Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Opposite Of Now

When the world collides, it surely would.
Longing for all you had, only for a film or two.
Rescuers on their way to what once resembled life,
remember that earth, will always be a foundation.
Empty picture frames and a blank canvas,
cameras and brushes you once filled with your mind.
Existing is what you do in the mirror of another,
forgetting that time had passed.
Miracles float like moths to a flame,
fear meanders ever so near,
with the realisation that you are now and they have gone.
Time, memories and a little yellow post-it, that screams a past,
finding what once was,
The opposite of now.

Friday, March 9, 2012

100 Films You Must See #86

Peter Weir

I remember fondly The Mosquito Coast as a young man for several reasons, but none so more than the fact, a man has choices and he can live by them or further more, die by them. Harrison Ford (Allie Fox) who plays an idealist who literally travels to no man's land with his young family for he is sick of the constant fear that America brings, is one of those characters in film that you love or hate. He ships out his family to Central America in a remote location to start his own community, his utopian vision is at risk from the initial idea.

River Phoenix (Charlie Fox) his son serves as narrator throughout and we get an account of what it must be like to be in such a position. We also see the reversal of Allie  through him and his becoming a man while his Father clutches to the vary ideals that are bringing down his family, who his goal is to make a better life for.

Peter Weir who also brought you Witness which has similar themes, out does himself again. I have not yet viewed Picnic at Hanging Rock which I am told is his best.

You may see this as an anti-American film, at times yes you could think that as Allie has his resentments. But The Mosquito Coast is simply about one mans vision and how that vision and all those throughout history have been brought down by the masses, for even idealists who have the best intentions for the human race can not ever appease everyone. Another film made much later is that of The Beach by Danny Boyle which explores the very same sentiments and does it exceptionally well.

The Mosquito Coast is a perfect example of what film is intended to do, it is supposed to question you, make you feel and put you in a characters situation, through identifying with them. I'm sure there is something in Allie Fox that is in all of us, and mostly that is an urge to see life in a different way and above all, go out an experience it.

100 Films You Must See

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

100 Films You Must See #87

Joel & Ethan Coen

:) I wondered if it was appropriate to start this particular entry with a smile, I thought No, I have a small audience, but an audience who expect well written pieces. Then I thought about the film I was reviewing and it came to me, I have had so much repeated fun with this film that who cares really and maybe you'll definitely buy into my mood, the mood in which the Coen's allow you to be involved in.

There is a lot about The Big Lebowski that is not of classic film and I think most will not agree on my selection. For starters you may ask if Blood Simple is the perfect crime film why does this film reign supreme over it? I don't see it that way. I think with films it is what your left with at the end of the day.

Anyway enough about that, it's all justification and I won't have anymore of it. The Big Lebowski is a triumph of the comedy genre. It does what many fail to and that is simply make you laugh. You may be laughing at the one liners, the innuendo, the observational, the caricatures, the futile conversations or the outright foul language, it all has it's place within context.

An example is when we open the film to see The Dude a.k.a. Jeff Lebowski played by Jeff Bridges in a shopping mall, he is an untidy, modern hippy and as he checks out milk for his white Russians, we hear George Bush address the American people on standing up to aggression, this mind you was from the time of the Iraq war (91' desert storm). Just before this we hear a cowboy voiceover introducing The Dude (which in fact is a name given to the Dean Martin character in Rio Bravo 59' who was a no-hope drunk) and we learn that those words of the then president actually wouldn't have an effect on the man, it's the world around him that has turned cynical and edgy. It's his friend the retired Vietnam Vet Walter played by John Goodman that 'won't stand the aggression'. watch this scene

The Big Lebowski is a ride for the paranoid and in the end these pivotal characters are fighting an unchecked enemy, something made up. The Coen's have fun with this idea and ride it into oblivion which reminds me of older slapstick comedies that have no plot but are a series of sketches and have that single character that is effected by all the moron's around him when all he wants to do is go bowling.

100 Films You Must See

Monday, January 30, 2012

100 Films You Must See #88

Arthur Penn

I can remember seeing Bonnie And Clyde as a young man and thinking it was a light take on a gangster film. The music and sometimes blase performance of Warren Beatty had me believing that he was a joker and that this film would somehow be over the top. When you finish Bonnie And Clyde you begin to realise that there was no joke, no whimsy, actually nothing light about it at all. If there is one word I could give such a film, it would be that of truth. You see I don't know what being a bank robber, criminal, gangster or all three of them combined would be like, but I'm willing to bet it starts out being fun and games but it will most likely reach the depths of that famous last scene. If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it.

You may find from my past reviews that I like my crime film with necessary violence, I always remember Francis Ford Coppola stating how much he hated violence and creating a crime scene on film. I think the violence he directs in his films is always necessary. Cut to Arthur Penn director of Bonnie And Clyde and he states he wanted to show what real violence would be like, none of your old Hollywood type murders and  subdued blood. I think what he achieved here is a portrait of the aftermath, something audiences can learn from, it's all justified within.

With some master performances from Beatty and Dunaway this is a must watch film that stands the test of time for it's brutality and truth.

100 Films You Must See

Friday, January 27, 2012

100 Films You Must See #89

Joel & Ethan Coen

Blood Simple is the first piece of writing and directing the Coen Brothers attempted. For me there are way too many first films from virgin directors to list that are perfect. It's something about your first feature that shows a freedom, a style and confidence in story, that really shines through. Here in Blood Simple a film from their thriller genre we are invited to go inside a small American community and to touch on what violence and what madness it brings.

Do you know what it's like to do something wrong once and be so upset with your self that making the same mistake seems like a sense of freedom is bestowed upon you. The Coen's touch on that here, Blood Simple does not give us a series of murders, but one, and in this you can't help but remember Alfred Hitchcock and harp back to the way his films and Blood Simple concentrate on one murder and their is no glorifying it. Also alike is the manner of the murder, and the complexity of one man's death, that with it, comes a conscience, regret, and what's most fun, a way to hide it.

The actions of these characters are so thought out that you begin to believe that yes this could really happen and what's worst is that you can mildly understand the bewildering decisions they make. Blood Simple is a fine achievement in the thriller genre and just maybe one day, the many thrillers made would see sense to drop the overt, in your face, jumbled flashback, flash-forward aspects of the psychological thriller and concentrate on how a murder can inhibit or release some from their burdens and learn from the masterclass of these very fine filmmakers.

100 Films You Must See
#90 Der Untergang (Downfall)
#89 Blood Simple 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

100 Films You Must See #90

Oliver Hirschbiegel

I'm still not sure if most Germans new what was happening under their noses. I wonder even if they knew, what could be done? One things for certain, this type of thing could happen again, people are so easily swayed, that's why Downfall is an important film.

I have recently viewed Judgement At Nuremberg 1961 (which should but will not be included in this list as it was viewed after the close of 2011) a film that delves into the trials shortly after the holocaust. The film had German judges up on trial, we the audience can swing either way as these men made and passed law to keep that abominable man in power and allowing him to do what he did. I bring up this film because I believe Downfall's themes are very similar, that is, do these people know what they are really doing and will anyone who can forsee the severity of their actions make a change?

Simply put, Downfall is a must see film. It's truly up to you what you take from the film. We take perspective from Traudi Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara) whom is hired by Adolf Hitler (Bruno Ganz) as his secretary, you can only imagine the atrocities she would become aware of. Downfall is actually that, the fall of a dictator all set within a claustrophobic German bunker as the allies drew closer and closer to capturing the man. "I do not want to live in a world without National Socialism" one associate would say as suicide became an ever apparent alternative to having been captured, but are these the words of an idealist or a coward? It's for you to decide.

If we ever chat about men that make films, then Bruno Ganz is at the very top. Never over the top or nonchalant, Ganz's adaptation of Adolf Hitler is flawless. Yes, I almost felt for this awful awful lack of a human.

I believe what Downfall does above all, is it reinstates the confusion and uncertainty of that time. It raises the same questions and some 70 years later gives no certain answers. Downfall is an account of a horrific time, that needs to be seen. Oliver Hirschbiegel understands that we the audience don't need anyone to tell us we need a trial or a lynching or a long dictatorial speech, what we do need are the facts and we will come to our own independent conclusions, something Nazi Germany individually could not determine for themselves.

100 Films You Must See
#90 Der Untergang (Downfall)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

100 Films You Must See #91

Woody Allen

Match Point signified two things for Woody Allen, his turn to making more films abroad as opposed to his love of New York. The other being his collaboration with Scarlett Johansson, she would later be cast in Scoop 2006 and Vicky Cristina Barcelona 2008. I bring these two points up because I find them vital to his filmography and his writing. You see in those films starring Johansson, Allen was now writing a form of his character that frequented most of all his earlier films. If you closely watch Johansson in all three films included Scoop where she co-starred with Allen, She is Allen reborn into a new body, a better looking one at that. The Woody Allen character has not been lost at all, he has hung onto it.

I have been debating whether or not to give you a rundown on the plot or not, I know I shouldn't as Match Point's backbone is that is surprises. Even having said that, you'll be waiting for something like a bang. I've said too much already. This is a thriller but a thriller that is planted purely in pace and timing. There is nothing in the major part of the introduction and first act that desires to tell you a thriller will emerge, after all it is a Woody Allen picture and he is most intent to concentrate on character, the rest will flow on. Please just watch the film without even reading the blurb, you'll see I haven't included a trailer either.

Match Point is scathing on it's character's, it's not about the old deabte, good vs. evil, it's not really about relationships and their ups and downs, it's simply about surviving in human world of mistakes and misfortune.

So Woody Allen makes his first appearance on my list of films you must see. Expect to see a few more from the director. I am enjoying this new wave of cinema from the director, surprisingly his more recent films are some of his best, but in all I have hardly seen an average Allen picture.

100 Films You Must See

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

100 FIlms You Must See #92

Okuribio (Departures)
Yojiro Takita

Departures is a film full of sincere beauty. Everything about this film, it's content included is about the beauty you find within every circumstance and to that, the most dire. Daigo (Masahiro Motoki) a retrenched cellist is in need of a new job. The job is that of encoffinment which is preparing the dead for burial. Daigo never tells his wife, after-all he is coming home everyday having bathed and cleaned the dead, he only takes the job as to support his family. This is not a film about afterlife and having the dead enter that realm, it is simply about all the people who are left behind once a death has occurred. Unlike anything I have ever seen before there is a lengthy, done with care and absolute respect. I won't say more, for this film is all about feeling and not thought, something you should have lack-there-of while viewing this impressive film.

If you have noticed already from the list of films I am compiling, I have a soft spot for serious drama that can make you laugh at all the right times, Departures does just that. There is a soft humour but it never interferes with the ensuing story, it only helps us see the lighter side, it does not allow us to fear the death themes but with that allows us to understand and accept the tradition of departing gracefully and with respect.

There are many films that try to tap into the beauty of something so dire, Yojiro Takita does it with humility and sincerity. Departures is a film that must be seen if not for anything but for it's beauty.

100 Films You Must See

Monday, January 9, 2012

100 Films You Must See #93

Clint Eastwood

Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is a hard man. Gran Torino opens to find Walt at his wife's funeral. An elderly man almost invincible at her wake. While his son and family float among the place as if he doesn't exist. Their intentions are solely to suit themselves. With that Walt's community is ever changing, the old American's (and one wonders where Kowalski came from..Poland?) like himself, have seen their own families grow to have their own, and everyone around him has either moved on or died. Enter the new residents and his neighbours in particular, a large family of Hmong people and girl and boy who set this story into action.

Young Hmong boy Thao is under direct peer pressure from his cousins gang to infiltrate Walt's garage and steal his prized possesion, his Gran Torino. Thao does not succeed. Young Hmong girl and Thao's sister Sue is somewhat rescued by a gang of would be racists by Walt. Then there is a scene which changes everything. Thao and Sue's cousin's gang starts a ruckus on their front lawn as they intend to use force to persuade Thao to join their cause. The fight spills out onto Walt's lawn. Being an ex-military man, and having someone invade his own property Walt eventually takes action. A friendship then blossoms.

To me Gran Torino is about the elder population and there decline only in the eyes of people around them. Walt proves the man he was, is still the man he is. It is also about the ever growing mixing of cultures, yes in America, but also in my Australia and many many other countries. For me there is a reliance on tolerance, something Walt lived by, and not that of acceptance. But what most sticks out for me is the gang culture and how one man can help another if only for some guts, something Clint Eastwood's characters all swear by.

100 Films You Must See

Sunday, January 8, 2012

100 Films You Must See #94

Jason Reitman

I've never quite seen a film of it's kind, this well made. Juno is one of those films you can't help but fall in love with. It's a simple story, a teenager falls pregnant and her mission is to find suitable adoptive parents. Witted, intelligent, carefree, Juno is played by Ellen Page who does an amazing job. The ensemble cast from her Mother, best friend, soon to be adoptive parents and the babies Father (Allison Janney, Olivia Thirlby, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, Michael Cera respectively) all have great parts to play in Juno's life. It's central to a marvelous, witty and clever screenplay by then first time screenwriter Diablo Cody.

But for me it is Juno's Father (J.K, Simmons) who set's up the emotion that will later be conveyed in the film. After-all we are products of our family and environment and Juno definitely is her Father. His liberal views and sense of humour are reflected through Juno, but Juno being the 2.0 version. Something her Father comes to realise. For me, he is one of the great Patriarchal characters in modern cinema. It's important to have such characters when building up the protagonists own character.

There are also scenes with the soon to be biological parents that would have you at one time laughing with the discomfort they find themselves in and the next moment close to a tear. Juno is an emotional film with refined touches of comedic brilliance. It helps me remember that when you feel there is no more ground beneath you, all is not lost, be happy with what you have and all the things you don't need.

100 Films You Must See

Saturday, January 7, 2012

100 Films You Must See #95

James Clavell
I'm not sure if I have seen a film about a teacher and their pupils made prior to 1967. I'm sure there was, but this is probably all I need to keep me satisfied that this one here writes the rules on how to do it. I won't say very much about the storyline here as in all honesty If you have seen a film about a teacher and their pupils, you probably can guess as to how the film pans out.

Set in the 60s, it's a booming London, the kids in this classroom are near graduating, they are the rejects from other more sought after schools. These are the next men and women of the real world. They can either change the world or add to it's problems. The females, with their mini dresses and attitudes are foul mouthed. The males have no respect for the female kind, dressed with attitude, which was eventually replicated in the 80s and beyond by punk rock bands. In the lunch breaks they dance to quite provocative music for the sixties. In between school yard conversations are loud and in a cockney accent.

In enters an Engineer graduate, Mark Thackery (Sidney Poitier) taking a job as a teacher as there is no work in his field. A man of great morals and principals. Poitier is quite amazing here as he is in many films, great line delivery, eyes that deliver and array of emotions, he connects with the audience from the very first scene.

The film is centered around the Lulu song "to sir, with love" which is a beautiful backdrop, she also takes a part in the film as a student.

This film is what many directors look to when trying to create a film about the Teacher/Student film. So many lessons you learn along the way, they are so relevant to this day and age and will never change. I'm not sure if they do but, this film has to be made a concrete film to view in high schools all around the world.

100 Films You Must See
#96 No Country For Old Men
#95 To Sir, With Love

Friday, January 6, 2012

100 Films You Must See #96

Ethan Coen & Joel Coen

I'll let you in on a secret, there are four Coen Brother's films in my list, three of which are heavily reliant on crime rather than comedy. The rest you can figure for yourself. There is always a thin line between both in their films. If one of their characters don't make you laugh, the circumstances of their decisions will always make you chirp out with shy laughter. The Coen's are masters of this sort of storytelling. This time very much along the lines of their masterpiece debut Blood Simple 1984, this is pure crime/thriller. Yes there are times of pure absurdity, where you can double take at the screen and wonder why? but it works as it does most the time in their pictures.

No Country For Old Men is adapted from the book of the same name, by Cormac McCarthy, I never read the book. I'm not one that is super-religious on how true a film-maker stays to the original text. After all these are two very different mediums, but one tells me that it stays true and from reading All The Pretty Horses and The Road and their subsequent films, you know that Cormac writes in a very filmic way.

But again, the characters and story are what set's Coen Brothers films apart, with the former being more of a priority. Usually it's having characters and allowing them to take the plot forward, back, right, left or whatever. This is for all to see within their writing. No Country For Old Men is a crime about pace and timing, it will not get caught up in action, the action is an afterthought to the positions their characters find themselves in. It is also a thriller that leaves you wondering and anticipating, much like Blood Simple. So what's your hesitation? watch it friend-O!

100 Films You Must See

Thursday, January 5, 2012

100 Films You Must See #97


For an Australian this is the perfect film. For a run of the mill Aussie battler, this is a film that is very close to your heart. Meet Darryl Kerrigan along with his four kids and wife he is the happiest man alive. With his 'Castle' his family home, he is simply at peace with himself and all he has achieved. "how's the serenity?" he gasps after taking in a heap of that murky suburban air. He is a simple man, a man that I believe we all aspire to be. Maybe more refined, maybe more intelligent, but simply deep down in all our hearts we aspire to be simpletons and happy with that style of life. It's the abundance of the world we live in that somehow always spoils our bliss.

The film has the characters within at a crossroads when the family's home is under threat from the government to only add to the ever growing capitalisation of suburban Australia. It's something I remember in the early to mid 90s as a young boy. I remember many people loosing their jobs and super-markets/shopping malls going up and sending folks with small business's out!

There is a comment here within this film. But there is also a genuine heart something that touches us all. An Australian classic.

100 Films You Must See
#98 Groundhog Day
#97 The Castle

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

100 Films You Must See #98

Harold Ramis

Groundhog Day is a film with an extravagant concept. Man gets stuck in a universal glitch and re-lives the same day over and over again, man then needs to find out why and rectify it to start a brand new day. Imagine bringing this script to a producer, you'd get a quick 'No' followed by a sneaky 'Good Luck'.

It has a smart, funny screenplay and it is no doubt pulled off by the comic genius of Bill Murray, he is the pivotal key to making this film. It's the subtle moments of frustration and anxiety that give this mans journey the credence you need to stick with such an out-there concept. At it's heart, there is a romance and Phil (Bill Murray) admittedly has no interest in his colleague Rita (Andy McDowell). The concept acts as quite and original plot for the romance to work in. There have been other films that have clearly stolen from Groundhog Day, like 50 first dates.

This is a film you have to see at least once, or twice or thrice, it's groundhog day!

100 Films You Must See
#98 Groundhog Day

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

100 Films You Must See #99

Nicholas Winding Refn
I know this film has only been in cinema for two months at most now. I hear you ask, but how can a film stand the test of time if it's a newborn? Drive is unlike any crime film I have seen in recent memory. It is a crime film full of style & class which has a straightforward plot with themes of film noir. What Drive does better than it's contemporaries, is it does not shy away from the fact that this could well be a classic in film. It knows what it can be and through director Refn it is achieved, whereas your typical crime films which follow a very similar plot to this are always full of shoot-em-up's and dialogue that is a fabrication of macho protagonists that don't seem to exist. Along with it's soundtrack, Drive seems certain to stand the test of time.

100 Films You Must See
#100 The Goonies
#99 Drive

Monday, January 2, 2012

100 Films You Must See #100

Richard Donner

The Goonies was a childhood favourite of mine. It was very different to other PG films, this one had an attitude and it's character's were not afraid to be the adolescents they were. Coarse language was prevalent so was the language friends and I were using in the school yard. An adventure film it is, but at it's heart The Goonies was a buddy film and a film about boys becoming men. Remember to do the Truffle Shuffle.