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Showing posts from March, 2018

Heart is Where the Home Is

Thoughts on a film: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
With its extensive use of wide-angle lenses to distort perspective, prolonged tracking shots that unfurl through a maze of labyrinthine corridors and slow, penetrating zooms that seem to expose the hidden emotions of its characters, The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) is nothing if not a masterpiece of cinematic form.
In terms of its actual creative lineage, it was difficult not to be reminded of the films of Stanley Kubrick, both in its thematic design and its actual on-screen direction. More specifically, it brought to mind the presentation of Kubrick's similarly languorous and claustrophobic horror film The Shining (1980), where the discordant soundtrack, sense of isolation (both spatial and psychological) and the depiction of a family being pushed to the brink by external, possibly even supernatural forces, calls to mind the same events seen here.
However it also seems reminiscent of the detached and paranoid psychodrama at …

The Road to Nowhere

A note on a film: Falling Down (1993)
The film begins, atypically, with an intense pullback shot from the character's half-opened mouth. It's a hideous close-up; distorted by the use of a wide-angle lens, which seems to exaggerate the as yet still concealed repugnance of this character. His propensity for violence, his racism and frustrations with the modern world - which will soon spill-out; defining both the narrative and the character's ensuing journey into the darkness of his own despair - are already transforming him into something not quite human. A monster maybe? Although not the literal type of monster as defined by Dr. Victor Frankenstein, or a Count Dracula even, but as something more recognisable to the concerns and general disposition of America in the last half of the twentieth century.
In this first image, the mouth - less a conduit for food, water and air; less a means for verbal expression - seems transformed into an open wound...

Falling Down [Joel Schumacher…

England's Dreaming

Thoughts on a film: Jubilee (1978)
Queen Elizabeth I, transported back in time by the spirit-guide Ariel, conjured from the pages of Shakespeare's The Tempest by the oracle, mathematician, astronomer and occult philosopher John Dee, bears witness to an England in decline. Their year of arrival is 1977; that of the later Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee celebrations, and - perhaps as-notably - the year punk broke the mainstream; however, it could just as easily have been later than that. Forty years into the future in fact. In the present day...
Had these characters arrived in the year 2017 - a year, which from the timeline of the film itself would've seemed like the stuff of science-fiction; as divorced from the reality of the everyday as Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey must have seemed to audiences in 1968; or the setting of Blade Runner 2049 (2017) still seems to us - they would've found a landscape even more ravaged by economic hardship, mass unemployment, divi…

Shapeless

Thoughts on a film: The Shape of Water (2017)
N.B. I started writing this piece before the film's recent Oscar success, so this should in no way be seen as an effort to play devil's advocate, but merely to present an honest opinion on the film.
On his blog, The Kind of Face You Hate, critic Bill R. describes The Shape of Water as: "A morally thoughtless wagonload of bullshit that believes it's a morally superior "fable," [...] it judges not just its villains but finally the whole world based on how it reacts to del Toro's pure heroes. Anyone who looks askance at any part of this is not just immoral, but might even actually deserve to die. It's an ugly movie that has sold itself as a beautiful one. And it's not that I believe del Toro thinks this way; it's that I don't believe del Toro thought at all."
While my own opinion isn't so negative - I, like many viewers, left the cinema impressed and affected by the depths of its imagination …