NOTE: This, believe it or not, is my 1600 post here on Art Predator.
Here are reviews by Ron Wells of three off-beat films which have managed to garner awards and nominations including Academy Awards nominations for
- Best Documentary: Finding Vivian Maier
- Best Picture: Whiplash
- Best Animated Feature Film: The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Find out who wins on Sunday Feb 22! And coming soon to a blog near you, Ron Wells Top 30 Films of 2014!
Nominated for Best Documentary: Finding Vivian Maier
After I saw the captivating PBS American Masters documentary on Dorothea Lange, I can only hope that this absolutely fascinating film on the little known Vivian Maier will hopefully bring her to the forefront of great American photographers such as Ms. Lange.Maier, who worked as a nanny for most of her life and had little family of her own to speak of, took thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of photographs of everything imaginable that she came across in her daily life.
But these are not just any photographs, they are photos captured with the eye of a great artist.
Maier was unusual, to say the least, in that she had few friends, was a hoarder, and shared her photos with virtually no one and made prints of only a few. Only after all her belongings were bought at auction after her death, have the photographs begun to see the light of day. This is a remarkable film of an unusual woman whose life is difficult to understand, but whose photography represents art that is deeply penetrating and insightful. Trailer and Film Website: http://www.findingvivianmaier.com
Nominated for Best Picture: Whiplash
Intense film starring J.K. Simmons as a music teacher and Miles Teller as his first year student at a music conservatory. Both actors are magnificent. Simmons is abusive and manipulative as the orchestra leader who demands nothing less than perfection from his jazz students, and Teller displays great depth and contradictions as the young man who holds Buddy Rich as his idol and wants to be the best jazz drummer ever.
Though the story has a couple of plot points that stretch credulity, the volatile relationship between these two will hold you spellbound, though the cost of perfection will seem way too high for some viewers. (Is this really what it took to make Charlie Parker great?) Still, the acting is powerful beyond words, the drumming is some of the best you will ever see/hear, and ultimately, you will never listen to “Caravan” the same way again.
Academy Awards nominations:
Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film: The Tale of Princess Kaguya
From director Isao Takahata, the co-founder of the great Studio Ghibli, this ancient Japanese folk tale is a stunningly beautiful hand drawn tale of a baby who shows up in a bamboo shoot and is taken home by a woodcutter who found her and declares that she is a princess sent to earth from heaven.
At two hours and seventeen minutes it is a bit long as the girl’s life unfolds from the natural environment of her father and mother’s home in the forest, to a palace in the city which her father procures for her in order that she may hold the title of princess which he is sure she deserves.The visuals are absolutely stunning—breathtaking in ways that few animated films are these days—and bring a graceful power to a story that will entrance older children and adults. I saw the original Japanese version with subtitles which, it seems, is the best way to view this film if possible. Though it might help to be better versed in Japanese culture and folklore, even for those of us who know nothing of these folk tales, the story enchants and delights on every level. The songs enhance the theme of the joy of the natural world over populated cities, and the instrumental music plays quietly as if it too was hand painted into the scenes.This is a magnificent film which carries the splendor of the moon and its “shining light” which comes to earth.
PS This is my 1600 post! Wow!