Month: August, 2013

Europa Report

I had high hopes for this film and it’s fledgling director Sebastián Cordero. I had hoped that I was going to receive a pleasant surprise … the same kind that Duncan Jones gave me with his superb debut, Moon. Nope. For all its visual wizardry and clever editing, Europa Report just didn’t cut the mustard. It offered nothing particularly new or unique, which to be fair is not necessarily a bad thing, but unfortunately Europa Report rocketed headfirst into the trap of methodically employing clichéd scifi tropes. You can pretty much take the first half of Alien, gloss it up a bit, wash, rinse, and repeat, which goes to show that Nostomo’s landing in Scott’s 1979 Alien is still a timeless and unparalleled piece of film making. That said, it has its moments, and Shalto Copley’s scene (at the very end of the trailer below) is quite intense, but ultimately Europa Report didn’t grab me and I didn’t care much for its characters.

Thesis progress

So my thesis proposal is still going to-and-fro between my supervisor and I in what feels like an endless loop. We are now at the stage of making pedantic grammatical changes before submission to the council. Thank goodness I’m part-time, and to that end I’ve decided to forge ahead with the thesis proper and powered out some 7000 words of pap about the basics of phenomenology that no doubt will be unrecognisable in the finished product. Ostensibly here is what my thesis will be about.

calvin-on-writing-a-thesis

To the Wonder

… and to cap off the NZIFF, we finished with Terrence Mallick’s To the Wonder. Ostensibly a film about love, To the Wonder follows Neil (Ben Affleck) and Merina (Olga Kurylenko) struggling with their relationship, cleverly contrasted with Father Quintana (Javier Bardem) struggling with his faith. Shot in a very interesting non-scripted fashion, where the narrative comes from editing patterns more than anything else, perhaps similar in style to Mallick’s previous feature, The Tree of Life, although quite different in content. I really enjoyed this film, it drew me in and I found it quite euphoric in parts, although I can understand criticism aimed at Mallick for visually repeating himself.

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Only Lovers Left Alive

Just quickly, as we’re off Malick’s To the Wonder.

Last night I saw Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. A new and interesting take on the vampire genre that is a refreshing, cool, quirky, and sometimes hilarious film that leaves the kind of indelible stamp synonymous with a Jarmusch film. Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (the superb Tilda Swinton) are vampires that have been in love for centuries. Sounds rather clichéd really, but this is so much more than a vampire film. There are plenty of clever commentaries and allegories made here, perhaps most appealing was Adam and Marlowe’s (John Hurt) concern with “getting the art out there” all the while avoiding fame (the allusion to Shakespeare’s rumoured ghostwriter is great). Pleasingly slow, and on occasions ponderous, Only Lovers Left Alive is a film that was more of an experience rather than a plot driven drama. Jarmusch’s, camera slowly roams the moody night-time streets of Detroit and Tangiers, giving a very solid sense of place … if you’ve seen Ghost Dog you’ll know what I mean. Mesmerising stuff!

Rating: 5 stars

The Bling Ring

Another busy day yesterday. Work, study, film, study, cricket, shower, bed. Saw Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring. Based on actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers use the internet to track celebrities’ whereabouts in order to rob their homes. As typical with many Sofia Coppola films, this was a highly stylised affair, not huge on narrative … yet somehow plenty of substance. I was pretty much mesmerised as I drifted amongst these misguided and privileged youths for ninety minutes. It’s pretty much a classic gig of teens misbehaving but dressed up in everything I hate about the captitalist society we live in. Thumbs up to Coppola for making this highly affective, superbly paced, and well balanced film.

Today I see Only Lovers Left Alive. Really looking forward to it.