FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Stanley Kubrick |||
Stanley Kubrick

A filmmaker of international importance, Kubrick was one of the only directors to work within the Studio System and still have full artistic control over his films from scripting through post-production, prompting Time Magazine to compare Kubrick’s early independence with the magnitude of Orson Welles.

An uncompromising antiwar film, this gut-wrenching drama depicts a World War I officer as he labors with an ultimately futile defense for three painfully sympathetic men tried for cowardice. Kubrick artistically utilizes a beautifully washed-out black and white photography to represent the muddied boundaries of right and wrong, and the many gray areas that lay between.

A fabulous and inspiring adventure, this visually stunning epic stars Kirk Douglas as the heroic slave who fights to lead his people to freedom from Roman rule. Although a clear departure from Kubrick’s oeuvre, “Spartacus” is an all time classic helmed by a man with a precise vision who is equally capable of crafting colossal spectacle, tense tête-à-têtes, and a tender moment between lovers.

This film is so stylish it’s easy to forget it’s a horror film at heart. Considered to be the thinking man’s thriller, Kubrick molds this very particularly “Stephan King” material into the portfolio of his films about human failure, as the hero’s desperate desire to become somebody ends in frustration and tragedy.

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Awesome! I F*ckin' Shot That!

By BrianOrndorf

March 27th, 2006

The Beastie Boys come running out of the gate with “Awesome! I F*ckin’ Shot That,” their new concert film. Covered by 50 concertgoers armed with Hi8 cameras, the picture is visually berserk, with edits raining down like fastballs on the audience. But the energy of the performance and the experience cannot be denied.


If “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” concentrated on the intricate build-up to staging a concert, and “Neil Young: Heart of Gold” put the viewer in the best possible seat, “Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That!” is the cracked plastic beer cup kicked around the arena floor for 90 minutes.

The idea is a bit insane: the Beastie Boys (Adam Horowitz, Michael Diamond, and Adam Yauch) decided to give 50 concertgoers Hi8 cameras to document their October, 2004 homecoming show in New York City’s iconic Madison Square Garden. The result is a free-flowing, hyper-edited pastiche of sight and sound, real and unreal, and the occasional bathroom break. It’s a lot of things, but it stays true to the title: it is awesome.

What the 50 cameras bring to the experience is a magical feeling of being inside the arena during the performance. The amateur cinematographers are stationed everywhere from the main floor to the nose bleed section, and they all share the desire to put their unique stamp on the film. Some elect to shoot themselves drunkenly singing along with the songs, a couple cameras catch Ben Stiller rocking out with his wife (with a refreshing lack of inhibition), one guy films himself taking a pee break, two crafty fellows find a way to sneak backstage, but most try to train their low-tech lenses at the Beasties on stage. The saddest of them all is the poor fellow in the far upper deck who spends the whole evening trying to get his section excited about being at the concert. I don’t think he ever found success there.

The shooters were given limited technology, leaving director Nathaniel Hornblower (Adam Yauch’s pseudonym) and his team of editors free range to take the footage and turn it inside out. Using every digital visual trick in the book, “Awesome” isn’t a plain old concert film, but an acid trip voyage, embellishing the Beastie tracks and turning the whole evening into a mammoth party. Taking an entire year just to edit the film, “Awesome” is howling blizzard of cuts, and now I feel bad for taking Michael Bay to task all these years for ruining cinema in the very same way; however, in “Awesome,” the cuts ride the beats like demented jockeys, with the presentation stunning the viewer into a ridiculously giddy sugar high. This is an optic sledgehammer of a film, but every whack has Hornblower going deeper into visual creativity, and the results are hilarious, tripping, and shake-yer-booty inspiring.

It goes without saying that the musical portion of the film cannot be beat. After 20 years of continuously inventive and rollicking music, the Beasties have a wealth of hits to pick from, and they choose well. Watch in amazement as the group guides a sing along for “Paul Revere,” pummels the crowd with a throbbing “So Watch’cha Want,” and burns through their newest hit, “Ch-Check It Out.” Midway through the evening, the Boys dress up in retro prom tuxedos and throw down some slow jams on their instruments, but the energy of the film is quickly propped back up, and by the finale, in which the Beasties jump into the crowd for an electric run-through of “Intergalactic,” the arena feels about ready to pop. As always, the Boys are backed by their resident turntable genius, Mix Master Mike, and they bring along Doug E. Fresh to provide a little hometown surprise.

While it doesn’t have a churchgoing title, “Awesome” is one of the best times to be had in a theater this spring. It’s funny that the two best films of the year so far have been concert films, but I’m not complaining. I’ll take delirious screen energy and confident filmmaking any way I can get it.

My rating: A