Tuesday, December 31, 2013

TOP 10 of 2013

TOP 10 Films & Directors
01. Her, Spike Jonze
02. 12 Years A Slave, Steve McQueen
03. Blue is the Warmest Color, Abdellatif Kechiche
04. Like Father, Like Son, Hirokazu Kore-eda  
05. Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón
06. Inside Llewyn Davis, Joel & Ethan Coen
07. The Past, Asghar Farhadi
08. Before Midnight, Richard Linklater 
09. Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley
10. All is Lost, J.C. Chandor

TOP 10 Performances, Female
01. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
02. Bérénice Bejo, The Past
03. Judi Dench, Philomena
04. Sandra Bullock, Gravity
05. Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color 
06. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years A Slave
07. Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
08. Léa Seydoux, Blue is the Warmest Color 
09. Amy Adams, American Hustle
10. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

TOP 10 Performances, Male
01. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave
02. Robert Redford, All is Lost
03. Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
04. Joaquin Phoenix, Her
05. Michael B Jordan, Fruitvale Station
06. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave
07. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
08. James Franco, Spring Breakers
09. Bradley Cooper, The Place Beyond the Pines 
10. Ryan Gosling, The Place Beyond the Pines 

TOP 10

2 Guns

Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur has managed to keep a successful career at home and in Hollywood as proved with his latest action film. A DEA agent and a naval intelligence officer unaware of each other being undercover work together to clear their names after a botched heist involving money from CIA and drug cartels. Based on the graphic novel by Steven Grant
Kormákur and writer Blake Masters have  created an entertaining action film with plenty of twists and turns to keep pace up to the right speed from begin to finish. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg have great chemistry in the leads that reminds of buddy films of 70's and 80's. The solid supporting cast includes Paula Patton, James Marsden, Bill Paxton and Edward James Olmos. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Jackie Brown

Writer and director Quentin Tarantino changed pace with his third feature for this Elmore Leonard adaptation. A flight attendant becomes entangled between an arms dealer and the police which forces to find a way to outwit them both. Tarantino's intentionally slows down the pace of the story which drags on for most of the film that before its satisfying conclusion. There's a fine balance between too slow and too fast which Tarantino fails to achieve as he aims for the 70's style. Pam Grier stars with terrific performance along with superb supporting cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda and Michael Keaton. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Scottish writer and director Lynne Ramsay made her feature debut with this haunting drama set in Glasgow of 1970's. After accidentally killing a neighbor's boy, a young boy shell-shocked roams the neighborhood infested with rats and violence with no hope of escape. Ramsay made a brilliant debut with this superb film where people are in drowned in misery with only glimpses of hope. The cast of mostly non-professional actors is exceptional including William Eadie in the lead. The supporting cast includes veterans of Ramsay's family and friends including Tommy Flanagan (Gladiator). 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD. 

Friday, December 27, 2013


Writer and director Spike Jonze returns with a vengeance after a decade and a major misstep with his best film. A lonely writer reeling from a breakup starts an unusual romantic relationship with a new computer program. Jonze delivers a profound film on isolation and loneliness that has become an epidemic by living in an advanced modern society that keeps evolving with the progress of technology. Jonze and his stellar cast and crew have created a modern classic with plenty of heart and humor that's relevant and heartbreaking. Joaquin Phoenix stars with another stellar performance along with a terrific supporting cast that includes Amy AdamsScarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara and Olivia Wilde. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Inside Llewyn Davis

Writing and directing brothers Ethan and Joel Coen deliver one of their best films with this character study about the dark side of being an artist. During a harsh winter of 1961, a struggling folk singer tries to survive in New York while waiting for a breakthrough. The Coen brothers bring their precise vision and perfect blend of comedy and drama to this utterly original and captivating film that will resonate with anybody who has been a struggling as an artist or otherwise in life. What could have been a grim story is enhanced through humor and music into a classic film that ranks amongst the best of prolific filmmakers. In his first leading role, Oscar Isaac stars with a terrific performance with a stellar supporting cast that includes Carey MulliganJohn Goodman and F. Murray Abraham amongst others. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Spirit of the Beehive

Spanish writer and director Víctor Erice delivered an astonishing film with this fascinating character study filled with symbolism. In a remote village during the second world war, a small girl is traumatized by watching a silent film which blurs the line between fantasy and reality for her. Erice working during the Franco regime and aware of censorship, created a timeless classic with a political message about his country's troubled history and the profound effect of art. Ana Torrent made her feature debut with an astonishing performance by a child along with veterans Fernando Fernán Gómez and Teresa Gimpera. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Name of the Rose

French director Jean-Jacques Annaud adapted the epic novel by Umberto Eco into a medieval murder mystery. A Franciscan monk arrives at a Benedictine monastery plagued with a series of mysterious murders that puts him at odds with a former foe. The challenging source novel has been constructed into a conventional thriller to makes it accessible but suffers at the hand of multiple writers. The medieval era makes for an interesting setting for a thriller which Annaud and his talented cast and crew bring to life. Sean Connery makes for an inspiring casting choice which serves him well. The supporting cast includes Christian Slater, Michael Lonsdale, Ron Perlman and F. Murray Abraham. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

American Beauty

British director Sam Mendes made his feature debut with this family drama that remains his masterpiece. A family is torn apart when the father hits a mid-life crisis which has unexpected consequences. Mendes and writer Alan Ball who made feature his feature debut as well hit a home run with this terrific film looking a closer look at the American way of life. Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening star with tour-de-force performances that's one of the many highlights of this remarkable film. The stellar supporting cast includes Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Chris Cooper, Peter Gallagher and Allison Janney. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013


French director Anne Fontaine made her English language feature debut with this female fantasy tale. Two mothers and best friends cross the moral line when they fall for each others teenage son's with unexpected consequences. Based on a short story by Doris Lessing and adapted by Christopher Hampton, the fairy tale for female adults has a perfect idyllic setting and a very attractive cast worthy of romance novels but explores a daring and controversial premise. Fontaine who's films have a strong female characters and themes seems the perfect choice for the material. Naomi Watts and Robin Wright star with solid performances which becomes the film's saving grace. The supporting cast includes James Frecheville, Xavier Samuel and Ben Mendelsohn. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

American Hustle

Writer and director David O. Russell continues his winning streak with another terrific comedy. A con man and his seductive girlfriend are forced by an FBI agent to entrap a politician with ties to mafia which heightens the stakes for all involved. Russell and co-writer Eric Singer took the real Abscam scandal and turned it into a hilarious comedy that pokes fun at the era with a stellar cast and crew that nailed the look and sound of the 70's. Christian Bale leads the terrific cast that includes Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K., Robert DeNiro and many others with outstanding performances. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases. 

Friday, December 20, 2013


South African writer and director Neill Blomkamp returned with another sci-fi for his second feature. In the near future when Earth has become a wasteland and the wealthy live on a luxurious space station, a desperate man attempts the impossible that could threaten both worlds. Blomkamp shows another vision of the future that's striking and original that falls a little short given the huge expectations he set with his debut. Never-the-less the film has a lot going for itself despite its shortcomings given the scope of its ambitions. It's far from disaster and makes for an entertaining ride if nothing more. Matt Damon stars with another solid performance along with fine supporting cast that includes Jodie Foster, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura and Blomkamp regular Sharlto Copley with another outstanding performance. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington

Journalist Sebastian Junger never thought his second film would be about his friend Tim Hetherington with whom he experienced and made their feature debut, "Restrepo." The life of Tim Hetherington is explored which was ended tragically when he was in Libya after surviving wars in Afghanistan and Liberia amongst other war torn countries. It's a heartbreaking film about a young man who found his calling in photography which lead him to war journalism far from home. It's fascinating tale why many Westerners leave their privileged lives to seek their destiny in dangerous places that the natives want to escape. I met Tim briefly after the screening of Restropo and had a brief chat which was interesting because being from opposite worlds and our paths intersected. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

Directors Maxim Pozdorovkin and Mike Lerner bring the story of Pussy Riot in perspective in this powerful documentary. A female anarchist group who used art and music for their civil disobedience went too far when they performed at the alter of a Moscow cathedral which divided the country and put Putin's Russia under a global lens. Given Russia's troubled past and contemporary situation, Lerner and Pozdorovkin's film gives insight to the whole controversy which is done with clarity and balance. The girls thought to live in a free and democratic society found the opposite, making them to serve time in prison. Luckily the final two will be released soon which makes this film a cautionary tale. 1001 Films' coverage of current releases.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Berberian Sound Studio

British writer and director Peter Strickland went behind the scenes of filmmaking for this atmospheric thriller. A British sound engineer finds his new assignment on a low budget Italian horror film more challenging alas in different ways than he imagined. Strickland uses sound design to great effect for this visually striking film that blends horror and thriller elements. A perfectly cast Toby Jones stars with a terrific performance. 1001 Films' coverage of films on DVD.