Archives for category: Uncategorized

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Stephen Frears offers more than a typical thriller and more than a typical survival story. Frears offers an invisible and anonymous London hiding away from mainstream society. The film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Okwe, an illegal immigrant from Nigeria with a dark past. He drives a minicab by day and works all night at a hotel, chewing on the Khat herb in order to stay awake. He rents a couch from Senay (Audrey Tautou), a Turkish Muslim who fled an arranged marriage. They both work at a hotel where they eventually realise not everything is as it seems. The film is very compelling, the narrative is something so current and factual and yet it feels very hidden. Many of the locations for example such as the cafe Okwe purchases Khat, Senay’s apartment and so on are unrecognisable and illustrates the desperation that illegal immigrants have to be hidden. Chris Menges as cinematographer offers a very bleak and dark film in terms of the setting. However, some scenes feel bright and more natural such as the hotel scenes which could emphasise how the immigrants are now being exposed to society. Dirty Pretty Things really portrayed the lives of immigrants very well, Frears clearly presents the fear that is always around them such as immigration officials pestering these hard working people who are desperate to survive. 

Ejiofor offers a brilliant performance, I can’t praise him enough for a stunning portrayal of a brave, charing and traumatised man. Okwe is such an interesting character who’s desperate to be a morally correct citizen all whilst remaining silent in his activities. Tautou also provides a fantastic performance as Senay. Both characters are thrusted into a dark underworld of deceit and exploitation which I can’t reveal but it’s shocking and despicable and made me feel deep sympathy with immigrants who get involved in dangerous surroundings. There isn’t much more to say about this film (I really don’t wanna spoil it!), other than it’s such a gripping film on the hardships of invisible people. Hats off to Frears!

4/5

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Keep your hands off my lobby boy!”

 

Once again, the great Wes Anderson has left me in awe with a wonderful adventure involving eccentric characters, stunning use of colour and an amazing ensemble. Like Moonrise Kingdom, this is a tale filled to the brim with quirkiness, within 5 minutes you’ll be laughing at the oddness of Tom Wilkinson’s narration which is cut short by his immature son! The film begins with a young girl reading a novel by “The Author”, the aspect ratio is unusually not what you’d see in a standard multiplex, that being 1.85 and doesn’t fit the entire screen. The Author is revealed to be Tom Wilkinson who tells us of his adventure to the Grand Budapest Hotel in 1968. The aspect ratio now changes to 2.35:1 and the younger Author (Jude Law) continues the narration, meeting the owner of the fallen hotel, Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) who tells the Author of how he came to acquire the hotel. The ratio has now changed to 1.33 and it’s now 1932 in the Republic of Zubrowka. Zero now narrates his story with his younger self now in the picture (newcomer Tony Revolori). He meets the concierge of the GBH, Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), an eccentric man who constantly mixes business and pleasure in his work. From there, the audience is left to enjoy the oddness, the deceit and the exceptional service of a grand hotel leading to an outrageous adventure. 

Wes Anderson is such an obvious auteur and The Grand Budapest Hotel is just another perfect example of his stamp mark for cinema. The colours are very striking and brighten up the hotel along with its inhabitants such as the uniforms being a vibrant purple and the elevators in bright red which heavily contrast one another. The humour from his script is just fantastic, its there in every single scene no matter how crude or violent the circumstances are. Wes as usual, creates the oddest of characters from very serious actors such as Harvey Keitel and Adrian Brody. Ralph Fiennes is incredible and this is a role that is so well suited for him, despite being known as a Shakespearian actor and portraying dark characters such as Nazi war criminal Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List and serial killer Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon, he steals the show with such a loving and charming character. The Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely a top contender for the best films of 2014, Wes has created another classic film that is funny, profound, slightly violent and beautiful. I recommend to watch it as soon as possible, it’s a film for everyone to see about the joys of top notch service!

5/5 

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“I’ll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a popsicle.”

Often considered a classic of cult film, Walter Hill’s The Warriors, based on the novel of the same name by Sol Yurick is the simple tale of street gangs in future New York. Hill creates a very dystopian and daunting image of the Big Apple with violence and betrayal around every corner. The film begins with The Warriors assembling at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx for an unarmed meeting with all the other gangs in New York. Cyrus (Roger Hill), the leader of the most powerful gang, the Gramercy Riffs proposes a citywide truce but is then assassinated by Luther (David Patrick Kelly), the sadistic leader of the Rogues. Luther then proceeds to blame the Warriors for the murder of Cyrus and they’re left with no choice but to run through enemy territories to get back to their own, Coney Island.

The film is interesting and to some extent entertaining. I felt it emphasised the importance of loyalty and identity within a gang but as a whole I personally felt it was weak overall. I’ll start off with the positive points, the editing by David Holden is without a doubt superb, it’s fast paced and gives life to the well-choreographed action scenes. The music by Barry De Vorizon is also excellent and features prominent use of synthesisers and reminded me of Wendy Carlo’s sinister score using the Moog in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Vorizon’s score overall helped reflected the dystopian setting and really captured each gang’s perspective on what to do with the Warriors. The film is overtly macho and features a male dominated cast with unrealistic perks of gang culture such as the Warriors in a long  shot somehow able to outrun a rival gang’s vehicle. Then again, Yurick’s novel was partly inspired the Greek epic Anabasis by Xenophon which probably reinforces why there’s limited female casting along with very epic fights (a modern interpretation of 300 perhaps?). The film is clever I admit in terms reinforcing the courage of the Warriors in their survival and the transition from one scene to another features comic book style graphics which was just cool, plain and simple. 

Now for the negatives: The acting I felt was very weak and unrealistic, there was only a few characters who I felt where brutal, real and violent such as Michael Beck portraying Swan, the leader of the Warriors who seems to be a man of wits as well as reason. Then there’s Ajax (James Remar) who strives for dominance, lust and pride (very Spartan-ish) and was definitely the true Warrior of the group who’s willing to stand his ground and fight! My favourite performance had to be by the great David Patrick Kelly. Luther is just an evil, scheming and harsh liar; 10 minutes into the film and you know you won’t be able to take your eyes off him! I loved how when he’s first shown on screen, you know he’s going to do something against the gangs, it’s the distinctive smile, it’s the close up of hands, it’s the gun being passed to him and then there’s the snitching, “That’s him! That’s…The Warrior!!”. Kelly really steals the show with a cunning performance and of course there’s the iconic example of improv involving three empty bottles! Overall, The Warriors is a film which I would recommend for someone who hasn’t discovered cult cinema but for me, it was a disappointment due to expecting much much more. For me, it’s good on the tiniest of levels, some actors are brilliant, some of the dialogue is brilliant, music is stunning but it was limited in terms of narrative, other actors and overall purpose. An ok film that’s worth giving a go, I may be wrong, maybe there’s a lot more to ‘The Warriors’ than meets the eye but sadly I don’t really understand the hype with this film.

2/5

 

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‘There is no record of an orca doing any harm to a human in the wild.’

A compelling documentary which pushes the boundaries of captivity through astonishing filmmaking. Much like previous documentaries such as ‘The Impostor’, ‘Blackfish’ is constructed very much like a psychological thriller which had me at the edge of my seat whilst also mesmerised at how stunning the Orca truly is. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite captures Orcas in their purest form in the ocean, connoting how they aren’t just average mammals but very intelligent and beautiful who shouldn’t be captured for the sake of entertainment at places such as SeaWorld.

Experts are shown through the talking head interview style presenting that although the Orca is a magnificent creature in the wild, whilst in captivity the Orca is sadly a threat to the trainers of SeaWorld. Throughout the film, I was very disturbed by what was shown to me such as the number of dangerous incidents involving Orcas being emphasised. Archive footage is shown over the years at SeaWorld showing what an Orca is capable of doing such as dragging a trainer to the bottom of the tank in an attempt to drown them. I was once again shocked at how this can happen even though SeaWorld is presented as a company which doesn’t seem bothered at the problem which frustrated me. Former trainers at SeaWorld try and deduce why this would happen and it’s obvious that the Orcas are clearly frustrated with the very enclosing spaces they now have to live in. It seems that Cowperthwaite makes it feel very much like a prison with no hope of escape. 

SeaWorld isn’t exactly given a positive presentation in this film. I was appalled at the archive footage which presents some of the disrespectful things they state such as blaming trainers for their own deaths/injuries instead of the Orcas who are actually responsible. There were also ridiculous inaccuracies that were said by some of the workers who state to the general public that orcas can live up to 35 years when actually, the experts show they can live up to 100 years old. The film is very well directed and edited by Cowperthwaite and Eli Despres respectively that it really puts you in the mindset of an Orca, asking is it worth exploiting their amazing character for mere entertainment? The answer is clearly no as this results in crushing their positives spirits into something deadly and very upsetting. The music by Jeff Beal I also felt fitted in well, with frequent harmonies presenting both the good and bad sides of the Orca and how people felt witnessing this.

It isn’t just the trainers who are presented to be at risk of injury or death from an Orca but even the Orcas themselves. There are very unsettling scenes presenting some Orcas attacking others brutally out of, once again, frustration and suffering is implied from both Orcas involved which made me feel angered at SeaWorld yet again. The trainers interviewed for the film I felt had interesting stories to tell, they do indeed feel angered by SeaWorld but have fond memories with killer whales such as Tilikum, a 12,000 pound Orca who was involved in the deaths of two trainers. I was moved by what they had to say whilst the archive footage presents them at work bonding with the Orcas that it felt like Cowperthwaite was implying a deep kindred spirit.

I was shocked but very moved by ‘Blackfish’. It shocks me that this truth presented something that actually happened and impacted a lot of people. For me, this is a very important film about our morality and if capturing animals is an acceptable thing to do in this day and age. ‘Blackfish’ clearly states no and has profound evidence from footage, trainers and Orca experts that it really tries to persuade that we have to help killer whales be set free. I certainly agree, how can’t you after being moved by such amazing creatures? There’s so much charm to them and they deserve compassion, love and most importantly, the freedom to roam the ocean without suffering and without loss.

5/5

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“Groovy.”

In the sort of sequel to Evil Dead, Sam Raimi creates a more interesting cult horror than the previous incarnation which is super violent, fun and most of all, silly! Raimi originally intended for previous Evil Dead to also be a horror comedy and as much as I find the hyperbolic gore and dialogue in the first film to be kind of hilarious, it is nowhere near as good as this beautiful masterpiece of horror! The film sort of picks up where the first film left of (I will warn there’s lots of continuity errors in this beautiful franchise) following the hero of the trilogy, Ash (the man, the myth, the legend – Bruce Campbell) who discovers the ‘Necronomicon Ex-Mortis’ (The Book of the Dead) and accidentally releases an evil demonic force. Now Ash must use his courage to battle against evil, with very funny results!

The brilliance in this film is the pacing. The first film took a good, but understandable while in developing the discovery of the book. This film however, only takes a few minutes. The iconic POV sped up shot of the evil kicks in, removing a plot build up but still keeping the suspense and excitement in what Ash will face. It’s just so simple, removing a little bits of horror development for the love of cheesy dialogue, alright acting (sorry Bruce, you’re an awesome dude because of your acting don’t worry!) and of course…GORE! The violence is what you’d expect if you’ve seen the first film, but it’s all the more funny because of clumsy Ash as he faces flying limbs, blood fountains and even his sanity! The special effects such as stop motion are also top notch and definitely beat all the over the top CGI you’d see from a current spoon feeding “horror”. Raimi use of makeup once again is also amazing, the detail on the demons faces for a modern audience looks old but it really works a lot better than nowadays such as CGI being used for Freddy Kruger for the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). 

It’s understandable why this film is a cult classic, it’s Sam Raimi and Bruce ‘Chin’ Campbell at their finest hour (how were they involved in Spider-Man?). It’s a perfect film for any horror fan who wants a scare and a righteous laugh out loud. Evil Dead II is a low budget B movie classic that captures so much entertainment in 90 minutes that it deserves to be the best out of all the trilogy with its comical acting, amazing effects, camp script and all round sense of entertainment. It’s quite simply…*intense Ash voice* groovy.

5/5

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“Hi doggy!”

Where shall I begin with The Room? Maybe the fact it’s dubbed “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” by Entertainment Weekly? Maybe the fact that 10 years on it still sells out theatres across the globe? Maybe the fact it is one of the worst films I have ever seen in my life? No kidding, considering the poor acting, TERRIBLE editing, meme generating script and such. But wait, The Room is also one of my all-time favourite films, I’d go as far as to put it in my top 50 films list! The film department’s probably in tears hearing this, but they have to understand that The Room is just something else: Once you enter The Room, you can’t quit The Room! Tommy Wiseau as the director, star, writer and producer predicted over 10 years ago that this film would conquer the world and look at how right this mystery man is. Basically, this film is terrible beyond belief.

Wiseau stars as Johnny, a successful banker in San Francisco whose life begins to crumble as his friends betray him one by one. A very simple plot, but the main narrative isn’t the major problem with this film, I won’t go into massive detail but I’ll ever so slightly hint. Firstly, the editing doesn’t make sense as a whole and the acting is beyond poor, Wiseau’s performance as an example is just so odd for various reasons. He has a very unusual accent which is so humorous and hard to understand at times but you really can’t help but love his ever so dramatic (sarcasm intended) portrayal of a sweet guy. Because of his mysterious persona, he refuses to reveal where he’s from. Many believe France, some Eastern Europe and some even go as far to state he is in fact…an alien! Because of the poor acting, a lot of the dialogue had to be dubbed but it is so out of sync with the film itself due to editing. That’s it! I will say no more, just watch The Room and forget everything you know about film!

In December 2013, I did my usual routine of searching through what the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square was screening and discovered that TOMMY WISEAU AND co-star Greg Sestero would be there in person for a Q&A screening in February 2014. I immediately booked my ticket and learned that they sold over 1000 across one single weekend.

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So there I was, first in line queuing an hour and half early before the Q&A begins, when suddenly, half an hour before…there they were, Greg in all his glory bearing a Drive Scorpion jacket who walks straight into the cinema after giving me a quick smile. Tommy runs along the line of the queue wearing nighttime glasses and two belts whilst people cheer his name. He then comes up to me with a simple “Hi. How you doin’?” offering his hand which I gladly accept. The PCC lay down the ground rules: No metal spoons, no American footballs, no booze. Simple. I entered, dropped my coat off at the front and ran to get a signed DVD and a pic. I was to a certain degree starstruck, just at the fact these guys are involved in a cult phenomenon…and of the fact Tommy is one of the weirdest people I’ve ever met. Greg passes the DVD to Tommy who insists on shaking my hand again two more times. Then after the picture (see below) I walk away offering my thanks when suddenly Tommy grabs onto my shoulder and once again, insists on shaking my hand for the forth time!

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Still can’t get over that’s actually me with Greg Sestero (left) and the man, the myth, the legend, Tommy Wiseau (right).

The Q&A experience was fantastic and downright hilarious! Questions ranged from “Favourite film?” to which Tommy would answer what everyone expected: “Citizen KAAAANE!!!!”. Tommy also offered blessings and dog-tags on stage to whoever bought Tommy Wiseau brand pants, and of course the blessing was beautiful “*name* In the name of the Father, the Son and the Goly Dhost hope you have a happy 2014 MOVE ON!!”. The film was screened and without a doubt it was one of the best cinema experiences of my life. The crowd was so enthusiastic about the whole thing, just constant cheers and screams of the film’s flaws along with devout participation; such as the repetitive tracking shots of San Francisco, to which the audience is meant to scream: “MEANWHILE IN SAN FRANCISCO!”. There was also the throwing of plastic spoons, but I’ll let you as the reader find out the purpose of it (however, if you do know, then in that case: SPOONS!!). The whole thing was an hour and a half of me just laughing away at a screen which I’ll never forget. Seriously though, please watch The Room.

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Tommy was kind enough to write “Love is blind” along with his signature!

5/5 (I’m serious!)

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When you go won’t you send back // A letter from America?

In this lovely adaption of Stephen Greenhorn’s jukebox musical, Dexter Fletcher directs a positive yet slightly weak film on family, love and courage featuring the great Proclaimers. The film stars George MacKay and Kevin Guthrie as Davy and Ally, two discharged soldiers who return to their families in Edinburgh whilst re-adapting to civilian life and finding love. Ally returns to his girlfriend Liz (Freya Mavor) who is Davy’s sister and introduces him to her English friend Yvonne (Antonia Thomas). Davy and Liz’s parents, Rab and Jean (Peter Mullan and Jane Horrocks) are preparing to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, however, Rab’s past catches up with him which causes tension between the two and their family.

 As a musical, Sunshine on Leith is what you’d except from most musicals really. The singing from the cast is spot on and really capture the feelings they express at that particular moment like Antonia Thomas emphasising her character’s struggle for love and respect from Davy and vice versa. And of course there’s spontaneous dancing from the cast and extras which adds to the feel good and soppy element. Musically, The Proclaimers’ music works very well with the film as a whole, for example, Sky Takes the Soul as the opening song with its dark lyricism suits with the eerie Afghan setting and heavily contrasts bright and pretty Edinburgh. All the cast deliver very strong performances, Peter Mullan despite having a very Tom Waits-esque singing voice which I love doesn’t really suit this musical even though I thought he had the strongest acting performance which connoted obvious pride for his family. Freya Mavor and Antonia Thomas had overall the best singing voices and delivered also good performances. My criticism of the film is that I feel there wasn’t really much with the narrative, as much as I enjoyed the music due to being a Proclaimers fan, the narrative I felt should have developed more along with the character development. There isn’t anything much to this film, but maybe that’s the point, simplicity is the key. Despite having a weak narrative and being predictable, this is a good film with excellent music and a fantastic cast.

 3/5

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“Our daughter’s been abducted by one of these beige lunatics!”

Wes Anderson, known for his distinctive narratives featuring eccentric characters and a particular emphasis on colour has once again left me spellbound with a very unusual film about young love. Wes, like in most of his other well acclaimed films, includes a fantastic ensemble cast and newcomers combined to create something pretty and different from any other film you’d see in a multiplex.

The narrative is set in the 60s on a small communal island and concerns two children who fall in love. One is a reliable but isolated Scout named Sam (Jared Gilman), the other is a troubled schoolgirl named Suzy (Kara Hayward). The two decide to leave their problems behind and run away together. However, a search party is formed which includes Kara’s concerned parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), a police officer (Bruce Willis) and Sam’s Scout Master (Edward Norton) which results in a desperate and hilarious adventure!

The film is without question, highly original and very funny. I particularly loved the humour in this film because personally, I feel anyone would enjoy this film due to the fact it’s not at all pretentious, it’s rather very quirky and doesn’t need to have severe amounts of crudeness, swearing and offensive taboos. The humour is all in the fantastic script written by the great Mr. Anderson himself and Roman Coppola and I felt it really stood out from most typical comedy films which have been pulverised by critics across the globe (Grown Ups 2 anyone?).

The cast all deliver fantastic performances. Moonrise Kingdom proves it really doesn’t matter how small some of the performances are, such as Harvey Keitel and Jason Schwartzman portraying a Scout Commander and Scout Master respectively, it still provides a warmth and of course lots of continuous laughs. Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward pull off brilliant performances considering this was their screen debut and both present a lovely and touching take on the development of a loving relationship. The ensemble in turn provide a huge backing of eccentricity. I love how Wes is able to get so many respected actors with brilliant careers and is able to make them portray characters that are so different from what they would usually portray, such as Bruce Willis, surprisingly offering an impressive performance in contrast to some of the more disastrous films he has appeared in (The Expendables series, A Good Day to *Cry* Hard…Why Bruce, why!?). Bill Murray and Frances McDormand also offer brilliant performances who engage in their roles so well as parents frantic for answers and a perfect plan of finding their daughter who they’re concerned with dearly. Edward Norton I believe gave the best performance overall as a shy but adventurous Master of Scouting, implying obvious desperation in finding and helping Sam with his isolation whilst trying to control the civil search party.

Wes Anderson overall offers a very sweet film with such stunning use of colour that the setting stood out and felt like a beautiful landscape painting made for the Louvre! Although it’s very different and silly for all the right reasons, Moonrise Kingdom is an eccentric and outstanding piece of filmmaking which is so enjoyable, original and downright funny.

5/5

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“It’s better to help people than garden gnomes.”

Jean-Pierre Jeunet, known for his surrealistic and melancholic films such as Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children returns with a very beautiful and humorous rom-com on nostalgia, childhood and love. Amélie concerns the title character portrayed stunningly by Audrey Tautou, a young women working in Paris who was isolated as a child due to overprotective parents. She decides to help people in various ways whilst failing in love at the same time.

Visually, the film is astonishingly pretty. I was very struck by how Jeunet’s use of colour was prominent throughout the entire film that it really reminded of the films of Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson (especially PTA’s Punch Drunk Love and its use of red, blue and white).  Amélie is infused throughout with red, green and yellow thus giving it a very pleasant appearance. I felt that red and green reflected on Amélie’s character because they appear in the majority of shots featuring her. Red symbolises her character considering most of her apartment is painted red and she also wears red throughout the film. I was more mesmerised by Jeunet’s use of green and felt it reflected the journey that Amélie must undergo throughout the film. His use of yellow gives Amélie’s world a very beautiful, dreamy appearance; making it appear older and all the more pretty.

For my money, I’d say Amélie is one of the best examples of French cinema I’ve seen in a while. Throughout the film, André Dussollier as the narrator mentions the journeys of many of the characters and the things they love and hate such as her parents and the connections in their lives. The cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel is also pleasing, employing frequent use of tracking shots and wide angles which in turn emphasise the colourful beauty of Paris. Audrey Tautou offers a very beautiful and funny performance as someone who may be unusual (such as imagining watching her funeral on TV due to loneliness) but still wants to enlighten her world as a heroine. Guillaume Laurant as the screenwriter offers a delightful take on romance and the awkwardness of finding love whilst the humour throughout is very refreshing.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet offers overall a very picturesque and hilarious film on the development of love and how the past affects the future. Lovely, interesting and endearing, I’ll definitely recommend this to anyone wanting a change from typical rom-coms. Amélie is a perfect example of cinema that’s feels so different and yet so engaging!

5/5

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“What is there to see?”

Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier, known for his realistic controversial films and association with the Dogme 95 movement collaborates with Icelandic electronica singer-songwriter Björk to present something I’ve been incredibly moved by. I can’t get over how Trier as the director and screenwriter takes the musical genre and removes a lot of what you’d typically expect. For me, it was beyond beautiful and beyond brilliant. It’s real art in the deepest of forms.

Trier as an auteur is known for his different trilogies of films and Dancer in the Dark is no exception. As the final film of the “Golden Heart trilogy”, it’s set in rural America in the early sixties and focuses on Selma (Björk), a Czech immigrant in poverty who works in a blue collar factory with her friend Kathy (Catherine Deneuve). To escape her struggles, Selma imagines her life as an all singing all dancing Hollywood musical. However, Selma is going blind and becomes desperate in saving money for an operation for her son in suffering the same fate, all whilst tragedy insures and Selma’s life begins to slip more and more out of control.

Dancer in the Dark from the beginning offers so much, it appears to be very optimistic and pretty. The overture introduces various colourful images flowing against each other. I may be ghastly wrong, but personally, I felt the images were very dream like and reflected the dreams of Selma as an isolated person desperate for escape. The cinematography, lighting and sound like a lot of films from the Dogme 95 era is very natural. It’s shot in a similar way to documentary and made me feel like a contributor rather than a viewer. Robby Müller as cinematographer and Trier frequently use hand held cameras which constantly zoom and pan into the drama that Selma and the community face in their everyday lives. The natural appearance along with the use of only diegetic music through Selma watching musicals at the cinema (or more touchingly, Kathy dancing her two fingers along Selma’s palm to convey the beauty shown on the big screen) is heavily contrasted to when Selma begins to dream. These dreams are so different both visually and musical and is first introduced in the factory which conflicts its gritty and realistic atmosphere as the workers suddenly move to the beats.

As a fan of Björk’s music, the fantasies clearly sounded like what I’d expected, all the songs begin with loops from reality such as factory machines, trains and steps. Visually the dreams are very beautiful because of their unrealistic nature, the cinematography features multiple cameras which employ no motion whatsoever and the movement of the music and narrative is now provided by the editing. Although the music is very strange, I couldn’t help but be mesmerised by it. The soundtrack feels misplacing in a way to what you see visually due to the setting but it works so well in terms of lyricism and tone. Timbre wise, besides sampling and other electronic sounds, it features the classic sounds of orchestra but rejects traditional structure of musical numbers and instead Björk asks the audience to really listen to the sonic experimentation and arranging. The colour is also astonishing, instead of looking bleak and grey; the colour in Selma’s dreams is so much more fuller and vibrant that it made me feel like being there like witnessing a beautiful and peaceful world.

Björk offers a marvellous and extremely strong performance. She conveys a powerful sense of emotion despite not being a trained actress, her portrayal clearly presents someone whose only joy in life besides her son is American musicals. However, although American musicals have provided with a sense of optimism; America in reality has offered her nothing in return, instead she lives a life of poverty and despair further emphasising her struggle as a strong willed single mother. Many of the songs offer so much beauty and meaning to Selma’s character such as “I’ve Seen It All”, in which Selma persuades her would-be admirer Jeff (Peter Stormare) that she really doesn’t care about going blind and there’s much more to life than seeing great wonders. The supporting cast in turn offer fantastic performances. Veteran French actress Catherine Deneuve delivers a solid supporting role whilst David Morse and Cara Seymour portraying Selma’s neighbours provide another sense of desperation as Bill (Morse) is angered at his wife’s (Seymour) materialism and constant spending.

All and all, Lars Von Trier offers a stunning film which is so different from most musicals I’ve seen. I will warn it is of course very unusual take of the musical but I highly recommend it. Deserved winner of the Palme d’Or and Best Actress at Cannes (despite receiving a lot of criticism), Dancer in the Dark is a challenging, touching and innovative film which is unlike any other film you will see. Highly recommended!

5/5