Tuesday, January 6, 2015

BEST OF 2010-2014 #3 ALL IS LOST

All is Lost is as simple and as straightforward as storytelling will likely get, but at the same time, it strenuously avoids (or upends) cliché at every turn and is totally devoid of obvious, cheap-seats sentimentality. It’s a nearly wordless motion picture, relying on clear-cut visual storytelling to communicate its ideas and feelings. Writer/director J.C. Chandor and screen legend Robert Redford..., in a historic performance, take the viewer on a harrowing and breathtaking journey with a finale that shakes to the core – this is vital cinema for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the medium. Recalling the sadness and melancholy of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea but also infused with a sense of pride, elegance, and grace under pressure, All is Lost will likely test the limits of most moviegoers, as it offers little in the way of backstory or easily identifiable character traits; it values patience and quiet like few recent films. The primal muscularity and overwhelming visceral tension that Chandor and cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco achieved harkens back to 80's-era Friedkin and Mann, recalling past glories such as Sorcerer and Thief, while sharing familiar beats with modern classics such as Castaway and The Grey. Shooting on the open water in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen, while also utilizing hand-held cameras which were fitted with wide-angle lenses, the filmmakers presented themselves with a huge task, and the film possess a near-constant state of nervousness and excitement. Alex Ebert’s moody and inventive score surrounds the film but never overpowers it, allowing Redford’s remarkable face to do the heavy emotional lifting rather than a cloying soundtrack; it’s the smartest use of music in a film that I can remember. All is Lost is a masterwork for all involved, a work that’s interested in pushing boundaries and expectations, and is clearly the closest we will get to pure, existential filmmaking in the current Hollywood landscape.

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