|Everyone wants to work with Wes Anderson!|
30 May 2012
28 May 2012
|A video essay or an experimental film?|
|A pet project for George Lucas.|
21 May 2012
|One of the posters to the film.|
When Vladimir has a stroke, he not only refuses Elena’s repeated pleas to help her son but begins to make out a will which effectively sidelines Elena and empowers his estranged daughter from his first marriage. Although it is not made explicitly clear whether or not Elena genuinely loves Vladimir, she realises that having given ten years of her life to effectively look after Vladimir, she cannot simply allow the daughter to inherit everything. Vladimir’s objections to offer financial support for Elena’s son stems from a class snobbery that is vindictive, cruel and representative of the way in which the rich will do anything to protect and preserve the status quo. Elena’s decision to accelerate the death of Vladimir not only ensures her of a share of the inheritance but transforms her into a radical political entity. Elena’s heinous actions might be cataclysmic in terms of morality but Zvyagintsev’s ending in which we find Elena and her son’s family occupying the apartment as their own suggests that murder can also be a strangely revolutionary act because in this case it brings with it the promise and perhaps even fulfilment of social mobility. Why social mobility? Mainly because it was the defining characteristic of a functioning capitalist society in which class could be attained if someone worked hard enough. Social mobility has been erased today, replaced by an inexplicable economic divide that has produced an antagonistic class conflict in which a tiny elitist minority reigns supreme while the underclass continues to grow unhealthily into yet another social problem as touted by the mainstream media. If this is true then why does Zvyagintsev opt to depict the underclass in the film as equally unsympathetic as the rich? Upon occupying the apartment, Zvyagintsev trains his camera on the reaction of Elena’s apathetic son who reiterates his zombified position of the fixated armchair television spectator, underlining social mobility as an aspiration has now been taken over by the numbing diversions of a one dimensional media circus. With Elena, director Andrei Zvyagintsev certainly demonstrates he has considerable range and is not afraid of remaining apolitical. In my opinion, Zvyagintsev is one of the best filmmakers at work today in the world. If you don't believe me, just watch any of his films; they are mesmerising.
13 May 2012
A MOMENT OF INNOCENCE / BREAD & FLOWER (Dir. Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1996, Iran/France) - Memories of Dissent
|The final shot of the film - the flowerpot, the girl and bread.|
12 May 2012
|High Sierra with Bogart & Lupino|
THE RED AND THE WHITE (Dir. Milkos Jancso, 1967, Hungary) - What terrified most about this one was Jancso's ability to use endless long takes to not only prolong the horror of war but show the way war is never ending and perpetual.
TINY FURNITURE (Dir. Lena Dunham, 2010, US) - Rising star Lena Dunham is currently in the spotlight for her new TV series HBO series Girls. Dunham is a prime example and perhaps one of the icons of the YouTube generation but her skills as a director also extend to a vibrant feel for dialogue. Tiny Furniture is a laid back observational comedy with some excellent performances.
DON 2 (Dir. Farhan Akhtar, 2011, India) - I am the King! Yawn...another tailor made narcissistic fantasy.
BARTON FINK (Dir. Coens, 1991, US) - A key work from the Coen Brothers, Barton Fink is anchored by a terrific central performance by John Turturro. However, it is John Goodman as madman Munt who steals the show. A classic and perhaps the definitive cinematic statement on the psychosis of writer’s block.
THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (Dir. Tay Garnett, 1946, US) - I forgot how long this was. Perhaps it’s too long. Both Garfield and Turner are exemplary but I somehow prefer Rafelson’s updating. Maybe its the sex, its so much more dirty with Nicholson and Lange.
I CONFESS (Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1946, US) - One of Hitchcock’s weakest efforts but worth it alone for Monty Clift’s magnificent performance as the conflicted priest.
LAS ACACIAS (Dir. Pablo Giogrelli, 2011, Argentina) - A road movie without any words. Godard re translated - in this case, all you need to make a film is a vehicle, a man and a cute baby.
MARIANNE AND JULIANE (Dir. Margarethe von Trotta, 1981, Germany) - Von Trotta’s political critique examines the attempts made by a middle class German society in the 1960s and 70s to become revolutionaries. It’s one of the best films I have come across on the political cost of trying to stay true to a radical oppositional ideology that challenges the very systems that are in place.
|Marianne & Juliane|
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (Dir. Steven Spielberg, 2011, US) - This is old school Spielberg, replicating the magic of the Indiana Jones films but with revolutionary eye opening motion capture technology. A proper adventure with a solid script. It’s obvious the next Indiana Jones entry needs to be animated.
INTIMATE LIGHTING (Dir. Ivan Passer, 1965, Czechoslovakia) - Ivan Passer is best known for his cult neo noir Cutter’s Way with Jeff Bridges. Before he came to America, Passer forged a name for himself with the 1960s Czech new wave. Intimate Lightning is deeply idiosyncratic.
THE AGRONOMIST (Dir. Jonathan Demme, 2003, US) - Jonathan Demme’s deeply moving account of Jean Dominique and Radio Haiti as an authentic voice of the millions of oppressed peasants locked out of the political process.
JOE (Dir. John G. Avildsen, 1970, US) - Joe could be viewed as a template for the white male angst sub genre in which frustrations are misplaced and violence becomes the foremost outlet for a repressed social contempt. Released in 1970 and starring Peter Boyle in the lead role, Joe is a brilliant dissection of the counter culture movement.
ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (Dir. Erle C. Kenton, 1932, US) - This is the best adaptation of H. G. Wells novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. With a cast featuring a devilish Charles Laughton and impressive sets including an island populated by some of the science fiction/horror genre's most unsavoury of characters, this is a lost classic which is ripe for rediscovery.
HIGH SIERRA (Dir. Raoul Walsh, 1946, US) - An out and out classic with one of Bogart's great performances as the ignoble Mad Dog Earle. High Sierra can also be interpreted as an existential thriller that influenced much of Melville's and Michael Mann's anti-heroes struggling with the metaphysics of not having enough time. With John Huston as co-writer, Ida Lupino in support and Raoul Walsh at the helm, what more could any cinephile want from a film.
KAHAANI / STORY (Dir. Sujoy Ghosh, 2012, India) - This is a perfectly executed thriller with a superb twist ending that really does work. Shot entirely in Calcutta and starring the ever dependable Vidya Balan, Kahaani puts much of mainstream Indian cinema to shame. Highly recommended.
|35 Shots of Rhum - the rice cooker|
6 May 2012
|The Avengers Film - Failure to Launch|
It’s just noise. Lots of it. And its really fucking LOUD! (Don't know why Hollywood blockbusters think noise is part of the spectacle of film; it's clearly not unless you are hoping to paper over the cracks)
The dialogue may have looked good enough on paper but when spoken by the likes of Chris Evans, much of it falls flat.
It’s too long. Okay, that may seem like a trivial point but length is tied to quality, and given the lack of quality on display, the lengthy running time made it all seem spectacularly boring.
You have Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. in the cast but they are surrounded by whimpering fools. The performances are uniformly terrible and that means you rarely sympathise with any of the characters.
A great or even good comic book film is usually made significantly better than it seems by a catchy and memorable score or even theme in some cases. The score, which is pedestrian to say the least, doesn’t matter anyway because its drowned out by the constant din made by the avengers.
A solid story and evidence of a workable plot-line usually helps when trying to navigate through the narrative chaos - a portal opening in the skyline of New York is neither original or imaginative.
At times it felt like one long jingoistic ad for American imperialism; New York is under threat again, we must band together, Captain America you patrol ground zero, and let’s fight for the common good because we don’t believe in nuclear deterrence. If Loki is the Other then what exactly does he represent or symbolise in terms of a foreign threat?
The final set piece is just chaos and the action is poorly co-ordinated & choreographed.
Representing India as a poverty infested third world country is simply regressive and yet again validates the way American cinema and Hollywood promotes India as an inferior and exotic place.
This film was made with 12 year old boys in mind. Everything else is secondary.
The Avengers is not good enough to join the company of the following comic book film adaptations: The Hulk (Ang Lee version), Nolan's Batman films, Dick Tracy, The X Men films (excluding The Last Stand), The first 3 Superman films, Hellboy 1 & 2