Thursday 28 November 2013
30: Birdemic 2: The Resurrection by James NGuyen
This might sound like a joke, and this won't help with recent accusations of contrarianism, but Birdemic 2 truly deserves a spot on here, even if it's at the bottom. Yes it is completely inept at every possible level, with the lack of skills here reaching an almost surreal quality, all the more surprising that nowadays it is not that hard to do a decent film with even an iPhone, and the "actors" are uniformly terrible, laughably so. But while there is a long history of "so bad it's good" films, with Asylum churning out one after another rather cynically, this is different. James NGuyen might have zero talent whatsoever, but he gets top marks for blind enthusiasm, in an Ed Wood kind of way, and there is a real love of cinema on display here, the film being peppered with unexpected references to classics such as Sunset Boulevard.
Tuesday 26 November 2013
When I watched my first film of 2013 at the cinema, Texas Chainsaw 3D, I knew it could only get better from there onwards. Little did I know at that stage however that 2013 was going to be one of the most scintillating and exciting years for films for as long as I can remember, so much so that I feel the need to compile not a top 10 but a top 30 of 2013! Compared this to 2012 where, outside a strong top 4, I struggled to find a decent bunch to fill a top 10. Not only that, I have already seen enough films at various festivals this year with a UK release due for next year to set up a strong top 10 of 2014 which would satisfy me as end of year list.
Monday 25 November 2013
I have enjoyed Gravity quite a lot more than anticipated. And it is easy to forget, given its stratospheric box-office success, how much how a risky proposition it was on paper. Yes the story is pretty straight-forward, but it has moments of haunting beauty and devastating arthouse brilliance which I did not expect (I was particularly impressed by some of its unusual soundtrack). Even though the story is simple, having gathered my thoughts, there are a couple of metaphors which have sprung to mind. I am usually careful with those, and I particularly lament the annoying modern trend of over-analysing popular culture to death. But here they go: (SPOILERS)
Friday 15 November 2013
In Fear finds Lucy (Alice Englert) and Tom (Iain De Caestecker) a young couple travelling together to a music festival in Ireland. The tentative phone call by Tom to Lucy setting up the initial date signals the fledging aspect of what is just a two week relationship by the time Lucy agrees to change her accommodation plans to stay in a country hotel with Tom. Director Jeremy Lovering uses well honed psychological tricks to create a sense of fear for his film.
Thursday 14 November 2013
I have finally seen Blue Jasmine just after about everybody else, and I adored it, even though I never want to watch it ever again. I don't recall having been as depressed by a film since The Mist (which is a good thing in my book), and I am very sad that Cate Blanchett's towering and sensational performance will still see her lose out to Sandra Bullock for Gravity at the Oscars next year simply because the latter made more money. However I had a minor niggle with a plot development with Blue Jasmine while watching it, which felt a little artificial and convenient, until I began to wonder if there was more to it than met the eyes. And I developed a theory as below, which you absolutely should not read unless you have seen the film. SPOILERS
Utopia is a near sequel to Australian journalist and film maker John Pilger's 1985 documentary The Secret Garden which looked at the lives of the first people or Aboriginal people of Australia. Pilger concentrates his documentary around the area called Utopia where a large section of the Aboriginal community now lives.
The documentary's title is more than ironic when the poverty likened to Third World conditions in which the Aboriginal people live brings Australia under continued criticism from the UN. However, as the documentary points out, the area of Utopia happens to sit on some of the most abundantly wealthy mineral rich areas in the world.
Tuesday 5 November 2013
The downside of having seen so many films at the LFF is that I also had less time to write about them. And since at that rate I'll only have finished their reviews comes Cannes 2014 (or even LFF 2014), I have to resort to write shorter reviews, and reserve full reviews for those which really made an impact for all the right... or the wrong reasons! First off, 2 films from the Far East, two very different films who only have their relatively close geographical connection in common. As well as the 4 stars rating I gave them.