Quick Takes – 10.08.12 – ‘Side by Side,’ ‘The Snowtown Murders,’ ‘Andrei Rublev’

Side by Side (2012) Documentary, Keanu Reeves

Side by Side (2012)

Grade: B | 1st Viewing

Christopher Kenneally’s documentary Side by Side is made for a very specific kind of person – people just like me and a lot of Film Misery readers, I’m sure. The film analyzes Hollywood’s transition from film to digital with an in-depth look at the science behind the two forms of technology. Keanu Reeves acts as the film’s spokesperson and conducts interviews with dozens of filmmakers, actors, and cinematographers who are both pro-digital (David Fincher, Steven Soderbergh) and pro-film (Christopher Nolan, Wall Pfister).

With the film’s title being Side by Side, I was hoping there would be more of a direct debate between the pro-film and pro-digital camps. Instead the movie was more concerned with getting a case by case opinion from each of the interview subjects as to why they use their preferred method. The result is that the audience is not left with a winner or a loser between the two mediums, just the broad knowledge of what each filmmaker prefers. I had a very hard time taking Keanu Reeves seriously as the mouthpiece for the audience, especially when his haircut and facial hair changed with every interview he conducted. There was also not a single mention of frame rate, which seems like the topic du jour in the film/digital debate.

Despite these minor inadequacies, Side by Side remains a fascinating film that should be required viewing for film students and supplemental material for anybody who diagnoses themselves a movie buff.

The Snowtown Murders (2012) Australia

The Snowtown Murders (2012)

Grade: B- | 1st Viewing

The narrative for this Australian horror movie unfolds with refreshing economy. Within the first few shots we learn everything we need to know about the central family – the mother sits at the unemployment office, her three sons linger outside; none of them speak, but they are exceptionally loyal. The movie then abruptly sucks us into one of the most depraved real-life murder mysteries in Australian history, with the film capturing each killing in shockingly graphic detail. Daniel Henshall is fantastic as serial killer John Bunting who uses protective paternal behavior to justify brutal murders. Lucas Pittaway is also quite good as the film’s impressionable young protagonist.

My one criticism about The Snowtown Murders is that it seems to be lacking an identifiable through line. Apart from the usual cautionary tale about avoiding bad men that all killer movies provide, Snowtown gives us characters that are intellectually and psychologically so far removed from the average person that it is hard to find a character with which to identify. Lots of blood is spilled and lots of depravity is reveled in, but one is left searching for the substance behind the death.

Andrei Rublev (1966) Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei Rublev (1966)

Grade: A | 1st Viewing

My favorite cinematic discovery of 2012 has undoubtedly been the great Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky. His films take time to get into, but they are so jam-packed with symbolism and breathtaking imagery that I find myself pondering them for days after a viewing. The raid on Vladimir by the Tatars features some of the most fantastic tracking shots I have ever seen. Tarkovsky has his chorus of actors stretched out over an enormous space so the camera can float over their heads from point to point, painting a magnificent canvas of misery.

Andrei Rublev features Tarkovsky’s commentary on religion, student-mentor relationships, and greatness. My biggest takeaway, however, was the film’s examination on art. Before there was Mozart and Salieri there was Andrei Rublev and Kirill, two 15th Century icon painters with different levels of talent. Kirill uses quotes from other sources to describe his inspiration and as an artist he is the definition of hack. Rublev meanwhile cannot explain why he paints, but we see him find inspiration in every moment of life which features tragedy, comedy, and everything in between. Tarkovsky portrays his experience in a sequence of more beautiful images than Rublev ever produced.

It is impossible to encapsulate the greatness of Andrei Rublev in the brevity of a quick take, but it is certainly worthy of lengthy discussion.

What movies have you seen recently?

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  • http://www.filmmisery.com Duncan Houst

    Glad to see you liked “Snowtown”, even if you have reservations. I found the film to be all the more painfully jarring for the intellectual stunting and the act of psychologically removing them from us. I wouldn’t necessarily identify with a character, but it’s hard (for me) not to feel desperately for Lucas Pittaway and Louise Harris’ characters. I thought both of them gave powerful, introverting performances.

  • Jose

    I had a good week, I caught:

    Definitely, Maybe

    Which I found charming, and for once I wasn’t annoyed by ryan reynolds

    B+

    Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
    3rd Viewing

    As a fan of the tv show, I consider the theatrical movie to be one of the most underrated american animated films of the 90s. The tv show was able to successfully mix the realism and the fantasy in the world of Batman without making it look like Joel Schumacher (Honestly, I find that any episode of the show is as thrilling as any of Nolan’s movies). The movie, which pulls triple duty as a doomed love story between Bruce and an old flame, a (kid friendly) noir mystery where Batman is framed for the murder of several crime lords, and a surprisingly touching origin story that leads to a breathaking/heartbreaking third act.

    Only complaint is how annoying the score is.

    B+

    Trick r Treat

    I’m not a fan of anthology horror stories, but this one was actually quite fun. It was ruined by how lame the last segment was though

    B

    Lawrence of Arabia
    1st viewing

    Was I fascinated and moved by a lot of what I saw onscreen? Yes. But I was bothered by how in the end of the movie, I wasn’t sure how to feel about Lawrence’s character, so this looks like another movie that I have to revisit soon. Looked great on the big screen though

    B+

    Frankenweenie
    1st Viewing

    I’ve found that Tim Burton’s last few movies have him trying WAY to hard to top himself. However, this movie felt different because there was an actual soul to it. It actually felt like Burton loved what he was doing.

    Sadly, the movie falls apart in the climax where it loses some magic by going with this blockbustery finale that feels hollow compared to everything else that was previously on screen. And then there was that ending.

    The ending, which was pretty faithful to the original short, teases an alternate ending that, to me, would’ve been so much better. It would’ve been so bold. Sadly, like other movies that do it and make me lose respect for them (like Scream 4, Tangled and The Muppets) the film went with the way too safe ending. Ugh. Made me deduct a full grade.

    B

    • http://www.filmmisery.com Alex Carlson

      Very jealous that you saw Lawrence on the big screen. I couldn’t make it to the one night it was in theaters, so I had to resort to watching my DVD copy.

      • Jose

        Pretty sure you’ll get your chance again in 10 years for the 60th anniversary.

  • http://screenramblings.blogspot.com Greg

    I think “Andrei Rublev” is a very, very good movie, but it has a few too many scenes that don’t work and/or go on long after they’ve made their point to be a great one. That prologue, for instance, doesn’t have any connection at all to the rest of the film. We get it into our heads sometimes that a film that is opaque and hard to understand initially has to be “deep” and “meaningful”, but sometimes it’s just not. While that’s not the case for most of this film, there were a few times when I found it a bit pretentious. At least upon first viewing, it’s enough to keep me from calling the movie a masterpiece, though it’s definitely unforgettable (for the cinematography alone).

    It was documentary week in my intro to film class last week, so we saw parts of “The Fog of War”. We didn’t watch the whole thing, but it appeared to be excellent. We also watched Alain Resnais’s “Night and Fog”, which is a film that I never want to see again. It’s an astonishing film (one of the best I’ve ever seen), but the images of emaciated bodies and severed heads are something that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

  • http://HollywoodAndMe.BlogSpot.com Asif Khan

    I really want to watch Andrei Rublev and i share similar opinion about Snowtown.

    . Magic Mike – B+

    I not only enjoyed watching this movie but i thought it was really good too. One of the rarest Summer delights. This is why i like Soderbergh.

    . A Fistful of Dollars – A-

    Leone knew exactly how to make Westerns with his unique style.

    . Metropolis – A

    Stunning and bold.

    . Pierrot Le Fou – A-

    This was such a wild ride. Godard was a genius filmmaker.

    . Zodiac – A (3rd Viewing)

    The pacing and less action more investigation thing pissed me off a bit when i first watched it but i consider it one of Fincher’s best now.

    . Rear Window – A (2nd Viewing)

    Always enjoy watching this highly entertaining Hitchcock movie.

    . Chinatown – A (2nd Viewing)

    Its one of my most favorites of all time. Classic.

    . Roman Holiday – B+

    How much i love Audrey Hepburn <3 I enjoyed this movie very much but i don't think its one of the best movie in terms of the reputation that it has. But yes, its one of the best Romantic Comedies.

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