Monday, 28 March 2016

Where to Start With: Andrei Tarkovsky


In this series, I’ll be taking you through some of the great minds of 20th century film-making and trying to offer a ‘way-in’ for those who want to explore films of the past but don’t really know where to start. As the list goes on, the films become progressively less ‘accessible’ to first-time viewers, so work your way through them or if a story summary really grabs you then start there and work around it. Some may be for you and some won’t strike any chords regardless of how many times you see them- but you gotta start somewhere, right? This time around: Andrei Tarkovsky, a man who made movies… more.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

70s Reviews: Mirror


Mirror is a deeply autobiographical film that chronicles a child's family and their interactions over the course of his youth. Its intangible, almost entirely devoid of plot or consistently developed characters and defies pretty much every cinematic convention I can name: No acts here. No defined story structures or tightly controlled arcs. All this is mind: Mirror is also one of the very finest films ever made. How it achieves this zenith is best explained with, well: this- but I'll do my best regardless.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Director Retrospectives: Christopher Nolan


As objectively as possible, I am going to try this out. Nolan has always been a controversial figure for me given how quickly he could vilify people and slap on the high-hat [as Johnny Caspar once so elegantly put it] in the face of any criticism of his work. 'Nolanities' have put me off reviewing anything of his for as long as I've been writing because my opinion has always been biased. I've never been effected in any emotional way by them but out of all the fucked-up fandoms I've encountered on the internet these few cases among a sea of faces have been openly violent as well as unbelievably intolerant and stubborn just because they like and thing and someone else doesn't. Its never made sense to me how someone else's opinion can evoke such unnecessary rage, even in real life, just from some film about a guy who dresses like a bat.

Nowadays I respect Nolan as an artist and wanted to cover him given the new-found news of Dunkirk being blocked up for release next year. Good news or bad news? You be the judge. That in mind its time to dive into the occasional brilliance of one of the most defiantly original mainstream directors in Hollywood today.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Is Dunkirk Oscar Bait?

Am I the only one who isn't wholly convinced by Nolan's move in directing Dunkirk? A man who has built a more than massive legacy making films that defiantly explore new boundaries of storytelling is now making a gritty, by-the-book WWII drama?! I don't want to start projecting because I'm sure Nolan will add his own little spin, at least I hope he does- because right now all I see in that poster for Dunkirk is "PLEASE GIVE ME AN OSCAR NOW". We all know the Oscar's notorious bias towards certain features and whilst Schindler's List and The Pianist certainly earned theirs, is it easier for Nolan to finally win one by filming an 'Academy Approved' film? He's done some impressive stuff and for my money him and Jonathan not winning best original screenplay for Memento was a daylight robbery we should all be more annoyed about than any recent best picture "snubs" but have these provoked him into pining for that illusive trophy? Am I actually right to be so cynical about this new film, given his back-catalog? I get that good directors try to take their work in new directions and I welcome it but this man has been making mystery movies for almost two decades now and has earned an absolute fortune out of them. Why start now, at 45 with a reputation that apparently warrants Kubrickian comparisons, making different material?

I only wanted to raise this because I wondered if anyone else shares my skepticism. Is it fresh, challenging material he's quietly always wanted to work on? A blissful bit of serendipity that will give audiences his first genuinely excellent film since Memento? Or is it just a last-ditch effort to win that coveted golden statue? Hell even Leo has one now. I'll share my thoughts on all of Nolan's films tomorrow in a director retrospective but for now I just wondered, given his respectable integrity as an artist unwilling to compromise on his sometimes smart, often challenging body of work, if anyone else thought this move was too out-of-character for his own good? Is Dunkirk Oscar bait, or is it just an earnest attempt by a skilled film-maker to tackle something totally new to them? Hell: It worked for Freidkin.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Where to Start With: Akira Kurosawa


In this series, I’ll be taking you through some of the great minds of 20th century film-making and trying to offer a ‘way-in’ for those who want to explore films of the past but don’t really know where to start. As the list goes on, the films become progressively less ‘accessible’ to first-time viewers, so work your way through them or if a story summary really grabs you then start there and work around it. Some may be for you and some won’t strike any chords regardless of how many times you see them- but you gotta start somewhere, right? This time around: Akira Kurosawa, cinema’s Shakespeare.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Noughties Reviews: From Hell


Loosely adapted from Alan Moore’s graphic novel, From Hell follows an investigation into Jack the Ripper’s identity in 1888 and is, if I’m being generous: A total mess. I couldn’t find three frames in the film I liked enough to stick here so we'll just have to make do with one.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Ranking the Greats: Kubrick's Second Best


In what I hope to be the first of many Collabs, I’ve decided to team up with James Reilly from James Reilly Film; a blog the guy just started with: Reviewing a plethora of modern and classical pieces, from Taxi Driver to Deadpool, with the promise of less than stellar films like Troll 2 or The Room slipping into the sights in the near future. All that out of the way, what is Stanley Kubrick’s best film?

2001. Next question.

Alright then… What about second place? People argue constantly about the master’s magnum opus and those that follow in its wake but in what order do they come? With a filmography so impactful, varied and frankly stunning as Stanley’s: Is there a definitive answer? Mr. Reilly decided to vouch for fan favorites The Shining and A Clockwork Orange, both films I adore, and left me with the task of taking two lesser loved works into the fray. That being said: This is the link to James’ post arguing for their place as Kubrick’s second best pictures. Here is mine.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Where to Start With: Ingmar Bergman


In this series, I’ll be taking you through some of the great minds of 20th century film-making and trying to offer a ‘way-in’ for those who want to explore films of the past but don’t really know where to start. As the list goes on, the films become progressively less ‘accessible’ to first-time viewers, so work your way through them or if a story summary really grabs you then start there and work around it. Some may be for you and some won’t strike any chords regardless of how many times you see them- but you gotta start somewhere, right? This time around: Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish art-house master. 

Sunday, 6 March 2016

80s Reviews: The Shining


The story of a family sent to maintain a Hotel over the Winter whilst the staff are away and the supernatural power the place plagues them with, The Shining rightfully rests among cinema’s most renowned horror films. Naturally, considering it was made by Stanley Kubrick but to me the only constant in all of his films is a shared name in the credits; His style is omnipresent but each films holds itself in such a unique way and strikes out with an individualism rare in any filmography.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Where to Start With: Stanley Kubrick


In this series, I’ll be taking you through some of the great minds of 20th century film-making and trying to offer a ‘way-in’ for those who want to explore films of the past but don’t really know where to start. As the list goes on, the films become progressively less ‘accessible’ to first-time viewers, so work your way through them or if a story summary really grabs you then start there and work around it. Some may be for you and some won’t strike any chords regardless of how many times you see them- but you gotta start somewhere, right? This time around: Stanley Kubrick, the one you’ve all heard of...