Saturday, 4 February 2012


[all images courtesy of respective distributors]

 So, in a moment of inspired boredom:  a revelation of daringly uncool proportions dawned upon a young man...a young man with whom this paticular blog mollusc is acquainted with...well, he decided that in order to capitalise upon the time consuming hobby of reclusively watching films, pillaging amazon and idly perusing HMV, it would be beneficial to life, cinema, the internet and presumably a whole host of other important aspects of modern keep a film blog. I know...pioneering...audacious...madness!!? A step too far, an originality uncalled for in an age of tentative blogging, an age in which cinema remains a relatively little talked of novelty...surely this was leaping into an unfathomable abyss, such courage, such goddam couarage! Still, prevailing with a sense of mild dissapointment (regretting his digression of unfunny sarcasm) the mollusc followed suit and joined in the film logging revelry. The rules were simple: no film should be listed that had been watched before, films should be rated out of ten (none of this predictable five star bullshit... in a time of mavericks the 'out of ten' rating is king!) , all comments made about said films should be expressed with an air of near pretentious authority, reviews should be brief ( ideally one sentence- realistically a large and jumbled couple of sentences, inviting dubious use of odd punctuation)...also all comments made should be read, recieved and pondered upon with a fanatical eye of if these words are profound pebbles of wisdom, plucked from the shoreline of anonymous genius. Failing that, bad grammar, bad writing, and bad taste, should be dutifully ignored. Anger Management is a good film. I dont care what anyone says. With that initial gem of insight I bid thee farewell...and enjoy...this fairly tepid critique of ecclectic films!

My WinnipegGuy Maddin – DVD (3/1/12) – A unique and inventive documentary that sleepwalks its way through a poetry of memory, film and histories, creating a dream of obscurity and absurdity. – 7/10

If…. Lindsay Anderson – DVD (4/1/12) – An uprising against authority within an old boarding school, segmented into chapters; the rebellion is depicted with an unnerving and surreal undercurrent of homoeroticism, oppression and humour. 6/10

Enter the VoidGasper Noé – DVD (5/1/12) – An interesting concept ( based on ideas from the Tibetan Book of The Dead) following a young man after his death, his soul in continual purgatory floating over scenes from  the past and present and the people he knew-until eventual reincarnation. However, what could have been a brave and visionary film becomes an infuriatingly clumsy and repetitive exercise in immature and frustrating filmmaking; patronising the viewer through removing any sense of subtlety in favour of a bored oblivion of strobe lights and mumbled pseudo philosophy. It becomes an adolescent crash course in trauma, sex and trippy camera techniques, fuelled by endless transparent excuses for extravagant lighting. 5/10

The Child (L’Enfant)Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne – DVD (5/1/12) – A simple and understated drama, beautifully observed and brilliantly acted-it’s emotional force grows long after viewing. 7/10

GoodfellasMartin Scorsese – DVD (8/1/12) – After seeing Casino my reaction was comparatively muted, as they are such similar films (in structure/style/characters/music). However, undeniably a great and compelling film-Joe Pesci is fantastic (essentially the same character as in Casino), missed De Niro being a more central character. A glorious proliferation of the phrase ‘Breaking my balls!’ and of course the tense…‘How am I funny…?’ 8/10

The Discreet Charm of the BourgeoisieLuis Buñuel – DVD (9/1/12) – A ridiculous, absurd and playful satire on the superficial traditions of bourgeois artifice; although the dream sequences are entertaining, the film’s formulaic dinner interruptions soon become repetitive, bordering on clumsy. Still: an entertaining oddity.  Best scene: the melancholy monologue of a lieutenant recalling his traumatic childhood, casually ambushing three women at a tearoom to launch into a tale of ghosts and murder…also, cockroaches on the piano keys-the piano as a torture device- connotations of Un Chien Andalou  6/10

The Saddest Music in the WorldGuy Maddin – DVD (17/1/12) – A warped melodrama that flickers between darkly comical and wildly absurd, all through the surreal and shifting lens of a dream like black and white scratched camera. An inventive story (based on Ishaguru’s original screenplay), that while ridiculous and grotesque, also manages to create moments of surprisingly emotive and memorable beauty. An eccentric, unique, musical and accomplished slice of Surrealist cinema. 8/10

Red RoadAndrea Arnold – DVD (25/1/12) – Compulsive viewing; the camera follows the female protagonist’s moves with the same perplexed obsession as she displays, following apparent strangers on her multiple CCTV screens. The isolation of her job, her life and the frightening situation she wilfully constructs, conspire to create a cold and isolated environment of loneliness that, as the narrative and characters build, becomes all the more powerful. Pretty harrowing-but displays the same sensitive camera work evident in her later films ( Fish Tank and Wuthering Heights), that is at once delicate and raw-a sensitivity to light and texture that seems to suggest a genuinely individual cinematic style emerging. 8/10

ShameSteve McQueen – Cinema (26/1/12) – A stylish and exciting follow up to an astonishing debut. Having seen Hunger, which established McQueen as a daring and provocative director, Shame seems comparatively less visually confrontational. Fassbender’s stunning performance is allowed to dominate attention; the visuals becoming less strikingly arthouse and more filmic. This provides the space and platform from which Fassbender’s character development can confidently drive the film’s power. McQueen is obviously a very individual and innovative talent, but in this film acting eclipses cinematography. In the films of Andrea Arnold and Steve McQueen Britain has acquired two new and progressive directors, both unafraid to be artistically bold. 7.8/10 (why the pretentious ‘.8’? Well, not entirely sure…it was better than a 7.5…and not quite an 8…that’s the unhelpful numerical logic…otherwise, I just felt – despite the need for an element of cold detachment in the film, it was the moments of dialogue that shone…and, maybe there just wasn’t enough – I felt myself wanting to care more, wanting to be more involved. For the exploration of ‘sex addiction’ to maybe surface more overtly in dialogue…one of the few references is when his sister dismissively sneers ‘Don’t talk to me about a healthy sex-life’…I just feel that there could have been more made out of it, for a director who is clearly gifted with controlling and presenting conversation I wanted more!! Maybe a result of too high expectations…however still a dam good film…and maybe I’ve been harsh).

The DescendantsAlexander Payne – Cinema (29/1/12) – A melancholy and gently humorous portrayal of a family coping with unexpected tragedy and change. The script is fantastic, with understated emotion that builds without ever becoming sentimentalised or clumsy. Roger Ebert, in his review of The Descendants (for the Chicago Sun Times), insightfully credits George Clooney as a presence of intelligence in the film. Clooney plays ‘Matt King’ with nuanced gestures, measured emotion, pace and control – all of which allows the audience to infer a weathered maturity beyond what is said or physically elaborated. This ‘intelligence’ conspires to elevate the suave (insanely irritating) Clooney cliché lady’s man persona…allowing instead a far more developed and interesting character to emerge…and not simply a new take on that  ‘Clooney’ image. 8/10

Until February.......

1 comment:

  1. Very nice, Mr Spittle! I enjoyed your introduction, as well as that tenuous justification of the '7.8' rating of Shame.

    I must say you've cheated slightly on our 'one(ish) sentence' review policy, but I'll let you off! I definitely need to check out Guy Maddin, he sounds like an interesting director.