We are introduced to a father and daughter who live in an isolated farm house in
a bleak environment where never ending external winds blast the walls of their
small home. Tarr's meticulous approach photographs the individuals as they go
about their daily routines and the repetitions that exist in this bleak existence. This is essentially Tarr's post-apocalyptic film. Its a very dark gloomy experience as the film in a way is the deconstruction of our world in six days. We see these individuals monotonous struggle of survival as they go through their daily routines down to the detail in which it is quite reminiscent of Chantal Akerman's 'Jeanne Dielman'. What does it all mean? The film appears to be a comment on the struggle of humans existence and how you must constantly fight through life but Tarr once again leaves the meaning up to the viewer to decide. Anyone familiar with Bela Tarr's work should know what they are getting into with 'The Turin Horse'. A slow paced, beautifully photographed film with slow tracking shots and a somber score. This is Tarr's bleakest film, and some of the imagery in this film is down right haunting. It's a film that's about 145 minutes long and consists of something like 30 actually shots. This is the type of film that is definitely a hard film to watch, being mostly silent and having scrupulous attention to detail. A film that I would not recommend to most people as they will just find it boring but I personally found it to be mesmerizing and endlessly thought-provoking, two things I value highly in cinema.
Set in the 2009, Barry Levinson's The Bay tells the story of a small seaside town in Maryland the begins to witness strange happenings. There is something in the water that seems to be infecting everyone but no one, including the government, understands where the disease is coming from. As fear turns to outright panic, the government confiscates all the video footage of these occurrences making sure the demise of the town doesn't reach a nationwide panic. Barry Levinson's The Bay is a horror movie showcasing a cynical viewpoint on our governments ability to protect the individual. Structurally the film is told through the eyes of a reporter who has pieced together footage with the intent of exposing the horrible outbreak which happened to this small seaside town. The film is shot in a found footage style, showcasing the chaos which unfolds upon this small town when a grotesque parasite is released into the population, consuming people form the inside out. While The Bay is a decent concept for a horror film, the found footage aesthetic becomes quite tiresome. It's a film that simply comes off stale after the opening 20 minutes, with no real direction other than a heavy handed message which isn't very effective or interesting. The Bay is a one trick pony and after the novelty of an interesting concept wears off the film really struggles with any real sense of direction. The Bay would have worked far better with a linear narrative, letting the chaos unfold naturally instead of informing the viewer after the fact. Honestly I am still quite surprised how on interesting and poorly pace a film like this could be. Barry Levinson's The Bay is a missed opportunity that provides a minimal amount of scares for the viewer in delivering an unoriginal message that is not nearly as profound or interesting as it thinks it is.
At first glance, Bob Bellings, appears to be just like any other average person. He spends most of his time in his high rise office building, working as an office clerk. He seems normal but we quickly learn that he is an incredibly dangerous, mentally unbalanced man whose penchant for sexual conquest and violence knows no bounds. The director, Bo Arne Vibenius, is best known for Thriller: A Cruel Picture, and with Breaking Point the director delivers another skin flick that is much more than meets the eye. Much of the film we follow Bob as he lives this double life, leaving work to routinely stalk, rape, and murder his victims. What seems to be missed by most people who just write Breaking Point off as merely another skin flick, is its masterful use of point of view. The entire film is completely in Bob's point of view, with everything being filtered through his warped reality. Given that fact, Breaking Point is certainly not a film for everyone, being quite graphic at times. Early on in the film we see a news report in which the reporter states "over 80% of woman actually want to be raped". This isn't merely the director/writer having fun, but another example of Bob's warped reality. To him, the woman he attacks aren't being assaulted, they are being given what they ultimately desire. Breaking Point really does a great job at blurring these lines between reality and bob's reality, with the viewer frequently questioning the reality of what they are seeing. It's a stylistic piece of film making that uses music to perfection, assaulting the viewer with loud screeching noises every time Bob commits another murder/rape. It's as if these high pitch screeches and sounds personify Bob's psyche, loud and angry at everyone and everything. The ending of Breaking Point is what really ties the film together perfectly, with Bob greeting his wife and daughter at the airport as they arrive home. This curve ball beautifully illustrates the use of point-of-view earlier as we begin to suspect that all the monstrosities which we have seen were not reality, but merely the messed up imagination of a bored mind. Bo Arne Vibenius' Breaking Point is an incredibly offensive film with sequences that have to be seen to be believed but if one gives the film a chance, it is a much more artful and profound experience than many give it credit for.
Dennis, a 38-year-old bodybuilder, lives at home with his mother in a suburb of Copenhagen. When he attends the wedding of his uncle,who is happily marrying a girl from Thailand, Dennis decides to go to Thailand himself, in search of love. Mads Mattheisen's directorial debut Teddy Bear is about a brutish man whose incredibly lonely and looking for someone who he can share his life with. Dennis is a character whose physical presence is daunting yet emotionally he is incredibly timid and non-confrontational. When he first gets to Thailand a mutual friend introduces him to a beautiful call girl, yet Dennis' inability to go through with this form of pleasure further illustrates the fact that he is seeking more than simply carnal pleasures, he is seeking companionship. Later on he befriends another amateur bodybuilder in Thailand, who invites him to go out that night. While this small scene may seem inconsequential, it perfectly illustrates how Dennis' problem revolves around his interactions with woman. Eventually Dennis does meet a woman who he cares for in Toi, and the tenderness which the two share is told in a very touching way. One cannot write a review of Teddy Bear without mentioning Kim Kold's performance. Kold's ability to capture this kind man's spirit is what truly makes this simply story excel. Teddy Bear is really a coming of age story for a man whose near middle age. Dennis is a man who has been controlled by his mother his entire life and lacks the confidence in himself to stand up for his own decisions. It's really a great example of the "Don't judge a book by its cover" ideal, showing how Dennis must not be fearful, forge his own path and start his own family.
When the mother of a french family gets diagnosed with cancer, everyone in the family is forced to confront the realization that death is only a matter of time. Death is an incredibly hard subject to discuss in cinema but Maurice Pialat's The Mouth Agape does so with unflinching realism. It's a film that takes a look at how the death of a loved one affects everything and everyone around them. The Mouth Agape goes beyond dialogue, relying heavily on the silence of the situation, capturing the underlying emotion of its various characters. There is a conversation early on in the mother's diagnosis where her son and her reminisce about old times, having nice conversations but even still their is this underlying sense of doom which can be seen on their faces whenever the dialogue between the two of them lies stagnant. I can't speak enough about how the film treats all of it's characters with respect - this isn't a perfect family, and we sense the guilt in her husband and son as well as her own- knowing the burden which she has become. The slow deterioration of the mother's body to the point where she can't even speak or feed herself is emotionally devastating, almost like the film is showing the soul of this woman slowly leaving the body step-by-step. The father is such a fascinating character, a man whose a drunk and an unfaithful husband. He's always been interested in the next young woman who comes his way, but once things go from bad to worse he becomes a broken soul. He's a man whose responsibility to his wife is hard to separate from his actual love for her. It's this idea of physicality vs. emotional connection, with her husband ultimately being the most affected of anyone when she passes away. We also learn that the son's propensity to cheat mirrors his father's antics, as he appears headed down the same path as his father. There lives are parallel and Pialat even dresses the two men in almost identical outfits through the second half of the film to illustrate this point. The cinematography is pretty minimalistic with framing and compositions that elicit mood but there is one tracking shot during the funeral which perfectly captured the grief of death and how so many people are affected. Maurice Pialat's The Mouth Agape is probably the best film about death I have ever seen, showing the broad affects and the lessons which can be learned, specifically in this case her son, who most learn from his father's past mistakes after seeing the discourse and regret on his father's face.
If you watch movies solely for entertainment or escapist qualities then it is safe to say that this is not the film for you. Eugene Green's The Portuguese Nun tells the story of a french actress who goes to Lisbon for a film shoot. One night she sees a nun kneeling in a chapel in the city, in which this actress becomes enamored about discovering the story of this nun. The Portuguese Nun is a slow paced film that is really beautifully poetic, though it is definitely not for everyone. It's a very intellectual piece for starters and for anyone not familiar with Eugène Green work, his directorial style is very unique and does take some getting used too. Green is obsessed with his lead actress, Leonor Balaque, and I honestly can understand why with her piercing eyes. Green breaks the forth wall countless times, having many of the actors looking right into the camera. Green knows that his film is not conventional or what many would deem "entertaining". In the beginning when the young actress is checking into her hotel, she has a conversation with the man behind the counter about how french films are too intellectual and/or boring. Sure I could say it drags a bit in parts but its very pretty and features some beautiful compositions. The dialogue has a weird brand of humor at times, but it really makes you more than just an observer with its intellectual segments. The film also does a great service to Lisbon with his slow pans and static shots, really showcasing the beauty of the city. One scene towards the end of the film when the Actress finally confronts the nun is just about perfect. The Portuguese Nun is like a painting in that the viewer can get wrapped up in just staring at the images. It's a hypnotic experience through Lisbon that features sharp dialogue which is both beautiful and intellectually stimulating. I have a feeling that someone like Robert Bresson would honestly be very proud of this film. As stated throughout my review, some will find this tedious or boring, but as our young protagonist says while defending her film within the film: "I find it compelling" and personally I would have to agree.
The first time I watched Somewhere, I wasn't sure about it. The biggest problem I had with Sophia Coppola's newest film was that I never felt as emotionally invested in Johnny's character as I should have been. I wish the script had given us a few more climatic moments earlier in the film to help elaborate Johnny's emotional anguish from more than just a visual standpoint, but from a character standpoint. What I found is that days later I was still thinking about the film, leading me to realize that it had totally engrossed me. Somewhere tells the story of Johnny (Stephen Dorff), a movie star who seems to be on top of the world. His life is planned out for him, from his press junkets, to his meetings; All he ever has to do is just show up. Johnny's life is empty. Sure, he has lots of superficial connections with beautiful women, and he can pretty much afford anything he wants, but he lacks real emotional connection. The one exception to this rule would be his daughter, Clarie. Claire stays with Johnny occasionally when her mother cant take care of her, and they have a good relationship although it is assumed that they don't see each other as much as they should. The film chronicles Johnny's life over the course of a few days, as we see this lifestyle unfold. The visual design is very well done, using mostly static shots to convey Johnny's feelings of emptiness. Its a very interesting dissection into celebrity and how even though to the average person they seem to have everything, this entitlement can be more of a prison. I wasn't a hug fan of how Johnny's emotional moment of understanding comes a little too late in the film for my liking, not giving enough time at the end of the film to establish this moment of change. I understand it's a choice, but I don't think it was set up the right way to achieve the moment it wanted. That being said, Somewhere is still an engaging character study about a man who feels trapped even though he as the world. Perhaps the opening shot of this film best sums up what Sophia Coppola's Somewhere is all about. A long static shot of a Ferrari going around a race track, over and over again. A rather brilliant choice, as to symbolize our protagonists life going nowhere.
A group of United States air force personnel are transporting a hydrogen bomb when they are attacked by a large swarm of insects at over 30,000 feet. The military personnel escape via parachutes only to be found on an island a few days later dead. Meanwhile, Joji, who works for the biological research center, is collecting insect specimens on the island when he comes across the deceased men. The military believes Joji is responsible for strange deaths of these men but Joji's superior, Dr. Nagumo, believes that something much more abnormal and sinister is going on. On it's surface, Kazui Nihonmatsu's Genocide is merely a fun disaster horror film made with b-movie sensibilities. The film plays like a mystery for most of its running time with the U.S. military only interested in finding their missing Hydrogen bomb and Dr. Nagumo attempting to figure out what the hell is going on. The film is a little convoluted in terms of the various subplots, from Joji's unfaithfulness to his wife, to a race between the eastern and western influences to find the hydrogen bomb creating for a surprisingly dense film of ideas. What ultimately develops is an incredibly cynical film about human nature and while the film appears to be about killer insects, it's really about the evil and greed of mankind. Almost every character in the film outside of Dr. Nagumo and Joji's wife is selfish and the film is not too subtle about it's criticism of American imperialism during the time period. Hell, one could even make an argument that Genocide is a commentary on the risks of Adultry, given that Arrabelle, Joji's lover, ends up being the primary reason for the demise of the world. The aesthetic of Genocide is nothing incredibly special but the film does use some extreme close-ups of the insects to great effect. The one scene that stands out visually is when we get to see a glimpse of the affect the insects poison has on the human brain, delivering a nice psychedelic and surreal sequence. Kazui Nihonmatsu's Genocide is a movie that many would write off because of its b-movie qualities, and while the film is a little overloaded, it's a fun, smart, cynical commentary on the human race.
Simon lives with his older sister, Louise, in a low-cost apartment complex which happens to situated below a luxury Swiss ski resort. Louise drifts through life going from job to job, relationship to relationship inevitable leaving Simon, the twelve-year-old, with the responsibility of taking care of them. Everyday Simon ascends the mountain on the ski-lift to the luxury resort where he spends most of the day stealing various pieces of equipment from the tourists and reselling it to the locals as the primary way to support him and his sister. Ursula Meier's Sister is a complex character study about a boy whose been forced to grow up way too fast. We spend a lot of time with Simon seeing how he's perfected his swindling ways but there is a subtle naivety to Simon's character, a boy whose been robbed of his adolescents. Simon doesn't comprehend that his parental role in his relationship with Louise is not normal. This fact is illustrated quite beautifully in a scene where Simon insists on paying for lunch when he's among a mother and her children who he has just met. The relationship between Louise and Simon is really what this film is all about, and early on we see how they can be loving towards each other even though life is a constant struggle. Both Simon and Louise are scared about their lives and well-being which leads to conflict. Ursula Meier really crafts this film perfectly, with a reveal about 45 minutes into the movie which hits the viewer in the emotional wheelhouse. Possible Sister's best attribute is how it never becomes sentimental towards Simon, even in a very bleak story. It's naturalistic style is reminiscent of the Dardennes in the way the story is told, while also using cinematography to express the boys emotions with heavy use of wide shots illustrating the boy's loneliness and isolation in the world. After this aforementioned reveal, it becomes clear to the viewer that Louise has even more issues than one first anticipated with seemingly know desire to take any responsibility for her actions. While most films would demonize Louise, the film achieve a much more impressive feat in making the viewer have sympathy for her, showing the problems she faced which have placed her in this situation. Some are certain to find Sister to be too bleak but the film does provide the slightest glimmer of hope at the very end in a very poetic way. Ursula Meier's Sister is a haunting, somewhat meditative film, that's emotionally resonance is undeniable in telling the story of a young boy whose looking for something he can rely on in a cruel world.
Any film written by Billy Wilder and Directed by Howard Hawks has be good, and this one didn't disappoint. The film revolves around a group of eight academics whom are working on a new encyclopedia. Each professor works on different aspects of the encyclopedia, such as history, georgraphy, math, etc. One day Professor Potts (Gary Cooper), the youngest of the academics,realizes that his chapter on modern slang is tremendously outdated, so he sets out to fix this problem. While out and about he meets SugarPuss O'Shea (Barbara Stanwyck) a fast talking dancer whom Potts believes is perfect to help him on his new updated slang definitions. SugarPuss agrees to help out, but just because she is on the run from the DA whom is trying to make her testify against her mobster boyfriend, Joe Liliac (Dana Andrews). Ball of Fire is a film I would definitely consider an essential romantic comedy. Potts and Sugarpuss come from completely different worlds, with Sugar puss really being the archetype of beauty and femininity. She knows she is gorgeous and even uses this to her advantage early on, in getting the group of professors to do small things from her. Potts and the professors represent this archetype of Academia. They are brilliant and well versed, but really don't understand how to communicate on a more primal level, and don't have much of an understanding of how to have fun. What we get throughout the middle of the film is a fun, mixing of essentially Academia/Knowledge and Beauty/Spontaneity. The film does a great job of showing how these two very different types of people, can really learn a lot from one and other. A great scene revolves around Sugarpuss teaching all the professors how to dance; its comical and just a heart warming scene. The reason the film works though is the relationship between Potts and Sugarpuss. Early in the film, Sugarpuss realizes that Potts is not immune to her beauty, and she almost takes advantage of it. Yet, as the film progresses she becomes to realize how much the professor cares about her and essentially, not to be cliche, what LOVE is all about. 'Ball of Fire' is one of the Hawks best films, in that its charming, fun, and yet emotionally poignant as well.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.