computer – he can’t go many hours without sex.

As a sub plot, we are introduced to his sister Sissy Sullivan, a singer by night, who is struggling with her own demons – a relationship that is slowly crumbling.  
Carey Mulligan (as Sissy) is tremendous, and has been one of cinema’s finest performers since An Education in 2009, for which she should have won the Academy Award.

The director is Steve McQueen, who most notable directed ‘Hunger’ in 2008 with Fassbender as his lead. In both films now, McQueen has stamped his director trademark with long , unedited shots that linger on key performers , and which surprisingly become less and less noticeable as his films go on.

I found that there was a sense of Rainer Werner Fassbinder in ‘Shame’.   There were character movement and styles that harked to the 1982 film ‘Querelle’.  Mulligan’s singing during the film, felt like a nod to Rosel Zech in ‘Veronika Voss’.

The strength of this film is the performances of the two leads.  Fassbender and Mulligan give some of their finest work. The execution of this explicit film could however, have been handled smarter.  

Director: Steve McQueen
Rating: R18
Score: 2.5 / 5

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