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Movie Hall of Fame–CLASS OF 2017!!

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List by-Jarrett Leahy

As we approach the eve of Oscar night, it is time yet again to announce the AmateurCinephile.com Hall of Fame class of 2017. This year’s cinematic inductees include two first-ballot films (movies from 2007 became eligible for selection this year), two Best Picture Oscar winners, a foreign classic, a war film, two modern westerns, two comedies, perhaps the greatest holiday film of all time, and a Robert De Niro film for the fourth straight year (that guy is really good) all wrapped up into six extremely worthy candidates. If for some reason, you have not seen any of these amazing films, please take the time to go seek them out, and feel free to share your thoughts…

AMATEURCINEPHILE.COM 2017 HALL OF FAME CLASS

No Country For Old Men (2007): No Country for Old Men is one of two films from 2007 being selected in its first year of eligibility. The Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Director(s), and Best Adapted Screenplay, the film will most likely be remembered for Javier Bardem’s terrifying depiction of sociopathic hitman Anton Chigurh, a performance that garnered him the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and will undoubtedly remain one of Hollywood’s most iconic portrayals. Legendary filmmakers the Coen brothers have made their fair share of accomplished cinema, but for my taste, No Country is their finest cinematic achievement to date.
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There Will Be Blood (2007): Nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning two for Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Best Cinematography, There Will Be Blood is the second 2007 film to be selected for AmateurCinephile.com Hall of Fame status. Blessed with one of the finest performances in cinema history (Day-Lewis’s portrayal of oil tycoon Daniel Plainview was recently ranked #1 Best Actor winning performance of the 21st Century by RollingStone.com), There Will Be Blood is the magnum opus of gifted filmmaker, Paul Thomas Anderson, and is Anderson’s second film to be elected into our Hall of Fame, joining his 1997 masterpiece, Boogie Nights.
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Belle de Jour (1967): A passionless young housewife looking for excitement, explores the idea of spending her afternoons as a high class prostitute while her husband is at work. Provocateur filmmaker Luis Bunuel traded in subversive, incendiary cinema, but none is more playfully sardonic or arousingly titillating than Belle de Jour. Winner of the 1967 Golden Lion, the highest prize given at the Venice Film Festival, Belle de Jour offers an absolute tour-de-force performance from its sultry, French star, Catherine Deneuve. Belle de Jour becomes the second foreign language Hall of Fame film, joining 2016 inductee, The Leopard (1963).
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A Christmas Story (1983): I can hear some out there (like my mother for instance) questioning the selection of A Christmas Story as a Hall of Fame movie, so let me lay out it’s candidacy. For a decently sized portion of our movie-loving society, A Christmas Story is arguably the greatest holiday movie of all time. I obviously fall into this very astute and enlightened group. But even if it isn’t number one, there’s no disputing that A Christmas Story would be included alongside the likes of It’s A Wonderful Life and the original Miracle on 34th Street on the Mount Rushmore of Christmas movies. What puts A Christmas Story over the top for me is it is simply one of the finest comedies of the 1980’s, regardless of its holiday film status. Year after year, I find myself chuckling at the slew of classic jokes and sight gags. These jokes, no matter how many times I watch the movie during its annual 24-hour marathon showings, never seem to get old or lose their comedic punch. And if that doesn’t convince you of its worthiness, A Christmas Story was a National Film Registry selection back in 2012 for “important cultural, artistic and historic achievements in filmmaking.” If it’s good enough for the Library of Congress, it’s good enough for the AmateurCinephile.com Hall of Fame!
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The Deer Hunter (1978): Winner of the 1978 Best Picture, The Deer Hunter is seen by many as the one crowning jewel of a rather disappointing filmmaking career for its director Michael Cimino (although I’m a staunch defender of his much maligned Heaven’s Gate). Starring 1970’s acting icons Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken, who was awarded the Best Supporting Actor for his formidable portrayal in the film, The Deer Hunter wound up being the final film of the short yet illustrious career of character actor extraordinaire, John Cazale, who tragically died of cancer shortly after filming was completed. The Deer Hunter is the fifth Best Picture inducted into the AmateurCinephile.com Hall of Fame (Casablanca, Godfather, Godfather Part 2, No Country For Old Men), and the fourth movie from the 1970’s, joining inaugural Class of 2014 inductees, The Godfather and The Godfather Part 2, and Class of 2015 selection, Chinatown.
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Rushmore (1998): This year’s 1990’s representative comes from the marvelously singular filmmaker Wes Anderson, a director I can never get enough of. Starring Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray, whose distinguished portrayal earned him the Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe, Rushmore was one of twenty-five selections the Library of Congress chose for inclusion into the National Film Registry in 2016. Quirky and intelligently droll, Rushmore will forever be Anderson’s first comedic masterpiece. Rushmore becomes the seventh film from the 1990’s elected into the AmateurCinephile.com Hall of Fame, joining Before Sunrise, Pulp Fiction, Boogie Nights, Casino, Dazed & Confused, and Goodfellas.
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So there you have it, the AmateurCinephile.com Hall of Fame Class of 2017. Make sure you come back next Oscar’s eve when six more films are chosen for inclusion.-JL

Edited by-Michelle Zenor
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2016 Top 10 Films

List by-Jarrett Leahy

As the 2017 Academy Awards near, it’s time yet again for AmateurCinephile.com to release the site’s Top 10 list for the 2016 movie year. Every year, there are always films that unfortunately go unseen before the Top 10 posting, and this year is no different. But overall, I’m fairly comfortable with these selections and I hope you’ll give a few of them a watch if given the chance.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

-Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi)- A New Zealand-set, odd-couple comedy starring Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) and a precocious Julian Dennison, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a sweetly amusing outback adventure that will leave you wanting more. (B+)

-Swiss Army Man (Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinhert)- A man deserted on an island befriends a dead body that washes up on the shore, and, together, they find their way back to civilization. A farcical comedy with such a preposterous premise should have been dead in the water (pardon the pun) but in the hands of filmmakers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert along with stars Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, Swiss Army Man is a true absurdist gem that tugs at the heartstrings. (B+)

-Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford) Fashion designer/filmmaker Tom Ford’s second cinematic effort is a dark and intoxicatingly raunchy mystery thriller that will keep you glued to your seat until the film’s bitter end (and be prepared for the most…unforgettable opening credits ever). Nocturnal Animals proves yet again that Amy Adams can do anything she wants. (B+)

-Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross)- A family living off the grid in the Northwest wilderness is forced to come back to the “real world” after a sudden, unexpected tragedy. Vigo Mortensen earns his second Oscar nomination for his celebrated portrayal of Ben, a complex family patriarch who is forced to re-evaluate the unconventional lifestyle choices he has made for his children. An amusing and heartfelt comedic drama, Captain Fantastic will leave you smiling inside. (B+)

AMATEURCINEPHILE.COM’S TOP 10 FILMS OF 2016

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10. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos) A dystopian satire depicting a future where being single is against the law, Yorgos Lanthimos’ deranged and unhinged pitch black comedy is the film I’m most hesitant to recommend, for I foresee a majority of everyday movie fans not appreciating the movie’s quirky darkness. But if you’re the type that digs unusual and unconventional cinema, I promise you’ve never seen anything like it, as The Lobster’s true originality left me floored. (A-)

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9. Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols) A father and son go on the lam, evading capture from both Federal authorities and a religious cult which has become enamored with the young boy’s unexplained supernatural powers. Restrained and methodically paced, writer/director Jeff Nichols masterfully builds the mystical intrigue surrounding this young boy’s gifts. Blessed with a “beyond-his-age” performance from the gifted young actor, Jaeden Liberher, along with a first-rate supporting cast that includes the likes of Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, and Adam Driver, Nichols has added yet another impactful piece of cinematic work to go alongside his accomplished films, Mud and Taking Shelter. (A-)

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8. Sing Street (John Carney)After family hardships force a sudden change in schools, Conner, a young man growing up in 1980’s Dublin, decides to start up a band in the hopes of impressing the alluring new girl he is smitten with. Delightfully wholehearted, Sing Street is writer/director John Carney’s third music-based film, joining the much loved Once (2007) and Begin Again (2013). Chock-full of catchy originals and classic ’80’s tunes, Carney’s ode to youthful exuberance perfectly captures the naïve excitement of starting your first band. (A)

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7. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve) When unidentified spacecraft mysteriously appear around the globe, language specialist Louise Banks is charged with the difficult task of deciphering the complex communication of these new celestial species. After a string of successful films including Incendies (2010), Prisoners (2013), and Sicario (2015), it’s time to state the obvious that Denis Villeneuve is one of the most gifted filmmakers working today. Starring Amy Adams, whose superb portrayal of Louise Banks is arguably this year’s biggest Oscar snub, Arrival is an intelligently crafted science fiction drama filled with tension and emotional complexity. (A)

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6. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins) Told as a three-part drama, Moonlight follows the story of Chiron from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to survive in the dangerous urban projects of Miami all while coming to grips with a true identity that could make life even harder for him. Poetic and harrowing at times, this gay, coming-of-age story is a beautiful piece of cinema that raises questions about personal identity and the true nature of masculinity, all while shining a light on the constant struggles inner-city youth face on a daily basis. Easily one of the best of 2016, Moonlight will give La La Land a run for its money come Oscar night. (A)

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5. Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie) Writer Taylor Sheridan (Sicario) and director David Mackenzie prove again that the western isn’t dead just yet as they unleash this charged tale of two brothers who go on an eleventh-hour crime spree in hopes of staving off an impending bank seizure of their family’s ranch. Chris Pine and Ben Foster bring a genuine sincerity to their morally flawed characters, and Jeff Bridges has perfected the amusingly cantankerous curmudgeon. While nothing groundbreaking, Hell or High Water is a fine piece of filmmaking and a wonderful new addition to the western genre. (A)

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4. Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman) After making a name for himself in the ’90’s with a trio of highbrow, intellectual indie comedies, Metropolitan (1990), Barcelona (1994), and The Last Days of Disco (1998), writer/director Whit Stillman is back with this waggish adaptation of the Jane Austen epistolary novel, Lady Susan. Starring Kate Beckinsale in one of her finest performances, Love & Friendship tells the story of a high society widow who visits her in-laws’ estate in the hopes of escaping her checkered past and finding a husband for her flighty daughter. Blessed with a gifted cast, the film’s true scene stealer is Tom Bennett, whose uproarious performance as Sir James Martin left me in stitches. This is a Jane Austen film for fans and non-fans alike. (A)

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3. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater) Described by some as the “spiritual sequel” to Linklater’s 1993 cult classic, Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! follows a group of college baseball players over a two day period in the fall of 1980 just before the beginning of the new semester. Detractors have described the film as being “plotless,” but what Everybody Wants Some!! may lack in traditional storyline, it certainly makes up for in sheer amusement as it perfectly captures the overtly bro-tastic emanation that surrounds a college baseball team. I foresee Everybody Wants Some!! being yet another cult classic for Mr. Linklater. (A)

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2. La La Land (Damien Chazelle) What else can be said about La La Land that wouldn’t be superfluous? Writer/director Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to his award-winning Whiplash is a dazzling cinematic creation that truly jumps off the screen. A musical set in modern day Los Angeles, La La Land’s two stars, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, radiate sultry on-screen chemistry. The film’s overwhelming success at this year’s Golden Globes and subsequent haul of Oscar nominations has led to the inevitable backlash, but don’t let that scare you away from seeing one of the truly great films of 2016. (A+)

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1. Blue Jay (Alex Lehmann) Two former high school sweethearts reunite by happenstance, spending an evening together reliving fond memories and opening old wounds from the past. Voyeuristic in the sweetest sense, Blue Jay is filled with unspoken words, flirtatious expressions, and lighthearted banter that mask repressed feelings. A film about reuniting high school sweethearts could come off as timeworn or hackneyed, but Mark Duplass, who not only stars in the film but also wrote the screenplay, does an adept job infusing genuine emotion and universal sentiment into this taut, black and white, eighty-minute masterwork. Highlighted by a remarkable performance from the consummate Sarah Paulson, there’s no better way to describe why I’ve chosen Blue Jay as my number one film of 2016 other than: I simply LOVE THIS FILM! I hope you’ll have the chance to seek it out. (A+)

-Edited by: Michelle Zenor
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2015 Top 10 Films

List by-Jarrett Leahy

I have finally had a free moment to finalize the AmateurCinephile.com Top 10 Movies list for 2015, and only a month later than I originally hoped to have had it posted. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’ve seen all the possible candidates from 2015, and I’m sure there will be one or two I’ll later regret not having on this list, but I feel this is a pretty accurate depiction of what I found to be the best in the year of film circa 2015…

Honorable Mentions:
-Spy: Going in with minimal expectations may have aided in my enjoyment, but I must confess Melissa McCarthy’s Spy was a bit of a shocker for me. A comedienne whose talents have been squandered in the past, Spy left me thoroughly amused thanks to the aid of a stellar cast including fellow funny woman, Miranda Hart.
-The Gift: Australian actor Joel Edgerton’s first crack at writing and directing gave us The Gift, a taut and extremely tense Hitchcockian thriller co-starring Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall that’ll leave you squirming in your seat throughout.
-Straight Outta Compton: Straight Outta Compton, the NWA bio-pic, is an unexpectedly adept and entertaining look at the rise and fall of one of hip-hop’s most feared and influential 1980’s rap groups.
-Star Wars: The Force Awakens: An end-of-the-year box office smash, Star Wars: The Force Awakens felt a bit too much like a remake of the original 1977 film to crack my top 10 list, but credit must be given to J.J. Abrams for creating quite the nostalgia trip.
-Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: Only the second feature film from director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl turned out to be quite sweet & charming despite it’s melancholy subject matter (cancer) and  self-righteously nettlesome lead character.
-Room: a movie that just missed cracking my Top Ten, Room will forever be the film that announced to world what many cinephiles had already discovered in films like Short Term 12 and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Brie Larson is really good.

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10. Dope
A gifted, inner-city high school senior finds his dream of attending Harvard University jeopardized when he unwittingly comes into possession of an illicit package. Blessed with a killer 90’s hip-hop soundtrack, writer/director Rick Famuyiwa’s comedic drama offers a surplus of laughs thanks to pitch-perfect chemistry from the film’s trio of lead characters all while delivering a very relevant message.

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9. The Hateful Eight-
As an ardent Tarantino fan, I must confess that this was the first time I had to contemplate whether one of his films was actually worthy of Top 10 inclusion. While not quite as masterful as past achievements, The Hateful Eight still brings together all the elements you’d expect from a Quentin creation: a stellar cast, striking cinematography, and a caustic script filled with its fair share of barbed language and bloodthirsty violence.

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8. Mad Max: Fury Road-
It’s extremely rare that the fourth film of a franchise, made thirty years after the previous effort, would wind up being the best of the bunch, but that is what 70-year-old Australian director George Miller managed to do with Mad Max: Fury Road. Blessed with two star-studded performances from Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road is a terrifying, adrenaline-fueled thrill ride extravaganza that will no doubt leave you exhausted.

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7. Mistress America-
A lonely college freshman joins up with her free-spirited, prospective sister-in-law to explore the quirky happenings of New York City. Mixing elements of screwball and comedy of manners, Mistress America, the follow up to the near perfect 2013 comedy, Frances Ha, is a witty breath of fresh air that offers yet another reason why writer/director Noah Baumbach is quickly rising up my list of favorite filmmakers.

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6. The Big Short-
The Big Short is a scathing examination of the 2008-09 American housing bubble and the small group of outsiders who saw the opportunity to cash in on the arrogant miscalculations of our nation’s top banking institutions. Bursting with sterling performances from a sensational cast of A-list stars, The Big Short’s array of sardonic humor helps make much of the film’s financial terminology more coherently digestible for the banking layman. An enlightening must-see, who would have guessed Adam McKay, the director of Anchorman and Step Brothers, could step so far outside his comfort zone and create such a pertinent, satirical tour de force?

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5. Spotlight-
Based on a true story, Spotlight showcases the behind-the-scenes efforts of a group of Boston Globe investigative reporters who dared to take on the Catholic Church and expose the institution’s unfathomable molestation scandal. Spotlight’s meteoric ascent to the 2015 Best Picture Academy award is more than well deserved. Writer/director Tom McCarthy does a masterful job not to sensationalize the gory details of the misconduct, instead highlighting the immense efforts it took the team of gifted writers to bring this essential story to light.

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4. The Revenant-
While on a fur-trading expedition, a frontiersman is mauled by a bear and left for dead by the hunting party he is leading. The latest work of art from Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman, Amores Perros) The Revenant is an expansive epic with spectacular cinematography, delivering an arduous journey of survival and revenge that should (and did) finally bring Oscar gold to acting megastar Leonardo DiCaprio.

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3. Inside Out-
After an unexpected run of mediocrity, it is such a relief to see Pixar back on top. A truly innovative creation that delightfully explores the inner emotions of young adolescent girl, Inside Out offers both childlike wonder, while delivering an emotional depth that will melt even the most frigid of adult hearts (thank you Bing Bong).

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2. Sicario-
 Sicario is the latest example of why director Denis Villeneuve, a native of Quebec, Canada, is considered one of today’s finest filmmakers. Starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and highlighted by yet another milestone performance from Academy Award winner, Benicio Del Toro, Sicario is a blood-curdling, behind the scenes examination of our ongoing war on drugs with the powerful cartels just over our border in Mexico.

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1. Ex Machina-
Caleb, a gifted computer programmer, is selected to take part in a secretive A.I. experiment at the secluded estate of his brilliant, mercurial boss. As the week progresses however, Caleb begins to suspect there may be more to this experiment than he was originally led to believe. One of the most skilled and assured directorial debuts of recent memory, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina is a transcendent, science fiction masterpiece that examines the exciting and terrifyingly unknown future of artificial intelligence. Alicia Vikander may have won this year’s Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in The Danish Girl, but it’s her astounding portrayal as the alluring cyborg Ava that will be her lasting legacy from 2015. Dark and engrossingly thought provoking, Ex Machina puts forth a myriad of questions as to what exactly is true consciousness and what ethical boundaries are there, if any, when it comes to our creation of artificial intelligence.

Here’s hoping 2016 is a great year in movies for you all. Happy viewing…-JL

-Editor’s Note: Room should be much higher!-MZ

Edited by-Michelle Zenor
 
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We’re Still Here I Promise

To anyone out there that cares, I just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know we haven’t disappeared. A lack of quality movies during the beginning of 2015 along with extra time requirements from the day job has caused a small break here at AmateurCinephile.com. But summer vacation is just around the corner, and I can’t wait to dive back into the handful of intriguing films about to hit theaters.
ex-machinaI’m excited to report I recently saw my first great film of the year, Ex Machina, I hope to get a review up for it sometime this week. I also plan to catch Pitch Perfect 2 this weekend with my lovely editor and perhaps catch a showing of the newest Mad Max this holiday weekend as well. I hope all of you have had some excellent cinema experiences during our small absence and I look forward to sharing more movie love over the next few months. Happy viewing everyone.

-Jarrett L.

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The Joust-Pulp Fiction (20 Years Later)

By Jarrett Leahy & Jason Chandler

Before 2014 too quickly recedes into our rear-view mirror, we would be wrong not to backtrack just a bit in order to recognize the 20th anniversary of one my all-time favorite films. For this edition of The Joust, I imagine there will be more agreeing than debating, as Jarrett and I discuss the impact of the great Pulp Fiction.-JC
PULP-FICTIONJason Chandler: I know we both love this movie, as millions of others do, but for me it’s one of those films that started me on a path to becoming interested in the movie-making process. When I saw it for the first time in my college dorm with my roommates, I was equally shocked and fascinated. It pushed passed a lot of boundaries. I really think Tarantino created a whole new movie audience, in a totally new and fresh way, in the 90’s.

Jarrett Leahy: You are correct in your assumption that this latest Joust will be much more cordial than our first one a few months ago where we discussed the merits of Spike Jonze’s masterpiece, Her 😉 Building on your praise, Pulp Fiction was and remains a complete game changer in the world of cinema. It inspired a cottage industry of copycats, giving inferiors like Guy Ritchie a career. However, where we differ is our paths to Pulp Fiction enlightenment. Upon its initial release, I was the robust age of 11. Thankfully, my father had little issue ignoring the R-rating and allowed me to sit in while he watched the Blockbuster rental. While admittedly I had little comprehension for what was truly going on, I remember being wide-eyed by Tarantino’s L.A. underworld crime opus. It was only after I went off to college many years later that I decided to step back into Tarantino’s singular world, and while, even at age 19, I was still unsure of exactly what I was witnessing, I knew I must see it again…and again.
pulpfiction_185pyxurzChandler: That is great stuff. I would have liked to have seen 11-year-old Jarrett’s eyes widen at the sight of Marvin meeting his untimely demise in the midst of Vincent Vega’s “miracle rant.” I know when we first met, Pulp was one of the first movies we found ourselves dissecting, quoting, and re-watching. Despite the insanely good list of films Tarantino has created, I still feel Pulp Fiction is the undisputed champ in his catalog. Where do you come out on that?

Leahy: You recently sent me a link where two Grantland writers discuss the merits of Michael Mann’s film resume, and one of them noted when discussing the film Heat, “Because of how ubiquitous and popular Heat is, we try to downplay how much we love it.” I think there are times I feel the same way about Pulp Fiction. The film’s reputation and acclaim is so huge that it almost feels tiresomely obvious to profess a personal reverence. It’s like saying, “The Godfather is a flawless masterpiece.” But there’s little doubt that, for me as well, Pulp Fiction is Tarantino’s best film. The battle for the number two spot can be a heated debate; Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, The Kill Bills, Jackie Brown, and Reservoir Dogs all have a legitimate claim for the runner-up spot, but none of them has topped the magic of his sophomore effort. Saying that, with my loyalty to Pulp, I must confess I’m not sure I’d be able to concede its throne if Quentin ever does make a better film.
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Chandler: It’s mind blowing to consider that all of those films play second fiddle, right? Inglourious, Django, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill – if any one of those were made by almost any other director, it most likely would be considered their crowning achievement. But the fact that they all belong to Tarantino and that they can’t dethrone the champ says a whole lot about Pulp as well as QT’s career. So what do you make of Tarantino’s impact after 20 plus years? Hard to think of any other director who has hit so many home runs with virtually no strikeouts in his first two decades (No I don’t consider Grindhouse a strikeout).

Leahy: You’re right, there are very few modern directors who have had such a consistent run of success right from the beginning of their careers. A few that come to mind are Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, maybe David Fincher (if you forgive Alien 3), but it seems that even the best filmmakers have a few duds in their movie-making closet. As for your assertion that Grindhouse was not a strikeout, yes I agree; when taken in context of what Quentin and Robert Rodriguez were trying to do with Grindhouse, that project was a success. But, I must concede that I found Rodriguez’s Planet Terror to be more entertaining than Quentin’s Death Proof.
grinhousetituloChandler: Planet Terror was pretty cool, I’ll give you that. Speaking of Robert Rodriguez, he recently interviewed QT on his Director’s Chair series. Tarantino spoke to the fact that the relative lack of box office success for Grindhouse marked the first time he felt a sense of pressure to up his game. I got the sense that in his mind, that was his low point. Needless to say he came out swinging on his next two, so I really don’t see him bogging down anytime soon.

Leahy: So how much longer do you see Tarantino doing this? Can you foresee a day when his audience gets tired of his fan-boy stylings? Do you think he’ll ever venture out to make a more mature piece of cinema or, like most auteurs, stick with his style till the end? I’ll be curious how well his resume ages and whether younger generations of movie fans embrace his trashy, over-the-top sensibilities the way we have. I fear he may overstay his welcome, lose his touch, which could jeopardize his reputation and that of his work.

Chandler: It’s a good question whether audiences will continue to respond to QT’s work. I’m prone to believe they will, simply because he will continue to be the alternative to mainstream cinema, a.k.a. Comic book movies. As for venturing out, I imagine Tarantino’s choices will continue to evolve within his particular style, as it has with Django and Inglourious. But I don’t think and hope that he won’t ever settle for making a “conventional” movie. God knows we have plenty of those to go around.
Pulp-Fiction-036Chandler: Well, Its obvious we could chat about QT’s career and impact for a long time. Twenty years since its release, Pulp Fiction remains one of my Top 3 favorite movies of all-time, and I’m not sure that will ever change. Even with the accolades he has received, I believe Tarantino’s legacy may mirror that of Hitchcock, in that his greatness won’t truly be appreciated until a certain amount of time has passed. Forty years from now I believe film junkies will consider Tarantino to be not only the most influential director of his time, but also the most singular. Before I throw it back to you for your closing thoughts, consider this: The average IMDb score for QT’s first eight movies is 8.1, and his Rotten Tomatoes average critical score is 84%. Pretty impressive digits by any stretch. That wraps it up for me for this edition of The Joust. It’s been fun.

Leahy: Those numbers are impressive, and I hope you’re correct in your prediction about Tarantino’s legacy. I must confess being a little more pessimistic in how influential he will be seen as. Personally, it feels to me that his influence has already produced whatever copycats there were going to be, all of whom proved far less talented than QT—which brings me back to the original premise of this Joust, just how great Pulp Fiction was and still remains. Despite a decade of studio copycats, no filmmaker has ever come close to the visceral power and supremacy of what Tarantino was able to unleash twenty years ago. And I think that will be his lasting impact, creating a film that still shocks, captivates, and entertains despite every major studio’s attempt to steal its thunder and cash in on its brilliance and ingenuity.

Well, it’s been interesting having such an agreeable Joust, but next time lets make sure we pick one of the rare films we don’t quite see eye to eye on. JL signing off…

Editor’s Note: Worst date movie ever!-Michelle Zenor
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Citizenfour (2014)

B1OAn-5CcAAc2io.jpg largeReview by-Jarrett Leahy

“We are building the biggest weapon for oppression in the history of mankind.” I wish I could tell you this quotation is from the newest dystopian science fiction blockbuster about to hit the big screen, but, unfortunately, this alarming excerpt is the all too truthful and ominous warning given to us by the documentary Citizenfour. This year’s Oscar winner for Best Documentary Feature, Citizenfour is a fascinating and frightful behind-the-scenes look at the largest leak of classified government secrets this country has ever experienced as well as an examination of the man responsible for it, Edward Snowden.
2_citizenfourMade in secrecy and directed by one of this generation’s most gifted documentarians, Laura Poitras, Citizenfour is a taut and edgy examination into the mass collection of digital information by the National Security Agency. Benefiting from unprecedented access, Poitras captures, in intimate detail, the events surrounding Edward Snowden’s disquieting revelations about the illegal actions being perpetrated by the U.S. intelligence community. Coming in at just under two hours, the film only gets more and more terrifying as the realization sets in of what exactly our government has been doing on a daily basis under the guise of the 2001 Patriot Act. Not only an account of the Snowden leak, the film also discloses insights from whistle-blower William Binney, a former thirty-year intelligence official in the NSA who resigned in October of 2001 after being outraged at the direction the NSA was taking and their justifications for unlawfully collecting massive amounts of information. A major critic of both the Bush and the Obama administrations and their unconstitutional spying tactics, Binney’s inclusion into Citizenfour adds yet another level of reputability to this documentary and the information it lays out for its viewer.
slide_322552_3074346_freeHowever, for many, the main attraction of Citizenfour is its look at Edward Snowden. A spineless traitor to some, a courageous whistleblower to others, Snowden has become a polarizing figure worldwide as the ramifications of his actions are still being realized nearly two years later. Utilizing a vast collection of encrypted communications, Poitras shows how Snowden secretly reached out to Glenn Greenwald, columnist for The Guardian newspaper, setting in motion the eventual meeting in a Hong Kong hotel room where, over the course of a week, Snowden methodically explains in great detail the sweeping collection of classified data, revealing a systematic abuse and hijacking of today’s internet and cell phone technology, by not only the U.S. government, but others around the world including Great Britain. The information disclosed also appears to indict a handful of high ranking NSA officials of perjuring themselves while testifying to Congress, as they repeatedly denied, under oath, committing the very acts the evidence in Snowden’s possession exposes.
NSA ProtestAs a whole, documentary films appear to be the last bastion of investigative reporting, as they are allotted the freedom to show us a more unvarnished look at our world. Unfortunately, the largest flaw I’ve found with many of the political documentaries I’ve watched over the years is, despite good intentions, many of these films are too skewed to one side of the argument or the other, which in turn, alienates half their viewership and muddles the message they are trying to convey. In comparison, the vital component to the overall impact of Citizenfour is its ability to remain neutral. Poitras is aware of the responsibility she has been given to share this story and recognizes that the revelations of Citizenfour are too important to get lost, overshadowed, or dismissed because of perceived political slant.
Laura-Poitras.-Photo-c-Olaf-BleckerAs our world becomes more and more interconnected and ever reliant upon technology, this is perhaps the most pressing issue for the future of our society. The decisions we make, or don’t make, will effect generations to come. While easily worthy of this year’s Academy Award, the lasting impact of Citizenfour will be what happens next. I don’t feel I’m being hyperbolic when I say Citizenfour is one of this country’s most important documentaries, for it lays out in great detail the unconstitutional activities our government has been perpetrating in the name of national security. This documentary will undoubtedly be the crowning achievement of Poitras’ legacy as a director, and it joins the likes of Barbara Kopple’s Harlan County U.S.A. as one of the seminal non-fiction films created by a female filmmaker.

Grade: A

Edited by-Michelle Zenor

 

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Amateur Cinephile 2015 Oscar Predictions

As the Academy Awards are about to be announced, we thought it would fun to put together a prediction post for a few of the major awards of the evening.
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Best Picture:
      Jarrett                Jason                Michelle
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Best Director:
Jarrett (Linklater) Jason (Linklater) Michelle (Linklater)
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Best Actor:
Jarrett (Redmayne) Jason (Keaton) Michelle (Carell)
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Best Actress:
Jarrett (Moore) Jason (Moore) Michelle (Moore)
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Best Supporting Actor:
Jarrett (Simmons) Jason (Simmons) Michelle (Simmons)
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Best Supporting Actress:
Jarrett (Arquette) Jason (Arquette) Michelle (Arquette)
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Best Original Screenplay:
Jarrett                   Jason              Michelle
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Best Adapted Screenplay:
    Jarrett                 Jason                Michelle
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Best Cinematography:
        Jarrett              Jason               Michelle
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