Wednesday, 29 December 2010
Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life.
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
I'm not a roman mum, I'm a kike, a yid, a heebie, a hook-nose, I'm kosher mum, I'm a Red Sea pedestrian, and proud of it!
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
No 481 – Topsy Turvy
Director – Mike Leigh
Well... I do love a good Victorian romp, and the world of Gilbert and Sullivan is surely (by its very nature) as rompy as you can get. Indeed, it took me roughly 45 seconds to fall in love with Allan Corduner's Sir Arthur Sullivan. Consumption riddled and dying but full of life and joy. He encaptures that almost mythical side to the period. The idealised view which is pushed to the 9th degree by things like Moulin Rouge!
I also liked the great prescriptions he gets for his consumption.... Get yourself some Brandy Mr Sullivan. Get yourself to the South of France Mr Sullivan. Bloody marvellous. Far better than mere penicillin.
I don't know how correct the film is but I hope it is true – Sullivan's reckless fun loving attitude marks him out as almost a rock star. Especially when you compare him with the incredibly stiff and well... Victorian... Gilbert (he is very much about what is proper and what is right and decent).
The two bounce off each other really refreshingly. I don't think I've seen Corduner in anything before but Gilbert is played by the legend that is Jim Broadbent.... meaning that a deliberately emotionless (besides anger) figure can become a rich and deep character. It also ripples out in his family. One of the final speeches in the film is Gilbert's wife explaining her idea for an opera. In there are roughly 8,000 hints of how repressed and depressed she is. How she clearly yearns for affection from her Stiff-upper-lip husband.
This ingrained repressions makes the expressiveness of Broadbent all the more important... There is a wonderful moment where Gilbert has the idea of The Mikado. A close up on his frowning face as very slowly you see the seeds of an idea plant a twinkle in his eye and his moustache curls up to indicate a smile beneath. It is a glorious moment. It shows Broadbent off as the bloody hero that he is.
The film is an obvious love letter to Gilbert and Sullivan, the long cuts to songs (seemingly all performed by the cast) show that, and reminded me that I really haven't seen enough Gilbert and Sullivan performances - they were geniuses too, lively music and inspired lyrics. However, they have managed to get some brilliant people to perform in these plays and there are a few people I want to point out.
Timothy Spall – There is a bit of me that is sad that in recent times Hollywood (certainly mainstream Kid's Hollywood) has typecast Spall as the snivelling, slimy bad guy. See Harry Potter or Enchanted for examples. Whilst he does play the role well, it is much more exciting seeing him play the plummy luvvie. His role in this, and his backstage antics are on of the real highlights in a film that's pretty chock full of good bits. Likewise Shirley Henderson who's sultry wine swilling leading lady means I'm finally able to accept her beyond Moaning Myrtle and that God-awful role she played in Dr Who – Even Trainspotting didn't manage that.
And then we had someone who I knew would be excellent as soon as I saw his name in the opening credits. Andy Serkis. I'm a shameless Serkis fan. I think he steals every scene he is in and constantly gives cracking performances. Here is no difference. I loved his little role as the choreographer – and loved the fact that he was never still. Clucking and strutting like a Victorian Mick Jagger.
The film triumphs in the fantastic cast Leigh has put together and in the witty words they speak – considering the constraints of period and of historical accuracy, I'm curious as to how improvised this film is, or whether it was a bit more tightly scripted.
There are a few awkward racial moments, but then this is a film about we Brits discovering Japanese culture – at a time when Japan was so remote (and shut off from the Western world) it was as mysterious as fairy tales. So whilst they are at times uncomfortable (and at other times uncomfortably amusing) they at least never feel excessive.
All in all it is a joyous film – mixing the constraints of etiquette in Victorian Society with the giddy thrill of early musical theatre.
It is a proper smile inducing little number – and shows that Mike Leigh can make gloriously happy films if he wants.
No 455 – Top Gun
Director – Tony Scott
I can't take the piss out of the homoeroticism, all the obvious targets have been addressed so many times before.
All I can say is that I really can't tell the difference between this film and Hot Shots! any more....
This is a ridiculous nonsense of a film. It is a film in which one requires nothing more than to sit back and watch the silliness and the pretty planes.
The planes are really pretty and there is some incredible choreography up in them there sky.
I don't mean to sound too dismissive – I love a big dumb action film as much as the next person. But there aren't any real character arcs amongst the flashy Jet porn and Tim Robbins in the background.
This is a film that really only made it in as the top 500's guilty pleasure – and that doesn't seem right.
Still its better than Superman Returns. Or Transformers.
Oh, I lie now and then, I suppose. Sometimes I'd tell them the truth and they still wouldn't believe me, so I prefer to lie
No 41 - Les 400 Coups (The 400 Blows)
Director – François Truffaut
So, I've been moving house and I've been playing Xbox games. My blog hasn't exactly been well kept. Like the Secret Garden it is full of aged and overgrown relics. It has seemingly ceased to grow. But fear not, here comes Dickon and he has used a knife to strip back the dead wood and show there is still life in the old blog. So soon we will be joined by a spoiled disabled boy and Wendy from Finding Neverland and the blog will flourish anew.
Right.... that's one massively overstretched metaphor out the way – lets blog this classic piece of French cinema. Without my notes. So expect a sketchy and vague review of a film which follows a young boy's descent into full blown young offender shenanigans.
The film works as series of snapshots, looking at how Antoine (Jean-Pierre Léaud) gets pulled further and further into petty crime. Made in 1959 it coincides with the birth of the teenager and the idea that children were no longer just small versions of their parents. A terrifying concept for those who are the full sized parent versions. Teenagers not only didn't share their parent's views any more, they went out of their way to antagonise.
Whilst Antoine's actions are at times petty, you can at least see where they stem from. Léaud manages to put the anger and frustration of his character across without seeming too petulant, or without seeming unlikeable.
His father is well meaning but distracted by his interests. His mother is the typical terrifying and shouty French mother but then is also cold and distant, not wanting anything to do with her kid (very unlike French mothers that I know). You can see that Antoine feels abandoned... you understand his motivation.
And in today's times, where you can't walk to the shops without being murdered to death by a 7 year old in a hoodie, I suppose it all seems rather twee.
But it was the old days and in the old days Typewriters were the big thing. Like identities are nowadays. Think how annoyed you'd be if someone stole your identity.... yeah, now you know why things pan out the way they do.
The film is constantly interesting and fresh, however, for the most while I failed to see anything truly remarkable in it. Certainly nothing which truly validated its place as the highest ranked French film on the list. However, this is what I love about cinema, one little shot can change everything. A well played reveal or a well shot sequence makes all the difference.
A marvellous sequence is when Antoine is being interviewed by the psychiatrist. It is visibly edited making it seem like documentary footage of a longer interview which has been shortened. The static camera fixed solely on Antoine makes it all seem a lot more real and a lot more authentic. Like a small break from fiction.
But my favourite moment is from the performance Truffaut gets out of his young star. Reaching the end of his tether, Antoine's father arranges for him to spend the night in jail – just to experience what its like. We get some wonderful 'jail eye view' shots with the camera behind bars – and when it pans to Antoine's tear streamed eyes we get the full power of the film in one shot (and in one remarkable performance from such a young lad).