Sunday, 18 September 2011

Jane Eyre

Does the world really need another adaptation of Jane Eyre? Well need is quite an emotive word I suppose. It is remarkable that the character of Jane was insisting on independence and therefore not being controlled by men in 1847, truly groundbreaking stuff. We can see in the story that of the two men in her life, Rivers and Rochester, she chooses the one who gives and respects her freedom. The other appears to more reasonable but is ultimately more controlling. Although at the beginning of the story Jane is accused of being deceitful, ironically she is the only main character that isn’t at deceitful at all, including her tow suitors.
We are given glimpses of some beautiful scenery from the outset as Jane wanders in the wilderness. Throughout the film though there are also some wonderful performances, Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender are marvellous as Jane and Rochester as is Judi Dench as Mrs Fairfax.
Given that this is based on a gothic novel and that there are some quite dramatic occurrences throughout the story, it would be quite easy for the whole thing to become overwrought and gimmicky. So much of the acting, though. is done in subtle facial expressions. The text is treated with the greatest respect but is also utilised beautifully as well. All these elements, along with an understated musical score, make for very decent film that keeps you thinking throughout.

The Arbor

There is cinema verité and there are films that are called a tragedy. Both of these descriptions fit the Arbor far more than most other films ever will. The film is about Andrea Dunbar, writer of Rita, Sue and Bob Too. She came from Bradford in Yorkshire and lived on an estate, which before they were sold off, would have been an estate of council houses. She died in 1990 after fighting alcoholism and related issues. The story goes on to talk about her eldest daughter Lorraine and her travails with drug addiction and prison.
The construction of the film is fascinating. The protagonists recorded their recollections of what happened and then actors lip synched to their voices. At the same time this gives the appearance of a play, you know that they are acting, but at the same time there is the reality of what is being said as well. The piece as well has parts of Dunbar’s plays interspersed throughout as well. This underpins the reality of her work and highlights what happened to her in terms of her writing.
It is of course selective in what is presented and what is said about the situations portrayed. I don’t know what Andrea Dunbar’s family think of the film but it is all too evident that feelings run deep about all sorts of issues and occurrences. Film is designed to move people and to affect them emotionally. It is however rare to find a film so real with such real emotions running all the way through. This film should be highly commended.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The film, set in 1973, begins with the shooting of a British agent in Budapest. He had been given the task of uncovering a mole in British secret service, called the Circus here, who has been passing secrets to the USSR. He had been betrayed himself and this is not the last betrayal in the film. Throughout the film it becomes apparent that nations, friends, lovers and partners are all betrayed. I suppose really it is a side effect of employing devious people who have heightened skills in observation and subterfuge.

Pinning the whole film together is a masterly performance by Gary Oldman, who plays George Smiley; the spymaster given the job of uncovering the mole. His performance is one of great stillness, only saying what needs to be said. This is of course a good interrogation technique; it gives the interviewee space to tell their story and also gives them enough rope to hang themselves with.

As there are enigmas and subterfuge throughout the film it’s fitting that the photography is subtle. Backgrounds are often out of focus which of course concentrates attention onto the characters. Most of the film is spent as well putting pieces together as the story and the intrigue unfolds. It is quite intricately constructed throughout as we reminded and shown the past and the present. At one point there is talk of spies being good watchers, it’s not often that characters empathise with the audience. This is quite frankly a glorious film.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Inbetweeners Movie

There are some films that put on airs and graces, where there are actors who really 'act' (with a capital A), who put drama and intensity into a piece. There are comedies that leave you in no doubt that you should be laughing, especially when a group of characters all scream and shout at a situation at the same times, or when they discover a zoo animal in their accommodation. Luckily The Inbetweeners Movie is not one of these films.
It instead an honest comedy in the long transition from childhood to adulthood, where teenage boys begin to realise that they are not necessarily the axis on which the world turns. They also begin to realise that what they say and do can affect other people, in the same way that the way others act can affect them. It is also looks at how easy it is to hurt the people that we love and more importantly maybe, those that love us.
I love the internal philosophy in this which is there’s no point in getting upset about failing to do things perfectly in the past; you might as well have a laugh. However this is the Inbetweeners and this point of view came about because Neil realised that dog is god spelled backwards, therefore there is no god. Of course this philosophy leads the boys to go on holiday to Crete, to engage in all the pleasures that a Mediterranean resort full of like minded people can offer. There are slight echoes of Carry On Abroad on their arrival, but that never featured a dead dog.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Apollo 18

Apollo 18, I can assure you, is not a sequel of Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, far from it. I suspect that it’s one of those hybrid films that were discussed to death in The Player. This time it’s The Blair Witch Project meets Apollo 13. Of course this is also an effect of the Hollywood industrial process and how we end up with films like Titanic.
Anyway the premise of this is that there was a secret Apollo mission that was based on defence and not exploration. Well come off it, the rockets that delivered the modules into space were designed to deliver nuclear warheads to the Warsaw Pact. Space exploration has always been about defence so what the make the distinction that this was different. Oh because they told no one about it. There are other glaring flaws in internal logic, but that would give too much away to go into that.
I think as well we’ve passed the Emperor’s New Clothes moment a while back with Blair Witch, Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity etc. This is purported to be based on footage shot by the Astronauts, it clearly isn’t. How convenient that all three of them were at a barbeque when one of them was rung to get the news that they were going back to the moon. Does NASA not have meetings, in official buildings to discuss this? If this mission was so secret why tell them on the phone at their home when they’ve been drinking, so they can blurt to their kids ‘we’re going to the moon, oh bugger I didn’t mean to say that’. You may believe this might have happened, I sincerely hope that you don’t

Bob Roberts

Well, an early nineties film, a faux documentary about an über right wing, über rich, folk singing US senatorial candidate, Bob Roberts. Tim Robbins gives us a story that has echoes of the Iran Contra affair with Roberts’s involvement in a gun running organisation called Broken Dove. He also shows us that the Tea Party’s reactionary protest started under George Bush senior and that before Clinton and Obama they were after Kennedy and the ACLU.
Gore Vidal’s character leaves us in no uncertain terms that the USA is controlled by the National Security Council and that previous CIA involvement is an effective way of getting into politics.
Roberts has a bunch of fanatical, groupie idiots that follow him round everywhere he goes. They’re led by a zealous Jack Black. They somehow remind me of Sarah Palin and her followers. They are, however, strangely reminiscent of George W. Bush. Tim Robbins must either be very pleased with himself to have been so accurate in his depiction, or really annoyed with it.

Toy Story 3

This is the last instalment, so far, in Pixar’s great success in exploring mortality and the path to adulthood. Toy story 3 explores a complicated relationship whereby children and toys rely on each other; toys need to played with and the toys need to be there for their owners. As with the first two films, there is also the exploration of what befalls a toy that decides that they’re more important or that they’ve been rejected, so they become malcontent with life in general.
As with most Pixar films there is a genuinely touching scene. In this film it’s about death and the way it’s dealt with is quite noble really. We see as well, that what the toys after is security, just like children, and a stress free environment. The joy here though is the way in which the realisation for development comes and that we must move on and put aside childish things.