After the thematic void of Rocky II, Stallone matches the first film in soul, if not heart, and escapes Avildsen's shadow, making his statement as both director and writer. Punctuated with delirious currents of montage, soft focus, flashback and slow-motion, Rocky III presents men (Rocky; Apollo; Clubber; Paulie) adrift in an intangible world where one anothers' validation is the only means of discovering self-worth.
It clicked when I realised it wasn't a sci-fi film. Gibson isn't the President and Phoenix isn't Will Smith. The stupidity of the aliens, a sore point for the film's detractors, is justified when one understands that what we see is what the country rube sees. The aliens are malicious thugs, footsoldiers of an unknowable regime, persecuting them for God-knows-what. Signs is a war film from the peasant's perspective.
The interpretations are compelling in themselves and I've watched the film with those ideas in mind, but I had to conclude that the film doesn't really support them. I think that Signs is too concerned with the individual's response to societal crisis for them to work. The film's biggest scare, after all, comes with Merrill watching a bunch of strangers on (the ubiquitous) television. As for the demon idea, I'm inclined to think of the creatures as 'monsters' rather than 'extraterrestrials', but I'm more intrigued by how human they are. I think they fit the bill of 'foreign invaders' more than they qualify as either generic aliens or demons. Also, the fact that their radio signals can be picked up by a baby monitor makes them a little too mundane for the demon theory to work for me. Both are interesting ideas though. What are your thoughts?
Silent Hill might be described as a supreme video game adaptation on the basis that it shares the other medium's strengths and limitations: its human dramatics are, to be kind, forced but it proves effective in constructing a convincing sense of physical space, an exploratory environment in constant inter-dimensional flux. Gorgeous, ambitious and nihilistic, its 'flaws' are ultimately forgivable, maybe essential.
It's certainly acerbic but to categorise this as black comedy or genre satire does it a disservice. Bolstered by a minuscule budget that largely confines it to credible domestic spaces, the film, and the performances, have a dramatic and formal seriousness unthinkable given its subject. There's an earnestness in its pragmatist subversion of moral truism unknown in most comedies, be they 'mainstream' or 'irreverent'.
Functioning like an extended prologue, the odd narrative style almost works as mythopoeia, offering a flavour without the meal. The drama often falls flat when the vacuous figures actually interact but Shyamalan's pet theme, the terror of filial-parental failure, proves somewhat compelling. Recognising that CGI is only good for lightshows, the film otherwise exhibits homunculi literally tossing colours at each other.
In turning The Shape, almost heroic in its purity, into Myers, a vocal, bearded, misogynistic, trudging gastronome, Zombie has achieved a remarkable humanist feat: he's made a slasher villain one might actively dislike. Critics call them nihilistic but, like Candyman, Zombie's Halloween films interpose the vilest of realist violence with glimpses of warmth and dignity, making them unpleasant but rarely unfulfilling.
I agree about the humanist tendency within the Zombie works, although I would say it's perhaps more grounded within a reality in the first film. There are incredible moments where we fear the harm that is to come merely because of the fact that many of the characters interact with him as a person, rather than Carpenter's abstraction of fear. The second film has a tendency to enter an ethereal dimension, which seems to place Meyers within a context that is between these two concepts. Interesting as an idea, although I am more accepting of Zombie's first picture.
I can see what you mean, but I feel that the irreconcilable contrast between the Deborah of the first and second films works to present the white horse imagery as merely a visualisation of Michael's Oedipal delusions and Laurie's shame. For me, there's a tension between whether they're of a psychological or paranormal realm, but when Deborah tells Michael to "have some fun" with Annie, I take it as confirmation that, on a subconscious level, Michael holds his mother responsible for all his destruction. On a related note, turning Michael from a rapist killer (a sure-fire way to make your murderer sympathetic) into
The most expensive movie ever made is paradoxically the most blasé film I've ever seen. While I found Army of Darkness alienating, here Raimi's indulgence gives the film a sense of character as heartfelt as it is shameless. For every moment of incoherence, incongruity or contrivance you'll find something inexplicably endearing, be it a mournful pile of sand becoming a man or two friends playfully making an omelette.
Regardless of whether it's driven by generic predictability or poetic inevitability, its aggressive sadness surprised me. Having succumbed to the anxiety that accompanies decency in a corrupt world, the consequences of her moral transgression are evoked through the infringement of bodily sanctity; blood, bile and vermin spew in and out of the screaming mouth of a heroine denied Ash's living-cartoon resilience. Funny.
If its appropriation of 9/11 imagery is cheap then its impact is a bargain. Composed of fragments that register subconsciously, the subjective style evokes the contemporary horror of witnessing the catastrophic while lacking the guidance of authority, be it a politician or an omniscient camera. Collateral damage to monuments may be cliché, but DV finally gives Lady Liberty's decapitation a power beyond the symbolic.
In its critique of the state’s misuse of the citizen, Regeneration does not allow the action fan to go unimplicated: narrative propulsion, unrelenting form and the empty sadness of Van Damme’s face remind us that Luc must lose his personhood for our entertainment. The terrified refusal of Van Damme’s old man with a kind mother to connect with Lundgren’s child with a cruel father turns the film into a hideous tragedy.
A curious relationship exists between the sites of would-be free economy (harder labour: bigger burger) and bureaucracy: like the window-walls of the villain’s world of glass, the vast openness of the terminal’s coalition of three-sided spaces is an illusion that masks constant surveillance. The dwelling cannot become a home because Tucci/Spielberg’s invasion of privacy puts Hanks in a state of perpetual antagonism.
The only episode wholly disconnected from the Occident immediately establishes itself, through the opening number's gaudy, primary coloured beauty, as unrestrained exoticism. But its dedication to a single location allows its hero to develop transcultural sympathies, which works well between the Judeo-Christian confirmation of I / III. At Indy's lowest ebb, his weapon is turned against him; friendship saves his soul.
Jones does not intuitively recognise anything amiss in Toy Town because he perceives the ideology signified by the facsimile to bastardise life as completely as the grotesque mannequins themselves. But after an existence of being tossed around, by others and himself, the battered old man's love for the institutions that gave him purpose is unrequited. Only in breaking from the US can he discover its domestic ideal.
I''ve been thinking on this, I'm not sure Indy ever held strong feelings for America, it's simply where he came from. He's Apolitical, simply fighting the nazi's because they got in his way (I believe he was a conscientious objector in WW2). I still find the Captain America stance in the 4th movie doesn't fit with the rest of his mythology. Also "the institutions that gave him purpose" is just wrong, they didn't give him purpose just money, really it was only the first movie that he was working with the government and that was more his desire to find the ark and progress archeological knowledge. I'm not even sure he held strong feelings for his particular university, they are just the people that gave him the money to follow his real passion. I do like the metaphor of Toy Town though, it does somewhat tie into the whole red scare subplot, kind of.
I hadn't watched the other films since I was a child so my post was largely based on Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as a stand-alone film, my point about ideologies being based on what I vaguely remember as a Bond-like attitude towards intimate relationships. In this film, he's portrayed as a war hero betrayed by his country and deserted by his colleagues. He certainly seems to feel, given his reaction to Broadbent's character, that the university has mistreated him and takes it personally. Also, a point is made that Jones' service in WWII means nothing to the young FBI agents, which he seems somewhat indignant about. I agree that some of this may seem inconsistent, but note that the earlier films were set over a three year period. It's not unreasonable to assume that Jones has become a sentimental patriot over the two unseen decades and I find that idea quite interesting.
Digital video affords Mann the freedom to film anything and the liberty not to film everything. Abolishing the assured bombast that has long corrupted the staging of action sequences, the camera flits between body, weapon and face with equally disengaged urgency and intimacy; in an aesthetic world of guns that spit smoke and flame whilst clouds of blood linger in the air, it is no longer sure where it ought to look.
In accord with characters decontextualized from individual histories, the plot’s dull incoherence isolates narrative moments which come from, and are going, nowhere; For Crockett, the present is primal. The fragmented women of the 2nd and 3rd-to-final compositions, Tubb’s reality – his ideal, represent the crux of a crisis implicated by fleeting DV glances, met head-on in the blunt singularity of the closing image.
This year two texts taught me to love, not films, but ‘the cinema’: Tree of Life in a 1:3 scale facsimile of a theatre and The Raid, surrounded by dedicated gorehounds, with Evans and Uwais attending. My face hurt from smiling, my hands from applauding. A transformative experience, I suppose, in that I can pinpoint the instant I abandoned all ethical considerations (it was the defenestration). Sound mixing á la Heat.
While the first film's form was enslaved by a narcissistic compulsion to herald its own innovation, the sequel’s diminished grandeur allows for elliptical editing and playful POVs that signify a break from sci-fi obligations and an embracement of B-movie aesthetics and sensibilities. Terse panning and cutting in the tyrannosaurs' parental pining insinuates anthropomorphism without succumbing to pernicious bathos.
Counterposing our technology and theirs', most potently in the cop cars' futile but furious pursuit of the graceful crafts, this film legitimizes the need for validation from outwith ourselves, all emotions, Roy’s and ours’, being invested in the mothership’s obtuse majesty. Compare its use of special effects to A.I., in which fantastic technology is positioned as a torturously banal backdrop for earthly longings.
In this castigation of our unthinking reliance on the base image, Cruise frantically acts as both spectator and filmmaker, manufacturing meaning from the hollow reality of the psychic's raw footage. At home he self-medicates/flagellates with hyperreal projections that science has given body without soul. In a world in which one's eyes must constantly give and take, only in the hero's blindness can the pace slacken.
Really quite interesting in terms of scale and space, especially the action sequences constituted by extreme dramatic close-ups and even more extreme long shots which the war machines dominate nevertheless. The roving camera is an unsympathetic presence, its lack of restriction making the money shot of the one-walled living room unnerving long before the unembellished revelation of the scene of a now banal nightmare.
No one makes action sequences as moral as James Gray. As in The Yards' hospital scene, this film's set pieces evoke empathy rather than detached suspense, privileging emotion over the fetishising of physical reality. Vicious POVs ground us in hellish isolation while the objective shots deny any succinct sense of space. The car chase is chaotic to the point of producing a serene helplessness I've never felt before.
The dichotomised visuals of stark close-ups and warm landscapes evoke a fear for man tempered with a reminder that our extinction and the apocalypse are not one and the same. Shyamalan’s cutting concisely manufactures disorientated tension and his compositions hint at a dissonance in our superfluous numbers that is conquerable only by extrospection. And, yes, Mark Wahlberg is (intentionally, I assure you) hilarious.
Essentially a benign counterpart to the malignant Signs, this film endears itself via a motley cast and a naïve ambition atypical in the contemporary Hollywood thriller. The narrative cohesion of Shyamalan's early hits now seems to have been a fluke, but his real strengths come to light as he exploits a single location for all it's worth, his colour, mise-en-scène and framing making the mundane relatively compelling.
There's no way his best films are a fluke. There are just some directors who swing for the fence in much more dangerous ways than other filmmakers. Honestly, Shyamalan should get a lot more credit than he does. He's turned into a bit of a punching bag, but that guy tries really big, ballsy ideas. It's much easier in some ways to adapt a good novel or play or pursue a character study (like, for instance, "There Will Be Blood," which is brilliant). When M. Night pulls it off, it's pretty amazing ("The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable" for instance).
Taking the standard Confucian approach, Dead Man's Shoes' treatment of vengeance is hardly extraordinary. But it’s not about ethics; it's an unrefinable expression of holistic shame and the realisation that we must empathise with the irredeemable villains rather than the impenetrable hero is devastating. The defence mechanism of ironic posturing may be in vogue, but Meadows' films always startle in their earnestness.
This film is generally interpreted as a pedestrian but earnest (read 'soft') satire of the pretensions of the art scene. I find it more interesting to view as a mockery of the crux of the 'dark side of fame' narrative: the cliché that success turns starry-eyed innocents into monsters. ('Don't become an asshole, Pecker. I beg of you, do not become an asshole') Flawed, but deserving of a less patronising reputation.
Emotionally and dramatically, this film is completely hollow, but it's said that Peckinpah gave it his all and I can believe it. The fast-cutting/slow motion car chase and breathtakingly sleazy murder scene would have pride of place in any of his works. First rate filmmaking makes a second rate movie out of third rate material. Peckinpah can't quite transcend trash, but he can make it engaging, almost fascinating.
Combining mimesis of the objective documentary with the expressionistic perspective of a silent hero, this film's ambitious technique overcomes its technical failings. The amalgamation of the dreamlike shimmer of the school and the blackness of the fairytale countryside with the grey realism of the city may create a heightened atmosphere, but an emotional veracity is maintained, compassionate as it is unsentimental.
What distinguishes Jack Arnold's films from many other acknowledged genre classics is a genuine respect for the scientific method. This film takes a stand against the gung-ho anti-intellectualism that afflicted the era's sci-fi, with an infectious wonder that can survive any violence of man or nature. The luxurious sequence of the infatuated creature awkwardly swimming around Julie Adams is a thing of simple beauty.
Fuller's anecdotal narrative forbids the conceited philosophising of the layperson, traces of which permeate even the top tier of the genre. Instead it plays like a collection of war stories from a veteran seeking alternatively to shock and amuse, its figures imbued with equal veracity in both their warmth and detachment. As a film, it isn't amongst Fuller's very best, but its unaffected authenticity is unmatched.
Having threatened to do so with Storytelling, Solondz has created in this sequel-remake, a redemptive antithesis to Happiness. Through the baking heat of its aesthetic and performances of lesser caricature, save Sheedy's (admittedly excellent) impression of her predecessor, the film is granted a degree of realism that makes his macabre high comedy more difficult to dismiss as farce. If he's 'lost it', good riddance.