Sorry this has been so long folks. Been rather busy. Not sure how regular these are going to be with me actually trying to be a half decent student and trying actually having a sleep schedule, but I’ll try to get them up weekly or biweekly, depending. Apologies for any typos and shitty analysis. Enjoy.
Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy (1998)
A kind of proto-youtube poop of the old Andy Hardy teen comedies. It’s… weird. Comparing it to YTP is sort of underselling it, (I don’t think YTP ever could reach this level of disturbing), but still, it is just a remix of previously existing clips. And with those previously existing clips it creates a tale of implied incest, unintentional orgasm sounds, and daddy issues. You know, good solid family entertainment. Like I said, it’s weird. At times funny, but very weird. And also, really freaky. Most of the film is just these clips repeating over and over again, with these horrifying sounds and strange jerky movements, combined with edits that almost act like jump scares, all of which dig so deep into the uncanny valley that the movie starts to get under my skin, in a Lynchian sort of way. Still, it’s always fun to watch something so innocent turned so very…not. Give it a look.
2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967)
Godard’s psyche circa 1967… THE MOVIE! Yes, this film is basically everything that Godard had on his mind at that point in time, told through weird whispery voice over and various people talking directly into the camera, most often, Mariana Vlady, playing ostensibly the main character, though it’s hard to really call her a “character” in the tradiotional sense, in the smae way that it’s hard to say that the film has a plot. The DVD descriptions would give you the impression that this is a film about a housewife/prostitute living her life or whatever, and I suppose if you took random 3 second clips of the film you might get that impression. But no, you have been mislead, this is not a film about plot, it is a film about raising philosophical, moral, and social issues and questions to the viewer through the most obtuse language possible, giving you about 5 seconds to think about it, and then it hurtles on to the next thing, and the cycle repeats itself. So, you may be wondering, what are those issues/questions?
- What is it to speak?/What is language?
- Objectification of women/people in general
- The Vietnam War
- What is it to “know” something?
- Social ills of Paris
- And about 500 other things that I didn’t get a chance to write down.
At one point during the film, I wrote in my notes “this movie is so dense I’m drowning”, which I think sums it up quite nicely. All of the topics on display here are really interesting, and the movie is hardly badly put together, nor does it poorly cover it’s topics, it’s just…. Exhausting! Every second you’re being hit with a new concept, communicated in weird metaphors and hard to follow language. Your head starts to spin, “OH GOD THERE IS SO MUCH TO THINK ABOUT, OH NO THE WORLD IS SO FULL OF SUFFERING AND HARDSHIP AND GODARD KEEPS WHISPERING IT AND I CAN’T HEAR AND THEY KEEP BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL AND OH GOD I FEEL DIZZY I’M GOING TO THROW UP”.
And so on for 83 minutes.
It’s not an easy movie to watch to be sure. However, it is very well constructed, with some gorgeous shots of Paris and it’s inhabitants. And though I did just sound like I was angry at Godard for making a film so dense, I’m not really. It’s frustrating to be sure, but, presuming you’re not repulsed by the pretension of it all, there’s a lot of things that are worth grappling with and thinking about. There’s a lot to be said for a film that gets you thinking, and when it’s done by someone with the same level of skill as Godard, it’s hard to say that it’s not worth at least one look.
14th of February
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Wes Anderson’s candy coloured comedic caper of saying the phrase “Oh hey look it’s [RECOGNISABLE ACTOR NAME]!”
Also it’s really good.
For one thing, all those recognisable actors that I just mentioned: Really good, every one of them. That same sentiment also goes for the not so famous actors. Pretty much every one is killing it, is what I’m trying to say. Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori in particular, as mains M. Gustave and Zero respectively, are not only excellent in their own right, but have great chemistry, working off each other extremely well, delivering most of the funniest scenes in what is a very funny movie, as well as pretty much all of the most poignant ones.
And of course, like any Wes Anderson film, it’s immaculately made. I know his freakishly geometric style isn’t exactly everyone’s bag, but I personally really enjoy it. Everything feels hyper constructed and unreal, but that aesthetic just adds to the playfulness and the fun of the film.
Did I mention it’s fun? I should, because it it so much fun. It’s fun to look at, it’s fun to watch the increasingly nutso plot play itself out, it’s fun watching all these well known actors, who are all clearly having a blast, deliver the hilarious dialogue. All fun, all the time.
And yet, in spite of that, It’s also strangely melancholy. Mostly this is just a result of the use of several different time periods during the film, seem to serve one purpose, and one purpose alone, a purpose you’re made aware of from the first shot onward: Pretty much every character you’ll have any reason to care about is almost certainly long dead. This kind of casts a cloud over the whole movie, that other “period” (I hesitate to use that word with this film, but I can’t think of much else) pieces wouldn’t ever bother to make so specific. While you’re watching the film, most of you is going “oh yeah, this a blast”, but then the movie reminds you every so often that this movie takes place quite a long time ago and that the march of time has come for these characters, as it comes for all.
So, what purpose does that serve? Why bring the mood down with that small reminder that everybody’s gonna die and there’s nothing we can really do about.
Well, I guess I’d say that it’s for pathos. For the reason of turning a film that should just be particularly delicious junk food into something that’ll actually move you, to some extent. To add a degree of emotional complexity that, at a glance, wouldn’t seem that emotionally complex at all. And it is all the better for it.
Or maybe I’m just a pretentious teenager who knows.
19th of February
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
Umm… What to say about The Man Who Fell to Earth? It’s a confounding film really, the kind of forces you to do mental gymnastics if you want to figure out what, if anything it’s trying to say. Is it about consumerism? The depravity of humanity? Corruption of the soul? All of those things? None of them? I don’t know, maybe I’m reading too much into it. Maybe it’s just about tone, about feeling like you’re completely lost as to what is going, but you don’t really mind, following a stranger in a stranger land…
But I haven’t even really said anything actually concrete about the film at this point, have I? Well, The Man Who fell to Earth is a 1976 science fiction film directed by Nicolas Roeg, of Don’t Look Now and Walkabout fame. It also happens to star beloved musician and dead-for-a-year-but-it-still-feels-recently deceased celebrity David Bowie, in the role of Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien from a dying planet in search of the precious water that his race is in desperately short supply of. To paraphrase from just about every piece of writing about this film, this was the role Bowie was born to play. I mean, he doesn’t really do a lot of particularly difficult acting, but just from looking the way David Bowie did in 1976, and giving off the vibe that he did around that time, he really does make you think that he’s from another planet. All the other performances in the film are good too, with Rip Torn and Candy Clark being the standouts, basically on the merit of being the only two who get more than a couple of lines, but none leave quite as strong an impression as the main star (though that, to be fair, is difficult). I should also mention that it is gorgeous to look at, being shot primarily in New Mexico, with some lovely desolate locations.
It’s also edited in (what I am told) to be Roeg’s trademark style, with heaps of cross cutting, jump cuts, and several time skips that are not always entirely clear, which isn’t exactly helpful in trying to follow the already rather opaque plot, but it does add a lot of meaning to several scenes that would be rather bland without it.
Anyway suffice to say, overall I did quite enjoy it. While I’m not entirely sure exactly what it is trying to say, if anything, it does make for strangely compelling viewing, with it’s very strange take on what is, essentially, a rather familiar tale. Worth checking out, though do be prepared to be a bit perplexed.