Sunday, January 30, 2011

First Facebook!

Hello readers!

It is a Sunday evening and I ain't doing much. Sitting on my couch I started fiddling with a Facebook Between the Seats account. As of this moment, there is virtually nothing on the page and, if I may be blunt, I am unsure about what to put there. I think having a Facebook page is a neat idea, but this blog is rather small (but the love of our readers makes it feel large and grand!) and hosting a Facebook page may or may not change things.

I'm open to suggestions as to what I could to spruce up the page. Of course, if any of you beautiful people have Facebook accounts, be they for your blogs or for yourselves, and want me to 'friend' you (are we really using that as a verb nowadays?), just ask. Or friend me. Or whatever the heck it is one is supposed to do at Facebook.

Between the Seats at Facebook.

Forgotten Film Noir: Border Incident

Border Incident (1949, Anythony Mann)

This article is now available in the Friday Noir column at Sound on Sight.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One poll question

Hello readers,

I put my thinking hat on this morning when wondering what sort of features could be added to Between the Seats. The reviews featured here are quite extensive and thorough (at least, we try to make them thorough). Sometimes, depending on how much time you have or the interest in a given film, a quicker, to-the-point review will suffice. Therefore, I ask you, the readers, should Between the Seats begin producing capsul reviews of films we watch, all the while writing the longer, analytical reviews you are accustomed to? This could pertinent in that Between the Seats would be sharing its views on almost all the movies we see (trust me people, the reviews published here are for perhaps 33% of the movies viewed). On the flip side, capsul reviews would feature less analysis and more 'gut reactions' to movies, more in the vain of the many reviews featured across the internet already.

So, what do you think?

Review: Looking for Eric

*Context: Below is a special review I wrote at the Filmspotting message boards in the leadup to the community's annual award event (their version of the Oscars in many ways). I was asked by one of the members, codename pixote to review the most recent Ken Loach film, Looking for Eric.

Looking for Eric (2009, Ken Loach)
Dictated by pixote

I like going into movies with a little bit of context, such who the director is, which actors are involved, maybe a screenwriter, the premise, etc. Being unfamiliar with Ken Loach’s filmmography, the cast or the screenwriter, I was left with a plot synopsis, which explained the Looking for Eric told the story of a lower middle class man named Eric (Steve Evets), living a sad, unfulfilled life as a Manchester postman (unmarried, two teenage stepsons who don’t respect him in the slightest) who receives some unexpected emotional support from the former footballer (soccer player) he idolizes, the one, the only, le roi Cantona (Éric Cantona), a legendary player for Manchester United.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

review: Inception

Inception (2010, Christopher Nolan)
‘What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient... highly contagious.’

The above quote, taken from an early dialogue exchange in Inception, perfectly encompasses everything about Christopher Nolan’s latest venture. Ideas are where Inception begins and ends. However, this is not meant in the more traditional sense wherein every film, large or small, must begin with a little light bulb suddenly turning on in someone’s mind. Ideas reverberate in what the characters do, why they perform said acts and how they go about them. The ambition on display, especially for the first time viewer, can be somewhat heavy, particularly with a film that stretches the nature of ideas, thoughts and dreams (which are all connected, after all) to the umpteenth degree, lending them a fluidity and malleability all the while proposing to depict specific ‘ideas’ the characters have concretely, with things that can be touched and felt. This is a high-concept film that chooses to express its fantastical notions in some very literal ways, providing one of the odder viewing experiences one can have when exploring recent mainstream Hollywood movies.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Upcoming marathon

Hello readers!

For the past little while Between the Seats has provided rather random reviews with some Far East Specials thrown in for good measure. Well, it's time to get back to marathons. I thought it would be smart if for once I chose a series of films I know I have easy access to that way when I saw that a marathon shall take actually will! I was thinking that we haven't looked at many movies from the noir genre, so that would be a nice venue to use in order to get back on the marathon train track.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Review: Each Dawn I Die

Each Dawn I Die (1939, William Keighley)

Don’t do the crime if you can’t pay the time. What it is like however if you did not commit the crime at all, but rather were falsely accused on the premise of planted evidence, this the work of a powerful enemy accustomed to bending the rules for events to unfold in their favour? At first, your friends on the outside do their best to unravel the enemy’s web of sin to get you free. As time progresses, the forces keeping you behind bars prove that their poisonous tentacles have an unimaginable reach, and your hope slowly turns to frustration, which in turn morphs into depression. The lack of freedom, the oppressive guards who take you for the scum the law erroneously claims that you are, and, as the stress of staying on the inside mounts, your degrading behaviour earns you time in solitary confinement. Welcome to Hell.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Far East Specials: I Saw the Devil

I Saw the Devil (2010, Jee-Woon Kim)

Revenge movies are a dime a dozen these days, meaning that finding the good ones poses something of a challenge. Were we to list which countries which produce the finest (admittedly an arbitrary criteria, but let us run with it anyhow), Korea could make a strong claim for top honours. The work of director Chan-Wook Park alone, with his memorable and artistically challenging Vengeance Trilogy, is of sufficient evidence and worthy of in-depth analysis, but that series is not the topic of the day (although if readers want that to be a topic in the future, all you need is ask…). Nay, today we discuss the latest from Park’s fellow countryman, Jee-Woon Kim, aptly titled I Saw the Devil.

Monday, January 10, 2011

review: San Quentin

San Quentin (1936, Lloyd Bacon)

The 1930 and 1940s can be considered the golden era for the gangster picture, movies that captured the attention of countless movie goers looking for thrills and chills initiated by some of the most memorable anti-heroes cinema has ever seen. Warner Brothers studios was the principle producer of this fascinating genre, with many of the entries dealing with varying sub-themes such as the rise and fall of criminals and capitalist America (a dark twist on the notion of the American dream, if you will) and the hot topic of the 1930, prohibition. Some however, ventured into different territory, such as what happens after the crooks are caught by law enforcement and thrown behind bars. Enter the jail movie, where instead of pushing people around in the free world, the gangsters are forced to understand new survival modes in a world where their freedoms no longer hold any meaning.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Poll: Vote for the Best Review Blog

Poll: Vote for the Best Review Blog

Hello readers!

Well, it seems as though the unthinkable has occured. Today at the Total Film website a very special poll was released for the movie blog public to participate in. In essence, the poll is to determine the 'best review blog', as decided by the readers. Imagine my surprise upon seeing the name Between the Seats in the list! In fact, the only reason I know I am nominated was because good old Bill at his Movie Emporium posted an article about his nomination with a link to the site. Naturally I went over to show some support, see who else was in the running and...well, voilà!

First things first, it is quite exciting to be nominated. Again, I'd like to know how Total Film came up with that list. I mean, does that mean Total Film (who look pretty darn respectable to me) read this blog? Curious... There is a host of very, very good blogs also nominated and who have taken an early but intimidatingly large lead. I assume where I am going with this: Hey guys! You enjoy Between the Seats? Vote for us please!

Must be that now famous Tron: Legacy review...Yeah, must be (2,300 hits and counting!).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

review: Valhalla Rising

Valhalla Rising (2009, Nicolas Winding Refn)

Compared to the works of Tarkovsky and Kubrick, Nicolas Winding Refn’s recent existential Viking drama Valhalla Rising is a unique if puzzling experience. This is the first of the director’s efforts I’ve seen (I have read that Bronson is quite another film to behold), and Viking stories are not ones I am very familiar with, so there was no real context as I sat down to watch this, which sometimes is the best to experience movies, and one heck of a way to dive into Valhalla Rising.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Business as usual and heavy traffic

My holiday break is finally coming to end as I shall be returning to work in the next couple days. It was great writing and posting at a higher pace than our normal standards. Although I didn’t accomplish 100% of the things I set out to do just before Christmas, I attempted to make up for it by substituting certain tasks with other ones, such the analysis of Exit Through the Gift Shop last week and today’s lengthy dissection of Woman in the Dunes. For time being, business will return to its usual course at Between the Seats, with a couple of articles posted every week, mostly on weekends with the occasional midweek surprise review.

On a final note, I’d like to thank the people who paid my little blog a visit during the holidays. As creator of Between the Seats, I have access to traffic statistics, and the number of daily page views to the site skyrocketed in the past week and a half, and I am really not kidding. One thing I noticed was that a staggering portion of said traffic was directed towards my Tron: Legacy review. It is a very popular movie at the moment, but I have reviewed recent popular films in the past and never received so many visitors. The number of people who have clicked on a link to that Tron review truly has me surprised. I suspect (this is wild guessing here) that it might have something to do with the stills I used to decorate the article. Maybe I chose some very popular ones so when people are performing Google searches for pics of the film, they tend to land at my blog. All I know is that the numbers in the ‘pageviews’ column for the blog’s statistics are looking mighty fine.

Thanks for reading

Year in review part 5: Music

Year in review part 4: best DVD and Blu-rays

End of the year part 3: Most disappointing movies

Far East Specials: Woman in the Dunes

Woman in the Dunes (1964, Hiroshi Teshigaraha)

There are movements in cinema history that clearly break away from how stories were traditionally told. Arguably two of the more famous ones were the French New Wave, with directors the likes of Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut leading the way, with the other being the remarkable works of BBS in the United States. Those examples are widely accepted as such, examples, by hundreds of critics and movie lovers. Then come the movies that, wildly loved or not by the larger film fan community, that strike the individual viewer as an oddity, but one marked by a certain brilliance very difficult to pin down. Its transcendental qualities are reached far beyond regular plot, editing and score. I am an admirer of Japanese cinema from the 40s, 50s and 60s, but never would I consider myself a connoisseur, not even close. It is therefore with trepidation that I dare compare Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Woman in the Dunes to something along the lines of what the French New Wave gave us for example, but its audaciousness produced similar excitement.