I will rank all of the films I have discussed over the past couple months in descending order of greatness.
1. Do The Right Thing - This was my favorite film out of the list because I really enjoyed the editing and unique camera angles. Although the plots are separated, I never saw a dull moment in this movie. The dialogue was always enjoyable/interesting and the really intense ending took the cake for me. I think the ending was effective because it had a much more serious tone than the lighthearted nature of the rest of the film. It was gritty and realistic, as it featured absolutely no music. I dont care much for the social/racial criticism but I am glad the film wasn't preachy and didnt take sides.
2. The Devil's Backbone - This movie was great mainly because of the story. It presents itself as a fable but also takes the metaphorical concepts quite literally (e.g. the "ghost" being both physical and a metaphor for karma). The movie keeps you interested and takes many plot turns that keep you on edge. Just an overall enjoyable movie.
3. Seconds - I really liked the concept of this movie. I think the idea alone invested my interest. I also enjoyed the editing of the opening sequence with the eyes. The story was interesting, but I feel like it was missing something. I wish the film was longer and if they fleshed out more of the plot and personality of the protagonist. That wouldve made the ending where they kill him more effective than it already is.
4. Double Indemnity - Great noir style. The shadows and cinematography really appeal to the eye. The film captivates your attention and continues to build, up to the very end.
5. Sherlock Jr - Loved this timeless classic. The comedy was slapstick and thoughourly enjoyable, however the stunts were incredibly well choreographed and this movie featured very early examples of unconventional editing techniques that aid the story of the movie.
6. El Topo - This film had very beautiful cinematography at times and I really like the mythology behind each of the gunmen. Each had their own niche/superpower that made this story feel like a fable or an epic. However this was only for the first half of the movie. The 2nd half had an entirely different tone which I honestly didnt like and found a bit pretentious. This film is inconsistent which I did not prefer. My taste in this movie is bipolar as I also found some of the imagery annoying and disgusting.
7. Blancieves - This movie was able to capture my interest with its story. But I feel the silent film angle was not utilized in a very effective way. And I did not like how this turned out to be an exact retelling of Snow White.
8. M - I personally found this film a bit hard to watch. I enjoyed certain aspects of it but found it a bit boring and dull.
9. The Hitchhiker - I felt the story was too predictable with not much interest beyond the single main plot.
10. The Piano - This film was just not my taste. I usually dont like period films and this is no exception. It was bearable at parts but overall it did not captivate my interest.
11. Zero Dark Thirty - There was a lot more about Osama's past that I really wish this film would have glossed over. The fact that this film emphasizes or even touches the main female's personal relationships is stupid. The only good part of this movie was the raid.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Blancanieves is about about the daughter of a very famous bullfighter, whos wife died giving birth to her. She is named after her late mother, Carmen. Her father is injured in the bullfighting ring - suspending him to a wheelchair. Most of her life she grows up under the care of her step-mother who is cruel; making her do hard work around the house, forcing her to sleep in a dirty basement on the floor, prohibiting her from seeing her father, and many other things. Her step-mother eventually kills the father and attempts to kill Carmen as well. Luckily, she is saved by a team of bullfighting dwarves, although her memory is now gone.
The first, very obvious stylistic choice you notice is the fact that it is presented as a silent film despite being made in 2012. I honestly dont know what the intention of this was, maybe the director wanted to give a homage or maybe he felt his story would best be told in this style. I also noticed the music was sometimes reminiscent of that time period and sometimes modern. I noticed a use of the theremin - which was used commonly for "creepy" scenes in old sci-fi films. I liked how the text wasnt only used for dialogue or to explain time passages, but also stylistic ways like showing the names next to the dwarves and when Carmen is looking Pepe and a single "?" appears on the screen.
At some point, you'll begin to notice the obvious allusion to Snow White. Everything from the evil queen, the apple, and the 7 dwarves are all reflected in this movie. I believe the director wanted to make this movie a Spanish-themed retelling of Snow White. Even though the fairy tale is referenced in the film itself as well. I wasn't very thrilled by this decision, as I was expecting something new when I watched this movie. Then again, it was different enough to hold my interest and still entertaining at parts.
The editing was pretty good in this film. Even subtle things like- the skull that flashes on the screen in the beginning when the father is mauled by the bull is the same skull that is overlayed on the apple the step-mother gives to Carmen. There was an excellent montage of clips perfectly synched to the clapping music of footage from the film showing that Carmen has regained her memory of past events. All the cinematography was solid, and convincing acting despite being mute. The film making itself was all pretty solid overall, but nothing terribly interesting to me personally.
Overall, this movie was alright for me. Nothing too great, didn't really encapsulate my interest. The story wasnt interesting or different enough for me - it felt very plain and predictable with no turns keeping you on edge. Again, the story was basically just a retelling of Snow White, in a 1920s mexican setting. Same with the cinematography - solid, just not extraordinarily impressive. I felt the obvious limitations that come with a silent film in this day and age were not compensated properly - visually and audibly - to appeal to most people. Personally, I feel that if you are going to make a silent film in this age, at least add a unique, modern twist. 3/5
ZDT has an interesting take on gender roles. Firstly, the woman is the main protagonist and sort of an underdog hero because her ideas are ignored by the "higher-ups". Her personal life comes into play briefly but she has an undying obsession with catching Bin Laden - showing she has at least some sense of nationalism. She also seems to have no objection to the torture of the terrorist they hold hostage, showing she leaves her emotions out of play when it comes to this. These are all very unusual traits of the typical Hollywood female. Shes strong, independent, and a leader in her own right.
This movie couldnt really hold my attention, but thats probably because I never had a strong interest in politics. I really enjoyed the Osama raid however, mainly because the lack of music and first person views gave it a realistic intensity. 2/5 for movie. 5/5 for the raid.
This movie was of an interesting style. There were definitely elements of horror - as you can see from the picture above. But the story also had a message about greed and revenge. In this way it can be seen as a fable. The GHOST in this film is exactly what makes the genre hard to define. The GHOST isnt merely there to scare and shock the audience, the GHOST symbolizes an entity that seeks respite from a tragic event. The narrator even says the GHOST is like this, comparing it to a blurry photograph. Perhaps the GHOST wasnt meant to be taken literally, but as a metaphor for karma and the past coming back to haunt you.
I overall liked this movie. It had an unusual feel and the slowly unfolding story kept me interested. 4/5
The relationship between Ada and George is a very complicated one, and it drives the plot. It is at first glance immoral because George is forcing her to do things she normally wouldn't allow just so she can get back the one thing in this world she loves. Not only that, but she is married - unhappily so however. However I think there is more to it than what's on the surface. Her entire life, she's only been able to comfortably communicate with her music. George only wants to touch and grope her when she plays. George could just have easily done so without the piano playing, but he finds her most beautiful when she plays. Yes, George has sex with her when shes not playing, but he quickly regrets it the next day and confesses to Ada that he has feelings for her, despite never exchanging any words. Perhaps George an Ada share an unspoken bond through music.
I thought this movie, while solidly scripted, was just not for me. I dont really enjoy romantic dramas or period films and this movie provided nothing special to motivate my interest. 2/5
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Do The Right Thing is a film in the streets of Brooklyn following a string of different characters all reacting to the heat of the sun. All of the characters have some sort of conflict with at least one other character in the film. Ranging from just messing around, to a legitimate hatred. It is apparent throughout the film that morality is a major theme. Constantly forcing the audience to decide what they consider "the right thing", as most of these conflicts have moral weight on both sides. Leaving the "true" answer ambiguous.
This whole philosophy is summed up in the last seconds of the movie, when contradictory quotes from Malcolm X and MLK scroll on the screen. Concerning the application of violence. However, I do believe certain characters in this film TRY to do the right thing. And that character is Mookie, who is give that advice by Da Mayor very early on in the film. Although his final act is questionable, Mookie has always remained calm and rational, trying to make peace for any situation.
As a conclusion, I do not believe there is one "right thing", only the "better of 2 evils" to any given situation. Mookie did the right thing at the end because he knew the place was insured and I believe he wanted to rioters to take out their agression on the establishment instead of hurting any more people. 4.5/5 film. Great directing, acting, and cinematography overall.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
This is a screenshot from the first few moments of the film. You can see El Topo nonchalantly walking through a river of blood, implying that he has dealt with violence of this magnitude before. This shot is a long shot intentionally to show just how horrible this massacre was. You can see the entire length of the shot littered with dead bodies and a blood "river" flowing down the middle of the street. However, the shot serves not only to shock and appall, but is also intended to be artistic and appealing to our eyes, ironically. This is a very common theme throughout the film. In this shot, all the dead bodies are wearing the same white clothes and there is blood not only splattered all over every white wall, but also in the streets in a way that resembles a river. The intention was artistically inclined as opposed to making the massacre look realistic.
I thought this film was very interesting. Cool shots like above and interesting philosophical themes are what kept it going for me. Some parts of the movie dragged on a little too long in my opinion. But if you're looking for a unique film that's not like anything else, El Topo is what you want. 3.5/5