Archive for the ‘Cinema’ Category

Coppola’s Rumble Fish – does it deserve the acclaim?

May 3, 2014

Francis Ford Copola’s 1983 film Rumble Fish is really one of the most stunningly photographed films of all time – here working with cinematographer Stephen H. Burum, a frequent Brian De Palma collaborator. The problem is the meaning of the film isn’t made by the visual elements; they are just plastered on top. The baroque visual style is not allowed to speak for itself. 

Some examples of the beautiful compositions in the film:

Image     Image    Image

Instead, the film’s meaning is mainly created by the characters, the dialogue and the plot – all of which are wholly clichèd. The archetypal characters are all there; Matt Dillon’s poser rebel, his pretty girlfirend who puts up with his bullshit, his bad-ass big brother who comes to the rescue, and his pathetic alcholic father. Add to that fact each scene is so predictable that the film no longer borders on, but fully enters into, the realm of parody.

 Image  Image   Image

The middle image over is particularly telling, as it is a strikingly beautiful expressionistic composition, tarnished by the absurd-looking, sunglass-wearing cop.  Keep in mind that the entire film is played straight, almost overly serious in tone. (The top image is of a baddie that comes to kick Dillon’s ass.)  

It’s rare to see such an utterly polarizing film that is at once ravishingly beautiful, and yet cannot be describes as anything other than a failure. Had this been a silent film it could have been a great film – even a masterpiece – but as it is, it is plain painful to watch the way Burum’s talent is wasted, one scene at a time.

The result is a soaringly overrated and pretentious film. 

 

Image

The Motorcycle Boy Reigns; one of the last shots in the film.

 

Looking at other Coppola-films, I find, although well made, The Godfather to glorify the Italian gangster.  Coppola’s best film might very well be the post-modern and genre-transformative The Conversation.

Agree or diasagree?  Feel free to sound off in the comments below 😉

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Blue is the Warmest Color

April 13, 2014

blue night club

Blue is the warmest color is one of the most controversial films in recent memory. 

The director came under attack for not representing lesbian sex accurately; as well as putting the cast and crew through hell – the shoot lasted for 5 1/2 months. Even the author of the graphic novel upon which the film is based claimed the sex scenes to be the product of a male heterosexual gaze, projecting his own sexual fantasies onto the material.

FRANCE-FILM-FESTIVAL-CANNES

Personally I think the reactions are more likely to stem from the fact that we’re not used to seeing explicit sex scenes continue for so long. (One sex scene lasts eight minutes.) Meanwhile, the criticism of the actual sexual acts not being accurate has – predictably enough – been put to rest by other lesbian commentators.

As Kechine dissects the human condition and the intensity of falling in love for the first time it’s only natural he explores emotions as well as sexuality. Early on in the film, Adele has sex with her boyfriend, likely for the first time. There is a marked difference between the look in her eyes in this scene compared to the later scene with Emma. This is not exploitation; Kechiche is onto something meaningful.

Another gut-wrenchingly convincing scene is the breakup. It’s almost physically painful to watch. Apparently Kechiche kept the cameras rolling for hours without interrupting, and it shows. The fear and desperation in Adeles eyes is a real as anything yo’ll ever seen on the celluloid.

After the breakup-scene we follow Adele as she continues her daily routines, particularly in her job as a teacher. Although she goes through the motions and seemingly fulfills her duties as normal, interacting with the innocent children, we can see that she is empty, broken. Even as she walks down the street, little subtleties in her body language reveal her endless guilt and sadness. Kechiche communicates this contrast between what’s going on on the inside and outside expertly. One way he does this beautfully is by returning to a place of significance from earlier in the film; the park where Adele and Emma share their first kiss. Screenshots from the earlier scene in the park:

blue tree before
The scene is beautifully shot straight towards the sun coming through the leaves.

blue kiss under tree

Later, Adele has returned to the same park, the same bench, and underneath the same tree. The contrast between the beauty of the image and the torment of Adeles emotional state serves to further underline the emotions we feel as spectators:
blue tree after fact

Kechine then cuts to a close up of a pair of fingers nervously tapping against a window-sill. It’s a beautiful moment that in an instant speaks volumes about what Adele is going through.

Blue is the Warmest Color
has become another chapter in the ever-ongoing debate about how far you can push the people around you in the attempt to achieve an artistic vision. And while the shoot may have been difficult, the work lives on. And in the case of Blue is the Warmest Color, it is a testament to a director and two actors working together and making great sacrifices, in order to create a work of true art that will last forever.

Top Ten Films of The Year 2013

January 26, 2014

My Top Ten favorites from 2013:

1. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)
2. Blue is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche)
3. The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino)

These first three are real standouts. Some of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.

4. The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg)
5. Passion (Brian De Palma)
6. In The House (Francois Ozon)
7. The Grandmaster (Wong Kar-Wai)
8. Mud (Jeff Nicholas)
9. Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
10. All is Lost (J.C. Chandor)

I will write more about my picks later this week. Feel free to comment or post any qestions if you want me to elaborate.

Film of the Year? “S….”

December 9, 2013

I’ve been really busy lately with my own film projects. But I am currently working on a new blog entry on my favorite films of 2013. My favorite? I’ll give you a little hint – it starts with an “s”. 😉
Stay tuned.

So what was your favorite film of 2013?

Film of the Year 2012: Holy Motors

December 30, 2012

holymotors21Holy-Motors-photo-13

Often described as “weirdest movie of 2012”, Leo Carax’ surrealist film has left many viewers perplexed. It may not be perfect, but it was the most wonderful complex and meaningful film I saw in 2012.
So what does it all mean?

Leo Carax’ Holy Motors asks a number of existential questions.

What is this thing we call life?

Is there such a thing as community?

The film starts with the protagonist leaving his family for work in the morning, and by the time he returns he enters a completely different home, his original community seemingly forgotten.

What is reality?
What is the nature of our position in relation to the world around us?
What are we? Are we what people see when they see us, or is it something else?

Holy Motors is a meditation on all of these epistemological questions.

One of the main themes is performance in life and cinema. The main character is constantly changing identity in the movie. Is there a substance behind the layers upon layers of the roles we play?
At one point the lead character bumps into an old friend, played by Kylie Minogue. She asks: “Is it you?”
“I think so,” he answers.

Shortly thereafter Minogue breaks into a euphoric dance-number: “Who were we, when we were who we were, back then? Who would we have become, if he had done differently back then?”, she sings.
After they say their goodbyes, as soon as he leaves, she pulls off her blond wig and costume, and throws herself off a balcony, killing herself.

It’s about Art and about Hollywod.
At one point a character says: “Beauty in the eye of the beholder. What if there is no longer a beholder?”
To what extent does an artwork have to find an audience in order to be considered worthwhile? What if there are only a few spectators – what if there are none?

It’s a beautiful and thematically complex movie – the most though-provoking film I saw this year.


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