2016, 2013, 2017, 2012

The coldness of an ascending order rank, or is it descending?  A pastime of listing, where personal satisfaction outweighs any relevance.  IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU MR REVIEWER.  There are too many ideas, and not enough talent.  Bong Joon Ho made an entire movie and you wrote an eight-hundred-word article explaining it.  I’m deleting all of this.  If a writer deletes his work in the woods, was the work ever there?  Hot take: there are good films and bad films.  Orange, blue, pink, violet.  And there are other films, the ones that mean something to you, the ones that transport you to a void of personal gratification.  Now to fight through the snow of endless agonising hypocritical minutia.

PATERSON (2016)

Two separate dreams about actor Adam Driver:

  1. Somewhere along the French Riviera, except the topography is disjointed. An extended family are holidaying in the summer, and they are joined by a new member – American actor Adam Driver.  He’s somehow managed to end up dating an aunt or a cousin of our narrator, who is of course a massive fan.  The narrator is the guide for the trip, and he wants Driver to like him, so much so that he is scared to do or say anything wrong.  It’s an anxious chess game of trying to be cool.
  2. Memory loss.

A film about creativity in everyday life, contentment to return home to the one person you love the most.  Simply living and breathing, instead of chasing something that does not exist. 

UPSTREAM COLOR (2013)

The water before you is somehow special, it is better than anything you have ever tasted, each drink is better than the last, take a drink now.  With extreme precision, a minuscule bug is crawling through a vein like it is going backwards up a waterslide.  It’s quenching its first.  Push away, come close, small kiss, intense embrace, the beginnings of explanations destroyed under the pressures of a countertop.  Their hair is almost the same length, connected in a masterplan of irrelevant stakes that is too much to handle.  All roads lead to the bath.

A film about control over your path, about the chemistry behind love and attraction.  The end result a twisted fate of wrapping yourself up as warm as you can, to prepare for the disappointing answer.

A GHOST STORY (2017)

Being immortal is a great privilege, said the joker to the thief.  Twenty-one is a quarter done already, but those first ten didn’t count, right?  That is such a selfish notion when you are surrounded by spectres every way that you turn.  Imagine the amount of death floating around you in a city apartment building.  It’s either comforting or disturbing, and what of memory acting as reality?  If you close your eyes and see a loved one’s hand can you reach out and grab it?  Too many questions, and that is why it has made it here.

A film about losing the only true connection you have in the world.  The only thing you have left are the images of all sides of them, sweet and ugly, hovering over you. 

RUBY SPARKS (2012)

Joy!  Sunshine gleaming down onto this fucking graveyard.  Zoe Kazan’s doting and critical words that do not embark into cringe.  Writing!  The death of the author, postmodernism, all that jazz.  Selfishness and the old ego are hard to ignore with this one.  The enjoyment comes from reflection, and the fading romanticism of growing to a point of no return.  Pragmaticism must be respected, as tall as the mountain might seem.  This whole thing clearly cannot get past the summit.

A film about seeking perfection in life and art, where leaping just far enough will grant you enough enchantment to keep you hopeful that it’s not all numbers, and biology. 

 

‘Poetry in translation is like taking a shower with a raincoat on,’ – Masatoshi Nagase, as the Japanese poet, in Paterson.

Five Inspiring First Watches of July

A few words on a few things that have inspired me in July…

 

Face PlacesAgnes Varda

Came out in… 2017

Watched on… Netflix

The first of two Agnes Varda films on this list, and truly a beautiful movie.  I will talk of my affection for Agnes later in this piece, for now, let’s focus on the film.  It is a categorically French documentary, blending soft reality techniques with staged narrative-driven set pieces, guiding us through small-town France meeting the people that actually live in this world.  Agnes and co-creator JR paste large photos on walls, building an adorable relationship, touching on aging, fame, art and the oh so sweet simple life that I am eternally jealous of.  The film is on Netflix, a French stroke of genius, that is incredibly watchable and universal right there waiting for everyone.

 

The Elephant Man

Came out in… 1980

Watched on… Mubi

I have had a level of trepidation about watching The Elephant Man for a while, mostly out of fear, and films don’t scare me easily, but David Lynch does.  He is one of my favourite filmmakers, because of his attitude to the process and the allure of his personality rather than his actual output, so why was The Elephant Man so intimidating to me?  Perhaps due to the image of the disfigured man, that everyone has seen, or the inevitable dull melodrama that a story like this brings.  I was wrong on the second point, and in the end this film might be Lynch’s greatest achievement as an artist, pragmatically at least.  He took the predictable tale of an abused misfit taken in, cared for, and transformed, and made it into a magical experience that is as strange as it is uplifting.  Legendary film critic Pauline Kael praised the film because Lynch created something marvellous from a zilch script, and of course I agree, however I would not recommend watching this at 10am on a Tuesday, it was a teary morning.

Midsommar

New release in cinemas

I wrote a full review of this here, so I’ll keep it brief.  The film is a fishless aquarium, with a breathing ecosystem waiting for it.  Sign me up.  Take your well-rounded characters and structured plot and throw it away, give me the green plant wrapping around the throat of the unsuspecting audience.

The Edge

New release

Rented on… Amazon, also available on YouTube, iTunes and Google Play

It’s very hard to write this without being incredibly biased.  This documentary is about the 2009-2013 England cricket team, a side that was the best in the world for a short time, a side that gave a lot of their life away to get there.  If you are a cricket fan, you will enjoy the film, because it highlights what makes the game special.  I love cricket, and I love that particular era of English cricket even more, so obviously I was gripped throughout.  However, there is space for the non-cricket fan, with the film focusing on the mental toll that the sport takes on a player, showing what it takes to achieve greatness.  Director Barney Douglas does a good job of presenting the mind games and struggles that many of that team went through by going away from archive footage to shoot staged scenes with the actual players.  The film leaves a lot out, and it’s tight in its execution, working for the uninitiated as well as the fanatic.

Varda by Agnes

New release in cinemas

Also available to rent on the BFI Player

agnes varda 2

Started with Agnes, and now finishing with her, as she ends her career by creating a retrospective of her own work.  The film is basically the legendary director talking to crowds about her output over the years, and the process, whilst she plays around a little.  What is instantly striking is her genius as a filmmaker, someone who was always messing with the form, trying a new thing with each film.  She is an artist who makes me happy and now that she is gone, this film will stay as a reminder for how wonderful she and her work was.  The sweetest parts of the film are when she talks of her late husband, another French filmmaking hero, Jacques Demy, a man who after decades is still the most important thing to her.  Her friendships and collaborations are also striking, showing that human interaction and love will never be beaten by a camera lens or the relentless passing of time.

 

 

 

 

 

The Oscars 2017 (nominations review)

As I write this, it is the 24th of January 2017, and the Oscar nominations for 2017 were released around two hours ago.  So right now hundreds of writers across hundreds of real film websites will be writing about them.  I am going to do the exact same because every year I get pointlessly annoyed by them.  There is something so frustrating about the popularity of art and I take high possession of the films I love.  And even though the Oscars are complete nonsense, I like to moan about them.

marvel-deadpool-sixth-scale-hot-toys-feature-902628

First of, and positively, Deadpool does not feature in the nominations.  This makes me extremely thankful because as loved as that film is, it did not really do anything for me.  I mean it’s entertaining on a visceral level, and sure its a nice relief from the constant stream of superhero flicks but mostly I found it obnoxious.  However, from the nominations there isn’t much of interest that has took its place, so perhaps a nod for a swear-y marvel could have done some good.

In the best film category it’s nice to see Arrival in there, because it’s one of my favourite films of the year and has greatly lost its hype over the last month or so.  Hell or High Water being in there is interesting, as I can’t believe how overrated it is.  It’s a strong film, but nothing really else and in all honestly I thought I would be defending this film for people overlooking it.  Yet it’s there, and it makes me think back to how shallow I thought it was.  La La Land will no doubt take this category and many others, perhaps deserving to as I liked the film a lot but I hope it’s the technical camera spots where it does well.  The cinematography and technique of that film is mesmerising, well overshadowing the content of the film.  Either way it will be hard to get annoyed at such a joyous film sweeping across the board.

518147

Where I get a little bit angry is in the best actress category, as Amy Adam doesn’t feature. I can’t understand why not, she is unbelievably subtle and diverse in Nocturnal Animals and powers home as a fantastic lead in Arrival.  The problem is that she makes way for Meryl Streep, who since her Golden Globes speech has left a sour taste in my mouth.  She feels entitled to a nomination at this point and as great as she may have been in Florence Foster Jenkins, did the film have the same impact that Amy Adams had in two films this year? Thankfully Nocturnal Animals got some love in the supporting actor slot (often my favourite category alongside cinematography) with Michael Shannon, who was obviously insanely good in that film.  I kind of hope Streep see’s through it all and redeems herself to me by boycotting the ceremony.

The biggest snub of them all for me has to be the lack of I Daniel Blake; a brilliant, emotional, and important British film that has been forgotten.  Arguably the actors in the film were more powerful than anyone else this year and Ken Loach must be disappointed the film hasn’t been recognised.  After the Palme d’or win and the success over here I was expecting there to be a storm of British film over the Oscars.  Unfortunately the film clearly did not perform as well in the states, and we will just have to cherish it as our own.

i-daniel-blake-3.png

There is a couple of other things that could slightly gone towards more tastes, such as Supersonic getting a look in Documentary feature perhaps.  A uselessly hopeful version of me would have been thrilled to see Green Room get some mention, especially in the acting categories.  Imogen Poots in that film is by far my favourite performance of the year, along with Ryan Gosling in The Nice Guys.  However, for the most part I’m not greatly disappointed with the nominations.  It is fairly balanced year, and for the future of original titles is wonderful to see The Lobster pick up a best screenplay & score nomination .

Over the next month I will get more and more annoyed at the nominations where I realise what has been missed, but my possession and love the films will slowly start to wear off. We will never live in a time where the Oscars aren’t important to the film business, though hopefully someday they won’t bother me too much.

A Short Film: ‘tempore’

14238209_10210407615687058_3561342108349609832_n

Around this time last year I started the second year of my A-Level Film Studies course, and in this year I had to make a film.  Now I wanted mine to be good, so I drafted about 50 ideas and ended up making a 4 minute film about nothing.  I’m going to take the David Lynch approach to this and just let the film explain it’s self.  Personally, I like maybe the first minute, and that’s about it.  Feel free to not watch it.

Link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HUzTXLgIvg

The Category of Every Film Ever Made Ever

rt

Despising Christmas has led me to be quite cynical when receiving gifts.  On the 25th of December 2015 I unwrapped a parcel from my sister to reveal that she had purchased for me the Radio Times 2016 film guide.  I couldn’t think of a more perfect gift for me.  This mammoth book catalogues every film ever made up to 2016, with reviews, info and some extra contextual bits.  I’ve seen a lot of films and I’m slowly marking my way through the 24,000 that the book contains; dashes for the ones I’ve seen (with my own personal out of 5 rating) and lines for the ones I wish to see.  It’s a pretty riveting pen usage.  The problem is that I don’t particularly trust Radio Times reviews, as they seem to not really reward too much risk taking, and give high scores to visual fodder.  However, combined with my IMDB scoring, it’s a nice way to keep track of what I’m watching, and I’m very much a list kind of guy.  Mostly I’m hoping it will open my mind to the more niche, or the forgotten pieces of art.  Radio Times movie guide well worth the buy if you are a film geek like me.