Archives for the month of: September, 2013

Image“And what the devil is all this about? Why was I brought here?”

A tale of spies and deceit. Hitchcock delivers a masterpiece full of suspense, thrills and deception!

North By Northwest is Hitchcock’s forth collaboration with Cary Grant after the successful thriller To Catch a Thief which included Grace Kelly. Grant portrays Roger Thornhill, an ordinary man who is mistaken for a spy by another spy (James Mason) who calls him “George Kaplan” and wants answers. Thornhill, wanting to clear his name, goes on the run, wanting to know why he is involved and meets the helpful but mysterious Eve (Eva Marie Saint).

The film is superb! It offers to the audience various forms of excellent filmmaking, such as the portrayal of innocence by Grant, the enigma by Saint and the treachery by Mason. The cinematography by Robert Burks is also solid and perfect, connoting themes such as isolation and separation. Some of my favourite shots included the high craned shot of Thornhill running out of the U.N. building and the climatic semi long shot of Thornhill and a citizen. The script by Ernest Lehman is excellent, full of chills and thrills throughout the motion picture but at the same time, a lot of light-hearted humour! An example is when Roger is hidden by Eve in a closed up train bed from the law:

Eve Kendall: Patience is a virtue.

Roger Thornhill: So is breathing.

The music scored by Bernard Herrmann is also composed beautifully, connoting suspenseful crescendos and a frightful tone to Roger’s action packed adventure. Certainly, one of the best films Hitchcock made in his long and successful career as the greatest filmmaker of the 20th Century! I highly recommend watching this not only as a fan of Hitchcock, but as a fan of the cinema! Classic, deceiving, thrilling and an amazing example of a film within the 50s era!

5/5

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‘A Love Story In The City Of Dreams’

David Lynch has chosen to mess with my mind on the hugest scale possible. More than Nolan did with Memento or Inception. More than Hooper did with Easy Rider. More than Kubrick did with 2001: A Space Odyssey. Even more than Aronofsky did with The Fountain. Gigantically more than Gondry did with Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. And frantically more than Almodovar did with The Skin I Live In.

Lynch never really messed my mind as much with the fantastic drama The Elephant Man, he hasn’t (to an extent) with Twin Peaks either! Even now, after watching this film numerous times , I’m still lost and can’t figure out the best theory for it! Although there are parts of the film when I literally thought, “What in the name of all that is Holy is going on?!?”. It sort of make sense after discussing and analysing it with the experts, trust me!

Mullholland Drive is a surrealist neo-noir thriller, combing many different sub-plots to provide an absurd amount of different meanings to the audience. I’d rather not go into the plot, in my mind, it’s best going in blind for this one! The vast number of theories make more sense to a certain degree shortly after the purpose of the blue key and the blue box are revealed (Watch it, you’ll understand I hope!). There is brilliant use of cinematography by Peter Deming whilst Lynch continues to shock the audience as a master of surrealism through writing it’s astonishing script. The music by Angelo Badalamenti provides audiences with sinister synths, making them wonder just what the hell may be around the corner!

Now, my interpretation of this is either: Parts of the film are dream sequences, or actually, once the box is open, a new world emerges for some. I can’t spoilt it fully though! You may be reading this and thinking, “What is Sean saying?” I really don’t know what I’m saying either! I’m more confused now then I ever have been in watching a film. People may think: “This is complete rubbish! I’ve wasted over 2 hours of my life watching nothing”. This film really isn’t rubbish! You just need to be open and of course really think of what goes on during this strange adventure. Just watch it, trust me, if someone finds this is not up to their standards, fair enough. But really, it’s a story worth telling to an audience. I say a story, there’s probably over 100 different stories written by theorists all over the web!

If you are really confused after watching this, visit this website: http://www.mulholland-drive.net/

It does help. But if I can give any advice: make up your own theory. Lynch wants us as the audience to speak our mind, hence why he hasn’t said anything about this work of art!

To sum this up in three words: David Lynch’s masterpiece.

5/5

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“We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.”

A very simple yet very deep piece of filmmaking. The Breakfast Club is the story of 5 different teenagers, all from different stereotypes: jock, prom queen, geek, rebel and outcast. They all meet at 7am on a Saturday for detention, as time passes they all begin to realise that they are all very similar than they think, all coming very different but very similar domestic lifestyles; with parents as an issue constantly pressuring them in assorted ways (like the jock not having independence, the rebel being a victim of domestic violence etc.) which is quite shocking. It seems as though high school is their place to escape from all the hardship of troubled family life, their place where they actually have people to trust and rely on, a place to hide their secrets. Because of this detention they all have to do for committing serious offences, something happens, they all embrace their troubles by actually opening up and accepting each other, ignoring their stereotypes.

All and all, this is a fantastic film, which really emphasises the importance of being yourself and friendship, each actor giving a beautiful performance. This is probably the best film I’ve seen directed by Hughes. A hilarious script, a brilliant soundtrack (especially from the great Simple Minds!) and most importantly: A heart. Hughes really is a genius in presenting the good and bad times of being a teenager; what more do you want? The best ’80s teen movie!

5/5

Image“My mother is worried I have mental problems. I found a book about teenage paranoid delusions during a routine search of my parents’ bedroom.”

A touching film about love, growing up, family troubles and a rather eccentric teenager! Submarine is a coming-of-age film about a very different teenager named Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) from Swansea wanting to lose his virginity to his girlfriend Jordana (Yasmin Paige) and stop his parents (Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins) from divorcing because of a new age guru (Paddy Considine) who also happens to be the ex-boyfriend of his mum moving next door. It’s very different from most coming-of-age films I’ve seen, simply because it’s very personal and gets inside Oliver’s thoughts of his life and the importance he sees of it. It’s a very humorous film, and yet it is quite dark as well, as Oliver imagines himself dead and how people would react if he came back as the Messiah for example, not to mention the possibility of his parents splitting, Jordana’s mother suffering from cancer. These are all terrible things Oliver witnesses and thinks; yet he still manages to cope with it.

The film is visually stunning, capturing the places Oliver enjoys the most, such as the industrial factories. Robert’s performance as Oliver is fantastic as he presents him as the teenager who knows he’s different compared to other typical Swansea teenagers, this can be identified by the Super-8 memory sequence, visualising his beautiful memories of Jordana and how she is so important in his life. Another example of that would be when they set things on fire in the theme park with various shots showing their developing romance and its retro style, not to mention an obsession with morality (a big fan of The Catcher in the Rye and the work of Nietzsche). His narration connotes true humour and irony to the audience about life, loss, love (“The best boyfriend in the world”) and the casual hilarious gag (“affording a crane shot”). A fantastic debut from the great Richard Ayoade (or Moss, if you love The IT Crowd!)

4/5

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“I wonder how many times you’ve been had
And I wonder how many plans have gone bad”

And I wonder why have we never heard of this man before? His music is arguably as good as Bob Dylan’s, Donovan’s, even Paul Simon’s…well, that’s my opinion anyway! This man is only known to his fans as Rodriguez, a Mexican-American songwriter from inner city Detroit. He was discovered in the late sixties by two producers who recorded his first album: Cold Fact, the album flopped in his native America but was proven to be hugely influential in South Africa, with many liberal white South Africans stating it influenced them to question the strict establishment of the government; hence the anti-apartheid movement. It was so popular even with limited radio play due to censorship of his popular songs such as Sugar Man – a song about drug use.

He was considered bigger than Elvis Presley or even The Rolling Stones…but no one knew anything about him until rumors spread round South Africa like wild fire that Rodriguez had committed suicide. It is here in the documentary where two South African fans, a journalist and a record store owner set out to discover what happened to him and why his music didn’t sell as well anywhere else in the world.

A beautiful, moving, uplifting film, Searching For Sugar Man is by far one of the most extraordinary documentaries and deserved winner at the Oscars! It makes you wonder why you never heard of this man ever before. His songwriting is astonishingly true to the word and reflects on what life is like in poverty. Bendjelloul captures the time of a man in poverty who just wanted to show the world the inner city and his reflections on social issues of the era. I highly recommend to watch this!

Rodriguez’s music brings us closer together in awe! I’m proud to say I now have the soundtrack!

5/5

Image“If the caravan’s rockin’, don’t come a-knockin'”

Dark, disturbing, surreal, violent…but hilarious. This stunning black comedy from director Ben Wheatley provides an audience with a very dark take on so-called serious relationships.

Chris (Steve Oram), a caravan fan and aspiring writer, decides to take his new girlfriend, Tina (Alice Lowe), on a caravan holiday across the north of England. However, things take a turn for the worse when Chris gets incredibly stressed at a litter bug…and that’s when the murderous fun begins!

A very interesting take on black comedy. Wheatly presents the audience with the best forms of bloodshed and humour all while cramping in an awkward yet seemingly strong and realistic relationship. The mise-en-scene and cinematography really emphasise the struggles of both protagonists as they try and make their relationship work…whilst of course murder occurs in almost every scenario. Playful, gory, tremendous! A must watch for fans of Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges

4/5

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“A teenage dream’s so hard to beat”

Here’s a film by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn which presents the beauty of music, the rebellion of punk and religious diversion against the backdrop of the Troubles.

Good Vibrations is based on the true story of Terri Hooley (Richard Dormer), a restless music obsessive from Belfast. As the Troubles begin to take over his city, his friends divide and collide. He decides to open a record shop in the most bombed street in all of Belfast, naming it Good Vibrations. Originally selling reggae, blues and folk, he has an epiphany whilst watching the punk band Rudi play a small club. He becomes an unlikely leader of the punks of Northern Ireland as he creates the Good Vibrations record label, creating 7 inch records independently and bringing a once divided city back to life.

The film is both astonishing and moving. This is a music film made with true heart and soul. I rarely cry watching films (with the exception of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator!) but this is a film that had me close to tears simply because of the success of getting a message across through a record, the power music has on people and the impact of a genre which brings people together no matter where you’re from, your gender or your religion. For an independent film, it’s very well made, the cinematography by Ivan McCullough and editing by Nick Emerson work well and provide the audience a sense of realism and excitement. The humour throughout is also very amusing connoting hard struggles yet also joy in promoting an independent business and a community in crisis. The performances, especially by Dormer, are convincing, implying the devotion that one has when attempting to make it big in a split city.  The music is also amazing, with various Northern Irish punk bands such as Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones and The Outcasts as the soundtrack of ‘Alternative Ulster’ during a time of hardships. This is by far the best film of 2013 I’ve seen so far and recommend any one to watch it. A beautiful film about how music touches us all weather it’s in the past or the present or the future. Perfect, classic and shear magic!

5/5

Image“Time to meet the devil.”

In his second collaboration with Ryan Gosling and Cliff Martinez, Nicolas Winding Refn has followed up from his classic thriller Drive, a well received film I may add, with something that has split the critics apart. Some are calling this film a masterpiece, whilst others consider this the worst film ever made.

Set in Bangkok, Thailand, Only God Forgives follows the quiet and traumatised Julian (Gosling), a man who owns a kickboxing dojo, a front actually for smuggling drugs. After his brother is murdered, Crystal (Kristen Scott Thomas), Julian’s mother demands the blood of the person who killed him. Who is this person you might ask? This person is Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm), a vengeful Lieutenant offering a very harsh and brutal approach to policing. What Julian and Crystal don’t know, is that Chang has several supernatural powers. Julian is very quiet but his actions pull through as the anger is fuming inside him wanting to come out through his fists. As Julian discovers more about his brothers killer, a cat and mouse chase endures, and whether it’s surreal or not…it’s sickening, intimately silent and minimalistic (especially in Julian’s damaged head).

The film may not be for everyone. As much as I love the film reading more and more about it, when I saw it in the cinema it was confusing. I knew it wouldn’t be like an obvious sequel to Drive but I never expected the surrealism to hit you at every turn, making it more mysterious and making me want to watch it more and more. It felt very much at first a slow start, but after reading, it’s for all the right reasons for it’s ultimate climax. There are some things which I felt were too much, for example, the karaoke scenes with Chang as the star after he does justice, but it does make sense considering Refn has said karaoke is treated “like a religion” over in Thailand, something I myself never realised despite being to Thailand over 4 times! The music composed by Martinez is fantastic, offering dark and droning synth pop against the darkest sides of Thai culture as the protagonist and antagonist are on the hunt. Gosling and Scott-Thomas portray their characters very well, Gosling offering a very shy and almost weak protagonist whilst Scott-Thomas presenting the worst mother to have in mourning of her dead son whilst in dire need of revenge. The cinematography by Larry Smith is also astonishingly beautiful against the backdrop of Bangkok, offering contrasting colours against long shots, close ups and mid shots. All and all, a beautifully crafted film. A word of warning however, it is a film which may confuse, so it is worth watching and reading theories of this film in order to understand it more. This is a film that will stick to you whether you like it or not!

5/5