Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Monday, 29 August 2011
Saturday, 13 August 2011
It's remarkable how many films follow the rom-com pattern of the progression of a fledgling on screen relationship. Bridesmaids is another of those, I'll let you guess what happens. Anyway this film really could be a companion piece to the Hangover, but it's far funnier and doesn't make you feel like you've lost two hours of your life on a completely wasted venture.
It does talk about aspirations, dreams and achievement as well, but not in the sickening way that films can adopt sometimes. What it really says is that on most occasions it's positive steps we take ourselves that help us achieve and that spending too much time not realising this can be destructive. It also says though be careful of grey meat and mixing alcohol and prescription medication.
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
I’ve got this problem with the Big Picture. The acting is fine, there are some good performances, and it has Catherine Deneuve in it. The photography is almost sublime in places, moody clouds, beautiful seascapes, great scenery. The music is not intrusive; it engages you without leading you by the nose. I just find the plot on the whole rather far fetched.
It’s a story of what is never presented as the perfect French family. The mother, Sarah, and father, Paul, don’t get along, their youngest child is incredibly unhappy. Anyway Paul suspects Sarah of having an affair; he gets drunk at a dinner party and insults his wife and child in front of all their friends. Push comes to shove, she asks for a divorce. By now he’s worked out who she’s having the affair with and confronts him.
What could have a been a drama of manners, of people making sensible life changing choices descends into a film about changing identities and blowing things up. I refuse to believe that just because Paul cannot see the big picture that he would act in such a ludicrous and unbelievably ridiculous manner. Unless that is I’m missing something entirely that is. French thrillers used to be renowned for their subtlety; they probably still are in the main, but not this one. The title in French translates as the man who wanted to live his life. Honestly.
Sunday, 7 August 2011
The resultant film is, of course, Super 8. The film is quite an achievement really as well. If Abrams wanted to make an homage to Spielberg; to E.T., the Goonies and Close Encounters, then it would look something like this film. There are strange goings on in a small town in America, after a massive train wreck, car parts and dogs go missing and the air force are acting mysteriously as well. This time though the events are documented by a bunch of movie making kids.
Both Abrams and Spielberg quite often portray non-conventional families in their films and series. I think that the only really happy couple in Lost, for instance, were Bernard and Rose. In Super 8 the only fully functioning family unit includes kids who repeatedly hit the dinner table with baseball bats.
Without giving too much away, important elements in this film, as with what’s come in the past, are communication and understanding. This is course evidenced in the lack of communication between parents and children as much as anywhere else and of course between different strata of authority, the Police and the Air Force.
Abrams has said as well that it’s important that the film is set in the late seventies, early eighties. He said that the events wouldn’t happen today. Kids would be making a film using their iPhones, or some such device. It wouldn’t take three days to develop film and they’d probably upload everything to You Tube and then Skype the Pentagon, lol.
On the whole it’s a worthwhile experience. It’s a film that is funny in the right places and does not fail to astonish as to how people can have such metal work in their mouth and be such pyromaniacs. People will make comparisons with other films that Spielberg and Abrams have been involved in, as I have. I did find it curious that Matt Reeves was acknowledged at the end of the film. Also when are people going to learn that the film has not necessarily finished when the credits start to roll? All those that left early, when I saw the film today missed a screening of The Case, the film that the kids were making.
Saturday, 6 August 2011
Kristin Scott Thomas gives a wonderful performance as the harassed and not entirely mentally stable Suzanne. She meets the odd job man after he’s employed to clear out a room in the family home so that she can set up a physiotherapy practice there. Passion sets in between them after an accident with her car and they begin a torrid affair. This is of course mirrored with her cold and passionless relations with her husband, which are exercises in going through the motions as much as anything else. Passion for the Spanish odd job man seems to be her main motivation for doing this, that and the fact that her husband’s a bit of a git. Well more than that he tries to hang on to his wife by exercising power over her. Actions more often than not do cause reactions. What I like about the film is that it’s a bit amoral, although there are consequences to what people do, but it doesn’t preach at you either. Ultimately, it does you good to be uncomfortable in the cinema every once in a while, especially if you’re male.
There are a number of interesting traits and techniques on offer here. Throughout the film there is an engaging and interesting use of available light. We’re not given too much sunlight and this is because we’re caught in the pallor of grief as Ewan McGregor’s character, Oliver, comes to terms with the death of his father and so re-appraises the life and death of his mother. It turns out that when his mother died his father came out as being gay.
It is significant that not long after the death of his father Oliver meets a woman who sees the sadness in his eyes and with whom he starts a relationship. This helps him to reappraise what has happened in the past. How could his father leave his mother to be empty in her life, even though he professed that he did love her. We see that throughout the beginnings of Oliver’s new relationship his mind is more on endings. This therefore colours his whole state of mind, which not only affects love but his work as well.
It’s interesting and entirely valid as well for the director, Mike Mills, to give us a little tutorial on the nature of memory. We are presented at times with what Oliver remembers happening and what he would have liked to have happened. In the end there is the realisation that you have to acknowledge a persons whole character, love them for whom they are or were and not just pick and choose the bits you want to.
There is also an interesting device of Oliver inheriting his father’s dog. Left alone with the dog Oliver tells him what’s on his mind, which is not unheard of. At times we are presented with subtitles of what the dog is thinking. This may be what Oliver thinks the dog is thinking or of course it could just be in the director’s imagination. Anyway, Oliver and the dog have a symbiotic relationship, each of them reminding the other of the father.
Friday, 5 August 2011
Such was so with the last of the Harry Potter films. I say the last it may not be yet. That is part of the bitter sweet nature of the occasion. Some people are glad to see to this series conclude, and they can be divided between those that are happy with the content and those glad to see the back of it. Some want it to go on and on. This is not unique, JJ Abrams says that people come up to all the time and say that the ending of Lost sucked. Some of them mean it sucks that Lost ended.
We do have an ending to this series in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. In fact we have plenty of endings. The body count is so high that it would be understandable to believe that this was an adaptation of an Iain Banks novel. If you don't expect there to be death in this film, then think again. That though has been one of the motifs of this series, death and the avoidance of death. It's pleasing though that in this series death does actually mean something. This has been apparent from the first book and film when Harry is presented as the boy who lived, not the boy who died.
This eighth film though ably explores why we want to stay alive. That values such as love, friendship and family are worth fighting for. We are shown what Harry and his friends have become because of these qualities and also what Voldemort and his allies lack as they are denied this. The cameo in reinforcing this is in the Malfoys, but if you've been watching and reading carefully enough you know that only stretches so far. People need to, ultimately, share fundamental values to get on. Loyalty is also a recurrent them in the series that is explored here.
My only criticism is that of Alan Rickman's make up, are we really to believe that Severus Snape would wear such visible foundation. Even with the joy of seeing such a fine series with Michael Gambon in such a prominent role it was a joy for Ciarán Hinds to turn up as well.
Wednesday, 3 August 2011
The White Ribbon is Michael Haneke’s gift of a marvellous, well crafted, thought provoking film, which is what he's been making throughout his career. This time the setting is a village in northern
This is a 1942 Ealing propaganda film starting with the premise that there is a memorial to dead German troops in a churchyard in
Blimey, the Tree of Life, takes you through the whole of existence from the big bang to the afterlife discussing the choice between grace and nature. The film is a long discussion about the choice we have as to whether we believe in the survival of the fittest and the rules of the jungle or if we rise above that. This is explored in the lives of a Catholic family in