While We’re Young – Review (2014)

I probably should be reviewing Noah Baumbach’s newest film, Mistress America, but I saw this one recently and do plan to watch the latter! so stay tuned for that review.

Noah Baumbach is a director I am gaining interest in these days, being a friend and collaborator of Wes Anderson, it’s easy to see how they connect in their film making, the looks are different but a lot of the humour and atmosphere is the same. In addition there are many similarities in humour with Whit Stillman (Recently watched Metropolitan,1990) This type of humour and style of filmmaking, amongst the three (I don’t know any other directors like this? let me know of them please in comments!) can sometimes come across pretentious? or even too dry,with the characters not able to carry a lack of a plot. Also the lack of people of colour, is kind of disappointing, these are very male white directors and you can see that in their work. *Not saying I don’t enjoy their films.

However I watched Frances Ha, and that is one of my favourite films. I really loved that film, so I was kind of pumped for this one, with the pairing of Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts and its seemingly great story line. What started off fresh and promising , soon became… dull and disappointing by the end. This is very much down to personal preference, but the film didn’t go in the direction i would of thought it obviously could go down. Instead it went down a strange boring path that made the characters not so likeable, and hard to connect with. The annoying guy from GIRLS was in it and for some reason he just annoys me. I got what the film was trying to say, and while this film is supposed to be centred around a couple, i found it focusing on Ben Stiller and ignoring Naomi Watt’s characters goals in life, she becomes less important which I think is unfair, the female characters don’t get beyond a certain point, while the male characters become fully developed with their, hopes dreams and fears. The reason I have a problem with this is because it sets them up the go on the journey equally together but fails to do this throughout.

The ending was disappointing but also quite good? I thought a story about a couple who didn’t want kids would be stronger, but obviously the ending made sense with the dialogue throughout the film that told us that they had tried but had difficulty conceiving/miscarriages . SPOILERS: Their decision to adopt is fine… but I found their choice of baby to be so stereotypical of rich white celebrities, I didn’t know wether this bit was supposed to be a satire or serious… but the last scene was good in its message of how the characters felt.

I don’t really know what to make of this film, i felt overwhelmed in the end, felt there was something missing.

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Ex Machina – Review (2015)

Written and Directed by Alex Garland (his directorial debut!) the film is about:

A young programmer who is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breath-taking female A.I.

An A.I. film like never before, not action packed but a small, almost hitchcockian suspense thriller/drama that holds grand ideas in its simple framework. A relatively low key cast but with incredible acting talent Caleb (Domhall Glesson, who I recently fell in love with) is our main character who we follow. He is joined by co stars Oscar Issac and Alicia Vikander who play their parts perfectly, behind each performance is so much unsaid about that character, their past seeps into their current performance, creating a wave of mystery throughout the whole film.

I can see how many people who go into this movie expecting something like Will Smiths I,Robot etc and thus come out disappointed there were no explosions, however go into this film thinking more of HAL from 2001. I know i’m all about interpretations, but this is where a lot of audiences come out of films frustrated… because the forget to see cinema/film as an ART form. Film is not JUST pure 2D fast entertainment , a lot of people, myself included make films to say something about something! of course these types of films can be entertaing too and they can also just be art for arts sake, not having to say anything important AT ALL. But for me, i came away not knowing what to think at all about what I just watched, a bit of a shocking ending, I had to read up more about it to really understand it. And I must say when you do this you will gain a good appreciation for this film. It reminds me of Under the Skin a bit, in terms of the female perspective.

Ex Machina, follow suit in recent Sci-fi films, such as HER(2013)that delve into the relationships between humans and AI, this theme is really taking off. Besides from  the futuristic simplicity, these films show a future that is more of a Utopia, than a dystopia like past films such as Blade Runner(1982) or Brazil(1985) Instead, exteriors are rosy, but the internal human relationships are what are crumbling and coming to an end. Even now the same argument is used with phones! A great shift in Sci-fi films is really interesting, If you like these kinds of human-A.I relationship themes check out an episode of Black Mirror which explores these again but genders are reversed.

All in all, go check this film out!

Quick Fire Reviews Part 3 – Horror Edition!

When looking back on some of the films I have recently watched, I noticed a lot were horror films, that were also released  in 2014 according to IMDB, so I thought i’d make a horror edition to my every growing quick fire reviews!

Creep:

This one popped up on Netflix recently and has come to many peoples attention. While watching this film I didn’t know wether to laugh or actually be creeped out. I found myself laughing a lot throughout the film. It’s premise is eerie and so is the outcome. The use of ‘found footage’ is well done here and there are some creepy aspects but something felt lacking overall.

Unfriended/Cybernatural :

My most recent watch and the most probably well know of them all. This film takes found footage to a new level, incorportaing a modern twist. I say modern cringeingly as the internet subculture of todays teens is just that. It takes the very common slasher film which a bunch of teenagers, on the surface featuring all stock characters of a slasher film minus the token black guy or girl. But the film does give a good twist(not too surprising) by stripping the common tropes of the ‘Virgin- last girl’ to reveal our ‘protagonist’ is really the original ‘antagonist’ to prior events of the film. If we probably look more into that you could get a deeper meaning/message that the film has to offer on internet culture while inverting slasher conventions.NICE.

Honeymoon:

An interesting premise of a film that I had been intrigued since viewing the trailer. I was also interested in the leading actress outside of Game of Thrones. I don’t think the acting was that great, Something about it felt really forced in the beginning, but then again it made for great juxtaposition for the later half of the film. Sometimes that can happen, which calls to mind Mullholand Drive, your left wondering about Naomi Watts acting in the first half, but by the end it all comes apparent. Lots of mystery to the film, that borders on annoying at times, I liked the plot but needed a bit more, to flesh it out in terms of answers, I think this film could of benefitted from more clues as to WHY things are happening. However these are face value cons, looking deeper there is some good interpretations out there about the films message on maternity and/or relationships which I found to be quite interesting.

Tusk:

I was so intrigued by the trailer to this film, it looks so out there which I normally love. But this has to be the worst film I have watched this year and maybe ever. This film went from horror, to comedy and I was just plain confused as to what this film wanted to be. To make things worse a certain cameo appearance from a major star just ruined an otherwise already terrible film. He KILLED the film. It wasn’t funny, it was disturbing, it reminded me of the human centipede which i haven’t watched but at least it had a clear tone. Avoid this stupid film.

Coherence:

Another film I caught on Netflix, this film started off a chain of films about time travel, or whatever you call it that I got into! I really enjoyed this small, simple, yet complicated plot of a film. The film plays like Cluedo, with an array of characters, doubting one another, giving a great suspense. The science of the film is kind of mind blowing and makes for the real source of horror, the sheer scale of it. I’d give this a watch on Netflix, if you like films like Primer or Looper, anything to do with time and alternative universes. The end is a real twist in motive to the character which results in a real confusing ending that does not quite give a real conclusion, which to many will be VERY unsatisfying. For me though the joy was the centre of the film, learning how everything worked and the reveal of its never ending-ness.

Classic Review – Paris is Burning (1980)

This Documentary is going in my top 5.

Classic reviews are my favourite to write up because, 1. who doesn’t love a classic, and 2. I get to pick one i really love to write and share about. This one I watched recently on Netflix, go check out!! and I was blown away at how this little documentary packs so much in it. We see a culture that probably for the firs time when this was released was relevantly unknown to the wider average joe audience. We an authentic 80’s New York, it reminds me of Koyaanisqatsi, another favourite of mine, in that it captures the now, something that cannot be repeated. This is what makes it a classic.

The documentary shows an array of lively characters, their dreams and hopes and opinions, all the while showing their culture that they live in. Specifically the ball culture of the 80s in New York. Watching this film, it’s amazing to see how much of the underground culture the gay community has crafted now bleeds into the mainstream and is very much now in the open. With programs such as a Rupal’s Drag Race, what was once relatively unknown is now common knowledge and for all to engage with.

This documentary also has a tragic story line with the character of Venus Xtravaganza, which i’ll leave for you to go and watch and find out. This film is significantly important culturally and so is a documentary stable as far as I am concerned, it gives a voice for a minority that needed one at this time and provided a gateway for change in the way we perceive people, everyone is human with hopes, fears, desires and dreams at the end of the day.

Mad Max Fury Road (2015) Review

A HUGLEY LONG OVER DUE REVEW! prior to the release of this film I was not interested AT ALL. I knew of the Mad Max franchise, familiar with Tina Turners hit song, which i love to belt out on the odd occasions, I even vaguely knew of George Miller, he has is own unique style, with his grey curly hair and cute glasses. On my trip to Cannes many were pumped for this film, leading me to eventually come abroad the hype train. This was reinforced by seeing the premiere, hearing the epic music and seeing the stars, featuring two of my favourite actors, Tom and Charlize. I had half heartedly viewed the trailer before but I really mean it when I say I had no interest in the film.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to the film in Cannes, but thats a whole other story. When i got back home, me and my dad(cinema buddy) went to see this in 3D. I didn’t know anything about the plot of this film and I was blown away. By now you have probably heard so many people rave and rant about this film that this is long over due with them. But if anything I want to add my 2 cents.

Hailed by many as the best action film in the last 10 years or so, the audience experiences a stripped back version of the ‘typical action’ movie we are so accustomed to in this day and age. A simple plot that many have embraced and some others have been agitated over, We see Max back. Maybe not on the surface as mad as the war boys or any of the other over the top characters, but instead very subtly he is very mad, as Miller cleverly shows through the lack of dialogue(after years of being alone) and striking imagery of Max’s deceased past. The film is pure post-apocloptic full of rich characters and a rich backdrop, we are thrust into this world with little knowledge. The film does not stop the action of story to tell of countless exposition as to why anything is the way the world is, it simply drops it in seamlessly throughout, we as the audience have to really pay attention and put ourselves in this world. Even my dad loved this film, he was raving out it after. I always loved how the relationships between the characters formed and grew over the course of this ‘road movie’ Max and Furiosa don’t simply fall in love etc, but instead fall to respect each other, after fighting each other they come to form a common enemy which brings them together to want a common goal. Redepmtion.

The masterpiece of this film comes literally from the mastermind that is George Miller. He said himself he wanted the film to be black and white and silent, reminiscent  to Buster Keaton’s epic The General. In having this knowledge one can see why this film is so successful, I believe, anyway, that these type of stripped back films really capture the pure essence of early cinema, which ponders to our basic need of entertainment. It’s only now the audience is incapable of concentrating.Miller packs a punch in beating this new age dilemma with cinema audiences through clever camera work, beautiful cinematography, epic score, and great action sequences. And also great performances from the actors themselves of course!

After viewing this film I went and read and watched as much as i could on the film and was pleasantly surprised to new things I learnt. Such as:

  • How long this film has been in development, aka it was in development hell
  • Miller has back stories to all the characters, which he went through with each actor before shooting.
  • Most of the film used practical effects
  • Miller invited playwright Eve Ensler to act as an on-set adviser. Impressed with the script’s depth and what she saw as feminist themes, she spent a week in Namibia, where she spoke to the actors about issues of violence against women
  • Miller wanted his wife, to edit the film because he said it would look the same as every other action film if a man did it.
  • Every scene is filmed in the centre of the frame, to make it easier for the audience to follow the fast paced action. Something I learnt and thought was very clever.

There are many other things I learned but these stand out the most for me. The film has many interpretable themes about feminism, religion, environment and survival, i urge you all to look deeper into these themes regarding the film because it really does give it extra layers for repeated viewings.There is also a planned sequel to this film which I am so on board for and looking forward to. I hope the hype does not become too much and it takes a new interesting direction which I am sure Miller is keen to do after developing this same story for last 10 years! So if you haven’t seen this film.. go watch it now.

Classic Review – The Third Man (1949)

At Cannes Film Festival, I attended the screening of an Orson Well’s documentry and then after a film, The Third Man, directed by Carol Reed. Orson Well’s is not a man i am too invested in, I studied Citizen Kane for my uni assignment and came to really respect the film on multiple viewings, i have watched two of his others films and that is about it. His image is iconic however in film. Going into this film, i didn’t know what to expect.

A classic noir, thriller from the 40’s i feel like this is a really playful, fun film. I was pleasantly surprised to see Trevor Howard in this too! The score really lends itself to speak about the nature of this film. It isn’t too serious, it is like a game of Cluedo. All the characters are perfectly set up, you could pull them out of a hat of conventional characters. However this doesn’t hinder the enjoyment of the film, all the more it makes you appreciate it. It could be seen as a slight satire of the noir period preceding this film. I would also say, for those who love mystery to check this one out for definite.

Orson Wells, despite small screen time is really the shinning star, and his performance was so enjoyable to watch. I admittedly wouldn’t go out of my way to see a film like this, despite my old hollywood craze, but i was pleasantly surprised!

It Follows (2014) – Review

I saw this film at the BFI, an early screening with a Q&A with the director and actors which was a really great experience. I really should of done this review then, just before, but of course i got over run with things to do. But i thought I would still do this review 🙂

A refreshing new direction in the horror genre, in which i felt a lot of people sighed a breath of relief upon its release, the film takes the old horror which we all fell in love with in the 70’s and 80’s(in particular HALLOWEEN) and gives it a fresh new update without falling into the slasher category. From the score to the cinematography this film is an enjoyable watch. It felt all-american, bringing to mind  A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween , I also loved the new horror monster, which presents itself in the form of ourselves an age old horror tale, which had been masked (literally) by costumes etc. This films offers no answers, and sometimes that can be the downfall for some, it has rules, but no origin or history on which the audience can lean back on and fully absorb, i’m a girl who likes answers and ‘curiosity killed the cat’ is relevant in horror. Other times not knowing the answers point blank can back a film up and give it more, by revealing less. In this case i think it JUST manages to scrape by.

While this film didn’t really scare me, i even watched in the cinema (a perfect atmosphere to truly experience horror) i also wasn’t so convinced on the characters. I liked the dynamics but was left wanting more, with a strong set up, more character development was needed to carry it through to be really satisfying. All in all, it is worth a watch, i should like to give it a second viewing for sure.