A master of image, form and story, Federico Fellini’s career could very well serve as a representation of cinema’s evolution. From his early work as a cartoonist and screenwriter, to his eventual worldwide recognition as one of the masters of the medium, he wasn’t afraid of experimentation. During the 1940s he attempted to make films that adjusted to the postwar reality that was pushing European cinema into a style that recalled nonfiction filmmaking. After works like Variety Lights (1950) and his contribution as a writer to the seminal Rome, Open City (1945), but Fellini found his voice when he made La Strada. The film starred his wife Giulietta Massina as Gelsomina, a simple minded woman who joins a traveling circus act led by the savage Zampanó (Anthony Quinn).
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Rainer Werner Fassbinder, at the age of 16, filled out a questionnaire required of schoolchildren that asked them about their plans for the future. He replied that his goal was to become a filmmaker, and make such a large amount of films that his life itself would become a film. With all of the well-publicized sexploits, drug use, and provocative press statements (that would give Von Trier a run for his money) it seems he accomplished his teenage goal insofar as he was always on the screens of the media and his films saturated the movie houses. He was born in 1945 in Germany, three weeks after the Third Reich surrendered to the Allied Forces. Over the course of his 14-year career, 1968-1982, he made over 40 films across every conceivable medium dealing with the lingering specter of Nazism and the exploitation of emotions within Germany of the 1970s.
When Beyoncé released her fourth solo album, aptly titled 4, many were confused as to which direction she was going. There were moments of psychedelic electro pop (see “Run the World (Girls)” and “Countdown”), ‘90s R&B (“Love on Top” and “Party”) and straight-up pop (“The Best Thing I Never Had”). Many critics found it difficult to get on board with what Ms. Knowles’ experiments. Ironically, many indie critics praised Beyoncé for steering away from mainstream expectations and risking some bold new moves. The result? An uneven, occasionally engaging record that you want to like more than you do. Yes, she takes chances but they don’t always work in her favour.
“1+1”, the album’s third single, is a slow rock/R&B ballad, which is a lovely song, but suffers from the screaming and belting vocal performance. We get it Beyoncé! You can hit those notes long and hard—you don’t have to do it every time. A little restraint would go a long way. It’s a song that grates on the ears the more you listen to it, especially from the opening lines: “If I ain’t got nothin’ / I got YOU!” where “you” is delivered like an incontrollable spasm.
The video, fortunately, is an impressive display of a slow motion Beyoncé singing earnestly into the camera. The problem is that most of the time the visual display of her singing doesn’t match the audio vocal performance. It’s jarring, because you hear Beyoncé scream the lyrics, but in the video her lips move ever so slightly. Besides that, the video is call back to the ‘90s R&B female vocal videos of En Vogue and Brandy, complete with running water, sparkling body glitter and Amazonian hair. It’s a shame Beyoncé didn’t tone down the agression in her performance for this track as it could have been one of her best in years.
Eisenstein reportedly commented, “What a monument you would have raised in my memory if I had died straight after The Battleship Potemkin! I’ve made a mess of my own biography!” While this may be a bit of an overstatement, Eisenstein was correct that he peaked early in his career. However, Eisenstein tended to exhibit some of the autocratic control that his films sought to expose in various governments, overseeing every aspect of his films to the point of obsession, a quality that hindered much of his later work.
Internal and external conflict furthered restricted his genius. As a young man, he and his father were at odds during WWI and the October Revolution in Russia, resulting in irreparable harm to their relationship. As an artist, he frequently found himself being chastised by the new Soviet government and often fought with producers and studios. Perhaps because of these experiences, conflict—both societal and personal—is at the front of all his great films. In examining the role of government in the lives of the proletariat, Eisenstein was a pioneer in using mood, lighting, and montage to convey heroism and villainy. In a time when silent films were usually one-reelers, he crafted epics, filled with sweeping crowd scenes and disturbing images, some of which couldn’t be shot today, such as the plummet of a live horse from a raised drawbridge into the river below.
Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s new film Drive follows a mechanic/stunt driver by day, getaway driver by night (Ryan Gosling, who hand picked Refn to direct this adaptation of James Sallis’ 2005 novel of the same name) through the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. After the Driver (the only name Gosling’s mysterious, quiet character is given) meets his lovely neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) who’s raising her small son Benicio (Kaden Leos) while her husband is in prison, a love story develops between the three of them.
When Irene’s husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac) is released from prison, the Driver discovers that the family he’s come to love is in danger unless Standard pays off an outstanding and increasing debt. To that end, the Driver agrees to drive for Standard in a pawn shop heist. Complications of course arise, and the Driver is left with a duffel bag of cash, a family to protect, and some sinister members of the Los Angeles organized crime community hot on his trail.