Directed by Rian Johnson and released in it’s home country of the USA in 2012.
More often than not highly intelligent films such as this require repeat viewings to drill the meanings and plot into your head – like such titles as Fight Club or Primer – but with Looper it’s condensed into one viewing and you don’t have to be an idiot to follow it.
When I first saw Rian Johnson’s Brick back in 2006 I never imagined this was where the director would be at this point in his career, 6 years later. Fortunately for him, especially considering his just above average previous film The Brothers Bloom, I can safely say that this is the best thing he’s done since then.
It’s an awesome film, sadly I’d already had the ending of it spoiled for me months ago but I still can say I enjoyed it thoroughly. The effects and story tie together well with the characters. It’s nice to see such great writing, despite some of the elements which I didn’t gravitate toward. As for Joseph Gordon Levitt, the prosthetics he donned for this to try and make him look more like a younger Bruce Willis completely make him look like something else… plus it looks absolutely nothing like Willis. Still, the screenplay is really special and it’s a great modern science fiction film.
Directed by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman and released in it’s home country of the USA in 2012.
The budget of the first Paranormal Activity film amounted to $15,000 but somehow the budgets of its three sequels, which are all pretty much exactly the same film, are in the millions. Why the extra cost? Marketing; the studios have no choice but to produce incredibly viral marketing for these films because the sequels are all exactly the fucking same films.
So in summary, the entire saga of these films has been utterly shite… this one however, number four, is by far the worst of the series. In the third film the story was actually somewhat plausible and it tied in together very nicely but after about ten minutes of this, I completely despised every minute of it. This kind of filmmaking is just abysmal and I am positive that if another of these comes out I won’t be sitting through it.
Directed by Harmony Korine and released in its home country of the USA in 2013.
After following Harmony Korine’s career for quite some time his move into the mainstream didn’t surprise. He took a leave from filmmaking after making the Dogme 95 film Julien Donkey-Boy (1999) – heavy drug use was the reason for his absence – then he made Mister Lonely (2007) which was his most accessible piece to date while still retaining the oddities of many of his previous efforts. Around this time he married Rachel Korine and had a child together more recently – she is the star of his last three features – and I think that really helped his ideas formulate.
Korine has always been the most articulate American filmmaker in the past 20 years and Trash Humpers (2009) was an abrasive and brash film that is hard to even take in. During an interview for the film he said he’d have loved to see it open in shopping malls and he expressed a want to work with the likes of Miley Cyrus. So, from my point of view leading up to this I could see what direction he was going with this. His short films Umshini Wam (2010) and Lotus Community Workshop – part of The Fourth Dimension (2010) – were stepping stones to this. In these films he began to experiment more with new digital cameras, an exact opposite of the format for Trash Humpers (VHS).
The film itself is a dreary and twisted telling of The American Dream – while simultaneously poking fun at both spring break and gangster rap culture. The spring break setting really isn’t important and as Korine says is moreso a symbol of these girls’ Dreams. The repetitive use of specific shots aswell as the hypnotizing voices on the soundtrack (mostly those of James Franco and Rachel Korine) and, which is now becoming somewhat of a trademark for Korine, the use of a host of different cameras which make for good mindfucking.
The film is entertaining but I do have some qualms. The soundtrack – I just hate this commercial dubstep shit – is hard to sit through and by around the 45 minute mark the repetition becomes boring. This film could’ve easily ended at least 10 minutes earlier if it just cut out all of those shots of either three or four of the girls just staring into space for elongated periods of time. Going into this I was most excited to see these four hot chicks in a movie done by Korine. I was somewhat disappointed by the performances delivered by Gomez especially (the screenplay did call for her to be a drag but not to this extent surely) and Rachel Korine does not fit this type of role either. I saw her in the Harmony-produced short film The Dirty Ones (2008) and her performance in that was incredible.
I have to commend Gucci Mane for managing to stay as gutta as possible while getting rode by a black chick with a fat ass. It was easily the funniest moment in the film. Franco’s accent really was irritating however, but by the time he’s stopped screaming “Look at my shit!” I’m already looking at a subliminally placed shot of a set of tits or some chick shaking her butt.
The director said that he sees the film as a sort of “pop-poem” and I praise the new “liquid-narrative” which he has carved perfectly with this film and the short films that I mentioned before. There are really no filmmakers alive any more that toy around with the medium as much as Harmony does. At the box office these days, it’s either the convoluted and lifeless film made for big bucks or the quiet indie film that no one ever sees that cost nothing. Spring Breakers sits comfortably in between those two and still manages to encapsulate the youth of the time that it shows and is aimed directly at.
All I can say to top it all off is that I didn’t expect to love it as I do for the majority of Harmony Korine’s other works but it’s decent and I’m very interested to see what his next film is going to be seeing as I haven’t heard anything on the radar so far.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis and released in it’s home country of the USA in 1997.
The following review does contain spoilers.
So I just spent the last week absolutely devoted to Carl Sagan’s mini-series Cosmos. To say the least, it made me more intrigued by science than I ever have been before – and I’m sure that goes for most anyone who watches it. So on the basis of that, I figured after I’d finished the series I’d watch this, a film based on Sagan’s only novel in amongst an array of scientific books. Much to my celebration, I was not disappointed whatsoever.
I knew that being such an intelligent man, Carl Sagan would not hesitate to present an intellectually objective film and he did precisely that. Everything in this film is presented incredibly impartially especially considering Sagan’s own scepticism – from the test launch being interrupted by a suicide bomber, to Congress not believing a word the protagonist says aswell as holding back vital information that would lead to widespread awareness of the facts.
With this film, Carl Sagan created one of the most intelligent films about extra-terrestrial life I am sure has ever been made and ever will be made. I am now making it my top priority to delve deeper into Sagan’s works, especially the book that this film was based on.
Directed by Hal Ashby and released in it’s home country of America in 1979.
Despite having only seen Hal Ashby’s Harold & Maude, just minutes into this I knew the kind of humour to expect with this. Very dry and very morbid at times, Being There is a strange film with a very strange protagonist and it’s a wonder that any of the other characters in this film were taken in by his childishness. I guess the lesson here is that TV can’t teach you everything, but it can fool people into believing you know everything.
Nonetheless, Being There is a very beautifully shot film with a host of powerful performances, aside from the great deadpan performance of the brilliant Peter Sellers, Melvyn Douglas’ is the other most notable performance here for his magnificent turn as Benjamin Rand. The parallel between the presidents impotency and Peter Sellers’ unbeknownst celibacy is so fantastically written and I couldn’t stop laughing when I heard “You like to watch!? I’ll get Warren!” The president isn’t the only one not getting any, the lack of sex in this film culminates in a masturbation scene that I will never forget.
Speaking of Shirley MacLaine, she is the most perfect woman ever. I want to build a time machine just go to back in time and bring her back with me. Still though, she was cuter in The Apartment – even though it was 19 years earlier…. and she still looks amazing in this! The inevitably sad final ten minutes is let down by an ending that makes you read more into it than is deserved.
Directed by David Lynch and released in it’s home country of America in 1977.
Rewatching your favourite film is always a delight, but what happens when your favourite film is a dark and mysterious masterpiece that is as depressing as it is inspiring? Eraserhead is not a film, it is the nightmare of Henry Spencer. So dark and so atmospheric, it laid the foundation for the career in the surreal and bizarre that David Lynch would go onto articulate in such films as Blue Velvet and Inland Empire (which is stylistically the closest to Eraserhead Lynch has since come). The atmosphere is so creepy and freakish, only made more deafening by the screeching sounds of the infantile lovechild of Henry and his wife Mary and the sounds of the industrial wasteland which this family lives on.
Eraserhead itself is a somewhat passive character study of a man delving deeper and deeper into depression and isolation coupled with his anxiety about a marriage he is forced into due to his newborn “child” that pretty much ruins their lives! We spend so little time with Henry Spencer compared to the five years it took to film this incredible feat of a film, and the beauty of it’s creation is that of it’s creator. David Lynch. This film was a perfect catapult for him, and just the mere fact that he did everything from sound design to creating the so-called “baby” in this film among about eight or nine other duties is something I will always admire for as long as I want to make films – and one day will.
Never having divulged the “true” essence of the themes explored in his directorial debut, Lynch forces us to think for ourselves and make of it what each of our own subconscious will allow us to. For me it’s a tale about marriage and depression as the film stares deep into Henry Spencer’s soul and twists it until he’s gone completely insane (proven by his visions of a bearded woman singing “In heaven, everything is fine.”) It creates an incredibly isolated and claustrophobic film that is forever kept inside that dusty apartment as consistent shots of a brick wall through a window show us that Henry is trapped in this life. His only way out is the route he takes. One which I won’t spoil for any of you.
I once wrote a detailed review of this when I was 16 years old for English class, right before I left school. It was the first time I had ever articulated my words in such a way that helped me understand a film I loved more than I thought I did. Having only seen Eraserhead ten times or so, each repeated viewing allows me to delve deeper into elements that I so desperately want to explore myself in my own films. It is the one film that I will forever look to for inspiration. Thank you David Lynch.
Directed by Werner Herzog and released in it’s home country of the USA in 2005.
Werner Herzog’s subjects are always extraordinary and eccentric people, regardless of whether or not his film is a documentary. Previous films like God’s Angry Man and Fitzcarraldo are two great examples of extraordinary and eccentric character subjects and the latter of which was made with equal eccentricity by Herzog.
Grizzly Man, however, is Herzog’s finest film as a documentary filmmaker. Taking real footage filmed by it’s subject, Timothy Treadwell, Herzog splices interviews with Treadwell’s family and friends with footage of the grizzly bear enthusiast studying the bears and protecting them from poachers and what not. The obvious stand-out scene is that which appears around the midway mark. Werner Herzog is allowed to listen to the tape which features the death of Timothy Treadwell and his then-girlfriend while Tim’s ex-girlfriend watches on unaware of what sounds are on the tape.
Herzog is an unbelievably conventional filmmaker and his techniques have been seen in cinema for over a century now but he always manages to keep his ideas fresh. His themes of humanity, compassion for his subjects, aswell as never failing to show the other side of the argument (a staple of any non-bias documentary), despite how he may feel about his particular subject at that time, always shine through plot and characters in every one of his films.
Grizzly Man is a beautiful film about one man who fought, not for his own human rights, but for the rights of the animals he lived with for over 13 summers.