Month: March, 2012

Film Weekly’s final week

Aaaargh! It is the very last episode of The Guardian’s Film Weekly. This is it … for good. This completely came out of the blue. So long Jason Solomons and Xan Brooks, I will miss your witty insights. I will be following you on Twitter (@JasonCritic and @XanBrooks). I understand there will be a video podcast later in the year which I am looking forward to.

In the meantime here is their final episode. In this swansong edition of the Film Weekly podcast, Jason Solomons is joined by Guardian film writer Xan Brooks to review Aardman’s The Pirates!, Tiny Furniture, Into the Abyss, This Is Not a Film and Mirror Mirror.

Brunch and a movie: The Best Exotic Marigold hotel

Took the day off on Friday. I went into Howick with Seema, and had brunch at Café Paris. I enjoyed the Eggs Benedict and coffee, while Seema had the “big breakfast”, and then we shuffled off to the Monterey theater to watch The Best Exotic Marigold hotel. A matinee session during a weekday, in a suburb with a high percentage of retired folk, and a movie about retirees dealing with their “golden years”; you would expect a healthy amount blue rinse in the audience to cast a hue over the silver screen … and you’d be right, we were the youngest people in the theater by some way. See the rest of my review here.

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The Purple Rose of Cairo

Seema and I watched the The Purple Rose of Cairo on the weekend.  Having last seen Woody Allen’s classic when it was released some 25 years ago, I thought it was worth a revisit.  I was also keen to see how closely this film followed Pirandello’s play Six Characters in Search of an Author (having brieifly studied it a couple of years back) to which it draws its inspiration from. Seema and I had enjoyed Allen’s latest release Midnight in Paris, so I was fairly confident that she’d enjoy this.  If I was to compare The Purple Rose of Cairo to any other film then Midnight in Paris comes up trumps in almost every way.  The film has not aged a bit, and had it been released today I’m sure it would sit comfortably among present releases, The Artist, Midnight in Paris, and the like, trending with its meta-film language and fourth wall breaking that is presently popular.  If you haven’t seen this film … go and see it.

 

New Prometheus trailer, Alien, Moon, and their Hollywood gloss.

Just released in IMAX theaters (in the U.S. at least) is the new Prometheus trailer.  For those who don’t know Prometheus is considered a loose prequel to the original Alien.  To be released this June, Prometheus has a great pedigree, and as with Alien, it is directed by Ridley Scott.  I am a huge fan of the original Alien, and I must say that this trailer looks impressive.  However, this is not without a few concerns. The original Alien had an authentic realism to it.  Bordering on mumble core, Alien, was dirty, industrial, and avoided what I will call the “Hollywood gloss”.  Alien used milk crates as set flooring, and modified cricket pads for its space suits, all unrecognizable yet ironically working towards its realist aesthetic. And this is my big concern with Prometheus.  Judging from this trailer and previous teasers, my concern is that Prometheus will suffer from the big budget Hollywood gloss that its lower budget counterpart avoided.  Its attractive cast, and its computer generated wizardry, among other minor quibbles, suggest to me that Prometheus will not capture the essence of its original.  Look no further that Duncan Jones’s cult classic Moon if you want to see a fine example of how a low budget sci-fi can work within its means to create a cerebrally brilliant film.  In an interview Jones talked about avoiding this Hollywood gloss and aimed for an Alien aesthetic.  I had kind of hoped that Prometheus would do the same. Perhaps my expectations are unrealistic, wrong, … or maybe they will actually be realized.  Either way, I still think I will enjoy the film regardless.  I’m just hoping it will be good enough to join the pantheon of sci-fi classics.

Film Noir, Double Indemnity, and Edward G. Robinson.

The academic year has kicked off and with it my first block course at Massey University in Albany.  This year I am studying Film Noir, a genre that I am not too familiar with.  I have studied fringe noir, such as the works of Wells, Hitchcock, and Clouzot, but have never dived head long into the ‘hard boiled’ Hollywood films of the forties and fifties.  I’m really hoping that this year will bring about a real appreciation for this genre.  This weekend I saw Black Angel(1946), Murder My Sweet(1944), Crossfire(1947), and Billy Wilder’s excellent Double Indemnity(1944).  All are characteristic of the genre, although with varying budgets.  I must make special mention of the acting by Edward G. Robinson in Double Indemnity … quite the tour de force.  I saw a short clip of him on The Woman in the Window(1944) and he alone makes me want to see the rest.

As with all of these films, a suspension of disbelief must be adhered to … at least to a certain degree.  After all, you must remember that these films are over sixty years old, and whilst certain portrayals would be considered a gross cliche today, back then it was new and fresh.  So, if you do end up watching any of the films mentioned above, attempt to view with a fresh pair of innocent eyes.  Cast your mind back to life sixty years ago, and don’t let the cinematic cynicism that rides on the back of time colour your judgement. If you do this then I think you’ll find that these films have quite some depth and are a real joy to watch.

Edward G. Robinson

Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Scott’s Alien, and their gender representations

The transformation of gender representations undergone by the protagonist raises challenging questions about the nature of modern and/or postmodern identities.  Added to the academic section is an abstract of an essay where I discuss this with reference to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/horror classic Alien and David Lynch’s superb Mulholland Drive (pictured).

Leap Year – review

See the film Leap Year near February 29th. That sounds like a good idea … at least it would’ve been were the film any good.  See my review here.