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Showing posts from June, 2014

Key Films #30

Carrie [Brian De Palma, 1976]:
What feels like one of De Palma's less personal films - at least in terms of how well it communicates the various interests and obsessions that most often define his work - is ultimately informed, if not elevated, by the remarkable lead performance of Sissy Spacek and by some of the most daring and elaborate stylisations of the director's career.Perhaps because De Palma was conscious of the lack of individual investment - the influence of his own preoccupations, such as voyeurism, dual personalities and the self-reflexive relationship between the viewer and the work are all absent - the filmmaker over-compensated by indulging in all manner of audio-visual tricks.The end result is a veritable showcase for De Palma's unparalleled ability to manipulate and stun the senses of an audience through an active experimentation with the filmmaking form.Slow-motion is intercut with images played at twice the normal speed; split-screen effects convey contr…

Key Films #29

Mad Love [Karl Freund, 1935]:
To quote Shakespeare's Hamlet, "the play's the thing."As much as the viewer might marvel at the film's combination of macabre horror and darkly comic Gothicism - this story of a doctor and his sad descent into madness and murder - it's for me the central motif of the spectator, witnessing something on stage and becoming transfixed to the point of hysterical folly, which defines the experience of this strange and unsettling work.Again, it's perhaps symptomatic of a peculiar fondness I seem to have for films that are self-aware; that use the nature of viewing and the subjective investment of the individual to comment on the action itself; that self-reflexivity of the narrative and the way that it seems to acknowledge the divide between the audience and the work through the development of its central character, the sinister Doctor Gogol.Here is a man who falls in love with the figure of a woman; an actress in a play.He loves, not…