2012 has drawn to an end and so I look back at the cinematic year.
The subjective message of a given film is the lifeblood of cinema, especially in this age of moodily complex Christopher Nolan blockbusters. Life of Pi however is the real deal.
Peter Jackson transports audiences back to the incredible world of Middle-earth in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
I’m always reluctant to compile a ‘best of the year’ list, because around this festive time of year we’re always inundated with countless articles, all competing for our attention with their best of everything in this particular year. Basically, there are plenty of other distractions, so who wants to read a stupid, subjective list of things that I liked in 2012? It’s just so pointless; who really gives two hoots if I don’t think The Master is the best film of 2012? However, after reading some of the frankly astounding lists already out there, *coughs*, The Guardian’s, I decided to do just that.
In Thomas Vinterburg’s agonising film The Hunt, a child’s lie, one intended without malice, is blown out of all proportion by the adults who interpret it.
Writer/director David Ayer applies the blues and twos once again in End of Watch, his latest police procedural following the likes of Dark Blue and Training Day (which he scripted and for which Denzel Washington won an Oscar).
The ever provocative, Austrian director, Michael Haneke, returns to our cinemas with his newest film, Amour. But is Haneke’s Palme d’Or winning film up to scratch?
Haneke has never been one to shy away from the cruel realities of ‘real life’ and his new film opens with a flash-forward which ultimately signposts the film’s ending (which isn’t a criticism). By doing so it informs how the film is to be viewed and adds greater poignancy to his examination of love, old-age and illness – and considering the age of the characters, it’s not an unexpected conclusion. Amour is a fairly bleak film, but if you’re familiar with the director’s other films e.g. The White Ribbon, Cache and Funny Games, that won’t be particularly surprising.
Amour is the story of two elderly, retired music teachers, Anne and Georges, who are both in their 80s. The couple are fairly active and do not have the passivity, which is typically forced upon elderly characters in cinema e.g. the film begins with them attending a concert and returning home via the bus, where they debate the concert’s finer points. But from here on in, we see the devastating effects of illness in old-age, Anne suffers multiple strokes before the onset of dementia, which in no time at all, renders Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) bedridden and completely dependent upon her husband, Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant).
One motif, which worked particularly well, was the sense of dread from an ominous, external menace e.g. burglars/strangers. This subtle reference, alluding to the actual menace upon the horizon, but that menace isn’t an external one, Anne and Georges’ threat comes from within – and from those that they let into their home. At one point, Georges reprimands a care worker for treating his wife poorly – somebody he hired. In general, society expectantly, has little do with Anne and Georges, their daughter – played by Isabelle Huppert – barely visits and their only other visitors are some kindly neighbours, who purchase their shopping but offer no other form of support. As with death, it seems in old age we are also on our own, abandoned by almost everybody.
The film builds towards an obvious crescendo, but one of the most disarming features of Haneke’s film is in its depiction of amour, of love, but not the folly of youthful, romantic love, which typifies cinema. The love depicted in Haneke’s film is one which is centred upon two people who have been together for a very long-time, which isn’t to say the romance between them has fizzled, just that the film centres upon a deeper, less shallow depiction of love.
Amour is a hauntingly beautiful and challenging film, with some outstanding acting from Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, and Haneke continues to be one of the most thought provoking directors at work today – cinema salutes you, sir!
One of the most important aspects of any Bond movie is the opening song but several have been unfairly neglected.
Trying to write an entertaining synopsis of Twilight’s events, thus far, seems fairly pointless. If you’ve not tuned into the adaptations of Stephenie Meyer’s novels by this point, well, you’re a little too late to the party.
The James Bond franchise may be 50 years old but it’s delivered one of its greatest entries in the form of Skyfall.
Those fabled Roman Candles about which Jack Kerouac wrote so eloquently have faded into weak luminescence in the big-screen adaptation of his classic novel, On the Road.
John Dies at the End (Coscarelli, 2012) was the second film I attended at the 56th BFI London Film Festival and fortunately it was miles better than Cronenberg Jnr’s, Antiviral. Here’s my verdict on John Dies at the End
Just last weekend I took a trip to the big smoke. While there I consumed far too much whisky and strutted about London in my brand new Buffy t-shirt, which is aces, obviously! Apart from making yet another, bold fashion statement, the purpose of my visit was to attend the 56th BFI London Film Festival -and attend it I did. Here’s the first review of two films screened in the festival’s cult section.
Tabu’s narrative is split into two parts: Lost Paradise and Paradise. The first hour of the film follows the lives of three elderly women in present day Lisbon: Pilar (Teresa Madruga), Santa (Isabel Cardoso) and Aurora (Laura Soveral). The three elderly women are all going about their mundane lives, until Aurora’s death and it’s this event that triggers the film’s second half, Paradise.
To Rome with Love sees Woody Allen continue to develop his collective of films about Americans abroad. Midnight in Paris (Allen, 2011) was that rare Woody Allen film; being a critical and commercial success -something Allen has scarcely achieved in the last 20 years. The question then, is whether To Rome with Love would be as good as the film it followed, or would it have more in common with the boresome You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (Allen, 2010), or, would it flounder somewhere in the middle? I visited Dartington’s Barn Cinema to find out…
In 2005, Rian Johnson debuted with the sensational neo-noir, Brick. A film that took the codes and conventions of a film noir, and transposed them to a high-school setting -ie a brat-pack film with private dicks and femme fatales. Following Brick, Johnson made the convoluted and rather disappointing, The Brothers Bloom (Johnson, 2008), which tellingly suffered from ‘shooting’ difficulties and studio interference. Johnson’s first film in four years sees him tackling Science-Fiction, in his time-travel caper, Looper, but the question is, it is any good?
With his sensational debut, 2004’s Chopper and his Western, 2007’s masterpiece, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Andrew Dominik is carving himself a career which fixates upon outlaws and violence. His films are predominantly preoccupied with the homosocial sphere, the embattled male and masculinity. So, would his third film, and second collaboration with Brad Pitt, Killing Them Softly, be a departure or would these themes continue? I visited Dartington’s Barn Cinema, to find out…
The screening wasn’t packed, but once again Dartington’s Barn proves itself to be the South West’s premiere art-house cinema, with a limited run of Orson Welles’, F for Fake.
In A Night In The Woods, what is envisioned as a relaxing weekend away at one of Dartmoor’s most distinctive locations rapidly takes a turn for the worse, when a combination of fraught sexual tension and ghost story-fuelled paranoia infects the already uneasy relationship between jealous Brody (Scoot McNairy, Killing Them Softly), his repressed girlfriend Kerry (Anna Skellern, Siren) and her charismatic ‘cousin’ Leo (Andrew Hawley, Ginger & Rosa). As night falls, an already torrid situation descends into chaos, and the hapless trio are forced to question whether or not there are dark forces at work
‘It is not the violence that sets a man apart. It’s the distance he’s prepared to go. We’re survivors … We control the fear’.
Back in 1995, Sly Stallone may have believed he was the law but the fans weren’t buying it.
Hordes of people waltzing in unison … A lush score from Dario Marianelli … Impeccable art direction and design … A heavyweight cast and scriptwriter in the form of Tom Stoppard … On watching Anna Karenina, it’s immediately apparent we’re back in Joe Wright costume drama territory …
Berberian Sound Studio … It’s a whisper away from Barbarian Sound Studio, and into a pit of them does Toby Jones fall in Peter Strickland’s terrific new film.
James Marsh’s newest film explores Northern Ireland’s Troubles in Shadow Dancer (Marsh, 2012) and I visited Dartington’s Barn Cinema to see if Marsh’s take on the IRA, was up to scratch…
Samsara is Ron Fricke’s first film since 1992’s Baraka and like its predecessor, Samsara is a non-narrative film. However, not only does Samsara defy the conventions of popular narrative cinema, but also our expectations of the documentary format. The film features no narrator, no dialogue or any descriptive text whatsoever. Instead, the film asks that you form your own narrative by interpreting the visually stunning cinematography. Sounds rather pretentious, but it is without doubt the cinematic event -if not film -of the year.