Saturday, 4 February 2012

Films: January 2012

Films I’ve seen this month, in order of favour. A few comments after some of them if I made them at the time. No structured, in-depth attempt to do a proper review, or giving plot summaries, who made it and all that jazz. Just straight up opinion. Order probably constantly changes, but this is it as I put this post up.

Sans Soliel
Chris Marker's Sans Soleil #3tweetReview A moving image poetry-diary. Somebody's curious memories, or at least thoughts, of another culture..A personal position allowing for an exoticised 'other' while simultaneously stripping away any mythology. The poetry of the banal is thus invoked. Celebrating tradition, yet with no conservative criticism of the contemporary says much about the central theme of time.

Sex Lies and Videotape
This film has retained its poignancy regarding what it has to say about the difficulty to connect; that this derives from the innate conformity of civil society and the suppressions that this brings. It might be that seeing it as part of the day course at the National Media Museum really helped to create a sense of event, and galvanised my attention.

Inglorious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds #3TweetReview: excellent one on ones/dialogue with original and interesting character design. All historic films are revisionist; why not go the whole hog. It seems to champion the importance of internal struggle and dissidence relatively independent of external foreign intervention. Apt considering recent trend during 'Arab Spring'

Basic narrative structure of an addiction spiral and commentary on why, in contemporary society, people revert to such vices in order to exact control. Having said that, directorial flare is top quality, especially with respect to the long takes and screen composition therein. Wouldn’t have half its punch though without the powerhouse performances.

Lay Down Tracks
Believably earnest depictions of various slices of unrepresented America. Similar themes of constantly being on the move, of being defined by what you do, of being comfortable with your life. Dislocation of sound and image served to imbue a poetic rhythm, which was aided by some of the most unpretentious, sage like, commentary on their own lives, which had an enchanting working class matter of factness.

Surviving Life (Theory and Practice)
Straight forward oedipus plot. But so straight forward that it’s part of its charm. Very self reflexive and really funny in parts. Possibly more style than substance, but at least the narrative was very tight and everything fit perfectly in place.

The Descendents
Not spectacular or showy, but that’s precisely why I like it. Really solid filmmaking, easily accessible, but ambiguous enough to have some real depth. I hope it wins the 2012 Oscar for best picture.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Sheer exhilaration. Nail biting, breath stopping, hand over the mouth and the lot. Politics were neither questionable, nor subversive. Though telling that the title’s significance was that they had been detached from their government. 2 Brits and 2 American alliance is interesting. Russian cop/general portrayal of Russian characters was fun and humanising, rather than caricature.

The Good the Bad and the Weird
The Good, the Bad and the Weird #3tweetReview Style over substance but in the best possible way. Great character definition, very well structured/paced. The independence angle felt a complete afterthought (just because it was in the original) but didn't at all matter. It's loadsa fun and reminded me of watching the Saturday night ITV movie (Indiana Jones, Crocodile Dundee et al) when I was younger. (Bit long)

Standard Operating Procedure
Watched in the context of our Screen Realism module so I made a particular point of noting its approach; its depiction of what Morris’ angle was. It was telling that the women were the most prominent. Were they happier to come forward? Or were they selected? Good balance of attacking the viewer as someone who is sitting in their little liberal bubble and don’t grasp the whole thing. Also had some deft touches on questioning what is presented, whilst seeming to say that this is the truth. Is this a contradiction or is it clever?

Lets just say I’ve been listening to Qbert and Mix Master Mike ever since.

Level 5
Chris Marker's Level 5 is an interesting use of combining narrative and documentary, taking two fascinating ideas: the - often evicted from history - mass suicides in Okinawa during WW2, and the interesting 1990s pre-occupation with the net and with videogames as a communicative medium. But I cannot help but think that the two ideas aren't quite married as well as they could have been.

C.R.A.Z.Y - This month’s Minicine feature
Jean-Marc Valee's C.R.A.Z.Y (2005) #3tweet review Frustrating viewing, but in an essential way that enables the viewer to come some way towards recognising how difficult a time Zac had hiding his real self from the world. A universal issue that is amplified through the guise of a paternally administered conservatism, coupled with the conservatism of Christianity. The boy just has nobody to turn to at all

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo #3tweetreview Slicker, tighter and more intense than the already perfectly solid Swedish version..It seems to better tie up the various, yet inter-related themes of politics, religion and relationships in the context of changing technological and socio-cultural landscapes.i.e. the relationship with information economies and changing gender roles with respect to power - Don’t like the speaking in English, but just with Swedish accents thing.

Who is Bozo Texino
Picture a graffiti artist right now. Bet he doesn’t look like one of these. Confused overall message - not just due to its non-linearity, I just don’t know what it was getting at in a way that I think more successful documentaries (including non-linear) would, but it was a fabulous creation of a world in which to live with these ‘hobos’.

Armour of God
Jackie Chan's Armour of God #3tweetReview The film is really held up by two amazing action set pieces. A chase scene in the middle and the final showdown, which includes the special technique of the double-tits-punch. The rest of it was a little underwhelming, though entertainment was maintained through the hilarious dubbing and a bit of the old slapstick (released 1987)

Capturing the Friedmans

Fish Kill Flea
Standard in documentary form, but showed an interesting counterpoint to the eponymous US mall. Obvious yet valid criticism on multinational domination, making such places redundant

Characters ridiculously annoying; dreadful friends and people. Very real with respect to people doing dumb shit but don't know why they’re doing it. Like you're trying to push people away. Shaky camera a bit much. Not sure its admirable point of disconnectedness warrants the film but nice to see this other side of slacker life. Very female.

Second Watch

Duncan Jones' Moon #2TweetReview (2nd view): At the forefront of a current trend of low-fi science fiction. A perfect examination of the....essence of humanity via both the sentient and non-sentient character (or characters - hmmm :S). Sam Rockwell pulling off quite a tricky job

Recap of the order of cinematic releases

Surviving Life (Theory and Practice)
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
The Descendents
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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