Archives for the month of: December, 2013

Image“Humbug”

Now here is an amazing film which I obsessed over on VHS as a child. Oh of course I would…it’s the merry Muppets in the joyous and hilarious re-telling of Charles Dickens’s classic tale A Christmas Carol.

Directed by Brian Henson, son of the late Muppet creator Jim Henson, the Muppets take you on a journey into 19th century London with Charles Dickens himself (otherwise known as Gonzo the Great!) telling the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) as he encounters ghosts…and lots and lots AND lots of charming, humorous and smart Muppets! The film is without a shadow of a doubt, hilarious and I guarantee will make anyone laugh out loud!

I saw this film yesterday for the first time in 10 years at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square (highly recommend a visit!) who offered a sing a long to film (they were even so kind to provide subtitles, presents to audience members AND even screened the moving song ‘When Love Is Gone’ via VHS since it was sadly cut from the theatrical version). How did I feel after it? I must admit, very euphoric! This was always a favourite film of mine as a child and really took me back to the festive season over 10 years ago! This is a film which I will recommend to anyone which is touching, very funny and will make you realise the importance of Christmas for everyone!

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“A person doesn’t change just because you find out more.”

Orson Welles moved on from his magnum opus (hint: “Rosebud”) to something completely different from any other noir I’ve ever seen. The Third Man is a stunning collaboration between the great Welles, director Carol Reed (known for the Oscar winning Oliver!), the novelist Graham Greene as the screenwriter and finally…who can’t forget Anton Karas as the writer and performer of the score, his weapon of choice being the very Austrian zither. This is a film which was way ahead of its time just like the German expressionists of the 20s, Fritz Lang is an obvious auteur with his experimental use of sound in M.

The Third Man concerns an American pulp novelist named Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) who arrives in Allied occupied Vienna seeking his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) who has offered him a job, only to discover that Lime was killed by a car whilst crossing the street a few days before. The question is…how did Lime really die? This is the question which prompts Martins to investigate into Lime’s business all while the Brits tell him to clear off back to the States and Harry’s girlfriend Anna (Alida Valli) remains suspicious of Martin’s actions. Martins soon discovers dark secrets about Lime’s line of work and his death.

Where do I start to emphasise how beautiful this film is? Well, firstly the cinematography by Robert Krasker is possibly one of the best examples of camerawork I’ve ever seen! Krasker frequently uses the Dutch angle technique, whereby the camera is tilted off to one side, offering to the audience Martin’s alienation in a foreign environment. The use of this expressionist technique really reminded of the great German horror The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and the unease that it created as much as The Third Man. The performances are also outstanding and should be greatly admired, Cotten and Valli portray two foreigners struggling to survive, one with a desire to discover whilst one with desire to remain silence.

Welles doesn’t enter the film until roughly an hour in, but when he does, it’s probably one of the greatest entrances in all of cinema. I won’t go into detail (my apologises in advance!) but you just have to see it for yourself, there is perfect use of cinematography, mise-en-scene and lighting! It all works so well within that scene, I was simply amazed at how the crew captured the sense of surprise within Cotten’s fantastic performance. Welles of course offers a very sinister yet stunning performance as Lime who reveals much more than one can really handle to the true purpose of his work if you can call it that! The music by Karas is without question one of the best examples of film scoring because it’s just so simple and fits in with the setting of post-WWII Vienna, offering a jangled sense of desperation which is repeated throughout the film as the theme of Lime. A very pleasing film, The Third Man remains thrilling today as it was 64 years ago and is certainly one of the prime examples of film noir! 

5/5

 

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“There’s only a few things I really care about in life. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn.”

Don Jon marks the directorial/screenwriting debut of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, all I can say really is that we have a lot to look forward from this fantastic filmmaker!

The film follows the titular character played by Levitt who has a deep obsession with online pornography, so much so, he even prefers it to casual sex with local Jersey girls. He encounters a beautiful girl (Scarlet Johanson) who dreams of finding the perfect man and live like in the soppy rom-coms she adores and becomes desperate in balancing love and lust. Through meeting a night-school classmate (Julianne Moore), Jon begins to understand the real meanings of losing yourself in someone else.

What I think makes very special is its originality. It firstly deals with a controversial topic that’s so relevant in society and often featured as a serious taboo in the news and TV programs but Levitt takes it a little step further and adds a lot of wit through many of things his character cares about. Levitt repeats the same techniques in editing and cinematography in activities such as going to gym, going to confession, going to the local club which all connote Jon obsessive routine which adds simplicity and yet I still found the some of the routines hilarious such as Jon pulling a girl that his friend wanted to pull and whilst going through a serious workout, he prays the Hail Mary. Personally though, Julianne Moore stole the show, offering a sublime performance as a highly sensitive yet extremely thoughtful and caring individual who clearly shows support to Jon’s problems. A brilliant debut which is definitely one of the best films of 2013, very funny, very clever and very unique!

4/5