Oscar Awards Roundup: Biggest Critics Winners

The Best Picture race is starting to shape with the release of critics choice and Golden Globe nominations. Many of the largest and most influential regional critics awards have already come and gone. At this point, we’re in the full swing of Award season and it’s time to determine the frontrunners before the real precursors begin. 
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CERIFIED WIERD: Peter Strickland’s “The Duke of Burgundy” a subservient mess

The Duke of Burgundy is Peter Strickland playing around with the form and narrative. It’s a sensual, vitriol battle of subservience and visually disturbed with harsh darkness. However, the film is entirely unengaging on a narrative level. After the dynamic between the two women is established, the mystery is lost and the film relies on the dark avant-garde visual element to carry the story. Strickland has moments of unsettling atmosphere, but it mostly felt underwhelming and lacking substance. … More CERIFIED WIERD: Peter Strickland’s “The Duke of Burgundy” a subservient mess

CERTIFIED WEIRD: Hiroshi Teshigahara’s “Pitfall” a surreal fight for workers rights

Pitfall remains in between life and death, not fully existing in reality but not fading away into the tether. It’s a film with grand themes of abused labor in a villainous, soulless industry, while playing in the avant-garde of the afterlife. Director Hiroshi Teshigahara shows his personality in the surrealism and tells the majority of this story within this mood but keeping the narrative grounded in real world struggle. In his first collaboration with legendary novelist Kobo Abe, Pitfall is a film that toils with utter existentialism, and unfair and unjust treatment of human beings but then goes even further. It explores a culture of overworking, lack of freedom if one chooses to go against their company, and the complete alienation of the human condition. … More CERTIFIED WEIRD: Hiroshi Teshigahara’s “Pitfall” a surreal fight for workers rights

The best adaptation of Yukia Mishima’s “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion” comes in Conflagration (1958)

The famous Yukio Mishima story, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, adapted to film in Kon Ishikawa’s Conflagration. A triumphant retelling of the deeply troubled character story, where the preservation of beauty makes Raizo Ichikawa (Goichi Mizoguchi), fly into an enraged and violent jealousy. Ishikawa’s vision for the film better understands Goichi trauma, and how his upbringing influences his mannerisms and actions. It helps us better understand the dangerous obsession to the temple and the overwhelming feelings he harbors towards its unrequited beauty. In the absence of universal peace and aesthetic beauty, we see the self-destruction of Goichi from the inside-out. … More The best adaptation of Yukia Mishima’s “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion” comes in Conflagration (1958)

CERTIFIED WEIRD: Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta a triumph of provocation

Paul Verhoeven always creates lived-in worlds and his retelling of Saint Benedetta’s life in the Catholic church is PURE Verhoeven. Impending darkness presiding over a sexual awakeneing, provoking the audience with every subsequent scene. It’s a beautiful rendering of sexual freedom through the guise of religious restriction. It’s violent and bloody. Apocryphal and full of juicy drama. Plus, filled with damning religious imagery and powerful metaphors. What we’re left with is one of Verhoeven’s best films.
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Marnie (1964) serves as an off-balance miss from Alfred Hitchock

Marnie, an off-balanced Hitchock thriller all reliant on the twist, is one of the few films he ever made that I didn’t find palatable. It’s a combination of the Jay Presson Allen screenplay forcing weird character traits and phobias that move the plot along and furthermore, Tippi Hedren’s (Marnie) exploding neuroticism actively took me out of the story. Thankfully, Marnie has some charm, as Sean Connery (Mark) adds bravado, but Marnie’s past dominates the narrative in a way that felt cheap. 
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